22
Jul
09

IF. . .THEN

 

     Over the years, a number of Mormons have quoted to me the beginning of Moroni 10:32.  “Yea, come unto Christ and be perfected in him.”  They then have said that Mormonism also teaches that we become perfect in Christ.  But is that passage saying the same thing Christians say when they claim to have perfection in Christ?

      Here’s the entire passage.  “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and IF you shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, THEN is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”  (My emphasis)

     I have emphasized the “if” and the “then” because they are a significant expansion of this verse.  “If – then” commonly denote a cause and effect relationship.  If somebody does A, then B follows.  But B doesn’t follow if A doesn’t happen.  If I go to work, then I will get a paycheck.  It follows therefore to say that if I don’t go to work, then I won’t get a paycheck.

     Note the A and B in the verses above.  The A has two parts:  1) If you deny yourselves of all ungodliness and 2) if you love God with all your might, mind , and strength.  The striking word in both is the word “all”: “all ungodliness”  “all your might, mind, and strength”.  By the repetition of all, this verse is emphasizing a totality – not just of effort – but of results.  It doesn’t say try with all your might to deny ungodliness.  It says “deny yourselves of all ungodliness”.

     It’s only then that the “then” happens.  “THEN is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”    

     This is completely different from what the Bible teaches.  “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”  (Hebrews 10:14)  A few verses before he addresses who are the sanctified when he writes:  “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Heb. 10:10)  There are no if. . .then clauses here.  All there is here is the offering of Jesus Christ.  The wonderful news of the Bible is that perfection is not based on our denying ourselves or loving God with all our might, mind and strength.  According to the Bible perfection is based entirely on what Jesus did for us.  And for that I am eternally grateful.

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42 Responses to “IF. . .THEN”


  1. July 22, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    Hebrews 10 has if … then to it as well. When you consider verses 24-27.

    24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
    25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
    26 For IF we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, [THEN] there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
    27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.

    The passages of Moroni 10 are not that different from Hebrews 10 when taken as a whole.

  2. 2 geoff456
    July 22, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    Mark,

    By saying that there is NO requirement for Salvation according to the Bible, you are not being truthful.

    One example:

    Baptism is required for salvation. (Matt. 16:16, John 3:5) Repentance is required for baptism. (Mark 6:12 among many others) Baptism was an act that fulfilled ALL righteousness, so much so, that even Christ sought out John (a priesthood holder with the authority to baptize) to baptize Him by immersion so that He was being obedient. (Interesting that even the sinless, perfect Son of God had to be baptized) Sanctification is accomplished through baptism and being reborn! So, your scripture above: “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever THEM THAT ARE SANCTIFIED” tells me that there was some EFFORT put into SANCTIFICATION. And without that effort, or may I say IF there was no EFFORT, THEN there would be no perfection.

    EVEN your church preaches that there is effort….you must “BELIEVE”….involved in salvation.

    Can you see how your misrepresentation of the LDS scriptures appears to be disingenuous to LDS people??

    ~Geoff

  3. 3 markcares
    July 22, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Erik:
    There’s a big difference between the two. In Hebrews the perfection comes first. Then comes the part about willful sinning. Suppose I was unconscious in a burnng building. A fireman comes and rescues me. I did nothing. He did it all. Later I wake up on the sidewalk outside the burning building. I rush back into the building to get something. I die. Does that mean the fireman didn’t save me? Does that mean, if I stayed on the sidewalk and didn’t go back into the building, I did something to save myself?
    The main point of my post is that Mormonism teaches that a person must deny himself of all ungodliness before he is perfected in Christ. Do you.agree?

  4. July 22, 2009 at 6:42 pm

    Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel in Mormonism. Everything else comes after that. Admittedly this sometimes becomes something that is assumed within Mormon teachings.

    This so often comes down to the difference between ‘salvation’ and ‘exaltation’ when one speaks of Mormonism with Evangelical terms. Failure to acknowledge this causes problems on both sides.

    So it all starts with faith in Christ for basic salvation. Stuff like denying ungodliness is a process which comes after. How well one does at this will work into the judgement, by Christ, which will result in some degree of glory.

    So as to your fireman analogy, sure the fireman saves you. Now, what do you do with the rest of your life?

    If you look at the Moroni passage you site, what is the first phrase? Come unto Christ. Step one.

  5. 5 Echo
    July 22, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Eric,

    So are you saying that if NON LDS put all 3 of your heavens(Celestial, terrestial and telestial) into one box and call that heaven, then you are saved by faith alone?
    The doing (the process of denying all ungodliness) comes “after” the gaurentee and certainty that you will end up in the box?

    I know that we NON LDS tend to talk only about the celestial kingdom being in the box by itself because we ourselves only believe in one heaven.

  6. July 23, 2009 at 12:30 am

    Echo:

    My personal take is that in Mormonism only a small amount of people (sons of perdition) will be outside the box. So to me ‘basic’ salvation from death and hell is borderline universal, and is a gift of grace.

    So, yes, I think you are pretty close there. Degrees of glory would come after – so to speak. (Although we usually don’t talk about it like this very much).

