10
Mar
10

Paradise

     This week I am preaching on the story of the thief on the cross.  Unfortunately the word thief doesn’t convey to us how bad a person he was.  He was a very bad man.  He himself admitted that when he told the other criminal:  “And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds.”  (Luke 23:41)    That’s quite a statement seeing that crucifixion was reserved for the worst of criminals.  It was not used for common criminals. This was an evil man.

     That makes all the more striking the brief dialogue between him and Jesus.  “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.  And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  (Luke 23: 42-43)

     First, what an amazing confession of sin when the man admits that he deserves crucifixion!  Then what an amazing confession of faith and trust in Jesus when he not only addresses him as Lord, but then boldly asks that he remember him when he comes to his kingdom!  Both his addressing Jesus as Lord and the mention of his kingdom show that this man had come to know who Jesus was.  Even more startling is his request that Jesus remember him.  He would only make that request if he knew Jesus was merciful and forgiving.  Otherwise being noticed by King Jesus would be the last thing he would want!

     Down through the centuries, Christians have treasured this story as a wonderful example that being with Jesus hinges on trusting in his mercy rather than on being and doing good. This man was evil.  He would die in a matter of hours.  He would have no chance to work a process of repentance.  But still Jesus reassured him that that very day he would be with him.  I repeat: what a wonderful example of the fact that our being with Jesus depends entirely on his mercy and not on our works.

     The LDS Church, however, sees it differently.  The LDS Bible Dictionary says:  “For example, when Jesus purportedly said to the thief on the cross, ‘Today shalt thou be with me in paradise’, the Bible rendering is incorrect.  The statement would more accurately read, ‘Today shalt thou be with me in the word of spirits’ since the thief was not ready for paradise.”

      Here is what its manual on the New Testament says: “To the thief on the cross who asked to be remembered after death, the Savior responded to give him what hope he could:  ‘Today shalt thou be with me in paradise, ‘That is to say, today you shall be with me in the world of spirits, where you will be taught the gospel and your inquires will be answered. (See Smith, Teachings, p.309)  Jesus did not lend any credence to a death-bed repentance or (sic) the malefactor.  What Jesus did do was give recognition to the seeds of faith and repentance which were evidenced by a penitent man.  As always, the Lord’s efforts were directed toward offering as much hope as possible to one who would turn from darkness unto that everlasting light.”  (Life and Teachings. . .p. 186, emphasis added)

     What comfort is that?  What hope is that?  According to LDS teaching, couldn’t Jesus have said that same thing to the other criminal hanging there who was reviling him?  Doesn’t everybody, according to LDS teaching, go the world of spirits, when they die?  According to LDS teaching, didn’t the other criminal have the opportunity to have the gospel preached to him in the spirit world?    Mormonism’s explanation doesn’t even make sense in the context of its own teachings.

     I don’t know about you, but I’m going to take Jesus’ words at face value.  Once again this week I will praise the Lord who tells me that I will be with him for all eternity solely because of what he has done for me. 

            Amazing grace how sweet the sound-

            That saved a wretch like me!

            I once was lost but now am found,

            Was blind but now I see.

Advertisements

82 Responses to “Paradise”


  1. 1 faithoffathers
    March 11, 2010 at 3:39 am

    Mark,

    I think your view of paradise and hell are oversimplified, at least when compared to the religion of the Bible and that observed in ancient times, even in the OT.

    Consider shoel- the resting place of the dead until the resurrection. This was recognized by the Jews all along. In the OT, it was viewed as the resting place for both righteous and wicked. There were widely accepted traditions of this place being divided up according to a person’s righteousness in life. The enochic literature as well as the apocolypse of Zephaniah are very descriptive in explaining these divisions.

    Sheol is in contrast to Gehenna, which according to the ancient Jews, was the final hell for the wicked.

    There are too many references to sheol in the old and new testament to list here. But suffice it to say, it was not the final place to which a soul was sent.

    Your view on this subject is in opposition to the bulk of traditional Christianity, not just LDS. From Catholics, to Calvin, almost all believed that Christ descended into sheol, or hell, and broke the gates, saving the souls of the righteous from its containment.

    Consider the verses in the NT that describe Christ teaching the souls in prison or paradise. It is actually a doctrine quite clearly described in the NT. And it isn’t spiritual prison of those in spiritual darkness in this life.

    This is a point of theology that I think the modern evangelical struggles with. It is honestly very difficult to reconcile the scriptures with the simple belief of going either to heaven or hell right after a person dies.

    The LDS doctrine of a temporary spirit world is quite consistent with the ancient Jewish belief as well as the New Testament.

    I don’t see how the LDS view of the thief on the cross is contradictory. Christ statement to the thief was not necessarily exclusive. Did He say “today shalt thou be with me in paradise, but he won’t?” Your argument doesn’t hold up. And, in light of their beliefs about the immediate afterlife, you have a hard time demonstrating that Christ was referring to the final “heaven.”

    fof

  2. 2 markcares
    March 11, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    FOF:
    But Jesus didn’t use the word “Sheol”. He used the word “paradise”. It is used only three times in the New Testament. Here and in 2 Corinthians 12:4 and Revelation 2:7. In 2 Corinthians Paul uses it as a synonym of the “third heaven” which the LDS Bible equates with celestrial glory. In Revelation 2:7 it is where the tree of life is. Sheol and Paradise are not describing the same thing.
    On another point. Are you saying that Jesus could have said the exact same thing to the other thief?

  3. March 13, 2010 at 6:05 pm

    Christian scholar N.T. Wright agrees that “paradise” is not the final heavenly destination post-judgment. He described paradise as kind of a holding pattern prior to the final judgment and final heaven – a heaven that will be located on this earth itself.

    So this is hardly a uniquely Mormon idea, and it is not without it’s Biblical support.

  4. 4 Echo
    March 13, 2010 at 11:57 pm

    The point is that Paradise in LDS beliefs is for the righteous. The Thief on the cross went to paradise with the righteous, without ever having to do anything to prove he was repentant.

  5. March 14, 2010 at 2:07 am

    Actually, his words and attitude already demonstrated something of a repentant attitude.

    As for what the two men’s crimes were, we don’t really know.

    I assume they were political criminals – those were the kind the Romans most often saved crucifixion for. I wouldn’t call opposing the Roman government the most reprehensible thing in the world.

    All in all, I don’t see this incident as scoring any sort of points for one side of the grace-works thing or the other.

  6. March 14, 2010 at 3:24 am

    In LDS belief, no one cares about you proving you are repentant or not. God looks upon the heart. And I’m sure he looked upon the heart of the thief and found it repentant.

    Issue resolved.

  7. 7 RLO
    March 14, 2010 at 4:32 am

    Echo said: “The Thief on the cross went to paradise with the righteous, without ever having to do anything to prove he was repentant.”

    I don’t see repentance as something we “prove,” but rather as something we “are,” and thus demonstrate in our lives.

    Seth said: “Actually, his words and attitude already demonstrated something of a repentant attitude.”

    For Seth, I agree with you, although, I don’t believe Echo was actually suggesting otherwise.

