12
Jan
09

Is Faith a Work?

 

     One argument often used by Mormons against the biblical teaching of salvation by grace alone is the statement that faith itself is a work and thus, just that alone, proves that we are not saved by grace alone. 

     But the Bible clearly does not see it that way.  It makes works and faith mutually exclusive.  “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.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)  That passage makes no sense if faith is a work.  Although some try to qualify the works in this passage to say that “works” refers to a certain type of works like the works of the Old Testament, Paul doesn’t qualify it.

     If that isn’t clear enough, there is Romans 11:6.   “And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.  But if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work.”  If faith was a work then we are not saved by grace because works and grace don’t mix.

     From the biblical perspective, faith is not a work.  The work that saves us has all been done by Jesus.  He paid the full price of our sins.  He kept the law perfectly for us.  Salvation is God’s gift to us.  “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.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9) 

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44 Responses to “Is Faith a Work?”


  1. 1 Royalton
    January 12, 2009 at 9:19 pm

    You are correct that the passage says we are not saved by works, the LDS agree. But nowhere in the bible does it say that we are not expected to do works. Christ performs 100% of our salvation, but He expects us to keep His commandments and follow Him. A person who thinks that all they have to do is believe in Christ is dreaming. He expects much more of us. But doing what he expects us to do does not save us- only He does if we follow Him.

  2. 2 Royalton
    January 12, 2009 at 9:24 pm

    You are right in saying that this passage means that our works do not save us. The LDS agree. But that does not mean we do not have to do works. Christ performs 100% of our salvation, but on the condition that we keep His commandments and follow Him. The law of the harvest was very clearly taught by the Savior. To think all we have to do is believe in Him is just dreaming. The Bible is filled with passages that say we are judged by our works and that we must repent and follow Christ. A person does not believe in Christ if he does not do these things. Real believe IS works. But again, it is not our work that saves us, but it is required for salvation.

  3. January 12, 2009 at 11:43 pm

    Amen,wonderful post,some people will always challenge God’s word.No surprise though they did way back when they took Jesus to do the worse they could do,and Yet He lives Praise God,He Lives!!
    Love in Christ

  4. January 13, 2009 at 4:30 pm

    What is it about Ephesians 2:8-9 that you think Mormons would disagree with?

  5. 5 Berean
    January 14, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    Ephesians 2:8-9 is very clear to understand. It appears that the Mormon Church didn’t want it to be that clear for its people so they redefined grace in a way that puts it back on the church members to use “total effort” (works) to have grace – just like 2 Nephi 25:23 confirms.

    In the LDS KJV Bible dictionary on page 697 it says:

    “This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation AFTER they have expended their own best efforts. Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace CANNOT suffice without TOTAL EFFORT on the part of the recipient.”

  6. January 14, 2009 at 3:38 pm

    Some Evangelicals, like many LDS, misinterpret 2nd Nephi 25:23, which says: “We know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.” In this passage, “all we can do” is have faith in Christ. This is made clear in the following verses, particularly 25:26, “And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophecy of Christ, and we write according to our prophesies that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” Moreover, the Book of Mormon elsewhere states that “all we can do” is to repent and turn to Christ. (Alma 24:10-11).

    Latter-day Saints believe in salvation by grace, although it’s a less used term in LDS circles because “salvation” in LDS terminology is usually the equivalent of “sanctification” in Evangelical terminology, and sanctification requires obedience as well as God’s grace. Thus, the real sticking point between LDS and Evangelicals is not whether we are saved by grace (both affirm this) but whether we are saved by grace alone, that is, without individual, personal involvement or participation. Latter-day Saints find “salvation by grace alone” to be unbiblical and, borrowing C.S. Lewis’ analogy, like cutting cloth with only half of the scissors. (For C.S. Lewis’ quote, see “Mere Christianity”. For the unbiblical claim, the term “grace alone” is not found in the Bible, and the similar term “faith alone” is found only once, in a Scripture hostile to the idea (James 2:17).

    In short, Latter-day Saints believe that they must not only be born again and accept Jesus as Savior, but also obey him as Lord. True faith includes obedience. You can’t talk the talk without walking the walk. (Matthew 7:21-23) Nevertheless, the LDS believe the only obedience necessary to be born again is obeying the commandments to have faith in Christ, to repent, and to be baptized. These are the only “laws and principles” on which being born again is predicated. The language in Article of Faith Three that some Evangelicals find disturbing (“all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel”) is clarified in Article of Faith Four: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second, Repentance, third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins,” To those who obey these principles God give the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32), “fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

    In other words, it is impossible to be born again without faith in Christ, repentance, and baptism (Acts 2:38; John 3:3-5). Most Evangelicals would agree with the first two, and some would agree with all three. But there is no quid pro quo here, no earnings being paid off; these things constitute being born again. The only “requirement” for coming to Christ is to come. Truly, there are other laws and principles after these “first” ones, but these refer to ways in which the saved can become more like Christ. They are not conditions for “being saved” initially as Evangelicals use the term.