  7. 7 geoff456
    July 24, 2009 at 10:54 pm

    hey everybody! I am feeling invisible here. Mark, do you care to comment on my post above?

    ~Geoff

  8. 8 Echo
    July 25, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Geoff,

    I am going off on vacation here in day or so and so I wasn’t going to respond in this thread and then have to leave the conversation hanging. But since nobody has answered, I will answer but I may have to leave you hanging until I get back from a short holiday.

    God himself is the one that produces repentance in us through his LAW. Therefore repentance is his work in us, not ours.

    Acts 5:31 “God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that HE might GIVE repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”

    Acts 11:18 “When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, GOD HAS GRANTED even the Gentiles repentance unto life.”

    God works into man, through his law, through the Holy Spirit, the conviction that he can “DO” NOTHING (John 15:5: Rom 5:6) at all to be saved because he is a sinner who is spiritually dead and who apposes God with all that he is and does and believes. (John 16:8)(Ps 14:3;Ps 51:5; Acts 26:18; Col 1:21;Rom 5:6; Rom 4:5 etc) God’s law demands perfection and nothing short of it. (Mathew 5:48; 19:21;Gal 3:10;James 2:10) Our best effort isn’t enough. Therefore through the law, we are condemned because of our sin. (Rom 3:19) The law brings only God’s Wrath. (Rom 4:15) God’s law shows us our sin (Rom 3:20) and the punishment our sin deserves is God’s wrath both now and in eternity. (Rom 6:23; Rom 3:5) Man’s sinful pride believes he has a spark of good in him, he believes he can do all he can do and God will save him. (Mark 10:18) But he is dead wrong and blind in transgressions and sins even in this. (Eph 2:1) God’s law reveals that even the man who does all he can do is still a sinner who is a lawbreaker. (James 2:9-11) God’s law puts us all on the same level, no one person is better than another, God sees as as equal to the vilest of offenders because of our sins. A law breaker is a lawbreaker no matter what crime he commits. The sentence for a law breaker is Outer darkness. Therefore through the LAW, the Holy Spirit brings us to the end of ourselves and to the end of our thinking we can “DO” something for our salvation and for our forgiveness. The Holy Spirit leaves us naked, unable to “DO” anything.

    The Holy Spirit has now prepared the convicted heart to meet his Savior who did everything that the man himself couldn’t do. Let’s remember that the man could do NOTHING. So the Savior did it ALL, he did EVERYTHING. What did he do? He died for the vilest offender,(Rom 5:6 etc) which is YOU, which is ME! He took the punishment that we deserved. He lived in perfect obedience to the law which is demanded to gain eternal life and credits that life, his life, to us! God demands that we be perfect to gain eternal life, we couldn’t do it, remember? We can do nothing! But Jesus did it for us. His perfection is now our perfection.(Rom 1:17;Rom 3:21;Rom 3:22;Rom 4:5;Rom 4:6;Rom 4:24;Rom 5:17;Rom 5:18;Rom 9:30-31;Rom 10:3:Rom 10:4;1 Cor 1:30;2 Cor 3:9;2 Cor 5:21; Gal 2:21;Phil 3:9 etc) We can KNOW we HAVE eternal life right now (1 John 5:13;John 5:24) because the demands that we need to meet to gain eternal life have been met in our behalf by JESUS alone and were credited to our account. Forgiveness given to us freely because of JESUS ALONE.(Rom 4:7; 1 John 2:12 etc)

    Man does not accomplish his conversion by doing anything. Rather, man undergoes conversion because God is converting him, this includes repentance and Baptism:

    Eph 2:5 “But God…even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ.”

    Man is purely passive in conversion. Man is spiritually dead and can do nothing to give himself spiritual life. As the verse above shows, it is GOD who made us alive. Dead men cannot make themselves live.

    Geoff said:
    ==========

    “EVEN your church preaches that there is effort….you must “BELIEVE”….involved in salvation.”

    Echo:
    =====

    The following is true:

    Mark 16:16 “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”

    But is faith an effort on our part? NO

    Through the hearing of the gospel message the Holy Spirit gives the gift of faith required and demanded in the message:

    1 Corinthians 12:3 “no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.”
    Romans 10:17 “faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ”

    To say: “You are forgiven “IF” you believe” is INCORRECT because “belief” becomes the condition to being forgiven. It becomes something that we must do. Here, faith causes forgiveness. This is not what the Bible talks about. The Bible teaches that Man can do NOTHING.

    To say: “You are forgiven, therefore believe” is more correct. Faith is not the condition to being forgiven as it was above. It has the opposite effect than the scenario above: Forgiveness causes faith here, rather than faith causing forgiveness as above.

  9. 9 markcares
    July 25, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Geoff:
    Sorry about not getting back to you. A number of unexpected things came up the last couple of days so i have not been albe to get back to you.
    I gree with Echo’s answer so I wont’ repeat that. I just want to highlight that we believe that a foundational biblical teaching is that we were dead in sin (“And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins – Ephesians 2:1) with the result that conversion is all God’s actions. (“hath e quickened”). the Bible passages that Echo cites agree with that.

  10. 10 geoff456
    July 25, 2009 at 10:03 pm

    sorry, but that is the biggest bunch of baloney I ever heard.

    Jesus has asked us to repent. He might give us the OPPORTUNITY to repent, he might give us the INSPIRATION to repent, but WE have to be the ones to make the effort.

    the “teaching” you espouse would make God a “respector of persons”. and that is ONE thing HE is NOT!!

    ~Geoff

  11. 11 Echo
    July 25, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    The Holy Spirit is the one who convicts us of our sin and guilt in our conversion. It is the Holy Spirit that causes that “feeling of conviction and guilt” as God’s word of truth reveals that we ONLY appose God with all that we are and do and believe. As God’s law reveals that we are born enemies of God, that we are ungodly, that we are under the power of SATAN and that no one is good but God alone. Read the passages in my post above.

    So if any of you have feelings such as fear, conviction, despair, trembling, guilt, remorse (and the list goes on etc.) then that is the Holy Spirit convicting you and causing those feelings within you. It is God’s doing, not yours. Of course, men can resist this work of the Holy Spirit, they can suppress the truth or harden their heart etc.

    John 16:8-9 “When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me;…”

    He does this through God’s LAW as I have shown in post #8 above. God’s LAW reveals truth about us and to us and shows us how God actually sees us in all our depravity as born enemies and haters of God who are all under Satan’s power.

    The Holy Spirit doesn’t convict us in order to condemn us, he convicts us in order to rescue us!

    The Holy Spirit then relieves those feelings of conviction by leading us to our Savior who washes all those feelings away in his amazing and UNconditional forgiveness with no strings attached.

    So instead of having “faith” in ourselves and what “we do”, we now have faith in Jesus and all that HE has done.

    That IS repentance.

  12. 12 geoff456
    July 26, 2009 at 2:20 pm

    Echo,

    No, that is not repentance.

    Repentance means a change of heart. You have stopped one crucial step too soon.

    One MUST change behavior, change loyalty or whatever to be truly repentant.

    It requires EFFORT. I would not disagree with anything else you said, I KNOW that those guilty feelings are meant to help us.

    But in order to change our behavior, it takes EFFORT on our part. If I am stealing from someone I cannot be forgiven if I KEEP stealing…no matter HOW guilty I feel and no matter HOW much the Lord wants to forgive me.

    I honestly thought you guys were pulling my leg!

    ~Geoff

  13. 13 Echo
    July 26, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Geoff,

    You are not forgiven because “YOU” stopped stealing, you were forgiven when “JESUS” died on the cross.

    Who is your Savior? Is it “YOU” or “JESUS”?

  14. July 27, 2009 at 8:33 am

    I love the Savior with all my heart. I would hate to think that His sacrifice and Atonement is going to waste upon some of my brothers and sisters here in this world. It seems that some unfortunate thing has caused Echo and Mark to lose sight of the spirit of the Atonement. I truly hope that words of mine and others can help bring some understanding back for you both.

    Jesus died on the cross for us. He has already atoned for every single sin ever committed and that ever will be committed. What a truly miraculous thing. How could there be nothing required of us to payback, even a little, our Father in Heaven and the Savior for this marvelous act?

    A good analogy that comes to mind for me is a recent political topic: granting amnesty to the illegal aliens in the U.S. Let’s say hypothetically that the president allows all illegal aliens the opportunity to come forth and be granted permanent residency. He makes this opportunity available to everyone. If I were an illegal alien, this naturally would bring me much joy. However, until I went to a local immigration office, filed the correct papers and fulfilled all the requirements needed, I would not be permanent residency. If I just continued to reside in the U.S. without going through the proper motions to be granted permanent residency, I would eventually become an illegal alien again once the amnesty period ended.

    This is like the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. He has truly made a wonderful opportunity available to all mankind. And in reality, what He requires is very little. If, however, we do not do what He Himself has asked us to do, we will be like the illegal alien who failed to go through the proper motions, and we will not receive the full benefits of His Atonement.

    I hope that this has made it simple and clear. Obviously haggling over the scriptures is unfortunately not going to convince any of us that we’re right or wrong, especially over the internet. But I do hope that you both might ponder this message in your hearts, and truly contemplate whether this could be true or not. The Spirit of God will speak to you. He has spoken to me countless times and I know He will to both of you, too.

    God bless.

  15. 15 ADB
    July 27, 2009 at 2:47 pm

    Jesse,

    “And in reality, what He requires is very little.”

    What does he “require,” because so far, any “requirements” I’ve heard from the LDS are anything but “very little.”

    I came across a memorable quote this morning that I’ll share:

    “See well to it that you do not make a Moses out of Christ nor a statute book or textbook out of the Gospel.” (Martin Luther)

    The Law of Moses required something. That requirement was never met (except by Christ and him alone), so who would possibly reason that Heavenly Father would send Jesus to be a “second Moses” and tack on more “requirements” that most certainly will not be met by anyone?

    The Jesus revealed to me in the Bible is not another law-giver requiring anything from me. Rather, he is the perfect law-keeper and credits his righteousness to me by faith. I will live eternally with Heavenly Father because of what he has done. I simply believe it.

  16. 16 faithoffathers
    July 27, 2009 at 5:11 pm

    Consider the government welfare state. The welfare mentality results in many people receiving something for free which they did nothing to earn or create. Many, many want to believe that taking those resources from “the rich” is perfectly fine- as long as those receiving the free handouts don’t have to pay for it. Consider what this does to their lives and souls- it destroys them and their integrity and robs them of dignity and self-respect. A person letting some other party do something for them that they could do for themselves is the core of this welfare mentality.

    I see parallels with this mentality and what some here maintain is the gospel that requires no obedience or repentence to be saved. What are the goals of salvation? Ultimately, the goal is for each person to become holy, like the Father and His Son. While it is true that we cannot remove stains that result from sin, we can exercise self-discipline and develop attributes that to some degree limit our sinning. Again, I agree that we cannot save ourselves. But God expects us to do what we can to overcome the natural impulses to sin. To say that we cannot do anything to better ourselves in righteousness is hogwash. We must do our best to obey the commandments and repent of our sins. Our best effort in this pursuit enable God to cleanse us through the blood of Christ.

    To dismiss repentence and obedience as conditions for salvation is to buy in to the welfare mentality idea of salvation. God helps those who help themselves.

    fof

  17. 17 ADB
    July 27, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    FOF,

    “A person letting some other party do something for them that they could do for themselves is the core of this welfare mentality.”

    This statement is where your analogy fails … when it comes to perfection, it isn’t something that we can “do for ourselves.”

    “Our best effort in this pursuit enable God to cleanse us through the blood of Christ.”

    Heavenly Father then needs our best effort in order to deem us cleansed through the blood of Christ? Is there even a single Bible passage to back this up? I know of too many Bible passages that say otherwise.

    “God helps those who help themselves.”

    I’ve heard this many times before, but haven’t found any scriptural evidence to back it up. If I can help myself, then why do I need God to step in and lend me a hand?

    The problem, of course, is that I can’t help myself. Heavenly Father knew that, so he gave the world his only Son to do it for us (John 3:16).

  18. 18 faithoffathers
    July 27, 2009 at 6:47 pm

    ADB,

    Of course you will oversimplify and create a caricature of what I say. Like I said, we cannot save ourselves or remove the stains that result from our sins. But God expects us to help ourselves to the degree that we can.

    What of the young man who asked Christ “what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Remember Christ’s response- “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.”

    How many times are we commanded to repent in the NT?

    Do you neglect these teachings of Christ?

    It really blows my mind that people think we don’t have to do anything to inherit eternal life.

    fof

  19. 19 ADB
    July 28, 2009 at 3:47 am

    FOF,

    You’ll have to clarify where I oversimplified anything you said. I was simply trying to reflect what I hear you stating. Was I being inaccurate?

    If you’re going to make reference to the rich young man, don’t forget to include the conclusion drawn by all those who heard Jesus’ response when he laid out all those demands: “Who then can be saved?” In other words, it appears to me that they drew the conclusion that such demands were impossible to keep. That is the very purpose of Heavenly Father’s law, to shed light on the in-your-face reality that our situation is hopeless on our own. We can’t be saved, or in any way contribute to it through the law. That’s where the gospel comes in … “What is impossible with me is possible with God.”

    I haven’t counted how many times we’re commanded to repent, but I agree with all of them, and am thankful that the Holy Spirit has worked repentance in my heart.

    I don’t at all neglect any teachings of Christ–I simply understand them in the proper context, by Heavenly Father’s undeserved grace.

    It really blows my mind that people think they can do what Heavenly Father himself said is “impossible with men” in order to inherit eternal life. :)

  20. 20 RLO
    July 28, 2009 at 8:30 am

    FOF said: “We must do our best to obey the commandments and repent of our sins.”

    How do we know when we have done our best to obey the commandments? How do we know when we have sufficiently repented of our sins? Matthew 5:48 doesn’t tell us to just “do our best,” it tells us to, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    If you want to be saved by your own works, then YOU must fufill the law perfectly. When you come to the realization you can never fulfill the law perfectly, only then will you be driven to your knees at the foot of the cross, where Jesus, after having fulfilled the law perfectly, offers His own perfection to you. And only then will you “try to do your best,” not for the purpose of getting yourself saved, but because you are saved. You will “try to do your best” out of gratitude for the perfection that Christ freely gives you, his perfection, which alone saves you.

    I think He’s giving you a choice: salvation by your own works which will always fall short of perfection, or salvation by His perfect fulfillment of the law, which is called, salvation by grace.

    On which end of your salvation are you trying to put your efforts?

  21. 21 faithoffathers
    July 28, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    The approach I hear from non-LDS Christians here is “if I can’t do it all, I will do nothing.”

    That is what I am arguing is a welfare-mentality salvation. Did I ever suggest to any degree that we can save ourselves or do anything to remove the stain of our sins? No.

    You are insisting on an all or nothing situation. Salvation that is completely independent of works and effort OR salvation based on perfect obedience to law. Is it possible for there to be a mix of the two principles- one that fosters obedience and effort, yet provides salvation, grace and mercy?

    ADB- whose words do you take more seriously- Christ’s or those of others? I find that so often, evangelicals find a way to dismiss the actual words of Christ in favor of Paul’s or somebody elses.

    You didn’t include the statement of Christ just prior to the question from the apostles “who then can be saved.” Christ had just finished telling them that it is easier for a camel to enter the eye of the needle than to enter the kingdom of Heaven. They then asked “who then can be saved?”

    Are you saying that Christ’s statement that “with God all things are possible” negates the words that just left his lips? He had told the young rich man, who had kept many of the big commandments, to sell all that he has, give to the poor, and follow Christ. When the young man declined, Christ makes his comment about it being extremely difficult for a rich man to enter Heaven. Why, because he would not fully obey Christ.

    Christ is clearly saying that we must be willing to keep the commandments, forsake all, and follow Christ. How a person comes away from that passage with the idea that obedience is not required puzzles me.

    Yes- all things are possible with God. A rich man can do all those things if he relies on God and exercizes his faith. Christ is NOT saying it is possible to be saved without keeping those commandments. He is saying, with God’s help, it is possible for a rich man to obey all those commandments and receive salvation.

    fof

  22. 22 ADB
    July 28, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    FOF,

    “The approach I hear from non-LDS Christians here is “if I can’t do it all, I will do nothing.”

    With all due respect, I don’t know any Christian who has ever said “I will do nothing.” You know that is a generalization. If you’ve ever met a Christian in person and evaluated his/her life, you can’t deny that they strive to live obediently. They simply know it has no bearing on eternity with Heavenly Father, which has already been solidified in Christ to all who believe it.

    “Is it possible for there to be a mix of the two principles- one that fosters obedience and effort, yet provides salvation, grace and mercy?”

    No, it isn’t possible for there to be a mix (cf. Romans 11:6); however, the two are related. In Christ Jesus, Heavenly Father has provided salvation, grace, and mercy, which then foster obedience and effort.

    “ADB- whose words do you take more seriously- Christ’s or those of others? I find that so often, evangelicals find a way to dismiss the actual words of Christ in favor of Paul’s or somebody elses.”

    First of all, you probably well know that I put them on the same plane, since Paul’s words are not his own, but Christ the Lord’s as well. The Bible is entirely the Word of Christ from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21.

    But let’s look at the words of Christ, which I take very seriously (I find myself wondering if the LDS take them as seriously as they so often claim) …

    Jesus said:

    “13Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Mt. 7:13,14).

    Sounds like more will end up in destruction (outer darkness; hell) than living eternally with Heavenly Father. That doesn’t instill in me a lot of self-confidence.

    “36But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. 37For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned” (Mt. 12:36,37).

    I hear Jesus saying that I am going to be held accountable for every loveless, spiteful, sarcastic, judgmental, hate-filled word that has ever left my lips. Such words most assuredly condemn me.

    “50For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt. 12:50).

    I’ve read over and over and over what the will of Heavenly Father is. I haven’t fully done it in the past, won’t be able to fully do it today, and won’t ever be fully able to do it in the future. What I hear Jesus saying is that I’m therefore not his brother because of it.

    “41The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth” (Mt. 13:41,42).

    I have offended others. I have committed iniquity. I hear Jesus telling me that I will be cast into a furnace of fire (outer darkness; hell) for it.

    “18But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. 19For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: 20These are the things which defile a man” (Mt. 15:18-20a).

    I hear Jesus describing all sorts of the sinful garbage that has come out of my heart. I hear Jesus saying that I am defiled because of it.

    “6But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 7Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh! 8Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire. 9And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire” (Mt. 18:6-9).

    I have children. I know for a fact that on more than one occasion they have followed my sinful example, lost their cool, and yelled at one another unlovingly. I hear Jesus saying that it would have been better for me to be drowned in the sea than to have caused them to sin. I hear Jesus saying that I should be limbless and without sight on account of the offense my body has caused others. Yet I still have hands, feet, and eyes, which no doubt will certainly offend in the future. Jesus says that I should be cast into hell because of it.

    [Jesus’ response to Peter’s question about how many times he should forgive a brother who sins against him] “22Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. 23Therefore is the kingdom of heaven likened unto a certain king, which would take account of his servants. 24And when he had begun to reckon, one was brought unto him, which owed him ten thousand talents. 25But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made. 26The servant therefore fell down, and worshipped him, saying, Lord, have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 27Then the lord of that servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.

    28But the same servant went out, and found one of his fellowservants, which owed him an hundred pence: and he laid hands on him, and took him by the throat, saying, Pay me that thou owest. 29And his fellowservant fell down at his feet, and besought him, saying, Have patience with me, and I will pay thee all. 30And he would not: but went and cast him into prison, till he should pay the debt. 31So when his fellowservants saw what was done, they were very sorry, and came and told unto their lord all that was done.

    32Then his lord, after that he had called him, said unto him, O thou wicked servant, I forgave thee all that debt, because thou desiredst me: 33Shouldest not thou also have had compassion on thy fellowservant, even as I had pity on thee? 34And his lord was wroth, and delivered him to the tormentors, till he should pay all that was due unto him. 35So likewise shall my heavenly Father do also unto you, if ye from your hearts forgive not every one his brother their trespasses” (Mt. 18:22-35).

    I hear Jesus describing what I deserve when he tells how Heavenly Father will treat anyone who has ever failed to forgive a brother. I have not always willingly forgiven, therefore I expect nothing but to be in torture (outer darkness; hell) forever based on my own failures at forgiving others.

    “21Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me” (Mt. 19:21).

    I have material possessions that I could do without–luxuries, if you will. I haven’t yet given them to the poor who could use them much more than I could. I hear Jesus saying that I’m not perfect because of it.

    These are only a few examples of Jesus’ words from one Gospel that only begin to scratch the surface of my sin. Please do not ever accuse me again of not taking Christ’s words seriously. I just wish the the LDS would do the same and pay attention to all of Jesus’ words. I wish they would acknowledge the clear, serious, and damning judgment Jesus’ words pronounce on all people.

  23. 23 geoff456
    July 28, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Echo,

    Re: post 13. do you deny the need for repentance??

    I was talking “repentance” and You were talking “forgiveness”.

    you are NOT REPENTANT IF you are still stealing.

    ~Geoff

  24. 24 ADB
    July 28, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    Geoff,

    Then with all due respect, I regret to inform you that you are not repentant of your sin (pick any one). You CANNOT completely stop sinning this side of heaven, so by your definition, one is never truly repentant. YOU WILL CONTINUE TO BREAK EVERY COMMANDMENT AS LONG AS YOU ARE ALIVE (please see the words of Jesus above).

    Furthermore, you are not repentant if you fail to acknowledge that in Christ you are fully forgiven. Neat thing is, when I repent of my sin and have Heavenly Father’s assurance that in Christ I am fully absolved and forgiven of my sin, guess what?–I don’t want to sin anymore. I want to strive to live in a way that reflects how thankful my heart is for Heavenly Father’s free unconditional forgiveness in Jesus.

  25. 25 geoff456
    July 28, 2009 at 10:29 pm

    excuse me?? I CAN’T stop sinning?

    That is totally false. I CAN stop stealing, lying, gossiping, etc. I am a human being with the light of Christ. I have my moral agency. I can CHOOSE the right in every situation. Am I weak? yes. am I tempted? yes. but i CAN do what is right.

    Father in Heaven did NOT put us here to fail. He has given us the tools to become like Him and to be perfect. He sent His Son to atone for our sins and to pave the way for us. Effort IS required on our part. He wants us to LEARN obedience, and the BECOME like Him. This all takes EFFORT, but we CAN do it! Here are some of the words used in the scriptures: follow, keep, come, do, be, work, love, help, obey, and many more. These all require EFFORT on our part!!

    Of course we should live in a way that reflects how thankful we are for Heavenly Father’s love. And we want to show our love and appreciation for our Savior (they are 2 separate and distinct individuals). But the OBEDIENCE comes first. We are commanded to obey. Obedience strengthens us, it enables us to become LIKE HIM. After all, He does not want us to be “hearers” only, but DOERS!!

    Do first, forgiveness and salvation second!

    ~Geoff

  26. 26 ADB
    July 28, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    Geoff,

    You missed a word: “completely.”

    I don’t deny that we can stop sinning in many situations (I can choose not to swear, get drunk, have extramarital sex, etc.). But we can’t stop sinning completely. And by your definition of repentance, that means you aren’t truly repentant, correct?

    “Father in Heaven did NOT put us here to fail.”

    You are correct. But that doesn’t change the fact that we have, and will continue to. And quite simply, that is unacceptable to him and worthy only of damnation (ever notice how much Jesus talked about outer darkness?).

    “Here are some of the words used in the scriptures: follow, keep, come, do, be, work, love, help, obey, and many more. These all require EFFORT on our part!!”

    You are correct again. However I don’t see the words “try to” before any one of the words you listed, which means that if I haven’t perfectly “followed, kept, come, done, been, worked, loved, helped, obeyed, and many more,” then I haven’t done what Father in Heaven clearly told me to do. It doesn’t matter if I’m better at all of those things 40 years from now (I hope I am); it still doesn’t change the fact that I am accountable for every time I haven’t been those things in the past. That’s falling short. That’s sin. That’s punishable by eternal separation from Heavenly Father.

    Come to the realization that the Apostle Paul did when he looked at Heavenly Father’s demands: “I found that the very commandment that was intended to bring life actually brought death” (Romans 7:10 NIV). The law brings with it death. Jesus alone brought life.

    “Do first, forgiveness and salvation second!”

    Could you imagine yourself shouting those words to Jesus as he hung from the cross??? I don’t recall ever having been more offended by anything I’ve ever read. I doubt Satan could have said it better himself. Do first, and one will find only the curse of damnation; no forgiveness, and no salvation. “All who rely on observing the law are under a curse, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do EVERYTHING written in the Book of the Law'” (Galatians 3:10 NIV).

  27. 27 geoff456
    July 29, 2009 at 3:53 pm

    ADB,

    My “do” comment referred to repentance. Yes, I fall short daily (not because of the taint of “original sin” which I think is false doctrine), but I also REPENT daily. I believe in repentance!

    Why is that offensive?? If we DO what we are supposed to DO, then we gain forgiveness and salvation. Hardly Devil Doctrine.

    ~Geoff

  28. 28 ADB
    July 29, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Geoff,

    Thanks for the clarification, though it doesn’t make the statement any less offensive.

    “Yes, I fall short daily (not because of the taint of “original sin” which I think is false doctrine), but I also REPENT daily.”

    “you are NOT REPENTANT IF you are still stealing.”

    Your own words incriminate you. You are not truly repentant if each day you need to repent. You should stop sinning–not later, not in the future, but right now–if you are truly repentant. You can’t, therefore you aren’t truly repentant. Admit it.

    “If we DO what we are supposed to DO, then we gain forgiveness and salvation.”

    Your own need for repentance has already shown that you haven’t DONE what you were supposed to have DONE. You’ve already FAILED at keeping Heavenly Father’s demands!! (which is even LESS excusable if you don’t believe in original sin!!!)

  29. 29 geoff456
    July 29, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    O perfect one,

    oh, so you don’t sin everyday? sorry, but i do. I am not talking about the “biggies” like cheating the government or stealing or stuff like that. repeating those kind of sins is indeed a show of a lack of repentance. i am talking about all the human failings each of us experience each day. repentance is NOT a one time event! it is the way to follow God and Christ, by bringing our thoughts and actions in alignment with Theirs.

    I don’t look at the commandments as a DEMAND, but rather a way to pattern my life so as to have happiness and peace. Heavenly Father and Christ have the goal of helping each of us be the best person possible. commandments or rules keep us all “safe” and free from the harmful effects of sin….not to mention the eternal consequences.
    repentance is power. when it’s need is minimized, Satan has more power to tempt and sway an individual.

    ~Geoff

  30. 30 ADB
    July 29, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Geoff,

    I don’t believe I claimed not to sin in any one of my posts.

    I also was not aware that Heavenly Father categorized sin the way you do (though I must say it sounds convenient to excuse the “little” sins with which you struggle on a daily basis–though they are every bit as damnable as the “biggies” according to Heavenly Father’s view).

    I too agree that repentance is not a one time event. Would you agree with me that your repentance is invalid since you haven’t stopped sinning? Or does repentance require that we stop only the “biggie” sins? Are the little ones still OK then?

    I notice a certain amount of skirting around the issue I’ve pointed out with your lack of genuine repentance …

  31. 31 geoff456
    July 30, 2009 at 8:41 pm

    ADB,

    No, I would NOT agree with you that repentance is invalid since I am still human and still sin. The Lord knows that. Repentance is a tool to be used as needed. I am concerned with the end product. perhaps you are not. the “biggie” sins are worse because they are harder to quit, sometimes require the intervention of the “law” and invaribly lead to bigger sins. If I eliminate the possibility of “biggie” sins in my life and only need to work on the little ones, I am closer to my goal. I am all too aware that any sin will separate me from my Father, that is why repentance is so important to me. As I repent, I am forgiven and start fresh each day. I am not skirting around the issue of “genuine” repentance. I just am not perfect yet. I will let the Lord judge my heart as far as “genuine” repentance is concerned.

    ~Geoff

  32. 32 ADB
    July 30, 2009 at 9:36 pm

    Geoff,

    “you are NOT REPENTANT IF you are still stealing [after having repented].”

    but,

    “No, I would NOT agree with you that repentance is invalid since I am still human and still sin.”

    Something doesn’t add up.

    “I am concerned with the end product. perhaps you are not.”

    Does it really matter what I’m concerned with? I’m more concerned with what Heavenly Father wants, and everything I’ve come across in the Bible leads me to believe that he’s a lot more concerned with the “right here and right now” product than you give him credit for. Do we ignore his expectations for perfection RIGHT NOW simply because he knows “we’re human and still sin”??? I don’t believe we have that liberty.

    I’m not into picking and choosing which of Heavenly Father’s demands I’d prefer to apply to myself. I think he meant for all of them to apply. That means he wants me perfect right now. I’m not. You’re not. He says the result is outer darkness. How do you plan on avoiding that?

    Also, would you care to elaborate on where the Bible distinguishes between “biggie” sins and “little” sins and how one is or isn’t more damning than the other? Apparently I’ve mistakenly assumed that any one single sin is damnable, but I’m willing to be corrected from the Bible if you care to give it a shot.

    “I just am not perfect yet.”

    Keep trying, but you’ll only find that the path down which you’re traveling doesn’t lead to where you think it does. There is another way (his name is Jesus), a way which says you are perfect right now, just like me and all who cling to the cross and empty tomb.

  33. 33 geoff456
    July 31, 2009 at 1:57 pm

    ADB,

    Perhaps this is a little deep for you. Christianity as preached on this blog is a little simplistic. (no offense)

    I apparently am not doing a good job of explaining my version of repentance to you. everyone sins daily. everyone needs repentance daily. just because i sin daily does not mean that i don’t try not to. IF i am still embezzling funds from my boss, I CAN NOT be truly repentant. If I am trying daily not to get impatient with my co-workers and I see success day to day, then slip, it does not mean my repentance was not genuine. I am human.

    ~Geoff

  34. 34 rblandjr
    August 9, 2009 at 5:35 am

    Geoff,
    Thanks for your explanation of LDs doctrine on repentance and works.

    If you don’t mind let us look at Luke 18:9-14 concerning the pharisee and the tax collecter.

    9 He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but l beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

    Which man did Christ declare justified, righteous and exalted?
    THE TAX COLLECTER

    Was he truly repentant?
    Christ said yes

    When was this man declared righteous/justifed/exalted?
    When he prayed for God to be merciful to him a sinner.

    The means of salvation/justification is by grace through faith in the finished work of Christ. ” God be merciful to me a sinner”

    If you look at the next chapter you see the works that follow salvation/justification in the example of Zaccheaus. He received Christ joyfully, Christ ate and fellowshipped with him and Zaccheaus made restitution.

    Now was this work of restitution the means of his salvation/justification? NO

    It was the outward expression of what he already possessed. Justification/righteousness and exaltation.

    2 Cor. 5:17- ” If any man be in Christ he is a new creation, old things have passed away, behold all thins are become new.

    James gives the example of Abraham being justified. Lets look at Gen 15 were God declares him righteous because of his belief. His son wasn’t even born yet. Now years later in Gen 22 Abraham offers up his son to display his righteousness.

    Gen.15 Abraham beleives God and is declared righteous and displays or gives evidence of the reality of this in Gen.22 by offering up Isaac

    I hope this helps you understand what true biblical repentance and faith in the finished work of Christ for the forgiveness of sin really is.

    God be merciful to me a sinner? That man went away justified, righteous and exalted before God.

    Richard

  35. August 9, 2009 at 8:35 pm

    Richard, I think there is just as much scope for arrogance in the life of one who claims salvation by grace as there is in the life of one claims salvation by works.

    And I’ve met just as many arrogant “grace-Evangelicals” as I have “works-Mormons.”

    I don’t like either attitude.

  36. 36 rblandjr
    August 9, 2009 at 10:04 pm

    Seth,

    Please forgive me if I was arrogant in my post. That is not my intention, although the flesh does try to assert itself. I do realize that I am just sinner who was and is deserving of hell. If it wasn’t for God’s grace that reached out to me for more than 15years drawing and convicting me of my need for Christ as my personal Savior I would still be lost. It wasn’t because of anything I did but God that drew me by his Spirit to Christ. He didn’t have to but I praise and thank him for his grace and blessing upon my life. My desire is to be a witness for Christ, speaking the truth in love. Seeing other experience his grace and forgiveness is my only desire. I do not sit in judgement of anyone. I am just like that tax collecter, I desired Gods mercy to me a sinner. Thank you for your honesty.

    In Christ,
    Richard

  37. August 9, 2009 at 11:24 pm

    That’s fine.

    I just don’t want that story applied only one way – as if it only applies to Mormons obsessed with works.

  38. 38 rblandjr
    August 10, 2009 at 12:54 am

    Seth,

    I was trying to make two points. The tax collecter(sinner) went away justified not because of anything he did but all due to Gods mercy and grace. Because of Gods gracious love we all are offered this gift. None of us deserve this or could even merit this gift. I see myself like that tax collecter, a sinner in need of a savior. My other point was that works are the fruit of salvation. God made us new creations in Christ. We are to glorify him with our lives in total reliance upon the power of his Holy Spirit that indwells and impowers us. As we read the word the Spirit renews our minds that we might be transformed into his image. Becoming more Christ like, producing fruit.A real faith produces fruit that brings God glory. Faith that is not real does not produce fruit that glorifies God. My freedom in Christ isn’t a license to sin. But the freedom to serve him from a heart overwhelmed with Love for Him because of the love I have received from Him. That I must share.2 Tim. 4:1,2

    My desire and prayer is to see all come to Christ.

    Richard

  39. August 10, 2009 at 1:18 am

    I don’t disagree with that. But my experience is that a lot of Evangelicals tend to get pretty braggy about how “Jesus saved me” as opposed to everyone else.

  40. 40 rblandjr
    August 10, 2009 at 1:25 am

    Seth,

    Jesus did all the work. He should get all the glory and honor and praise for He alone is worthy.

  41. August 10, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Then why do we have Jesus on record praising people?

    I don’t dispute that God deserves the ultimate praise and worship. But he strikes me as a pretty sharing guy. So somehow, I don’t think he’ll mind if we praise each other once in a while.

  42. August 10, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    Seth,

    Can you give an example so I understand your point better.


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