    For Echo, I would have to agree with Seth on this specific point. The thief on the cross did demonstrate sorrow for his sins, he acknowledged those sins with his admonishment to the second thief, and he did demonstrate his faith by turning to Christ as his only hope for salvation. Obviously, his time of grace was being cut short, severely short, which limited how he would ever be able to further demonstrate that faith. Or as Mark said: “He would have no chance to work a process of repentance.”

    Granted, we never want to squander our time of grace, or encourage others to do so. But even so, look at the example this thief gives to a person today who comes to faith late in life; a person who may be agnonizing over whether it is too late or not; whether God’s grace is still available for them or not. But if God’s grace extended even to the thief on the cross, moments before his death by crucifixion, then the man today who repents late in life, too, can die with the assurance that God’s grace extends to him also. He is one of those hired in the eleventh hour.

  8. 8 RLO
    March 14, 2010 at 4:42 am

    Seth: “God looks upon the heart. And I’m sure he looked upon the heart of the thief and found it repentant.”

    Precisely. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    But I do have a question: Where is the “worthiness” of the thief on the cross?

  9. March 14, 2010 at 5:30 am

    Who knows?

    Suppose it depends on how the thief spends his time after death and before judgment doesn’t it?

    Once again, it’s important not to mix up the concepts of justification and sanctification (even though Protestants and Mormons do it all the time).

  10. March 14, 2010 at 5:31 am

    Basically, justification had already occurred for the thief, but sanctification was yet to come.

  11. 11 RLO
    March 14, 2010 at 5:58 am

    “Suppose it depends on how the thief spends his time after death and before judgment doesn’t it?”

    Hebrews 9:27 doesn’t suggest there is a period of time for sanctification between death and judgment.

  12. March 14, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Why not?

    He died around 33 AD. Judgment still hasn’t happened yet.

    Hebrew 9:27:

    “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,”

    Yes, and all this says is that judgment is AFTER death. Which is perfectly consistent with my position as well.

  13. 13 jm
    March 14, 2010 at 7:28 am

    Jhn 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    JUSTIFY – 2 A archaic : to administer justice to B archaic : absolve C : to judge, regard, or treat as righteous and worthy of salvation

    SANTIFY – 2 : to free from sin

    Luk 23:40 But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation?

    Luk 23:41 And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss.

    Luk 23:42 And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into THY KINGDOM.

    Luk 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

    Is it not beautiful. The first person to die after Jesus, that he santified and justified was a sinner being put to death.

  14. March 14, 2010 at 7:37 am

    It’s beautiful. But you have no proof here that Jesus sanctified the thief on the cross. Merely vague implications to that effect based on how you WANT the text to read (due to a preconceived theological agenda.

  15. 15 jm
    March 14, 2010 at 6:12 pm

    Jesus santifies (frees’ from sin) and justifies (judge,s righteous for salvation).

    Jhn 14:6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

    Luk 23:43 And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.

    There,s nothing vague from what Jesus say’s. But due to your preconceived theological agenda.
    You refuse to see it.

  16. March 14, 2010 at 6:29 pm

    Yes, Mormon doctrine speaks of Jesus as an enabler for the process of sanctification as well.

    But that doesn’t prove the thief was sanctified right then and there. Nothing you’ve said proves this.

  17. 17 Echo
    March 14, 2010 at 6:51 pm

    Acts 26:17-18 “I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those WHO ARE SANCTIFIED BY FAITH IN ME.’

    1 Corinthians 6:11 “And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, YOU WERE SANCTIFIED, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

    Hebrews 10:29 “How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing THE BLOOD OF THE
    COVENANT THAT SANCTIFIED HIM, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?”

    Hebrews 10:10 “By the which will we are SANCTIFIED THROUGH the offering of the body of Jesus Christ ONCE FOR ALL.”

    Hebrews 10:14 “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

  18. March 14, 2010 at 8:03 pm

    Yes. Which is consistent with my earlier statement that Christ is an enabler of the process of sanctification.

  19. 19 Echo
    March 14, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    1 Corinthians 6:11 says you WERE sanctified. Past/present tense. Not: “you will be sanctified”

    Hebrews 10:29 “THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT THAT SANCTIFIED HIM” Past/present tense

  20. March 14, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    Yes, but putting this in past tense does not mean the work of sanctification is done. Paul is talking to men and women who have BEEN going through the process of sanctification. But it doesn’t rule out that process continuing from this point forward.

    You’ll have to point to something else to make this point.

  21. 21 RLO
    March 15, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Seth;

    Regarding the Hebrews 9:27 passage,

    You are assuming sanctification continues after death, where Hebrews does not specifically state that it does.
    I am not assuming sanctification continues after death, where Hebrews does not specifically state that it does.

    And you see these two assumptions as equally valid?

    Furthermore, if sanctification were to continue after death, would you not think it a significant enough truth that God would want to clearly and explicitly communicate such a truth to his people? Yet the notion of a sanctification after death is conspicuous by its absence between “death” and “judgment” in this Hebrews passage, and elsewhere in the Bible.

  22. March 15, 2010 at 6:33 am

    I don’t consider theology to be limited to the Bible, so that line of argument doesn’t really work with me.

    Neither do I believe in inerrancy, so that’s two strikes for your argument.

    Try something else.

  23. 23 RLO
    March 15, 2010 at 7:12 am

    Try something else? No, but thanks. I’ll stick with inerrancy and sola scriptura.

  24. March 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    Then I don’t think we have anything else to talk about here.

    Best wishes.

  25. March 15, 2010 at 5:34 pm

    Seth ::: I was just speaking about this very thing with my LDS husband a few weeks back. Do you think your thoughts/views about this passage about the thief on the cross are indictive of most LDS? You say you believe he was justified. I ask because my husband had a completely different take on this passage.

    I also agree with you, God looks at the heart.

  26. March 15, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    I don’t really know.

    I don’t hold Protestants bound by the doctrinal views of their lay membership, and I would expect the same courtesy from Protestant bloggers about my own religion.

  27. 27 Echo
    March 16, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Seth: “Yes, but putting this in past tense does not mean the work of sanctification is done. Paul is talking to men and women who have BEEN going through the process of sanctification. But it doesn’t rule out that process continuing from this point forward. You’ll have to point to something else to make this point.”

    We do go through a process of sanctification wherein we become more like Jesus. However, these passages that I gave you aren’t talking about that process of sanctification. They are talking about what Jesus has done for us. Those passages I gave are refering to us having already been sanctified…

    Jesus declared us Holy, blameless and spotless and that remains unchangable.
    To try to explain it more clearly, imagine Jesus’ sinless perfection as a robe of righteousness. Jesus puts that robe of righteousness on us. We wear that robe from the moment of conversion and on throughout our lives, even in death. Whenever God looks at us, all he sees is that perfection. That robe Jesus gave us. The perfection of Jesus. This is also the reason why we know we have eternal life in the celestial kingdom. Perfection is required to enter the celestial kingdom (no unclean thing can enter God’s presence) and Jesus met those demands for us and credited all that he did to our accounts. Therefore we can be certain that we are completely clean!

    That is our STATUS before God. A status that is ours through faith alone apart from any works or anything we have done or will do. That Good News gives us grateful and thankful hearts!

