The doctrine here stated is, salvation is freely given and cannot be "earned." We find the same thought in the Doctrine and Covenants (6:13): "There is no gift greater than the gift of salvation." And the Apostle Paul recognizes the difference between earnings and favors, when he says that the "wages of sin" is death, but the "gift" of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Rom. 6:23) We can earn death, but we must receive life as a gift, or not at all.
The Prophet Joseph explains that to be saved is to be placed beyond the reach of all enemies, even death, and that this can be done only through the Priesthood. (Hist. of the Church, Vol. 5, p. 403)
A seemingly hopeless discussion has been carried on by philosophers, as well as theologians, on the question of the ability of man to earn salvation, and his responsibility in case of failure to do so. Great thinkers, such as Kant, Schleiermacher, Hegel, Ritschi, and many others, have contributed their conclusions on the all-important problems presented. The old notion that human history is but a marionette show in which the strings are being pulled by some one behind a screen to make the dolls move, has been abandoned long ago, for the only rational concept presented by the revelations of God, that the human family is his children, being fostered under his care and gradually educated for their eternal testing. God, because of his love, has provided this course for us, and, as the Apostle says (1 John, 4:19): "We love God, because he first loved us"; but where there is genuine mutual love, the question of "wages" is far in the background. Love engenders love, but if our love of God is real, it finds expression in unselfish service of our fellowmen. (21) In recent years the gospel doctrine of the Fatherhood of God, with the infinite love and the immeasurable responsibility of a Divine Father, possessing unlimited power and wisdom, has replaced the contradictory notions of God of former ages.