08
Sep
08

Mormonism’s Interpretation of Ephesians 2:8-9

 

 

    It is revealing to see how Mormonism views Bible passages that say we are not saved by works.  Probably the most familiar of these passages is Ephesians 2:8 -9 which says:  “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.”

    The LDS manual that addresses the New Testament most thoroughly is the 500 page manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles.  Following is the only treatment it gives of this passage.  It is quoted in its entirety.

     “I am not unmindful of the scripture that declares: ‘by grace are ye saved through faith; and this not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God.’ (Ephesians 2:8) That is absolutely true, for man in his taking upon himself mortality was impotent to save himself.  When left to grope in a natural state, he would have become, and did become, so we are told in modern scripture, ‘carnal, sensual, and devilish, by nature.’ (Alma 42:10)  But the Lord, through his grace, appeared to man, gave him the gospel or eternal plan whereby he might rise above the carnal and selfish things of life and obtain spiritual perfection.  But he must rise by his own efforts and he must walk by faith.

     “’He who would ascend the stairway leading upward to eternal life must tread it step by step from the base stone to the summit of its flight.  Not a single stair can be missed, not one duty neglected.  If the climber would avoid danger and delay and arrive with all safety and expedition at the topmost landing of the celestial exaltation.’  The responsibility is upon each individual to choose the path of righteousness, of faithfulness and duty to fellow men.  If he choose otherwise and as a result meets failure, misery, and death, he alone is to blame.” (David O McKay in CR, Apr. 1957, p. 7 Italics added.)”

     Notice how McKay (who was one of Mormonism’s living prophets) equates the gift of Ephesians 2:8 with the Lord giving the eternal plan – a plan that depends on man’s own efforts.  The manual even emphasizes this by putting it in italics.  “But he must rise by his own efforts and he must walk by faith.”

     The “this” of verse 8, however, grammatically refers back to “by grace are ye saved” or salvation itself.  Salvation is not of ourselves – something that is reinforced by verse 9:  “Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  It is striking that McKay doesn’t even mention verse 9.  That is striking especially because, even though, it is a separate verse, it is still part of the sentence.  It completes the thought.  Standing alone it makes no sense. 

     It also shows that McKay’s interpretation is wrong.  God’s gift to us is not a plan of salvation which requires us to tread the stairway step by step.  God’s gift to us is salvation itself.

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42 Responses to “Mormonism’s Interpretation of Ephesians 2:8-9”


  1. September 9, 2008 at 4:29 am

    Seth’s explanation of reinforced faith through following Christ’s teachings is an excellent thought for understanding the LDS viewpoint.

    Christ taught that we should believe Him and follow Him. What does it mean to follow Him? Is it not to deny yourself and love God with all your heart? Are we to do that for one day or for the remainder of our lives? We simply believe that one must walk the straight and narrow path in order to remain within Christ’s saving grace. Doing so brings confirmation that what one is doing is right.

    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.”

    Christ also taught that some who believe will fall away; as explained in the parable of the sower.

    Matt 13:20-21 – “But he that received the seed into stony places, the same is he that heareth the word, and anon with joy receiveth it;
    Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution riseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.”

    Since it’s possible to be a believer and then lose your way, you have to continually watch and pray and act so that doesn’t happen to you. So we teach that one should believe, act according to those beliefs, reflect on the outcome, and then repeat. It is an upward spiral leading one closer to Christ. This pattern of faith and obedience is clearly shown repeatedly in Biblical accounts and we believe them as examples of what we are to do.

    Mark for all you seem to have read about LDS doctrine you haven’t understood it. We don’t save ourselves by our works. Instead we do everything we can to abandon sin (repent) and follow Christ (faith), and rely on Him to overcome the imperfections that affect all humans (grace). For all we’ve explained to you here you just keep ignoring our explanations and continue to teach based on your incorrect understanding of our doctrine and beliefs. I no longer believe you’re trying to understand our beliefs; I think you’re just out looking for as many wrong examples as you can find. As long as you continue to do so, understanding of the truth will be hidden from you and I seriously doubt it will have any affect on any faithful LDS.

  2. September 9, 2008 at 5:28 am

    Verses like this from Paul are always in tension with with the fact that Jesus Christ himself was constantly talking about mansions in heaven being dependent on righteous works, or about damnation being based on your works, or heavenly rewards.

    I imagine you think Jesus just didn’t “get it” as well as Paul did? Or could it be that you must subordinate Paul’s explanations to THE SOURCE himself?

    I still think Evangelicals put the cart before the horse by obsessing on certain passages from Paul and pretty much ignoring most of what the Savior himself had to say about salvation and eternal reward.

    The correct read of the New Testament is that it is righteous works that strengthen and even cause faith necessary unto salvation.

    No man or woman can seize hold of Christ’s grace and mercy while knowing deep down that they are deliberately and willfully living in direct opposition to God’s law. Only through repentance and a constant eye of faith directed toward God (which proceeds from and is strengthened by righteous works).

