This week's CT article showcases difference between Mormon and evangelical views of grace. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock; http://tinyurl.com/cnyfzwq)

This week’s CT article showcases differences between Mormon and evangelical views of grace. (Image courtesy of Shutterstock; http://tinyurl.com/cnyfzwq)

 

This month, the evangelical magazine Christianity Today asked three experts on youth ministry how Protestants might better engage their own teenagers and young adults, looking to Mormonism for a possible answer. With its recent sharp increase in new missionary recruits shipping out around the world, Mormonism has become the It Religion for youth involvement and leadership.

I should say at the outset that it’s progress that CT would dare to look to Mormonism for any kind of inspiration. As some of the article’s comments show, doing so is not a popular stance among evangelical readers; two commenters have already accused CT of having an editorial agenda “contrary to the scriptures.”

But apart from a grudging admiration of the passion of Mormon youth, the article itself is hardly laudatory of Mormonism. In fact, its title — “What Can Christians Learn from the Surge in Mormon Youth Missionaries?” – makes the age-old battle lines clear: Christian ≠ Mormon. All three of the experts fault Mormonism for a works-based theology:

“Trying to earn God’s favor through human effort is not going to help any teenager, whether Mormon or Protestant.” – Greg Stier

“Mormon culture is founded on a worldview requiring works in order to gain eternal life.” – John Divito

“Christians have a unique core that motivates our service, a core that separates our religion from others, including Mormonism. That core is grace—amazing grace.” – Kara Powell

And they’re right, up to a point. On the works-grace continuum, most Mormons stand closer to the “works” end of the spectrum than most evangelicals do. But an eloquent (and polite!) LDS commenter to the CT post notes that the theology inherent in the Book of Mormon’s “by grace we are saved, after all we can do” mantra (2 Nephi 25:23) is indeed compatible with a theology grace:

Those who quote this verse often misunderstand the meaning of the last phrase. It reads: “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.” Alma 24:10-11 makes it clear that “all we can do” is repent. LDS beliefs are not a system of works-righteousness. LDS beliefs are in accord with the teachings of both Paul and James. We believe in salvation by grace through faith (Rom. 5:2; Eph. 2:8) but we also believe that faith without works is dead (Jam. 2:17). True faith will be accompanied by good works. Other portions of the Book of Mormon make it clear that our works in no way save us.

It’s good to understand the 2 Nephi quote in context, and it’s also important for evangelical writers to recognize that over the last two decades, Mormonism has been emphasizing grace more and more from the pulpit.

As I’ve tracked this theological evolution, though, I have seen a key difference in how Mormons use the language of grace and how evangelicals use it. Evangelicals often talk about grace as a means of salvation, which (in rhetoric if not always in lived practice) is an end in itself, full stop.

Mormons talk about grace as our means of salvation as well, for everything begins with the free gift of Christ’s atonement. But grace also equips us for service in the here and now. The opening sentence in the LDS Gospel Topics reference defines grace as “the help or strength given through the Atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The Mormon definition focuses on grace as “enabling power” and “spiritual strength.” It is a gift, yes, but it’s one we have to unwrap and put into play.

A danger of the Mormon view of grace is that it can easily devolve into the caricature that some evangelicals have charged us with – the notion that our works can save us. As the second CT commenter rightly observes, a performance-based religion “leads either to pride (‘I can do it!’) or to despair (‘I can’t do it!’).”

A danger of the evangelical view of grace is complacency. If grace is merely the key that unlocks salvation, then why does the vast majority of the Bible focus on grace-full ways of inhabiting this life—how we spend our money, teach the gospel, serve our neighbor, and feed the poor?

The answer is that it is a balance. I’m grateful for evangelical friends and writers (Philip Yancey in particular) who have taught me what makes grace so amazing. But I’m also grateful that Mormon theology demands, every day, that any faith that God’s grace has sparked in me be put into action.

169 Comments

  1. Thanks, Jana. That is an excellent compare-and-contrast piece on grace. I have learned much of this in dialogue with BYU religion teachers. Unfortunately, when I cautioned CT editors on this point, nothing was done to nuance the various writers’ views. –David Neff, former editor in chief, Christianity Today

    • David, that’s a great perspective. Thank you. But when I read the CT piece, I thought that the only part of it which misrepresented the works-grace issue was the segment written by John Divito. Since he’s billed as a former Mormon, I guess that the editors probably figured, hey, he’s our expert, so he can say what he likes, particularly if it already fits in with our preconceptions.

      But of course, he can’t say what he likes, not if he wishes to be truthful. It’s my fervent hope that both evangelicals and Mormons believe that bearing false witness is a sin. John Divito should think about that.

      Ephesians 2:8 is a great verse. As a Mormon – by the way, I am also a former evangelical, so I’m an expert too! – I fully believe in the truth of Eph. 2:8. Textually it sits very comfortably alongside 2 Neph. 25:23, since both of them teach plainly the necessity of grace and the inadequacy of works. But Eph. 2:8 is not the only verse in the Bible, and especially can’t be given precedence over the teachings of Jesus Christ, who never, ever quite said that all you need is a moment of belief and you’re good to go.

      And I’ve been curious for a long time about why the necessity (in evangelical theology) of that moment of belief isn’t still a “work.” In other words, I have sat in pews listening to hundreds of calls to the altar in my day. I’ve been to Billy Graham crusades, when thousands stream out of the stands in response to his call to give their lives to Jesus. All of those pastors, all of those evangelists, were always very specific about what YOU need to do do be saved. So if it is something that YOU need to do to be saved, then that’s a work, no?

      Salvation feels like a binary term. You either are or you’re not. But Mormons understand that the term salvation can be used in more than one sense. In the most basic sense, which is salvation from physical death and from the damnation associated with sin, Mormons believe, even more so than evangelicals, that salvation is a free gift of God’s grace, purchased through the atonement of Christ, unconditional on anything required of us at any time.

      So, I’m not sure that I agree with Jana about where Mormons stand on the grace-works continuum in relation to evangelicals. (Jana, I’m thinking of an important talk by Elder Dalin Oaks on this subject.) My sense is that the theology of God’s grace, and of man’s duties of faith and obedience, is too rich to be reduced to placing a dot on a line between two undoctrinal extremes.

      • LMA, great comment. You are spot on, and so articulate. Salvation clearly comes to us through the works of grace. We have to become like God to be saved–”Be ye therefore perfect even as your Father in Heaven is perfect”–but we have no hope of attaining that standard except through on-going engagement with and reliance upon the atonement and enabling power of the Savior. Christ has us symbolically partake of his body and blood each week, making him part of us. That symbol reveals a profound truth. Unless he is part of us, unless he empowers us, we can never be the person we must be to be saved. The Mormon sacrament prayers contain this insight. In the prayer on the bread, we testify that we “are willing” to always remember Christ and keep his commandments. We are willing but unable. After we partake of the body of Christ and make him part of us, we gain the capacity to do what we are willing but unable on our own to do. The prayer on the water then says we “do always remember him.” Our capacity to do is the gracious gift of God through his only begotten son, Jesus Christ. So works are indispensable and Christ and even Paul make very clear, but they are ever and always the works of grace.

        • Val: Wow. I’ve never seen it put more succinctly. Kudos. And Thank You. I hope you don’t mind, but I’ll be quoting you often. That is some higher-level understanding. Just Wow.

      • SO WELL SAID!! As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it has troubled me for a long time that we are criticized for including works in the package, striving to LIVE so we can enjoy eternal life. If we accept Christ as our Savior, does not that place the RESPONSIBILITY UPON US to LIVE in a way that demonstrates that??? Or does He want us to just go merrily along as we were before, with no effort to clean up our lives and follow His teachings? That folks, any way you shake it up and dump it out, IS WORKS.
        Thank you so much for your article. This work is TRUE.

    • David,
      BYU religion teachers are one thing. Official Mormon teaching manuals are another. I wrote a response to Jana’s piece which may interest you. In it I show what the LDS Church officially teaches Mormons about grace. The current teaching manuals define authoritative Mormon doctrine, not BYU professors.
      http://blog.evidenceministries.org/mormon-works-vs-evangelical-grace-not-so-fast-a-christian-response-to-jana-riess/

      • Hey Keith…lesson or instructional manuals do not define Mormon doctrine or church doctrine. They are pretty accurate but filtered by committee and occasionally opinions. The church emphasizes this all the time….first presidency statements, the standard works (scripture), conference talks since about 1963 are the only authoritative sources…all others are opinions…perhaps very good opinions but not authoritative for the church at large.

        • Harry,
          Are you familiar with the DOCTRINE AND COVENANTS AND CHURCH HISTORY: GOSPEL DOCTRINE TEACHER’S MANUAL? It explains the correlation process and states, “Explain that Church publications, such as lesson manuals and Church magazines, are produced to help members learn and live the gospel of Jesus Christ. The correlation process helps ensure that these materials are scripture-based, doctrinally accurate, and appropriate for the intended audience. All Church publications are planned, prepared, reviewed, and implemented under the direction of the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve.”

          Lesson manuals are prepared by the First Presidency and are endorsed as “doctrinally accurate.” You can read the whole chapter here.
          https://www.lds.org/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-and-church-history-gospel-doctrine-teachers-manual/lesson-42-continuing-revelation-to-latter-day-prophets?lang=eng

          On a side note, why would you say that a Mormon teaching manual doesn’t teach doctrine? Why go through such a rigorous correlation process if we can just discount the information provided therein as “opinion?”

          • Hi Keith…good response, I’m familiar with everything you put there. In the previous post you wrote “The current teaching manuals define authoritative Mormon doctrine,”….I simply disagree, I agree they are very useful that’s why we use them to help structure Sunday school etc…but they do not define authoritative doctrine.

          • Harry,
            For some reason I can’t reply directly to your response so I’ll just respond to my own comment and hope you see this. My blog has the same limited comment navigation.

            Are you saying you don’t believe the D&C & History manual when it clearly teaches that the lessons in LDS Church teaching manuals are doctrinally accurate? If not, then I do not understand your point. If you are disagreeing with the teaching manual, then your disagreement isn’t with me. Assuming you are a Mormon, your disagreement is with your own Church.

            Here is what I don’t understand. How can you state that any teaching manual that goes through the correlation process is not authoritative? What is the point of the whole process if it is just someone’s opinion? Are you suggesting they should be called “opinion manuals?” ;-)

          • Hi Keith…we are kinda splitting hairs here. It’s your phrasing…”The current teaching manuals define authoritative Mormon doctrine,”…..especially the word “define”….the manuals are great I often refer to them for study and thought…I accept them as doctrinally accurate….I’ve gone to many priesthood meetings conducted by a General authority or temple president….when explaining or teaching a doctrinal precept I’ve never heard a one refer to or read from the gospel doctrine manual as his resource. But I’ve heard the other 3 sources mentioned earlier hundreds of times.

          • For example….perhaps I would phrase it this way…”to better understand the doctrines and teachings of the LDS Church please refer to the authorized teaching manuals for Sunday school”

          • Harry,
            You are correct. You are splitting hairs. You don’t like the way I phrase things, but the fact of the matter is, the manuals are, in your own words, authorized, doctrinally accurate and *teaching* manuals. None of those words imply “opinions” like you stated earlier. It simply does not make sense to say that these teaching manuals teach “authorized, yet doctrinally accurate opinions.”

            As you can imagine, I have had this conversation with Mormons before. I even had one fellow go so far as to say they are “inspired speculation.” What is the point of having prophets, seers and revelators if they are only going to give you their opinions?

    • Respectfully, Mr. Neff your stance appears to be based on a flawed premise: That BYU religion teachers are authoritatively articulating Mormon Doctrine in accordance with official, correlated LdS Church orthodoxy. All too often this is simply not the case. Whether we’re talking about Robert Millet, Stephen Robinson, Brad Wilcox, J. Spencer Fluhman or others very often what they’re stating is completely at odds with what the General Authorities of the LdS Church teach via sermons, lectures, and literature.

      In general, it appears that you’ve bought into the same error that Richard J. Mouw, Greg Johnson (whose comments I have noted here), and many other Evangelical have: That BYU Professors have the same level of influence and authority within the LdS Church that LdS General Authorities do. But as I stated in my review of Richard J. Mouw’s book, “Talking with Mormons”:

      “Dr. Mouw is talking to the wrong Mormons. “College Professor” and/or “Scholar” has no place in the hierarchy of the LdS Church.[2] They don’t interpret official doctrine, they don’t define LdS orthodoxy, they don’t dictate LdS Church policy and they have exactly no “Priesthood Authority” over those who do. Thirteenth President Ezra Taft Benson made this quite clear when he said:

      “Doctrinal interpretation is the province of the First Presidency. The Lord has given that stewardship to them by revelation. No teacher has the right to interpret doctrine for the members of the Church. If Church members would remember that, we could do away with a number of books which have troubled some of our people”[3]

      In expecting the learned lay person to have any influence on the theology, doctrines and practice of the LdS Church, Dr. Mouw appears to have psychologically projected his own Evangelical tradition onto the Mormon movement. He doesn’t appear to grasp that Mormonism is, and always has been governed magisterially by its First Presidency. It is a “top down” institution that simply does not answer to the professors in its private university.[4]

      To illustrate this point, it should be noted that of all the myriad changes to LdS theology that have been enacted in Salt Lake City (home of the Church Office Building for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), I can think of none that have originated in Provo (home of Brigham Young University).”
      http://beggarsbread.org/2012/08/13/scolasticus-cum-peter-principle/

      I would politely ask that you reconsider your stance in light of these facts.

      Thank you.

      NOTES:
      [1] See http://www.fuller.edu/president/
      (retrieved 2012-08-10)

      [2] For a more complete description – including a superb graphical representation – of the hierarchy of the LdS Church see http://www.mormonwiki.org/LDS_Hierarchy
      (retrieved 2012-08-07)

      [3] Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p.317; “The Gospel Teacher and His Message,” also cited in Charge to Religious Educators, pp. 51–52, and; The LdS Church manual, “Teachings of the Living Prophets”, p.25; http://institute.lds.org/manuals/teachings-of-the-livings-prophets/tlp-5-4.asp
      (retrieved 2012-08-08)

      [4] A case in point is how the LdS Church treated BYU Professor Randy Bott’s Washington Post comments on race in February 2012 (see http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/racial-remarks-in-washington-post-article ; retrieved 2012-08-12) In their church statement, the LdS Church clearly stated, “BYU faculty members do not speak for the Church.”

  2. Thanks Jana
    You did a good job summarizing the grace-works relationship.
    I both love and hate it when evangelical Christians criticize using the “after all we can do” phrase, considering it’s one of my favorite passages that is often taken out of context. Looking at the chapter as a whole, there’s very little discussing works- it’s main message is about belief in Christ. In this context, I interpret verse 23 as “[even/despite] all we can do… we know that it is by grace that we are saved”.

    • YES! I interpret that verse the same way. The evidence is there in all our standard works when taken as a whole. We hope to become ‘more fit for the Kingdom’ We are not earning Heaven, we are learning Heaven- Wilcox.

    • That verse assumes we can repent. Even repentence is a gift from God. Romans chapter 3 verse 11 says NOBODY seeks God, not even one. So we don’t even have the power to repent. Until God saves us, we are spiritually dead, not just lacking understanding. We are as unable to repent as a dead body is to do anything (other than rot).

    • Never has a General Authority interpreted 2 Nephi 25:23 as “despite all we can do.” Dallin H. Oaks equated “doing all you can do” with repentance and then quoted Moroni 10:32.

      “And what is ‘all we can do? It surely includes repentance (see Alma 24:11) and baptism, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end. Moroni pleaded, ‘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’” (Moro. 10:32).
      APRIL 1998 General Conference, Have You Been Saved?

      • ‘It is only through the infinite Atonement of Jesus Christ that people can overcome the consequences of bad choices. Thus Nephi teaches us that it is ultimately by the grace of Christ that we are saved even after all that we can do (see 2 Ne. 25:23). No matter how hard we work, no matter how much we obey, no matter how many good things we do in this life, it would not be enough were it not for Jesus Christ and His loving grace. 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. It is this dependence that causes us to want to sing what Alma eloquently referred to as “the song of redeeming love” (Alma 5:26).’

        http://www.lds.org/ensign/1998/06/building-bridges-of-understanding?lang=eng

        • Why did you leave out what Ballard said *before* your quote?

          He said, “We believe that only as we rely on the Savior’s grace and demonstrate our changed nature through obedience to His laws and ordinances may we receive eternal life. This principle is beautifully taught by Moroni in the closing chapter of the Book of Mormon. Please note the harmony and balance between the efforts we must make and the role of God’s grace in the process of perfecting ourselves.

          ‘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; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.’”

          It becomes more obvious what Ballard is saying when you take into consideration that the LDS Church defines “grace” differently.

          “The enabling power from God that allows men and women to obtain blessings in this life and to gain eternal life and exaltation after they have exercised faith, repented, and given their best effort to keep the commandments. Such divine help or strength is given through the mercy and love of God. Every mortal person needs divine grace because of Adam’s fall and also because of man’s weaknesses.”
          http://www.lds.org/scriptures/gs/grace?lang=eng

          To Mormons grace is an enabling power which helps them keep the commandments so they can be forgiven. Notice that eternal life and exaltation is obtained only after one has “given their best effort to keep the commandments.”

          How are you doing with that?

          • Dude, you are preaching to the choir. BUT, no one ‘gives their best effort’ NO ONE. And the scripture ‘after all we can do’ has been the cause of serious depression within our community. We forget that gospel means ‘good news’ we put too much emphasis on our own works without remembering that what God ultimately requires is a broken heart and contrite spirit. That the atonement is enough, that our works do not save us, they make us ‘more fit for the kingdom’ Please spend some time with Brad Wilcox- ‘His Grace is sufficient’

          • I know the LDS community has suffered because of verses like 2 Nephi 25:25, Moroni 10:32, Alma 11:37 and a host of others. That is one way I know these men are not prophets. Their gospel is not good news.

            Brad Wilcox is not a General Authority and has no say in what Mormons are to believe. Mormons are to treat General Conference and the General Authorities who speak there as if it were from the voice of God Himself. That is why I did a presentation on what the GA’s say about verses like the ones mentioned above. If the link doesn’t work, search for “Impossible Gospel of Mormonism as taught in General Conference” on YouTube.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iPiBcPKoVJ0

          • lol, so I am supposed to go to some ‘anti’ site to get truth? Thanks, I think I will stick to the arbiter of all truth. Besides, there is not one thing there I have not already studied for myself. NO ONE has any say in what I believe except God Himself. Everything else goes through the filter that the Holy Ghost has blessed me with. It is true that some Mormons do not understand grace, but that is changing and those who do not have the fullness of the gospel understand it even less. It is all about ‘say you are saved, and you are saved’ I am sure, after this life, we will all have the reward that will glean the greatest happiness for each of us. A protestant once said to me that Jesus Christ was the only God he would ever see and I am sure that is true for that is where he will be happiest.

          • PS, you pick and choose verses in scripture without gaining a full and complete understanding of what is there. Whatever floats your boat, but a complete reading of the Book of Mormon makes clear that the concept of Grace is understood and true.

            I am done here. God bless!

          • I’m sorry to see you go. The link I gave you was to YouTube, not an “anti site.” If you want to close your mind and not be bothered by the facts, then I’m not going to stop you. However, if you’ll be a little more open minded, watch my video and contact me privately, I’d be more than happy to discuss it with you.

            May God bless you for HIS glory, not yours.