    Now underneath that robe is our STATE, it is hidden under our STATUS. But since we have such an awesome Status before God that we certainly don’t deserve it or could never earn it, we now desire to become in STATE what we already are in STATUS out of thanks to God for crediting us with that Status.

  28. March 16, 2010 at 1:14 am

    You’ll have to do a bit more to scripturally demonstrate that Echo.

  29. 29 RLO
    March 16, 2010 at 3:40 am

    A few posts earlier you said you don’t consider theology to be limited to the Bible, nor do you believe in inerrancy, and that since I do subscribe to inerrancy and sola scriptura, you didn’t think we had anything else to talk about. And I’ll respect that. Though I wonder now, what Echo providing you scriptural support could possibly accomplish, since you have pretty much shown you will simply dismiss it.

  30. 30 Echo
    March 16, 2010 at 3:43 am

    Romans 1:16-17 “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last”

    Don’t get thrown off by the usage of the term “gospel” here. We believe the gospel is the “Good News” of what Jesus alone has done for us with regards to our STATUS as I explained in my previous post. It’s important to note that it is different from how the LDS defines: “gospel”.

    But here in this verse, there is a righteousness ***FROM*** God, then as the verse says: “by faith from first to last”. That is like saying: “by faith first, faith last. Or “by faith period” Or “by faith alone” or “It begins and ends with faith” something along those lines. No works, nothing you or I do. It’s a righteousness FROM God, it’s not a righteousness that we “do” or “follow.”

    Romans 10:19-20 “19Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”

    Notice in the above verses that the PURPOSE of the law (10 commandments, Jesus sermon on the mount etc) was to make us conscious of sin and to hold us accountable to God, to silence EVERY mouth and to show us that NONE OF US will be declared righteous through the law. Not now, not ever, not even after we become believers or at anytime during the rest of our lives. The law always has and always will demand perfection of us and nothing short of perfection. No unclean thing can enter God’s presence. The purpose of the law (10 commandments, Jesus sermon on the mount etc) then is to show us it is impossible for us to become righteous because of our many sins and the law only leads us to despair of ever going anywhere other than outer darkness. But God is showing this for our GOOD, to lead us to see what he himself has done to rescue us.

    Because the law convicts us of sin, (and we all sin daily whether we realize it or not) we will NEVER be declared righteous through obedience to the law. (10 commandments, Jesus sermon on the mount etc) All fall short, therefore all deserve only God’s wrath, here is what the apostle Paul says about HIMSELF as a BELIEVER as well as others:

    Romans 3:5 “But if our unrighteousness brings out God’s righteousness more clearly, what shall we say? That God is unjust in bringing his wrath on us?”

    The Apostle Paul is speaking as a saved believer in the verse above and is speaking in present tense and including himself…

    Then he goes on to say this about us all:

    Romans 3:9-18 ” 9What shall we conclude then? Are we any better? Not at all! We have already made the charge that Jews and Gentiles alike are all under sin.
    As it is written:
    “There is no one righteous, not even one;
    there is no one who understands,
    no one who seeks God.
    All have turned away,
    they have together become worthless;
    there is no one who does good,
    not even one.”
    “Their throats are open graves;
    their tongues practice deceit.”
    “The poison of vipers is on their lips.”
    “Their mouths are full of cursing and bitterness.”
    “Their feet are swift to shed blood;
    ruin and misery mark their ways,
    and the way of peace they do not know.”
    “There is no fear of God before their eyes.”

    That’s us! That’s all of us!

    The whole point of Paul’s message so far is that we can only despair! We have no hope trusting in anything we do because the law will always show us our sins and the wrath we deserve because of our sins.

    Romans 3:21 “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.”

    This is a significant verse, read it carefully… “NOW a righteousness ***FROM*** God….” Not a law of righteousness that we follow but a righteousness FROM God, “APART from the LAW” Not a law of righteousness but a righteousness without the law, a righteousness Jesus credits to us, a new STATUS before God…

    Romans 3:22-24 “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”

    This righteousness ***from God*** comes through faith. Faith is defined as trusting in the promises of God. So this righteousness that God promised, comes through trusting this promise, this very word, this very teaching in and of itself. This righteousness doesn’t come through faith and works but through faith alone. “ALL have sinned and fall short”… “and are justified FREELY by grace” Freely means without doing anything on our part. It’s a free righteousness made ours personally through faith.

    Romans 3:27-28 “Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law.”

    Very clearly, we are justified (declared righteous) not through obedience to the law, but through faith alone. Obedience to the law is works and the passage says that we are not justified by observing the law(obedience to the law i.e. works).

    Romans 4:1-3 “What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather, discovered in this matter? If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. What does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

    Abraham did good works(state), but he wasn’t justified before God for doing good works(status)
    He was justified before God (status) through believing God and therefore had nothing to boast about.

    Romans 4:4-5 “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.”

    Think about having a job, you work and then you get paid. That payment is not a gift, it’s your employer’s obligation to pay you because you did work for him. This passage therefore explains that a man who thinks he must do works to gain the celestial kingdom is claiming or implying by his very beliefs that God is obligated to “pay” him with entrance into the celestial kingdom. (whether he realizes it or not.) But an “obligation” is not a “gift.” The Bible says that God gives the “gift.” If we work for it, it is no longer a gift. If it’s no longer a gift, we forfeit the gift and then must do the work. We already know the work demands perfection. Then the verse goes on to say who the gift is given to. Not the one who works for it but it is given to the wicked. It’s the wicked, not those who do their best to be obedient to God’s laws, that are credited with this righteousness. Makes sense doesn’t it? If any work we do turns a gift into an obligation, then its no longer a gift therefore the gift can only be given to those who don’t work for it. That leaves only the wicked…

    Romans 4:6-8 “David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the man to whom GOD CREDITS RIGHTEOUSNESS APART FROM WORKS:
    “Blessed are they
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
    Blessed is the man
    whose sin the Lord will never count against him” (emphasis mine)

    A righteousness given as a gift to the wicked makes much sense in light of “apart from works” That’s the ONLY way it can be a gift.

    Romans 4:14-15 ” For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.”

    If we think we become heirs because we try our best to live according to the law, even if we are believing we are forgiven when we produce fruits of such a faith, faith has no value because then righteousness could be attained through the law. This came up in our discussion on perfect honesty. The LDS believes they can be perfectly honest therefore they are obligated to do just that. That is for certain. And if the LDS believes they can be perfectly honest then faith has no value and the promise is worthless because then righteousness can be attained through the law rather than through a promise so the promise is worthless. Whether or not the LDS believe they can be perfectly honest, I don’t believe anyone, LDS or NON LDS can. The law will bring wrath just as the verse says any time anyone fails to be perfectly honest and it will also bring that same wrath in the judgment for those who have failed to reach the goal of perfect honesty but believed they could. Everyone who believes they can reach perfect honesty is obligated to do so and when they fail at that obligation, your own conscience will testify against you and there will be only wrath. But we can’t obtain righteousness through the law because we never produce every fruit of faith needed in order to be completely forgiven. (no unclean thing can enter God’s presence.) The verse reminds us that the law brings WRATH not righteousness to us sinners. But now Jesus has nailed the law that stood apposed to us and was against us to the cross! (including the LDS law to be perfectly honest) Col 2:14 “having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.” The law that leaves us deserving only God’s wrath was put to death on the cross!

