“On Easter Sunday we celebrate the most long-awaited and glorious event in the history of the world. It is the day that changed everything,” said President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, second counselor in the First Presidency in his Sunday morning conference address.
“On that blessed day, the Savior of mankind, who had taken upon Himself the chains of sin and death that held us captive, burst those chains and set us free.”
Christ’s precious gift of grace unlocks the gates of heaven — even as it opens the windows of heaven, taught President Uchtdorf.
“Even if we were to serve God with our whole souls, it is not enough for we would still be ‘unprofitable servants,’ ” he said. “We cannot earn our way into heaven; the demands of justice stand as a barrier, which we are powerless to overcome on our own. But all is not lost. The grace of God is our great and everlasting hope.
“Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the plan of mercy appeases the demands of justice, ‘and [brings] about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance.’ Our sins, though they may be as scarlet, can become white as snow. Because our beloved Savior ‘gave himself a ransom for all,’ an entrance into His everlasting kingdom is provided unto us. The gate is unlocked!”
But God’s grace, he added, does not merely restore one to a state of innocence. The Father’s aim is much higher: He wants His sons and daughters to become like Him.
“It leads to heights we can scarcely comprehend. It leads to exaltation in the celestial kingdom of our Heavenly Father, where we, surrounded by our loved ones, receive ‘of his fulness, and of his glory.’ All things are ours, and we are Christ’s. Indeed, all that the Father hath shall be given unto us.”
Another element of God’s grace is the opening of the windows of heaven, through which God pours out blessings of power and great strength.
“Though we all have weaknesses, we can overcome them,” President Uchtdorf said. “Indeed it is by the grace of God that, if we humble ourselves and have faith, weak things can become strong.
“Throughout our lives, God’s grace bestows temporal blessings and spiritual gifts that magnify our abilities and enrich our lives. His grace refines us. His grace helps us become our best selves.”
President Uchtdorf warned against growing “confident and comfortable” in one’s own good deeds.
“Are we perhaps a little impatient with those who are not living up to our standards? Are we on autopilot, going through the motions, attending our meetings, yawning through Gospel Doctrine class, and perhaps checking our cell phones during sacrament service?”
Instead, he said, all must understand their indebtedness to Heavenly Father and plead “with all our souls” for the grace of God.
“When we kneel to pray, is it to replay the greatest hits of our own righteousness, or is it to confess our faults, plead for God’s mercy, and shed tears of gratitude for the amazing plan of redemption?
“Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God. Thinking that we can trade our good works for salvation is like buying a plane ticket and then supposing we own the airline. Or thinking that after paying rent for our home, we now hold title to the entire planet earth.”
If grace is a gift of God, he asked, then why is obedience to His commandments so important?
“We obey the commandments of God — out of love for Him,” he said. “Trying to understand God’s gifts of grace with all our heart and mind gives us all the more reasons to love and obey our Heavenly Father with meekness and gratitude. As we walk the path of discipleship it refines us, it improves us, it helps us to become more like Him, and it leads us back to His presence.”
President Uchtdorf declared that living the gospel faithfully is not a burden — it is joyful preparation to inherit the “grand glory of the eternities.”
“Grace is a gift of God, and our desire to be obedient to each of God’s commandments is the reaching out of our mortal hand to receive this sacred gift from our Heavenly Father.”
God’s grace is available to all whose hearts are broken and whose spirits are contrite, he concluded. Christ has cleared the way for His followers to ascend to heights incomprehensible to mortal minds.
“I pray that we will see with new eyes and a new heart the eternal significance of the Savior’s atoning sacrifice. I pray that we will show our love for God and our gratitude for the gift of God’s infinite grace by keeping His commandments and joyfully ‘walk[ing] in [a] newness of life.’ ”