17
Nov
09

What Qualifies People to Live with Heavenly Father for all eternity?

     A topic that frustrates both Christians and Mormons is the topic of faith and works.  It usually creates much more heat than light.  Therefore I would like to approach this somewhat differently in an attempt, at the very least, to clarify some of the issues involved.  I would like to address the question in the title.  What qualifies people to live with Heavenly Father for all eternity?

    I worded it that way because I have found that the phrase “living with Heavenly Father” is the best way to get Mormons and Christians thinking about somewhat the same thing.  When Christians hear that phrase, most think of going to heaven.  When Mormons hear that phrase, most think of going to the celestial kingdom.

    In this post, all I want to do is to try and express, as clearly, as I can, what I believe the Bible says qualifies people to live with Heavenly Father eternally.  The answer to that is quite simple.  The only thing that qualifies people is the vicarious work of Jesus –which the Bible breaks into two parts.   The first part is the perfect life he led, not just as our Example, but as our Substitute.  (1 Corinthians 1:30 and all the passages that talk about the righteousness we have in Christ.)  The second part is his sacrificial death which satisfied divine justice by paying the debt of sin.  In other words, Jesus not only supplied the payment for all sin with his death; he also supplied righteousness and perfection for us through his perfect law-keeping.  His complete payment and his perfect law-keeping are what qualify people to live with Heavenly Father.  Sinlessness and perfection is what Heavenly Father is looking for.  No more – no less.

     Yes, faith is essential but not because it is an additional qualification.  Rather it is the way that Christ’s work is credited to individual persons.  Faith is one of those words that cause great confusion between Mormons and Christians. For my Mormon readers, I would like to clarify what Christians mean when they talk about faith.  Faith is not just head knowledge.  It is trust.  Conversion, in Christianity, is abandoning the trust that your works and efforts in any way qualify you to stand before God and replacing that with trust that Jesus’ works are the only thing that qualifies you to stand before God.  When it comes to living eternally with Heavenly Father, it is not even believing that God exists, or so much believing in his Word, but it is trusting in Jesus’ perfect life and sacrificial death for us.  To a Christian, faith, in the context of living eternally with Heavenly Father, is very specific.

     Yes, faith without works is dead.  But again the works that follow faith are not additional qualifications for living eternally with Heavenly Father.  When people are converted, they cross over from spiritual death to spiritual life.  They become new creations.  They are filled with life and thus naturally want to do good works.  That is why the Bible often calls them fruits of faith.  They come after faith and are the visible proofs and evidence that people have living faith. 

     Christians are very careful to keep works in their proper place.  They abhor any thought that their works in any way qualify them to live with Heavenly Father.  That idea, to many Christians, dishonors Christ tremendously.  Not only that.  Since the Bible says grace and works don’t mix as causes of being accepted by God (Romans 11:6), Christians say any mention of works in the discussion of how people qualify for living eternally with Heavenly Father actually disqualifies a person to live eternally with Heavenly Father.

     Finally, yes, people have to endure in the faith.  It’s who people are trusting in that counts.  If people quit trusting in Jesus works, then they won’t be able to live eternally with Heavenly Father.  But again that is not an additional qualification.  If a fireman rescues me from a burning house and I stay on the sidewalk in safety rather than running back into the burning house, I wouldn’t say that I did something to be saved.  What an insult that would be to the fireman who risked his life to save me.

     I pray that in some small way this helps Mormons better understand Christians and also helps them understand why many Christians become greatly agitated at any thought that we have to do something to qualify to live eternally with Heavenly Father.

Advertisements

40 Responses to “What Qualifies People to Live with Heavenly Father for all eternity?”


  1. 1 faithoffathers
    November 17, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    Mark,

    I appreciate your attempt at respectful dialogue in this article. I do understand your take on faith and works. We simply have to agree to disagree. The question is, can we disagree without belittling the guy on the side of the fence? I hope we can.

    fof

  2. 2 shematwater
    November 17, 2009 at 5:18 pm

    This is a very good post. While I do understand the concept of Faith from the Christian perspective, this puts things very simply.

    Now that we Mormons have a good place to go to understand the general Christian view of Faith, I think a person really needs to post a blog to explain the LDS concept of Faith and Works.