    Discounting all human action is totally at odds with what Christ himself taught. Paul’s statements must be made to conform with what Jesus said, not the other way around. It is Paul who must bend to the service of Jesus’ words. Not Jesus who must bend to the service of Paul’s words. If any stretching and innovation in interpretation is to take place, it should happen on Paul’s end, not the Savior’s.

  3. 3 Brad
    September 10, 2008 at 1:04 pm

    Good explanation, Mark. No, Seth and Reggie will never agree with you (or with me), but that’s not our issue – it’s theirs. You’ve highlighted a key passage that Mormons believe they’ve explained correctly, but haven’t. Of course, they can always fall back on the “but you don’t really understand the LDS doctrine” mantra – heard that a thousand times. Interesting how life-long Mormons who’ve converted to Christianity (and I have some in my church) would absolutely say that the LDS church DOES teach salvation by works. Do they have it wrong too? Did they have it wrong the whole time they were LDS? If so, what does that say about how you taught them?

  4. 4 Becki
    September 10, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Brad, I am a life-long Mormon who has converted to Christianity and I have to agree with you. The LDS Church does teach salvation by works. When I was a child President Kimball changed the wording of the LDS song “I am a Child of God”. It used to say “Teach me all that I must know to live with him someday”. Kimball asked the author to change the word “know” to “do”—thus reading “Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday”.

    The whole argument of what is considered correct LDS teaching is answered simply by looking at the 3rd article of faith:“We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” LDS teaching claims that it is only because of Christ’s Atonement that anyone has the opportunity to be saved. But, this opportunity is accomplished by a persons own works. In True to the Faith (Spiritual Death) it reads “Through the Atonement, Jesus Christ offers redemption from this spiritual death, but only when we exercise faith in Him, repent of our sins, and obey the principles and ordinances of the gospel.”

    What I have a hard time with is that LDS prophets are leading so many people to live eternally with Satan. Many of these are people I dearly love—friends and family members. LDS false prophets lessen God’s demands and change God’s stated consequences for not meeting these demands ! I love the LDS people but I hate the LDS doctrine!

  5. September 10, 2008 at 10:41 pm

    Becki,

    Would you mind explaining a bit about why you left?

    Also, I don’t quite understand your point about the LDS prophets lessening God’s demands? Most of our discussion here has been around what is meant by having faith sufficient for saving grace. LDS believe that entails walking the straight and narrow, doing everything we can to abandon sin and live like Christ; while the evangelicals believe that belief alone is required. Hence my confusion to your comment about lessened demands.

  6. 6 Brad
    September 11, 2008 at 1:31 pm

    Brad, I am a life-long Mormon who has converted to Christianity and I have to agree with you. The LDS Church does teach salvation by works.

    What? Surely not – the LDS church teaches salvation by works? And this coming from a lifelong ex-Mormon? And other lifelong ex-Mormons that I know back up exactly what you say? How can this be true – the current Mormons say it is not taught? Are you sure? Wait, I know – you REALLY didn’t understand what the Mormon church taught, for the WHOLE TIME you were a member. Yeah, that must be it. That would explain it… ;)

    Sorry, didn’t mean to be sarcastic, but that’s the response you’ll get from the Mormons. Just wait…

    I’m happy for you, by the way, for your conversion!

    What I have a hard time with is that LDS prophets are leading so many people to live eternally with Satan. Many of these are people I dearly love—friends and family members. LDS false prophets lessen God’s demands and change God’s stated consequences for not meeting these demands ! I love the LDS people but I hate the LDS doctrine!

    Absolutely right, Becki. You hit the nail on the head. Again, just wait, the criticism of “that’s REALLY not what’s taught” is coming…

  7. 7 Brad
    September 11, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Would you mind explaining a bit about why you left?

    Also, I don’t quite understand your point about the LDS prophets lessening God’s demands? Most of our discussion here has been around what is meant by having faith sufficient for saving grace. LDS believe that entails walking the straight and narrow, doing everything we can to abandon sin and live like Christ; while the evangelicals believe that belief alone is required. Hence my confusion to your comment about lessened demands.

    And, just like I said, there it is.

  8. 8 Stephanie
    September 11, 2008 at 3:49 pm

    Becki-

    I am sure you have experienced already the normal reaction from LDS people toward those who have left the LDS church. And I am sure it is painful for you, more painful for you because you have known them so well and love them so well. I am sure it took a lot of courage to leave. I am also thankful to God for your conversion. Perhaps you will have better luck talking to those who remain in the LDS church. Maybe they will listen better to one of their own (former). All we can do is keep trying to help them see, keep proclaiming the truth and trust in the Holy Spirit to open their eyes. I am glad you added your voice to this blog.

    Reggie –

    Let me take a stab at what Becki meant when she said the LDS “lessen the demands of God.” God demands perfection. God demands the impossible. But the LDS try to make God’s demands possible. So, in effect, they lessen God’s demands.

    Christianity realizes that God’s demands are impossible. Although we try to live Godly lives, and our lives are different from non-believers, we know that God’s commandment of perfection will never be met. We know we can never satisfy all of God’s requirements. The LDS think this is possible. This is offensive to God and to Christians alike.

