A big word in Mormonism is the little word, “if”.  Almost everything in Mormonism is conditioned by that little word “if”.  The Mormon prophet, Spencer Kimball, said:  “All blessings are conditional.  I know of none that are not.”  Mormon men can enter the priesthood only if they are worthy.  Their advancement through it also is conditioned on their worthiness.  Mormons can enter their temples only if they are worthy.  On and on it goes.

     Even forgiveness is conditional.  Spencer Kimball also said: “Your Heavenly Father has promised forgiveness upon total repentance and meeting all the requirements, but that forgiveness is not granted merely for the asking.  There must be works – many works – and an all-out, total surrender, with a great humility and a broken heart and contrite spirit.”

     “If” is a little word but it’s crushing many Mormons.  It’s the reason numerous Mormons have given up trying to live their religion.  They realize that they can’t keep all of the requirements of Mormonism.

     There’s a good chance you know Mormons like that.  Such persons need to be introduced to God’s unconditional grace – the grace that has no “ifs”, “ands”, or “buts” connected to it.  They need to be pointed to Jesus’ work for them, rather than to works they need to do.  And they need you to make that introduction to God’s unconditional grace.  Friends, take that time. Make that effort.  Introduce Mormons to the Jesus who has removed the if for them.



25 Responses to “IF”

  1. July 28, 2008 at 4:58 pm

    So are you saying that everyone will be saved? If there are no ‘ifs’, and if grace is unconditional then we are all going to heaven. So what is the point?

  2. July 28, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    I see what you mean. However, as a convert to the church, one of the things I found so refreshing was the word “if” used in a positive way. If you remain worthy, read the scriptures, express gratitude, obey the commandments, etc., then you will reap the rewards. In the church in which I was raised, “if” was used more like, “If you don’t repent, you’re going to hell…and maybe today. After all, you just never know when Christ is returning.” As a young child and teen, I was scared all the time!

    Another quick thought. As an adult in midlife, one of the things I’ve surely learned in life is that most of the good things in life happen because of the things we do. There are always consequences in the material or secular world. For instance, if you want to be a doctor, you must attend medical school…and and first, you must get into medical school AND continue to make good grades and keep up the pace. It’s the same with all good stuff. Even in the entertainment world, the sports world, the education world…do certain things (practice, exercise, study, save), and you’ll reap a reward. If not, then not.

  3. 3 Jesse
    July 29, 2008 at 3:29 am

    Very nice responses by Eric and MarlaJayne.

    You have truthfully stated what LDS doctrine is concerning repentance, the holding of the priesthood of God, and the other things you have mentioned. However, you are twisting the doctrine so much to make it a bad thing for people. I can attest that when one worships at an LDS chapel on Sunday, they will hear no such sermons like “Repent now you imperfect people!” or “You must all becoming like Jesus Christ now! Today! No more waiting!” Instead, it is a loving, encouraging atmosphere, where the spirit of God is full and felt strongly.

    It seems as though you make the human race out to be a bunch of worthless and weak people. Is no man’s willpower enough to follow the commandments? Is there no man strong enough to rid himself of unclean things and become worthy to have the privilege of being gifted with the power of God (i.e., the priesthood)? Yes, there is NO man that can remain worthy and clean every second of his life. But if we will prove our faith through our works, we will be worthy for the atonement of Jesus Christ to take affect in our life.

  4. July 29, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Mark one thing that is a common pattern on your blog is to project how LDS people must feel due to the “incorrect” doctrine we follow. This is not helpful to anyone because you’re not a practicing member of our faith and thus have no idea how we feel.

    I have already stated here that the doctrines of Christ as taught by the LDS today brings great peace to my life and to that of everyone I’ve ever met who follows those teachings. I ask you kindly to not continue this method of explanation.

    Of course people in every faith get down and give up. This is a common technique used by the enemy. If he can convince someone to become discouraged and give up following any good teachings, well that only helps his cause.

    One more note, and I have asked this before. Can you point out an author from the Bible, or a book wherein the principles of repentance and obedience are not taught? Every single prophet and apostle has taught these principles. Sure there are passages that only discuss believing and faith, but that’s hardly the complete picture. To support the argument that nothing is required of us, you literally have to throw out most of the Bible. It simply contains too many things, called commandments, we should be doing with the time that we are given in this life.