      • M Russel Ballard, should have clarified. Even after all we can do, we are still saved by Grace. The entirety of the Book of Mormon makes this very clear.

        :)

          • Note the comma. It means that I should have clarified that my previous remark was a comment by Ballard.

            Don’t worry, no harm done. ;)

  3. Hi Jana,

    Like David Neff, I appreciated your blog as well. As a former Mormon/evangelical Utah pastor and ministry leader who has been involved in multiple levels of evangelical/Mormon dialogue, I don’t think there is a more important conversation that Mormons and evangelicals can have than to talk about grace and works and make sure we really listen to each other. I have been traveling around the country for over ten years with Dr. Bob Millet of BYU and our book, “Bridging the Divide, The Continuing Conversation Between a Mormon and an Evangelical,” and presentation dialogue has advanced this topic as central to our conversation. I think much progress has been made in this area and old stereotypes have given way to more nuanced engagement and understanding! I”m glad for that and I believe we both communities have something to learn from each other. We are indeed saved by grace alone and it is God’s grace that empowers us to serve Him as a faithful servant seeking to bring His name glory and honor.

    Blessings,

    Pastor Greg Johnson
    Standing Together

  4. Jana, I enjoyed this piece as well, and pointed it out to my various Facebook groups where discussion about it will ensue. I think it makes a good contribution to the understanding of Mormonism among Evangelicals, and provides another reminder of the need for ongoing relationships and conversations among members of our religious communities.

  5. Apparently, I need stronger reading glasses sooner rather than later. I read your last phrase as “any faith that God’s grace has spanked in me be put into action.”
    Haha! I have often been deservedly spanked by God’s grace.

    But back to the LDS thing. I used to live in a predominantly-LDS neighborhood. They were kind and loving neighbors, and whatever terminology is used, their good works were and are motivated by their love of God, and gratitude for all the gifts God gives, including eternal life. Your article clearly described the way they have exhibited their faith in daily life.

  6. The CT article was interesting. I think the three writers would agree that one more motive for service could be mentioned. As an LDS missionary myself I knew many motives–some noble, some not– were involved (especially if it was very cold outside). But one that has to be noted as fundamental–and you hear it all the time from missionaries–is to experience love for and from the people you are trying to serve. Most missionaries seek joyful love–in a small way like Jesus who endured the cross for the joy that was set before him. We are so ‘me me me’ oriented as teens, and missionaries often feel relieved loving others and not primarily worrying about themselves for a couple of years. I believe this goes for any missionary–no matter what the cause or religion espoused.

  7. Jana, thank you for a clear and concise article on this topic. As the only person in my family and extended family who is a member of the church, I am often confronted with this exact question. Sadly while my words have usually fallen on deaf ears, I know in my heart that it is God’s grace that ultimately saves me. My faith is strengthened by these conversations, because even though I am not able to convince my brethren, I have done what the Lord wants by trying to teach them. He approves.

    I appreciate so much your thoughtful comments. I also appreciate how you and all of the commenters have responded positively, thoughtfully and with great tolerance. In a world so full of intolerance, it was refreshing – even uplifting to read this today.

  8. One Evangelical Christian author wrote of his sudden discovery that his previous beliefs about salvation were very different from those held by the early Christians:

    “If there’s any single doctrine that we would expect to find the faithful associates of the apostles teaching, it’s the doctrine of salvation by faith alone. After all, that is the cornerstone doctrine of the Reformation. In fact, we frequently say that persons who don’t hold to this doctrine aren’t really Christians…
    Our problem is that Augustine, Luther, and other Western theologians have convinced us that there’s an irreconcilable conflict between salvation based on grace and salvation conditioned on works or obedience. They have used a fallacious form of argumentation known as the “false dilemma,” by asserting that there are only two possibilities regarding salvation: it’s either (1) a gift from God or (2) it’s something we earn by our works.
    The early Christians [and Latter-day Saints!] would have replied that a gift is no less a gift simply because it’s conditioned on obedience….
    The early Christians believed that salvation is a gift from God but that God gives His gift to whomever He chooses. And He chooses to give it to those who love and obey him.”
    —David W. Bercot, Will The Real Heretics Please Stand Up: A New Look at Today’s Evangelical Church in the Light of Early Christianity, 3rd edition, (Tyler, Texas: Scroll Publishing Company, 1999[1989]), 57, 61–62.

    The Church of Jesus Christ (LDS) agrees with the earliest Christians that grace is conditioned upon obedience to Jesus Christ’s commandments.

    • The LDS “church” defines Jesus as the spirit brother of Lucifer, instead of how Jesus is described in the Bible – part of the triume, eternal, God. The LDS “church” teaches that Jesus is a created being rather than eternal past and future the way the Bible describes Him. Etc., etc.

      The ORIGINAL sin in the Bible is two humans wanting to be like God, determining good and evil for themselves. Humans have a single nature – human and sinful. Jesus has a dual nature, human and divine. Humans will never be divine like God. The LDS “church” is definitely NOT Christian. Brigham Young taught that Adam perfected himself and became God, the Father.

      • How in the world did Bob Pegram get the idea that Adam “perfected HIMSELF and became God, the Father” ????!!! WHAT?? God CREATED Adam! Haven’t you ever read Genesis? Please, people, check the facts, the doctrine, before telling everybody, including Latter-day-day Saints, what we believe. Ask someone who KNOWS. Just picking up rumors is not a fair way to judge anybody. By the way, HOW could a person “perfect HIMSELF . . . ??”

        • Bev -
          I didn’t say what you said I said.
          You: “How in the world did Bob Pegram get the idea that Adam “perfected HIMSELF and became God, the Father” ???”
          Me: I didn’t say that. I also didn’t say that is current LDS teaching. I said Brigham Young taught it and gave a reference, the book SECRET HISTORY by Ahmansen.
          Read more carefully!

      • Also, as to our claim that Jesus Christ was the spirit brother of Lucifer — when a tiny portion of doctrine is mentioned out of context to give the illusion of evil, that is false witness. “The REST OF THE STORY” appears clearly in our doctrine. And agrees with the Bible. We are very clear about Who Jesus is. That’s our message to the world. Ask the missionaries. Or a solid member of the Church. Get BOTH sides. To imply that WE imply that Jesus was somehow tainted or corrupted by this brother relationship is unfounded, wrong. They were polar opposites, fighting for opposite causes. (Revelation 12:7-9) Lucifer, a former angel, whose name means “Son of the Morning” or “Lightbringer” rebelled (fell) and was CAST OUT of heaven. While Christ triumphed and became our Redeemer. All who follow Him will live with Him eternally — through His GRACE. Please get ALL the beautiful facts of Who WE know our Savior to be. And who we are. I’m sorry some consider us not to be Christian. We follow 1st-Century Christianity as the Master set it up, before the changes and splintering began. May God bless you.

        • I invite you also to refer back to “Mormons Are Christian”, which is a “non-member” of the LDS Church, stating our belief in ‘early Christianity.’ He’s right.

        • What I said is accurate. The LDS church teaches that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers. It also teaches that Jesus is a created being as opposed to the second person of the eternal (in both directions) trinity which is God. The Bible teaches Jesus is God in the flesh (not A god, but THE God along with the Father and the Holy Spirit).

  9. Christopher Bolton

    When I was 11, I was in a bowling league. My team had the best bowlers, but we lost to a bunch of girls. not because they were better bowlers, but because they bowled above average while we didn’t and they won based on the extra points given because of the handicap. I see grace as being like a golf or bowling handicap. It’s the amount of help God gives you to reach a certain level based on your own needs and abilities.

    The parable of the talents talks about 2 different men who had differing amounts of talents (money), yet both doubled that which they were given. They received the exact same reward. Some of us in this life are given more abilities than others, yet we all receive the same rewards if we magnify that which we are given. This is grace.

    In the gospel, even if we do the very best we can (like bowling a 300), we still aren’t able to score enough points to EARN exaltation. We all require grace. There is no human who has ever been able to forgive his own sins or resurrect himself from the dead. Even if we work all day serving god, we are still unprofitable servants. We can’t work hard enough to earn exaltation. We need god’s help and he needs our help too. God won’t force a man to heaven (Sorry Calvinists). neither us nor god can save us without the cooperation of the other.

  10. Great article, very nice simple and accurate. Latter-day saints believe immortality and eternal life are two different things. Immortality comes to all men who have lived because of the grace of God and the sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. Every knee shall bow and every tongue confess “Jesus is the Christ”. Eternal Life is the great reward for those who follow the straight and narrow path where “few be there that find it”.

  11. Jana, thanks for your being able to emphasize the similarities in our different approaches to learning to appreciate the wonderful gifts of the atonement. I too love the transition taking place in the LDS definition of grace. We are seeing it as not only forgiveness of sin, but also an enabling power to improve our character.
    I like what Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written: “The great Mediator asks for our repentance not because we must ‘repay’ him in exchange for his paying our debt to justice, but because repentance initiates a developmental process that, with the Savior’s help, leads us along the path to a saintly character” (The Broken Heart [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1989], 149; emphasis in original).

    • LaVerl 09, that is an excellent and very relevant quote from Elder Haven. You mentioned a “transition taking place in the LDS definition of grace.” I think it is important to note that LDS doctrine on grace has not changed, but I believe the understanding of the LDS people of their own doctrine has changed. This ongoing dialogue between Evangelicals and Mormons has hopefully helped Mormons and Evangelicals alike to think more deeply about the doctrines of their respective religions on grace and works. The technology of our day has certainly made it easier to discuss and consider different viewpoints and weigh those against the word of God as found in holy scriptures, leading to a better understanding of our respective doctrines for Mormons and Evangelicals alike. So, “transition,” yes, but in understanding, not in doctrine.

      • I appreciate your comment ” I think it is important to note that LDS doctrine on grace has not changed, but I believe the understanding of the LDS people of their own doctrine has changed”

        I think this is the critical piece in all this discussion. God and his doctrine does not change but our understanding of God and his doctrine does. Of all the things the adversary wants to accomplish in this world, the number one thing would be to keep us from knowing the true God and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.

  12. James Christensen

    I was somewhat confused by this very topic all of my life, then I came accross an address by Brad Wilcox entitled “his grace is sufficient”. This may explain the mormon view of this topic better than anything else I have ever seen or heard. Makes perfect sense, to even a layman like me! Check it out!

  13. Wonderful article Jana. I read the CT article and, while I enjoyed the complementary tone of most of the authors, I was disappointed by their inability to acknowledge that much of our missionary service, and other service, are done with the same attitudes they desire for their youth. Missionaries frequently testify of their desire to share the blessings they’ve been given with others. How different is this from Ms. Powell desire to live as a “great big thank you note” to God. It’s as though our theological differences preclude that we serve for other reasons than “God’s favor.”

    The best example comes from the obligatory former Mormon, Mr. Divito. His one way of seeing our motives for service goes as far as to see the missionary surge as a “cautionary lesson” for Christians. All I can say is I expect he is part of the evangelical camp where continually knocking down Mormon straw men builds street cred.

  14. Great post! I think you might find this article very interesting and enlightening. It addresses Mormon culture among its members, particularly the misconception about grace vs works.

    http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1966

    • Thank you for the reference. I did search Brad Wilcox talk on “His Grace is Sufficient” today and had me bawling like a child. I understood what Brad was talking about. I am eternally grateful for my Savior’s love and his amazing grace. I know no matter how I try to keep my covenants with Him, I still come short. I need His “grace” by coming to Him and following His example. And if that is not considered “good works”, then so be it. Jesus Christ is my judge.

  15. Men are saved by grace. … no if and or buts. …. but because all men will stand before the judgement bar of God and be “judged” works are absolutely necessary. …the book of revelations chapter 20….
    12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.
    13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

    • Which one is correct? “We are saved by grace only” or “We are saved by grace and the work of repentence”. Mormanism’s view can lead to pride or depression while Evangelical’s view can lead to “warm water” (not hot nor cold).
      I think the key is the Holy Ghost. When one feels the grace of God, and have enough faith to receive the Holy Ghost, the Holy Ghost will lead him/her to what to say, what to do, and how to feel, in different situation, toward different people. Our Lord and master Jesus shows many good examples for me.

      • David. .. both. .. but for different reasons and occasions. . The grace of God applied first. … at final judgement. .. notice even hell gives up their dead. .. at final judgement your works are Paramount. .. the scripture says judged by their works. … not belief not my intentions. .. so you better know what works are important at that judgement

      • You are saved by grace. Is everyone saved? No. So salvation must be conditional on some requirement. That requirement is Faith in Jesus Christ, Repentance through Jesus Christ, baptism by immersion for the remission of sins in the name of Jesus Christ, receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost, a gift from Jesus Christ.
        Acts 2:38 God has laws and commandments – you must strive to obey those laws and keep those commandments – this doesn’t earn you anything – it stops wrath and condemnation and destruction being poured out upon your head as a wicked rebellious sinner! The wages of sin are death – the reward for faith and repentance is peace and joy

        • Vincent Baiamonte

          I think part of the confusion here is what the term “saved” means. Virtually all of mankind will eventually be saved from eternal subjection to Satan, although not all will end up in the same order of glory. In the LDS view, all are saved to a degree of glory. This is consistent with the Bible. Thus, all men will confess that Christ is the Savior and be saved to a degree of glory, with the exception of those few who deny the Holy Ghost.

  16. Central Texan

    I love the prophet Abinadi’s take on this as he confronted the wicked priests of King Noah (from the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 13). He rehearses to them the most basic of God’s laws – the Ten Commandments – and rebukes these priests for not even teaching the people to observe these laws, part of the broader Law of Moses.

    Abinadi recognized that keeping the commandments was important, but also recognized that all this pointed to Christ. In particular he notes that observing the commandments (the Law) itself was of no use WITHOUT Christ.

    Substituting “keeping the commandments” for phrases referring to the Law of Moses in verse 28 of Mosiah 13 can facilitate the understanding we might have today about the need for God’s grace:

    “And moreover, I say unto you, that salvation doth not come by [keeping the commandments] alone; and were it not for the atonement, which God himself shall make for the sins and iniquities of his people, that [we] must unavoidably perish, notwithstanding [that we keep the commandments].”

  17. The entire New Testament is devoted to the convincing of the Jews that the law of Moses had been fulfilled. All those rules and regulations (As Central Texan pointed out – [keeping the commandments]) would not save anyone of and by themselves. All the animals that had been sacrificed by the people who either raised them or bought them.. would not save even one man in the kingdom of God.

    Without Christ having died on the cross.. and having served the penalty of Justice.. he was punished for every sin that had ever been committed or would be committed.. man would not and could not be saved in the Kingdom of God. Justice no longer has a hold on us. Justice has been satisfied by Christ receiving the punishment for the sins of the world. This is what is meant when the Apostle Paul says that Christ owns us. He has paid for and bought us. The difference is.. he is not a slave master. He simply states.. to be saved.. you must follow me. There is no other name under heaven other than Jesus Christ where by a man can be saved. It is because Christ has already suffered for every sin. He said..

    16 For behold, I, God, have suffered these things for all, that they might not suffer if they would repent;

    17 But if they would not repent they must suffer even as I;

    18 Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit—and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and shrink—

    19 Nevertheless, glory be to the Father, and I partook and finished my preparations unto the children of men.

    So it is very simple. Christ says you will be accountable for you own sins. The only way to stop this from happening is to follow him. He is the way.

    And because the blood of a totally innocent and perfect man was spilled.. Christ has the authority to erase from our Book of Life.. any and all sins that we committed. So that when it is presented to the Father.. there is no sin in our book and we then can enter where God lives. But if there are sins recorded in our Book of Life.. we can not enter where God lives because no unrighteous thing can enter into the presence of God.

    If you don’t repent.. then you will be punished for your own sins.. and the Blood of Christ will not erase the sins committed in your Book of Life.

    It is the grace of God that what Christ did.. allows us to still enter the presence of God.. even though we have sinned and shouldn’t be allowed to. There are no amount of rules that we can follow.. or commandments adhered to.. that without Christ would earn our salvation on our own. Only thru Christ. But we must repent. And repenting is a work.

    • Nonsense. Repenting is not a work. It is a gift…. We seek …. light and truth… and it is given through the Grace of GOD because of His SON. His grace, his mercy, his justice …. his compassion….. his perfect love… All of these are what we seek… to be filled with perfect love… is true repentance… as IN change or the seeking of light and truth. And all of these are BESTOWED upon everyone… the question is… WHEN and HOW?

  18. It seems to me that many LDS have sold out the essence of their belief in the need for works in order to win approval of the evangelicals.

    “For it is by grace ye are saved, after all you can do”, is the essence of our theology. To cheapen it by saying that the “all” is only to repent, misses the mark. My position on this has always been to say; yes, I do believe in God the Father his Son and in the Holy Ghost, and Christ through his sacrifice has opened the door to salvation. The next step is for me to get off my butt and earn my exaltation.

    • Bob, the problem with ‘earning’ your salvation is that you have already failed. You have already sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Your only hope is to be saved by Christ and receive mercy. You do this by faith in Christ, repentance and baptism and enduring to the end as a Saint. If you return to the presence of God it will be because of Christ and nothing to do with your works. Justice would claim you and destroy you. Only mercy offered because of Christ will save
      you. Mormons should read their Book of Mormon more often.

    • Bob, I think that this is unfair. The Book of Mormon lines up very well with the New Testament with regard to the roles of grace and faith. It is not selling out anything, let alone the essence of belief, to call attention to that fact. And it doesn’t mean that we are any less obligated to keep the Lord’s commandments or any less blessed for entering into, and then keeping, sacred covenants with Him.

    • Please point out a single person who has done all they can do. I can guarantee you that there was only ONE who has done so. So is there no hope for the rest of us who do not do all we can do? Christ is only going to extend a hand AFTER we have done all we can do? This is not our Lord and Savior. We are able to be ‘perfect in Christ’ right here, right now, on this very day and I give thanks to Him who made it possible!!

    • I am curious as to what it is you do every day that earns your salvation. Have you housed athe poor? Have you sold all your excess possessions to feed the homeless? Maybe you go to the homeless shelter every night and serve? Habitually serve single moms and widows on a daily weekly basis? Boys and girls club helping the inner city youth? What is it you do that you feel earns an eternity in heaven or better yet inherit your own kingdom and become a God? What works have you done that equals that?

    • Nonsense!!! EARN your exaltation? Surely you jest? The arrogance and lack of humility is abundantly clear, in every instance …. The chance that you will become as the Lamb of God is certain. HOW is the question. A king in a throne room… offered up a prayer… I find his humility and his total submission… the true path to arriving at the blessed state of being washed white in the blood of the Lamb… this is always the recipient of grace, compassion and mercy…. For isn’t it true that he who seeks the depths of humility shall be exalted ? Or rather become ONE with the Father, Son and Holy Ghost?

  19. 2 Nephi 25:23 is no different from 1 John 1:6-7. We are saved by grace – conditionally. Those who repent, walk in the light as Christ is in the light, and do all they can do to walk on the straight and narrow path will be saved by Christ. The unrepentant will not be saved no matter how many times they say the sinners prayer. This has nothing to do with works. This is the requirement of the gospel of Jesus Christ. This is Christ’s condition in order for us to be cleansed and justified by his atoning sacrifice. We must come to him with a broken heart and contrite spirit and be willing to give up our sinful nature – this is the teaching of the Book of Mormon.

    • Vincent Baiamonte

      Luke, I would argue that there is a big difference between being saved and achieving eternal life. Christ will save all mankind (from eternal subjection to Satan) with the exception of the few who deny the Holy Spirit. Thus, cooperation is needed to be saved; however, all (with the previous exception) will eventually confess that Christ is Savior and be saved to a degree of glory. It is also correct that no one can achieve eternal life (or salvation) through only our works because none of us is perfect. Thus, grace is needed along with works to achieve this end. Considering this, one can start to see the infinite nature of Christ’s atonement.

    • What is repentance? Is it to just stop doing something (a sin) or is it more? Isn’t true repentance to replace our “old” self with a “new” self? There are sins of commission, but there are sins of omission too. Example: The Lord has commanded us to keep the Sabbath day holy. Why? Repentance is possible because of the atonement of Jesus Christ. True repentance brings about a change of heart and a desire to replace old habits that we have succombed to, with a life that reflects the teachings of the Savior who made the change possible in the first place.

  20. I had the opportunity to teach this subject to a few people recently, and I used the analogy of credit. Imagine that God is the ultimate creditor – he’s got all the resources, all the power, and all the say in who receives any or all of it. That credit is known in spiritual terms as “Grace.”

    He is happy and willing to lend us his grace to help us accomplish our life’s purpose (a discussion for another day). He has set forth terms for us to meet so that we qualify for this grace, these terms are known as “Commandments” or “Laws.” Chief among these laws are that we love and serve 1) God, and 2) our Neighbor. More of these laws are found among the teachings of the ten commandments, the teachings of prophets ancient and modern, and the teachings of Jesus Christ himself.

    When we, as debtors, acknowledge God as the ultimate creditor, and appeal to him for grace, he is happy to oblige so long as we are willing to meet the terms of the loan. This is known as “Obedience” or “Works”.

    To simply DECLARE that you will use God’s credit/grace in a way that is acceptable to him isn’t enough. That practice will ensure that you lose the credit, with interest. We must actually DO it, and USE the credit in the ways he has described are acceptable. Did not Christ condemn the scribes and pharisees as “hypocrites” (8 times!) for refusing to perform acceptable works, though they professed to have faith in God?

    When we refuse or neglect to meet the terms of obedience to God’s laws and commandments, we lose access to God’s grace. This does not mean he is unwilling to give it. It means that we are unwilling to receive it on HIS terms. When we are rebellious or even insincere in our Obedience/Works, we are denying ourselves access to the credit/grace he freely gives. When we do what we can to meet God’s terms of obedience, we are blessed with grace both now and forever. It’s incredible to experience actually, because those who receive God’s grace on his terms, are actually empowered to do even more works. The scriptures are filled with true stories of amazing individuals who put this grace to work and performed miraculous and amazing works.

    And of course, we must remember always that though God gives us the grace and encourages us to use it – the grace is always HIS. We already owe him our lives. Isn’t it a wonderful opportunity that he would also give us Grace to make something of ourselves…if we CHOOSE to access that grace by the work of living His Laws?

    Thanks for letting me share. Great topic, of course. Even if people don’t agree, I think it’s marvelous that so many are searching for the truth. YAY US!

    • Camille,
      Your response creates an even greater gap between Mormon and evangelical views of grace. The credit analogy is almost indistinguishable from the medieval Catholic notion of merit. Evangelicals think of grace almost entirely in relational terms. Grace is just another way of talking about God’s love for us. Love isn’t something that can be recorded in accounting books.
      David

  21. Sorry but works or obedience has nothing to do with “earning salvation”. You cannot “earn” salvation or be justified by your works. Simply not possible.
    Works and obedience are a necessity yes, but not to earn or justify you. Works, Service, and Obedience are part of the shaping of our souls. They are part of walking the path Christ walked. They make it possible for you to be “at ease” amongst other souls in heaven because you will have trod the trail of Christ like they have. Those who have not sacrificed will not be at ease in the presence of those who have. What ever sin you are comfortable with, will make you an uncomfortable soul in heaven amongst those who gave it up.
    We do the works, or ie., give service, strive hard to give up sin, be obedient to BECOME more like Christ. As the prototype of a resurrected Celestial being we must become like him.

  22. Typical LDS lying, twisting and trying to sound Christian. As a former Mormon, the Evangelical view of Grace is not complacancy, and the LDS view of Grace isn’t grace it is works. Mormons reject Grace with the view that they have to pay Jesus back.

    • Jen, it’s a sin to bear false witness. Since you don’t think that grace leads to complacency – good for you, and I don’t either – you should be worried about breaking one of the 10 Commandments.

      The Mormon view of grace not only exists in the pages of LDS scriptures, but it can be found in many authoritative sources of canonical doctrine. Absolutely nowhere do any of those sources say that Mormons “reject” grace or that we “have to pay Jesus back.” Unless, of course, you mean John 14:15, in which case, sure, we believe that.

      I think your hatred is leading you to say things that are wrong and hurtful. Look again at your first sentence. Take those emotions to Jesus, please. His grace is sufficient for you. 2 Cor. 12:9.

      • Yes it is a sin, but I didn’t bear false witness. The LDS bear false witness all the time about Christian history and doctrine. I lived and taught and was taught the LDS view of ‘grace’, it is works based salvation. Work, work, work. I can give you plenty of sources where the LDS view of grace (other than resurrection) is works based. Mormons use Christian terms but mean different things. Been there, done that.

        And so you attack me and accuse me of hatred (typical). I don’t hate Mormons, i fear for their salvation. They follow false gods and a false Christ. I hate that Mormon doctrine insults my Lord and Savior by trying to make works a requirement and dismissing the Bible as ‘not translated correctly’. My hatred, if any, is directed at the lies the Mormon church teaches.

        God saved me out of the Mormon cult 20 years ago and has called me to ministry to help those who have been hurt and abused by Mormonism and its teachings transition into a healthy relationship with Christ alone.

        What do you know of grace? Mormons don’t understand Christian grace in the least and this article proves it.

        • OK, dear. I don’t want to fight with you. I just think you should be honest with yourself and about your former religion. It’s impossible to read your language without perceiving the hatred behind it; it’s not a Christian emotion. 1 Cor. 13:1-3. Try speaking respectfully? What I said before is that “[t]he Mormon view of grace not only exists in the pages of LDS scriptures, but it can be found in many authoritative sources of canonical doctrine. Absolutely nowhere do any of those sources say that Mormons ‘reject’ grace or that we ‘have to pay Jesus back’ [as you claimed].” What those sources say is that we, all of us, absolutely need the grace of God for our salvation, and that grace is exemplified and given form most of all through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.

          I think your hatred is leading you to say things that are wrong and hurtful. Take those emotions to Jesus, please. His grace is sufficient for you. 2 Cor. 12:9.

        • Jen, have you ever watched Brad Wilcox’s talk ‘His Grace is sufficient?’ I highly recommend it. I agree that culturally works have been stressed in Mormon culture, especially where I was raised, in Utah. I have given talk after talk and lesson after lesson trying to change that in my own small sphere of influence. My children have been raised differently. I think the reason for this is found in Bible history.

          When Paul was teaching the Jewish converts he stressed Grace without works excessively because the people had been under the Law of Moses. Unfortunately, Main stream Christianity has swung the pendulum clear over to the opposite side where now it is ‘say you are saved and you are saved’
          The LDS church culture has then needed to pull the pendulum back to the middle where it belongs but has overshot a bit. There has been a concerted effort in the last maybe 25 years to correct that.

          The truth is that Mormon Doctrine has always been that we are indeed saved by the Grace of our Savior Jesus Christ, but our efforts show our love for God and our appreciation for the gift.

          I am sorry you have a misunderstanding of LDS doctrine. You really are mistaken! God Bless you.

    • Vincent Baiamonte

      Little bit harsh Jen. Don’t try to tell me that “Christians” have it all figured out. How many varieties of “Christians” are there? Nobody here is lying. Everybody has a slightly different view or perspective. No one here is trying to deceive anybody.

    • Former Mormon? Surely you jest? Have you even a clue how clueless both ideas are? Take a moment…. and READ 3 Nephi 9 and see what you come up with. YOU are invited to offer up the sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit….. and then comes the baptism of Fire…. Nothing about grace or works… will ever be understood until you offer this sacrifice and then IT will all become clear…

  23. Here we see GRACE has been corrupted to mean something it is not!
    Ephesians 2:8-9
    For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, [9] not of works, lest anyone should boast.
    When someone relies on their own works to save themselves it causes a pride and a focus on “self” and what they are doing to save themselves, which is impossible, instead of complete and utter gratitude for what Jesus offers us, FREE GRACE, which would cause the focus to be on Jesus and what he did for us on the cross for us sinners. We are so grateful for what he did for us we WANT to do “good works” to please him. But our “good works” do nothing to save us!
    When we rely on our “good works” it is like telling Jesus that what he did wasn’t good enough so we are helping him out. You see it’s not what WE do, but what JESUS does. He changes us. He makes us a new creation. He gets all the credit for our eternal salvation. We are NOTHING without him!!!!

    • I agree with most of what Rebee says, but she goes wrong in the assumption that Christ will give us more grace than we want. Christ cannot make us become someone we don’t want to be. In fact, forcing us to do so would be a violation of free will and corrupt the purpose of the entire creation.

      One of the ways we convince ourselves to accept more grace is by doing what Jesus asks. The doing earns us no grace — it is a free gift. But we have to do everything in our power (reading scriptures, praying, and doing our best) to convince ourselves to fully accept the grace so freely offered.

      Christ wants us to follow Him so that we will be like Him when He comes. But only we can make the choice to do so. Following God is FOR US — to allow us to receive maximum grace.

      Evangelicals err in thinking that grace is limited to forgiveness of our sins. Rather, grace allows us to achieve our full potential.

    • Who is relying on their own good works?? Why do you emphasize Paul and throw out James? What about Revelation’s book out of which we are judged? The whole Gospel is beautiful and perfect. Don’t throw part of it away.

  24. According to my understanding Mormons belive / agree with evangelicals on the evangelical version of salvation. I ask a good baptist because your saved what happens when you die? The baptist says he goes to heaven resurrected to live with family and friends in the presence of his Lord and savior Jesus Christ. The Mormons agree. It’s called the terrestrial kingdom. Every good protestant will probably receive exactly what they are looking for

  25. Chris Metcalfe

    This has been a very interesting discussion. I have appreciated the insights and most of what has been said and wish to add something of my own. Lehi taught that “no flesh . . . can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8). What Lehi is telling us is that for anyone to dwell with God, he or she would not only need to rely on the grace of Christ, but His “merits” and “mercy” as well. One of the definitions of “merit” in Webster’s is “character or conduct deserving reward, honor, or esteem.” This definitely describes Jesus; His character is without equal and even though He was “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet [He was] without sin” (Hebrews 4:15). His conduct was perfect in all points. A definition of the word “mercy” is “compassion or forbearance shown to an offender.” Since the rest of us “have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23), the Savior’s ultimate expression of mercy comes through His Atonement which allows us to overcome our sins.

    Jesus taught the Nephites that “no unclean thing can enter into his [Father’s] kingdom” (3 Nephi 27:19). Since Christ is the only one who has lived a sinless mortal life, He has the unique position of being the only person worthy to be our ultimate Judge. Nephi’s brother Jacob explained that “the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there” (2 Nephi 9:41). Because of this, Jesus can dictate to us, who come way short of the life He lived, what is needed for us to qualify to enter through the gate He diligently protects. He declared to His disciples: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). “Keep” is an action verb suggesting that we “be faithful to” the commandments He has given us. As has been mentioned earlier in these comments, the key words in the sacramental prayer over the water to sanctify it as an emblem of Jesus’ shed blood is to take our willingness to keep baptismal covenants and simply “do it” (D&C 20:79). The word “do” is an adverb; it encourages action. James declared in his epistle that we should be “doers of the word, and not hearers only” (James 1:22). What should we do? Jesus answered this question: “the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do” (3 Nephi 27:21). We do the works of Jesus when we are “an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12). By doing His works, we show our desire to be Jesus’ disciple and friend; for, as He also declared: “Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you” (John 15:14).

    I find it interesting that Jesus was constantly criticized for doing the works of His Father on the Sabbath day. The Gospels are replete with examples of Him healing and doing works supposedly prohibited on the Sabbath day; yet, He did them anyway because He knew His Father wanted Him to do these works. The book of Acts is also filled with accounts of the “acts” of the Apostles—of them doing the works of Jesus as He had commanded them. Is anyone in this forum going to criticize the Apostles or claim their works were somehow an attempt to boast in their own strength? My attempts at service and trying to emulate the Savior are in no way an effort to supplant Him with me and act as though I don’t need Him or am somehow better than Him. What they are is my small way of showing Him that I believe in Him; in His words; in His example; and my desire to show Him that I love Him as I try my best to keep His commandments as He has asked me to.

    When the “books [are] opened: and another book [is] opened, which is the book of life: and [I am] judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to [my] works” (Revelation 20:12), I know that my works will in no way measure up to the works of Jesus. There is nothing I could merit of myself that would qualify me for entrance through the gate kept by the Savior. In fact, Doctrine & Covenants 45:3-5 teaches me that when my Advocate (Jesus Christ) stands to plead my cause before the Father, He will say: “Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified; Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.” As Lehi stated, it is “the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8) that ultimately save me. My works do nothing more than show Him I believe on Him enough to try to emulate His example as best as I can. If this is somehow a denial of Christian grace, then I suppose I am guilty as charged. If this explanation will be defined as selling out the essence of LDS beliefs in order to win approval of the evangelicals, then, again, I can live with that; but someone better go and tell Lehi that he had it wrong. All I know is that I love my Savior for who His is and what He has done in my behalf and I know there have been so many times when He has enabled me to serve beyond myself by saying or doing things that I could not have said or done on my own. I thank Him for those blessings and hope to continue to do my best to serve Him and my “fellow beings” (Mosiah 2:17) in whatever way He asks of me.

  26. I really appreciated this article. It was a very intelligent discussion of the role of grace in LDS and evangelical cultures. I’ve especially enjoyed the thoughtful comments.

    As an LDS adult sunday school teacher, I loved reading and teaching the 2012 curriculum (which was the Book of Mormon). LDS doctrine absolutely teaches we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ. I taught directly from the Book of Mormon and received many objections from the class. Culturally, latter-day saints struggle with the concept of salvation by grace. My opinion is that this is driven by the weird competition that exists between LDS and evangelical cultures.

    Bottom line- the Book of Mormon clearly teaches we are saved by the grace of Christ. The LDS community would be well served to quit reacting to the culture around us and simply embrace this beautiful doctrine. Jesus Christ has saved my soul from hell and I thank him for that gift.

    I highly recommend Brad Wilcox’s 1985 article “His Grace is Sufficient”. This should be required reading for all latter-day Saints.

    Evangelical culture would be well served to stop being so threatened by the LDS community. The endless criticism and competition reflects poorly on you and the gospel you teach. Mormons believe in Jesus Christ and yet we refuse to be like you. Get over it!

    There is a simple reason we don’t want to associate with other “Christians”. Evangelicals seem to believe that God’s commandments are optional. They are not. I think most who read this will agree that the typical LDS is more serious about obeying God’s commandments than the typical evangelical. The difference is not doctrinal, but rather cultural.

    The answer to the question, “What can Christians Learn from the Surge in Mormon Youth Missionaries?”. The great commission is a commandment! Go do it!

  27. Saved By Grace….??? more thoughts……
    Matthew 19:16-22
    16 ¶ And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?
    17 And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? [there is] none good but one, [that is], God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.
    18 He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness,
    19 Honour thy father and [thy] mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
    20 The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?
    21 Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.
    22 But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.

    Never once did the Lord say…..believe, or you’re already saved…..he declared….” but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.”

    Hebrews 5:8-9
    8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
    9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

    Doesn’t say…..believe in Him, doesn’t say I’m saved because I confess His name…..he’s the author of salvation unto “all them that obey him.” Interesting to note Jesus learned obedience, he being perfect learned it, how much more do we need to learn it being imperfect.

    Obedience is essential for Salvation declared by Christ. Obedience to all commandments, even to the request, if made…”go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me.”

  28. John from Utah

    Jana,

    You did not mention saved from who or to where. If I fail to keep the commandments, then will I still become a God? You need to be more forth coming in your usage of salvation knowing what a Christian means by it.

  29. I think it comes down to the question someone mentioned above, do Christians believe following the commandments are optional. Once you have accepted Christ as your Savior, are you required to follow his commandments in order to continue in grace and gain salvation. I get the impression from talking to Christians (myself being an LDS Christian), that the only commandment that is part of the “higher law” is the one to love God. And when you love God and are filled with his spirit, you will be led to do the works he wants you to do, kind of like a personalized set of commandments. I hear that everything else is part of the “old law” that was done away with. Do Christians believe the 10 commandments are part of the old law, to be done away with?

    An important part of “works” is obeying God’s commandments and repenting of sin. But in order to repent of sin, you have to know what sin is. Perhaps the big difference between LDS Christians and all other Christians is what we believe the commandments are. If you believe that the commandments are only what you feel prompted to do by the spirit, then what need to you have for a Bible? If you believe that the Bible is where to find all the required commandments, then why couldn’t the Lord reveal more scripture, call more prophets and apostles etc.

    • Sarah -

      Your analysis, and criticism, of SOME Christian teaching is correct. All of God’s laws in the Old Testament are still required except for those commands specifically rescinded in the New Testament – like the ceremonial law / sacrifices, for example.

      However, the reason the law is a teacher is that it teaches us, by our continual failures, that we are unable to follow God’s commandments perfectly, or even the majority of the time. We are so thoroughly affected by sin in every part of our being that we fall grossly short of following God’s commandments. With the Holy Spirit guiding believers, that is why we turn to God and surrender, asking for His mercy which we don’t deserve. We break God’s laws in ways we aren’t even aware of. We are supposed to try and follow His commandments. Some “Christian” teachers don’t teach that which is a problem – the problem you are pointing out.
      Obedience to God’s commands doesn’t save us, but reflects God’s righteousness and promotes a Godly society – one with justice.

      • Bob,

        I agree with you when you say that obeying the commandments is “required,” and that Christians should try to be obedient. It seems from my observations that many pastors don’t emphasize this, or really define what the commandments are.

        The point I was trying to make was that knowing what the commandments are, and following them, is so important because it allows one to repent. Repentance IS a big part of the grace we receive. Forgiveness of sin is dependent on repentance. If you are continually sinning in ignorance, yes, you still have access to God’s grace in this life and the next, but you will not receive your exaltation if you intend to sin for eternity. At some point you must understand and live all of God’s laws. It is through grace that we can change from a state of sinfulness to a state of righteousness, IF we repent and strive to forsake the sin.

        • Hi Sarah -

          Due to our sinful nature which remains until we die, we CAN’T follow God’s commandments perfectly. We can try to do so (which we are supposed to do), but we will still break them. They continually remind us of the free gift that salvation is. WE CAN’T earn it, even a little bit. We didn’t even want it until God changed us to want to follow Him.
          A good measure of whether somebody is saved or not is, when things go badly in our lives, especially when we fall way short and we are reaping the consequences, do we run towards God or away from Him? Believers run towards Him. Non-believers run away from Him.

          • Hi Bob,
            I appreciate your responses and the mental exercise this is putting me through. While I agree with you that one sign of a true believer is that they always turn to God for his help, and his grace and forgiveness, I guess where I might disagree is that I believe that this is exactly what one must DO to access grace, and thus salvation. We do have to do something, or earn salvation you might say, by asking for forgiveness for our sins, forsaking the sin, which is true repentance, and walking in obedience to the commandments. These are the works that we need. Part of obedience is loving God and our fellow men, and so that is where are good deeds can come into play. I agree that even if I did these things, I could still never be saved by my own merits. I still need the Savior. But despite my inability to be saved on my own, I would have accessed is grace through obedience. What I think Christians don’t realize is that part of the relationship that is so important with God, is obeying him. Sure there are Christians and Mormons that obey out of a sense of fear, duty or pride rather than out of a sense of love and appreciation for the atonement of Christ, but everyone, if they expect to have a complete relationship, must follow and love Christ by obeying him.

          • When we repent and put our faith in Jesus Christ HE changes our hearts and therefore we do things because we WANT to …Our want to’s change we don’t do things out of “obeyance” but out of LOVE for our Savior…God chooses us we don’t do anything to “earn” favor with God… It’s called the Doctrine of Election…This takes away ANY “works” you may think WE would be doing..God does it all..He knows EXACTLY who will be saved…”I’m so glad that God chose me before the foundation of the world, because he never would have chosen me after I was born!” Charles Haddon Spurgeon

            The following is a brief discussion of what I understand the biblical doctrine of election to mean.

            (1) Election does not mean that God merely knew who would believe and on that basis elected them. D. L. Moody thought that election meant this: “God chose me for himself, but the devil chose me for himself. My choice is the tie-breaker.”

            This really would not be election or “choice.” God would not be choosing us; rather, we would be choosing him and he would simply know about it. (Further, the devil, a creature, would be put on a plane equal to God.) The consistent testimony of scripture is that God is the one doing the choosing, not us. Cf. Romans 9:6-21; Ephesians 1:4; 1 Thessalonians 1:4.

            (2) Election does not obliterate human responsibility. Each person is held responsible before Almighty God as to what they will do with his Son. “There are unsaved people alive today, who, though elect, are now lost and will not be saved until they believe.”1 Cf. Ephesians 2:3.

            (3) Election is necessary because we are totally depraved sinners.2 In other words, we would not choose God unless he first chose us.

            Non-believers are portrayed as unable to do or think anything which would move them one step closer to God. There is nothing they can do or say which would please God. Cf. Romans 3:10-23; Ephesians 4:17-19. In fact, non-believers are spiritually dead until the Spirit of God calls them: that is, they are unresponsive to anything outside the realm of sin (Ephesians 2:1-3). Just as Lazarus was dead until Jesus called his name, so unbelievers are dead until the Spirit of God calls them. And just as Lazarus could not boast, “Jesus couldn’t have done it without me!”, neither can we. Dead men don’t have much to bargain with. It is important to note that Ephesians 2:8-9 is in the context of God raising us from the dead spiritually.

            (4) The process of election, as worked out in our own lives, does not violate our will. That is, the doctrine of “irresistible grace” does not mean “divine coercion,” as if God bullies you into submission to do his will. Rather, it is compelling persuasion. The devil has blinded the eyes of the world (2 Cor. 4:4) and once our eyes have been enlightened by the Spirit of God, we see clearly what God has done for us. Further, if grace were resistible, this would mean that the person who can resist God’s will is a strong and powerful individual and those who can’t (and thus those who get saved) are weaklings. That is not the biblical picture.

            (5) The means of election is always through human agency. That is, God uses other believers to communicate the gospel to the lost. Cf. Romans 10:14-17. Therefore, we cannot excuse ourselves from sharing the gospel by saying, “If he’s elect, God’s going to save him anyway. He doesn’t need me to do the job.” It’s true that God doesn’t need any of us to do his will, but it is equally true that God uses those who are willing to obey him. Consequently, the doctrine of election should motivate us to share the gospel–not out of fear but because we want to be used by God to do his will.

            (6) Election does not contradict any of God’s attributes and, in fact, is a direct outgrowth of his love (Eph. 1:4-5). (See point 10 for further elaboration.)

            (7) Election is not just to salvation, but to sanctification and glorification. Cf. Eph. 1:4-5; Rom. 8:28-30. In other words, those whom God has chosen are chosen not just to be saved, but also to be sanctified.

            (8) The question of whether God is fair or not in choosing some but not others diminishes how great our salvation is–and how much our sin permeates us. If God were fair, we would all go to hell. If he saves one person, he is infinitely merciful.

            (9) Actually, three basic questions arise when discussing election:
            •Is God fair?
            •Doesn’t this make us robots?
            •Why should I evangelize?

            All three questions are answered in Romans 9-11, the great passage in the Bible which deals with this doctrine. Romans 9 answers the question of our choice, Rom 10 answers the question of the need for evangelism, and Rom 11 answers the question of God’s fairness. It should be noted as well that Paul’s theology here is not in a vacuum; he begins (vv 1-3) by almost wishing that he could go to hell if it would mean that just one of his Jewish brothers would get saved!

            (10) Many folks want to seek a balance between God’s sovereignty and human free will. A balance needs to be sought, but this is not the place. Nowhere do we read in the Bible that God is not sovereign over our wills. Further, we have the explicit testimony of Romans 9 to the opposite effect. As well, there is an inherent imbalance between a creature’s will and the Creator’s will. What right do we have to claim that these two are equal?

            The real balance comes between the two broad categories of God’s attributes. God has moral attributes (goodness, love, mercy, justice, etc.) and amoral attributes (he is infinite, eternal, omniscient, omnipresent, etc.). In short, the balance is between his sovereignty and his goodness. If God only had amoral attributes, he may well be a tyrant. If he only had moral attributes, he would be incapable of effecting change in the world; he would be impotent.

            Putting all this together we see the majesty and mystery of God. God’s attributes cannot be compartmentalized. That is, he is good in his sovereignty, infinite in his mercy, loving in his omnipotence. However, we as mere finite creatures cannot comprehend the grandeur of his plan. Isaiah 55:8-9 says: “My ways are not your ways, and my thoughts are not your thoughts; but just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” There is no contradiction in God, but there is finite understanding in us.

            (11) The doctrine of election is analogous to that of inspiration. God has inspired the very words of scripture (2 Tim 3:16), yet his modus operandi was not verbal dictation. Isaiah was the Shakespeare of his day; Amos was the Mark Twain. Both had widely divergent vocabularies and styles of writing, yet what each wrote was inspired by God. Luke’s style of writing and Greek syntax is quite different from John’s, yet both penned the Word of God. We read in 2 Peter 1:20-21 that no prophet originated his own prophecies, but was borne along by the Holy Spirit: “1:20 Above all, you do well if you recognize this: no prophecy of Scripture ever comes about by the prophet’s own imagination, 1:21 for no prophecy was ever borne of human impulse; rather, men carried along by the Holy Spirit spoke from God” (NET Bible).

            Thus, we are presented with a mystery: Each biblical writer wrote the very words of God, yet each exercised his own personality and will in the process. The message originated with God, yet the process involved human volition. The miracle of inspiration, as Lewis Sperry Chafer long ago noted, is that God did not violate anyone’s personality, yet what was written was exactly what he wanted to say.

            This finds parallels with election. The mystery of election is that God can choose unconditionally, yet our wills are not coerced. We are persuaded by the Holy Spirit to believe. Further, we have the sense of free will in the process, just as the biblical authors did. That is, the biblical authors did not always know that they were even writing scripture, even though God was directing their thoughts.

            (12) Summary: the biblical doctrine of election is that it is unconditional, irresistible, and irrevocable. All this to the glory of God–without in any way diminishing the dignity or responsibility of man. To put this another way: A large part of maturing in the faith is this: we each need to make the progressively Copernican discovery encapsuled in the words, “I am not the center of the universe.” Or, as John the Baptist put it, “That he might increase and I might decrease.”

            ——————————————————————————–

            1 Charles C. Ryrie, A Survey of Bible Doctrine (Chicago: Moody Press, 1972), 118.

            2 Total depravity does not mean that we are as bad as we could be. Rather, it means that (1) sin has tainted every aspect of our being–our hearts, bodies, and minds; (2) we would be as bad as we could be if it were not for God’s common grace (by which he protects humans in general from becoming as wicked as possible); and (3) there is no spark of the divine within us, nothing good that moves God toward that person, as though he or she deserves to be saved.

          • Nice summary. I would appreciate short and concise explanation of what being “saved” is.? What does going to Heaven mean? Thanks. My thinking is many people have many different definitions and explanations of these terms and many of the commentators in this blog (good stuff) are actually speaking somewhat differently…similar…but different.

          • What is being “saved”? Well HarryStamper..Let me ask you this…Have you ever told a lie? What does this make you? Right a Liar…Have you ever stolen anything? This makes you a thief…Have you ever committed adultery?…God says that if you even look at a woman with lust you have committed adultery with her already in your heart :)… So what if you are answering honestly ???…On to the next one..Have you ever MURDERED anyone? Again God says that if you even call someone a fool or hate your neighbor you have committed murder in your heart…So Harry if you answered HONESTLY..By your own admission I am NOT judging you, you are a lying, thieving, adulterous, murderer at heart and that is ONLY 4 of the ten commandments so if God was to judge you TODAY by HIS standards would you be guilty or innocent??….Would you go to Heaven or Hell??? If you are being honest again you should have said Hell a RIGHTEOUS JUDGE would have to send you to HELL…Does this concern you???.BUT something happened over 2000 yrs ago so that you and I could be “SAVED” from going to Hell…Do you know what that is?? God HUMBLED Himself becoming FULLY GOD AND FULLY MAN (The God Man) Jesus Christ born of a virgin Mary…Lived a PERFECT life we could NOT ever live was beaten and bruised for our transgressions died a death WE DESERVE for our sins that we committed so that ONLY if we believe in him and repent (turn away) from our sins will we have everlasting life in Heaven with Him! This is what I mean by being “SAVED” Any other questions?? This is the TRUE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST <3

          • Vicki,
            Obedience isn’t a bad word. Obedience is the first law of Heaven. If we truly want to follow in the footsteps of our Savior, we will follow his example. He did everything he did out of obedience to the Father. Is it possible to obey Christ out of a feeling of love? Of course it is, but I get the impression from you that that is impossible, and that the motivation of love behind our actions takes the place of the need to know the will of God in our lives. There will always be those who follow the teachings of scripture, or obey the commandments of Christ, out of feelings of fear, guilt, social pressure, or pride. The goal is to come to a understanding of what Christ did for us so that we will love and appreciate him, and be motivated to follow his commandments because of that love.

            You mentioned that after one repents and believes in Christ they do things out of a sense of love. My question is, what do they do? Do they need to do anything to continue in grace and election with the Lord, or can they do whatever they want? There seems to be this avoidance on the topic of defining sin, commandments, and preaching repentance. It still feels like everyone has their own personalized set of commandments. And based off of that confusing summary you posted about election, I came away with the conclusion that once one has been “elected,” that person no longer acts under their own will, but that of God’s, and so they can do no wrong. Oh wait, they still have their own will somehow, but the will is so swallowed up in the will of God, that they would never do anything wrong. Very confusing. And still no definition of what God’s will is, what acts are sinful and what is not.

          • @Sarah please refer to what I previously wrote, also when you look into the Doctrine of Imputation it’s a big word but it’s a cornerstone Doctrine of Christianity for 2000 yrs it means that Christ took the wrath of God that we deserve He died rose three days later He also lived lived a perfect life that we can NOT life when a person repents and puts their faith COMPLETELY in Christ’ work, His life and DEATH then Christ’ righteousness is imputed to the believer: Imputed righteousness is a concept in Christian theology that proposes that the “righteousness of Christ … is imputed to [believers] — that is, treated as if it were theirs through faith.” [1]:106 It is on the basis of this “alien” (i.e. from the outside) righteousness that God accepts humans. This acceptance is also referred to as justification. Thus this doctrine is practically synonymous with justification by faith. Sin is defined as Transgression of the law meaning breaking Gods laws, Paul in the bible thought he could go to Heaven by keeping the law and doing his religious work until Christ blinded him on the road to Damascus and he realized that it was only through Christ can we be saved not of works Ephesians 2:8-9 When Paul saw the Ten Commandments it made him realize how much he had sinned and just what Christ actually did for him :King James Bible Romans 7:7 What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. Hope this helps ;)

          • I think I’m getting closer and closer to really nailing down what it is that you believe. Let me first clarify that Latter-Day-Saints also believe, like you said, that “Christ took the wrath of God that we deserve He died rose three days later He also lived lived a perfect life that we can NOT life.”
            Where we differ is the idea that repentance – and I’d like to know what most Christians think of repentance, what constitutes repentance etc. – and faith make you as perfect as our Savior was and worthy of sanctification. The spirit will justify you as far as you have repented of certain sins, and have you have been transformed in that particular area of thought or behavior, but more than likely you have other sins that need repenting of. The various commandments, culminating with the command to be ye therefore perfect, can not be mastered in one night of giving your heart to Christ.
            Mormons believe that when you repent of specific sins, you are completely forgiven of those sins. But most people are not capable of fully repenting of EVERY sin, either because they have yet to understand what they are doing is sinful, or they recognize what they are doing is not Christ-like, but it is too hard to change. This is where the cleansing power of the atonement comes into play. We can overcome every sin and weakness that besets us with the help of Christ’s grace. His grace not only allows us to be forgiven, but to have the power, through the Holy Ghost, to change. An example would be the smoker who decides to repent and be baptized, but is at first struggling to overcome the addiction. I’ve heard of many stories of people being able to overcome addictions when they pray for the help that can come from God. We have to do our part, and can’t expect for him to just take away our sin. We have to make a decision to forsake the sin and resist temptation.

            I think to sum it up, Mormon’s believe that grace is given conditionally. Grace is not a free gift to everyone. You have to believe, have faith, etc. which includes obeying all of God’s commandments, laws, and ordinances, and repenting of every sin to the best of your ability. Only then can you be sanctified. God knows our thoughts and intents. He knows our hearts. There are those who are very much scared, and will struggle more with sin than others. We need to do the best we can and Christ will make up the rest.

            I think many Christians misinterpret Ephesians 2:8-9. I’ll quote a Mormon author who comments on this section. I think he sums it up well when he says:

            “Verses 8 and 9, are often used out of context to teach that we do not need works in order to be saved. This is false and Paul himself constantly counsels his people to show by the lives they live that they truly believe in Christ. In fact, in verse, 10, he tells them that they should walk in good works. The point is that works alone cannot save us. The law of Moses, as modified and added to by the Jews over many centuries, had led many to believe that works alone could save them. They placed all the emphasis on strictly following the details of their religious laws, and failed to become personally righteous. For example, the Savior scolded them severely in Matthew 23:23 when he said “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” In this context, then, Paul teaches the Ephesian members that works alone cannot save them.

          • Sarah, you don’t understand salvation. You keep viewing it through a ‘works’ mentality.

            First, you stated, “Christ took the wrath of God that we deserve He died rose three days later He also lived lived a perfect life that we can NOT live.” So far, so good, except that the Jesus of Mormonism isn’t the Jesus of the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible has always existed and has always been part of the Triune God – Father, Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.

            Second, you state, in wondering what constitutes repentance, you write, “… repentance …. and faith make you as perfect as our Savior was and worthy of sanctification.” A Christian’s faith NEVER makes Him as perfect as Jesus, the Savior, nor worthy of sanctification. That is the whole point! We are NEVER worthy of salvation nor sanctification. Salvation is a GIFT from God that we don’t deserve.

            Some definitions: Justification: the legal act of God recognizing Jesus’ death on the cross as taking the pubishment for us. In other words, we are declared innocent as in a courtroom. Sactification: the process begun at salvation and continued throughout the life of a believer. It is the process of becoming more Godly – more like Jesus Christ. However, we are never fully like Jesus Christ for several reasons. First, we will always be sinners while in this life. That is part of our fallen human nature. Second, Jesus had, and has, a dual nature – fully God and fully man. We will NEVER have a divine nature. God did not make us that way. We have a human nature. In addition, that human nature has been corrupted by sin.

            You then write, “The spirit will justify you as far as you have repented of certain sins, and have you have been transformed in that particular area of thought or behavior, but more than likely you have other sins that need repenting of.” Nobody is able to repent of ANY sins unless God guides him or her to do so. The repentance is a gift from God. Nobody can take any credit for their repentance because it isn’t really theirs. It is from God as a gift.

            You further state, “The various commandments, culminating with the command to be ye therefore perfect, can not be mastered in one night of giving your heart to Christ.” It can NEVER be mastered because ANY efforts we make that are are other than sinful are from God. ALL good things – including good behavior – are a gift from God. Also, the translation is misleading. ‘Perfect’ would be better translated as ‘mature.’

            You: “Mormons believe that when you repent of specific sins, you are completely forgiven of those sins. But most people are not capable of fully repenting of EVERY sin, either because they have yet to understand what they are doing is sinful, or they recognize what they are doing is not Christ-like, but it is too hard to change.” This is partly true. The repentance and the forgiveness are from God, not you, nor me, etc. We are not capable of repenting of ANY sin without the Holy Spirit (a person) guiding us. Again, the repentance isn’t from us. It is from God. Besides, EVERYBODY sins in ways we aren’t even aware of. We don’t and can’t know perfection in this life, therefore, we have no way to examine everything about ourselves to find every sin. Sin is part of our being in this life.

            You state: “This is where the cleansing power of the atonement comes into play.” True.
            You: “We can overcome every sin and weakness that besets us with the help of Christ’s grace.” No. It is ENTIRELY God’s work in us. It isn’t God’s help. It is all God.

            You: “His grace not only allows us to be forgiven, but to have the power, through the Holy Ghost, to change.” True.
            You – your example of a smoker trying to quit: I’ve heard of many stories of people being able to overcome addictions when they pray for the help that can come from God. We have to do our part, and can’t expect for him to just take away our sin. We have to make a decision to forsake the sin and resist temptation.” Wrong. We have no part in it. God changes us so we want to change. The desire to change is a gift from God. He guides us to resist temptation. That is why, in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ we ask Him to ” …. not lead us into temptation ….” Why pray that if we can do it ourselves? We can’t do it ourselves. To think we can is arrogant. Regarding sin, we are not neutral. We are sinners.

            You: “I think to sum it up, Mormon’s believe that grace is given conditionally.” Wrong! If it were, we would all go to hell forever.

            You: “Grace is not a free gift to everyone.” True because only some are saved. To the saved it is a free gift.

            You: “You have to believe, have faith, etc. which includes obeying all of God’s commandments, laws, and ordinances, and repenting of every sin to the best of your ability. Only then can you be sanctified.” Wrong, wrong, wrong! You (and everybody) are incapable of having faith if it is from you. You are incapable of obeying any of God’s commandments if it depends on you. You are incapable of repenting of anything. All of those are free gifts from God.

            You: “God knows our thoughts and intents.” True You: “He knows our hearts.” (which are evil continually) You: “There are those who are very much scared, and will struggle more with sin than others.” because they have a more accurate view of where they stand with God before salvation. You: “We need to do the best we can and Christ will make up the rest.” Wrong. Christ death of the cross makes up for everything. We have nothing we can boast about to God. Our lives, food, shelter, non-sinful behavior, etc., etc. is all from God.

            You: “I think many Christians misinterpret Ephesians 2:8-9. I’ll quote a Mormon author who comments on this section. I think he sums it up well when he says:
            “Verses 8 and 9, are often used out of context to teach that we do not need works in order to be saved. This is false and Paul himself constantly counsels his people to show by the lives they live that they truly believe in Christ. In fact, in verse, 10, he tells them that they should walk in good works. The point is that works alone cannot save us. The law of Moses, as modified and added to by the Jews over many centuries, had led many to believe that works alone could save them. They placed all the emphasis on strictly following the details of their religious laws, and failed to become personally righteous. For example, the Savior scolded them severely in Matthew 23:23 when he said “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” In this context, then, Paul teaches the Ephesian members that works alone cannot save them.”

            Sarah, with your current beliefs, you will go to hell when you die. You are so arrogant that you think you have things about yourself that you can present to God as good. God is perfect. He demands perfection from us. None of us are perfect. We can never be better than obedient to make up for our sins. Every sin we commit makes us farther from God. Only Jesus’ death on the cross and Him sending the Holy Spirit to guide us (because we are incapable of any good) makes us good in any way whatsoever. Until you acknowledge that to God and ask for His forgiveness with no conditions of your supposed good, you are headed to hell.

            Sorry to be so blunt, but you keep misinterpretting what Christians are saying to you. You are like the donkey whose owner whacked him over the head in order to get his attention. Nothing else would work. I pray this works. Only the Holy Spirit can make it work in you (or anybody). I pray He does.

          • Hi Bob,
            I’m sorry that you are so frustrated that I just don’t understand your beliefs yet. I really am trying to understand the beliefs of main-stream Christianity, and I was simply trying to restate what I understood from Vicki’s explanations, and show how it differed from my own. Again, the problem seems to be that we keep repeating the same types of statements, but we are understanding words to mean different things. I appreciate you defining what justification and sanctification mean to you, and I hope you will do that with other questions I have.

            I’ve copied your comments below then inserted mine. I know it’s confusing, but I just put a line in between each of our comments.

            “Sarah, you don’t understand salvation. You keep viewing it through a ‘works’ mentality.
            First, you stated, “Christ took the wrath of God that we deserve He died rose three days later He also lived lived a perfect life that we can NOT live.”

            I actually didn’t state this, Vicki, who is not LDS, stated this and I was quoting her.

            So far, so good, except that the Jesus of Mormonism isn’t the Jesus of the Bible.

            This is a catch-phrase meant to be repeated over and over again until people believe it. Every Mormon would disagree with you. The God of the Bible is the God we believe in.

            The Jesus of the Bible has always existed and has always been part of the Triune God – Father, Son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.
            Second, you state, in wondering what constitutes repentance, you write, “… repentance …. and faith make you as perfect as our Savior was and worthy of sanctification.”

            Again, I think this statement is not something I believe necessarily, it was what I came away thinking Vicki believed. Did you read her posts? I came away thinking that she thought the merits of Jesus were somehow transferred to us, and that is what makes us worthy of salvation.

            A Christian’s faith NEVER makes Him as perfect as Jesus, the Savior, nor worthy of sanctification.

            I agree that this is true in this life. Do you believe that after we are sanctified in the next life, that we will be as perfect as Jesus?

            That is the whole point! We are NEVER worthy of salvation nor sanctification. Salvation is a GIFT from God that we don’t deserve.

            I agree with this statement except to add that to receive the gift of salvation you must first believe, have faith, repent etc. In my mind, all these things can be included in the category of works. Belief leads to faith, faith to repentance, and all of that to obedience of God’s commandments. All of this equals works, necessary for salvation. OF COURSE obedience alone won’t save you. You need the grace of Christ to be forgiven of your sins and be sanctified though his merits and atoning grace.

            Some definitions: Justification: the legal act of God recognizing Jesus’ death on the cross as taking the pubishment for us. In other words, we are declared innocent as in a courtroom.

            But to be declared innocent, you must first accept his gift. Its free in the sense that it is offered to everyone, but there are terms or conditions he sets in order to let that gift work for you. Those conditions are belief and faith in him, which in the Mormon view also equals repentance and obedience. I think what I’m looking for from main-stream Christians is a definition of true repentance and what constitutes sin. Let’s say a person is in a movie theater, and realizes there are some parts of that movie that would be offensive to God. There might be some mild pornography and some bad language. You’re sitting there and the spirit whispers that this is offensive to God, and prompts you to leave. In a moment of weakness you ignore the prompting and decide to stay through the movie. Later you feel a sense of guilt that you did not follow the promptings of the Spirit to leave. You acknowledge to yourself that you have sinned, especially when you realize that you can’t get those scenes or words out of your head. So, what does the “saved” Christian do? Do they repent, acknowledging before God that they have sinned, ask for forgiveness, and make an effort to not sin like that in the future, or something else? Is this something a Christian would even think, or would they not worry about what is sinful and what is not?

            Sanctification is the process begun at salvation and continued throughout the life of a believer. It is the process of becoming more Godly – more like Jesus Christ. However, we are never fully like Jesus Christ for several reasons.

            Agree

            First, we will always be sinners while in this life.

            Agree

            That is part of our fallen human nature. Second, Jesus had, and has, a dual nature – fully God and fully man. We will NEVER have a divine nature.

            In this life. It is possible through Christ to become divine in the next.

            God did not make us that way. We have a human nature. In addition, that human nature has been corrupted by sin.
            You then write, “The spirit will justify you as far as you have repented of certain sins, and you have been transformed in that particular area of thought or behavior, but more than likely you have other sins that need repenting of.” Nobody is able to repent of ANY sins unless God guides him or her to do so.

            What does this feel like for you? Can you give me an example from your own life of when God has guided you to repent? I agree so far as to say that repentance only has any affect in me if it is done through God. What good is my repenting of sins if I don’t acknowledge his part in the process? He is the only one that can forgive.

            The repentance is a gift from God.

            Agree

            Nobody can take any credit for their repentance because it isn’t really theirs. It is from God as a gift.

            I agree that repentance is a gift from God, in that he allows us to repent. This is the true essence of grace. But we still have to choose to repent, and yes, he will guide us into repentance, but our will must be involved. What I keep coming away with is that Christians don’t see their wills involved at all in the process of repentance. How is this possible? How can you be forgiven unless you ask for forgiveness for your sins and exercise some will? And also, is there some standard God has for everyone? What provides that standard? The Bible, the Spirit? Perhaps the big disagreement we have is that I believe part of repentance is forsaking the sin. You actually stop sinning. Your will is involved in this process, is it not?

            You further state, “The various commandments, culminating with the command to be ye therefore perfect, can not be mastered in one night of giving your heart to Christ.” It can NEVER be mastered because ANY efforts we make that are are other than sinful are from God. ALL good things – including good behavior – are a gift from God.

            Again, I don’t see how you can be so surprised when I just don’t so easily accept the notion that my will is completely turned off and I am like a robot. The Lord has made it possible to choose good, just as a parent makes it possible for their children to make righteous choices by teaching them and giving them appropriate choices. But ultimately, we are free to CHOOSE good from evil.

            Also, the translation is misleading. ‘Perfect’ would be better translated as ‘mature.’
            You: “Mormons believe that when you repent of specific sins, you are completely forgiven of those sins. But most people are not capable of fully repenting of EVERY sin, either because they have yet to understand what they are doing is sinful, or they recognize what they are doing is not Christ-like, but it is too hard to change.” This is partly true. The repentance and the forgiveness are from God, not you, nor me, etc. We are not capable of repenting of ANY sin without the Holy Spirit (a person) guiding us. Again, the repentance isn’t from us. It is from God. Besides, EVERYBODY sins in ways we aren’t even aware of. We don’t and can’t know perfection in this life, therefore, we have no way to examine everything about ourselves to find every sin. Sin is part of our being in this life.
            You state: “This is where the cleansing power of the atonement comes into play.” True.
            You: “We can overcome every sin and weakness that besets us with the help of Christ’s grace.” No. It is ENTIRELY God’s work in us. It isn’t God’s help. It is all God.

            This gives me the impression that we become like robots, that once we turn our lives “over to God” that we no longer possess our wills. I believe that we must “choose ye this day, whom ye will serve.” I serve God because I love him. I love him because he saved me from the punishment that I deserve because of my sins. I also serve God because I believe him. He has commanded me to keep all of his commandments and seek the light instead of the darkness. I continue to CHOOSE to obey after the initial choice of belief. I know I will never be able to choose perfectly, but by being humble and penitent, I will be forgiven and made clean through the atoning power of Christ.

            You: “His grace not only allows us to be forgiven, but to have the power, through the Holy Ghost, to change.” True.
            You – your example of a smoker trying to quit: I’ve heard of many stories of people being able to overcome addictions when they pray for the help that can come from God. We have to do our part, and can’t expect for him to just take away our sin. We have to make a decision to forsake the sin and resist temptation.” Wrong. We have no part in it. God changes us so we want to change.

            You just contradicted yourself. We do have a part in it. You said, “God changes us so WE WANT to change” You still have a small part in it apparently.

            The desire to change is a gift from God.

            You still have to OPEN the gift! Action word, and a choice.

            He guides us to resist temptation. That is why, in the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ we ask Him to ” …. not lead us into temptation ….” Why pray that if we can do it ourselves? We can’t do it ourselves. To think we can is arrogant.

            You are assuming that I think I can do this myself, but I don’t think that way. I don’t think I can do this myself. I acknowledge that God gives me power and guidance to choose the things he wants me to choose. I can agree with you, that the desire we have to change, and the power we have to resist temptation comes from him. We still have to act on those promptings that come from God. It’s obvious to me that giving responsibility for our salvation has evolved into an all or nothing thing. We either give up all accountability and responsibility, or we are arrogant. This is not reasonable to me, nor does it ring true spiritually. I am accountable for my sins inasmuch as I do not repent of them. I am accountable for the the fruit I bear, which is obedience to the Lord. I don’t expect that it will all add up for enough points to gain me salvation because he has told me so, but I believe that God still requires obedience NONETHELESS.

            Regarding sin, we are not neutral. We are sinners.
            You: “I think to sum it up, Mormon’s believe that grace is given conditionally.” Wrong! If it were, we would all go to hell forever.
            You: “Grace is not a free gift to everyone.” True because only some are saved. To the saved it is a free gift.

            I don’t see how you can disagree with the first statement and agree with the second. If grace is given unconditionally, then it would be given to everyone, regardless if they come unto Christ or not. Scripture teaches that grace is given conditionally, in that it is only given to those who believe on His name, accepting His atonement made for their sins. It follows that if you accept his atonement and want to truly follow him, you will repent and obey.

            You: “You have to believe, have faith, etc. which includes obeying all of God’s commandments, laws, and ordinances, and repenting of every sin to the best of your ability. Only then can you be sanctified.” Wrong, wrong, wrong! You (and everybody) are incapable of having faith if it is from you. You are incapable of obeying any of God’s commandments if it depends on you. You are incapable of repenting of anything. All of those are free gifts from God.

            So I can’t choose to believe or have faith? God gives it to me? Again, one still has to act and open the gift. From your logic, I then should choose to RECEIVE faith. I choose to receive repentance and obedience. So then, what does it mean to receive those gifts. I believe it includes action of my own free will and choice.

            You: “God knows our thoughts and intents.” True You: “He knows our hearts.” (which are evil continually) You: “There are those who are very much scared, and will struggle more with sin than others.” because they have a more accurate view of where they stand with God before salvation. You: “We need to do the best we can and Christ will make up the rest.” Wrong. Christ death of the cross makes up for everything. We have nothing we can boast about to God.

            This is another catch-phrase that if repeated enough times makes people believe that righteous choices will automatically make someone want to be boastful. What if I substituted the words “boast about” for the words “do to please.” would you agree with that statement?

            Our lives, food, shelter, non-sinful behavior, etc., etc. is all from God.

            Yes they are gifts, but you still have to open the gifts. That is a choice YOU make. Are you saying that God makes you choose good? I choose to open the gift of repentance, which includes recognizing what sin is and forsaking the sin.

            You: “I think many Christians misinterpret Ephesians 2:8-9. I’ll quote a Mormon author who comments on this section. I think he sums it up well when he says:
            “Verses 8 and 9, are often used out of context to teach that we do not need works in order to be saved. This is false and Paul himself constantly counsels his people to show by the lives they live that they truly believe in Christ. In fact, in verse, 10, he tells them that they should walk in good works. The point is that works alone cannot save us. The law of Moses, as modified and added to by the Jews over many centuries, had led many to believe that works alone could save them. They placed all the emphasis on strictly following the details of their religious laws, and failed to become personally righteous. For example, the Savior scolded them severely in Matthew 23:23 when he said “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” In this context, then, Paul teaches the Ephesian members that works alone cannot save them.”
            Sarah, with your current beliefs, you will go to hell when you die.

            I sure hope you’re wrong. I don’t want to go to Hell.

            You are so arrogant that you think you have things about yourself that you can present to God as good.

            I’m not planning on presenting anything when I see Him. I’m planning on humbly kneeling before Him, saying something to the effect of “behold the handmaid of the Lord,” and feeling of his mercy and love. I obey him and bear fruit because I love him, and because I believe what he says when he communicated his desires for me and all mankind.

            God is perfect. He demands perfection from us. None of us are perfect. We can never be better than obedient to make up for our sins. Every sin we commit makes us farther from God. Only Jesus’ death on the cross and Him sending the Holy Spirit to guide us (because we are incapable of any good) makes us good in any way whatsoever. Until you acknowledge that to God and ask for His forgiveness with no conditions of your supposed good, you are headed to hell.

            So, for example, I can ask forgiveness for a past sexual sin, and acknowledge to him that he has no conditions on my goodness. Wouldn’t that lead some to think that he doesn’t expect me to stop sinning, which means, guess what – I can continue in sinning! This is the message I’m getting. Please clarify why anyone should stop sinning when God expects you to sin and will forgive all of it with no effort on your part to improve.
            I also will add that what has been revealed and clarified through modern-day revelation is that every child of God on the earth, even though he or she has a fallen nature that tends towards carnality and selfishness, is given the Light of Christ, which is what your conscience is. His light which is in you helps you see good from evil. The more you act on this light, the more light you will be filled with. You will be choosing good continually because you see the light and reject the darkness, or anything that would lead you away from God. The Holy Ghost or the Spirit of Truth, also can show you the good from evil. His mission is to reveal truth, inspire, comfort, protect, and prompt you to do the will of God.

            Sorry to be so blunt, but you keep misinterpretting what Christians are saying to you. You are like the donkey whose owner whacked him over the head in order to get his attention. Nothing else would work. I pray this works. Only the Holy Spirit can make it work in you (or anybody). I pray He does.

            Bob, I have to imagine that you believe that mankind will be held accountable at judgment day for their works/fruits/sins. So, I have a couple of questions that I still need help on.
            Do you believe that those who have been “saved” in this life, because of what you’ve laid out as TRUE belief in Christ, are capable of sinning, even after they have accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior? If the answer is yes, that they are still capable of sinning, does that distance them from salvation? Do they have to DO anything to get right with God again? And if so, what constitutes true repentance? Does one have to acknowledge to God that they are sinning or have sinned, and forsake the sin?

            Thanks for your patience and understanding as I try to understand the “mystery” of God’s grace.

          • Jana Riess

            Dear Bob,

            I want to interject here that your tone is not appropriate for this blog. It’s fine to disagree and to explain your beliefs to Sarah, which most of your comment tries to do. It is not fine to to close by insulting her intelligence or calling her an arrogant donkey whose inability to understand (and, of course, agree with) your views is due to her own willful intent to misunderstand, rather than a simple disagreement about belief.

            You may think it is your job to “whack” Sarah over the head with your idea that she is going to hell, but here’s the thing: this is my blog. You will not do your whacking here. I am leaving this May 29 comment up, insults and all, but if you follow this with more name-calling rather than reasoned discourse, understand that such comments will be deleted.

            Please behave like the Christian you believe yourself to be.

            Jana

          • If you read through our blog entries in chronological order, it is obvious Sarah doesn’t want to understand. This blog doesn’t list the entries in time order which makes doing that difficult.

            Sarah refuses to state the biblical position accurately. I was not asking her to agree with me. She keep writing that she is trying to understand what it is, but then refuses to show she understands what it is. I was asking her to state the biblical position accurately which she refuses to do. That is dishonest on her part. She is not stupid.

            Her entries remind me on how some people make statements on blogs to ‘stir the pot.’ In other words, by not re-stating the biblical position (which she SAYS she is trying to understand), she keeps the discussion going and frustrates people like me who are trying to explain to her what biblical Christian beliefs are. I am not wasting my time any more.

          • Bob, all I was asking for in the last post was for you or any Christian who is willing, to explain to me how their belief translates into real life decisions. I want to know how they live out repentance and whether they go from day to day recognizing what sin is. I’d like to know how they know what is sinful and what is not. This is the first time I’ve had this kind of discussion with someone online. I’ve tried to have this discussion with an evangelical family member recently, and she too has avoided answering my questions. And she was the one who reached out to me, telling me all the catch phrases she’s heard like, “Mormons don’t believe in the same Jesus.” You’re not giving Christ FULL authority,” “It’s all about love,” and of course, “You can’t earn your way to heaven.” I thought it was just her who didn’t want to dig a little bit deeper into her own faith and explain these nice sounding phrases. I was hoping that there would be some other Christians out there who could explain their faith a little better than she could. I’m sorry that I couldn’t help but disagree with you and articulate what I believe. By explaining how I understand the words, faith, repentance etc. I thought that would help you in answering my questions.

          • It occurred to me that this may help:
            In Ephesians, God says that He saves us in order for us to do good works. In other words, the good works are what He puts in us to glorify Himself. Our salvation is to serve God’s purposes. He uses us in way that helps us too, but His main purpose is using our good works to glorify Himself and accomplish His purposes in the world.

          • That does help. I see that your belief is that every good thought or deed is a gift from God, or comes from God. We do nothing good for ourselves. It is all to glorify God, and not earn us anything.

            This is what I’d like to know:
            1.Does every bad thought/deed also come from God? If not, and bad thoughts can come from the devil or from ourselves, does God grant you the gift of resisting temptation?
            2. Is it possible for someone who is saved to sin?
            3. What does the gift of repentance look like in a believer? Is it a one time thing, or does it continue throughout life?
            4. Are there universal moral standards that Christians believe in, that if breached, bring you away from salvation?

          • Vicky & Chris Jenkins

            Sarah,
            1-Every bad thought comes from the heart, King James Bible Mathew 15:19
            “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies.” Sarah you have to understand the “Doctrine of the depravity of man” so out of the heart comes sin, we are all born sinners, Romans 5:12 – Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:
            Psalms 51:5 – Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.
            Psalms 58:3 – The wicked are estranged from the womb: they go astray as soon as they be born, speaking lies.
            Sin does come from our heart and also the Devil does tempt us and YES when a person repents and puts their faith COMPLETELY in Christ for their salvation, The Holy Spirit indwells that person and gives them the power to overcome sin.
            2-1 John 1:8-9 King James Version (KJV)
            8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Christians still sin, as John says in this verse but a Christians attitude towards sin should that they don’t WANT to do like Paul wrote in Romans 7:7 so a Christian is NOT perfect but they don’t like to sin…Where as an unbeliever don’t care if they sin at all.
            3-Repentance is a gift from God, when a person repents and puts their faith completely in Jesus Christ they are declared BY GOD JUSTIFIED NOT GUILTY -King James Bible, Proverbs 17:15 He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD. So you are declared sanctified and now the process of progress sanctification starts which means that a Christian lives a repentant life EVERY DAY..RETURNED from sin EVERYDAY battle it EVERYDAY King James Version Romans 8:13 For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
            4- Yes there are Universal morals that we believe in but they are from the BIBLE because God NEVER changes and neither do His morals…And a Christians salvation is based COMPLETELY on what Jesus did He lived a life that we CAN’T live He died a death we DESERVE to die, and He rose three days later and defeated the grave so it’s not about our performance…So think about this we will NEVER repent enough…we will NEVER help the needy enough… we will NEVER pray enough… we will NEVER EVER EVER be good enough that is why Gods love is SOOOO amazing thats why the CROSS and what Christ did is absolutely astonishing King James Bible 2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.Salvation comes from Christ and it is kept by Christ we don’t do things to keep it because we would fail… Hope WE and the Bible have answered your questions ;)

          • Vicky and Chris,

            I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. It really is helping me understand the differences between my beliefs and your own. Let me restate what I understand from your answers. And then if you’ll indulge me, I have a few more questions.

            You believe that all men are born sinners, and that all sin stems from the individual’s heart. Temptation comes from the devil. For the Christian, or person who has repented and and has faith in Christ, the Holy Spirit dwells in that person and “gives them the power to overcome sin.”
            So my question is how does this work in an everyday situation? Does the spirit prompt that person to make the righteous choice, and the person is obligated to obey the Spirit, or is there less will involved from the person, so that the Spirit is actually acting for that person?
            If all people are born sinners, what happens to the billions of people who have lived on the earth but who never learned who Christ was? What about the child who learns about Christ, but dies before he has had a chance to repent? Can that child be saved?

            You believe that Christians still sin and are not perfect. But they “don’t like to sin.” Question – Will Christians feel a sense of guilt when they sin? Do they themselves choose to sin or not? If they knowingly sin and do not repent, will they be held accountable for those sins at judgement day?

            You said that when a Christian repents, they are then justified before God. You then say, and this is confusing to me, “so you are declared sanctified and now the process of progress sanctification starts which means that a Christian lives a repentant life EVERY DAY..RETURNED from sin EVERYDAY battle it EVERYDAY”
            What is the definition of repentance? Is there any will involved in repenting every day? What does the application of repentance look like for a Christian? For example, lets say a Christian realizes that almost every movie he ends up seeing at the theater is mildly pornographic, and the Spirit is telling him that he needs to stop viewing these types of movies that include scenes that are offensive to God. Does the Christian try to stop viewing these types of movies? Take any sin – yelling at your spouse or children, should that person try to forsake the sin? Latter-Day-Saints too believe that there is no one who will ever be able to forsake all sin and live a perfect life. But, let’s say a person at one point accepts Christ and has faith, “repents” of their sins. What happens if the person decides that they will not try anymore not to stop sinning, and the result is that he is knowingly living in sin. Is this person no longer in the process of being sanctified, therefore, he no longer qualifies for salvation until he repents? He falls from grace essentially.

            You believe the Bible is the only authority when it comes to knowing what God’s will/commandments are. Question – why do Christians disagree on what is sinful and what is not?

            I feel like Christians keep telling me they don’t have to “do” anything to receive God’s grace, but you obviously do or otherwise you would believe the gift of grace would be given to all people whether or not they believe in Christ or not. What you’re telling me is that a Christian must first believe, have faith, repent, and try not to sin. This is EXACTLY what Mormons believe too. We don’t believe that we can earn our say to salvation. We believe we must qualify for the grace of Christ by all the things you just mentioned in your post.

          • Sarah -

            You wrote this to Vicky and Chris, but I will reply as well. (I didn’t have time to reply for a few days.)

            Sarah: “You believe that all men are born sinners, and that all sin stems from the individual’s heart.” True.
            Sarah: “Temptation comes from the devil.” and our own sinfulness.
            Sarah: “For the Christian, or person who has repented and and has faith in Christ, ….” (same thing) ” …. the Holy Spirit dwells in that person and “gives them the power to overcome sin.” True
            Sarah: “So my question is how does this work in an everyday situation? Does the spirit prompt that person to make the righteous choice, and the person is obligated to obey the Spirit, or is there less will involved from the person, so that the Spirit is actually acting for that person?” The Holy Spirit opens the ‘spiritual eyes’ of a person so that person is drawn to God instead of repelled by Him. There is no obligation (force) involved. The Holy Spirit changes the wants/desires of the person.
            Sarah: “If all people are born sinners, what happens to the billions of people who have lived on the earth but who never learned who Christ was? What about the child who learns about Christ, but dies before he has had a chance to repent? Can that child be saved?” No. God controls who will be saved. He controls who hears the Gospel, of those who hears it, who repents and turns to Him, etc. (see John chapt 6, verses 39-40 and 55; John 17 verses 9, 11 and 24; Romans chapt 9) God, the Father, has given certain people (not all) to Christ.

            Sarah: You believe that Christians still sin and are not perfect.” True.
            Sarah: “But they “don’t like to sin.” (It would be more accurate to say Christians know better than to sin. In other words, Christians have an awareness of sin that non-Christians don’t have. Christians still have a sinful nature in this life after salvation.)
            Sarah: “Question – Will Christians feel a sense of guilt when they sin?” Yes, to the extent Christians are aware of their sin. Nobody is aware of all of his or her sins.
            Sarah: “Do they themselves choose to sin or not?” Yes due to the sinful nature of man.
            Sarah: “If they knowingly sin and do not repent, will they be held accountable for those sins at judgement day?” Your questions assumes Christians (or anybody) can even be aware of all their sins, which is not the case. Christians repent of their sins that they are aware of. The holy Spirit guides them to do so.

            Sarah: “[Vicky and Chris] …. said that when a Christian repents, they are then justified before God.” They may have said that, but it shows a misubderstanding of what justification is. Justification is God’s declaring Christioans innocent in the legal sense like a courtroom. It is entirely God’s doing, not due to the repentance of a Christian. The repentance is certainly part of what takes place in salvation, but it is not the cause of anything good from God. The repentance itself is a gift from God.
            Sarah: “[Vicky and Chris] …. then say, and this is confusing to me, “so you are declared sanctified and now the process of progress sanctification starts which means that a Christian lives a repentant life EVERY DAY..RETURNED from sin EVERYDAY battle it EVERYDAY” The reason you are confused is their mixed up definitions of words. At salvation, a Christian is declared justified, not sanctified. The process of sanctification is the proces of becoming more like Christ in the attitude and lack of sin areas, not becoming divine. Christians NEVER become gods – never get a divine nature, just a sinless one after physical death. Assuming you quoted Vicky and Chris accurately, they flunk Christian definitions 101.
            Sarah: “What is the definition of repentance?” It is literally turning around and going the other way. The context is turning away from sin and going toward righteousness. It is striving to be more righteous (with the guidance of the Holy Spirit since Christians are TOTALLY incapable of doing that on their own – without the Holy Spirit, just as incapable of it as a non-believer. But all believers have the Holy Spirit guiding them, so that incapability is not a factor.
            Sarah: “Is there any will involved in repenting every day? What does the application of repentance look like for a Christian?” Yes and no. A Christian’s perception is that it is his or her will, but it is really the Holy Spirit doing it in them.
            Sarah: “For example, lets say a Christian realizes that almost every movie he ends up seeing at the theater is mildly pornographic, and the Spirit is telling him that he needs to stop viewing these types of movies that include scenes that are offensive to God. Does the Christian try to stop viewing these types of movies?” For God’s purposes, He makes some more righteous than others in His plan for history. We won’t know why until after this life if we ever know completely.
            Sarah: “Take any sin – yelling at your spouse or children, should that person try to forsake the sin?” Of course, but it is really the Holy Spirit doing it.
            Sarah: “Latter-Day-Saints too believe that there is no one who will ever be able to forsake all sin and live a perfect life.” That particluar view is biblical.
            Sarah: “But, let’s say a person at one point accepts Christ and has faith, “repents” of their sins. What happens if the person decides that they will not try anymore not to stop sinning, and the result is that he is knowingly living in sin. Is this person no longer in the process of being sanctified, therefore, he no longer qualifies for salvation until he repents? He falls from grace essentially.” It isn’t a matter of “qualifying for salvation” There you go again looking at salvation as earned instead of the free gift from God that it is. You keep falling back into a screwed up view of what salvation is and where it comes from. If a so-called Christian decides to stop trying to avoid sin, it is either a temporary lapse, or the person was never really a Christian in the first place. True salvation can not be lost since it is preserved in a believer by the Holy Spirit (God). God is not perverse. He doesn’t temporary save a person and then let him or her lose that salvation. Anybody who is truly a Christian will stay a Christian. Jesus said, “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” in John 14 verse 15. Romans chapt 8, verses 35-39 covers that. Also John 10 verses 27-29 points out that God’s people follow His voice. Due to the Holy Spirit, it is their nature to do so.

            Sarah: “You believe the Bible is the only authority when it comes to knowing what God’s will/commandments are. Question – why do Christians disagree on what is sinful and what is not?” Because, in the 1800s (and other times), crooked Pastors who wanted a large following more than wanting obedient Christians, compromised God’s word to do so. They will answer to God for that. There were efforts by some to destroy Christianity (or at least make it societally irrelevant) so those evil people could gain power as Christians as a group lost power over society and what was considered acceptable behavior.

            Sarah: “I feel like Christians keep telling me they don’t have to “do” anything to receive God’s grace, but you obviously do or otherwise you would believe the gift of grace would be given to all people whether or not they believe in Christ or not.” You are drawing false conclusions. Grace is a free gift from God by definition and according to the Bible. But salvation is an entire package. Salvation includes the free grace as well as guidance by the Holy Spirit to see that God is real, omnipotent, omniscent, merciful, but perfect and uncompromising in that perfection, that He wants a turn from sin and has the Holy Spirit guide us to do and believe all those things.
            Sarah: “What you’re telling me is that a Christian must first believe, have faith, repent, and try not to sin. This is EXACTLY what Mormons believe too. We don’t believe that we can earn our say to salvation. We believe we must qualify for the grace of Christ by all the things you just mentioned in your post.” Wrong, wrong, wrong! You CAN’T qualify because you are a sinner running from the requirements of God, the mercy of God, etc. God first requires surrender to Him ON HIS TERMS, not on your terms. Nobody can do that on their own. God gives the salvation, the surrender, the obedience, the belief, etc. etc., etc. It is all from God.
            Since you hold on to the LDS view, not the biblical view, you REFUSE to surrender to God ON GOD’S TERMS. You want to do it on your terms. That is the definition of a non-believer who is headed to hell. The original sin of Adam and Eve was wanting to be as God and to determine (define) good and evil for themselves. That is what the LDS “church does – define good and evil – and truth on their terms in violation of the Bible. THAT is the entire dispute between Christians and any cult – LDS, Jehovah’s Witnesses (so-called), Moonies, etc. That is the definition of a cult redefining truth on their terms, not God’s.

          • Thanks Bob, I was hoping you would chime in. I think what you said at the end of your comment gets down to the crux of the disagreement, and that is the question of whether the Bible is the sole authority for God’s will or it is not. That seems to be what you are saying is “God’s Terms” for salvation, that one believes the Bible is the only source for truth and doctrine concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if you believe God’s words coming form other sources, then you are making up different “terms” for salvation.

            Let me see if I get this straight. Christians, by declaring belief, are then justified, or declared innocent of all past sin, and in the future. When they sin after they declare belief, it is either because they don’t know that they are sinning, or they know that they are sinning and it is a temporary lapse, and the Spirit will cause them to repent and turn away from the sin. If they keep on knowingly sinning, like they start a adulterous relationship for example, it means that they never were really a Christian in the first place. And all of this really doesn’t matter because God has chosen relatively few individuals throughout the history of the earth to be saved, and you don’t have any choice in the matter, except the already chosen ones need to accept the doctrine found in the Bible, which might be a little confusing since there are many unrighteous pastors who have preached false doctrine in the past.
            Those who have been chosen don’t act for themselves, God acts through them, and guides them to become Christ-like. After death, one becomes sinless, but is not equal to Christ.

            In order to be chosen, I must be already chosen, and be willing to believe that the Bible is the only authority for God’s will. That’s when the Spirit will cause me to surrender to God, and let Him be in charge of my life. I basically just do what feels right, because I know the Spirit is causing me to make good decisions. If I do something wrong, It’s because God’s path for me is a little slower to be sanctified than others, but I’m still justified of sin, which equals salvation, right. Or is sanctification the same as salvation?

            This conversation has reminded me of an account in the Book of Mormon. The prophet Alma goes into a particular city to preach to them faith in Christ who is to come, repentance, and obedience to God’s commandments. He is astonished to see the people of that city praying to God in their synagogues, in this way:

            “Holy Holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou will be a spirit forever.
            “Holy God, we believe that thou hast SEPARATED us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou has ELECTED us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ.
            “But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast ELECTED US THAT WE SHALL BE SAVED, whilst all around us are ELECTED TO BE CAST BY THY WRATH DOWN TO HELL; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou has ELECTED us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.
            “And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a CHOSEN AND A HOLY PEOPLE. Amen

          • Vicky & Chris

            Sarah, the answer to your questions AGAIN…
            1-spirit prompt that person to make the righteous choice” Yes its called being BORN Again. John 3:3, God Grants us a new nature, Romans 8:4″He did this so that the just requirement of the law would be fully satisfied for us, who no longer follow our sinful nature but instead follow the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 5:17 “17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come:[] The old has gone, the new is here!”

            2-”what happens to the billions of people who have lived on the earth but who never learned who Christ was? What about the child who learns about Christ, but dies before he has had a chance to repent? Can that child be saved? ” We are all conceived in sin, Romans 5:12 “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” When you say “what about people who have never heard about Christ?” you are saying there are 2 ways to Heaven, as long as a person NEVER HEARS ABOUT CHRIST THEY GO TO HEAVEN, well if I plug my ears every time someone tells me about Christ I will make it to heaven, NO NO NO. there is only one way. John 14:6″6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Even if a Person or Baby never hears about Christ they are still sinners. Psalm 51:5 King James Bible “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” You see as I have told you before we all have fallen short of Gods glory and broke HIS law ever since Adam. 1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.” now a Child are baby in the womb, is still saved thru Christ, its called “overwhelming Grace” its told in the story of King David where His son dies. 2 Samuel 12:23 “But now he is dead, wherefore should I fast? can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.” only God can save anyone, but IT IS STILL THRU THE DEATH OF CHRIST ON THE CROSS, the perfect Sacrifice for SIN.

            3.-Will Christians feel a sense of guilt when they sin? Do they themselves choose to sin or not? If they knowingly sin and do not repent, will they be held accountable for those sins at judgment day? See the Answer to question 1.

            4-.You said that when a Christian repents, they are then justified before Yes to all the questions. but its all from GOD, how can you take the glory from GOD and say that you are doing it. when God is the one willing you to. When we take credit for the good things of GOD we are robbing HIM of HIS glory.

            5-.What happens if the person decides that they will not try anymore not to stop sinning, and the result is that he is knowingly living in sin. Is this person no longer in the process of being sanctified, therefore, he no longer qualifies for salvation until he repents? What sins did Christ die for? PAST PRESENT AND FUTURE, if HE did not die for all the sins of a Repentant Believer, then we go to HELL. that simple.

            6-.You believe the Bible is the only authority when it comes to knowing what God’s will/commandments are. Question – why do Christians disagree on what is sinful and what is not? If the BIBLE says its a SIN, then it is, no questions asked, if a ‘christian” Disagrees with what the bible clearly calls sin, then the are ignorant,or they are not a Christian, its that simple.

            7-”I feel like Christians keep telling me they don’t have to “do” anything to receive God’s grace, but you obviously do or otherwise you would believe the gift of grace would be given to all people whether or not they believe in Christ or not.” Because Christians understand what wretched sinners they are, and they understand that if it was not for GOD stepping into there life and saving them or calling them, they would deserve HELL, a christian knows that all things come from GOD, so we don’t take credit for HIS WORK, and we know that we will never be good enough to please HIM, that is why Christ died to save BAD people READ LUKE 18:9 if a person does not realize that they are the Tax Collector in that parable, they will not be saved, Jesus even says they will not. the reason you don’t get it, is because you insist on taking credit for what GOD has done, your trusting in your self that you are good enough to go to heaven, and your are trusting in your Religion and traditions of men to get you there, But if you don’t humble yourself and come to the knowledge that you deserve Hell and there in nothing you can do for your self to escape it, except Repent and trust Christ. then you can do all the work you want but you will still go to hell. Matthew 7:22-23 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” STOP TRUSTING IN YOUR RELIGION AND SELF. Trust solely in CHRIST ALONE to be saved.

          • Hi Bob and Vicky,

            Thanks for your responses. I too am growing a little weary, but I think it has been worth the effort for me to try to get a better understanding of what Evangelical Christians believe. I feel like I now understand the language some of my family members use, who say a lot of the same things you have said to me. All in all, it has benefited me. I’m sorry that I came across as intending to “stir the pot.” One of my weaknesses is that I can be a little combative. It’s something I’m always repenting of, you might say. I need to restrain myself from taking on every fight I feel justified in fighting. I felt defensive to some of the accusations you were throwing out there, and at the same time, I realized that I did not fully understand how you thought about salvation, and how you came to these conclusions. I feel like for the most part, I understand now.

            Although I understood that we differed greatly on where we believed God has manifested truth, and on the doctrines of Christ, I was trying to nail down the PROCESS of repentance Evangelical Christians go through, or how they think about it in day-to-day decisions. I feel like Evangelical Christians, and Latter-Day-Saint Christians despite our serious differences in beliefs, go through a similar process of repentance in thought process, but for Christians there is less will or no will involved, whereas for Mormon’s there is will involved. So what do Christian’s say to themselves when they find themselves sinning? Something like, “That’s not what a Christian should be doing. I will stop” Or “I should stop that.” But then, why would you say that to yourself if you knew that no matter what you did, you were still saved. I guess I’m still curious about what goes through the Christian’s mind when they come to a realization that they are doing something sinful.

            Mormons believe that the only thing they can offer up to God is their will, or in other words “a broken heart and contrite spirit.” Instead of offering up sacrifices upon an alter, we are now commanded to offer up our willingness to love God and keep His commandments.

            I still have a hard time understanding how Christians can call action words “gifts,” and then claim that they of themselves do nothing with that gift. They essentially become God’s robots. At least that is what I’m getting, is that after they “COMPLETELY” accept Christ, they no longer make any choices that they are accountable for. This doctrine does not make sense to me, when you consider all the scriptures indicating that we will be judged by our works.

            I invite you to consider the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day-Saints, as has been revealed in these Last Days. Not only has the Holy Ghost born witness to me of it’s truthfulness, but it also makes COMPLETELY wonderful sense.

          • Sarah -

            No human being is free. People are either slaves of Satan or slaves of Christ, but not robots. God does not force people to be Christians. He changes our will and spiritually turns us around so we see the truth and run from evil. We run from it because we now see it for what it is.

            When people sin, they do it willingly. When people are obedient thay do it willingly. However, in either case, the will is not free (as in freedom).

            Bob

          • Bob,
            I think we need to define some words. One of the great things about having living Apostles is that they can teach us what is true, and clarify things that people often get mixed up with because of the different definitions people apply to words. Elder Oaks taught some time ago in one of his talks that there is a difference between agency and freedom. When we lived with our God, our Heavenly Father in our pre-earth life as his spirit children, we all had our agency. We all chose to follow the Father’s plan to come to earth, be tested, experience good from evil, and experience a body. The fall was part of God’s plan. He knew we would fall and have a carnal body subject to sin, so he provided a Savior for us – Jehovah or Jesus Christ, so that we could be redeemed from the fall, and saved from the punishment justice would require because of our sins. Here on Earth we also enjoy the gift of agency. Agency is given to ALL of God’s children and is one of the greatest gifts of God. It is agency that allows us to choose good from evil.

            Freedom on the other hand is different. On this earth, we are not guaranteed freedom. Through-out history the majority of people have been ruled over with varying degrees of restraint put upon their actions. The wonderful thing about America, is that we enjoy more freedom thanks to the people who sacrificed, even their own lives, so we could enjoy more freedom in this country.

            Agency does not equal freedom. We came to this Earth to exercise our agency and learn good from evil. In the process of choosing, we would learn from the consequences of our choices. Doesn’t every parent notice how their children must sometimes fail so they can learn from their mistakes? The sin of Adam and Eve wasn’t that they wanted to make the rules for salvation, it was that they were disobedient to God’s command. Thus, obedience is the first law of Heaven.

            What Elder Oaks explained was that even slaves who have earthly masters still have their agency. They may not enjoy freedom, but the slave can still choose to follow Christ or not, to hate his master or love him. He can still choose to work hard or be lazy. Isn’t the definition of having a will, that you are able to choose for yourself? That you have your own desires?

            As I explained earlier, everyone has the light of Christ within them that opens their eyes to good and evil. As they turn away from darkness and look towards the light, they will come unto Christ. The Holy Ghost is able to influence an unbeliever if they are searching for truth. The Spirit will lead that person to truth and to Christ. When someone is baptized and becomes a member of Christ’s Church, the Gift of the Holy Ghost is given as an ordinance to that person by the laying on of hands, by someone having Priesthood authority. I know you didn’t ask for me to explain all that, but maybe some of it will help you make sense where I am coming from, in regards to how I view the word “will.” In the same way you believe the Spirit transforms a person’s will, we too believe the Spirit or Holy Ghost, and the Light of Christ, can influence and change the person to become more holy.

            I don’t think we are really all that different in how we believe about sin and repentance. I think the phrase that is the big stumbling block for both of us is when you say that God “changes” our will so that we don’t want to sin any more. A Latter-Day-Saint would say that when we repent of our sin, and are born again, we also have a change in what we desire. We want to do the will of the Lord, but it’s not because he is controlling us. The Spirit gives us these desires, but we still have to act on them. And, we believe that it is possible to not act according the the promptings you receive, or the light that is in you, and that is when you can fall into sin. If you do not repent, you will gradually loose the light you have been given. This is why it will be noticed that often minor sins lead to bigger ones. The spirit will bring to our remembrance what the commandments are, and we are responsible for obeying the promptings we receive.

            I’m glad that you said that you believe that we are slave to Christ, because that helps me see how you are looking at your relationship to him. I wouldn’t consider followers of Christ to be “slaves” necessarily, because the word slave implies that the person is forced into this relationship. I think of it more as a servant/master relationship. But even if you think of yourself as a slave to Christ, don’t slaves still have the choice to be a good slave or a bad one? And perhaps the biggest problem I have with what you believe is the notion that the slave will not be held accountable for how good of a servant he is. Do you not recall the parable of the talents, or the time when Jesus says (in John 15:2) that every branch IN ME that beareth not fruit he (the Father) taketh away. And then in verse six, “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered……and they are burned” The Lord is teaching that we have a choice whether or not we abide in him, and that even those who are “in him” have the possibility of being taken away because of their lack of fruit.

            Something else that doesn’t make sense to me – What you have been arguing is that the slave is transformed so that he always wants to do the will of his master, and if that were true, then he would never sin, which you already said is possible.

            So I don’t understand what you mean by your last statement that “when people sin, they do it willingly. When people are obedient they do it willingly. However, in either case, the will is not free (as in freedom).”
            If we change the word “will” to “desires,” that our desires are not free, that makes even less sense to me. We are back to the language that God completely gives us our desires, which means we are no longer slaves or servants, for they do have their own desires to serve and their own desires on how they will serve. Only robots don’t have their own desires.

          • Sarah -

            You are incorrigible. I am not interested in your religion, except to refute it. The discussion was supposedly about you desiring to find out what the beliefs of Christianity are, NOT a discussion on LDS beliefs.

            Stop wasting everybody’s time. You bear false witness when you say your desire is one thing and it is really something else.

            Bob

          • Bob and Vicky,

            Just because I shared a little bit of what I believed, doesn’t mean that this whole time I haven’t been interested in what you believe. You both really did make SOME things very clear, and helped me differentiate between the two types of belief.

            It IS possible for someone to want to understand something even though that person already has firm beliefs about the subject and doesn’t intend to change them. I thought I made it clear from the beginning why I was interested in having this conversation. I have some family members who are Evangelical Christians, and I realized that they were using the same phrases as you both, and I wanted to understand what they and you meant by it, in how it applied to real life, how it felt to repent, recognize sin etc.
            I guess I didn’t make it very clear in my last post why I was explaining what I believe. I did it because we kept using the same words, but the way you understood the words, and the way I understand the words was very different. I was hoping that by explaining the words as I understand them, you could say something like, “I define the word this way, and understand the principle differently this way.” I’m sorry to put you both through so much torture. Yes, I admit that I never intended to ask questions to see if I would agree with them or not. I thought that was very apparent.

          • Vicky & Chris

            Like I said long ago…Stirring the pot…. LOL!! IF after everything that we all have said to you and THAT is what you got from it either you have a VERY difficult time understanding things or you are playing stupid… So unfortunately I am done with this site I thought maybe we could have an HONEST conversation…See I UNDERSTOOD everything you told me… I don’t agree with you but you are telling me that YOU don’t understand what we are telling you what a shame that you are making yourself out to look this way you could have very easily said I understand what you are saying but I don’t agree…SO MUCH EASIER than DUH UH I THINK WHAT YOU ARE SAYING IS ?????? and completely mess it totally up over and over again LMBO!!! Anyway…. If that is what you were trying to do is make yourself and this blog look like incompetent people then chalk one up to success!! :) Have a good one!! Really hope you look back at EVERYTHING we wrote cuz it is BIBLICAL TRUTH!!

          • Hi Sarah -

            You’re welcome. I am not trying to be offensive. This is time consuming and I run out of time and patience – probably sinful on my part.
            Sarah: “I think what you said at the end of your comment gets down to the crux of the disagreement, and that is the question of whether the Bible is the sole authority for God’s will or it is not. That seems to be what you are saying is “God’s Terms” for salvation, that one believes the Bible is the only source for truth and doctrine concerning the gospel of Jesus Christ, and if you believe God’s words coming form other sources, then you are making up different “terms” for salvation.” True. That is a good summary.

            Sarah: “Let me see if I get this straight. Christians, by declaring belief, are then justified, or declared innocent of all past sin, and in the future.” Not exactly. The salvation, justification, changing of a person’s understanding of truth, etc. is a package from God. It is all or nothing. The declaration of belief is from God. A Christian has ZERO reason to say they did anything leading to their own salvation. Any good actions a person does – even if done by a non-Christian – are from God.
            Sarah: “When they sin after they declare belief, it is either because they don’t know that they are sinning, or they know that they are sinning and it is a temporary lapse, and the Spirit will cause them to repent and turn away from the sin. If they keep on knowingly sinning, like they start a adulterous relationship for example [and continue in it - Bob], it means that they never were really a Christian in the first place.” True.
            Sarah: “And all of this really doesn’t matter because God has chosen relatively few individuals throughout the history of the earth to be saved, and you don’t have any choice in the matter, except the already chosen ones need to accept the doctrine found in the Bible, which might be a little confusing since there are many unrighteous pastors who have preached false doctrine in the past.” Not exactly. First, God has chosen many throughout history who have been or will be saved. I didn’t say it was only a few. Second, people have a choice – no non-Christian wants to be saved on God’s terms. They bristle as surrendering to God completely. That is why salvation is a miracle from God. God (the Holy Spirit) changes a person’ basic spiritual makeup to want to move toward God rather than away from Him. God can save a person in spite of bad preaching. The righteousness of the Pastor or other individual talking about God doesn’t affect whether God can use their actions to turn somebody to Himself. There have always been bad preachers, in the Old Testament and the New Testament.
            Sarah: “Those who have been chosen don’t act for themselves, God acts through them, and guides them to become Christ-like. After death, one becomes sinless, but is not equal to Christ.” True. People who at the beginnings of becoming a Christian do act, but it is God guiding them, so they have no reason to take any credit for their action. Those good actions they do are a gift from God.
            Sarah: “In order to be chosen, I must be already chosen, and be willing to believe that the Bible is the only authority for God’s will. That’s when the Spirit will cause me to surrender to God, and let Him be in charge of my life.” Yes on predestination. No on the other part. Nobody is ‘willing to believe that the Bible is the only authority for God’s will’ until the Holy Spirit is changing them – turning them around. That change in willingness is from God. It is part of the entire package of salvation. In other words, there is nobody who would turn to God if God didn’t intervene. We all deserve hell.
            Sarah: “I basically just do what feels right, because I know the Spirit is causing me to make good decisions. If I do something wrong, It’s because God’s path for me is a little slower to be sanctified than others, but I’m still justified of sin, which equals salvation, right. Or is sanctification the same as salvation?” I am not sure what you are asking here. The Bible says God changes our minds. It is not just feelings. It is an intellectual change as well. For example, scientific evidence ‘proves’ creationism, not evolution, but most non-Christians won’t go there because it means there is a god who they are responsible to. So they twist the facts and purposely mis-interpret the facts to false conclusions so they don’t have to intellectually deal with being responsible to God for their actions. As far as sanctification is concerned, God’s plan for history uses people’s sins and obedience to shape history. For example, in the Old Testament, Nebuchadnezzar was rebellious to God and God used that to make history. He later saved Nebuchadnezzar – made him a believer. Nebuchadnezzar surrendered to God on God’s terms. Sanctification is not the same as salvation. Sanctification is a Christian’s gradual process of becoming more morally like God – not becoming divine, but less sinful.
            In general, we are all sinners in this life whether we are Christians or not. Christians are becoming less sinful due to the Holy Spirit’s work in them.

            Sarah: “This conversation has reminded me of an account in the Book of Mormon. The prophet Alma goes into a particular city to preach to them faith in Christ who is to come, repentance, and obedience to God’s commandments. He is astonished to see the people of that city praying to God in their synagogues, in this way:
            “Holy Holy God; we believe that thou art God, and we believe that thou art holy, and that thou wast a spirit, and that thou art a spirit, and that thou will be a spirit forever.
            “Holy God, we believe that thou hast SEPARATED us from our brethren; and we do not believe in the tradition of our brethren, which was handed down to them by the childishness of their fathers; but we believe that thou has ELECTED us to be thy holy children; and also thou hast made it known unto us that there shall be no Christ.
            “But thou art the same yesterday, today, and forever; and thou hast ELECTED US THAT WE SHALL BE SAVED, whilst all around us are ELECTED TO BE CAST BY THY WRATH DOWN TO HELL; for the which holiness, O God, we thank thee; and we also thank thee that thou has ELECTED us, that we may not be led away after the foolish traditions of our brethren, which doth bind them down to a belief of Christ, which doth lead their hearts to wander far from thee, our God.
            “And again we thank thee, O God, that we are a CHOSEN AND A HOLY PEOPLE. Amen”
            I am no expert on the Book of Mormon so I don’t have much to say here. I think it is a work of fiction anyway. Sorry, but that is a true statement.
            They sound like people nowdays who say. “I am glad I don’t believe the backwards beliefs of those primitive people in the Old Testament and the New Testament who believed in unscientific miracles, a firey bush, the Red Sea parting, false stories of people coming back from the dead, etc., etc.” There is still remains of Egyptian chariots on the bottom of the Red Sea. Here is a link to a video showing where Moses met God: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A08_oRBAVPA It has a lot of parts.

          • Vicky & Chris

            Bob…If you were to actually read our replys you would see that we did NOT flunk Christianity 101 as you so boldly put it and all of the stuff that you had put down that Sarah wrote was actually taken from our post I understand that this blog is very hard to understand because it is not in order but you should go back and read it before you flunk us out lol… Sarah seems to try to stir the pot so to speak and she is doing a wonderful job at it this is why Chris and I are finished we have preached the COMPLETE ACCURATE Gospel of Jesus Christ in it’s full capacity the way John MacArthur, Spurgeon, Todd Friel, Paul Washer, or any other GREAT Pastor or Historian could and she is stuck in LDS mode she is purposely trying to get peoples feathers ruffled so I suggest you really know what was said before you assume what she read…. Although thank you as well for trying to preach that gospel with us ;) God bless you!

          • Hi Vicky and Chris -

            LOL! You have posted a lot of good information. That is why I didn’t think it was a problem about the flunking comment. I’m sure I make mistakes, and/or get misquoted also. My main issue is being very blunt. I am very good at writing complaint letters to companies. :-)

            Bob

          • I realized I probably didn’t ask one of my questions the right way.

            Is the gift of repentance given one time when that person is saved, or can it be given multiple times thought out a person’s life?

          • Sarah, I think Bob has hit this SPOT ON…Thank you BOb cuz this was going in circles…Sarah I would really read and REREAD what Bob sent you it is BIBLICAL and it is TRUTH…I honestly believe that you need to really do research into your own religion as well. NONE of us are perfect there was ONLY One Jesus Christ. If we are being honest we as HUMANS will ALWAYS sin and that is why Jesus CHrist came so that through repentance we would be justified. A repentant heart! Sarah I will be praying that you REALLY look into this and that Jesus Christ opens your eyes and heart to the TRUTH and that ANYONE reading this information will look more into it do research so that your eyes and heart will be open to the truth as well. God bless!

          • What I should add is that we can’t expect to be able to repent of our sins on our own. Many things we do that offend God we can never overcome without His help. As we repent, his cleansing power gives us strength to overcome sin and forsake it. That is one way his grace works in our lives.

        • I forgot to mention that I agree with you. Many Pastors will have a lot of answering to do to God on judgment day. They are not teaching obedience to God’s law – and therefore, they are not defining what repentance is – turning towards God’s commandments as the only standard to follow. They are also not showing members of their congregations how sinful they are. The congregations don’t look at the law as THE standard and so, aren’t aware of a lot of their sin.

    • But the gift of the Scholarship / Salvation is PRIOR to the work. God gives us the ability to do good works AFTER we are saved (by the Holy Spirit working in us).
      Your analogy breaks down because, usually, good grades/good works, etc., are required to get a scholarship. That isn’t true of salvation.

  30. Aaron Shafovaloff

    If we think of Mormonism as a religion found in its original scriptures, independent and irrespective of how those scriptures have been taught or understood by LDS tradition and authority, then we can describe Mormonism as a religion which teaches that we should be relying on the merits of Christ alone (Moroni 6:4; cf. 2 Nephi 2:8), that God has always unchangeably been God from all eternity (Moroni 8:18), that drinking beer is encouraged (D&C 89:17), and that remission of sins is a prerequisite to baptism (D&C 20:37).

    But if we think of Mormonism as more holistically found in its modern institutional teachings and in mainstream views inherited from a powerful tradition, then we’re still left with a religion that teaches God has to become a God, that our very purpose in life is to prove ourselves meritorious and worthy of eventual godhood, that baptism is an event which itself helps bring remission of sins, and that one is rendered unworthy of Christ’s presence by drinking alcohol.

    According to the currently used and Church-published True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, “the phrase ‘after all we can do’ teaches that effort is required on our part to receive the fullness of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with him” (p. 77). This is how 2 Nephi 25:23 has largely been authoritatively interpreted and taught from the General Conference pulpit since the 1950′s. I empathize with BYU professors wanting to reverse this interpretation, but surely integrity calls for clarity here: BYU professors are essentially teaching that significant numbers of LDS apostles and prophets have been — and in some cases continue to be — grossly wrong in their in interpration and teaching on the subject.

    The recent LDS Church manual on Lorenzo Snow proudly reiterates Snow’s couple, “As man is God once was, as God is man may be.” The Gospel Principles manual reinforces much of the traditional Mormon worldview that neo-orthodox BYU professors are in denial of. The LDS Church continues to teach what BYU professors insist is not official Church doctrine.

    Describing the traditionalism vs. neo-orthodoxy battle within Mormonism as a mere evolution of “emphasis” doesn’t help anyone in the end. It’s a real divide with affirmations and denials, and key players in the BYU religion department are trying to reverse long-standing teachings of the LDS Church and tradition. As an evangelical I am partly cheering on this on. While I can emphasize with the BYU professors who are trying to undercut some of the LDS apostles, books like Spencer Kimball’s The Miracle of Forgiveness — which teaches an awful perfectionism and performance-based religion — continue to be sold in official LDS Church distribution centers, and continue to go unrepudiated.

    Millions of real people continue to believe a false gospel. I care about those people more than I care about the cozy relationships some evangelical leaders and professors have with neo-orthodox BYU professors.

  31. Brigham Young taught that Adam perfected himself and became God, the Father (see the book Secret History bu Ahmansen). Joseph Smith stole the idea of the plates and Mormonism from a fictional work published in 1930. The LDS “church” teaches Satan and Christ are spirit brothers so the “Jesus” they look to is a fabrication. The LDS initiation ceremony is stolen from the Masons, another bad organization. Etc., etc.

    Repentance is a gift from God because when we are unsaved we are spiritually dead. We can’t respond. We are unable. So the LDS “church” is wrong on that as well. Salvation is entirely a gift from God. God predetermined who would/will be saved (see Ephesians 1 among other places in the Bible). We, as Christians, evangelize because we don’t know which people are chosen by God. God, the Holy Spirit, makes it effective in those who were predetermined before God made the universe (Eph. 1).

    I pray that Bible study both in the LDS “church” and done independently by Mormons, brings the LDS organization to true doctrine and inidividuals in it to true faith as God did with the Worldwide Church of God/Ambassador College. That was due to a Godly man in their organization who was saved after he was on staff and patiently waited until he was at the top, then changed their doctrine to conform to the Bible.

    • True. God predetermined who will be saved. The absurd notion that we don’t know so we preach to everyone IS simply pure nonsense. Infinite Love melts every heart before final judgment… Wait and see!!! When anyone feels the grace of God…. truly totally… they then realize that If me then anyone… as in Everyone…. It is His marvelous work… and the stone cut out… will fill the earth…and then we shall break forth into singing…. and hell will be empty…

  32. Vicky and Chris Jenkins

    AUTHORITY OF THE PROPHET:
    The president or prophet of the Church is thought to be the sole spokesman and revelator of God. Joseph Smith was the initial prophet, but each successive president holds that position. Through him God’s will can be made known to the church. All revelations are made scripture and no Mormon can attain godhood without accepting Joseph Smith as a true prophet. The Mormon scriptures state that Latter-day Saints “shalt give heed unto all his [the prophet’s] words andcommandments . . . For his word ye shall receive as if from mine [God’s] own mouth” (Doctrine and Covenants 21:4–5).

    Biblical Response: Old and New Testament prophets were God’s spokesmen. Their words were always consistent with the Bible and pointed to God’s Son, Jesus Christ. A test of genuineness for prophets was that any prediction they proclaimed would come true (Deut. 18:20–22). For example, Joseph Smith predicted that the temple of the church would be built in Independence, Mo., within his lifetime (Doctrine and Covenants 84:2–5). No temple has yet been built there. New Testament prophets spoke, along with teachers, pastors, and evangelists, in evangelizing with and edifying the church (Eph. 4:11–13).

    MORMON SCRIPTURE:
    Mormons accept four books as scripture and the word of God. The King James Version of the Bible is one of them, but only “as far as it is translated correctly” —seemingly allowing for possible questions about its authority. Joseph Smith made over 600 corrections to its text. Other “standard works” are the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price. The Bible is missing “plain and precious parts” according to the Book of Mormon (1 Nephi 13:26) which the other three volumes complete. The Book of Mormon has the “fullness of the gospel” and tells the story of a supposed migration of Israelites in 600 B.C. to the American continent. These Israelites subsequently lapsed into apostasy although their story was preserved on golden plates written in Reformed Egyptian. Joseph Smith, it is said, translated the plates by the “gift and power of God” (Doctrine and Covenants 135:3). Reformed Egyptian does not exist as a language. The golden plates were returned to the angel Moroni after they were transcribed and Moroni returned them to heaven. The Book of Mormon does not contain explicit Mormon doctrine. Doctrine and Covenants contains the revelations of the Mormon prophets—138 in number along with two “declarations.” Here most of Mormon doctrine can be found including the priesthood, baptism for the dead, godhood, and polygamy. The Pearl of Great Price contains Smith’s religious history, the Articles of Faith, the Book of Abraham, and the Book of Moses. Biblical Response: The Bible explicitly warns against adding to or detracting from its teaching (Rev. 22:18; Deut. 4:2). The New Testament contains the inspired and totally accurate witness of contemporary disciples and followers of Jesus. It alone claims to be fully inspired of God and usable for the establishment of doctrine (2 Tim. 3:15–17; 2 Pet. 1:19–21).

    ESTABLISHMENT OF TEMPLES:
    The first Mormon temple was constructed in Kirtland, Ohio, in 1836. Subsequently, a temple was constructed in Nauvoo, Ill., in 1846. Presently there are at least 53 operating temples throughout the world including the one finished in Salt Lake City in 1893. The purpose and function of temples is for the practice of eternal ordinances including primarily baptism for the dead, endowments, and celestial marriages. Baptism in the Mormon church, for both the living and the dead, is essential for the fullness of salvation. The dead often are baptized by proxy which affords them after death the opportunity to become Mormons. Celestial marriage for “time and eternity” is also a temple ordinance. It is necessary for godhood and seals the marriage forever. Temples form an essential part of Mormon salvation. Only Mormons in possession of a “temple recommend” by their bishop may enter a temple.

    Biblical Response: The Temple of the Old Testament was a place of symbolic sacrifice forefiguring the sacrifice of Christ. Worship in the Jewish temple in Jerusalem was a practice of early Jewish believers (Acts 2:46). Otherwise there is no mention of any such practice in the New Testament. Never was the Jewish temple used for baptism for the dead, marriage, or other secret ceremonies. It was the place in the Old Testament where the glory of God occasionally dwelt. Today the individual believer is God’s dwelling place and not a physical building (1 Cor. 3:16).
    GOD IS AN EXALTED MAN:
    Elohim, the god of this universe, was previously a man in a prior existence. As a result of having kept the requirements of Mormonism, he was exalted to godhood and inherited his own universe. God is confined to a “body of flesh and bones” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22) and yet is thought to be omniscient and omnipotent. He obviously cannot be omnipresent. There are an nfinite number of gods with their own worlds—these too were previously men. The Holy Ghost, Jesus Christ, and “Heavenly Father” comprise three separate and distinct gods. Heavenly Father sires spiritual children in heaven destined for human life on earth. All humans, as well as Jesus Christ and Lucifer, are god’s heavenly children. (See Doctrine and Covenants 130:22; God, Jesus, and the Spirit thus had beginnings.)

    Biblical Response: God is Spirit and is not confined to a physical body (John 4:24). Jesus Christ was incarnated through a miraculous and non-physical conception through the Virgin Mary. He was fully God from the beginning (John 1:1). Together with the person of the Holy Spirit they form the triune (three-in-one) eternal God. JESUS IS GOD’S “SON”: Jesus was Heavenly Father’s firstborn spirit child in heaven. He was begotten by God through Mary as in a “literal, full and complete sense” in the same “sense in which he is the son of Mary” (Bruce McConkie, A New Witness for the Articles of Faith [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1993], 67). These two elements of Jesus being literally God’s son form his uniqueness in Mormon theology. In the Garden of Gethsemane as well as on the cross Jesus atoned for Adam’s sin and guaranteed all humankind resurrection and immortality. Jesus visited the Israelites or Indians of North America after his resurrection and established the true church among them. We are the spiritual, but literal, younger brothers and sisters of Christ. Some Mormon documents claim that Jesus was married at Cana in Galilee (Mark 2) and had children himself.

    Biblical Response: Jesus is viewed as God, the Word or Son, eternally existent with the Father and worthy of identity as God (John 1:1–14). He was born of the Virgin Mary who had conceived him supernaturally by the Holy Spirit. He lived a perfect life, died on the cross for the sins of the world, and was raised from the dead. He will come again and reign as Lord of lords.

    HUMANS ARE GODS IN EMBRYO:
    Every human being has the potential of becoming a god by keeping the requirements of Mormonism. A well-known statement within Mormonism is, “As man is god once was, as god is man may become.” From a prior spirit existence in heaven, humans may be born on earth in order to exercise freedom to choose good or evil and to have a body for the resurrection. Basically humans are good, but they will be punished for their sin. But by keeping Mormon teaching and obeying the church and the Prophet, after the resurrection worthy Mormon males may pass the celestial guards, bring their wives with them, and achieve a status similar to Elohim—the god of this world. The consequences of their sin are erased by their allegiance to the tenets of Mormonism. In resurrection faithful Mormons receive exaltation to godhood and will exercise dominion over their world. Biblical Response: Human beings are God’s special creation. There is no evidence from Scripture of preexistence, rather God acknowledges that it was in the womb of our mothers that He formed us (Isaiah 44:2). A sinful nature is part of humanity’s experience. Liberation from the power and presence of sin is experienced as a result of faith in Christ. At that point God’s image is begun to be remade in every Christian. Although the believer is being transformed to Christlikeness, the Bible does not teach literal godhood as the inheritance of the saints (Rom. 8:29; Rev. 1:5– ).

    MORMON PLAN OF SALVATION:
    The Mormon plan of salvation is built on the idea that all people have eternal life, but only the most faithful Mormons have godhood or enter the celestial Kingdom. In order to obtain this ultimate step, Mormons must exercise faith in the God of Mormonism, its Christ, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; exercise repentance; and be baptized in the LDS Church. Additionally Mormons must keep the “Word of Wisdom” by abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, and caffeine; tithe to the church; attend weekly sacrament meetings; support the Mormon prophet; do temple works; and be active in their support of the church.

    Biblical Response: Salvation, according to the Bible, is due to God’s grace and love. He provided Jesus as the sacrifice for the sins of the world. It is through faith in the crucified and risen Jesus that we may be saved. Works are excluded (John 1:12; 3:16; Rom. 10:9–13; Eph. 2:8–9).

  33. Grace vs. Works. Some folks dismiss the “extreme” evangelical position as an over-dependence upon the Apostle Paul’s writings. However, Jesus clearly spoke of it.

    For example, in the following passage (John 6:26-29), Jesus chides the crowds who are following Him only because they are looking for their next free meal.

    26 “Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.”

    Then Jesus readjusts their sights for eternal gain, not temporal…

    27 “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life…”

    At this point, I daresay most Latter Day Saints would point and say, “Aha! We must labor in order to gain everlasting life. Obedience to the laws and ordinances will result in our exaltation to everlasting life.”

    Let’s see. Jesus goes on and continues His thought…

    “…which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”

    So clearly, Jesus is authorized to grant this “everlasting life” if we labor appropriately. So what is “appropriate” labor that will affect “everlasting life”? They ask:

    28 “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?”

    If we stop the narrative here and ask a Mormon to propose a “list” of works that will impact their eternal destiny, it would have to agree with the requirements for a temple recommend, don’t you think? After all, if your lack of worthiness during your mortality keeps you out of the temple then surely it will prevent your entry into “everlasting life”.

    So how does Jesus answer this most important question? He says:

    29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”

    So when we talk about grace vs. works, we must listen to the Savior’s teaching on the matter. If your intent, like the crowd in the story, is to pursue what will impact your eternal destiny, then that would be belief on Him.

    The result? Verse 27 says the He will “give unto you” everlasting life. So Christ “gives” in response to our belief alone. There is no mention of any other demands upon us.

    That is grace.

    • This truly is a debate about the definition of words. What does it mean to “believe” in Christ. For a Christian it seems that when you “believe” Christ will save you from your sins, but that repentance for specific sins, forsaking all sin, and obedience to laws, commandments, ordinances etc. are not necessary. For a Latter-Day-Saint, believing Christ includes believing when he said, “if you love me, keep (obey) my commandments.” Since the greatest commandment is to love God, then we need to do that obviously, and if to love God is to obey all of his commandments, then we better understand what they are. As a Mormon, I believe that Christ has revealed his commandments, laws and ordinances to prophets, who have recorded scripture, and that we can through revelation understand every “higher” law that God lives by and what we will also ultimately live by. All this is made possible through the Son of God, Jesus Christ, and for that, I love him!

      • Sarah makes a good point. Belief in Christ has no saving value. The intent here is faith in Christ. Faith it’s a verb and a demonstration of one’s brief. Repentance, baptism being foremost. Thereafter….follow the teachings of our Master clearly taught in the new testament.

        • Obedience to His commandments in the Old Testament as well. Moses saw God’s backside. God, the Father doesn’t have a body. It was Jesus who Moses saw. ALL of God’s commandments stand unless they are specifically rescinded in the New Testament. They are a school teacher to us because they teach how incapable we are of earning anything from God. They show us our sin when we fall short.

    • You might want to read Bonhoeffer’s Cost of Discipleship. He focuesed on Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount to understand what he called cheap grace versus costly grace.

      Or you could simply read the Sermon on the Mount directly…

  34. Raymond Takashi Swenson

    Twenty five years ago I had a conversation during a long drive with a co-worker and friend who belonged to an Evangelical church. I asked him what he believed about the relationship between our actions and our salvation. He affirmed to me that someone who had already been “saved” (however that is determined) could commit any crime, including murder, and still be “saved”. His understanding was not based on someone repenting of a past action, but committing a vile crime AFTER being “saved”. He also affirmed that a person who was not “saved” by his definition would go to hell, no matter how kind and loving they were to other people.

    I know this is out there at the edges of evangelical belief, but it seems to be a logical conclusion from much of the rhetoric that is used by all Evangelicals. Essentially, my friend told me that whether you are “saved” or not has no relationship to your actions, whether good or evil.

    I cannot reconcile that theory of salvation with the express words of Jesus Christ in the Bible. In Matthew Chapter 25 Jesus explains that he will judge people by how they took care of each other, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, succoring the sick, visiting the prisoner, because how they treat other people is how they are treating Christ. Christ appears to be teaching that loving Christ is just as important as having faith in Christ, and that the way we love Christ is by loving those that Christ loves, for whom he died, namely all mankind. That chapter is a call by Christ for us to do a great work in His name, to become AGENTS of Christ’s grace to our neighbors.

    I think a key to understanding Nephi’s statement is to compare it to his other most quoted statement, at 1 Nephi 3:7: “I will go and do what the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.”

    In other words, by our own power, we are incapable of living god’s commandments, of accomplishing the tasks he sets for us (including loving both our neighbors and our enemies), but God gives us the means to accomplish every thing He wants us to do as His active agents on earth. We are called to live every day in partnership with God, in recognition of and gratitude for God’s grace and gifts to us. I think that is how Nephi lived his life, and it is also how Paul lived his. Paul recounted how he had persevered through physical danger and suffering to take the gospel to people from Jerusalem to Rome. Surely you can’t criticize Paul for being a man of “works” because his works were the expression of his faith in Christ.

    Like Paul, Latter-day Saints believe that our relationship to God is not to be a passive recipient of salvation for ourselves, but rather to be an active agent of God’s grace in the lives of others. We are called to “labor diligently” to teach our families and our neighbors “to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God”, all of it enabled by the grace of Christ active in our lives. That is what motivates all those 80,000 young men and women who will be Mormon missionaries this year. The Evangelical commenters who denigrated the Mormons’ sacrifice and the love for God and neighbor that propels them are letting their theological formulas blind them to the reality of God’s grace in the lives of Mormon missionaries. I think they are a little schizophrenic in their desires. They want to see the influence of God in the lives of the youth of their own churches, but they cling to a formulation of the gospel that denigrates among Mormons the kind of self-sacrifice and active faith they claim to desire for their own young adults.

    • Raymond -

      Moses killed somebody yet he was a man of God. King David killed somebody for a particularly evil reason, yet he repented and was a man of God. He paid a dear price for his sins though. Are these the norm? Of course not, but God can forgive anybody He chooses. The main issue is YOU want to determine the rules. YOU want to be in control. God doesn’t like that attitude.

      Should Christians be obedient to God by following His commandments? Of course. Is that the usual way God does things? Yes. Does He have to do it that way? No.

      You have to wonder about the salvation of somebody who willfully kills another (excluding military, government executions of criminals, or killing somebody in self defense). Does that necessarily mean the killer is not saved? No. It is likely he is not, but not a sure thing.

      Some criminals claim to be Christians to try and avoid punishment. That is wrong in two ways. One, if it is a false profession, it is bearing false witness. Two, using an example of a criminal who is convicted of murder, should that criminal still be executed if he becomes a Christian? Yes, because God says in the Bible that murderers are to be put to death. I would say, “See you in Heaven,’ but still vote for the death penalty if I were on a jury.

  35. Dear Baptist/evangelical brothers and sisters in Christ,

    I ask you to consider these points:

    1. When God said that he would preserve his Word, what did he mean?
    Did he mean that he would preserve the original papyrus and parchment upon which his Word was written? If so, then his Word has disappeared as none of the original manuscripts remain.

    Did he mean that he would preserve his word in the original Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek only? He would not preserve his Word when it was translated into all the other languages of the world?

    Or did God mean that he would preserve his Word…the message/the words…the Gospel: the free gift of salvation, and the true doctrines of the Christian Faith? Would God allow his Word/his message to mankind to be so polluted by translation errors that no translation, into any other language from the three original languages, continues to convey his true words?

    2. There IS no translation of the Bible, from the original ancient languages, into any language, anywhere on earth, that translates the Bible as the Baptists/evangelicals believe it should be translated.

    No Bible translation on earth translates Acts 2:38 as, “Repent and believe in Jesus Christ every one of you and you will receive the Holy Ghost. Then be baptized as a public profession of your faith.”

    There is no translation that translates, into any language, Acts 22:16 as, “ And now why tarriest thou? arise, believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord. Then be baptized.” Not a single translation in the entire world translates that verse in any way remotely resembling the manner in which Baptists believe it should be translated.

    Isn’t that a problem?

    And this verse, I Peter 3:21 as, “Asking Christ into your heart in a spiritual baptism, which water Baptism symbolizes, which corresponds to this, now saves you, not as a removal of dirt from the body but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,”

    And Mark 16:16 as, “He that believes will be saved, and then baptized, but he that does not believe will be condemned.”

    Why would God allow EVERY English translation of the Bible throughout history to be mistranslated or use such confusing language as to suggest that God forgives sins in Baptism? And not only all English translations, ALL translations of the Bible have retained these “mistranslations or confusing wording”.

    Do you honestly believe that God would allow his Word to be so polluted with translation errors that EVERY Bible in the world, if read in its simple, plain interpretation, would tell all the people of the world that God forgives sins in water baptism??

    3. Why is there not one single piece of evidence from the early Christians that indicates that ANYONE in the 800-1,000 years after Christ believed that: Water baptism is ONLY a public profession of faith/act of obedience; sins are NOT forgiven in water baptism? Yes, you will find statements by these early Christians that salvation is by faith, but do Baptists and evangelicals really understand how a sinner obtains saving faith? THAT IS THE MILLION DOLLAR QUESTION, MY FRIENDS! Does the sinner produce faith by his own free will or does God provide faith and belief as a gift, and if God does provide faith and belief as a free gift, with no strings attached, when exactly does God give it?

    4. Is it possible that: Baptist-like believers, at some point near or after 1,000 AD, were reading the Bible and came across verses that read “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved” and “Call upon the name of the Lord and you will be saved” and established their doctrine of Salvation/Justification first, based on these and similar verses alone, and then, looked at the issue of water baptism, and since the idea that God forgives sins in water baptism doesn’t seem to fit with the verses just mentioned, re-interpreted these verses to fit with their already established doctrine, instead of believing the “baptism verses” literally?

    Is it possible that BOTH groups of verses are literally correct?? If we believe God’s Word literally, he says that he saves/forgives sins when sinners believe/call AND when they are baptized? Why not believe that God can give the free gift of salvation in both situations: when a sinner hears the Gospel and believes and when a sinner is baptized?

    Should we re-interpret God’s plain, simple words just because they don’t seem to make sense to us?

    Dear Baptist/evangelical brothers and sisters, your doctrine is very well thought out and very reasonable…but it is wrong. Do you really believe that God would require an education in ancient Greek or a Greek lexicon to understand what he really wants to say to you? And do you really believe that Baptist “Greek” scholars understand Greek better than the Greeks themselves? If the Greek language, correctly translated, states in the Bible that Baptism is only a public profession of faith as Baptists say, then why do the Greek Orthodox believe that the Greek Bible plainly says, in Greek, that God forgives sins in water baptism? Somebody doesn’t know their Greek!

    Please investigate this critical doctrine further. Do you really want to appear before our Lord in heaven one day and find out that you have been following a false doctrine invented in the sixteenth century by Swiss Ana-baptists?

    God bless you!

    Gary
    http://www.lutherwasnotbornagain.com/2013/06/the-early-church-fathers-believed-in.html

  36. Jana, John Divito and Bill McKeever have presented a critique of this article in four parts on Mormon Research’s Ministry’s podcast “Viewpoint On Mormonism”. I would be interested in seeing (or if you actually go on the show, “hearing”) your response:

    Part 1 http://archive.org/download/ViewpointOnMormonism/2013.07.22.InterviewWithJohnDivitoPart1.mp3

    Part 2
    http://archive.org/download/ViewpointOnMormonism/2013.07.23.InterviewWithJohnDivitoPart2.mp3

    Part 3
    http://archive.org/download/ViewpointOnMormonism/2013.07.24.InterviewWithJohnDivitoPart3.mp3

    Part 4
    http://archive.org/download/ViewpointOnMormonism/2013.07.25.InterviewWithJohnDivitoPart4.mp3

    Part 5
    http://archive.org/download/ViewpointOnMormonism/2013.07.26.InterviewWithJohnDivitoPart5.mp3

    Thank you.

  37. Old anti-Mormon specialist Keith Walker sure makes the rounds, don’t he…? Him and his old phony badge and line of “We is better than you dirty Mormons is…!”

  1. [...] Mormon Works vs. Evangelical Grace? Not So Fast “It’s good to understand the 2 Nephi quote in context, and it’s also important for evangelical writers to recognize that over the last two decades, Mormonism has been emphasizing grace more and more from the pulpit. As I’ve tracked this theological evolution, though, I have seen a key difference in how Mormons use the language of grace and how evangelicals use it.” Read more at Religious News Service. [...]

  2. […] Mormon Works vs. Evangelical Grace? Not So Fast “It’s good to understand the 2 Nephi quote in context, and it’s also important for evangelical writers to recognize that over the last two decades, Mormonism has been emphasizing grace more and more from the pulpit. As I’ve tracked this theological evolution, though, I have seen a key difference in how Mormons use the language of grace and how evangelicals use it.” Read more at Religious News Service. […]

  3. Comment marked as low quality by the editors. Show comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments with many links may be automatically held for moderation.