    Christians, because we know we cannot “be perfect,” fall into the gracious arms of our savior for forgiveness of sins and eternal life. There is nothing more we must do. Christ’s death didn’t just give us the opportunity to earn our salvation through following commands. His death was our entire salvation. Period.

    In Christ, we are “new creatures,” and we live a life of joy, showing love to others because God first loved us.

  9. 9 Darrell
    September 11, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    My wife and I are former mormons. My wife was a lifelong member and I was a member for 16 years. The LDS Church DOES teach salvation by works. You are “saved by grace AFTER ALL THAT YOU CAN DO”.

    You have to get a temple recommend in order to go to the temple. There are numerous things you must DO to get your temple recommend (live the word of wisdom, pay a full tithe, express faith in the modern day prophets, keep the sabbath day holy, etc). Once you qualify for a temple recommend, you can get a temple recommend and then go to the temple to receive your endowment (go through the temple ceremony). In order to get to heaven (celestial kingdom or live with Heavenly Father) you MUST GO THROUGH THE TEMPLE AND RECEIVE YOUR ENDOWMENT EITHER IN THIS LIFE OR THE SPIRIT WORLD. YOU CANNOT GET TO THE CELESTIAL KINGDOM WITHOUT RECEIVING YOUR ENDOWMENT EITHER IN THIS LIFE OR THE SPIRIT WORLD.

    So let’s recap this… you must obey several commandments (word of wisdom, etc) in order to get your temple receommend, to get to the temple, to get your endowment, to get to heaven (celestial kingdom). This is all ON TOP OF expressing faith in Christ (which is a false christ under mormonism anyway).

    If that is not works, I don’t know what is.

    Darrell

  10. September 11, 2008 at 10:36 pm

    It’s clear that LDS believe more is required of an individual than evangelicals do; that’s not in question. However, we don’t believe we’re saved by our own works. Instead we believe that Christ requires His followers to walk the straight and narrow path; which means denying ourselves and striving to live more like Christ. It requires action, not just belief. It’s internal changes that matter, loving God and our neighbors for example, not performing “works”. Often there are outward examples of these internal changes and sometimes, as Seth has been pointing out, it’s useful to perform the outward works even if you’re not fully converted because they can reaffirm faith and lead one further down the path.

    So we believe we’re saved by Christ, same as you. We simply believe there are different requirements for receiving that saving grace.

  11. 11 Darrell
    September 11, 2008 at 11:19 pm

    “We simply believe there are different requirements for receiving that saving grace.”

    We are going in circles here. The different requirements that you are addressing above are WORKS. Again… mormons believe you are “saved by grace AFTER ALL THAT YOU CAN DO”. The “all that you can do” and the “different requirements” are works. Some of which are in “THE TEMPLE”.

    Under LDS theology if a person NEVER goes through the temple for their endowment (either in this life or vicariously in the spirit world) they CANNOT GET INTO HEAVEN (Celestial Kingdom). Going through the temple in and of itself is a “work”. In addition, you have to meet certain requirements and do certain things to qualify to go to the temple (works).

    Christians – Saved by Grace alone

    Mormons – Saved by Grace + Works

    This theology adds to what the bible tells us the requirements are for Salvation. The difference is huge.

    Darrell

  12. September 12, 2008 at 12:21 am

    Darrell,

    That’s like calling baptism a “work”. It’s pretty clear what Christ said about baptism and receiving salvation.

  13. 13 Darrell
    September 12, 2008 at 12:29 am

    Reggie,

    Actually, no. Mormons are wrong on that one as well. Baptism is not REQUIRED to get into heaven.

    Darrell

  14. September 12, 2008 at 2:08 am

    OK, Darrell.

    If you’re not going to back up your statement. We can easily respond in kind.

    Yes, baptism IS, in fact, required.

    Gee, we could just go on like this all week couldn’t we?

  15. September 12, 2008 at 2:12 am

    Of course, reggie started it, if it comes to that…

  16. September 12, 2008 at 2:47 am

    Yep, Seth’s right, I just didn’t realize this was really up for debate still. Some evangelicals here seem to believe it’s necessary and some do not. Here’s the reference that makes things very clear:

    John 3:5 – “Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”

  17. 17 Darrell
    September 12, 2008 at 6:36 am

    I figured you would pull that scripture out. Unfortunately, you are proof texting and taking the scripture completely out of context.

    Read the verses immediately prior to and following it and it becomes obvious what Christ is talking about in that verse. Christ tells us in the preceeding verse that a man must be “Born Again” to enter heaven. The Pharisee (Nicodemus)responds with the obvious fact that a man cannot enter into the womb and be literally born again. Christ goes onto to say that a man must be “born of water and the spirit”. So the question is what does He mean by “born of water and the spirit”. Obviously, mormons think born of water is baptism by immersion and born of the spirit is receiving the gift of the holy ghost. Fortunately, the verses that immediately follow show us the real answer to that question. Christ says that “flesh gives birth to flesh” (physical birth) and “spirit gives birth to spirit” (Born Again). Born of water is referencing the physical birth that all of us go through (flesh giving birth to flesh). Born of the spirit is referencing the spiritual REbirth that takes place when a person comes into a relationship with Christ (spirit giving birth to spirit or being BORN AGAIN – which was the question He was answering for Nicodemus).