    Romans 4:17 “…the God who gives life to the dead and calls things that are not as though they were.”

    The God who gives life to us! We are dead in trespasses and sins! He calls us righteous though we are not (“calls things that are not [righteous] as though they were [righteous]”).

    Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

    WE NOW stand in Grace, We don’t stand in grace after we have done all we can do. We stand in Grace NOW because Jesus has done all he can do, FOR US. That is our STATUS.

    Romans 5:6-11 “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the UNGODLY. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: WHILE WE WERE STILL SINNERS, Christ died for us. Since we have now been JUSTIFIED BY HIS BLOOD, how much more shall we be SAVED FROM GOD’S WRATH THROUGH HIM! For if, when WE WERE GOD’S ENEMIES, WE WERE RECONCILED TO HIM through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! Not only is this so, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have NOW RECIEVED RECONCILIATION.”

    Here we are, UNGODLY SINNERS justified and therefore reconciled by HIS blood. WE can KNOW we are going to the celestial kingdom! We are perfectly clean!

    1 Corinthians 1:30 “It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.”

    This verse is awesome! Read it carefully. Jesus(not us) has become FOR US: our righteousness.

    Galatians 2:21 “I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!”

    Galatians 3:6 “Consider Abraham: “He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”
    (faith alone)

    Galatians 3:21-22 “Is the law, therefore, opposed to the promises of God? Absolutely not! For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. But the Scripture declares that the whole world is a PRISONER OF SIN, so that what was promised, BEING GIVEN THROUGH FAITH in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.”

    Phillipians 3:9 “and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ—the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith.”

    This verse above says: “not having a righteousness of my own…” But a righteousness that comes through faith (faith is alone) A righteousness FROM GOD not from obedience to the law.

  31. March 16, 2010 at 4:49 am

    I actually take the Bible quite seriously. And I will consider scripture that demands a certain result as persuasive.

    However, when you are arguing a position that is only one of two or more possibilities under the Biblical text, and your only argument ruling out one of the options is “well the Bible doesn’t explicitly contain that possibility” – no I’m not going to take that line of argument all that seriously.

  32. 32 RLO
    March 16, 2010 at 4:58 am

    Okay, my line of argument aside, if you do not believe in inerrancy, or in the sufficiency of scripture, then it difficult for me to grasp how you can say you take the Bible quite seriously.

    What parts do you take seriously?
    What parts do you not take seriously?
    How do you determine between the two?
    Seems such an approach is slippery.

  33. March 16, 2010 at 5:39 am

    Romans 1:16-17

    Doesn’t make your point and supports my position just as much as your position. I also happen to believe that righteousness is from God. But that doesn’t change my position.

    As for your claim of “different Gospel”… like claims of “different Jesus” I no longer take this kind of hot air rhetoric that seriously. So far you’ve provided no support that the LDS Gospel is any more different from Paul’s than a Berean Baptist’s is.

    As for the quote “by faith from first to last” – this doesn’t make your point either.

    I also agree that you should be performing good works in light of faith – from first to last.

    Next verse…

    Romans 10:19-20

    For the record, Mormons do not believe in being declared righteous by the law either. Mormon theology posits justification through Christ alone. But that doesn’t rule out rewards in heaven according to perseverance in the life in Christ. This verse seems to be talking about the justification half of the story. But it provides not real indication that it is talking about both halves of the story.

    As for the law demanding perfection – good thing that whole justification part is taken care of. It allows Mormons to move on from that and start focusing productively on the process of sanctification.

    As for your claim that perfection is impossible – do you believe in the Atonement or don’t you? If you believe that Christ’s Atonement does not have the power to perfect you RIGHT NOW – in this life – then I would posit that you are limiting the Atonement. Christ’s Atonement is more than just getting your tally sheet right with a “pass” sticker. It is about uplifting and perfecting your marriage RIGHT NOW. It is about making you a better person right now. It is about lifting the man of Christ to a better an higher life here and now.

    What you have done is essentially limit the Atonement to some future judgment after death. This is a rather unfortunate handicap on a theological concept that was meant to be far, far more powerful and far-reaching.

    Yes, the part of justification is unattainable via good works. But by stopping your theology there, you’ve sold your own theology short.

    Next…

    Romans 3:5; 9-18

    Again, you are stuck on the justification end of things and refuse to move the ball any further, into the life of sanctification that Christ offers us. Justification was meant to be something that enables us to unite with Christ and improve our own lives here and now. It wasn’t meant to be the dead end you seem to be painting it as. Throwing out more and more verses from Paul speaking of justification is not advancing your argument that justification is the end of the story.

    The whole point of Paul’s message was that we HAD cause to despair. But, being now justified in Christ, we have a much better hope of a life of righteousness and progression in Christ. All that is left for us now is to renew our faith in Christ, and bring forth fruits meet for repentance in the form of a progressively more righteous life enabled by the Atonement.

    Romans 3:21

    Another justification verse. You’re not making any progress here. Where did I ever say that righteousness does not come from God? Mormon theology stipulates that righteousness comes from God. We merely make the free choice to participate in that or not. A choice we must renew throughout our lives.

    Romans 3:22-24

    Same story. Nothing new is brought to the argument here. Righteous works are enabled via Christ. Renewing our bond with him via the Atonement is the true work of “enduring to the end”, the temple rituals, our entire theology.

    Romans 3:27-28

    Again, justification – no indication that sanctification and justification are the same thing. Neither does Mormon theology encourage boasting. Those who do have sadly misread Mormon scripture on this point.

    Romans 4:1-3

    You’ve missed the key point here that Abraham was able to offer God something here that was “credited” to him by God – his belief – his willingness to enter into a free relationship with God. And by this relationship, the good works of Abraham proceeded.

    I’m seeing a pattern here – you are simply quoting a lot of justification verses. But you are offering no convincing argument that justification is the end of the story.

    Romans 4:4-5

    Yes, this has been my argument from the start. I fail to see your point.

    I think the wages model is also a wrong-headed model for attaining Celestial glory. It is a gift. But you’ve ignored a facet of our past discussions. A person can reject a gift. And he can reject it at ANY stage of his life – even after having saving faith in Christ, he is still free to reject it later. Something we must guard against and hold fast to our faith and relationship in Jesus. Nothing you have said convinces me that it is not possible to fall from grace later in life – thus the need for the LDS concept of enduring to the end, and the ritual renewal of our covenant relationship with God via Christ’s Atonement.

    Romans 4:6-8

    Yes, the Lord will never count the sin against a man – as long as he maintains that saving relationship. If he abandons it however…

    Romans 4:14-15

    More explanation of the justification equation. You’ve still not convinced. The LDS do believe a person can be perfectly honest.

    We believe in the power of the Atonement. Don’t you? That doesn’t mean we don’t expect to mess up and backslide. But we have a pattern for covenant renewal in Jesus Christ that can move us forward. But seizing upon it is up to us. Belief in the possibility of perfection is not a denial of the Atonement. It is the Atonement’s highest realization – as a principle that matters NOW and not just at the final judgment.

