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Comparing Gospels

December 17, 2008

A 2nd Century Disciple vs An LDS Apostle

Compare, for a moment, the language of the early disciple, Polycarp (65-155 AD), with that of an LDS apostle’s explanation of the gospel.  Since Mormonism claims to be a restoration of original Christianity, it is important to compare the LDS gospel with the gospel being defended in the early years of original Christianity.

The Gospel According to Polycarp

I have greatly rejoiced with you in our Lord Jesus Christ, because ye have followed the example of true love [as displayed by God], and have accompanied, as became you, those who were bound in chains, the fitting ornaments of saints, and which are indeed the diadems of the true elect of God and our Lord; and because the strong root of your faith, spoken of in days long gone by, endureth even until now, and bringeth forth fruit to our Lord Jesus Christ, who for our sins suffered even unto death, [but] “whom God raised from the dead, having loosed the bands of the grave.” Literally, “having loosed the pains of Hades.” “In whom, though now ye see Him not, ye believe, and believing, rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory;” into which joy many desire to enter, knowing that “by grace ye are saved, not of works,” but by the will of God through Jesus Christ (Polycarp, Epistle to the Phillipians, chapter 1)

The Gospel According to Spencer Kimball

In view of the emphasis thus far made on the importance of good works in returning from sin and establishing a repentant life, it may be well to say a word about the idea of salvation by faith alone.  Some people not of our Church like to quote, in support of that concept, the following words of Paul:

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8-9)

One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.  Along with all the other works necessary for man’s exaltation in the kingdom of God this could rule out the need for repentance. It could give license for sin and, since it does not require man to work out his salvation, could accept instead lip service, death-bed “repentance,” and shallow, meaningless confession of sin.  Church members are fortunate indeed to have scriptures brought forth in this age which clarify this and other doctrinal questions beyond all doubt.  One passage in the Book of Mormon, written perhaps with the same intent as Paul’s statement above – to stress and induce appreciation for the gracious gift of salvation offered on condition of obedience – is particularly enlightening:  ‘For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do‘ (2 Ne. 25:23) [emphasis his]…

This makes clear the two facets, neither of which alone would bring the individual salvation – the grace of Christ, particularly as represented by his atoning sacrifice, and individual effort.  However good a person’s works, he could not be saved had Jesus not died for his and everyone else’s sins.  And however powerful the saving grace of Christ, it brings exaltation to no man who does not comply with the works of the gospel…

This progress toward eternal life is a matter of achieving perfection.  Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness of sins and assures one of exaltation through that perfection which comes by complying with the formula the Lord gave us… Perfection therefore is an achievable goal (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pp. 206-209).

In comparing the gospel defended by Polycarp (65–155 AD) with the one set forth by a latter day prophet (Matt. 24:11, 23-25), which gospel more accurately represents the original writings of the eye-witnesses who delivered the gospel once for all to the saints (Jude 1:3) to be defended and contended in the face of false prophecies until Christ’s return?

Eph. 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith

[after all you can do]

and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works,

[but with individual effort]

lest any man should boast

[no “death-bed repentance” allowed]

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47 Comments leave one →
  1. December 17, 2008 5:34 pm

    By the time of Polycarp (156 AD), Christianity was already a completely disorganized mess. Some said one thing, some said another. You can find certain themes among the “early Christian fathers” but all it really proves is that a certain view existed at that time – not that it was true, not that it was widespread.

    For instance, Tertullian argued very strenuously for the idea that God the Father has a body – material, physical body.

    So would you admit, therefore, that early Christianity believed in a material God the Father? Of course you wouldn’t. It’s just one guy’s opinion.

    Or what about Origen and his statement that “God became man so that men could become gods”?

    I suppose since Origen said it, that provides proof that Mormons are correct about deification. Right?

    Of course it doesn’t prove any such thing.

    And neither do Polycarp’s views on grace prove Spencer W. Kimball wrong. All it proves is that such views existed in the early history of the Christian Church.

    Do you have a particular reason for presenting Polycarp as authoritative and definitive on this subject?

  2. December 17, 2008 7:00 pm

    Hi Seth! 🙂

    Thanks for your comment. I wasn’t trying to present Polycarp as authoritative. I believe the Word is authoritative on this subject. I was showing a comparison of how an early disciple of Christ defended the Word and how an LDS apostle twisted the Word to teach the exact opposite of what the Word says.

    I realize there were a variety of beliefs in the early days of Christianity just as there are today and in Mormonism as well. That’s why I’m so thankful that God has provided a standard by which all such beliefs can be evaluated.

  3. December 17, 2008 9:27 pm

    Jessica,

    I think you make a great point. Heresy has existed since the early days of the church. There have always been people who try to twist God’s Word to say something other than what it says… and there always will be until Christ comes again.

    Darrell

  4. December 17, 2008 11:52 pm

    It seems futile to discuss this subject without first addressing what exactly is meant by the terms “saved” (or “salvation”) and “grace”. There exists, indisputably, a great gap in understanding between mormons and christians when we both use the same word to intend vastly different meanings. What the christian says is not what the mormon hears, and vice versa. It is as though we speak two different languages that happen to sound identical.
    “Salvation” for example could mean to a mormon that one is merely resurrected from the grave, or it may mean that ones is resurrected and then receives eternal life in any one of the three kingdoms. When advantageous, a mormon may even apply the same term to mean “salvation” in the more restrictive sense of attaining godhood and celestial glory exclusively. When the mormon reads any scriptures containing the word “salvation” any variety of the meanings above may be applied to the verse to suit whatever topic they happen to be studying.
    Now, “salvation” to the christian, one whose soul has been purchased by Christ’s blood, would mean something far different than the mormon understanding above. The “salvation” of the christian has little to do with heaven, but rather encompasses a much deeper and complex comprehension of one’s inital and final position before God, the final position being made possible only by first understanding the nature of God and the nature of humans before God, and then applying the depth of Christ’s sacrifice, as well as the ramifications of what it means to believe and trust that Christ has full power to redeem, justify, atone, to pay in full…of course when the mormon hears the terms “redeem,” “justify” and “atone” “pay in full” they understand only the re-definition of these words, as presented within the context of LDS teaching materials. Thus the mormon has little or no comprehension of what the christian is really attempting to communicate by the use of these words. Every discussion with the mormon becomes a laborious task of clarification to ensure that we both are meeting at the same understanding within our two different languages.
    I should say, however, that it is possible to meet in the middle and attain one understanding of words like “salvation” “grace” “justification” and even “God” and “Jesus Christ”, it just takes a lot of patience.

  5. December 17, 2008 11:55 pm

    and kudos to Jessica for all the work that you put into these attempts to find a common understanding. I salute you!

  6. December 18, 2008 12:41 am

    More or less, I agree with thrillmysoul’s point that it’s important to be absolutely clear with definitions when our two faith traditions are communicating.

    Darrell,

    That’s a fine point, as far as it goes. The problem is defining who the heretics were.

  7. December 18, 2008 12:43 am

    And if the “heretics” were wrong.

  8. Tyler permalink
    December 18, 2008 1:18 am

    “I was showing a comparison of how an early disciple of Christ defended the Word and how an LDS apostle twisted the Word to teach the exact opposite of what the Word says.”

    So far, I’m not convinced that Jessica “attempts to find a common understanding.”