    Taking the verse to reference baptism is taking it completly out of context. It does not fit with the rest of the conversation Nicodemus was having with Christ. Baptism is not necessary to get into heaven. Neither is the temple, BOM, etc. All we need is Christ.

    Darrell

  18. September 12, 2008 at 7:15 am

    “Obviously, mormons think born of water is baptism by immersion and born of the spirit is receiving the gift of the holy ghost.”

    A pretty safe assumption, considering all the trouble Christ went to getting baptized himself – even over John the Baptist’s objection that Christ needed no baptism – being perfect. Jesus pointed out that it was important even for the Son of God to “fulfill all righteousness.”

    Seriously, do you guys just ignore the fact that Jesus got baptized or something?

    Who is proof-texting out of context here?

  19. 19 Darrell
    September 12, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Christ got baptized. That does not make baptism a requirement to get into heaven.

    Darrell

  20. September 12, 2008 at 2:35 pm

    I suppose. But it seems a pretty darn strong indicator, doesn’t it?

  21. September 12, 2008 at 2:38 pm

    Wow, the kind of spinning taking place here could make politicians dizzy. This is so much fun, let’s try another. Here are Christ’s final instructions to the apostles:

    Matt 28:19-20 – “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
    Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”

    So Christ was baptized, He repeatedly made the call to repent and be baptized, and He commanded the apostles to baptize His followers.

    Regardless of whether you believe baptism is required, my point is the same. Those who desired baptism were required to repent and have faith in Christ. The temple is a continuation of this pattern, so please don’t make it out to be something other than what it is.

  22. 22 Becki
    September 12, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    Reggie, I appreciate your tone in responding to my post. I find it so intriguing that LDS members today argue that they are not saved by their works. As I wrote earlier—the third article of faith states that all mankind might be saved by obedience. Whether you label that obedience “works” or something else—the bottom line is that each individual person’s actions determine where they will spend eternity. As a child, LDS Apostles would stay in my home two weekends a year (including President Kimball once). My father served in high positions in the Church and both he and President Kimball would be appalled at how LDS members word-smith LDS beliefs. My guess is that LDS members are just mimicking President Hinckley’s example.

    Now, to answer your questions regarding how LDS prophets lessen God’s demands, change the consequences for not meeting those demands and how that relates to the topic at hand. The blog that I posted to was Mark Cares’ LDS interpretation of Ephesians 2:8-9. It is impossible for me to talk about those passages without thinking of 2 Nephi 25:23 which reads “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” LDS prophet Nephi declared that a person could be saved after “all they could do”. Heavenly Father’s true Prophets or Apostles have never said that—would never say that! God has never revealed that a person can be saved as long as they did “all they could”. God has always demanded that a person follow ALL of his commands and has revealed that no unclean person can dwell in his presence (Ephesians 5:5).

    Nowhere does God say (as you wrote Reggie) that a person will be saved if they are doing “everything they can” to abandon sin. Doing everything you can does not make you clean! You wrote that you believe that “Christ requires His followers to walk the straight and narrow path; which means denying ourselves and striving to live more like Christ.” In that sentence, which one of those two paths do you believe? Either you meet Christ’s requirement to walk the straight and narrow path (which, according to Jesus, means you must be perfect) OR you “strive” to be more like Christ. If you truly walk the straight and narrow, you would not have to “STRIVE to be more like Christ”. Christ perfectly walked the straight and narrow.

    The Apostle James revealed that even if a person “shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (James 2:10). Even the Apostle Paul agrees—he declared “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10). Anyone who does not continue to do ALL things that God has commanded are cursed! (Here’s a link to a great article that explains this much better than I do: http://www.thecityofzion.com/gemshop/PlanOfSalvation/Demand/Perfection.htm

    Which brings me to the second part of what I hate about false LDS prophets; how they have changed God’s consequences for not meeting His demands. According to LDS teachings, the lowest Kingdom of Heaven is the Telestial (which is supposed to be a world much more glorious than earth). The people who go there “are they who are liars, and sorcerers, and adulterers, and whoremongers, and whosoever loves and makes a lie. These people are as numerous as the stars in heaven and the sand in the seashore. They will be visited by the Holy Ghost…” (Gospel Principles, pp 297-8).

    This teaching is in complete disagreement with God’s true Prophets. Heavenly Father has revealed that there are only two eternal destinations—the kingdom of heaven or hell. Since no unclean person can dwell with God (the Holy Spirit is also God) only those whom God finds perfect will spend eternity with Him. All others spend eternity in hell with Satan and his demons. On Judgment Day, millions of people will try and argue with Jesus that they should be allowed eternal life BECAUSE they have done many wonderful works (Matthew 7:22). But Jesus will profess that he never even knew them—their works were were iniquity!

  23. 23 Becki
    September 12, 2008 at 11:27 pm

    Brad, I do not respond to Mormon men whose tone implies that they are bullies.

  24. September 13, 2008 at 2:48 am

    Brad’s not a Mormon Becki.

    Do you respond to bullies of other denominations?

    I’m not entirely sure that I’m on board with Pres. Kimball’s take on the Gospel. Jury is still out.

    I will say this, I don’t think anyone really does “all they can do” in an absolute sense of righteous works. But I’m not entirely sure that this is what Nephi meant. What did he mean by “all we can do?”

  25. 25 Becki
    September 13, 2008 at 2:58 am

    Seth,

    Thanks for setting me straight. I thought his sarcasm was directed towards me, sorry Brad. Too many years being abused by a Mormon bully has left me overly sensitive. I apologize.

  26. September 13, 2008 at 4:54 am

    Hi Becki,

    I’m sorry you’ve encountered so many bullies, that’s never appropriate in any situation and especially among followers of Christ.

    In your response I see many of the same thoughts and some of the same verses that Mark has been sharing. I believe the confusion comes because of verses, especially from Paul, that teach us that without a Savior there was nothing we could do to be saved. However with a Savior things are different. Remember, Paul was under commandment from Christ to baptize His followers and to teach them to obey everything He had taught them. This Paul did teach and did live, he “kept the faith”. Again, evangelicals believe you must have faith (a work or requirement), and some appear to believe in baptism as well, in order to receive saving grace. I personally believe there is no difference between what Paul said about being saved by grace through faith and what Nephi said about being saved by grace after all you can do. Having faith in Christ is believing in Him to the point that you’re willing to obey His teachings to the best of your ability. One thing is clear, Christ is very fond of righteous living. The beatitudes and the parables teach this wonderfully. With the ten virgins we learn about those who are expecting the bridegroom, but only half are prepared. With the unforgiving servant we learn that if we’re not striving to be forgiving, how can we expect to be forgiven? In the parable of the sower we learn of those who believe, but then fall away. Walking the straight and narrow path of following Christ is not the same as fulfilling every measure of the law on your own.

    Now among LDS it’s clear we talk a lot about living correctly. This is because it is possible leave the path, even if you once believed. Certainly Satan does his best to get everyone off that path. So this goes back to the reaffirming power of obeying Christ. When you follow His teachings you learn that it truly comes from Him and brings blessings into your life. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Elder Bruce R. McConkie, it’s something that isn’t understood by enough members of the church.

    “We don’t need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved. You don’t. There’s only been one perfect person, and that’s the Lord Jesus, but in order to be saved in the Kingdom of God and in order to pass the test of mortality, what you have to do is get on the straight and narrow path – thus charting a course leading to eternal life – and then, being on that path, pass out of this life in full fellowship. I’m not saying that you don’t have to keep the commandments. I’m saying you don’t have to be perfect to be saved. If you did, no one would be saved… You don’t have to do what Jacob said, ‘Go beyond the mark.’ You don’t have to live a life that’s truer than true. You don’t have to have an excessive zeal that becomes fanatical and becomes unbalancing. What you have to do is stay in the mainstream of the Church – keeping commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path. If you’re on that path when death comes – because this is the time and the day appointed, this the probationary estate – you’ll never fall off from it, and, for all practical purposes, your calling and election is made sure.” (“The Probationary Test of Mortality,” Devotional Address given at University of Utah Institute of Religion, January 10, 1982, p. 11.)”

    This same thought is also found in Alma 34:34 wherein Amulek discusses which Spirit are we following. If it’s the Spirit of God that has place in our heart and mind then everything is fine, we’re following the correct path. If it’s the spirit of the devil then we have need to repent, otherwise things will not be well at the judgment day.

    I wish you all the best.

  27. 27 Stephanie
    September 13, 2008 at 2:46 pm

    I’d like to make a comment the above statement. Even if a believer falls off of the straight and narrow path, he doesn’t lose his salvation. For example, a believer in Christ might have an on-going struggle with a certain sin, but that doesn’t mean that his salvation or forgiveness has been revoked. Christ knows that we are sinners and that our old nature still fights for control with our new nature. We are called to live holy lives, but if we make mistakes here and there, there is no condemnation. Only forgiveness.

    Also, having faith is not a work. Faith is a gift from the Holy Spirit, through God’s undeserved mercy. It is not a human work. I think that is why we have so many differences. The LDS think faith is a work, so why not continue in performing many works? Also, doing works is never the origin of faith, as I have heard on this blog. Good works are fruits of faith, not the root of faith.

    I also think it is interesting that McConkie, a false teacher, contradicts the Bible when he says that we don’t have to be perfect. Christ says we do have to be perfect. (Matthew 5:48) McConkie says, “We don’t need to get a complex or get a feeling that you have to be perfect to be saved.”

    McConkie is correct that we don’t have to be perfect. But from that point on he misses the mark. He doesn’t say that we don’t need to be perfect because Christ lived perfectly for us. He doesn’t say that we can never satisfy God’s commands and we need to rely on the grace of God. Instead, he says that we have to “do” many things (WORKS) to gain the road to eternal life. He says, “keeping commandments, paying your tithing, serving in the organizations of the Church, loving the Lord, staying on the straight and narrow path.” These are all works. How can someone argue that the LDS church does not teach works-righteousness?