    ” For if those who live by law are heirs, faith has no value and the promise is worthless, because law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.”

    Yes, the Law was put to death on the cross – and arose in three days in the form of Jesus Christ himself – a higher law, a higher reality. A new covenant for us to enter into.

    Romans 4:17

    Yes, God gives us life. No disagreement there. And yet you are no further toward establishing your argument.

    Romans 5:1-2

    Yes – you and I do not stand in grace.

    So… What are you going to do about it?

    Romans 5:6-11

    Yes, we have received reconciliation in Christ. But again, you’re only telling half the story. You focus only on justification and ignore the path Christ has set before you. What is needed now is to see how committed you are to this Atonement and its power. Is it just a one-time shot for you? Merely a source of relief and escape from guilt? Or are you willing to take it further and see how far faith in Jesus Christ can take you? The question is not whether you will get to heaven. We all shall receive far more reward than we could ever hope to deserve (in fact, we deserve none of it). Short of an outright, rebellious and fully-knowing rejection of God, we shall all see heaven. the only thing we are talking about now is which of the mansions in heaven you aspire to. Do you have the faith in Jesus Christ to let his Atonement raise you up to heights you never dreamed of – not just in the afterlife – but here and now – today?

    1 Corinthians 1:30

    Yes – Jesus does fully enable our righteousness. See above.

    Galatians 2:21

    Mormon theology does not claim that righteousness can be gained through the law. Only through Christ. See above.

    Galatians 3:6

    No, not faith alone. Faith that enabled greater things in Abraham. This doesn’t steal any glory from God. Rather, it puts God firmly at the center and source of a righteous life.

    Galatians 3:21-22

    See above. Nothing new here.

    Phillipians 3:9

    See above my argument that righteousness proceeds from and is enabled by Christ.

    Echo, I’m glad that you are celebrating Christ’s work of justification. But I would suggest it’s time you stopped holding onto your guilt and moved on into the blessed life that God has in store for you.

    Yes, God has justified you.

    And now he has work for you to do. Make sure that in your celebration of your status in Christ, you don’t let it pass you by. It would be a shame to waste such glorious opportunity.

  34. March 16, 2010 at 5:40 am

    Why do you have to believe in inerrancy to take the Bible seriously?

  35. 35 Echo
    March 16, 2010 at 6:36 am

    Seth, thank you for your post, we have a great base now for discussion. Let’s go through it all in smaller chunks.

    I just want to clear one thing up with you first if I may…

    You said: “As for your claim of “different Gospel”… like claims of “different Jesus” I no longer take this kind of hot air rhetoric that seriously. So far you’ve provided no support that the LDS Gospel is any more different from Paul’s than a Berean Baptist’s is.

    The LDS defines the gospel this way: “In its fulness, the gospel includes all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom. The Savior has promised that if we endure to the end, faithfully living the gospel, He will hold us guiltless before the Father at the Final Judgment (see 3 Nephi 27:16).” (www.lds.org A-Z index)

    I would define gospel this way: “In its fulness, the gospel does NOT include all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom. That is to say, the gospel contains no list of things we need to do to be exalted but rather, the gospel is a message of a list of things that Jesus has done for us to ensure that we indeed will be exalted and can know that with certainty even now. Jesus has promised us even now that we are and will be held as guiltless before the Father at the Final judgment because of what he alone has done.

    I don’t point these differences out to discredit your view. I point it out so that you might consider it in trying to see how I interpret that verse.

  36. 36 RLO
    March 16, 2010 at 6:52 am

    Seth: “Why do you have to believe in inerrancy to take the Bible seriously?”

    I believe that because God wants me to know Him, He reveals to me everything I need to know about Him in the Bible. And I simply trust that he has done so in an inerrant manner.

    I read:

    “…your word is truth.”

    I read:

    “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

    And if there is anything in all of God’s word that is “not” the truth, then there must be something, somewhere, in “All of Scripture” that is “not” useful.

    …and God would be a liar. He would be untrustworthy.

    No. I trust God has put the truth into my hands. Not something that merely contains some truths, but “The Truth.”

    This is why I, I, must believe in inerrancy in order to take the Bible seriously.

    Does everything He has told me about Himself “make sense” to me? Is everything “reasonable?” Absolutely not. Do I nonetheless believe it? Absolutely. Why? Because I take him at His word that everything it says is true.

    And the fact that it does not always “make sense” to me, that it is not always “reasonable,” only illustrates to what extent “reason” contributes to my believing. I cannot allow my “reason” to stand in judgment of Scripture.

    I must allow scripture to shape my thoughts, rather than allowing my thoughts to shape scripture.

    Does this sound like foolishness to you?

    I can only imagine it does.

  37. 37 Echo
    March 16, 2010 at 6:53 am

    Seth, you had alot to say in your post here and there about my being stuck on justification and it ending there. Here are a few of those comments:

    “Again, you are stuck on the justification end of things and refuse to move the ball any further, into the life of sanctification that Christ offers us. Justification was meant to be something that enables us to unite with Christ and improve our own lives here and now. It wasn’t meant to be the dead end you seem to be painting it as. Throwing out more and more verses from Paul speaking of justification is not advancing your argument that justification is the end of the story”

    and…

    “Is it just a one-time shot for you? Merely a source of relief and escape from guilt? Or are you willing to take it further and see how far faith in Jesus Christ can take you?”

    and…

    “You focus only on justification and ignore the path Christ has set before you. What is needed now is to see how committed you are to this Atonement and its power.”

    Etc.

    Just to clear things up a bit. When I am talking about our STATUS before God, I am talking about Justification. Sanctification comes AFTER Justification, not before and not during justification. I did refer to and do believe in the process of sanctification which I did mention earlier to you when I refered to our STATE rather than our STATUS.

    However, in my last post to which you responded with all these above comments, I was discussing our STATUS with you, not our STATE, so that is why there is no mention of sanctification in that post. We can discuss both STATUS and STATE but I think we should discuss one at a time otherwise we are covering too much territory at once. We already have alot of territory to discuss just on one of those topics.

    So lets lay aside sanctification for a time and discuss justification since that comes first.

    You said: “I also happen to believe that righteousness is from God.”

    Can you explain what you believe about this in more detail for me? How is righteousness from God in your beliefs?

  38. March 16, 2010 at 7:12 am

    It would be more credible if it wasn’t clear to me that your own agenda is shaping how you read the Bible. Not that I expect you to ever admit this.

  39. March 16, 2010 at 7:14 am

    The Celestial Kingdom is not the only heaven in Mormon theology. Heaven has three layers in our theology. Call them mansions if you want. Telestial, Terrestrial, and Celestial.

    Justification is fine for getting you into heaven. What your reward there will be depends on how much further you take the Atonement in your life.

  40. March 16, 2010 at 7:15 am

    Merely stating that scripture is “God-breathed” isn’t even close to making a case for inerrancy. Neither does a Bible with errors mean God is a liar. I don’t know where you come up with these leaps in logic.

  41. March 16, 2010 at 7:23 am

    I believe that the work of justification is completed upon baptism and repentance.

