08
Aug
08

DON’T MAKE THE FRUIT THE ROOT

 

An important point in any discussion between Mormons and Christians is seeing the differing role good works play to each party. Are they part of the root system from which the tree (ie.salvation) grows? In other words, are they one of the causes of salvation as Mormonism teaches? Or are they the fruit on the tree, are they the result of being saved, not contribituing to salvation, as historic Christianity has always taught?   These are not trivial questions.  That is apparent from the intensity of the discussion.  How one views good works makes all the difference – for time and for eternity.

The Bible clearly sees them as a result of salvation.  It makes this point in a number of different ways.  It pointedly excludes them as a cause of salvation.  “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested.”  (Romans 3:21)  “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righeousness.  Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works.”  (Romans 4:5-6)  Many other passages make that same point.

How then does it describe good works?  As something only believers can do.  “without faith it is impossible to please him.”  (Hebrews 11:6)  Good works are fruits of faith.  For example, in John 15 Jesus tells his disciples that they are clean through the word – v. 3.  By abiding in him they will bring forth much fruit – v. 5.  Notice that the fruit doesn’t make them clean.  Because they are clean they can bear much fruit.

In a previous comment I referred to the following illustration.  I am going to repeat it here.  In ancient times a man was passing by a slave market when a girl was up for sale. He stopped and after spirited bidding, bought her. As she was brought to him, he told her: “I hate slavery. I bought you in order to release you. You are free.” In gratitude, she fell to her knees and said, “I will now use my freedom to serve you for the rest of your life.” According to the Bible, good works spring out after a person is brought to saving faith. They are expressions of gratitude for what God has done. I do good works not because I think they are a requirement that I need to do in order to be accepted by God, but freely and joyfully because God has already accepted me in Jesus.

Probably no place says it better than Ephesians 2:8-10.  “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.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

We are not saved by works but we are saved to do good works.  Keeping that straight is vitally important.  Mixing that up is tragic.  There is a tremendous difference between a root and fruit – between cause and effect.  Don’t make the fruit the root.

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9 Responses to “DON’T MAKE THE FRUIT THE ROOT”


  1. August 8, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    So if a person who is “saved” keeps all of the commandment as a fruit of being converted to Christ; is that really any different that saying that those who wish to be saved should follow all of the commandments? In either case the person accepts Christ and follows the commandments.

    I know you seem to think it’s evil to keep the commandments in an attempt to “earn” salvation. We simply view this as the way that we can demonstrate our faith in Him. Salvation depends on our faith; faith is following His teachings.

    “If ye love me, keep my commandments. ” – John 14:15

  2. 2 TK
    August 8, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Reggie, Yes it is different. Let me try to explain. If you look at the past blog’s Mark has written, it is explained clearly by scripture. The first thing to keep in mind is that it is impossible to please God by what we do, i.e. keeping the commandments. The reason for this is because being human, we sin even when we try our very hardest, because we live in this world, we cannot be perfect on our own because we sin. We can try and repent all we want, but we still sin. Many times we do not realize we are sinning. Do you ever get angry, worry, have a bad thought about someone, want something someone else has, talk about someone behind their back and disguise it as just informing someone when it’s really gossip and the list goes on and on. We sin all of the time and don’t even realize it. According to the scriptures that Mark previously shared with us those who sin or break God’s commandments are under a curse even if we only break one commandment, we are guilty of breaking ALL of them! That’s pretty serious stuff. Heavenly Father, charges us with the guilt of every commandment he gave, if we only sin one time in our entire life.

    Many of the people posting blogs are constantly speaking of repentence. Tell me, can you truly repent of every single sin that you commit? Even the ones that you don’t realize you are committing? How do you repent of something that you aren’t aware you are doing? Heavenly Father saw that we couldn’t do this as humans, it is impossible because of our sinful nature. That’s why he sent Jesus. Not only to be resurrected for us but to take on our sins. The scriptures say “he became sin”. Think about that. He actually became sin. He took the sin of the entire world upon himself. He lived, suffered, bled and died as our SUBSTITUTE! What is a substitute? A Substitute defined by Websters is: “the person or thing that takes the place of another”. Jesus took our punishment. All of God’s anger and wrath against our sins was poured out on Jesus. Why? because Heavely Father LOVES us so much and wants to be with us so much that he found a way to reconcile (Websters: to restore in friendhip or harmony)us to Himself. He wants a relationship that is personal and ongoing. We have that because of Jesus’ great sacrifice. That is the gift! There is nothing we did or can do to earn it. It was done for us completely out of love. We don’t deserve it. We deserve unending punishment, but Heavenly Father, in his GRACE, provided a way out for us. Jesus’ substitutionary life and punishment in our place.

    Because of this, Heavenly Father rejects those who try to be good and do good things to earn his favor. “Oh if I help this sick person out, God will see what a good person I am and give me eternal life with Him”. He sees all of these such works as “filthy wrags”. He hates people trying to earn their way because it’s impossible. “No one is perfect, not even one.” he declares in scripture. He also declares that no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of Heavenly Father. Well, any sin at all is unclean. Only because of Jesus’life and suffering can we be forgiven for our terrible sin that causes a curse. This way we can be in a reconciled relationship with Heavenly Father. We help the sick in need or help our neighbor because we see our sin and know that if it weren’t for Jesus’ sacrifice, we would not be reconciled but cursed. We are grateful for his ultimate sacrifice of taking on Heavenly Father’s wrath for us. This is why we do “good works”, not to earn Heavenly Father’s favor but because Jesus earned it for us. He lived a perfect life for us. When we don’t honor our parents very well, Jesus honored his perfectly for us. When we don’t pray well, Jesus prayed perfectly for us. He was our Substitute! And on and on it goes!

    As to your comments about Mark seeming to think it’s evil to keep the commandments in order to “earn” salvation. He doesn’t seem to think it’s evil, he knows it’s evil, because Heavenly Father says it is in the Bible. He has quoted several versus that prove that we cannot keep the commandments perfectly. As I stated above, if we break one, we are guilty of breaking them all. Those that break any of the commandments are cursed. Matt 25:41 says that the cursed will be put into the everlasting fire with Satan and his angels. That is why we need Christ. John 14:15. The only way to keep the commandments perfectly is to rely on Christ, because he kept them perfectly for us. Does this mean we can just commit harry carrey? No, of course not. Do you go on a business trip and call up a prostitute? Of course not! You love your wife, so you stay faithful to her. We love Jesus and so we are faithful to him and live our lives out of gratefulness for all that he did for us on the Cross. Heavenly Father remembers our sin no more because of Jesus’ subsitutionary life, suffering and death! Halleluia!

  3. August 8, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    TK,

    It’s pretty clear that nothing can be “proven” from the Bible. Just follow the dozens of comments here, or better yet observe the thousands of Bible based religions that disagree on innumerable points of doctrine.

    When Mark shares a scripture about works being dead, I think he’s taking it out of context. When I share scriptures about keeping the commandments because God and Christ have asked us to, Mark thinks I’m taking them out of context. This is exactly what Joseph Smith encountered among the religions of his day and is exactly why I’m so grateful for the restoration of the fullness of Christ’s gospel. God has given us additional scripture and living prophets to guide us in our day. We don’t have to try to “prove” our point of view using the Bible,thanks to this additional light and knowledge (even though I seem to like to try anyway :-)). It is also quite interesting to read the Bible from the perspective offered by this further light and knowledge because it all lines up. Anyone with the desire and an open heart can gain this same testimony, thanks to the Spirit of Truth, just sincerely ask God.

    Another great promise that I love is found in John 7:17:

    “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”

    Any person that decides to follow the Christ’s teachings will gain a testimony that they’re from God and that following them brings peace and comfort, just as the Savior has promised.

  4. 4 sfb83301
    August 9, 2008 at 1:41 am

    Hi TK, thanks – you were as clear as rain. AMEN!

    Unfortunately we also learn from God’s Word that these truths are foolishness to the lost. Having read the Bible through from Genesis to Revelation 8 times in the past year, while also study secular history of those times, and it is absolutely incredible how the Scriptures are orchestrated so perfectly, there are no contradictions, no errors, it incredible – it is DIVINE. Obviously the Holy Spirit’s inspiration and hand is evident and it needs no defending.

    I challenge all LDS to read it entirely, with an honest mind and heart, and pay close attention to how God always does everything and continually saves man, man always messes up, God always saves. The plan of Salvation is evidence from Genesis clear through. IT all points to Jesus Christ… Also pay close attention to the many false prophets and false doctrines mentioned, this is nothing new.

    Satan has used the same tactics from Genesis 3 and he just keeps getting more cleaver and discreet. His game plan is to:
    #1 CAUSE MAN TO DOUBT GOD’S WORD – Genesis 3:1 (just like Joseph Smith has caused you to doubt it, you’d be amazed if you would actually study the proofs for the reliability of the Bible, this alone would make you run from Mormonism)
    #2 FEED MAN’S DESIRE TO BE GOD / EQUAL TO GOD -(Genesis 3:4) This was the very reason that Lucifer (Satan) got kicked out of his position in Heaven (Isaiah 14:12-15) and sadly, the reason you will end up in outer darkness with him should you not change your direction.
    3. FEED MAN’S SIN OF PRIDE/SELF-RELIANCE/LUST to keep them from seeking God and His truth and being humble (totally reliant on Him). (Genesis 3:6)