  9. December 18, 2008 2:49 am

    Tyler,

    I would love to have a common understanding with you of what is Truth. It would help to further this cause if you would share with me why you do not see Kimball as twisting Scripture. I cannot see it any other way.

  10. Tyler permalink
    December 18, 2008 3:44 am

    Jessica,
    This is simple. The main cause for the excess of differing Christian denominations is a massive lack of interpretive uniformity. Each faith understands scripture in its own way.

    Here is quote from an article title “Work, Worship, and Grace,” by David L. Paulsen and Cory G. Walker:

    “Faith includes works. By isolating certain passages of scripture and regarding them as though they are complete in themselves some readers have assumed inconsistency if not contradiction to exist. Paul has been misrepresented as a proponent of the sufficiency of faith without works, and James has been cited in opposition. Compare Rom. 4:25; 9:11; Gal. 2:16; 2 Tim. 1:9; Titus 3:5, with James 1:22, 23; 2:14–26. Paul specifies the outward forms and ceremonies of the Mosaic law, which had been superseded by the higher requirements of the Gospel, as unessential works. James speaks of actual effort and effective deeds as the works that result from true faith in God and His requirements.” Please read the verses cited.

    The Pauline remarks on works are always in reference to the Mosaic Law. Remember, Saul had been an a strict adherent to the law. When he was converted, he learned that Jesus Christ was the only way to be saved. This was a stark contrast from what he had known all his life. It was significant and powerful. Thus, it should be no surprise that he would emphasize Grace over the works of the LAW OF MOSES. It is the same reason that those that leave the LDS church feel so strongly that they must correct the false teachings that they once believed to those who still believe them.

    President Kimball:
    “This makes clear the two facets, neither of which alone would bring the individual salvation – the grace of Christ, particularly as represented by his atoning sacrifice, and individual effort. HOWEVER GOOD A PERSON’S WORKS, HE COULD NOT BE SAVED HAD JESUS NOT DIED FOR HIS AND EVERYONE ELSE’S SINS. And however powerful the saving grace of Christ, it brings exaltation to no man who does not COMPLY with the works of the gospel…”

    Here is a firm declaration of Christ’s unique ability to save. The ‘works of the gospel’ referred to here are simple: obedience to his commandments. All the bumper sticker pithiness in the world doesn’t change the fact that Grace ALONE saves, BUT ONLY if we accept Christ AND FOLLOW HIM.

    Robert Millet’s ‘Grace Works’ does a good job of explaining the common ground that we share.

  11. December 18, 2008 3:53 am

    Thing is Jessica, I don’t see anywhere in Kimball’s passage here where he advocates salvation by merit.

    The general view I’ve come to about grace and works is that grace is absolutely vital, necessary and crucial for salvation, but it is not sufficient. The person MUST choose to accept this grace. For the acceptance of grace, certain ordinances and the keeping of covenants is necessary. Otherwise, the person throws Christ’s gift in his face, and rejects the salvation offered to him or her.

    I see this as completely compatible with Kimball’s statement here. And it is fully compatible with the Bible as well since, unlike certain factions of Evangelicals, we do not twist the scriptures to remove the language of God’s TWO-WAY covenant with human beings. It is only be ignoring the covenant that Evangelicals are able to get away with a grace-only argument.

    In my own personal opinion, it is this rejection of the covenant that constitutes the heart of the Great Apostasy that fell upon the Christian Church in the first couple centuries of its existence.

    The excuse that some Evangelicals give that Christ fulfilled the covenant – so we don’t need to be bothered with it anymore – always struck me as rather weak and self-serving.

    But you remove the two-way nature of covenant and turn it into a one-way “sacrament,” and suddenly grace-alone makes perfect sense.

    But I doubt I will ever accept such a wrenching of scripture. It utterly denies human free will and the fact that the God of the Bible always calls for people to seek Him freely. Grace alone only works if you annihilate human free will. I find such a position unscriptural, and frankly, distasteful.

    Doubtless, it is a comforting doctrine to people who seek to escape responsibility for their lives, but ultimately it is a paralyzing doctrine that misleads, and breeds complacency.

    Sorry, I can’t go there. Not on such weak scriptural evidence as you have provided. Wrenching Ephesians 2:8-9 out of context from the ENTIRE BIBLICAL NARRATIVE, is just not going to do the trick of making me a believer in grace-only.

  12. December 18, 2008 4:38 am

    Tyler, you said “The main cause for the excess of differing Christian denominations is a massive lack of interpretive uniformity. Each faith understands scripture in its own way.”

    I’ve noticed LDS making this point often in my discussions with them, but what’s interesting is that I have yet to meet 2 Mormons who share an interpretive uniformity. There are huge differences in opinion, especially when it comes to this topic of grace and works. I think interpretive uniformity would be more difficult though, just on a practical level, because not only do LDS have some NT scriptures that are “hard to be understood” (II Peter 3:16), they have the additional complication of the LDS scriptures (which in places contradict each other and the previous scriptures) and a string of prophets who have not always agreed with one another or with the various scriptures in the Quad.

    Evangelical Christians, on the other hand, accept the OT and NT alone as inspired writ and enjoy fellowship with a wide variety of Christians of various denominations. Our foundation is in Christ alone, not identified with a particular church or creed. Sure, there are scriptures that are hard to be understood and so there are places where we may not see eye-to-eye (just like Mormons don’t always see eye-to-eye with each other), but Evangelical Christians are united in belief that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, apart from works (including whatever rules are required for membership in any of the various exclusive sects that declare themselves to be the only true church). On this critical point, we agree with Polycarp who was a disciple of John who wrote his book so that people would “believe” (John 20:31). This salvation through faith is apart from “individual effort” except whatever effort is involved with receiving a gift that cannot be earned. To me, this is more of a choice than any kind of effort. This is the clear teaching of scripture beginning in the OT when Abraham was justified by faith (Gen. 15:6) and continuing into the new (Rom. 4:4-5). Otherwise why is salvation called a “free gift” (Rom. 5:18)- how can it be free if it must be earned?

    Seth, Eph. 2:8-9 is a very clear passage. Hardly a passage pulled out of context. Rather, it sums up the overall teaching of scripture on the subject (what about the book of John? Romans? Galatians? just to name a few). Rather than causing people to “escape responsibility for their lives” Paul says the gift of grace should be life-transforming (Rom. 6:15-22). Once we understand how undeserving we are and how we can never make ourselves worthy enough to enter His holy presence, our gratitude for His free gift of grace overflows into a life of devotion and service. Perhaps you have met so-called “Christians” who were not transformed by the gospel of grace. Perhaps they do not really know Him and love Him. I agree with James that true faith will be manifested by a life of good works.

  13. Tyler permalink
    December 18, 2008 6:01 am

    Jessica,
    I completely and fully addressed your post and the questions inherent therein. Unfortunately, in your response, you did not address my comment. All you did was write a response to one tiny paragraph in my comment. Please address the other themes. A rebuttal would be great, I really want to hear how you reconcile Pauls works and the doctrine of works that you have claimed the LDS church believes in. Please respond to my comment.

    I can assure you that their is far more uniformity of belief among members of the LDS church than in the greater Christian community. I know this in part because of all the differing doctrines espoused (shown here):

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Other_Christians

    http://www.religionfacts.com/christianity/charts/denominations_beliefs.htm

    But also because I served in the south of Chile for 2 years and was able to see the vast diversity of beliefs, all based on differing interpretations of the Bible. This is empirical evidence that there is no uniformity among Bible believers.

    “I think interpretive uniformity would be more difficult though, just on a practical level, because not only do LDS have some NT scriptures that are “hard to be understood” (II Peter 3:16), they have the additional complication of the LDS scriptures (which in places contradict each other and the previous scriptures) and a string of prophets who have not always agreed with one another or with the various scriptures in the Quad.”

    Jessica, you know not of what you speak. Can you sincerely tell me that you have studied the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible, in order to come up with these conflicting and contradicting scriptures? Well, as one who has dedicated his life to studying both ALL the scripture which you mentioned, I can say with certainty that far from disagreeing, the Book of Mormon and Bible complement and clarify each other. I know this because I have read them all multiple times, and in context.
    And the string of Prophets who disagree with the quad is also non-existent. Relative to the voluminous comments made by these Prophets, remarkably little has ever had the appearance, let alone the substance, of disagreeing with the scriptures.

    Now, please, address the points I have made in this and my previous comment. I’m simply on the defense here, so if you stand by your assertions, please do more than hit and run.

    Thank you

  14. Susan permalink
    December 18, 2008 6:07 pm

    Jessica,
    Thank you for sharing your love of Christ. Your testimony and words share the amazing work of our loving God. Our sinful nature RALES against His sufficiency. We want to “do our part”. It is our pride that makes us refuse HIS gift. What a glorious stumbling block. The Pharisees didn’t get it……. They refused….. God used fishermen, and a tax collector…….. and a zealot. How perplexing……… how wonderful.

  15. Tyler permalink
    December 18, 2008 6:42 pm

    Susan,
    No one is railing against His sufficiency. No LDS that understands the doctrine (and I actually think that most do) would ever think that he or she can do anything to be saved besides accept and follow the Savior. Do you believe in a God that doesn’t require you to follow him?

  16. December 18, 2008 6:55 pm

    Tyler, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to fully address your points in my last post. I knew I was only responding to one issue. You raised a number of issues and I hope to respond to them over time. As you mentioned in a previous post, you did not have time to respond to my question (and still haven’t). Life is very busy for me as well. In addition to a full-time job I also do a number of other things on the side. Believe it or not, studying Mormonism is not my only pastime! 🙂 So, please be patient with me and I will try to address your other questions/issues as time permits.

  17. Tyler permalink
    December 18, 2008 7:30 pm

    Deal. I realize that time is not unlimited to either of us. But if we can’t agree to address the issues raised in the conversation, then it becomes different people having different conversations and very little gets understood.
    I will address your other comment shortly. We were really focusing on other issues, so your comment kind of got lost in the post. I will respond now.

  18. Susan permalink
    December 18, 2008 9:19 pm

    Tyler,
    The internet is an interesting way to communicate. Without the added benefit of facial expression, gaze or inflection, it is hard to determine some of the meaning intended. I was in no way responding to your post. Since Jessica took the time to write the blog, I am simply responding to Jessica and her writing. My intent is to encourage a sister in Christ. I want to thank her sharing her thoughts on the sufficiency of grace. I am sorry if we got in a “cross-talk” situation.

    Respectfully……..

  19. December 19, 2008 12:25 am

    Tyler,

    I really appreciate the amount of thought that went into your post. I am most intrigued by this quote, which you relayed to us from President Kimball:

    “This makes clear the two facets, neither of which alone would bring the individual salvation – the grace of Christ, particularly as represented by his atoning sacrifice, and individual effort. HOWEVER GOOD A PERSON’S WORKS, HE COULD NOT BE SAVED HAD JESUS NOT DIED FOR HIS AND EVERYONE ELSE’S SINS. And however powerful the saving grace of Christ, it brings exaltation to no man who does not COMPLY with the works of the gospel…”

    Would you mind if I add a thought or two on this subject?

    As I mentioned earlier, the christian and the mormon speak two different languages though they use the exact same words. I hear “Grace” described often by my mormon acquaintances with the following statement “it is God’s grace that saves us AFTER all that we can do.” This seems to imply that the LDS concept of grace requires some action on the part of man, and that God would refuse bestow his grace on anyone who does not have a reasonable list of works to demonstrate that he deserves God’s favor. Or in Kimball’s words “And however powerful the saving grace of Christ, it brings exaltation to no man who does not COMPLY with the works of the gospel…”

    The reason christians are so apalled by this notion is because grace, whether in a biblical context or a worldly context, is always unmerited. It is bestowed upon a recipient regardless of their own personal condition, or else it is no longer grace. Recipients of grace are often among the most vile of creatures and in no way deserve the good that is granted to them. I and the apostle Paul would be the first to confess it. How awkward then, to try to reconcile what the LDS mean when they use the word grace with grace as it is understood by the rest of the world.

    Also, to the christian, grace comes first, BEFORE all that we do. Good works follow grace. The issue you mentioned between Paul and James is reconciled by understanding that Bible believing christians see thier good works not as thier own, but as God’s good works working out through the individal. Paul and James agree that grace is first applied to the soul of a man, and that a man can hardly claim to have received this grace if, afterwards, his life reflects no good. The good works of the christian are a necessary result of grace, caused by God’s unmerited favor, and therefore the good that is done by man becomes a pure good work. The man doing the act knows that he will receive no benefit from the act, has no self interest in the action. The good work then reflects glory to God alone rather than glory to the man who did the good work (hoping to be exalted).

    I’m not sure how you reconcile your “good” works with the knowledge that you do, at least in some small way, hope to selfishly benefit in the end from them…?

  20. December 19, 2008 1:22 am

    Grace is unmerited in the LDS view as well. King Benjamin’s speech early in Mosiah makes this abundantly clear.

    But that does not mean that works are not required as a part of the covenant with God.

    Just because works are necessary does not automatically mean that those works have a great deal of intrinsic merit in the cosmic scheme of things, or that they somehow force our way into heaven on sheer merit.

  21. December 19, 2008 5:41 am

    Okay, Tyler, I will seek to offer a few more thoughts, but I hope you will continue to be patient with me. It’s been a very long day and my brain is especially weary this evening.

    I was thinking about your post this morning, though, as I was getting ready for work and I was pondering the book of James in particular as it seems Mormons often bring up James chapter 2 in these grace/works discussions. I was pondering to myself that actually the book of James is one of the strongest arguments for the doctrine of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. I’m thinking about why he wrote the book in the first place. Clearly, he was concerned that some were claiming faith, yet not displaying any of the fruits of a changed life. This error of license cropped up early in Christendom and continues to this day. Because these early Christians had heard the doctrines of grace preached by Jesus Himself (John 3:16, 6:29, 6:40, etc), there were apparently some who started claiming the name of Christ but were living just like the world.

    James admonished them that, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.” He talked about brotherly love and warned against the iniquity of an untamed tongue, worldliness, and trusting in riches (as an aside, James is also the one who admonishes us to never swear or make oaths…5:12)

    I think James 2 meshes well with other scriptures that talk about testing oneself to see whether one is in the faith. “Give diligence to make your calling and election sure…” (II Peter 1:10). “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith…” (II Cor. 13:5). If you claim to have faith, but have not works can that faith save you? (James 2:14) Is it true faith?

    Now, more to the point of this post. Thrill gave an excellent reminder that we must define our terms when we are communicating with each other.