  5. 5 markcares
    July 29, 2008 at 8:58 pm

    Jesse: You have hit on another difference between the Bible and the teachings of Mormonism. The Bible does protray man, by nature, not as spiritually strong and good, but spiritually dead and yes, evil. After the Flood, God says: “. . .the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” (Genesis 8:21) Or Paul wrote: “As it is written, There is none righteous, not not one; There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no not one.” (Romans 3:10-12) He continues in that vein for a number of more verses. These are just two of numerous references that describe man, by nature, as evil and not good.

    That is why we so desperately need a Savior who fulfilled all righteousness for us – who washed away all our sins. That is why the Bible consistently protrays conversion, not as a rehabilitation project, but as a spiritual resurrection. That is why The Bible says we are saved not by works – because we have no works to contribute. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

  6. 6 markcares
    July 29, 2008 at 9:08 pm

    Reggie: The question is where in the Bible does the thought of obedience to commandments aid us in salvation? What is stated is the opposite. “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10) “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)

    AS the James 2:10 passage makes clear, God is not impressed with our trying hard to keep the commandments or our keeping most of them. Offending or stumbling at one point brings the verdict of guilty. That is why I rest my salvation entirely and completely on what Jesus has done for me – because he did it perfectly.

  7. July 29, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    Truly round and round we go. This is how I understand things. Without Christ there was no hope for any person to ever overcome their sin and become clean and pure and worthy of entering God’s presence (as covered in James 2:10), because God cannot tolerate the least amount of sin. With Christ paying the debt of all sin the path has been opened for us and the choice presented: will you follow the strait and narrow path outlined by the Savior, or follow the other paths that lead to nowhere. Certainly we’re not forced into Heaven, we have to choose. Without Christ there was no hope no matter what a person did. With Him those who follow His teachings can become clean and pure. This is why the prophets always taught of Christ’s great Atonement as well as taught us to obey the commandments. They go together, hand in hand. Again, what’s the point of all of the commandments and instructions and examples that fill the Bible if we’re not to obey? Didn’t James also teach to be “doers” of the word and not just “hearers”? Why did he include this if it is pointless? The thing I’m trying to point out is that every person who taught about Christ doing that which we couldn’t do for ourselves, also taught us to repent of our sins and obey the commandments. Every single one did, including Christ Himself and those cited above. You can’t take one half of their teachings while ignoring the rest.

    The reason we follow the commandments is because it changes us. Certainly you’ve witnessed this? A person discovers the hope and peace of the gospel, abandons evil ways, and becomes a better person each day by repenting of their sins and allowing Christ to swallow up that burden. Sometimes they struggle to give up old habits, but over time they bridle their own passions and let their will be swallowed up by God’s. Meaning they chose to do good rather than evil, to love rather than hate, to help instead of ignore or spite, in short loving the Lord their God above all else and their neighbors as themselves. In so doing they become a better person, which by definition is becoming more like Christ, and leads down the path of life.

  8. 8 Jesse
    July 29, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Righteous Living + Priesthood Ordinances + Atonement of Jesus Christ = Salvation

    If one variable of that equation is mission, salvation will not be obtained.

    While we could exchange scriptures day after day, and give our own interpretations of such, that is not the LDS Church’s special message to the world, which is this: God the Father has once again called prophets and apostles in this very day and age.

    The reason being is very evident from our discussions here. With just the Bible, even though it is the word of God, we cannot know of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. In today’s world, we not only have the Bible, but living prophets and apostles, just like Moses, Peter, and John. We also have additional holy scriptures which the Lord has seen fit to give to us, the Book of Mormon being first among those. How great a message this is! Who would not rejoice in additional and clarifying words spoken by the Lord through his prophets?

    For anyone reading this, including you Mark, who is interested to hear more, follow this link to go to the official website of the LDS Church.

    God bless.

  9. July 30, 2008 at 2:23 am

    I second Jesse’s comment about the fullness of the gospel. Having additional enlightening scriptures and living prophets upon the earth again is a great blessing. The long awaited restoration of the gospel has occurred as promised and is being sent to the four corners of the earth. It is a message of hope, peace, and eternal life through the Savior Jesus Christ.

    Mark I do enjoy trying to see your point of view too. Earlier you asked

    “The question is where in the Bible does the thought of obedience to commandments aid us in salvation?”

    In an earlier post Dave left a comment in which he included many passages of scripture that teach about what must be done in order to gain salvation. Here’s the link to the comments for that post:


    Can you share your thoughts on what is meant by those passages?

  10. 10 markcares
    July 30, 2008 at 9:31 pm

    With every post, another difference in our beliefs become evident. This time it is how we view the LDS Scriptures and prophets and apostles. Do you know of any Christian church body that has officially accepted the LDS Scriptures as Scriptures? I know of none.

    Why then, does the LDS church and many members of the church want to be identified with Christians? The differences between the two are real and substantial. But I have talked with hundreds of LDS missionaries and members and more often than not, they suggest or state that they are Christians like me. Do they say that because they don’t know the teachings of Christianity and they truly think that there are not many differences? I don’t know.

    Jesse and Reggie, although from your comments I can tell you are kind and sincere men, I don’t want to be identifed with your beliefs. And I am sure you do not want people to say, “You believe a lot like Mark!” The differences in our beliefs are real and substantial. I am making a point of this because I truly believe that discussions between LDS and Christians would be more beneficial if these differences would be admitted by all.

    Jesse: According to your equation, if I understand you correctily, I will not obtain salvation. What then will be my fate?

  11. July 30, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    I don’t think it’s a matter that we want to be seen as aligning with the specific beliefs that you are calling christian. It’s a matter that we believe Christ Himself has sent the fullness of the gospel to the earth once again and organized His church complete with priesthood, revelations, ordinances, and the same structure that existed in ancient times. That’s the church that we believe we belong to: The Church of Jesus Christ. So when people say that we’re not Christians it goes against the very core of our faith. What could be more Christian than the church that Christ Himself organized?

    I understand that you and others don’t subscribe to our faith, and you are of course free to choose to believe in whatsoever doctrine you want to, but that is the core of the conflict.

    And I’d still like to hear you’re take on the passages that I referenced above.

  12. 12 Jesse
    July 30, 2008 at 11:24 pm

    <Why then, does the LDS church and many members of the church want to be identified with <Christians?

    In response, let me quote Elder Holland: “In addressing [our Christianity] we do not need to be apologists for our faith, but we would like not to be misunderstood.”

    Christianity is not claimed by one single church. There are hundreds of different sects which all claim they are Christian. Many have different, and opposing, beliefs. What belief constitutes one a Christian? Is there one specific doctrine that if not believed, you are automatically excluded from Christianity?

    I believe that the most defining doctrine of Christianity is Jesus Christ. Wikipedia defines Christianity as “a monotheistic religion centered on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as presented in the New Testament.”

    There truly are many differences between the LDS Church and other sects of Christianity. In my last comment above, I bore witness to some of those. But as our first “Article of Faith” states: “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in his Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.” These are our core beliefs. This is why we identify ourselves as Christians.

    I do not know what your fate will be, Mark. Only God can truly know the desires and intents of ours hearts. I would hope that all men everywhere will one day meet again in the Kingdom of God.

    However, we do know from the scriptures that unfortunately this will not be so. “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?” 1 Corinthians 6:9

  13. 13 Jesse
    July 30, 2008 at 11:33 pm

    I must have been typing my response when Reggie was posting his :) Nice response by him.

  14. July 31, 2008 at 3:48 am

    Let’s make a deal Mark. You take protestant or whatever term you feel best describes you and we’ll take Christianity. Sound good?

  15. 15 markcares
    August 1, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    As you have cited with 1 Conrithans 6:9, the unrighteous shall not inhert the kingdom of God. That is a very sobering statement. If a person is not in the kingdom of God, they will be in outer darkness.

    Many LDS have wondered why I have spent so much time and effort on Mormonism and talking with Mormons. It is because of verses like 1 Corinthians 6:9. According to the Bible, the only way a person can be righteous in God’s sight is by faith alone. “for by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9) “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory, but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness.” (Romans 4:2-5)

    Mormonism, however, teaches, “for it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23) As Spencer W. Kimball said: “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.” As your equation above illustrates, Mormonism adds righteous living to the formula for salvation. That, however, is a recipe for disaster since all we can add to Jesus’ work is imperfection. “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rages.” (Isaiah 64:4)

    Why do I spend so much time talking wiht Mormons? To warn them that if they follow the teachings of Mormonism, they will spend eternity in outer darkness. I do not write this lightly. I do not say this with anger or joy. I say that out of deep concern.

    The only way to live eternally with Heavenly Father is to rely solely on Jesus’ perfect work and not contaminate it with our imperfect works. I rejoice that many LDS have seen this and it is my prayer that more and more will see that. Jesse, it is my prayer that you see this also.

  16. August 1, 2008 at 4:15 pm

    So Mark how do you interpret Christ’s encounter with the young rich man?

    Mark 10
    17 And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?
    18 And Jesus said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God.
    19 Thou knowest the commandments, Do not commit adultery, Do not kill, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Defraud not, Honour thy father and mother.
    20 And he answered and said unto him, Master, all these have I observed from my youth.
    21 Then Jesus beholding him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me.

    To me this appears plain and simple. We are to obey all the commandments and follow Christ’s example in all things if we wish to partake of eternal life. This includes being baptized and receiving the Holy Ghost by one with authority, and then patterning our lives after the Master’s. How do you read these types of passages and conclude that it matters not if we obey the commandments?

  17. 17 Jesse
    August 1, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Perfect scripture Reggie, I was thinking of the exact same one.

    As we stated before earlier, Mark, the Bible, unfortunately, is an imperfect source to base doctrine upon. Yes, there are still many beautiful and precious truths contained in the Bible. But over time, many have been altered and changed, resulting in the confusion we see now.

    Why would this confusion occur from the Bible? Is it not the word of God? It is; however, men, over the years, have changed the word of God, either intentionally or unintentionally.

    Paul truly teaches in 1 Corinthians 14:33 that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace…”

    Hence God has sent the full gospel once again, restored through his prophets which he has called in our days, starting with Joseph Smith, all the way down to His living prophet, Thomas S. Monson.

    God bless.

  18. August 3, 2008 at 6:14 am

    So what “Ifs” did the parts of the vine that will be cut off and tossed into the fire not fulfill? What “ifs” were forgotten by those parts of the tree in the masters gardin that are to be pruned and disposed of? If you are correct that the sacrifice of Christ is unconditional to all people with no “Ifs” attached, then even those who choose not to accept Christ will inhearit the same salvation as everyone else, Those who choose to disobey and dishonor Christ in full knowledge will as well. If what you say is correct then it does not matter what we think say do or choose.

    I’d agree with the “Ifs”.

  19. 19 Stephanie
    August 4, 2008 at 4:16 am

    I can’t quote scripture by the verse, but this is my understanding of true Christianity (or Protestantism). The work of Christ is sufficient for the salvation of everyone on this earth. When Christ died, He said, “It is finished.” Nothing more is required. When a sinful human being realizes that Christ’s sacrifice is sufficient, this is called “salvation.” Then, following a person’s salvation (by the grace of Christ’s sacrifice), comes “sanctification,” which encompasses all the good works (the “ifs”) that you have been talking about. We do good works because we are saved, not the other way around. We do good works because of the love Christ showed to us. We want to show our love for Him, our gratitude for His sacrifice. But in no way do we think that our good works will earn us a ticket to heaven. The Bible is very clear that humans are “dead in sin.” A dead person has absolutely no power to make himself alive again. If we are dead in sin, we cannot even save ourselves, or even make a decision with our own fallen willpower to become followers of Christ. This is when the Holy Spirit creates faith in the heart of the new believer. It is a contradiction that we cannot understand, but we take the Bible as the inerrant Word of God. The Bible says that if we go to hell, it is because of our own unbelief. But that if we go to heaven, it is not of our own works or power, but by the faith that has been given to us by the Holy Spirit. It is hard for people to grasp or accept that we cannot earn our salvation, or help it along somehow. But this is what I think true Christianity really is! I know that Christ did not strike one jot or tittle from the moral law, but he came to fulfill the law. We keep these rules out of love for Him. But ultimately, our salvation does not depend on keeping all these laws. Truly, God is merciful and gracious, and thankfully, He looks to our faith and not our works when it comes to salvation. There is an analogy that seems a bit childish, but it helped me understand the relationships between faith / salvation / and good works. Imagine a drowning child in the middle of a raging river (the helpless sinner). A rescue helicopter is sent to pull the child out of the water (Jesus). As the helicopter hovers above the water, the child is clearly helpless to grab the ladder and begin to climb up (our human condition, being “dead in sin”). So a man is sent down the ladder to grab the child (the Holy Spirit who gives us our saving faith). The man (Holy Spirit) pulls the child (redeemed sinner) into the helicopter (Christ) at last. Once the sinner realizes that he has been forgiven, and that God loves him enough to save him from death, that person naturally expressed his love for God by doing good works. That is how I understand the message of Christianity. There really are no “ifs.”

  20. August 5, 2008 at 5:13 am

    If there are no ifs, are there choices?
    For if there is no choice then do what you may there is no need to continue in any spiritual discussion. If we have no choice in the matter then we are all doomed to be saved and none can change it. But if there is a choice then there must be an if. for there to be a choice there must be uncertiantity as to the choice and this creates it’s own ifs. Taken further how do we make a choice? Do we use words and say yes, or no? Do we take a certian action?

    Again if it is about being saved we all have a choice in the matter but if we are to add upon the talents given to us there must be some action, these acts of good report is what Mark seems desprate to tare down. Look up talents in the new testement and see what is required for your salvation in the most general terms.

    God Bless,

  21. August 5, 2008 at 5:46 pm

    I should clairify for many of you who have mistook the statment: “After all you can do.”
    It is to mean that we cannot alone acheive the atonement without christ.

    1. After all you can do can you reach the state of atonement with the father in heaven? No.
    2. At the end of all we can do we still need to rely on Christ’s atonment for our sin to be “Saved”.
    There is no way around this, and “Mormon’s” do understand and beleive this. It is fundemental that Christ has paid the price for sin and that it is only through faith in him that we are “Saved.” But what is the result of that faith? many would call these things works, and we cannot have faith without being compelled to do works, else our faith is disingenuine and false.
    If we have faith in Christ we follow him, we do this by following his example and his Comandments. Faith in christ produces good works. Several parables teach this principal.

    So, We are “Saved”… Now, what?
    Well does not the Gospel prompt us to do right, to better ourselves? If not then there is no use for salvation as we would continue in our sin and carry it into the next world. It has been stated in the Bible that no unclean thing can exist in the presance of God, so if we are saved and yet remain in sin, how do you propose we could enter the presance of our father in heaven?
    No, I will tell you truth, we must take action by faith and choose to do right, forsake our sin and better ourselves. You see this as works, well it is, but it is following Faith in christ that makes these “Works” necessary. For if I fail in doing works then do I have fiath? No, for faith needs action, else it dies.


  22. 22 Stephanie
    August 5, 2008 at 11:03 pm

    The question you pose about choice is a thorny one. I don’t believe I have the answer, but I will try. Different denominations among the protestants hold differing views about “choice.” The reformed churches, such as the Baptists, promote making a decision for Christ. A person must choose Christ and recite a sinner’s prayer in order to be saved. This satisfies their human logic. Unreformed churches, like certain Lutheran churches for example, preach simply that one must believe that Christ died on the cross as a substitution for us. There is no need to make an actual decision or say a special prayer in order to be saved. But, having experience myself in both types of churches, this seems to be a word game. In reality, we all make a choice to be Christians or not to be Christians. The REAL difference is that Baptists claim that they made the choice themselves. Lutherans don’t take the glory for that choice, but instead give the credit to the Holy Spirit. In the end, a choice has been made. It’s whether we were capable of making that choice ourselves, or if some greater power opened our eyes to the truth of the gospel, which then enabled us to make the choice. This is the doctrine of predestination, which is difficult to understand. We cannot filter it through our human logic. “The wisdom of man is foolishness to God”, as Scripture says. If we truly believe Scripture, we must take it for what it says. I think, however, that predestination is a comforting doctrine because it ensures believers that “no one will be plucked from My hand.” I hope this helped untangle the “decision” question you had. Again, I am just a lay-person. God Bless.

  23. August 5, 2008 at 11:31 pm

    I do agree with your statment: “In reality, we all make a choice to be Christians or not to be Christians.”

    There is an inhearent problem with the thought that this choice has been made for you. To keep to that philosophy one must actively resign their liberty of choice to some other spirit. This is in fact a choice in itself, and it is my humbul opinion that it is a mistake to shove over your choice on some other thing than yourself. It is another way of pushing your responcibility on something else. If the holy spirit made this choice then what choices have we made in following along with that choice? Does it not really come down to us to choose? is it not our responcibility? If so then why push it on something else? It is like saying someone smoles because the ciggerete advertisments made them. Or it is too easy to say satin made you accept the choice that was made for you. Why not take the responcibility and make the choice. For when we hear the Gospel and the Spirit witnesses to us the truthfulness of it, we then have the responcibility to make the choice.

    God Bless,

  24. January 5, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Hi there, I found your blog via Google while searching for first aid for a heart attack and your post looks very interesting for me.

  25. October 30, 2010 at 10:34 am

    Best you could change the page title IF Markcares’s Weblog to something more generic for your webpage you make. I loved the blog post however.

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