Does Staying in the Faith Contribute to Salvation?

     One of the many differences that comes out in discussions between Mormons and Christians is what is all involved in faith.  Christians limit faith itself to trusting in Jesus’ work rather than in their own works to be saved.  We do see good works as resulting from faith and closely connected to faith but not part of faith itself.  We do that because the Bible not only says works are not part of faith – Ephesians 2:8-9 and other passages but also refers to them as fruits of faith – John 15:5 and other passages.  The relationship between faith and works was the subject of my post of August 8th.

     Another thing many Mormons include in the definition of faith is staying in the faith.  In this regard I would like to repeat an analogy I used in commenting on an earlier post.  Sqy that I was sleeping in my house when it caught fire.  The smoke made me unconscious.  A fireman rescues me without any help on my part.  After I’m rescued, I’m sitting on the sidewalk watching my house burn.  But then I remember a prized possession that is still in the house so I rush back into my burning house to try and get it.  This time I die.  If, however, I didn’t do that and stayed on the sidewalk could I then say that I had to do something to be saved?  I don’t think so.

     The Bible talks about believers having been saved with no works on their part – past tense.  It talks about believers possessing eternal life – present tense.  Both are accomplished facts.  Yes, we need to remain in the faith – an encouragement we often hear in the Bible.  But does that mean that my staying in the faith contributes to my salvation?  No more than my staying out of my burning house contributed to my rescue in the analogy above.  In fact, it would be an affront to the fireman who rescued me to claim any credit for my rescue.  So also it is an affront to Jesus to say that I did or have to do anything to be saved.  But that is exactly what Mormonism teaches.  As Robert L. Millet, a BYU professor wrote, “Therefore acting alone, the grace of Christ is not sufficient for salvation.  The works of man – the ordinances of salvation, the deeds of service and acts of charity and mercy – are necessary for salvation.”  It’s teachings like these that cause us to say that Mormonism is a very dangerous religion.

2 Responses to “Does Staying in the Faith Contribute to Salvation?”

  1. October 4, 2008 at 3:00 am

    The only problem with the fireman rescue example is that a fireman is going to drag you out of the building, whether you want it or not. Since you acknowledge that some people do not accept Christ’s saving grace, it seems obvious that Christ is not exactly a fireman.

  2. 2 Stephanie
    October 4, 2008 at 4:55 pm

    Good morning Seth,

    What a beautiful morning it is here.

    I like the analogy that Mark used about the fireman because it is a good picture of how faith works. Faith is not “of ourselves,” as the rescue by the fireman is also not “of ourselves.” Many analogies are not a perfect picture of reality. A fireman would, of course, try to rescue as many as he could, but he also might fail in rescuing some, but Christ would never fail.

    Consider Christ’s ‘objective’ salvation. Borrowing Mark’s words, Christ’s “God-forsakenness” on the cross paid for the sins of everyone for all time, in the same way that a fireman would rescue everyone, whether he wanted to be rescued or not. Here the fireman, being a mere human, would fail in his rescue attempts at some point or another, but Christ never fails. Christ’s suffering and “god-forsakenness” covers all the sins of the entire world. In this respect, the analogy works. Whether you choose to believe or not, your sins have already been paid for completely.

    We could look at the analogy of the fireman from a different time-point. We could consider ourselves, each one of us, as already having been ‘objectively’ saved by Christ’s work on the cross. We are already sitting on the curb, having been saved from the fire of hell by Christ, but perhaps we don’t accept or realize this. Perhaps Satan and the allure of the world prevent us from seeing what Christ did for us. So we decide to run back into the burning house to get a prized possession, something that we think we absolutely cannot live without, maybe it’s money or success or fame or greed or anything that might replace Christ’s salvation in our lives. Maybe we don’t think we need Christ’s sacrifice, or maybe we think we can get ourselves out the house later by our own efforts. Then we end up perishing in the flames because we have rejected Christ’s rescue.

    Everyone who does not trust in Christ’s work on the cross for salvation, is sleeping in a burning house right now. ‘Objectively,’ Christ has rescued everyone and set everyone down safely on the curb. But ‘subjectively,’ there are millions who are sleeping unaware inside the burning house, not realizing that they are destined to perish eternally. These people need Christ to rescue them, to open their eyes to the truth. Even this analogy, I’m sure, has holes, as many analogies do.

    Romans 10:14-15, 17 “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent?….Consequently, faith come from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.”

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October 2008

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