    LDS temple ordinances and teachings about enduring to the end, etc. are properly envisioned as solely concerned with the work of sanctification that FOLLOWS justification. This is the ongoing covenant relationship with Christ that LDS ordinances primarily concern themselves with.

    You are justified and bound for heaven regardless of whether you’ve participated in LDS ordinances or not. All we are really doing here is debating over the “jewels in the crown” or which “mansion” in the Father’s house we are bound for. That is the primary concern of LDS ordinances. The work of sanctification is concerned with what your destiny WITHIN heaven is.

    Do you hope to inherit “all the Father hath” and enter into the fullest expression of unity with him?

    Or are you satisfied with simply being forgiven and justified? Because you are allowed to stop at that stage of things if you wish.

  42. 42 RLO
    March 16, 2010 at 7:26 am

    Humor me. Tell me what my agenda is. Look into my heart. Judge me.

  43. March 16, 2010 at 7:39 am

    I see little reason to. This isn’t a topic I really wanted to pursue anyway and probably shouldn’t have made that comment – seeing as it is a distraction. I’m referring to past conversations we’ve had. If you want an example, your past assumption of creation ex nihilo in the Genesis account would be a good example. Another would be the cherry-picking of verses that deal with justification and ignoring the ones that speak of the ongoing work of sanctification.

    There are a lot of ways to read the Bible. This is why Christianity has the hundreds of denominations that it does. Because if you go off the pure text of the Bible – you get a hundred different variants.

    It doesn’t appear that lip service to “sola scriptura” has yielded us any real practical results, does it?

  44. 44 RLO
    March 16, 2010 at 7:58 am

    Seth: “…your past assumption of creation ex nihilo in the Genesis account…”

    I would have to go back and look to be certain, but to my recollection, I asked you about creation ex nihilo. How are you assuming some kind of an agenda from my asking about something?

    Seth: “…the cherry-picking of verses that deal with justification…”

    When a Christian provides you scriptural support for a given doctrine or topic, and you then call it “cherry-picking,” it’s dismissive.

    If your are not provided scriptural support, you complain.

    If you are provided scriptural support, you ridicule.

    By the way, regarding ex nihilo, are you familiar with The Hiedelberg Disputation?

    Luther’s 34th Philosophical Thesis:

    “If Aristotle would have recognized the absolute power of God, he would accordingly have maintained that it was impossible for matter to exist of itself alone.”

  45. March 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    If you wish to bring in extra-biblical sources like Aristotle and the Hiedelberg Thesis, aren’t you simply demonstrating my point?

  46. 46 RLO
    March 16, 2010 at 7:13 pm

    Seth;

    I’ve taken the time to go back and read through our discussion on ex nihilo. It is found in the thread, “Differing Views Of Humanity, dated 05 August 2009 posts #58 (Aug 14, 2009, 6:03 am) thru #61 (Aug 14, 2009, 10:21 pm).

    My memory served me correctly. Not only was my question asked of you in a thoughtful and respectful manner, but so too was your response. It was actually refreshing to go back and re-read an exchange from the past when neither one of us was being insulting. It was as if, for one brief moment, each one of us were making an effort to be respectful. While we each held differing views on this topic of discussion, we were each, nonetheless, gentle. How regrettable that this has become the rare exception, rather than the commonplace.

    And now you have chosen to throw my question back in my face. A thoughtful and respectful question to you from over seven months ago. And you have chosen to characterize this question as being a “past assumption.” And my “past assumption” as supporting “my agenda.” And “my agenda” as “shaping how I read the Bible.”

    Such as it is. A Christian cannot even ask a thoughtful question of you without having it come back to bite them.

    Seems peculiar that “my assumptions” support an “agenda” that then “shapes” how I read the Bible, whereas your assumptions don’t. Is only Seth capable of being truly honest with himself? Is everyone else only deluding themselves?

    It has not been “my agenda” that has shaped how I read the Bible. It has been, and continues to be, the guidance of the Holy Spirit that shapes how I read the Bible, which in turn shapes me.

  47. 47 RLO
    March 16, 2010 at 7:16 pm

    and what point is that?

  48. March 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm

    That you are interpreting the Bible in light of extra-biblical sources.

  49. March 16, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    I wasn’t thinking of one particular conversation. And I suppose I could be confusing you with someone else. Not that I think this matters much for what we are talking about.

  50. 50 RLO
    March 16, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    RLO
    March 16, 2010 at 7:58 am
    …By the way, regarding ex nihilo, are you familiar with The Hiedelberg Disputation?
    Luther’s 34th Philosophical Thesis:
    “If Aristotle would have recognized the absolute power of God, he would accordingly have maintained that it was impossible for matter to exist of itself alone.”

    Seth R.
    March 16, 2010 at 2:32 pm
    If you wish to bring in extra-biblical sources like Aristotle and the Hiedelberg Thesis, aren’t you simply demonstrating my point?

    Reply

    46 RLO
    March 16, 2010 at 7:16 pm
    and what point is that?

    Reply

    47 Seth R.
    March 16, 2010 at 7:37 pm
    That you are interpreting the Bible in light of extra-biblical sources.

    Seth;

    I interpreted “nothing” in light of “nothing.” I merely asked you if you were familiar with what Luther had to say in his 34th Philosophical Thesis of the Heidelberg Disputation, addressing Aristotle’s teaching that matter was eternal, in opposition to creation ex nihilo.

    (and I’m fairly certain Luther would have supported his thesis without “extra-biblical” sources.)

  51. March 16, 2010 at 11:58 pm

    Oh, I see.

    I would dispute that whether matter is eternal or not is even something the Bible says anything about.

  52. 52 Echo
    March 17, 2010 at 12:07 am

    Seth said: “Yes – you and I do not stand in grace.

    So… What are you going to do about it?”

    What you said contradicts what the verse says:

    Romans 5:1-2 “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand.”

  53. March 17, 2010 at 1:47 am

    Sorry Echo. That was a typo. It should have read:

    “Yes – you and I do stand in grace.”

  54. 54 Echo
    March 17, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    “Romans 3:21 “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify.”

    Seth said: “Another justification verse. You’re not making any progress here. Where did I ever say that righteousness does not come from God? Mormon theology stipulates that righteousness comes from God. We merely make the free choice to participate in that or not. A choice we must renew throughout our lives.”

    What does “justification” mean to you?
    Do you believe the righteousness that comes from God is something you participate in or something given to you apart from your participation?

  55. March 17, 2010 at 4:50 pm

    Mormon theology posits that all are saved from death and will be resurrected regardless of what they do on earth. Likewise, all will be eventually redeemed from hell and punishment – again regardless of whether they participate in Christ or not (apart from the Sons of Perdition which actively choose to cut themselves off from God completely). This impact of the Atonement is universal as is this application of justification. Justly, we deserve punishment. Christ has saved all of us from this to one extent or another.

    But that’s not the whole story for LDS theology. From this point, the work of sanctification acts on each of us. This is something we must participate in to fully realize it. There is a role for human beings in LDS theology. There is no question of this.

  56. 56 Echo
    March 17, 2010 at 7:44 pm

    Let me see if I understand you correctly, correct me where I am wrong.