    McConkie says, “If you’re on that path when death comes…you’ll never fall off from it.” What if you aren’t on that path when death comes? How do you know you are on that path for certain? Is it all based on a feeling? We all know that feelings are weak and fickle, even treacherous and deceitful. Who can trust completely in a subjective feeling? Even if you have committed a particular, significant sin and then die in a car crash on your way home, Christ will take the Christian to heaven, even if he hasn’t had a chance to repent. The status of our salvation does not change daily depending on our actions.

    McConkie also says, “You don’t have to have an excessive zeal that becomes fanatical and becomes unbalancing.” Some evangelicals practice a toxic religion that is full of anger, Bible-bullying, and perfectionism. I would venture to say that those evangelicals are not producing fruits of faith and are not serving God with their rhetoric. Those types have excessive zeal, protesting the funerals of soldiers, bombing abortion clinics, etc… Those types are not the examples we strive to follow.

    A true Christian does not exhibit that type of exclusionary thinking because Christ came and died for everyone and we are all equally in need of his perfect substitute.

    All together, McConkie’s statement is leading the LDS people down the wrong path. He is teaching works-salvation, but then he warns not to try too hard and become fanatical. Why not? If my salvation were based on my efforts, I’d be pretty fanatic about it.

  28. September 13, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    “also think it is interesting that McConkie, a false teacher…”

    I’m kind of curious, why exactly do you feel it is necessary to throw in the words “false teacher?”

    Did you think we might mistakenly get the wrong impression that you think he is a true teacher? Because I can assure you that nobody here is likely to make that mistake. We all know you don’t believe his stuff. So why restate the obvious?

    Are you trying to earn heavenly brownie points or something?

    Let your arguments speak for themselves. The mindless propaganda slogans get us nowhere.

  29. September 13, 2008 at 5:34 pm

    “A true Christian does not exhibit that type of exclusionary thinking because Christ came and died for everyone and we are all equally in need of his perfect substitute.”

    But a lot of online Evangelicals do.

    At least, that is the unavoidable conclusion I am drawing. They don’t seem to think Christ’s grace applies to Mormons, after all. So obviously, there is something that the Mormons are not DOING that other Christians seem to consider necessary.

    So, what are these WORKS that you think Mormons need to be doing to get into heaven?

    And if you think there is a real distinction between belief and action, think again.

    The two flow from each other, reinforce each other, and are often indistinguishable from each other.

    Belief IS action and vis versa.

    Which reduces this whole grace vs. works debate to chicken-or-the-egg kind of situation. It really doesn’t matter if you put belief or action first, because neither precedes the other.

  30. September 13, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    Stephanie,

    This is the same misunderstanding yet again. No one is saved without the grace of the Savior. So all we disagree on is what is required to receive that grace. If you want to classify righteous living (faith, repentance, loving God) as works, well then yes, we believe these are necessary to receive saving grace. Here’s the formula: righteous living + saving ordinances = salvation through the grace of Christ.

    We also believe in enduring to the end. You can stumble while walking the path and then continue on, but you can also choose to leave the path entirely and in so doing will no longer receive saving grace. This is plainly taught throughout the Bible, for example see Matt 24:13, Mark 13:13, and the parable of the sower.

    Now regarding reaffirming faith through actions, this principle is also taught plainly. Christ said that if we will do His will we will know whether it is of Heavenly Father (see John 7:17). In Malachi (3:10) we have a challenge from God, bring tithes and offerings and see if He won’t bless us. The beatitudes are full of promises of blessings for those who live as He taught. So if you’re not entirely converted you can start to do some of these things and when the Lord keeps His promise, your faith will be confirmed, and you will have received a testimony or a witness that the Lord speaks truth. This is one of the process used by the LDS faith today. We listen to the words of the living prophets, we implement their teachings in our lives, and we then learn they are of God and bring the Holy Spirit and peace and understanding into our hearts and homes.

  31. 31 Darrell
    September 13, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Seth and Reggie,

    In regards to your posts above regarding baptism… Mormons, for some reason, try to set qualifications for what a person must “do” to get into heaven above and beyond what is biblically supported… faith , repentence, baptism, receive the priesthood (if a male), receive endowment, pay a full tithe, home teaching/visiting teaching, word of wisdom, maginifying your calling, etc. However, the bible tells us there is only ONE requirement for getting into heaven… having faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. That is IT… nothing more. All of the verses you quoted do NOT make baptism a qualification for getting into heaven.

    Now, I have no problem whatsoever with baptism. My wife and I were baptised this year at our church. It is a wonderful way of expressing outwardly something THAT HAS ALREADY OCCURRED inwardly. It is a biblically supported ordinance and I belive that every believer should do it in obedience to Christ’s commands. However, IT IS NOT REQUIRED TO GET INTO HEAVEN. If you find a bible verse that says it is, please tell me.

    To suggest that because baptism is biblically supported, that somehow the temple ordinances are supported as well is utter nonsense. There is NO biblical support for having a temple in our day. When Christ died on the cross He fulfilled the law and ENDED the need for temples. The veil of the temple was torn in two to signify this fact. The only support for what occurs in LDS Temples are the Masonic Rituals which in and of themself are pagan and have no biblical authority whatsover. We all know the masonic rituals are where JS got the whole idea, handshakes, etc. from anyway.

    “They don’t seem to think Christ’s grace applies to Mormons, after all.”

    You are correct about this Seth. Christ’s grace does not apply to mormons because mormons do not know who Christ is. They are following a false Christ which is the figment of JS’s imagination. You cannot receive grace from Christ until you know Him and receive Him as your Lord and Savior.

    Becki,

    How long ago did you leave the LDS church and become a Christian? What started you on the path out? My wife and I left officially this year. I joined the LDS church in 1994 and lost my faith in it in 2002. I became a Christian at that time but still attended the LDS church in support of my wife. God got a hold on her heart this year and we started attending a Christian church. I love you comments.

    Darrell

  32. 32 Brad
    September 13, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    No problem, Becki. Wow, I’ve never been called a Mormon male bully before!

    No, the sarcasm wasn’t at you, it was at the barrage of things that I knew would come after (which they did – see my post #7).

    How did I know those things would happen? Well, I stuck my head into a hat with a seer stone, of course… I’m now thinking of writing a book about it ;)

  33. September 13, 2008 at 11:44 pm

    Yes Darrell,

    But what do you have to DO to have the “correct Christ?”

    What scripture are you referring to with the rending of the temple veil signifying the abolishment of temples? Or are you guys just making that one up too?

    Incidentally, it really doesn’t bother me if Joseph imported some Masonic ritual into the temple ceremony. Masonic ritual is quite rich with Biblical symbolism and has a good long history. Not a problem in my mind.

  34. 34 Brad
    September 14, 2008 at 12:48 am

    Seth, there’s a lot of things that aren’t “problems” in your mind – we’re thinking that’s probably the problem, honestly.

    But there’s always hope for you.

  35. 35 Darrell
    September 14, 2008 at 2:57 am

    “What scripture are you referring to with the rending of the temple veil signifying the abolishment of temples?”

    OK, Seth, in another thread you told me that the bible does not say that “Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.” I then proceeded to show you that it in fact DOES say this in Hebrews 13:8. Now you are saying, again, that I am lying?

    The veil of the temple was torn in two signifying the END of the use of temples. Please find this in:

    Matthew 27:51 and Mark 15:38

    Do you know what the temple was used for by the Jews?

    Darrell

  36. 36 Darrell
    September 14, 2008 at 3:42 am

    “But what do you have to DO to have the “correct Christ”.

    It is pretty simple. Get to know HIM… not JS’s made up version of Him. The real Him is found in the Bible.

    Darrell

  37. 37 Darrell
    September 14, 2008 at 3:45 am

    “But there’s always hope for you.”

    Yes, there is always hope for anybody and God does love us all.

    And Seth, despite our little bickering on the internet, I do believe that about you and know that God does love you and wants you to come out of the LDS lies to Him. That may sound cheesy but it is the truth.

    Darrell

  38. 38 Becki
    September 16, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    Reggie,

    Sorry it took me so long to get back to you. My youngest daughter got married in my back yard Saturday and life has been hectic.

    I agree with you on one point. God’s Word does tell us that it is possible to wander away from God and loose our faith in Jesus. I think you mentioned the parable of the sower in which we see people who are enticed away from God by various things. If someone doesn’t eat–they die physically, the same is true with spiritual life. If they don’t feed their faith-they die spiritually.

    Your favorite quote from McConkie (as well as one of your comments) actually proves my earlier point about the reason I hate LDS prophets (and Apostles) because they lead so many people to hell. McConkie claims that a person does not have to be perfect to be saved. He goes on to say that you don’t have to go beyond the mark, or live a life that’s truer than true. He says that all you have to do is stay within the mainstream of the church and then you’ll be OK. And, then you wrote “Walking the straight and narrow path of following Christ is not the same as fulfilling every measure of the law on your own”.

    Your words show that you believe in the LDS prophets. You trust “have faith” that McConkie’s words are truly from Heavenly Father. Because you put your trust in his words, and don’t believe the words of God’s true prophets, you are NOT OK! The minute you die you will be sent to live eternally with Satan and his demons. As I wrote before, you cannot find one place in the entire Bible that agrees with McConkie’s words.

    It was the same with the people during Jeremiah’s time: “The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the Lord…Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness: yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord” (Jeremiah 23).

    Reggie, I don’t want you to follow false prophets. I will pray for you, but it appears that you have chosen to reject God’s truth and trust that you don’t have to live a life that’s truer than true.

  39. 39 Becki
    September 16, 2008 at 8:40 pm

    Seth,

    In your comment of the 13th you said “obviously there is something that the Mormons are not DOING that other Christians seem to consider necessary.” And then you asked what are these WORKS the Mormons need to be doing to get into heaven.

    Mormons don’t trust (have faith) that they already have eternal life and complete forgiveness of sins. This “belief” is not a work, as we see from the passage that we are actually discussing here–“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works”.

