Nephi’s most ardent effort was (and ours should be) to work diligently to persuade family and friends, “our children, and also our brethren,” to believe in Christ and reconcile (harmonize or conform) our lives to him so we can be saved by his grace.
Do we believe in grace? The typical Latter-day Saint would hesitatingly reply, “Yes.” Then why don’t we talk about it more? The same typical Saint might be quick to admit, “Because they do!”—meaning many other Christian churches. We may not like or agree with how they use the term, at times seemingly representing “push-button salvation.” Nevertheless, the fact is that we do believe in grace, “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” We repeat our belief, “Oh yes, we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do”; and we say that second phrase more loudly, by way of emphasis. That is all true, but in a sense, it really doesn’t matter how much we do; it will never save us. We can accumulate a mountain of good works, and they will not save us. Thus, in one sense what Nephi seems to be saying is that it is ultimately by the grace of Christ we are saved, apart from what we do. Grace is not simply the finishing touch to top off our efforts at salvation. Grace is the very essence of salvation. Father Lehi declared that no flesh can dwell in God’s presence—only through “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8). And Moroni 6:4 states, “Relying alone upon the merits of Christ.”
In the end it is by the Redeemer’s grace, by his loving kindness and self-sacrifice in our behalf, that we are saved, because he paid the ultimate price to rescue us. His grace is the enabling power that justifies us to remain with the Father, and it sanctifies us to eventually become like the Father.
Elder M. Russell Ballard declared: “On our own we cannot earn the kingdom of God—no matter what we do. Unfortunately, there are some within the Church who have become so preoccupied with performing good works that they forget that those works—as good as they may be—are hollow unless they are accompanied by a complete dependence on Christ.” 72
On our willingness to be dependent on Christ, see also commentary at Mosiah 3:19.