16
Feb
12

Atonement

This Sunday, in their Gospel Doctrine classes, LDS members will be studying 2 Nephi 6-10, especially chapter 9 and its description of Christ’s atonement.  It’s interesting that Mormonism uses the word, atonement, as the most common way to refer to Jesus’ sacrifice for us, although it is rarely used in the Bible.  (The only New Testament reference is Romans 5:11.  Most Old Testament references are from Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and refers to the Old Testament sacrificial system.)

Because it is a common word in Mormonism, it is one that deserves close scrutiny.  The LDS source that has been most helpful in explaining it is chapter 12 in the basic manual, Gospel Principles.  The whole chapter is on the Atonement.  A large portion of that chapter is taken up by a parable told by President Boyd K. Packer. It’s quite lengthy so I will summarize much of it here.  Heavenly Father is the creditor.  We are the debtors.  After a while we realize that we can’t pay back the debt. After a discussion about justice and mercy, Jesus, the mediator, steps in. He asks the creditor if he will free the debtor from the contract, if he, the mediator, pays the entire debt. The creditor agrees. Let me pick it up there by quoting a few sentences.

“The mediator turned then to the debtor. ‘If I pay your debt, will you accept me as your creditor?’

“‘Oh yes, yes,’ cried the debtor. ‘You saved me from prison and show mercy to me.’  “‘Then’ said the benefactor, ‘you will pay the debt to me and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison.’”

Those sentences clearly illustrate that Mormonism views Jesus’ atonement in a vastly different light than biblical Christians do.  Many Christians are genuinely horrified to hear Jesus being described as a creditor and their having to pay the debt to him.  This goes against every grain of their being.

This horror on the part of Christians is mystifying to many Mormons.  They don’t see the problem.  They wonder what the big deal is.  To them seeing Jesus as their creditor is no big deal – it’s even natural.

For me, not only the parable itself, but then also the two differing and drastic reactions to it clearly illustrate the differences between Mormonism and Christianity.  The parable illustrates the different teaching; the differing reactions illustrate the different mindsets. As Christians talk with their LDS friends, they need to not only remember that many times words will be defined differently between the two, but also that their mindsets will be different from that of their LDS friends.

That might not lessen much of the frustration experienced by both, but it does help explain it.  Not only are we talking different languages, but we are on different wavelengths.  Thank God that the Holy Spirit has overcome that with many Mormons so that now they are rejoicing not in Jesus, their creditor, but in Jesus, the one who paid the debt and remembers it no more.  May the Holy Spirit open the eyes of many more to this wonderful truth.

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29 Responses to “Atonement”


  1. February 18, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    If Jesus is our creditor, Shem and I have no hope. We increase our debt to God every single day including on this blog…

    Proverbs 11:9 “With his MOUTH the GODLESS destroys his neighbor”

    This is an LDS quote: that I think Christians and Mormons both would agree with…

    “Whenever you find a man who spends his time abusing his neighbors, trying to tear down other people, you put it down that that man is not possessed of the Spirit of the Lord. But when a man tries to build up, when he tries to show you a better way, even though he be deceived, you may know that he is honest; but never the man who tries to tear to pieces, who tries to destroy, without offering you something better in return. Never is such a man honest.” Doctrines of Salvation Vol. 3 p. 297-298. (Conf. Rep., Oct. 1910, pp. 39-41)”

    By God’s standards, nobody is considered “obedient” until they reach sinless perfection. I have not reached sinless perfection and neither has Shem. So Shem and I are equally sinful in God’s eyes. God sees no difference between Shem and I.

    My point?…It is impossible for sinners like Shem and I to pay back the debt we keep only increasing every day. Our ever increasing debt is so gigantic, that Shem and I are but poor penniless beggars with not one penny in our pockets to pay back that debt. Where does that leave us? Beggars deserve an eternity of punishment in outer darkness!!

    Praise God that Jesus isn’t our creditor. Jesus is really our substitute! He paid the debt in full that we owe by his blood shed and life given on the cross. And in his amazing love for us, he knows we can’t pay back the debt therefore he doesn’t ask us to pay back the debt. He paid it for us! Jesus didn’t refinance the debt, he CANCELLED the debt…

    Mathew 18:21-35 “Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times. Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt. “The servant fell on his knees before him. ‘Be patient with me,’ he begged, ‘and I will pay back everything.’ The servant’s master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go. “But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded. “His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.’ “But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened. “Then the master called the servant in. ‘You wicked servant,’ he said, ‘I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’ In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.” ”

    To you Shem and to everyone, I am truly sorry for the sins I have knowingly and unknowingly fallen into on this blog. My debt has been cancelled by the blood of Jesus dying on the cross, I am and have been forgiven.

    But Shem, your debt, according to your beliefs, still remains outstanding. How will you pay your debt and when?