    All Mankind, whether a believer or not, whether evil or good will rise from the dead. This is what you call the atonement.

    All mankind have the opportunity to participate in becoming righteous, this is what you call the justification?

    You said: ” Justly, we deserve punishment. Christ has saved all of us from this to one extent or another.”

    Doesn’t the LDS believe that people suffer the punishment they deserve in Hell until the ressurection?

  57. March 17, 2010 at 7:49 pm

    No Echo. You left off the part about everyone being redeemed from hell. Did you miss that part?

  58. March 17, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    The “Atonement” consists of several things:

    1. Resurrection
    2. Being redeemed from hell and suffering
    3. Being forgiven of sin
    4. Being enabled to rise to a godlike life
    5. Reconciliation with God’s presence

    The Atonement means all of those things to me. Justification and sanctification are merely portions of the Atonement. I do not equate the Atonement with justification as some Evangelical writers seem to.

  59. 59 Echo
    March 17, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Seth said: “No Echo. You left off the part about everyone being redeemed from hell. Did you miss that part?” I didn’t miss that part, but you said “eventually”: “all will be EVENTUALLY redeemed from hell and punishment”

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________

    The “Atonement” consists of several things:

    1. Resurrection
    2. Being redeemed from hell and suffering
    3. Being forgiven of sin
    4. Being enabled to rise to a godlike life
    5. Reconciliation with God’s presence

    The Atonement means all of those things to me. Justification and sanctification are merely portions of the Atonement. I do not equate the Atonement with justification as some Evangelical writers seem to.

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________

    2. Redeemed from hell and suffering eventually
    3. forgiven of sin if you overcome the sin and don’t repeat it
    4. Reconciliation with God’s presence (What does this mean?)

    So what is justification then?

  60. March 18, 2010 at 3:33 am

    Before we go any further with this line of thought, I need to make something clear.

    I have been trying to take what I understand as the Protestant notion of justification and sanctification and apply it to the LDS paradigm for myself. All my previous comments on this topic have been an attempt to take a Protestant notion and make it useful for the LDS view. No doubt, it’s been a flawed attempt. But that’s what I’ve been trying to do.

    I have not been using the words “justification” and “sanctification” the way Mormon sources have traditionally used them. So if you go trying to search LDS sources for the word “justification” let me stop you right now. They don’t use the word the way I am using it. As with so many things, the LDS have very different theological meanings for the same words Protestants use.

    For instance, let me save you the trouble and present you with this Bruce R. McConkie quote form “Mormon Doctrine”:

    “Justification: In summarizing the plan of salvation, Adam taught: “By the water ye keep the commandment”; by the Spirit ye are justified, and by the blood ye are sanctified.” (Moses 6:60.) And on the day the Church was organized in this dispensation writing by way of revelation, the Prophet recorded: “We know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true.” (D. & C. 20:30.) Compliance with this basic doctrine of the gospel, the law of justification is thus essential to salvation. Indeed, one of the great religious contentions among the sects of Christendom is whether men are justified by faith alone, without works, as some erroneously suppose Paul taught (Acts 13:38-39; Rom. 3:19-28; 4:5; 5:1-10; Gal. 2:15-21; 2 Ne. 2:5), or whether they are justified by works of righteousness as James explained. (Jas. 2:14-26.)

    What then is the law of justification? It is simply this: “All covenants, contracts, bonds, obligations, oaths, vows, performances, connections, associations, or expectations” (D. & C. 132:7), in which men must abide to be saved and exalted, must be entered into and performed in righteousness so that the Holy Spirit can justify the candidate for salvation in what has been done. (1 Ne. 16:2; Jac. 2:13-14; Alma 41:15; D. & C. 98; 132:1, 62.) An act that is justified by the Spirit is one that is sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise, or in other words, ratified and approved by the Holy Ghost. This law of justification is the provision the Lord has placed in the gospel to assure that no unrighteous performance will be binding on earth and in heaven, and that no person will add to his position or glory in the hereafter by gaining an unearned blessing.

    As with all other doctrines of salvation, justification is available because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but it becomes operative in the life of an individual only on conditions of personal righteousness. As Paul taught, men are not justified by the works of the Mosaic law alone any more than men are saved by those works alone. The grace of God, manifest through the infinite and eternal atonement wrought by his Son, makes justification a living reality for those who seek righteousness. (Isa. 53:11; Mosiah 14:11.)”

    Obviously, McConkie is not here using the word “justification” the same way I am using it at all. I’m aware of this and you don’t need to point it out. I have a different idea in mind than McConkie did, and I’ve been trying to use the word the way it is meant by certain Protestants, and not in it’s traditional LDS usage. You can be the judge if I’ve been succeeding at this or not.

    Another example of someone not using the word the way I’m trying to would be here:

    http://www.lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=8481759235d0c010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=2354fccf2b7db010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    Elder Christofferson is not using the word quite the way I am trying to either. In both instances of McConkie and Christofferson, it seems plain that they are simply using “justification” as a way of talking about the ENTIRE work of the Atonement – not just one stage of it like I am attempting. I don’t apologize for this. I’m trying to solve a different argument than they were. But I did want to alert people here about these discrepancies so they don’t cause further confusion later.

  61. 61 Echo
    March 18, 2010 at 4:40 am

    Seth said: “justification is available because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ, but it becomes operative in the life of an individual only on conditions of personal righteousness. As Paul taught, men are not justified by the works of the Mosaic law alone any more than men are saved by those works alone. The grace of God, manifest through the infinite and eternal atonement wrought by his Son, makes justification a living reality for those who seek righteousness. (Isa. 53:11; Mosiah 14:11.)”

    By “seek righteousness” or “personal righteousness”, what is meant is the process of becoming more and more like Jesus?
    When you read all the Romans passages that I listed earlier with the term (or variation thereof): “righteousness from God”, do you interpret that to mean this process of becoming more and more like Jesus?

  62. March 18, 2010 at 6:13 am

    Echo, I was quoting Bruce R. McConkie.

    Read my above post again. More slowly this time.

  63. 63 Echo
    March 19, 2010 at 3:24 am

    So for you, the righteousness that comes from God is the sermon on the mount which isn’t credited to you but rather given for you to follow in order to become righteous.

  64. March 19, 2010 at 3:40 am

    Did you read my post again? Did you realize that I was using a big long quote from McConkie not as a way to demonstrate my own view of justification, but rather to demonstrate ways in which I think other Mormons have mishandled the term?

    Did you catch that?

    I do not wish to move on until I am sure you understood what I was saying above.

  65. 65 Echo
    March 19, 2010 at 10:58 pm

    I admit, you have me confused. It appears to me that you were attempting to use Christian terms according to our meanings of the words and not according to the LDS meaning of the words. So I went back and read the entire thread in light of that information and there are flaws there. To complicate it further, I don’t know whether you are accurate in your understanding of what justification and sanctification mean. I would have to hear what you think those terms mean to us. Too complicate it even more, you said you were trying to demonstrate ways in which other Mormons have mishandled the terms. So now I am confused.

  66. March 19, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    Well, that is mostly my fault.

    I am a Mormon. But I am aware that Mormons have historically been largely unaware of a lot of the theological terminology used in the wider Christian world.