    Thus, Joseph Smith never taught that man is saved by their works or by obedience. Anyone who stops reading after the phrase “saved by obedience”, without reading on to the Fourth Article of Faith, will end up assuming that Mormons believe in a “works based salvation”–keeping commandments like checking off a “to do” list. That is the NOT what Joseph Smith and all of our restoration scriptures clearly teach. They indeed teach that we are saved by grace, through faith in Christ. Clearly there is a need for the born again to behave AND obey—not as a condition for being born again, but as an obligation that being born again incurs. True faith includes obedience, and the true Christian obeys. So the tension you detect here is really nothing more than the differences you see between Calvinist Evangelical Christians and Arminian Evangelical Christians, the latter whom reject Calvin’s TULIP doctrine and emphasize human free agency.

  7. January 14, 2009 at 3:51 pm

    “However, grace CANNOT suffice without TOTAL EFFORT on the part of the recipient.”

    I suppose I could ask you to simply clarify if you believe the opposite. Do you believe that we can be saved without ANY effort, obedience, commitment, or response on our part?

    Naturally justification/salvation by grace through faith is fully scriptural. But justification/salvation by faith ALONE, without any effort, obedience, commitment, or response on the part of the believer is not.

    I just want to know if you’re stating that God requires nothing of us after our conversion; that He will lovingly accept any lifestyle the saved may subsequently choose to wallow in?

    Surly you’re not saying that God will accept our talking the talk without our walking the walk, right?

    I’ve already said that our works don’t amount to anything–it’s Christ’s works that save us–not our own. But God does require things of us. It’s part of the covenant. He certainly requires our hearts and our wills–TOTAL commitment.

    Or perhaps we actually agree works are not a part of the salvation equation. They’re not part of the equation for salvation, but they certainly are a part of the equation in our life AFTER our conversion.

  8. January 14, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Whether you claim that righteous works are simply the result of “true conversion” and the lack of them evidences that the person “was never really converted to begin with,” or whether you claim that righteous works are necessary to obtain salvation, it all amounts to the same thing really:

    Unrighteous people don’t get to go to heaven.

    Pretty simple. A lot of this grace vs. works debate therefore, often feels like arguments over a distinction without a difference.

  9. 9 markcares
    January 14, 2009 at 9:41 pm

    Royalton:
    You say that the LDS agrees that Christ performed 100% of our salvation. What about the following:
    “An outstanding doctrine of the Chruch is that each individual carries the responsibility to work out his own salvation, and salvation is a process of gradual development.” (The Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles, p. 36)
    What about Joseph Smith’s statement: “To get salvavation we must not only do some things, but everything which God has commanded.” (Teachings. .. p.161)
    Also, what about the hundreds of post left in the last month by LDS that say the opposite?

  10. 10 markcares
    January 14, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Clean Cut:
    Are you saying that Ephesians 2:8-9 is an incomplete description of salvation? That we have to go some place else to see that obedience etc. are necessary for salvation?

  11. January 14, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    No, I am not saying that Ephesians 2:8-9 is an incomplete description of salvation. I’m arguing that your interpretation of “saved by grace through faith” is an incomplete description of salvation if you actually think that grace is extended to you without any effort or response on our part. Grace saves us (100%) through true faith in Jesus Christ, but it seems that you’re forgetting that true faith is evidenced by our works.

  12. 12 markcares
    January 14, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Clean Cut:
    I want to understand you and not assume I understand you. That is why I might be asking questions that at first glance seem simplistic. Do you see works as an essential part of faith or as separate from faith but resulting from faith?

  13. January 15, 2009 at 1:21 am

    Well Mark, it seems pretty clear that Jesus was OFTEN saying stuff about correct behavior being related to heavenly rewards. Why ignore these statements when speaking of Paul’s words?

  14. 14 Berean
    January 15, 2009 at 4:48 am

    No, real Christians that have done their homework know exactly what 2 Nephi 25:23 says. It’s a spin off of Ephesians 2:8-9. That phrase “after all we can do” completely changes the whole thing. It’s all fine and dandy for our Mormon contributors here to give their opinions on what the they think the Book of Mormon means here, but I’d rather take the official opinion from Salt Lake City since they set the terms. They state:

    “The phrase ‘after all we can do’ teaches that effort is required on our part to receive of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with him.” (True to the Faith, page 77)

    Think about that…effort is required on your part to receive any grace. This goes along with other Mormon scriptures that teach that it’s up to the Mormon to do his part FIRST before the Mormon jesus gives him/her any grace. See Moroni 10:32.

    Questions on 2 Nephi 25:23:

    1. When does Christ’s saving grace apply?
    2. What is all you can do? (Moroni 10:32)
    3. How do you know when you have done all you can do?
    4. Are you currently doing all you can do?
    5. Are you really doing your best?

    If not, then you don’t get any grace – back to Moroni 10:32. You do certain thiings and then once you do that, then you get something from Christ. It’s that conditional covenant of the “if” and “then” just like we talked about on the last blog topic. I can’t help but to think of the esteemed Mormon Stephen Robinson who has Mormons today repeating his phrase that he has taught them: “Mormons do their best – Jesus does the rest”. Well, are you doing your best? Of course you aren’t.

    I find it interesting that Alma 24:10-11 is cited as a repentance verse from the Book of Mormon. What stood out to me was twice the issue of murder was brought up and it being forgiven. Somehow that all changed for Mormons today because there is no forgiveness for that sin (D&C 42:18, 79)

  15. 15 Berean
    January 15, 2009 at 5:46 am

    Sure, Mormons believe in salvation by grace. The Unitarians and the Universalists do as well! Every person that has ever lived and will ever live has been “saved by grace” according to the Mormon definition of it. As always, we have to define our terms. In Mormonism, terms like “salvation by grace”, “salvation by grace alone”, “sanctification”, “born again” and “eternal life” mean something completely different than the way it’s described and defined in the Bible and is understood by real Christians.