    Satans tactics don’t change. It is a terrible shame! All of what the Heavenly Father had to say to mankind was already said. John 15:15 Jesus said “…For ALL things that I have heard of my Father I have made known to you.” there are numerous Scriptures that say this same thing. Scripture also say that “the law and the prophets WERE UNTIL John (the Baptist). There are no more new teachings from God, Jesus had the final say. So either you will listen the voice of Satan or you will listen to God. See it all boils down to how mighty is your god vs the One True God who can keep His Word from be lost, changed or misinterpreted. The Blue Letter Bible Institute has a great selection of free course studies, THE ATTRIBUTES OF GOD and CHRISTOLOGY are a must for all LDS, Jehovahs Witness and Christians alike to listen to and learn from.

    So spend some time just reading the entire Bible and let the Holy Spirit have the pleasure of blowing your socks off!! TO GOD BE THE GLORY

    I pray for the day when the Mormon leaders’ and the faithful folwers eyes will be opened and they turn and become a true Christian church – my God can do it! I pray for it and so should all followers of Christ.

  5. 5 Texas
    August 9, 2008 at 2:54 am

    To TK and sfb,
    Amen and Amen. God’s Word in the Bible is true as is stated in Numbers 23:19 God [is] not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do [it]? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
    John 17:17 thy word is truth
    To Reggie, Jesus, being the Son of God, knew the Word. He never said that anything was
    wrong or missing. Take a look at these 3 Scripture verses: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand forever.” (Isaiah 40:8) “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.” (Matthew 24:35) “But the word of the Lord endureth forever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (1 Peter 1:25)
    I, too, pray that your eyes and the eyes of many others will be opened to the truth of God’s Word. God is an Awesome God who loves you.

  6. 6 Stephanie
    August 9, 2008 at 3:29 pm

    TK and sfb: Hallelujah and Amen! TK, your response was so clear and wonderful. I pray that God will open the eyes of all LDS to the truth of His Word. Thanks for your excellent reply.

  7. 7 Stephanie
    August 9, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    My greatest joy comes from the fact that Christ and Heavenly Father love me JUST THE WAY I AM! I don’t have to do ANYTHING to make Heavenly Father love me more than He already does.

    What an amazing gift to me and all true Christians! What a freedom we have in Christ’s love! We don’t have to strive in vain through good works to earn God’s approval.

    Instead, we are filled with love for God and we long to return His love by obedience, helping others, and most importantly, by shouting the good news of God’s love and Christ’s ALL-SUFFICIENT sacrifice. It’s like the old-time hymn says, “JUST AS I AM, WITHOUT ONE PLEA, BUT THAT MY SAVIOR DIED FOR ME.” This is what Mark is doing, shouting God’s GIFT of forgiveness for the LDS to hear. This is what God calls all Christians to do, and I commend him for it.

    May God open your eyes to His truth, and to His free gift of salvation. Remember, Heavenly Father loves you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE. You don’t have to do one more thing to make him love you any more than he already does. That is the truth, and that is the “good news” that needs to be shouted. How could that message possibly be considered discouraging?

    May God Bless you!

  8. 8 Jesse
    August 10, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    I just came across this discussion regarding grace, faith, and works. I have been enlightened. I appreciate the analogy pointed out by TK regarding whether works are a fruit or cause of salvation, “In other words, are they one of the causes of salvation as Mormonism teaches? Or are they the fruit on the tree, are they the result of being saved, not contribituing to salvation…” Reggies reference to John 7:17 “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself” implies that belief can come, at least in some instances, of good works. It follows that if good works can lead to belief in Christ, and belief in Christ saves us, then good works can (at least according to the scriptures presented by the TK and Reggie) contribute to salvation.

  9. 9 TK
    August 11, 2008 at 10:18 pm

    I did not say that we can be saved by good works. We can only be saved by our trust in Christ and his role as our substitute. We cannot be saved by works because we have to be perfect matt 5:48 and no one is perfect. Heavenly Father tells us we have to be perfect. He doesn’t say become perfect he says BE. Anyone who breaks one of his laws is guilty of breaking all of them and is under a curse and the cursed go to outer darkness with Satan and his demons. I spoke of it being impossible to be perfect on our own because we sin daily and don’t even realize it. That’s why we have to depend on Christ and what he did for us. When we realize what it is that Christ did for us, that is what drives us to do good works. Heavenly Father already sees us as perfect in Christ when we put our trust in his work. When we try to work to get Heavenly Father’s approval he sees those works as “filthy rags” because we are rejecting the gift of free salvation that he offered in his only son Jesus. Gifts are free, they don’t need to be earned or repaid. They are given out of love and that’s what Heavenly Father did for us.


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