    For example, the LDS idea of “exaltation” is actually a slightly altered and adapted version of “theosis.” But I’m probably one of the few Mormons who would use the word “theosis” when talking about “exaltation.” I do this because, as someone who debates with other Christians, I want to use familiar terminology that accurately illustrates Mormon ideas.

    This is why I seized on the distinction between “justification” and “sanctification” as a way to illustrate the LDS notion of the Atonement.

    Now, most Mormons don’t use the words sactification or justification in religious speech, and when they do, they usually mean it very vaguely and broadly. They do not use it with any degree of precision or theological sophistication. Bruce R. McConkie’s quote is an example of this. His quote on the topic was thoroughly confused and seemed to be sloppily equating the term to the ENTIRE Atonement in a vague general sense.

    I was trying to get away from this and use these words as Protestant terms, in a Protestant context to explain LDS theology.

  67. 67 Echo
    March 19, 2010 at 11:31 pm

    Thanks for clarifying. I hope I get it now.

    So what is your definition of Justification and then Sanctification and where do they fit into the picture? I realize from what you said that Mormons don’t use those two words often but the scripture speaks of justification as well as sanctification.

  68. March 20, 2010 at 1:05 am

    Well, everything before the McConkie quote was kind of an attempt to explain that.

  69. 69 Echo
    March 20, 2010 at 1:26 am

    Okay, I am backing up.

    ______________________________________________________________________________________________
    You said: “The “Atonement” consists of several things:

    1. Resurrection
    2. Being redeemed from hell and suffering
    3. Being forgiven of sin
    4. Being enabled to rise to a godlike life
    5. Reconciliation with God’s presence

    The Atonement means all of those things to me. Justification and sanctification are merely portions of the Atonement. I do not equate the Atonement with justification as some Evangelical writers seem to.”
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________

    Which portions of the above five are Justification and which portions are sanctification?

  70. March 20, 2010 at 1:52 am

    I’d say justification deals mainly with numbers 2 and 3. Sanctification deals with numbers 4 and 5. I can’t place number 1 really, so I just call it part of the Atonement and leave it at that.

    Elder D. Todd Christofferson gave a talk on the subject of sanctification when he was a Seventy (he’s an Apostle now). I found this quote from him nice:

    “To be sanctified through the blood of Christ is to become clean, pure, and holy. If justification removes the punishment for past sin, then sanctification removes the stain or effects of sin.”

  71. 71 Echo
    March 21, 2010 at 8:56 am

    Are you in a process of justification or are you justified already?

    Since sanctification is a process then you believe that reconciliation with God’s presence is something in the future?

  72. 72 Ralph Peterson
    July 22, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    Problems with your assertions.

    Rev 2:7 is not referring to heaven but “the paradise of God” also called the garden of Eden. The “tree of life” in “the paradise of God” is referred to in Gen 3:22.

    Gen 3:22 ¶ And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
    23 Therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
    24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

    . . .
    AND,

    Paul does NOT use “paradise” as a synonym of the “third heaven”, but rather uses it in the description of a totally separate place and incident.

    2 Cor 12:2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

    That is one man and one incident.

    3 And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;)
    4 How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter.

    That is a second man AND a second incident.

    You are conflating to TOTALLY separate descriptions/men/places!

  73. 73 Ralph Peterson
    July 23, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Correction.

    You are conflating two TOTALLY separate descriptions/men/places!

  74. 74 markcares
    July 23, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Hi Ralph:
    Please explain how you interpret Rev. 2:7. Is Jesus promising there that those who ovecome will go to the Garden of Eden?
    In regard to 2 Cor. 12:2 I was reflecting what the LDS Bible Dictionary says when it states: “Possibly 2 Cor 12:4 should also not use paradise in the sense of meaning the spirit world, as much as meaning the celestial kingdom.” Then if you go to the LDS bible it references celestial glory with the third heaven.
    I am more curious about whether or not you agree with the LDS interpretation of Luke 23:41 – the verse addressed in the original post.

  75. 75 Ralph Peterson
    July 23, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Well, let’s look at it.

    “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

    The reward/gift is “the right”.

    The right to what?
    “To eat from the tree of life”.

    What is the tree of life?

    Good question.
    Genesis says of it, “He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”

    Eating “from the tree of life” allows you to “live forever”.

    In the context of the Bible, “the paradise of God”/garden of Eden, isn’t where God lives, but rather denotes God’s ownership.

    Also, there is no indication in Rev 2, that “the paradise of God” is the final destination for “him who overcomes”.

    For you to claim that the LDS Bible Dictionary is your basis for saying that “paradise” is a synonym of the “third heaven” is a bit amusing. Words like “possibly” are not meant to convey anywhere close to the same connection as “synonym”.

    It says, “Possibly 2 Cor. 12: 4 should also not use paradise in the sense of meaning the spirit world, as much as meaning the celestial kingdom.”

    I ALMOST could see, possibly, how you could twist this to say that “paradise” is a synonym for the “celestial kingdom”, but NEVER the “third heaven”.

    As far as commenting on “the LDS interpretation of Luke 23:41”, I don’t see where your post details what that is, or where it can be found.

    Also, for you to assume, that because Jesus was speaking to the one thief, that what he said to him, was not applicable to the other, is going way beyond the text.

  76. 76 markcares
    July 24, 2010 at 1:08 pm

    Sorry. I meant Luke 23:42-43

  77. 77 Ralph Peterson
    July 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    “And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23: 42-43)

    In consideration of the Biblical fact, that the “paradise”/garden Jesus referred to, isn’t heaven (the dwelling place of the Father), the LDS interpretation of these verses is reasonable and plausible.

    Also in consideration of that Biblical fact, your interpretation of these verses and the assertion that they are support for your doctrine, is untenable.

    You will have to look elsewhere for that support.

  78. 78 markcares
    July 26, 2010 at 5:38 pm

    The interpretation that is strained and wrong is the LDS interpretation. Using the Bible to interpret the Bible, it is clear that Jesus was telling the thief on the cross that he was going to be with him in heaven. The LDS Church even recognizes that paradise here means heaven. Else it wouldn’t have to state that the biblical rendering is incorrect. Notice that it doesn’t say people interpret it wrongly, but that the Bible itself is wrong. If it was just a matter of misinterpretation it wouldn’t have to make that drastic claim.

  79. July 26, 2010 at 7:42 pm

    N.T. Wright would disagree with you Mark.

    And I’m pretty sure he didn’t use anything besides the Bible:

  80. 80 markcares
    July 26, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    Hi Seth:
    It has been awhile. How are you doing? Are you having a good summer?

  81. July 26, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Managing to get into mischief here and there, thanks.

  82. 82 Ralph Peterson
    July 26, 2010 at 8:24 pm

    Mark,

    Nothing like putting your fingers in your ears and saying “I’m not listening!!!!”

    All you have done is rehash the same argument that has been refuted. If that is the best you can do, then it is a waste of time to engage you.


Comments are currently closed.

March 2010
M T W T F S S
« Feb   Apr »
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  

Blog Stats

  • 182,191 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: