One eternal principle is that nothing is free. “But wait!” you say, “What about 2 Nephi chapter 2 verse 4?”
“And thou hast beheld in thy youth his glory; wherefore, thou art blessed even as they unto whom he shall minister in the flesh; for the Spirit is the same, yesterday, today, and forever. And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” (2 Ne. 2:4).
You say, “There, it says that salvation is free! You’re wrong about no free lunches. In fact, we are specifically told about free lunches a few chapters later.”
“Come, my brethren, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters; and he that hath no money, come buy and eat; yea, come buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (2 Ne. 9:50).
“So fix the title of your post already Jared!”
Interesting, those are beautiful scriptures telling of the love of God and Jesus Christ. We can come and partake and be blessed with salvation. I will address both verses.
“The way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” Who prepared the way? The way was prepared by our Father and then presented by Jehovah in the council in Heaven. Adam and Eve fell that humankind might be. They fell as part of the plan for us to return to live with God. But in order for them to fall, they had to choose to come to earth. We all had – and did! – to make the choice to come to earth. Those who did not make that choice in support of the Father were cursed with eternal damnation, they were stopped in their progression and cast out of Heaven, having rejected the Father and His Son. Thus, in order to receive this gift of salvation, which is termed “free”, we had to take sides in a war. Those who did not keep this first estate (Abraham 3:26) cannot receive this free gift. So while salvation is free, there was a price paid in a premortal world. More on this theme after an intermediary paragraph.
Salvation is free? For whom? Was salvation free for Christ? He paid a heavy price so that we might have salvation. Christ paid the ransom fee for us. We might not be able to pay that fee ourselves but just because Someone else paid it does not make it free.
In 2 Ne. 9:50 it says “Come…come to the waters…come buy and eat…come buy…without money and without price.” The blessings Christ offers do not require a price of money but they require our actions – we must come, buy, and eat. That requires our faith, devotion, diligence, and time. We must pay the price Christ requires, which is a broken heart and contrite spirit (see D&C 20:37). That is a price many people are not willing to pay (see D&C 121:34-35).
What all this means is that grace is not free. Christ paid with His life, death, and life so that we might have access to grace. While we might be undeserving of many of our blessings, the cost of those blessings is borne ultimately by God. In order to fully partake of grace and salvation, we must consecrate all we have. The first consecration came in our decision to come to earth. While here, those who reach the age of accountability, must make another consecration, one that is both weighty, lifting, and freeing.
Thus, there ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.
Note: This post was inspired by my 7 year old daughter. Yesterday we were talking about a Christmas tree our family had been given. She said, “Nothing really is free because you might have to drive somewhere [to pick up something] and you have to buy gas; you also have to pay taxes for the roads.”