  3. 3 Echo
    November 17, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    FOF,

    “The question is, can we disagree without belittling the guy on the side of the fence? I hope we can.”

    Your right. It should never be about belittling anyone on the other side of the fence. It’s about being passionate about truth and wanting to share it with our fellow human beings on the other side of the fence. It’s about both groups on either side of the fence working together towards unity until the fence is removed. Then we can all rejoice!

  4. November 19, 2009 at 6:29 pm

    Mark,

    Another fantastic post!
    All I can say is ” Amen “.

    God bless,
    gloria
    <
    john 3:16

  5. December 1, 2009 at 10:35 pm

    Yeah, well… we have to do something to have faith in Christ don’t we?

    Right back to square one Mark.

  6. 6 Echo
    December 2, 2009 at 12:39 am

    Romans 10:14-15 “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”

  7. December 2, 2009 at 3:36 am

    Yup hearing and believing.

    All those good works and stuff.

  8. 8 Echo
    December 2, 2009 at 3:53 am

    “All those good works and stuff.”

    That’s not believing, that’s doing. The good news that we bring is that Jesus has done all the doing, believe it.

  9. December 2, 2009 at 5:07 am

    Believing is doing something Echo.

    Play your semantics games all you want. Belief means making a change in yourself. Doing.

  10. 10 Echo
    December 2, 2009 at 6:08 am

    Believing means trusting that Jesus has done all the doing and has left you nothing to do.

    Titus 3:5 “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy”

    Hebrews 10:10 “By that will, we HAVE BEEN made HOLY through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all”

    Doing is unbelief.

  11. December 2, 2009 at 6:31 am

    That’s fine Echo, because I don’t believe that my works merit salvation either. Nor do I think they have the power to make me holy.

    But they are necessary for salvation anyway.

  12. 12 Echo
    December 2, 2009 at 6:47 am

    What does it mean to be Holy Seth?

  13. December 2, 2009 at 8:38 am

    It’s the enabling power of the Atonement in one’s life. It means that through the Atonement you are both justified in the moment of repentance, and drawn to good works by the power of the Atonement working within you.

  14. 14 Echo
    December 2, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    If works are necessary for salvation, how do they not merit salvation at least in part?

  15. December 2, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    Necessary does not equal merit. More accurately, I would say that necessary does not equal sufficient.

    I think a view that certain select works are necessary, but not even remotely sufficient for salvation is fully consistent with the writings of the New Testament.

    All the writings – not just a few isolated proof-texts from Paul.

  16. 16 Echo
    December 2, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    A + B = C

    Salvation is represented by C. If works are nessesary then they are represented by either A or B

  17. December 2, 2009 at 11:14 pm

    Sure.

    But your main beef is that you think that I think I’m earning my salvation.

    Since I don’t, we’re all cool. Right?

  18. 18 Echo
    December 2, 2009 at 11:34 pm

    A and B both contribute to salvation. B represents your works. That is earning your salvation at least in part.

  19. December 3, 2009 at 12:38 am

    Well, I don’t feel that way.

    So there you are.

  20. 20 CJ Douglass
    December 3, 2009 at 3:28 pm

    More accurately, I would say that necessary does not equal sufficient

    Well said Seth.

    Echo, If works are proof that you’ve been saved (not necessary for salvation) then they are still part of equation. Your theology is closer to Seth’s than you think.

    Once again Mark, I think you’re taking the worst of Mormonism and pairing it with the best of Protestant Christianity. I appreciate the respectful tone – but this line of argument starts to get old for us Mormons who have been spiritually born again by the healing power of Jesus – and feel his grace and mercy on a daily basis.

    The whole of the teachings in the Bible are actually quite compatible with LDS teachings of grace/works. For every Paul proof text – there’s a scripture like this:

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you evildoers.”

    Do SOME Mormons focus too little on grace? Certainly? Do SOME Protestants confess Jesus but never really come to know him? Certainly.

  21. 21 CJ Douglass
    December 3, 2009 at 5:44 pm

    To clarify my use of the passage: Its clear here that Jesus is condemning hollow works AND hollow confessions of faith. Doing the will of the Father though – is another thing entirely.