    Mormons make the continual mistake of accusing Christians of not wanting to take part in obedience. Mormons would be better served if they went and did some research, study and had actual conversations with informed Christians outside of what they are told at the wards on what Christians believe and think.

    Christians are all about obedience. It’s just different than the way the Mormons view it. Christians obey from the heart (Romans 6:17) out of gratitude for what the real Jesus has done for us that we could not do on our own in any way now or ever. He paid a sin debt that we could not pay. We have imputed perfection and righteousness through Him. We have been given the gift of eternal life right now! Mormons can’t say that. They don’t know right now whether or not they will have eternal life (John 6:47). In Mormonism, they will never have eternal life as laid out in the Bible. What could we possibly do to ever warrant anything from the Father or the Son on our own when our works are as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6)? There are none that are righteous and we are disgusting in His sight apart from Christ totally and completely (Romans 3:10, 12). I serve out of gratitude, joy and happiness for what the Savior has done for me that I could never do. We deserve God’s wrath, but He loves us enough to provide a way for us to avoid that wrath (John 3:16). The Mormons serve out of obligation because they have to do their part in what Christ cannot do for them:

    “When he (Jesus) became our Savior, he did his part to help us return to our heavenly home. It is now up to each of us to do our part and become worthy of exaltation.” (Gospel Principles, page 19)

    I would like our Mormon friends here to tell us what these two verses mean:

    Romans 4:4-5 – “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 for righteousness.”

    Titus 3:5 – “NOT BY WORKS of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he
    SAVED us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

    The only “tension” we, as real Christians (non-Mormons), have is that the Mormons have accepted a false gospel, a false jesus and a false spirit (Galatians 1:6-9; 2 Cor 11:4) and that they are trying to work their way back to their false god which is ultimately going to have eternal consequences unless they repent. Real Christians are burdened and saddened by this fact so they attempt to dialogue with Mormons before it’s too late.

  16. January 15, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I doubt most Christians make much of a distinction Berean. Honestly, I’m convinced that the guilt problem is just as present among Evangelicals as it is among Mormons.

    Seriously, how would you even be able to tell whether your righteous actions were just a natural result of “true conversion,” or whether they were your own efforts to be better? I can’t tell in my life, and I doubt you can tell in yours.

  17. 17 markcares
    January 15, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Seth:
    We sure can tell the difference. It’s all about motivation. Since I am totally confident that I am going to heaven solely because of Jesus’ righteous work, the thought of doing something as a contribution to my salvation is not part of my thought process. In fact, to be honest, I find such a thought actually appalling.

  18. January 15, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    I guess you have more confidence in your motivations than I do in mine Mark.

  19. 19 royalton
    January 15, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    Mark,

    “Working out a person’s salvation” does not equate actually doing the saving. Each person chooses how he will live and whom he will follow. It is a lifelong challenge to consistently follow the Savior despite temptations and weaknesses. Again, we must do our part- that which Christ asks us to do. He does the saving- 100%. But that salvation is rewarded IF we follow Him. Make sense? We do not save ourselves, but we determine if Christ will save us.

    Thanks

  20. January 16, 2009 at 1:43 am

    Mark, to respond to your question, I believe that Jesus will not save anyone from hell against their will. We must choose to come to Him. The only requirement is to come. Having faith in him denotes an effort to come to Him and trust in him! My effort=come to Christ and cling to Him for dear life. Faith is complete trust and confidence in Him; enough to repent continually and being “born again”.

    Thanks for asking and seeking mutual understanding. It’s a breath of fresh air after reading through Berean’s misunderstanding blabbering. Thanks for asking what I believe instead of telling me what I believe….

  21. 21 markcares
    January 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Royalton:
    You wrote: “But that salvation is rewarded IF we follow Him” What comes first: our following him or salvation?

  22. 22 markcares
    January 16, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Clean Cut:
    In the context of Epehsians 2:8-9, we are protrayed not as expending effort, but as spiritually dead. “Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” Salvation there is pictured as a spiritual resurrection. Where’s the effort?

  23. January 16, 2009 at 3:55 pm

    Well if you’re wanting to get technical, no effort need be expended by us at all in order to ultimately be saved from physical death. Because of Christ’s resurrection all, no matter what, will be resurrected. However, to ultimately be saved from spiritual death/hell, one must respond appropriately to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Responding appropriately would entail our effort–namely, having Faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord, and repentance (before and after baptism/conversion).

    Stephen E. Robinson clarifies in the book “How Wide the Divide?” that “the LDS believe the only obedience necessary to be born again is obeying the commandments to have faith in Christ, to repent, and to be baptized. These are the only “laws and principles” on which being born again is predicated. The language in Article of Faith Three that [Evangelicals] find disturbing (“all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel”) is clarified in Article of Faith Four: “We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, second, Repentance, third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins,” To those who obey these principles God give the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 5:32), “fourth, laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

    “In other words, it is impossible to be born again without faith in Christ, repentance, and baptism (Acts 2:38; John 3:3-5). Most Evangelicals would agree with the first two, and some would agree with all three. But there is no quid pro quo here, no earnings being paid off; these things constitute being born again. The only “requirement” for coming to Christ is to come. Truly, there are other laws and principles after these “first” ones, but these refer to ways in which the saved can become more like Christ. They are not conditions for “being saved” initially as Evangelicals use the term.”

    About baptism: Some Evangelicals see baptism as a “work” somehow contributing to our salvation. Other Evangelicals, as well as Latter-day Saints view baptism as part of accepting Christ and entering into a saving covenant with Him.

    Robinson further clarifies: “Mormons believe that baptism is a part of the good news (see Hebrews 6:1-2, where both baptism and the laying on of hands are represented as foundational principles of “the doctrine of Christ”). One is baptized into Christ (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27; Colossians 2:12) and both salvation and the remission of sins is connected to baptism (Acts 22:16; Ephesians 5:26; Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 3:21). The belief that baptism is necessary is not peculiar to the LDS but is also held by some Evangelicals. Neither they, nor the LDS, understand it to be a prerequisite to conversion, but rather a part of conversion (Acts 8:12-17; 19:1-6). One’s faith, repentance, and submission to the lordship of Christ are expressed by submitting to baptism. Jesus’ grand commission to his disciples was not just to teach, after all, but to teach and to baptize (Matthew 28:19). Latter-day Saints thus line up with those Evangelicals who insist that Jesus must be accepted as both Savior and Lord.”

  24. 24 markcares
    January 16, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Clean Cut:
    Thanks for answering. Here are the two problems I have with your answer.
    1) You talk about physical resurrection but that is not what Ephesians 2:5 is referring to. Paul is talking about a past event, not a future one. “hath quickened”. not “will quicken”. The mention of faith also doesn’t apply to physical resurrection. It’s not just believers who will be physically raised. Ephesians 2:5 is picturing conversion as a spiritual resurrection. Therefore my question still stands: where’s the effort on the part of those who are quickened while they are dead in sin.
    2) You refer to Stephen E. Robinson. I have the same problem with you citing him as an authority as I do with those citing Robert Millet as an authority. I talked about that in my posts of December 10th and 13th. Neither one speaks officially for the church. Neither do I see their thoughts echoed by the leadership of the Church. If I want to know what Mormonism officially stands for, shouldn’t I be turning to the sources it itself points me to? If you have a reference from the official church saying that Robinson or Millet speak for it, please let me know. I would like to see it.

  25. January 16, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    Hi Mark. I was not limiting my answer to just one passage of scripture. God can reach into someone’s life who is “dead in sin” and give them a new heart, cause them to be “born again”, and “arise and walk”. I’m not arguing that it’s anyone but God that does that miracle. I’m merely saying that the “effort” on our part is actually giving our hearts completely to God so that he can work the miracle. He will not do this unless we consent. Apparently there is some extra baggage attached to the word “effort” that Evangelicals raise their eyebrows at, but that Latter-day Saints have no problem understanding in the context we do.

    Whether it’s Stephen Robinson or Robert Millet–I am not claiming them as an authority for the Church. They are, however, authorities on what they personally believe, and they are Mormon. (However, both are approved by the actual Church Authorities to teach and the Church sponsored Brigham Young University). I cite Robinson because he’s one of the first Mormon scholars to actually seek to have a conversation with Evangelicals who happens to be theologically bilingual. You see, we have different vocabularies and attach different meanings/definitions to words. He’s trying to bridge that gap in understanding. If you try to take a quote from “the authorities”, spoken to LDS and understood by LDS in our unique lingo, and you understand it with your Evangelical lingo–there is bound to be misunderstanding and cries of “misrepresentation” and “taken out of context”. I’m trying (very imperfectly) to understand both Evangelical and Later-day Saint theological vocabularies so that I can get past the semantics and get to the heart of what is actually meant.

    One more relevant quote by Robinson:
    “Unless Mormons and Evangelicals make greater efforts to investigate what the other MEANS, rather than merely exploiting what the other SAYS, we shall remain, to paraphrase Twain, two peoples divided by a common language. Presently, because Latter-day Saints do not say things the same way Evangelicals do, we are often made to be ‘offenders for a word’ even in cases where we actually MEAN exactly the same thing as Evangelicals.”

    If you truly “want to know what Mormonism officially stands for” you would have to invest the time to study LDS Scripture with LDS mentors, which is the way the LDS do it. I credit you with at least trying to turn “to the sources” themselves, but you’ve got that handicap. Obviously the worst way to learn about Latter-day Saints is to ask other non-Mormons or to read non-Mormon literature about the Saints. It is a rare thing indeed for non-Mormons writing about the Saints to get it right even when they are trying to, and most contemporary non-LDS writing on the Mormons is frankly NOT trying to get it right.

  26. 26 markcares
    January 16, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    Clean Cut:
    I agree that we need to try and understand each other. For many years now I have talked about witnessing to Mormons as a cross-cutural effort. But just as you say that many non-Mormons aren’t getting it right about Mormonism, I can say the same thing about Mormons, even their scholars, not getting it right about Christianity. I’m curious. do you have a Christian mentor helping you study the Bible to better understand Chrisianity?
    To be honest, your answer makes me think you do not. A discipline that is important in Christian circles is exegesis. It is taking a Bible verse, studying the grammar and each word in depth – studying the context etc. It is putting Bible passages under a microscope. Because this is how many Christians approach the Bible, a common LDS practice that frustrates many Christians is the refusal to have a good discussion on specific Bible verses. For example, I have trouble seeing how your answer really answers my question. You talk about people still having to give their consent to God’s miracle. How does that fit in with Ephesians 2:5? Are you saying that “the dead” have the ability to give consent? If they can, are they really dead?