  2. February 20, 2012 at 1:55 am

    Echo, you summed it up perfectly when you said : ” Praise God that Jesus is’nt our creditor . Jesus is
    really our substitute ! He paid the debt in full that we owe by His blood shed and life given on the cross.
    And in His amazing love for us , He knows we can’ pay back the debt therefore he does’nt ask us to pay
    back the deb. He paid it for us ! Jesus did’nt refinance the debt, He cancelled the debt…..”

  3. 3 shematwater
    February 20, 2012 at 4:19 pm

    Thank God that the Holy Spirit has overcome that with many people so that now they are rejoicing in Jesus, and his atonement that paid their debt and made salvation possible. May the Holy Spirit open the eyes of many more to this wonderful truth.

    ECHO

    “But Shem, your debt, according to your beliefs, still remains outstanding. How will you pay your debt and when?”

    You have no understanding of our beliefs if you actually think this true. There is little else I can about it.

    Also notice that in the parable you quote it is for his actions that the one servant is condemned. It is not because he did not believe his master, but because his actions were not justified.
    The whole point of this parable is to teach us that we cannot expect to receive the forgiveness of God if we are not willing to forgive others.

    MARK

    If you find the idea of Christ being a creditor so repugnant than you should also find the parable that Echo sites to be distasteful, as it portrays Christ in the same way.
    You must also hate the parable in Luke 7: 41-42, as it explicitly relates Christ to a creditor.

    The problem is that you have missed the point of the parable of the mediator. As it says “The creditor had been justly dealt with; no contract had been broken. The debtor, in turn, had been extended mercy.”
    You may not like the idea but this is the only way for both justice and mercy to work. In your doctrine Mercy has robbed justice, for the debt, though paid to the creditor, has not been repaid to the mediator. People try to explain this in the forgiving of the debt, but if it was that simple than we wouldn’t have needed the atonement, as the Father would have simply forgiven the debt. As the Son and the Father are one, the Son cannot simply forgive the debt if the Father cannot.
    Now, I do not think of Christ as my creditor, and never have. But this is an effective parable in teaching the truths of how these two principles can both operate at full capacity.

  4. 4 Kent
    February 20, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    Shem, the debt has been paid in full by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross and thank God as none of us would ever be able to pay back what he did for us in 10,000 lifetimes. If out debt has not been paid for us, then Jesus suffered and died for nothing and if we would have to pay back anything, we would all end up in hell for eternity.

    Jesus said it is finished and I believe what he says.

  5. February 20, 2012 at 10:43 pm

    Echo said: “But Shem, your debt, according to your beliefs, still remains outstanding. How will you pay your debt and when?”

    Shem replied: “You have no understanding of our beliefs if you actually think this true. There is little else I can about it. ”

    Here is your beliefs: ““‘Oh yes, yes,’ cried the debtor. ‘You saved me from prison and show mercy to me.’ “‘Then’ said the benefactor, ‘you will pay the debt to me and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison.’”

    Shem said: “Also notice that in the parable you quote it is for his actions that the one servant is condemned. It is not because he did not believe his master, but because his actions were not justified.
    The whole point of this parable is to teach us that we cannot expect to receive the forgiveness of God if we are not willing to forgive others.”

    The whole point of this parable that I quoted is that Jesus has “cancelled” the debt he did not refinance it. Therefore just as God has cancelled your debt and thereby released you from meeting any terms to pay it back, so too you ought to forgive your neighbor without setting terms for them to pay you back.

  6. 6 shematwater
    February 21, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    ECHO

    If that was the point of the Parable than the one servant would not have been sold at that end and required to pay the debt. He did not forgive his fellow servant and so the forgiveness he had received was taken away and he was forced to pay the price of that massive debt.

    As to my beliefs, you really need to try and actually take all the doctrine together before you try to claim to know what we teach and believe.
    If you take this one statement out of context and by itself you can twist our doctrine to mean what you want. But you can not do so if you actually understood the full doctrine that we teach, which is what I meant. You do not understand what we teach, and so you grasp at small snippets of quotes in an attempt to paint it how you want it to look.

    KENT

    I believe Christ when he said it was finished as well, I just don’t think he meant what you so he did. It was finished, meaning the physical suffering that we required of him in order to complete the atonement was complete. He had suffered enough, had finished that stage of the work required, and was ready to move to the next step.
    Full salvation could not have been completed at the time he had uttered this because he had not yet been resurrected, and thus physical death had not yet been conquered. Thus there was still something left to do.

    “the debt has been paid in full by Jesus’ shed blood on the cross”

    That is true, but that was a payment to the Father. We are now in debt to Christ. This is the nature of Justice. Just because one person pays another person’s debt, this does not mean the obligation of the debtor is erased. The debt still remains, it is just owed to a different person. Now a person can show mercy and forgive a debt, but in so doing justice is denied. It is that simple. Forgiveness of debt robs justice.
    As such, if Christ paid then debt to the Father, and then forgave our debt to him he would have robbed justice. As he is God, and thus is perfectly just, he cannot do this.
    Now, justice does not care how the debt is repaid, just that it is. As such, Christ, who now holds the debt, is capable of determining the manner of payment, which he has done. He has made it possible for that debt to be repaid.
    Consider: You owe the bank a large amount of money. When you can’t repay this a friend comes to your assistance and pays the debt for you. He knows that you do not have the money to repay him. So, he asks you to come to his house and do some work for him (mowing the yard, fixing the fence, and the like). One you have done enough he tells you that your even.
    In this way he has taken an impossible debt and rearranged the conditions of payment to make it possible.