  22. 22 Echo
    December 3, 2009 at 8:55 pm

    CJ said: “Echo, If works are proof that you’ve been saved (not necessary for salvation) then they are still part of equation. Your theology is closer to Seth’s than you think.”

    My theology is farther from Seth’s than you think.

    Works are not necessary for salvation therefore they are NOT part of the equation.

    A+B = salvation. Neither A nor B = works

    Works are something that happens after salvation and therefore are not part of the equation.

  23. 23 Echo
    December 3, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and cast out demons in Your name, and do many mighty works in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from Me, you evildoers.”

    This verse applies to anyone who claims that “B” in the equation A + B = Salvation, stands for “works”. Jesus will say: “I never knew you…”

  24. December 3, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    Or maybe it refers to people who blow-off the commandments Jesus has given us in favor of a cheap grace therapy session.

    You ever consider that possibility Echo?

  25. 25 Echo
    December 3, 2009 at 9:50 pm

    Seth said: “Or maybe it refers to people who blow-off the commandments Jesus has given us in favor of a cheap grace therapy session. You ever consider that possibility Echo?”

    This free grace wasn’t cheap, it *cost* Jesus his life. Have you ever considered the possibility that your rejecting Jesus by rejecting the cost he *paid* in favor of *paying* for it yourself? Jesus will say to you: “I never knew you…”

  26. 26 CJ Douglass
    December 3, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    Echo – The Bible is a body of work – not clip art.

    Also,

    A = B IS in fact an equation.

    You need to start reading Paul in the context of Jesus – not the other way around.

  27. 27 Echo
    December 3, 2009 at 11:26 pm

    CJ said: “Echo – The Bible is a body of work – not clip art.”

    According to the verse below, is the Bible a book about YOU and what YOU do or a book about JESUS and what JESUS did?

    John 5:39 ” You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me,”

    CJ said: “A = B IS in fact an equation.

    You need to start reading Paul in the context of Jesus – not the other way around.”

    A = B stands for Jesus = Salvation

    A is either JESUS or YOU. There are no other options and no mixing of the two together:

    Romans 9:31-33 “but Israel, who pursued a law of righteousness, has not attained it. Why not? Because they pursued it not by faith but as if it were by works. They stumbled over the “stumbling stone.” As it is written:
    “See, I lay in Zion a stone that causes men to stumble
    and a rock that makes them fall,
    and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame

    Romans 11:5 “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace”

  28. 28 Andy
    December 4, 2009 at 2:17 am

    Seth said he isn’t trying to earn his salvation. How do I reconcile that with what Spencer Kimball said (below)? Would Kimball’s statement below get the “head-nod” of approval from the Apostle Paul? Certainly not! If it’s earned, then it’s not a gift. It’s a reward and their is a big difference between the two. Salvation/eternal life is a gift (Romans 6:23).

    Spencer Kimball, 12th LDS President, chastised church members who “are doing nothing seriously wrong except in their failures to do the right things to EARN THEIR SALVATION” [emphasis mine] (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pages 211-212)

    By the way, that’s not an isolated statement. I’ve read many statements like this in regards to earning one’s salvation in other LDS writings. As much as our Mormon friends can’t stand that crowing work by Kimball and say it doesn’t mean anything, I fail to reconcile that with why the LDS Church would have that in their catalog at LDS Distribution as being an official publication of the LDS Church.

  29. December 4, 2009 at 3:45 am

    Yes, it did cost Jesus his life, and he devoted his life to it.

    All the more reason to be saddened when people cheapen it by spitting on his commandments in favor of their own therapy agendas.

  30. 30 ADB
    December 4, 2009 at 4:56 am

    While the faith vs. faith + works = salvation discussion is necessary, I sometimes wonder if it too often ends up focusing on what Jesus said over and above who Jesus was. Finally, at the end of the day, if one denies who Jesus truly was/is, then it is fruitless to debate what he said about soteriology, right? If one fails to see Jesus as the one true God, then the rest matters very little, in my opinion.

  31. 31 Echo
    December 4, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Seth, you know we believe in and desire to obey the commandments so why do you say that we spit on his commandments? Why would you want to bear false testimony against us?