  27. January 16, 2009 at 9:51 pm

    Mark, there obviously isn’t any personal effort spoken of in Ephesians 2:5 itself. But that’s not the end of the matter.

    You can’t just take a single verse and throw it out there all on its own without reference to any other verses (or only with reference to other hand-picked verses that similarly exclude works). There are passages in the New Testament that speak of works in connection with heavenly reward – most of them straight from Jesus himself. Then there is James who famously states that “faith without works is dead.”

    My experience is that Evangelicals often talk of exegesis. But the exegesis I see them actually practicing is very, very selective, and sometimes seems almost willfully blind to conflicting scripture.

  28. January 16, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    As a general matter in Mormon doctrine – yes, the dead DO have the ability to “consent.” Ability to both accept Christ and to reject him.

    I would have thought you knew that already Mark.

  29. January 16, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    Mark, get to the point about what you believe! Are you implying that we can be saved without ANY effort, obedience, commitment, or response on our part? Are you forgetting that there is a whole Bible full of scriptures that discuss salvation?

    Exegesis or not, we can’t choose to ignore Paul or James–both were apostles and both were right. Faith without works isn’t very strong faith at all. (James even says that it’s “dead”.) And faith without the grace of Christ leaves us without any hope at all.

    Clearly, works are evidence of our faith. From my experience, it is those who are truly converted who do the most works. But you’re right that they don’t save us. I stated that earlier as well. Our works, our best efforts, only confirm our loyalty to the Savior and our desire to continue being justified by His grace. Our obedience to His commandments are an imperfect token of our love for Him and of our desire to remain in the saving covenant. Latter-day Saints may emphasize our life AFTER conversion more than Evangelicals, who seem to emphasize life BEFORE conversion.

    To use the fishing analogy, I believe He fully intends to “reel us in”, but we can’t cut the line and expect to be saved. What are you implying? What do you believe? How are you interpreting your pet scripture here that holds up to everything else the Savior says himself?

    I think that we agree that OUR works don’t save us. True faith in the Savior is what saves us. Our efforts as we “endure to the end” merely affirm our decision to remain in the saving covenant. But I still have no idea where you stand on having faith in Christ as Lord–vassals of their Lord serve Him. What do you believe about life after conversion; ie: enduring to the end?

    PS: To answer your question, I do not have a designated “mentor” to understand Traditional Christianity. But if I’m trying to understand my own Christianity or the viewpoint from a historical/traditional/”creedal” Christian, you can bet that I’m going to go to them. They become my mentors of what they understand and how they believe–whether online or in person.

  30. 30 Berean
    January 17, 2009 at 5:19 am

    Clean Cut,

    I haven’t officially welcomed you so let me do that now…”welcome”. I’m glad you made it over here. As you can see, Mark is very happy to have our Mormon friends come here and state their opinions and use various LDS quotes without deleting their comments and banning them from speaking on his blog. I gather from your comments that I am still banned on your blog since I gave my Christian opinions and used LDS authoritative quotes to support the statements that I was giving in opposition to the Mormon Church?

    What? Hard feelings I sense from you? You do hate those LDS quotes when Christians use them to show you and the other LDS members that their opinions and statements many times don’t line up with what is being put out. Your opinions and those of Robinson aren’t authoritative in the least. When I want to know what is official church teaching I go to the institute manuals, conference talks and the writings of Mormon apostles – not BYU professors.

    You don’t like Christians telling you what you believe? Well, then maybe you and the others need to get in step with what is being offically toted by the GA’s and then there won’t be a problem. After reading your statements above I see that you are telling Evangelicals what they believe while you are not one and have no Christian “mentor”. Where have you received your Christian (non-Mormon) education? If you got it from the wards, then you didn’t get the “real deal”. Why not do what Mark and I do except in the opposite? Mark could give you a reference of a local Christian church where you live (San Antonio, right?) and you could go there and receive Christian education. He could reference you a mentor as well. I know you don’t like me, but I’d be more than happy for you to come to our church and receive the same. LDS institute classes are starting up soon here. I’m looking forward to going. I’ll be attending the Mormon stake down the street for the afternoon sessions in their Sunday school classes and priesthood meetings like I did last year starting again on February 1st. It seems like a reasonable trade, no?

    I’ve read the Book of Mormon more times than I have read the Bible all the way through. I’ve read and studied the institute manuals, read the works by Mormon authorities both past and present, read the Ensign, subscribe to the Church News, read the Conference addresses, etc. Mark has as well even more than I. He’s been at this many more years than me. Who is my mentor? Mark is one of them for sure. I don’t think there is any doubt between the two of us on what Mormonism teaches and what they want their members to believe. If you want to create your own hybrid form of Mormonism suited to you, then go for it. Most Mormons today seem to be doing that. Just don’t expect what you put out to not be checked and countered with official LDS statements that say the opposite of what you are. Everything must be tested (1 Thes 5:21; Acts 17:10-11 “the Bereans”).

  31. 31 markcares
    January 17, 2009 at 3:08 pm

    Clean Cut:
    You asked me what I believe. I would encourage you to read my past posts because they will give you a fuller picture of my beliefs. I believe that Jesus has done everything to save me. That when he said, “It is finished” on the cross my debt of sin was paid in full. I believe that Jesus did NOT then become my creditor, as Boyd K. Packer descrbies him in the parable recorded in Gospel Principles.
    Along with millions of other Christians, I believe that faith itself is a gift of God – that the Bible rules out faith itself as a work (the point of this post). I believe that the Holy Ghost is the one who brought me to faith – 1 Corinthian 12:3.
    I further believe that works are a fruit of faith, that they follow faith, but do not contribute at all to salvation. This is a vitally important distinction in Christianity – one that many Mormons, I feel, don’t even try to understand. Please see my post of 10/4.

  32. January 17, 2009 at 5:50 pm

    I guess “thanks” for the welcome Berean. I don’t have hard feelings toward you, I just don’t find you very reasonable and willing to seek mutual understanding–an approach that begs mutual respect. I found you quite tactless. I could be wrong. Do you have a personal blog or website where I could go to better understand you?

  33. 33 Berean
    January 17, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Clean Cut,

    Sorry you feel that way. When it comes to the truths of scripture and making compromises on the nature of God, who Jesus is, etc., then no, I’m not reasonable. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is offensive by nature. It’s exclusive (John 14:6). I follow the mandate of testing everything by scripture (1 Thes 5:21; Acts 17:10-11). That is why I go by the name of “Berean” because that is what they were known for. They checked what Paul told them by the scriptures. If it didn’t measure up, then it was cast out. Another Bible verse that is exclusive is Acts 4:12. Paul also made his feelings known in the strongest of words in Galatians 1:6-9 by stating “anathema” – the strongest word in the Greek language to get his point across. This word means “divine curse”. Those that preach another gospel are under the divine curse – anathema.

    You might find me “tactless” and that is fine. You are welcome to your opinion. Christians that are in service to the Lord in reaching the Mormon people that WE LOVE have different styles. As you can tell, Mark’s style is different than mine. My mission is different than his too. The things that we have in common are many. We both deeply care about the Mormon people and invest a great deal of time in discussing spiritual matters with the Mormons because the stakes are high here – eternal life or eternal separation in outer darkness. Mark is a minister of the gospel. I am not and have a secular profession so this is done in my spare time.

    I’m bold and very direct and many people find that hostile, shocking and maybe “tactless” as you would say. Society today has evolved and nobody wants to be offended, but remember, the gospel of Jesus is. When you put it out there and then tell people what is going to happen if they reject it or continue in belief that is heretical, well, you’re not going to be liked. Jesus, the disciples and many of the church fathers and countless Christians through the ages have been killed because of it and still do to this day. I’m willing to have the Mormon people hate me if it means confronting them with their doctrines and teachings that I believe is going to cost them their soul in outer darkness because they have followed a false gospel, prophet, jesus and god. You’d be interested to know that I recently had an ex-Mormon thank me for helping to expose the deception that they were a part of.

    No, I don’t have a website or a blog. I have an email address that I gave you last year when you booted me from your blog and erased my comments where I had quoted LDS resources in making my point. I had one email with you and I expressed to you what I stated above except that I made it personal to you. I saw the picture of you and your family on your blog and my heart goes out to you and the many Mormons that I have met at the wards and my own personal Mormon friends. I tried to express to you why I was trying to dialogue with you and other Mormons. I told you why I was concerned not only for you, but your family and the Mormon people. I never heard back from you so I left you alone, remember? I didn’t badger or hound you with emails, did I? Did I come back on your blog and try to post? No, I didn’t because I RESPECT what you told me and you as a person and left it alone and went on my way.

    Most of Christendom have written the Mormons off as lost causes, hopeless, too far gone, etc. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. My Christian friends can’t understand why I even bother. I try to explain to them and rally them to the cause but to no avail. They don’t care. That is the truth. I call it like it is even on my side of the aisle. Mark Cares, myself and others won’t give up on the Mormons. To not warn someone when you see them in trouble, well, it’s not the loving thing to do.

  34. January 17, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Berean, although I disagree with much of what you say, I respect your right to say it. I personally find you suspect because I have detected dishonesty and duplicitous. Nevertheless, given your stated intention, let me recommend “How to Win Friends and Influence Mormons”.
    http://summatheologica.wordpress.com/2007/09/28/how-to-win-friends-and-influence-mormons/

  35. 35 Berean
    January 17, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    Clean Cut,

    Thanks for the book recommendation. However, I prefer to be Spirit-led in getting my instructions from God’s Word – the Bible – and by talking to God in prayer in how I will talk to the Mormon people instead of a secular book that borrows a phrase from other secular works “how to win friends and influence people”.

  36. January 17, 2009 at 11:38 pm

    It’s not a book–it’s a great blog post…

  37. 37 InCognitus
    January 18, 2009 at 12:03 am

    Regarding the Bereans, they were said to be “more noble” for two reasons, not just one, and most people seem to neglect the second characteristic attributed to them. With respect to “the word” that was taught to the Bereans by Paul and Silas, the scripture says:

    “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

    So having preconceived ideas and prejudices about the teachings were not among the attributes that the Bereans were known for, since they received the word “with all readiness of mind”. I think we can all learn from the Bereans on this point when it comes to any kind of interfaith dialogue, for how else can we know if the other person’s ideas are valid or not without trying to understand them? One who attacks the faith of another based on incomplete or inaccurate information or even misrepresentation of the other person’s point of view would not be a Berean in the biblical sense, I wouldn’t think.