    Of course, if he payed the debt and then you refused to do the work he asked he would be perfectly in his rights to sue you and force you to pay him back by any means necessary.

    As I said, I have never felt like Christ was my creditor. He is a great friend who had mercy on me in my miserable state. He came and paid what I could not, and then “arranged the terms for my redemption.” (see the parable again). he made possible what was impossible, and through his atonement I am enabled to pay off the debt.

  7. 7 JBR
    February 21, 2012 at 3:15 pm

    Mark said: “Those sentences clearly illustrate that Mormonism views Jesus’ atonement in a vastly different light than biblical Christians do. ”

    The response back to you about “Mercy robbed justice” indicates that it is actually Mormonism that has no understanding of what the truth is. It is very unfortunate that so many have place their hope in a Jesus that is “updated” so as to make other entities remain truthful.

  8. February 21, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Shem said: “If that was the point of the Parable than the one servant would not have been sold at that end and required to pay the debt. He did not forgive his fellow servant and so the forgiveness he had received was taken away and he was forced to pay the price of that massive debt.”

    Shem, you have been told on this blog, countless times now, that God has cancelled your debt, and he has! But you refuse to believe this and so you also will be forced to pay off your massive debt in prison for eternity unless of course you turn and believe what we have been teaching you all along.

    Shem said: “As to my beliefs, you really need to try and actually take all the doctrine together before you try to claim to know what we teach and believe.
    If you take this one statement out of context and by itself you can twist our doctrine to mean what you want. But you can not do so if you actually understood the full doctrine that we teach, which is what I meant. You do not understand what we teach, and so you grasp at small snippets of quotes in an attempt to paint it how you want it to look.”

    Shem you haven’t taught me anything about Mormonism that I don’t already know. What you continually aren’t getting here is that I see things in your teachings that you don’t and you keep continually confusing the two because you don’t take the time to actually listen. I mean you listen but you don’t actually really listen or hear what I say. You have a one track mind, you are too busy judging my motives as being evil and too busy putting the worst construction possible on all that I say and do to ever “hear” what I am saying. This is the same thing the Pharisees did with Jesus and the same reason they refused to hear him.

  9. 9 David
    February 22, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Shem

    Earlier you mention Luke 7:41-42 show Jesus as a creditor. If you look at the entire section on Jesus’ lesson on the parable it continues on verse 43. But lets start at verse 42 ” 42And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43Simon answered and said, I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged.

    Shem this is critical – “and WHEN THEY HAD NOTHING TO PAY, he frankly FORGAVE THEM BOTH. Note too, what He said in verse 43, “which of them will love him most” Jesus, God himself who is love, doesn’t want repayment, but he does want us to love him. God doesn’t need or even want our repayment, He simply wants us with Him. He didn’t extend them a loan, he did say to them “okay now you must do this for me” He simply forgave them.

    He then turned the Pharisee’s attention to the woman crying and washing his feet with here tears, (not tears of repayment, but tears of apreciation for Him.) Now lets pick this up from this point in Luke. Luke 47 “47Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little. 48And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven.”

    Jesus demanded no repayment of this woman. ” 50And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace.”

    Shem, Jesus died for your sins and doesn’t want a repayment, He just wants you. You ARE forgiven in Christ, you can GO IN PEACE, right now because of what Jesus did for you for free.

    23For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;

    24Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Romans 3:23-24.

  10. 10 David
    February 22, 2012 at 9:02 pm

    OOOPs! I meant to say “he did NOT say ‘Okay now you must do this for me'” above.

  11. 11 shematwater
    February 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    ECHO

    I listen. It is just that what you see isn’t really there, and thus you prove countless times over that you don’t really understand. No, I have said nothing that is not familiar to you, but you continually see my words through your already distorted ideas of our beliefs, and thus you never fully understand them.

    Now, I know what I have been told on this blog, and I also know that it contradicts what I read in the Bible. As such I reject it.

    DAVID

    Notice in this parable that the Creditor did not simply forgive the debt, but waited until they had done all they could to repay it. “and WHEN THEY HAD NOTHING TO PAY,” This tells us that they paid what they could, they did all that was in their power to eliminate the debt, and when all that was exhausted the creditor forgave them what was left.
    This is again reaffirmed in Simon’s answer, “I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most.” He does not say “The one that owed 500.” He says the one that was forgiven the most. As such he realized that this could have been the one who only owed 50, as the one who owed 500 may have had the ability to pay off more.
    One misses the true meaning of this parable when they miss this fact. The Creditor, Christ, does require us to do what we can, and then he forgives what we can’t. The same is true of the woman. He didn’t just forgive her because she believed, but because she showed that faith and devotion in her actions. In verse 44-46 he is comparing the actions of the woman to the actions of Simon.
    “And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped them with the hairs of her head.
    Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet.
    My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment.”

    She did what she could, while Simon did not. For this reason she was forgiven. It was her faith that saved her, for it was her faith that pushed her into action.

  12. February 23, 2012 at 4:37 pm

    Shem said: “Notice in this parable that the Creditor did not simply forgive the debt, but waited until they had done all they could to repay it. “and WHEN THEY HAD NOTHING TO PAY,” This tells us that they paid what they could, they did all that was in their power to eliminate the debt, and when all that was exhausted the creditor forgave them what was left.”

    This is what the text says:

    Verse 41 “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty.” KJV

    Verse 42 “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” KJV

    There is nothing written in those verses that remotely even suggests that creditor waited until they had done all they could to repay it. The verse does NOT say: “and when they had nothing LEFT to pay” It says: “and when they had nothing to pay” The verse does NOT say: “he waited until they paid what they could and when they had nothing left to pay he cancelled the debt”

    The NIV translates it like this: “Neither of them had the money to pay him back so he cancelled the debts of both”

    I think both Mormons and Christians would agree that our debt represents our sin and having the debt cancelled represents forgiveness. Would you agree with that Shem?

    However Mormons believe the debt will be cancelled after a lifetime of having done all you can to repay it as Shem has implied above. So Mormons spend this lifetime showing God their “love” by repaying as much of their debt back to him that they can.

    So for Mormons, things happen in this order:…

    1) “love”

    then

    2) remaining debt cancelled

    Christians believe our whole debt has been cancelled already. Because we believe our debt has been cancelled, we go and love our neighbor

    So for Christians, things happen in this order…

    1) Debt cancelled

    then

    2) Love

    Now watch what this verse in Luke is teaching…

    KJV Verse 42: “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?”

    NIV Verse 42 ” Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he forgave the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

    In both translations, the debt is forgiven (cancelled) first and the “love” follows. Not the other way around.

    Christians have been forgiven for their whole debt already, Mormons are paying the debt back and in the end will have the rest of their debt removed. So Christians have been forgiven much, Mormons have been forgiven little…

    Notice in verse 47 that he who has been forgiven little loves little. (Mormonism)
    And he who has been forgiven much loves much (Christianity)

    Verse 42 “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most?” KJV

    Because Christians have already had all their sins forgiven, like the above verse states, Christians love him the most.

  13. 13 David
    February 23, 2012 at 5:04 pm

    Shem –

    You are reading into the parable things that aren’t there . The parable doesn’t say that they paid what they could at anytime before then. It says NOTHING about partial payments. The “fact” that you say I missed, you simply made up. It is a dangerous thing to read into scripture things that are not there. Jesus applied the parable to the woman crying at His feet. He simply forgave her and told her plainly “Your FAITH has saved you go in peace.” He viewed nothing as payment, it was simply His love her. This woman was crying because of her sins and over His great love for her – though she was a sinner.

    No doubt her faith drover her actions, but her actions did NOT produce faith or save her. Jesus told the woman “your faith has saved you.” That is an eternally critical distinction Shem.

    Romans 3: 26-28 says: 26To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.  27Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.  28Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.

    Notice too that in the parable in Matthew 18, the master cancelled the debt. And he cancelled that debt after the servant owing the money said “Lord, have patience with me, I will pay thee all.” The servant actually made an offer to treat this debt as one to be repaid over time. But – (PAY ATTENTION HERE) – Jesus DID NOT finish the parable by saying “and the master gave the servant more time to pay the debt.” The parable continues exactly the opposite of how you would apply it. “Then the lord of the servant was moved with compassion, and loosed him, and forgave him the debt.” Read that again, now! The sevant’s master did not squeeze as much money out of this man as he could before “forgiving” the debt. Neither did he give him more time to pay, or require the man to “pay all he could.” The man had no money, and the debt was cancelled merely because the man asked that it be cancelled because of the pure compassion of the master. Note too that Jesus called “wicked” the servant whom had his debt freely cancelled who then refused to freely cancel the smaller debt that was owed to him.

    Shem – stop being suspicious of everyone’s motives and open your eyes to the truth. The whole point of this parable is that God freely forgives us through Jesus and we should freely forgive others. Thats what we should do and that it what he has done for us through Jesus. Jesus wants you to freely forgive others, and not demand payment, but you expect that Jesus would demand repayment for Himself?

    Galatians 2:
    20I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

    21I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.

    Jesus GAVE Himself for us, He did not lend himself to us.

    In Christ,
    David

  14. 14 David
    February 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    Greetings Echo

  15. 15 shematwater
    February 23, 2012 at 5:06 pm

    ECHO

    “I think both Mormons and Christians would agree that our debt represents our sin and having the debt canceled represents forgiveness. Would you agree with that Shem?”

    No I would not agree. Our debt to him comes not from our sins, but from what he has done for us.
    Mosiah 2: 23 “And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.”
    The creation is what caused us to be in debt to him, not our sins.
    Then in Mosiah 2: 34 “I say unto you, that there are not any among you, except it be your little children that have not been taught concerning these things, but what knoweth that YE ARE ETERNALLY INDEBTED TO YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER, to render to him all that you have and are…”

    Now, it may be said that sin adds to the debt, but it is not the basis of the debt. So, the debt is not canceled through forgiveness, it merely does not acquire interest.

    So, the rest of your logic also does not apply. Neither is “the debt…canceled after a lifetime of having done all you can to repay it” but at every moment in life when our will is in harmony with God’s. This generally means any time that the Spirit of God shines in our lives and we are blessed by his power.
    Mosiah 2: 24 “And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you.”
    James 5: 15 “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.”

    Speaking of Luke 7: 41-42, the term “when” indicates that at a different time they were able to pay something. If the intention was to say they never could pay anything it would have said “And BECAUSE they had nothing to pay” not “when they had nothing to pay.” Whether you want to acknowledge the clear meaning of the English Language or not, this is the meaning. This is the what the term when indicates.

    Now, you can try to paint your little picture of us and our doctrine, but since your view is distorted you will never get it right, as I demonstrated.
    In your comparison you love after your debt is canceled (step one and two). So, if it wasn’t canceled you would not love. That is the order you have stated.
    Now, I think your ordering in both cases is wrong, so it doesn’t really matter.

    Just know that we love God, and so we obey him. We do so not to gain the reward (have the debt canceled) but because that is what someone who loves God does. It just so happens that one of the things he has commanded is our working to repay that debt to the best of our ability, and so we willingly do so, for we Love God.

  16. February 23, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Shem said: “No I would not agree. Our debt to him comes not from our sins, but from what he has done for us. Mosiah 2: 23 “And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him.”

    I agree we owe God a debt of gratitude. That said…

    Since God has cancelled the debt in the parable we are discussing, has God cancelled ~”what he has done for us”~ ?
    Has he cancelled our ~”lives for which we are indebted to him”~ ?
    Did God cancel the ~”creation”~ ?
    Did God cancel this: ~”but what knoweth that YE ARE ETERNALLY INDEBTED TO YOUR HEAVENLY FATHER, to render to him all that you have and are”~ ?
    Do we no longer have to render to him all that we have and are? Is that what has been cancelled in this parable we are discussing?

    Or, in this parable, is the debt being cancelled referring to the debt we incurred because of our sin?

  17. February 23, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    Hello David, welcome to the blog. :)

  18. 18 shematwater
    February 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm

    ECHO

    I would not call it a debt of gratitude. I think that is the first thing that we disagree with here. I would call it a very real debt of hard goods (our bodies) and services (our mortal life) that we could never hope to repay. The reason for this is that we cannot give God hard goods and services of equal value, which is what would be required to repay the debt. Even if we could, God continually blesses us when we do give such devotion, and thus it is not counted as repayment.

    Now, in this particular parable in Luke 7 Christ is primarily talking about sin. Primarily; which is why he words it in the way he does, because that debt we can repay, at least in part, which is what I said. The portion of the debt that is canceled is what is added to the debt through sin; and it is canceled when we have nothing to pay, and not before that moment.

    DAVID

    I have read nothing into the parable. I have merely allowed the word “when” to have its full meaning. He says when they had nothing to pay. In other words, he waited until that specific condition was met before he forgave the debt. It does not say they never paid anything, nor that they never could pay anything. It says that when the time came that they couldn’t pay anything they were forgiven. This indicates that there was a time in which they could pay something. If this was not the case he would have stated that they never could pay anything.
    As I said before, Simon understood this, shown in the fact that he does not identify which one was forgiven most. His reasoning is the one that was forgiven the most, which ever one that happened to be. This would indicate an understand that the information given is not sufficient to determine which one was forgiven the most.

    Yes, Christ applied this to the Woman, and yes it was her faith that saved her. That does not change the fact that the parable clearly indicates that we are expected to do what we can. Which is why I mentioned the comparison Christ made between the woman and Simon. She had done all she could, while Simon had not. She was forgiven, while Simon was not. The meaning is clear.
    She was saved by faith because what she did she did in Faith. If her faith had not spurred her to action she would not have received the blessing of forgiveness. Just as a car takes you from one destination to another, but still has to be driven.

    As to the Parable in Matthew 18, do you not see what is written? You are focusing on the fact that it was forgiven, and I have no problem with that. It was forgiven, and there was no demand for further payment. This is also the case in Luke 7; a forgiveness of debt with no demand for further payment.
    However, you miss the first parallel between these parables. In verse 25 (before the parts that you quote) we read that “But forasmuch as he had not to pay…” indicating that he had nothing to give. He was at the end of his rope and give no more. This was the same situation in Luke 7, as the debt was not forgiven until the debtors could give no more.
    Now, in Matthew 18 we get no indication that he had paid anything in the past, but then this parable is not striving to teach us concerning the forgiveness of sin. It is answering Peter’s question concerning our need to forgive others. As such that detail is not important, and really has no effect on the purpose of the parable. This is an important point in interpreting parables.
    Another point to make concerning this particular parable is that the debt that had been forgiven was returned onto the man when he did not forgive his fellow servant. In other words, if we do not forgive each other God will not forgive us, but will cast us out until our debt it paid. (verses 34-35)

  19. 19 David
    February 23, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    Shem

    We are to forgive freely or else be held to pay the debt, but He “forgives” only after He has been repaid?

  20. 20 David
    February 23, 2012 at 8:01 pm

    Shem,

    One other thing. You keep adding or taking away from these parables to try to force them into LDS doctrine. The parable does not say the man was at the end of his rope or that he could give no more. He had run out of time. The servant still asked to pay more and would have if that is what the master had demanded. Jesus says the master had compassion on him and cancelled the debt. You are treating Jesus’ forgiveness as merely the act of granting an extension of time to pay rather than cancel the debt. You actually believe that Jesus expects us to be more forgiving than He is and that is impossible.

  21. February 23, 2012 at 9:20 pm

    Shem said: “Now, in this particular parable in Luke 7 Christ is primarily talking about sin. Primarily; which is why he words it in the way he does, because that debt we can repay, at least in part, which is what I said. The portion of the debt that is canceled is what is added to the debt through sin; and it is canceled when we have nothing to pay, and not before that moment.”

    So when it comes to the parable we have been discussing, then you do agree with my statement of: “I think both Mormons and Christians would agree that our debt represents our sin and having the debt canceled represents forgiveness”. Correct?

  22. 22 David
    February 23, 2012 at 10:59 pm

    “4But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,
    5Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
    6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;
    7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. ” Titus 3:4-7.

    Shem, tell how this passage squares with your interpretation of the parabes we have been talking about. Before you start, let me say that part of the passage that says NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH WE HAVE DONE actually means exactly what it says..

  23. 23 shematwater
    February 24, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    DAVID

    “You are treating Jesus’ forgiveness as merely the act of granting an extension of time to pay rather than cancel the debt.”

    No I am not. It was a complete forgiveness. The servant asked for more time, but the master simply forgave the debt. That is what the parable says, and what I have said. I have taken nothing out of it.
    I also have added nothing, for the parable does say that he had nothing left to pay.
    Verse 25: But forasmuch as he had not to pay, his lord commanded him to be sold, and his wife, and children, and all that he had, and payment to be made.”
    The master would not have commended him to be sold if he still was able to pay something. It specifically states that he “Had not to pay,” meaning he had nothing.
    It is also important to note that the master was going to sell the servant until he pleaded and asked for more time, offering to find a way to pay the debt. If such a plea had not been made the forgiveness of the debt would not have been given.
    I have added nothing, nor have I removed anything.

    “We are to forgive freely or else be held to pay the debt, but He “forgives” only after He has been repaid?”

    He forgives whom he chooses to forgive, and these parables teach us that forgiveness comes only to those who have given all they can and come before him with broken hearts. He does not require full payment, only what we are able to do.
    As to us forgiving others, we are to forgive all men, regardless of who they are. This does not mean we do not seek redress for any wrongs committed against us. What it means is that we do not hold a grudge; we do not deny help to a person because they have wronged us in the past. If we are unwilling to let bygones be bygones we cannot expect God to do the same.

    (To be continued)

  24. 24 David
    February 24, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Shem –

    “Not by works” If it is earned it is not grace.

    Romans 4:3-5

    3For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness.
    4Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
    5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    David

  25. 25 shematwater
    February 24, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    DAVID

    Speaking of Titus 3: 4-7, it in no way contradicts what I have said.

    Also note that the verse you are so intent on claiming sole power of interpretation does not mean what you think it does. “Not by works of righteousness which we have done,” does mean just that, but to what is this phrase being applied. You seem to argue that it is being applied to our salvation, thus indicating that our actions have no baring on it. However, this is not what it is applied to in this passage. It is being applied to the actions of the Savior (see verse 4) in making such possible. He came and performed the atonement, making salvation possible. He did this “according to his mercy.”
    But you will note that is does say we are saved “by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” which is a direct statement for the need of baptism (the washing) and gift of the Holy Ghost (the renewing).
    Thus, by his mercy, and not because of anything we did, he came into the world and did the work necessary so that we could be saved by baptism of water and spirit.

    In the parables it is through the mercy of the creditor that the debt is finally forgiven (just as it was the mercy of Christ that made salvation possible) but only after the debtors had paid what they could (just as salvation is gained only after baptism of water and spirit).

    Now this does simplify it a bit, but you get the point.

    “If it is earned it is not grace.”

    It is not earned, and I never said it was. You cannot earn the forgiveness of debt. If you earn it it is not forgiven, but paid. This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 4. As we cannot repay the debt we can never earn salvation.
    However, the bible makes it perfectly clear that if we do not do our part we will not receive forgiveness.
    “For what saith the scripture?”

    James 2: 21-24 “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?
    Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?
    And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.”
    Hebrews 11: 17 “By faith Abraham, when he was tried, offered up Isaac: and he that had received the promises offered up his only begotten son,”

    Notice that blessings did not come because Abraham had faith, but that his faith was first tried, and when his actions, or his works proved his faith he received the blessings.
    The same thing is true in these parables. When we show our faith in God by doing what he has commanded, then our faith is perfected and God forgives us all our sins. When we do not show our faith in obeying him he does not forgive. Just as the creditor in Luke 7 did not forgive until after the debtors had nothing to pay; or the Lord in Matthew 18 did not forgive until after the servant had nothing to pay, but was still willing to try.

  26. February 27, 2012 at 1:56 am

    Shem

    You say “This is what Paul was talking about in Romans 4. As we cannot repay the debt we can never earn salvation.
    However, the bible makes it perfectly clear that if we do not do our part we will not receive forgiveness.”

    Shem what you I hope that come to see is that from the biblical standpoint these two sentences directly oppose each other. I know they sometimes do not from the LDS standpoint. This is where LDS teachings about the atoning work of Jesus and the three levels of kingdoms make a world of difference from the impact of Jesus Christ’s saving work and what it means for you and me. What the bible makes clear it is NOT that we must “do our part to receive forgiveness.” What the bible makes clear is what Christians do NOT in order to be forgiven but rather BECAUSE THEY ARE FORGIVEN.

    “8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9 The passages you cite in James 2 are discussing the fact that true faith is always active and accompanied by works, because faith that proceduces no works is dead. Faith with no deeds is useless. See James 2:20. The point though, AND THIS IS NO SMALL DISTINCTION, is that the works do not save, it is faith (living, breathing and active – in other words – true faith) that saves and shows itself in works. The caution of James 2 is concluded with this truth “26For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26.

    See also “16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
    17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.” Romans 1:16-17.

    Everytime you try insist that works are required in spite of what these passages clearly state you are rendering these passages meaningless. They are meant to mean exactly what they say.

    Go back to what I quoted from you in the first paragraph i.e. that we can’t earn salvation but still must do our part to earn forgiveness. Jesus has done Your part already – – just believe Him. He did not just save you from physical death, He made you perfect through His saving work on the cross. Hebrews 10:14-18 says:
    “14For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.

    15Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before,

    16This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them;

    17And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.

    18Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

    FRom Galatians 3 Paul writes:
    1O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you?

    2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

    3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?

    4Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.

    5He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?

    6Even as Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.

    7Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.

    8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed.

    9So then they which be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham.

    10For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

    11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith.

    12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them.

    13Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

    14That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

    Jesus didn’t just make your forgiveness possible He accomplished it by paying the full price for every sin of everyone in the whole world for all time. Jesus saved you from the curse of the law, he lived a perfect life in your place. The perfection God demands under the law could only be met by Jesus. Without faith in Him, one cannot escape condemnation.

    “14And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up:

    15That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.

    16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    17For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

    18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. ”
    John 3:14-18

    He is “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” Jeremiah 23:6

    David

  27. 27 shematwater
    February 27, 2012 at 3:02 pm

    BEREANDAVE

    What I said in no way is contradictory of any of the verses you site. However, before I comment on them I would like to point out that you do not have a “Biblical Christianity.” I really wish people would stop trying to commandeer the Bible, claiming sole power of interpretation. I really don’t care what you believe, or how you think it fits the Bible. That does not make yours the only interpretation, nor does it make yours the most logical.
    Our perspective of the Bible is influenced by our doctrine. Your perspective of the Bible is influenced by your doctrine. Let us, for once, admit this.

    “What the bible makes clear is what Christians do NOT in order to be forgiven but rather BECAUSE THEY ARE FORGIVEN.”

    Great. Your point. The same is true for us, as much as people want to deny it. This here speaks to the motivations of the individual believer, not the actions of God. That is the biggest misunderstanding that people have concerning the LDS doctrine. We do not act to gain the reward, but because we love God and are grateful for all he has done. But we acknowledge that God is a wise and caring parent, and is well versed in all the proper parenting techniques: Primarily among which is that you do not give the reward before the desired action is performed, but after.
    In other words, I do not give my son candy and then tell him to clean his room, hoping that he will do so out of gratitude. I tell him to clean his room, promising to give him the candy when he is done, while hoping that he will do so out of love for me.
    People do not seem to understand this distinction.

    “true faith is always active and accompanied by works”

    Then a person who does not do the works has no faith and thus receives no rewards. This statement proves that works are indeed required. Of course, it is once again born from a misunderstanding of LDS doctrine, as the LDS will always teach that it is through faith we are saved, and not through our actions, but that our faith must be tested and proved by our actions in order to have such a saving power. There is nothing different in this from what you have stated, except that you are denying that our works have any part in the process, which is directly contradictory to what James has said.
    “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar?”
    Notice that James states directly that it was the works that justified Abraham, not the faith; and that in the next verse it is the justification of those works that gives Faith its power of perfection.

    “Everytime you try insist that works are required in spite of what these passages clearly state you are rendering these passages meaningless.”

    No, I am not. The just shall live by faith, for it is through their faith that they become willing to obey the commands of God. It was through faith that Abraham has willing to offer Isaac, for such a command was contrary to the Lord’s command that “thou shalt not kill.” But Abraham had sufficient faith that when the command came he did not question it, but obeyed. Thus, he lived by his faith, and through living (or acting) his faith was made perfect.
    Remember what faith is. “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11: 1). Thus, to live by faith is to do the works that required by the unseen, to strive for an unknown, or unseen goal, and do all that is required of one to attain it. Living by faith is trusting that God exists, that his promises are real, and acting accordingly. If one trusts his existences and promises, but does not act accordingly they can never hope to attain that unseen goal.

    Hebrews 10: 14-18 (I quote only 14) “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

    Who are the sanctified?
    1 Corinthians 6: 11 “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.”
    Those who are washed (baptized) are sanctified. Also note that it is those who have the Gift of the Holy Ghost that are Justified.
    Thus He made those who are baptized “perfect through His saving work on the cross” for these are they who are sanctified.

    In Galatians the Law that Paul speaks of is the Law of Moses, which many of the saints were being to fall back to. It was not through this law that they were sanctified, but through the preaching of faith, and the acting on that faith through baptism.

    John 3: 14-18
    You will note that not once does this passage make any guarantees. It is always saying the should not parish; and the world might be saved; and that they are not condemned. These all indicate that the work of Christ is not the end of all salvation, but the beginning.
    Those who believe should not parish, but this still leave open the possibility that they can parish, if they do not act accordingly.
    Through Christ the world might be saved, but this does not guarantee that salvation.
    “He that believeth on him is not condemned” but it does not say that he is saved either, which tells us that the work is not yet complete.

    Nothing I say has contradicted the Bible. All I have done is contradicted your interpretation of the Bible.

  28. February 27, 2012 at 5:10 pm

    Shem

    I agree Shem that our doctrines influence our interpretations of the Bible. It seems to me you look at works as required effort while I see works as the natural result of true faith. Fruit always follows faith. The discussion was premised on what you said above where you said you don’t get forgiveness unless “we do our part.” That doesn’t sound like a focus on “rewards” to me.

    In the example you gave of your son cleaning his room for candy. When you give him the candy afterwards, did he clean up his room for love or for candy? If you give him the candy before, it has this much in common with the concept of grace – it was undeserved. This example also, it seems to me, undermines what you said here “We do not act to gain the reward, but because we love God and are grateful for all he has done.” Your candy example was an exchange transaction – a quid pro quo.

    Hebrews 10:10 also discusses the sanctiication through Jesus’ death on the cross. “10By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

    What did Jesus “perfect forever” then in Hebrews 10:14?

    How can Christ’s work be not yet complete when it says “He that believeth is not condemned.” If a believer is not condemned how are they not saved? You lost me there when you read this passage along with Hebrews 10:14.

    David

  29. 29 shematwater
    February 27, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    DAVID

    The difference between the analogy of my son and the workings of God is that God is able to discern our thoughts and motivations, and rewards those just as much as he does our actions. This is the transaction that takes place, for when we are obedient to any law we receive the reward that God has set for that obedience. This is generally regardless of our motivations. But to gain the highest reward of eternal life our motivation must be in accordance with God, or we must be motivated for a pure love of him and all that is good.
    There are three types of motivation, and each brings a different level of reward. There are those who do righteousness to avoid punishment. They will avoid the punishment, but will not receive the reward. There are those who do righteousness to receive the reward. They receive what was promised, but nothing more. Then there are those who do righteousness because it is right and that is what God wants them to do. They receive the promised reward, but they also receive more, even the fullness of the Father. This is what God wants from all of us. However, just as a child learns first to avoid the punishment, then receive the reward, and finally to simply do good; so to God trains us, teaches us, and tries to help us progress to the point that we truly have this last motivation at the heart of everything we do.

    The real problem is you cannot seem to understand that a person can have this motivation if there is a promised reward for actions. You seem to think that if a reward is offered the motivation of action will always be the attaining of it. That is not true.

    Speaking of Hebrews 10: 10, I am in complete agreement, for it is through his sacrifice that baptism is given the power to sanctify us. He died so that we might be sanctified. We are sanctified when we are baptized. Thus, when we are baptized we are made perfect in Christ.

    As to “He that believeth is not condemned,” as I said this does not say they are saved. The problem here is your assumption that if one is not condemned in this very instant than they are saved. You cannot see that there is a kind of middle ground, a state in this life when a person has not yet gained salvation, but has also not yet fallen enough to be condemned already.
    Those who have no faith have no hope of salvation, and thus in that state they are condemned. Those that do believe have moved out of this state of condemnation and have begun their journey to salvation, but have not yet attained it.
    In light of Hebrews 10: 14 this is still perfectly true. The sanctified are made perfect at the time of their baptism, and so they are not condemned. But they must remain perfect, or endure to the end, to be saved.


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