    Your SIN was nailed to the cross.

    When you believe you must overcome your sin IN ORDER TO BE FORGIVEN and to GAIN EXALTATION, you are saying your sin wasn’t nailed to the cross.

    What is it exactly that you believe Jesus has done for you?

  32. December 4, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Because your rhetoric is so cartoonishly over the top Echo.

    That’s why,

    If you actually believe in righteous works, then start talking like it, and quit posting rubbish phrases like “the sin of trying.”

  33. 33 Echo
    December 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    ADB, can you explain a little more what you mean?

  34. 34 Echo
    December 4, 2009 at 3:48 pm

    Seth,

    We do believe in doing righteous works. But those works have no place in the doctrine of how a person is saved and that is why we don’t discuss them when we are talking about the doctrine of how we are saved. Nor am I the one who posted the phrase: “the sin of trying”

    Your SIN was nailed to the cross.

    When you believe you must overcome your sin IN ORDER TO BE FORGIVEN and to GAIN EXALTATION, you are saying your sin wasn’t nailed to the cross.

    What is it exactly that you believe Jesus has done for you?

  35. 35 Echo
    December 4, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Seth, I say this with a heavy heart and as a freind. You say you believe in doing righteous works yet you fail to do righteous works. You attack people instead of attacking doctrine to save people, you slander, you give false testimony. Do you really believe in doing righteous works? I mean…do you REALLY believe in doing righteous works?

    The problem here is deeper than you think. Your sin was nailed to the cross but you are saying your sin wasn’t nailed to the cross. What is it exactly that you believe Jesus has done for you that motivates you to do righteous works?

  36. December 4, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    Echo, I am well aware that you personally believe in righteous works.

    I’m just pointing out that your rhetoric absolutely says otherwise. And your theological paradigm completely rules out such belief.

    I believe you hold a belief in righteous works, but you only hold it because you don’t understand the theological paradigm you are pushing.

  37. 37 ADB
    December 5, 2009 at 3:44 pm

    It looks like my point is essentially covered in Mark’s newest post, “Who is Jesus?”

  38. 38 Echo
    December 5, 2009 at 7:12 pm

    Seth,

    Could it be you that doesn’t understand the theological paradigm that you are pushing?

    Here is what I believe:

    In thinking of our physical birth to our parents on this earth, everyone realizes that a newborn baby didn’t obey any commandments their parents had given them in order to be born into this world. That baby was born, not because of anything the baby had done, but because of the love of the parents.
    I compare that to how we are saved (born again) into God’s family. Everyone is saved (born again) not because of anything that they do, not because they obeyed any of God’s commandments, but they were saved (born again) solely because of the love of Jesus.

    In the same way that a new born baby has security and certainty that his parent’s home is his home apart from anything he had done, so also we have the security and certainty that the celestial kingdom is our home the moment we first were saved (born again.) This security and certainty comes with birth as a birth right and not because we obeyed the commandments of God. We also have the security and certainty that all our sins are forgiven apart from anything we do because that too doesn’t depend on our desire or effort but depends solely on God’s mercy. All this security and certainty is ours because God is our Father who loves us.

    That is what it means for us to be saved. Once we are saved, our life as God’s children begins.

    In the same way that a newborn will be raised and shown the good way in which they should go, so also our Heavenly Father, once we are saved, will then show us the good way in which we should go. This is where the commandments come in. As you can see from my explanation, the commandments aren’t a condition to being saved into the celestial kingdom but rather, they are the result of our already having been saved.

    Now think of the theological paradigm that you are pushing Seth.

  39. December 6, 2009 at 1:09 am

    More of the same Echo. We’ve had our back-and-forth.

    I see little point in having a round 34.

  40. 40 adb
    April 29, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    “We are, therefore, not properly stating the case when we say God is gracious to all men, even to sinners. God extends his grace to all men because they are sinners. That is their only hope. And that is God’s true purpose and intention, to be gracious and merciful to sinners. Only sinners have claim to the grace of God. Only sinners, and all sinners.”


Comments are currently closed.

November 2009
M T W T F S S
« Oct   Dec »
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30  

Blog Stats

  • 182,226 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 998 other followers


%d bloggers like this: