The Visiting Teaching Message this month is titled ‘The Enabling Power of Jesus Christ and His Atonement’. The message begins with Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
It followed this quote from Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “Indeed it is by the grace of God that, if we humble ourselves and have faith, weak things can become strong.” (emphasis mine)
The verse he’s referring to is Ether 12:27 found in the Book of Mormon, it reads –
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.” (emphasis mine)
So, what exactly is being said here? This is very important, because this is one of those things that if you were in Mormonism for any amount of time you might think is biblical, but it isn’t.
I had to look up this phrase to see for myself if this teaching was in the bible. I heard it so many times when I was a Mormon, that it had just become something I thought was scriptural.
In all my online research the only references to our weak things being made strong was found on Mormon sites, there wasn’t any bible verse or quote from a pastor about this teaching. The closest thing I found was in 2 Corinthians 12:9-11
“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong. 1 I am become a fool in glorying; ye have compelled me: for I ought to have been commended of you: for in nothing am I behind the very chiefest apostles, though I be nothing.” (emphasis mine)
It looks like Mr. Utchdorf, and Joseph Smith (the author of the Book of Mormon), have done a little switcheroo with a few words in this scripture in an attempt to try to sound biblical, but they don’t quite make it.
From the scripture above we learn that God does give us an ample supply of grace, which gives us strength in our weaknesses. Through His grace, we have strength through our trials, and can ‘do all things’, according to His will.
True biblical grace is what’s missing here, grace that’s enough and adequate, and not diluted by the works of men. In Mormonism, God’s grace can (being the operative word) only be sufficient if they also do x, y and z.
Paul knew he didn’t have it in him to get through his weaknesses and trials all on His own. He knew he needed God’s grace to see him through those times.
I hope Mormons will also see how much they need God’s grace in their lives.
Reference: Ensign March 2017