  38. 38 Berean
    January 18, 2009 at 12:47 am

    Incognitus,

    There are no “preconceived ideas and prejudies” about the teachings of Mormonism. I “understand” what Mormonism teaches very clearly. I’ve already stated my “rap sheet” on my learning of Mormonism over the past many years and what I continue to do today. Mormons seem to not like this when an outsider to their religion has done his homework. Clean Cut didn’t like it when I used authoritative LDS quotes to support my claims in pointing out error so he deleted all my comments and banned me from his blog. That’s fine. I just don’t understand why Mormons get so upset to have someone quote their own people to them. When I tried to quote the King Follet Discourse to a 76 year-old missionary who flat-out told me that his church DOES NOT believe that the Mormon god is an exalted man, he stormed out of my house and told me that he was going to enjoy watching me get thrown in hell. Why be so offended to have the words of Joesph Smith read to you? So when I do this:

    “One of the overarching truths of the Restoration is that God lives and dwells in His heavens, that He is an exalted man with ‘a body of flesh and bones,’ and that He is yesterday, today and forever the same unchangeable God, the fountain of all virtue and truth.” (178th General Conference, Ensign, 11/2008, page 75)

    “My first object is to find out the character of the only wise and true God, and what kind of a being He is…God Himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens!” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church – Joseph Smith, page 40)

    …the Mormons become enraged and accuse me of attacking them. I find this to be ridiculous when all I am doing is showing them that what they are telling me is not in line with what the LDS Church is teaching. I also find it to be ridiculous and hard to understand when these are the teachings of Joseph Smith, the man in whom they sing hymns to. See, I will reference my statements again for accountability reasons:

    Mormon Hymn #27: “Praise to the Man”

    Praise to the Man who communed with Jehovah!
    Jesus anointed that prophet and seer.
    Blessed to open the last dispensation,
    Kings shall extol him and nations revere.

    Praise to his memory he died as a martyr;
    Honored and blest be his ever-great name!
    Long shall his blood, which was shed by assassins,
    Plead unto heaven while the earth lauds his fame.

    Great is his glory and endless his priesthood.
    Ever and ever the keys he will hold.
    Faithful and true, he will enter his kingdom,
    Crowned in the midst of the prophets of old.

    Sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven;
    Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
    Wake up the world for conflict of justice.
    Millions shall know “Brother Joseph” again.

    Chorus:

    Hail to the prophet, ascended to heaven!
    Traitors and tyrants now fight him in vein.
    Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
    Death cannot conquer the hero again.

    I believe that Mormons have a persecution complex. They are super sensitive to anyone asking them questions. It’s taught in the LDS scriptures. It’s called the “spirit of contention”. I’ll be happy to give you the references if you like. This knee-jerk response by Mormons occur anytime someone asks them a question that makes them feel uncomfortable. They don’t want the tough questions and they don’t want to have to think very hard about spiritual matters that possibly show a disfavorable light on their views. Christians love questions and we love to give answers for our faith and hope (1 Peter 3:15)

    The information I give out is very accurate. I give quotes and resources that any Mormon can look up and check. It’s all about checking and testing, remember? I hold myself to a high standard and demand accountability. Are the quotes not correct? Are the scripture verses not correct either? I don’t hear any objections to those. Instead, it’s all about Berean. You can put the focus on me if you like, but the LDS scriptures, conference talks, institute manuals and other writings by Mormon authors speak for themselves. If you don’t like to have your people read back to you, then I don’t know what to tell you.

    I hold to the Berean method as laid out in Acts 17:10-11. I have tested the Mormon beliefs by what they have said in their scriptures, conference talks, institute manuals and other writings and have found them to be in error and not in line with holy scripture – the Bible. Therefore, their teachings are to be rejected and they should be confronted with this and warned. The Apostle Paul must have had double revelation when he wrote Galatians 1:6-9 in possibly seeing that someday a fallen angel (Moroni) would come and give “another gospel” which is anathema.

    Mormons would be well served to follow the same mandate as the Bereans and the scripture as stated in 1 Thes 5:21 (test all things, hold fast to that which is good). This same thing is said in Alma 14:1; 17:2; 33:2. Why don’t the Mormons test the scriptures by what Joseph Smith said?

    I have also followed the advice of the Mormon authorities in the past when they said:

    “If a faith will not bear to be investigated,; if its preachers and professors are afraid to have it examined, their foundation must be very weak.” (President George Smith, Journal of Discourses, Vol.14:216-217)

    “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it, and see if it will not stand the test.” (Discourses of Brigham Young, page 126)

    “…convince us of our errors of doctrine, if we have any, by reason, by logical arguments, or by the word of God, and we will be ever grateful for the information, and you’ll ever have the pleasing reflection that you have been instruments in the hands of God of redeeming your fellow beings from the darkness which you may see enveloping their minds.” (Orson Pratt, The Seer, page 15-16)

    I’ve done these things and found you to be in error. I’ve demonstrated that with the scriptures and otherwise. When will you follow the same advice and make this about the teachings of Mormonims instead of me, Berean, the person? You need to focus. I’m not the problem…the teachings of your church are.