    You shared this quote:
    “Paul specifies the outward forms and ceremonies of the Mosaic law, which had been superseded by the higher requirements of the Gospel, as unessential works. James speaks of actual effort and effective deeds as the works that result from true faith in God and His requirements”

    We could probably both agree more or less with the general point of this statement if we each defined the terms for ourselves. The heart of the difference lies in how we define “the requirements of the Gospel.” I don’t see anywhere in James where he gives the “requirements of the Gospel” as they are defined in LDS teaching. James was advocating for visiting the fatherless and widows and keeping oneself unspotted from the world. He presided over the first council (Acts 15) that proclaimed to Gentiles that they were not obligated to keep the law of Moses. Rather, they were asked to remember to abstain from these necessary things:

    “That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well” (Acts 15:29).

    The requirements of the gospel as defined by the LDS church include: having faith in Christ, repenting, being baptized in water by someone having priesthood authority, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands of someone having priesthood authority, and enduring to the end (Preach My Gospel, 2004, pp.68-69). This is not even to mention the works required for “earning” a place in God’s presence. Rather than pointing people to Christ alone and what He accomplished on their behalf, I feel the emphasis in LDS teaching is on what the member must do to comply with the “works” as defined by the LDS church: temple work, eternal marriage, missionary work, service/calling, the law of tithing (settlements), keeping the Word of Wisdom, follow the Prophet, keep the Sabbath Day holy, observe the law of the fast, etc.

    I am so thankful for the gospel of grace. I feel like I would just dry up in a setting that was so focused on measuring one’s “worthiness” by lists and formulas. I know I can never repay Jesus Christ for what He has done for me. Just knowing that He gave so freely without requiring me to make myself worthy (which I could never do anyway), fills my heart with love and gratitude and a desire to give up my life and let Him live His life through me.

    I hope some of this made sense.

  22. December 19, 2008 10:20 pm

    Seth,

    I couldn’t find anything in King Benjamin’s speech (I assumed you were referring to Mosiah 2-3) that even begins to hint at unmerited grace. If you feel inclined to maybe elaborate on how grace is unmerited in the LDS view, I would certianly be interested in hearing more. I suspect, due to my inability to find “grace” in King Benjamin’s speech, that we are still talking about two different concepts, though we are both using the same word. I simply don’t see what you see in the passage, could you point it out to me?

    In response to your statement:

    “Just because works are necessary does not automatically mean that those works have a great deal of intrinsic merit in the cosmic scheme of things, or that they somehow force our way into heaven on sheer merit.”

    Such a thought never crossed my mind. I hope you don’t think that I hold such a twisted misconception of the LDS faith. I certainly don’t seek to represent it as such…

  23. December 20, 2008 4:51 am

    Careful with the definitions here. I’m not exactly clear what you mean by “unmerited grace.” I merely said that our works, according to King Benjamin, do not “merit” salvation. That’s all I’m saying. Let’s have a look at the specific passages:

    Mosiah 2:20-25

    20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another—
    21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.
    22 And behold, all that he requires of you is to keep his commandments; and he has promised you that if ye would keep his commandments ye should prosper in the land; and he never doth vary from that which he hath said; therefore, if ye do keep his commandments he doth bless you and prosper you.
    23 And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.
    24 And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?
    25 And now I ask, can ye say aught of yourselves? I answer you, Nay. Ye cannot say that ye are even as much as the dust of the earth; yet ye were created of the dust of the earth; but behold, it belongeth to him who created you.

    It seems to me that you would have to be reading King Benjamin’s speech pretty carelessly to miss that part. It’s quite clear that this is NOT a question of merit. You are forever in a negative position with respect to God. God may require obedience of us, but not because he expects those acts of obedience to somehow correct a negative balance on some spiritual bank account. We will NEVER be out of debt. And we will ALWAYS be intrinsically unworthy.

    My question is how you can read that passage and still think the Book of Mormon advocates salvation by merit?

  24. December 20, 2008 5:03 am

    Then combine it with Mosiah 3:17 and 2 Nephi 2:3-9 and 10:24. It’s clear that the focus is on Christ’s work on our behalf as completing the equation.

    Works are not a part of the balance sheet. They are simply a way to invoke Christ in our lives – it is Christ that clears the balance sheet – not us.

    Everyone likes to quote 2 Nephi 25:23:

    23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.

    Evangelicals often read this as evidence that the Book of Mormon requires a full effort before salvation.

    Admittedly, some Mormons think this too. But in light of the scriptures above, I think this read is false.

    For one thing, verse 23 is grammatically awkward and incorrect (you often get that with translated documents). “after all we can do” just kind of hangs out there unsupported by the rest of the sentence.

    A more correct read of the verse grammatically would be rendered thus:

    “after all we can do, it is by grace we are saved.”

    Which changes the meaning quite a bit. Mormon scholar, BYU professor, and prolific LDS author Robert Millet has even gone so far as to suggest the reading:

    “IN SPITE of all we can do, it is by grace we are saved.”

    Whatever read you pick however, I think 2 Nephi 25:23 ought to be read in light of Alma 24:11:

    11 And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do, (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain—

    Did you catch the key phrase?

    “all that we could do”

    And what was “all” that these people could do?

    To repent. Period.

    Tell me again how you are getting a salvation-by-merit scheme out of all of this.

  25. December 20, 2008 5:28 am

    “Works are not a part of the balance sheet. They are simply a way to invoke Christ in our lives – it is Christ that clears the balance sheet – not us.”

    Works are not a part of the balance sheet but a way to “invoke” Christ? This statement is contradictory in and of itself. If it takes WORKS to invoke grace (instead of faith alone as the Bible states) then works ARE a part of the balance sheet.

    ““after all we can do, it is by grace we are saved.”

    Which changes the meaning quite a bit. Mormon scholar, BYU professor, and prolific LDS author Robert Millet has even gone so far as to suggest the reading:

    “IN SPITE of all we can do, it is by grace we are saved.””

    If this is correct than the LDS Church would simply change the verbage in the BOM. Afterall, they have done this with other areas in the BOM. As we disccussed on Markcare’s blog, MILLET HAS NO AUTHORITY TO SPEAK for the LDS church. An LDS PROPHET’S WORDS are authoritative on this subject… not Millet’s. There are MANY prophets who have spoken out AGAINST the concept of “grace through faith alone” and have clearly said that WORKS ARE A PART OF THE EQUATION. You are once again trying to use Millet where he has no authority. If the LDS Church believes and teaches as you claim here than they need to say it officially. I can find NO authoritative statement that agrees with your position. However, I can find countless ones that disagree with it.

    Darrell

  26. December 20, 2008 4:37 pm

    Man I am really sloppy today in my typing. My above post did not have the link to my blog listed right. I need to slow down… just trying to catch up and I am typing to fast. Hopefully it is all fixed now.

    Sorry!!

    Darrell

  27. December 20, 2008 4:49 pm

    One more comment on this… let’s look at the third article of faith… it give the LDS equation for how ones is saved.

    “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, BY OBEDIENCE TO THE LAWS AND ORDINANCES OF THE GOSPEL.”

    This says it all… THE ATONEMENT (in the Garden of Gesthemane NOT the cross) + OBEDIENCE TO LAWS + PERFORMING ORDINANCES = Saved. In the LDS Church view Obedience to the LAWS AND ORDINANCES (WORKS!!!) ARE a part of the equation.

    Darrell

  28. December 21, 2008 3:43 am

    “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, BY OBEDIENCE TO THE LAWS AND ORDINANCES OF THE GOSPEL.”

    Which basically consists of repenting Darrell. What’s your point?

    Of course works are a part of the equation. Just like the Bible says they should be. But that doesn’t mean salvation by MERIT. It is quite clear from both scripture AND Mormon prophets that good works do not merit salvation intrinsically, but certain works are a requirement of salvation.

    And I only threw out Millet as an alternative view and an alternative read.

    You can quit hyperventilating now, even if I did invoke “he-who-must-not-be-named.”

  29. December 21, 2008 3:48 am

    “but certain works are a requirement of salvation.”

    That is exactly what Mormonism teaches… works are necessary. What is sad is that it is unbiblical and impossible to achieve.

    Darrell

  30. December 21, 2008 3:53 am

    “Which basically consists of repenting Darrell. What’s your point?”

    Read the post I did today on my blog… unfortunately, obedience to the laws of the gospel under mormon theology involves a lot more than repenting.

    Darrell

  31. December 21, 2008 6:20 am

    What is really sad Darrel, is the dehumanizing, and morally paralyzing attempt by many Evangelicals to remove any semblance of human dignity, accountability or choice from the Bible.

    You aren’t helping anyone. You are simply feeding people’s inadequacies.

    The Bible does require something – and it does ultimately all boil down to repentance. Christ will be freely chosen by beings capable of rejecting him.

    Anything else turns the cosmos into one big farce.

  32. December 21, 2008 5:43 pm

    Seth,

    It appears that you may have a misunderstanding as to my position. The Bible teaches that works are a FRUIT of being saved not a contributor to being saved. Mormonism teaches the opposite… that works are a PART of the equation of being saved. Moroni 10:32 says:

    “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you…”

    Grace is clearly conditional upon IF you deny yourselves of ALL ungodliness. This puts works as a part of the equation.

    The Bible does not teach this… the Bible teaches that grace is predicated upon one thing… faith in Christ. It then goes on to teach that if a person has faith in Christ good works will be manifest in their life. Thus good works are the RESULT of salvation not a condition upon which salvation is given as Moroni teaches.

    Darrell

  33. December 21, 2008 9:54 pm

    Yeah sure, and I maintain that you are removing the TWO-WAY nature of the covenant between God and us and replacing it with a ONE-WAY scheme of God choosing us and doing stuff for us, but with us completely passive in the relationship. We choose nothing, we do nothing. All that happens is that things happen to us from external forces.

    Sorry, but it’s just a bad worldview. A worldview for the morally irresponsible. A bad self-esteem seminar. And I refuse to go there with you. Especially since the overall story of the Bible is about a TWO-WAY relationship between two active parties.

  34. December 21, 2008 10:17 pm

    Seth,

    You are making this a conversation about freewill/predestination. I am not even talking about either of those. I am talking about faith versus works.

    Mormonism says works a part of the salvation equation. Moroni 10:32 says that unless you deny yourselves of ALL ungodliness than grace does not apply to you. Thus, under mormonism’s theology until you are PERFECT you cannot be saved.

    The bible says that works are a PRODUCT OF salvation. they are not part of the equation.

    Freewill and predestination have nothing to do with this. That is a separate discussion.

    Darrell

  35. December 22, 2008 5:54 am

    They have everything to do with this.

    The only reason absolute, one-way grace in absence of any performance on the part of the worshiper is necessary for your theology is because of your view of free will and predestination.

    In a universe of free beings, it is pretty-much a no-brainer that certain performance would be required from us by God.

    And you are absolutely right that we cannot be saved until we are perfect.

    How fortunate that we are made perfect in the moment of repentance. This is the wonder of Christ’s gift to us. But your darn-straight it requires something from us as part of the equation.

    But not to merit salvation. It is required because God has commanded it as part of laying hold on the Atonement. Our works have no inherent merit of themselves. They are merely a way to enter into the covenant relationship with Christ.

    And by the way, I made this exact same comment in Gospel Doctrine class today, and no one even batted an eye. The teacher even praised the comment and elaborated on it. The idea that we do not merit salvation seems to be rather agreeable to the Mormons I know and seems in accord with their understanding of scripture.

    But we all take it as a given that God requires something from us “as a part of the equation.”

    Grace-only is an acontextual reading of the Bible that only survives because people willfully ignore the language of covenant that pervades the entire book.

    But the covenant is still in full force and effect, no matter how much you may try to wish it away.

  36. Tyler permalink
    December 22, 2008 8:43 am

    On this issue, I have to agree with Seth. The grace/works dialogue can only be covered fully with an understanding of freewill and predestination. Here is why:

    If we take Darrell’s position, we are forced to believe in a extremely unjust God who picks and chooses those whom he wants to save. Darrell’s belief leads to the conclusion that billions upon billions of people will burn in hell.

    If we take Seth’s position (to the extreme limit that Christians always upon us), we are forced to believe in a God that says we are saved by grace but then makes us work for it (even though we cant).

    Both of these conclusions are wrong; the first, because God is just and would never damn his children to hell without giving them a fair chance. The second, because that is not what Mormons believe.

    Grace for a Mormon is based in part on the scripture, cited by Darrell in Moroni 10:32:

    “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ”

    Paul had a similar statement in Titus 2:11-12:

    “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,

    Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world”

    In other words, YES! You have to follow Jesus Christ in order to be saved. Paul says Hebrews 5:9:

    “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”
    OBEDIENCE IS NECESSARY

    He also says in 2 Corinthians 7:10:

    “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
    REPENTANCE IS NECESSARY

    Darrell you said:
    “In the LDS Church view, Obedience to the LAWS AND ORDINANCES (WORKS!!!) ARE a part of the equation.”

    If obedience and repentance are works, fine. Works are necessary to qualify for salvation. But Paul said it first, not Joseph Smith.

  37. December 22, 2008 7:55 pm

    Perhaps we should be a bit more cautious about judging God…

    Who are we to say that it is unjust for God to pick and choose whom he will save? Or, shall the clay say to the potter, “Why have you made me this way?” (see Romans 9).

    If we insist that it is wrong for God to send people to hell, we must think ourselves worthy of something better, otherwise, where is the injustice?

  38. Brad permalink
    December 22, 2008 8:51 pm

    If we take Darrell’s position, we are forced to believe in a extremely unjust God who picks and chooses those whom he wants to save. Darrell’s belief leads to the conclusion that billions upon billions of people will burn in hell.

    Tyler, you have some fact mixed in with some assumption here. The doctrines of election and free will are BOTH true, at the same time. If you already believe that, great, but I will go out on a ledge and assume that you don’t believe that. The whole of the Bible has too many references to both election AND free will for neither of them to be true. What people usually get hung up on (don’t know if this is true for you or not), is in trying to reconcile the 2 beliefs. They can’t be reconciled in someone’s mind, therefore that person concludes that they can’t both be true at the same time. Problem is, that person has made some assumptions. Namely the very premise upon which they dismiss it – that if the 2 thoughts can’t be reconciled, they aren’t true. Who says that is true? The Bible doesn’t. The Bible says that God’s ways are higher than ours, His thoughts above our thoughts. If we believe in a perfect, all-powerful God, then we should understand that there are some things that we can apprehend, just not comprehend. This is one of them. Darrell’s conclusion does lead to perhaps billions burning in hell – but not b/c they didn’t have a choice to not go there, for they still had free will.

    If we take Seth’s position (to the extreme limit that Christians always upon us), we are forced to believe in a God that says we are saved by grace but then makes us work for it (even though we cant).

    I would agree with your summarization of the point, although I don’t believe the point itself to be true, as I’m sure you can guess.

    Both of these conclusions are wrong; the first, because God is just and would never damn his children to hell without giving them a fair chance. The second, because that is not what Mormons believe.

    We now get back to more inaccuracy. God is just, and it is BECAUSE He is just that there exists a hell for those people who choose not to accept Christ as their Savior, for God cannot abide with sin. Does God give everyone a “fair chance”? Absolutely – the doctrine of free will says that it is a choice we have. So nothing in what Darrell has said would lead anyone to believe that certain people haven’t had a “fair chance.” Further, what Darrell has said about Mormons is completely accurate, so for you to say “it’s not what Mormons believe” isn’t entirely true. It may not be what you believe personally, but looking at the whole of beliefs, and the countless statements made by both individuals in leadership within the LDS church and the church itself, it is true.

    Works are necessary to qualify for salvation.

    Wait, didn’t you just say that this is not what Mormons believe? If so, then this statement can’t be true. You tried to quote a lot of Scripture to help back up your point. Let’s try another one, how about Ephesians 2:8-9. How do you reconcile works being necessary for salvation with those 2 verses? It’s impossible. If you then answer that you have to look at Scripture in context, you’ll go about proving my and Darrell’s point more effectively, b/c the whole of Scripture is that there is NOTHING we can do to earn, gain or keep salvation, of ourselves – it is all from God!

  39. December 23, 2008 12:59 am

    Tyler,

    I really appreciate your involvement in this conversation and don’t want to overwhelm you with responses, but I will respond to the last half of your comment as others have already responded to the first half.

    I see a huge difference between Moroni 10:32 and the Bible verses you cited. The Bible verses were addressed to those who were already saved by grace through faith. Paul was admonishing them to demonstrate the outward works of righteousness that should reflect their inward change of heart. This is in accord with all of Paul’s writings where he explains that we have been saved by grace unto good works (Eph. 2:8-10), but not in any way by our works (Rom. 4:4-5).

    As Paul taught in Romans 6-8, Galatians 2:19-20, Col. 3:3 (and many other places) an inward change of heart occurs when we die to self and receive the righteousness of Christ by faith. This is a blow to our flesh and our self-made righteousness and wounds our pride, but God desires those who are lowly and humble in heart. Pride resulted in Lucifer’s fall from heaven. Pride continues to keep many people out of heaven today. I see it like this – God cannot allow sinners to enter heaven. Pride is involved with those who claim they have any part in getting themselves there. That is why salvation does not include our good works (“lest any man should boast” – Eph. 2:9). Even our very best is “filthy rags” in His sight (Isaiah 64:6).

    Jesus said we have to become like little children to enter the kingdom of heaven. That kind of humility is epitomized in the difference between the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18:9-14. The self-assured Pharisee prayed and thanked God that he was not like other men and compared himself to extortioners, unjust, adulterers, and the publican. Jesus said the Pharisee was not justified before God. Rather, it was the humble publican who beat on his breast and cried “God be merciful to me a sinner.”

  40. December 23, 2008 1:48 am

    Seth, you said “the covenant is still in full force and effect, no matter how much you may try to wish it away.”

    Which covenant are you referring to? The Mosaic covenant? Adamic? Davidic? I’m living in the new covenant.

    Jer 31:31
    Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:

    Heb 8:8
    For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:

    Heb 8:13
    In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.

    Heb 12:24
    And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

    The new covenant is defined in Hebrews 8:9. It is “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.” (in other words, it is not after the manner of the Mosaic law which was exemplified by an observance of external and highly symbolic works/rituals/sacrifices) that foreshadowed Christ’s perfect and complete offering of “one sacrifice of sins for ever” (Heb. 10:12).

    The new covenant (which is now in effect because of the death of Christ – Hebrews 9:15) is about an internal work of God’s Spirit: “I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (9:16-17).

    “[God] hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit; for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life” (II Cor. 3:6). Paul warned throughout his writings of the errors of returning to the outward rituals/works of the Mosaic law and equated observance of them with spiritual death and bondage (Gal. 3:10, 4:9-10, 5:4-6).

    The new covenant, therefore, cannot be best exemplified by Mormonism. The gospel of Mormonism bears a lot of resemblance to the Mosaic law with its emphasis on external works/rituals along with the priesthood/temple elements borrowed from Freemasonry.

  41. Tyler permalink
    December 23, 2008 11:46 pm

    Brad, you said:
    “What people usually get hung up on (don’t know if this is true for you or not), is in trying to reconcile the 2 beliefs. They can’t be reconciled in someone’s mind, therefore that person concludes that they can’t both be true at the same time. Problem is, that person has made some assumptions. Namely the very premise upon which they dismiss it – that if the 2 thoughts can’t be reconciled, they aren’t true. Who says that is true? The Bible doesn’t. The Bible says that God’s ways are higher than ours, His thoughts above our thoughts.”

    Thank you, but I simply refuse to accept that God, our Heavenly Father, is willing to send innocent people to hell. Yes, innocent. Please explain to me how the 1.3 billion people in China who have rarely, if ever, even heard the name of Jesus Christ have the ability to accept Jesus as their personal Savior. How are they supposed to be saved? And even if they have heard His name, how are they to follow what is not taught them? It is a different story than living in North Carolina.

    “Darrell’s conclusion does lead to perhaps billions burning in hell – but not b/c they didn’t have a choice to not go there, for they still had free will.”

    In order for free will to be efficacious there must be a clear choice. Where there is no true choice, there is no free will. Moving from China, how about the more than 200 million Indonesians that have barely heard of Jesus? Do they have a clear choice to follow Jesus? OF COURSE NOT! Any disagreement here will simply be a painful demonstration of intellectual gymnastics. There is no way that everyone on earth has the choice to follow Jesus in this life. The 12-year old African slave who never knew Jesus? Burning in hell. The 90-year old Native American who believes in the traditions of his fathers? Burning in hell.

    This is not the God I know. This is not a God I could possibly believe in. And if this is indeed the God of this universe, I will gladly burn in hell for not believing in him. Jesus did not die for a select few, but for all.

    Also, please try to read my comments for what they are actually saying, instead of what you think they are saying. I didn’t just say, ‘works are necessary for salvation.’ I qualified it with, ‘if obedience and repentance are works,’ then yes, they are necessary for salvation. The Bible backs me up fully on this point. Again, the works which Paul refers to are the works of the Mosaic Law. He was explaining the error in believing that the works of the Law could be salvific in and of themselves. But to disregard the importance of following Christ as an action we choose of our own free will and choice and not because God chose us to believe in him and THEREBY to be saved, is to truly misunderstand the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

    Thrillmysoul,
    I am not judging God. I am condemning a false doctrine attributed to Him.

    Jessice,
    Impressive. You can do a Bible search for the term ‘new covenant.’

    You said:
    “The new covenant is defined in Hebrews 8:9. It is “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt.” (in other words, it is not after the manner of the Mosaic law which was exemplified by an observance of external and highly symbolic works/rituals/sacrifices) that foreshadowed Christ’s perfect and complete offering of “one sacrifice of sins for ever” (Heb. 10:12).”

    Careful here. You are placing requirements on this text that do not exist. You cannot give your interpretation as conclusive fact. This verse says that the the Mosaic law was finished in Christ. No one is disputing this. Where you stretch the verse to align with your understanding is when you say that the New Covenant was not to be done ‘after the manner of the Mosaic law which was exemplified by an observance of external and highly symbolic works/rituals/sacrifices)…” You attach a new meaning to the verse by adding your personal understanding to it. The Law was to be done away, but that doesn’t mean that all parts of the Law are bad. My assumption is that you still follow the Ten commandments. Do you believe in the Sabbath day?

    Your next mistake is to liken modern day Mormon discipleship to a Mosaic lifestyle. This is a gross overstatement, and shows a lack of understanding of both subjects.

  42. December 24, 2008 7:56 pm

    Tyler said:

    “…‘if obedience and repentance are works,’ then yes, they are necessary for salvation. The Bible backs me up fully on this point…”

    Seth said:

    “Which basically consists of repenting Darrell…”

    I read Spencer W Kimabll’s The Miracle of Forgivness a few years back and remember him talking about “True Repentance”. Shortly after I read it I proceeded to call it “It’s a Miracle Anyone Is Ever Forgiven”. A quick search on LDS.org can yield several helpful quotes on True Repentance. Here are a few:

    “we stop doing things that are wrong, and we start doing things that are right.” Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf

    “True repentance is not only sorrow for sins and humble penitence and contrition before God, but it involves the necessity of turning away from them, a discontinuance of all evil practices and deeds, a thorough reformation of life, a vital change from evil to good, from vice to virtue, from darkness to light. Not only so, but to make restitution so far as is possible for all the wrongs that we have done, to pay our debts and restore to God and man their rights, that which is due them from us. This is true repentance and the exercise of the will and all the powers of body and mind is demanded to complete this glorious work of repentance.” Joseph F Smith

    “There must be an abandonment of the transgression.” Spender W Kimball

    “a temporary, momentary change of life is not sufficient..” Spencer W Kimball

    “To repent of a sin and then to tamper with it again or permit it to invade, even slightly, is to lose the repentance and its beneficent effects, and “the former sins return, saith the Lord God. (D&C 82:7)” Spencer W Kimball

    You see, the LDS view of repentance falls RIGHT IN LINE with Moroni 10:32. So you are right Seth and Tyler, under your church’s theology you must FIRST TRULY REPENT TO BE FORGIVEN. The problem is that in order to truly repent YOU MUST ABANDON THE SIN. YOU CAN NEVER COMMIT IT AGAIN OTHERWISE ALL THE PREVIOUS TIMES YOU HAVE SINNED RETURN AGAINST YOU. This falls right in line with Moroni 10:32… you must first “deny yourselves of all ungodliness” and “then is his grace sufficient for you.”

    Have you done this? Think about this really hard because this is EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. Can you honestly say you have compelely quit…

    1) Lieing
    2) Thinking unkind thoughts
    3) Getting angry with your children and spouse
    4) Coveting
    5) Breaking the Sabbath
    6) Being selfish
    7) All the sins of OMISSION… not doing your hometeaching, vist teaching, magnifying your calling
    8) Do you ALWAYS pay a full tithe
    9) Attend the temple every month
    10) Give a full and generous fast offering

    Really think about this… can you name 10 sins that you HAVE COMPLETELY GIVEN UP? How about 5? How about 1?

    The problem is under your theology if you have even 1 sin that you have not completely truly repented of than according to D&C 82:7, Moroni 10:32, and your church leaders ALL THE TIMES YOU HAVE COMMITTED THAT SIN COME BACK ON YOU, CHRIST’S GRACE DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU AND YOU CANNOT BE FORGIVEN OF IT.

    What is interesting is what repentance REALLY means… and it is not what the LDS Church defines it as. The Greek word for repentance is “metanoeo”. It is a combination of 2 greek words which mean “change” and “mind”. We get our english word metamorphis from this greek word. Literally to repent is to change your mind. Yes, repentance is necessary to come unto God… it is what you DO ONE TIME WHEN YOU ACCEPT CHRIST. You change your mind ONE TIME and turn unto Christ. Once you do that you have repented and you do not need to go through Spencer W Kimball’s sixteen thousand step process to be forgiven. When you truly accept Christ as your Lord and Savior you “change your mind” and decide to follow Him and not the ways of the world. At that moment you are forgiven and will go to Heaven to be with God after you die.

    After you do this good works will manifest themselves in your life. You will try to stop sinning and with God’s help you will become a better person. You will do this OUT OF LOVE FOR YOUR SAVIOR AND NOT OUT OF FEAR THAT YOU NEED TO FOLLOW SPENCER W. KIMBALL’s SEVENTEEN THOUSAND STEP PROCESS TO GET TO THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM. As I said in an earlier post, good works in the Bible are not a condition upon which one gets to heaven as the LDS Church teaches. Instead they are a FRUIT that is manifest in the life of a Born Again Christian.

    This is what the Bible teaches. Thank God for His Grace!

    Merry Christmas!!

    Darrell

  43. Tyler permalink
    December 27, 2008 10:59 am

    Darrell,
    Hope you had a merry Christmas.

    Now, sigh….

    These are all great quotes. I agree with and love them all. I find absolutely nothing wrong with any of them. What you don’t seem to understand is that repentance is a process, and God judges the heart. YES, he asks that we do what we can to change, and to do our best to avoid our former sins. But that is simply part of discipleship. He asks us to FOLLOW HIM, and leave our sins behind. Now, simply accepting Jesus as your personal savior and inviting him to enter your heart does not in any way constitute true discipleship.

    So to answer your childish, condescending top ten list, no. I can honestly say I have not completely quit 9 of the topics on that list. Very few people ever attain that kind of devotion in this life. But I can tell you that I am trying. I am doing my best to follow my Savior. I realize that my actions and ‘works’ are in and of themselves insufficient in any salvific context. But I also realize that to simply say, ‘Jesus, thank you for atoning for the sins that I am planning on committing today and everyday. Thank you for letting me be cleansed without following you,’ is nonsense. Luke 13:3 is a simple but significant mandate from the Savior: We must repent. And, to refer once again to your patronizing, arrogant comments, there are not seventeen thousand steps in the MoF. It is simple; Recognize you have done or are doing something that offends God, change the behavior, try to help those that you have wronged, and abstain from the sin. This shows Christ that you indeed want to follow him. His Grace clears up our sin. Which of these do you find so offensive based on your understanding of repentance? What you are advocating has the semblance of a blatant disregard for discipleship in favor of a one-time recognition that we all screw up but that Christ makes it all better.

    LDS doctrine teaches that Adam was the first screw-up, and that we all followed suit. It teaches that we cannot correct that inherent character flaw in any way shape or form. Nothing we can do short of following Jesus will get us closer to heaven. Christ alone can save us- but ONLY if we follow him (see John 14:21, Luke 3:11, Luke 6:31 Luke 10:37).

    1 John 2 emphasizes DOING. In this chapter we are told to “keep his commandments (vs 3),”to walk, even as he walked (vs.6), do righteousness (vs 29). We are told that “he that doeth the will of God abideth forever. (vs 17).”

    Now, if this small sampling of verses doesn’t testify to the need for repentance AND obedience, I don’t know how to more clearly illustrate it. Actually, lets turn to Galations 6:

    vs 2: “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (emphasis on good works, helping others as part of fulfilling the law of Christ.

    vs 4: “But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.” (emphasis on doing)

    AND THEN WE GET SOMETHING VERY SIGNIFICANT: The Law of the Harvest-

    vs. 7 “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”
    vs. 8 “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; BUT HE THAT SOWETH TO THE SPIRIT SHALL OF THE SPIRIT REAP LIFE EVERLASTING.”
    vs. 9 “And let us not be weary in WELL DOING; for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”

    In relation to our ultimate salvation, we will reap what we sow. It is simple: to follow Christ = to reap His Grace and Salvation. To disregard Christ = to reap corruption. Otherwise, why would Paul refer to the law of the harvest? What could we be reaping if we are to do no sowing? Sowing precedes the reaping.

    Also Darrell,
    Please stop referring to LDS as blind and insincere followers. You put this sentence in caps:
    “You will do this OUT OF LOVE FOR YOUR SAVIOR AND NOT OUT OF FEAR THAT YOU NEED TO FOLLOW SPENCER W. KIMBALL’s SEVENTEEN THOUSAND STEP PROCESS TO GET TO THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM.”

    This attaches the assumption that church members live their religion out of fear to a doctrine. This is not the case. The funny thing is, we love and accept and rejoice in our Savior EVERY BIT AS MUCH AS YOU.
    You are the Pharisee of Luke 18. You arrogantly proclaim yourself saved while condemning other sincere disciples to hell.

    And for that matter, stop claiming authoritative conclusiveness on Bible interpretation. No one short of God Himself can lay claim to His word. For everyone that understands your flagship verses like you, there are many others that understand them differently.
    Phrases like “This is what the Bible teaches.” Are a pithy method to have the last word. Your interpretations of scripture are no more unassailable than those of other churches.

    You that proclaim to have won salvation already while admitting the condemnation of those who have no chance to win it are nothing like Christ. This is why I am uncomfortable being associated with christians. You all assume the seat of Christ and consign the rest of us who don’t interpret the Bible as you do, as well as those who never had the Bible, to an eternal hell. I could never be a part of that theology.

    Again, God looks upon the heart. He sees our love for Him, our desire to follow him, and our gratitude to Him. To tell me that the Roman Catholic who never was taught the principles of your faith, but who did all that she could to follow the God that she knew, is going to hell, is vomit-inducing. Luckily, God is just, and his Grace is perfect. If I do my best to love and thank and do as Jesus did, He will bring me into His kingdom.

    Or, maybe I’ll here this:
    “Tyler, you followed me all of your life. You studied my teachings, and lived them the best your could. You helped the poor and the needy. You loved me sincerely, and accepted me as your Savior. But you didn’t believe EXACTLY the way Darrell did… So, you will burn in hell, along with the Asians, Jews, Native Americans, Catholics, Lutherans, Jehovah’s Witnesses, etc. For eternity.”

  44. December 27, 2008 9:50 pm

    Tyler,

    Thank you for your response. I do not take issue with any of the verses you sited. I simply believe that you are misunderstanding them. You are viewing them through the legalistic lens of LDS Doctrine and are therefore, missing the point. You are overlooking the fact that the Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith alone UNTO GOOD WORKS. The works are a RESULT of salvation and are not PART OF THE EQUATION of salvation (Ephesians 2:8-9, Romans 3:9-28, Romans 5:1-2, Romans 8:1-3, Galations 3). All of the verses you sited go right along with this. They are speaking about what we should do after salvation. Works are EVIDENCE OF salvation NOT part of the equation of salvation itself.

    LDS Doctrine teaches the exact opposite. They teach that it is not faith alone that gets one into the Celestial Kingdom… it is faith plus a whole bunch of other things. Do you agree or disagree with this assertion… that your church teaches that works are PART OF THE EQUATION TO GET INTO THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM?

    I honestly apologize if I came across condescending in my earlier post. After rereading it I can see where my comments about the LDS “sixteen thousand” and “seventeen thousand” step process of repentance could have sounded condescending. For that I apologize as it was not intended to sound as such. I was simply trying to demonstrate the difference between what the LDS Church teaches and when the Bible teaches.

    The LDS Church teaches a repentance “process” which does not exist AND IS UNACHEIVABLE. You yourself demonstrated this by your honest answer that you have only TRULY REPENTED OF 1 OF THE 10 ITEMS I LISTED ABOVE. Thank you for your honest response. Given your response according to your church’s doctrine you are in deep trouble. According to D&C 82:7, Moroni 10:32, and your church leaders ALL THE TIMES YOU HAVE COMMITTED THE REMAINING SINS WILL COME BACK ON YOU, CHRIST’S GRACE DOES NOT APPLY TO YOU AND YOU WILL BE JUDGED ACCORDINGLY FOR THOSE SINS. How do you address this? Read the verses and really think about it. You can gloss over it and say that YOU believe you will still receive the grace of Christ. However, that is NOT what your church teaches… nor is it what the Bible teaches. According to your church’s doctrine you will be judged for the remaining 9 sins unless you complete quit doing them before you die. Are you going to be able to do this?

    In contrast, the Bible teaches that once you repent (change your mind and turn to Christ) you are forgiven… period.

    You said:

    “You are the Pharisee of Luke 18. You arrogantly proclaim yourself saved while condemning other sincere disciples to hell.”

    The Pharisee in Luke 18 was SELF-RIGHTEOUS. He thought he was going to heaven because of HIS GOOD WORKS. Verse 12.. “I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get”. In contrast the Tax Collector said in verse 13 “have mercy on me a sinner”. How am I being self righteous by claiming that my good works (or really lack thereof!!) are NOT part of the equation? It is self righteous to say that I will go to heaven because of Christ NOT me? You are the one professing that your good works are part of the equation… not me! I am saying that it is FAITH and FAITH ALONE… NOT anything that I can do. I am a sinner and freely admit that!! That is why I rejoice in the grace of Jesus Christ.

    We are told in Hebrews 4:16 says “Let us approach the throne of grace with confidence so that we may receive mercy and find grace…”. Ephesians 3:12 says “In Him and THROUGH FAITH IN HIM we may approach God with freedom and CONFIDENCE”. That is the Good News of Jesus Christ… we can approach God with confidence… not because of our good works but DESPITE our good works it is because of Jesus!! Praise be to Him not to me.

    Darrell

  45. December 30, 2008 8:35 am

    When Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their works, he was typically condemning the fact that the strictly observed some works, but then neglected the “weightier matters” of the law – such as robbing the widows and persecuting the poor. But they would be scrupulous about more trivial matters like tithing of spices, or ritual hand-washing, or avoiding leaven.

    It wasn’t even close to the blanket-condemnation of reliance on works that you are trying to turn it into. All Jesus was doing was calling on people to correctly prioritize which works they should be performing, and to not take their strict observance of MINOR areas of the law as vindicating their failure to observe the MAJOR areas of the law.

    Jesus explicitly made works a requirement of achieving the the kingdom of heaven on several occasions. But I’ve found Evangelicals tend to ignore these statements from our Lord and Savior, or wave them away.

    And of course you can fall from the Savior’s grace. Otherwise you wouldn’t be a free being would you?

  46. Brad permalink
    December 30, 2008 4:30 pm

    And of course you can fall from the Savior’s grace. Otherwise you wouldn’t be a free being would you?

    Seth, I take it you’re not a Calvinist, then? 🙂

  47. December 30, 2008 6:30 pm

    Har, har.

    True though, I do find Arminian strains of thought more attractive than Calvinist.

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