  40. 40 Becki
    September 16, 2008 at 8:48 pm

    Darrell,

    I became a Christian in 1994. My search for forgiveness caused me to leave the Church, but I did not become a Christian until nine years later. Praise the Lord that both you and your wife have been saved! Isn’t it wonderful to have the peace of God that transcends all understanding? For me that peace came only after I learned the truth about forgiveness from God’s prophets and apostles. Forgiveness was won for all people over 2,000 years ago and a person receives it the minute they believe it! Revelation 1:5 is one of my favorite passages: “Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen!”

  41. 41 Becki
    September 16, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Brad,

    I don’t think the sarcasm is going to win anyone for Christ, but maybe you aren’t a Christian? When I was LDS there were many people who said they were Christian who were very sarcastic and belittling towards me because I was Mormon. That was one of the reasons I think I spent nine years between Mormonism and Christianity. After leaving the LDS church I visited many Christian churches, trying to find truth. I was too afraid to tell anyone that I had been a Mormon because I didn’t want to be belittled like that. Have you had a chance to read Mark Cares book–Speaking the Truth IN LOVE? It is very good and maybe it would help you understand Mormons a little better, so as to be compassionate towards them. I have spoken to many Christians over the past decade and there are so many Christians who simply misunderstand Mormons. Most Mormons are not deceiving–they are simply deceived. It wasn’t until a Christian showed me true, unconditional love that I would even listen.

  42. 42 Brad
    September 17, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Becki,

    Since you don’t know me, I understand that everything you’re writing is based on what you think might be the case, and your perception of things. No problem.

    Actually, I am a Christian, and have been so for 28 years. Just to clear that up. I haven’t seen you much on these blogs before, but I think if you look back at a lot of what I write, it absolutely supports Christianity 100%. Since you don’t seem to have been on here long, you can also look back and see that many of the people discussing things on here HAVE been on here a while, and have prior conversations and histories. Further, different people have different ways of expressing themselves, different writing styles, different senses of humor (or lack thereof), and we’re all just basically different. What might make sense to or have an impact on you, wouldn’t to others. What might make sense to others or have an impact on them, wouldn’t to you. Different people are changed in different ways, Becki, believe me.

    I don’t belittle people who used to be Mormons. I have people in my church who used to be Mormons, but have now come to a saving faith in Christ. Do you think I belittle them b/c of that? No – on the contrary, I’m extremely excited for them, and we in fact talk about many aspects of Mormonism and how to tell others.

    I have not read the book you mention. But for the record, Becki, I understand the Mormon religion very well (to say that anyone understands “Mormons” is too broad a statement, b/c Mormons are people, and nobody understands ALL people except God). But I do understand the religion very well – I’ve studied and researched it, investigated the various bases they have for their beliefs, talked to both Mormons and ex-Mormons, went to their official websites, went to their affiliated websites (FAIR, FARMS, etc…), as well as having a solid belief in the Bible, and knowing what it says and why I believe it. Having done all that, Becki, I know that it is not a correct religion/belief system, which you would agree. I don’t say that based upon something I’ve heard, or something I’ve read, but upon what I know, having done a lot of research over my life. So I believe I “understand” it well enough to make a call on it.

    Am I compassionate towards “them” (I assume you mean current Mormons)? Absolutely. If I didn’t care about whether they heard the truth, or whether their souls were saved, would I be on here? No. Why are you on here? I don’t know for sure, but I imagine it may be b/c you also want them to know the truth, Becki, just as I do. But always remember this – the gospel, the true gospel, is offensive. Why? Because it’s exclusionary – b/c it says there’s one way, and if you don’t have that one way, then you’re not saved. And what are we telling the Mormons, Becki? That they don’t currently have that right way. That can cause, as I’m sure you seen, some ill will between people. Does it make what we’re saying incorrect? No, not at all. Does it still need to be said? Yes, absolutely.

    You say that “most Mormons are not deceiving-they are simply deceived.” To a point, I agree with you. They have been deceived about what they believe, which is ultimately the work of Satan. However, even if indirectly, when Mormons talk to others and tell them that what they believe is true, then they are also deceiving others, b/c they are telling them things that are not true, and based in deceit which Satan has already propagated. So indirectly, Becki, they are both deceived and deceiving. Do I think that they are purposefully trying to BE deceitful to others? No, not really. I think they believe they’re correct, and tell others. But it still doesn’t make it right, does it, even if they’re motives are right? You have to be careful with statements like this, b/c invariably Mormons love to pull out the “but you just don’t understand us enough” card when talking to them. And you’re essentially helping them play this card when you make statements like this. It IS possible to understand them, and yet disagree wholeheartedly with them – I do.

    All this to say, Becki, that yes, I understand their beliefs, and will continue to tell those who will listen that those beliefs are incorrect, why they’re incorrect, and what they CAN have, if they will humble their hearts and turn to the one true God. I believe you’re doing this as well, albeit we’re using different ways, Becki. But some people need a harder “thump” than others, too. And most of the Mormons you’ll talk to on these boards, are nowhere close to conversion, anyway.


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