  39. January 18, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Berean,
    Speaking for me personally, the problem is not the quotes or the teachings of the Church. It’s that you only want to lecture and not listen. I tried to explain how my view and that I can know that “God is an exalted man”, as Joseph said, and also that God is eternally God (as the scriptures that Joseph brought forth make clear)–and that I have no problem with this. You seem to think this is a dichotomy and it cannot be explained or reconciled, or you just conclude that it somehow provides evidence that Joseph was not a prophet. When I try to explain my interpretation (and thus what I understand Joseph meant) I am dismissed as “unauthoritative” or not “mainstream” Mormon. (See the end of my post on “What is official ‘Mormon’ Doctrine?” where I address the King Follet discourse and that various interpretations exist about these thoughts). You don’t want to listen and understand the point of view of those of us who HAVE given this thought and studied these teachings–official and unofficial. It’s a lose, lose situation, because in your mind the conversation is over before it even begins. You might try asking how I can know of those things and still believe…

  40. January 18, 2009 at 4:30 am

    I agree with Clean Cut here Berean.

    The frustration in talking to you is that you refuse to actually engage what the Mormons talking to you here are saying.

    I believe what I have come to believe about Mormon doctrine throughout a lifetime of searching. Not what you THINK I ought to believe, based on some quotes. You can dismiss Sunstone Mormons all you want, marginalize FARMS scholars all you want, and diss “internet Mormonism” all you want.

    But those thing provide sources for my belief and faith. And if you dismiss them – what you have to say is irrelevant to me.

  41. 41 Berean
    January 18, 2009 at 4:39 am

    Thank you, gentlemen, for sharing that with me. I’d like to learn and hear where you are coming from so as to understand your personal journey and how it all came to be. You have my undivided attention…and I say that with all seriousness.

    Berean

  42. January 18, 2009 at 11:25 am

    I suspect that the real source of tension comes down to the role of human free will and divine sovereignty. Let me offer one view and then perhaps this could become a point of departure for discussion. Again, this is one view, I’m not necessarily saying this is anyone’s view here, or that it is the Christian or biblical view, only as a tool for further discussion.

    A view: All mankind is created by God and God created some individuals to be destined for heaven, and others to be destined for hell. Or, put it a different way, God created all man to be destined for hell, and all mankind deserves hell, but out of his mercy and grace he has chosen to save some, but not all. Or, to put it another way, after the end of the world, some will be in heaven, and some will be in hell. What determines whether a person is destined for heaven or hell? Now, some hold that this is all in the hands of God, and if a person is in heaven, it has nothing to do with that person’s choices or thoughts or actions or beliefs, or anything that is a result of anything that person is, otherwise this would be salvation by works. Therefore, salvation is completely a question of God willing it. In this view, it doesn’t make any sense to say that God’s desire is for all mankind to be saved in heaven, but that not all men will choose God, because if this was God’s desire it would clearly be so! In this view, there really isn’t such a thing as significant human will. If God desires to save a person, their puny human will cannot thwart divine will, and they will be saved. If God wants a person in heaven, she will be in heaven, regardless of anything else. Conversely, if God has chosen not to save a person who is worthy of hell and doesn’t deserve it, then such a person is doomed, and nothing they do could ever change it.

    The question really isn’t whether faith is a work. The question is whether human will has any role in the ultimate destination of man. For some, the answer is no. Human will simply has no bearing on the ultimate destination of man, if it did, then this would automatically entail salvation by works or salvation by human deed. Salvation is wholly a choice of God, and whether a person is in heaven or hell is God’s choice, not man’s. For others, the answer is yes. If the human factor has absolutely no bearing in the ultimate salvation of man, then there really is no such thing as significant free will, and human action has no significance at all, human choice is therefore illusory or at best human’s make choices, but no choice will ever influence or have any sort of result on salvation. In this view, man’s choice to choose God or to love God is real and it matters.

  43. 43 twin.spin
    January 19, 2009 at 4:46 am

    Is faith a work?
    Jesus was asked the very same thing….

    John 6:28
    “Then they asked him, “What must we do to do the works God requires?”

    Jesus’ answer confirmed that God does require a work….Jesus replied

    John 6:29
    Jesus answered, “The work of God is this:

    By Jesus stating this, he is defining what God accepts as what we must do to work out our salavation. What is that work acceptable to Heavenly Father?

    “to believe in the one he has sent.” John 6:29

    There is nothing else required. To say that there is, are not words from the One whom sent Jesus into the world.

  44. 44 faithoffathers
    January 19, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    Aquinas,

    Nice summary. I too believe man has moral agency and controls his destiny and determines which course he will choose. In my opinion, it is a massive simplification to say that all God requires of us is to believe in His son- a mental, spiritual act. There is so much more suggested or inherent in those New Testiment verses. If a person said they believed their physician, would that not imply not only that they intellectually believed their doctor, but that they altered their life in the way that the physician recommended? Or a child believing in a parent- is it possible to believe in a parent and not follow them obediently- of course not.

    So, in my view, some have it backwards in narrowing the commandments down to simply believing in Christ. Instead, if you belive in Christ, you do everything He commands. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” It does not get any clearer than that.

    fof


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