Jesus Resurrects; Works Exalt

LDS author Alonzo L. Gaskill authored the 2008 book, Odds Are, You’re Going to be Exalted. On page 4 of that book Dr. Gaskill explains,

“…it is a fallacy to say that Jesus saves us, but then our works exalt us—an idea I have heard expressed not a few times by members of the Church. That too implies a self-sufficiency that is, at best, damning!”

I have also heard this idea expressed “not a few times” by Latter-day Saints. It is easy to see why some Mormons have understood this to be Church doctrine. Keeping in mind that in LDS thought there is a distinction between general salvation (resurrection or immortality) and individual salvation (eternal life or exaltation), consider how the LDS Church has presented these doctrines.

“Jesus Christ made the resurrection a reality, but each person determines what kind of reward he or she will receive” (Church News, week ending May 25, 1996, 14).

“…all will be resurrected because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God the Father. Depending on our individual obedience to the laws, ordinances, and commandments of God, each mortal can have the blessing of attaining eternal life; that is, returning to live in the presence of their Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, having eternal increase for all the eternities to come” (Apostle Robert D. Hales, “The Eternal Family,” Ensign, November 1996, 64).

“We declare without equivocation the fact of His great act of Atonement for all mankind. That act brought about assurance of universal resurrection and opened the way to exaltation in our Father’s kingdom” (President Gordon B. Hinckley, “Our Testimony to the World,” Ensign, May 1997, 83).

“Through His Atonement, the Savior made it possible for every person born into mortality to be resurrected. And to all who receive the ordinances and strive to keep the covenants of His gospel, the Lord promises exaltation in the celestial kingdom” (The Visiting Teacher, Ensign, January 1999, 70).

“Because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and His Resurrection, we will all be resurrected. Jesus Christ is our Savior, for He saves us from physical death…This [spiritual] redemption is conditioned on our having faith in His Atonement, our repenting from our sins, our keeping the covenants we make with the Lord, our obeying all His commandments, and our enduring to the end. Obeying the sacred covenants and all the commandments qualifies us to receive the remission of our sins, allowing us to live clean and pure lives in the presence of God as resurrected and exalted beings” (Seventy Adhemar Damiani, “The Merciful Plan of the Great Creator,” Ensign, March 2004, 11-12. Emphasis mine).

“The Lord’s mission in mortality was to accomplish the Atonement, which is the gift of immortality to every individual who has ever lived. That is an incredible gift. Part of that mission was to make eternal life a possibility for anyone who would qualify for it. That is a gift conditioned upon obedience to the laws and temple ordinances and covenants” (Apostle Russell M. Nelson, “The Mission and Ministry of the Savior,” Ensign, June 2005, 19).

These LDS teachers may very well have meant that people need Jesus–in some capacity–in addition to their own individual works in order to gain exaltation. But Latter-day Saints who have thought otherwise should be excused; they have only followed the Church’s teachings to their logical conclusions.

About Sharon Lindbloom

Sharon surrendered her life to the Lord Jesus Christ in 1979. Deeply passionate about Truth, Sharon loves serving as a full-time volunteer research associate with Mormonism Research Ministry. Sharon and her husband live in Minnesota.

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36 Responses to Jesus Resurrects; Works Exalt

  1. “We thank thee oh God for [BYU professors]” to save us from the false doctrines of LDS prophets, apostles, and institutionally correlated literature!

  2. To avoid unfruitful discussion, let me help set the scope of the conversation:

    Mormonism has always taught that the work of Christ is in some way necessary for exaltation by our individual works. It has also taught that “faith in Christ” is in some sense necessary (although the content of that faith is radically different). The rub is that Mormonism has taught that our individual worthiness, merit, obedience, and works, are decisively that which determines whether we are exalted unto godhood. In other words, Christ’s gracious atonement received by faith is not sufficient to ensure all that which is required for eternal life and forever-increasingly growing in the knowledge, power, and enjoyment of God.

    BYU professors like Gaskill (and Millet) obscure the traditional Mormon requirements for obtaining forgiveness, eternal life, and exaltation, and refuse to, with integrity, make clear contrasts with what Mormon leaders have forthrightly taught concerning the role of personal merit, worthiness, and six-step repentance that necessarily includes successful, permanent abandonment of sin as an absolute prerequisite.

    Anyone who tries to approach this issue with over-generalizations and mere broad terms (“but faith and works are both required!”), without getting at the watershed distinctions, is not doing anyone a favor.

  3. Thinker says:

    That’s out right deceptive and I’m really disappointed in you Aaron. No LDS prophet has ever said works save us free from the grace for Christ. All one has to do is read the bible to no our works don’t save us in any way!–yet that doesn’t mean Christ doesn’t ask us to try and live good Christian lives as outward manifestations of our faith and committment in him. Secondly, Millet and Gaskill’s books are correlated literature in the sense that they are published by a church owned publisher. They must go through an approval process to make sure they are teaching doctrine. So don’t try and pretend they teach anything different than what the LDS prophets teach because they never would have gotten it published by Deseret Book.

  4. SteveH says:

    This is yet another blatant example of Mormon Coffee and MRM misstating/misrepresenting LDS doctrine. Really, it is not that difficult to comprehend that we are saved by the Grace of God by we are also judged by the works of our lives.

  5. Lautensack says:

    Thinker,
    Are you saying the above quote by Dr. Gaskill does not contradict the following quotes by President Spencer W. Kimball?

    “Monthly there are testimony meetings held where each one has the opportunity to bear witness. To by-pass such opportunities is to fail to that extent to pile up credits against the accumulated errors and transgressions.” (Kimball, Spencer W., Miracle of Forgiveness, 206)

    “However good a person’s works, he could not be saved had Jesus not died for is and everyone’s else’s sins. And however powerful the saving grace of Christ, it brings exaltation to no man who does not comply with the works of the gospel.” (Ibid., 207)

    “The Lord’s program is unchangeable. His laws are immutable. They will not be modified. Your opinion or mine does not alter the laws. Many in the world, even some in the Church, seem to think that eventually the Lord will be merciful and give them unearned blessing. But the Lord cannot be merciful at the expense of justice.” (Ibid., 249)

    I would submit that these teachings are not consistent with those of Dr. Gaskill.

    Lautensack

  6. bws71 says:

    Grace vs works. Hmmm. Whole books have been devoted to the topic. It is hard for me to get too excited by this debate. It seems we just dance around the issue without ever really hearing each other. I will share what I believe and what I feel my church teaches.

    I believe that I am powerless to save myself, that without Christ I would be spiritually unprepared and unable to tolerate God’s company after death. Without Christ’s atonement there can be no at-one-ment between man and God. Take Christ out of the equation and it becomes unsolvable. I feel this is a universal opinion held among all mormons. If you accept this as a true description of our belief then I feel this puts to rest the question of Christ’s primacy in mormon doctrine. No quotations from the 1972 New ERA needed. This is what I believe. Without Christ there is no way back to God – salvation, exaltation, whatever. How then can my belief in our total dependence on him be questioned?

  7. faithoffathers says:

    I see nothing in these quotations that is not consistent with church teachings. This is another continuation of our old discussion about faith vs. works. I am truly perplexed as to why 1. Our doctrine is not understood, and 2. Why ya’ll think it is blasphemous.

    1. The doctrine: We are saved by the grace of Christ. But He asks us to do certain things before or as that grace is given. You believe that requirement is simply to believe- we believe we must have faith in him, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost and keep the commandments. But the principle is that ultimately, we are saved by Christ’s grace. I believe our take is the only one that makes sense- otherwise, why commandments. And how does one strengthen or exercise their faith other than keeping commandments and repenting? I submit that there is no other way.

    2. Blasphemy/denying Christ- We believe in what Christ said- “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” We believe we must follow Christ and keep His commandments to please Him. It really boggles my mind that this is seen as blasphemous.

    I find it very bothersome that critics of the church who spend significant time reading our literature and who HAVE to know the role Christ plays in our religion pretend that it is not clear whether mormons feel they need Jesus. This is so disingenuous. And dishonest.

  8. bws71 says:

    I also think a big difference lies in believing that salvation is a process vs an occurrence. I think most mormons see our salvation/exaltation as a process that requires our willing participation over time. I get the impression that evangelicals see salvation as an event that happens at the time one commits to Christ. I think most mormons feel that Christ wants to bring us back to heaven better – not just saved. What do evangelicals believe is the purpose of salvation?

    Maybe an analogy to a boat is appropriate. Some may see salvation as getting in the boat with Christ as he rows it to shore. I think Mormons feel that we get in the boat and are asked to row with Christ, not because he needs the help getting across but because we need to learn to row. His goal is to make us over in his image. He wants rowers, not passengers. This makeover requires our willing participation. It is a process over time, not an event. (To be clear I am not saying only Mormons row. We just believe that the rowing matters. Learning to row is actually the purpose, not just the getting to shore.)

    What do you think?

  9. jer1414 says:

    I think it sounds like the Mormon posters here are echoing what I have learned about Mormon teaching thus far: Jesus obtains for us “resurrection” (to judgment) also know as “general salvation”, and we must participate / work / row / etc. to gain exaltation or “individual salvation” (becoming a God according to Mormonism). This teaching puts ones faith into Jesus “AND” ourselves / our participation / our church /etc. into gaining us eternal life (or Mormonism’s “exaltation”).

    Scripture proclaims that salvation (eternal life in heaven, not resurrection) is based on faith in Christ and Christ alone. We are powerless, with no arms to row, if you will, to “help” gain ourselves eternal life in Heaven. I repeat an analogy that Religion is spelled “DO” while Christianity is spelled “DONE”. What are we putting our faith in? What we can “do”, or what Christ has “done”?

    Some posters may be confusing salvation with sanctification as the ongoing process of Christ making us into the person He created us to be (not the process of learning to become a God). But that is another story. And so we differ.

  10. JessicaJoy says:

    As I’ve been studying Mormon doctrine, I have observed much focus on individual sins, but not a teaching on the carnal nature of a person that literally makes it impossible for a person to follow God’s commandments through self-effort (Rom. 7:12-14). I have also found a serious lack of teaching on what Christ accomplished for sinners on the cross (Rom. 5:8-21). The LDS teaching on exaltation that I have read involves self-transformation including penitence for sins and self-effort to obey the commandments. Total forgiveness is only obtained after repenting and forsaking the sins (D&C 58:43) and following the commandments (D&C 1:32).

    The Bible says we cannot keep the commandments by our own efforts and we cannot make ourselves righteous by forsaking our sins and trying to keep the commandments. The purpose of the law was to show us our inability to keep the commandments through our own efforts (Rom. 7:4-14, Gal. 3:19-24).

    We must be born-again by placing our faith in Jesus Christ alone as our righteousness (John 3:5-18, Rom. 4:3-5, 5:1, Gal. 2:16, Phil. 3:9, Titus 3:5). Our growth in the Christian life is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit as we become dead to sin and alive in His Spirit (Rom. 6-8, Galatians 2:19-20, 5:16-24).

    He is the vine, we are the branches (John 15). We are only able to bear fruit as we abide in Him and He accomplishes His work in and through us. Any “good works” that we accomplish through our own efforts are as “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6). The Christian life is not about following a list of “do’s and don’ts” but a vibrant, dynamic relationship with a living Person who indwells us and changes us daily into His likeness as we look unto Him and not at our works (II Cor. 3:6-18). I am not saying we disobey the commandments, but striving to obey them in an effort to earn our exaltation can never make us righteous. “For if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain” (Gal. 2:21).

  11. Jeffrey says:

    I wasn’t going to post because I have posted so many times before on faith/works – but, here I am, lol.

    I wanted to second what jer1414 states. If there are LDS that don’t agree with what he said, let me know which statement you don’t agree with.

    I have made an analogy regarding this before as well, and I would argue the same point jer1414 made – that in your analogy, bws, you claim we have arms and I would say just as jer said, that we don’t have arms to row.

    From the Bible, we see that God wants our hearts, not our works. God knows that once he has our hearts, we will naturally desire to love him, obey his commandments, etc.

    If you say you are a Christian and that you have faith in Christ and you don’t show a glimmer of his existence within you, then you better check yourself before you wreck yourself.

    The greatest commandment of all is to love.. Not to do any special ordinances.

    Granted, there are rewards in heaven for your good deeds, but Salvation and becoming a God aren’t them.

    Salvation comes as a gift by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ. And becoming a God is heresy.

  12. jackg says:

    Talking about God’s grace is my favorite thing to do: “…I do not count my life of any value to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the LORD Jesus, to testify to the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24).

    I used to be an enemy to God. I struggled with sexual sin and lived a life according to my own desires. I tried not to sin, but found that I could not claim victory over my sins. But, here’s the beauty of God’s grace: grace is shown to the wicked! Even when I didn’t truly understand what grace was; even when I was an enemy to God, God was showing me His grace. Now, was I saved merely because God was showing grace to me? Absolutely not! I was at a place in my life where Isaiah 26:10 really applied to me: “Though grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and regard not the majesty of the LORD.” I kept on doing what I wanted to do, disregarding the majesty of God. I might have claimed during this time in my life that I was a believer in Christ, but I could not really say that I was a follower of Christ, and therein lies the key to being justified by faith and saved by grace. My sinful life did two things: it gave evidence to the fact that I was not truly a follower of Christ and, 2, it revealed my need for Jesus Christ, my Savior and LORD. So, to the question as to why do we even have commandments, there purpose to show us that we are sinners and in need of Messiah. That’s it. They don’t save us. Following them doesn’t save us. To keep the commandments requires all the character demonstrated by one who is filled with the Holy Spirit and who bears the fruits of the Spirit; therefore, it can be concluded that a person can only keep the commandments, which are really loving God and loving our fellowmen, because he/she is empowered by the Holy Spirit which, again, is a gift from God according to His grace in the first place.

    to be cont’d

  13. Thinker says:

    You’ve done a nice job taking them out of context but that’s right, there’s no contradiction. Here’s how I see it: We all have an enormous mountain before, we’ll call it “Mount Sin.” To live with our Heavenly Father, we have to get to the other side of the mountain. None of us, is strong enough to get over it by our self. Not one of us is an “athlete strong enough” as someone else put it on this blog. No matter how good I am or how much I “do all that I can do,” I will never get to the top of this mountain. The scriptures are pretty clear on this that works do not save us and we cannot save ourselves. However we are in luck, Christ, is at the base of the mountain sitting on the front seat of a tandem bike (cheesy but stay with me because the analogy works). He’s offering to take us over the mountain but He’s asking us to do a few things to demonstrate our gratitude, faith and commitment to Him. For one, we obviously need to trust Him enough to sit on the bike (Faith and baptism.) Once we get on the bike, he starts peddling and asks us to peddle with him. He doesn’t need our help to get us over “Mount Sin,” but He likes to see our commitment to Him (faith with works). We all have different situations and strengths so of each one of us he expects us to peddle a different amount. As long as he sees we are committed to him to His satisfaction, He will keep on peddling and take to the top. We can’t do it our self. We don’t peddle half way and he takes us the rest. Instead, He takes us the whole way as long as he can see we are peddling with him to his satisfaction. It is outright dishonest and insulting for you to claim that we think we are exhalted without Christ peddling the whole way because He is my Reedemer and Savior in every aspect of my life. He saves me from my stupid mistakes. I don’t exhalt myself.

  14. Thinker, please read my words more carefully before making accusations. I never said Gaskill’s book was institutionally correlated. I never said Christ didn’t ask us to be holy and outwardly manifest our faith.

    And I would be really careful in assuming that what Deseret Book sells is always consistent with what Mormon prophets and apostles and institutional literature as taught.

    we are saved by the Grace of God by we are also judged by the works of our lives

    Steve, what kind of attempt at clarification and understanding is this? This language is so loaded and generalized I could spend a half-hour unpacking it. Please, get at the heart of the watershed issues by using more specific language.

    faithoffathers, you perhaps have insinuated that I said something to the effect of, “it is not clear whether mormons feel they need Jesus”. Thinker also wrote:

    It is outright dishonest and insulting for you to claim that we think we are exhalted without Christ peddling the whole way because He is my Reedemer and Savior in every aspect of my life.

    Perhaps you missed it when I said, “Mormonism has always taught that the work of Christ is in some way necessary for exaltation by our individual works. It has also taught that ‘faith in Christ’ is in some sense necessary (although the content of that faith is radically different).” In any case, the phrase “need Jesus” is too vague and ambiguous to be helpful or constructive here. Need him for what? To lay a necessary foundation to help you individually prove your personal worthiness, merit, and obedience unto godhood? To assist you in proving yourself worthy before an All-Holy God?

    Here is how I would describe “salvation” (I’m borrowing the words from Theopedia that I helped write):

    Initial salvation

    Initial salvation refers to the event of a person’s conversion. If you repent of your sin and turn in faith to Christ as Lord and Savior, your sins are immediately forgiven, your fight of faith has begun, and your future in Christ is secured forever. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” (Romans 10:13) “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)

    Progressive salvation

    Progressive salvation refers to the journey of a believer between conversion and death. It is the only path that leads to eternal life (Romans 6:20-23), and is walked by faith alone, in the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8, Galatians 3:2-5). It contains bumps and struggles and setbacks, but is marked by growth in love for others and for God. It involves a fight of faith, a striving for peace and holiness (Hebrews 12:14, 1 John 1:9), and a reoccurring approach of the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16). “[O]ur Lord Jesus Christ… will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom you were called into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:7-9)

    Final salvation

    Final salvation refers to the event of God saving his people at the final judgment, the great divide between sheep and goats, wherein sheep are identified by their work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ, and accepted on the ground of their union with Christ, the righteous substitute.

    To get more of an idea of why Christians are so concerned about Mormonism’s teachings, see:

    Quotes on Merit, Earning, and Worthiness

    Also see the main page on salvation at MRM.org.

    Please, ponder and be thoughtful about the differences. Why is it that nearly every single time I ask a Christian if they have eternal life and the complete forgiveness of sins, they unequivocally and confidently say, “YES!” But when I ask individual Mormons, it’s like shaking a magic 8-ball? Please, slow down, and think through it all. There is something huge going on to account for that practical difference.

  15. Jeffrey says:

    Amen, Jessica. It is simple and clear what the Bible states regarding this whole subject.

    LDS friends…

    I sin, you sin, we all sin – it’s only natural. It doesn’t matter if I have done 99.9% good works throughout my life and only sinned .1% – I deserve eternal seperation from God.

    On earth, if you committed murder only once but throughout your whole life you gave to the needy, served your fellow men, etc – once you stepped into the courtroom you deserve whatever the punishment is for murder. And so it is with our righteous and fair Judge in Heaven.

    So believing that Christ died for ALL of your sins, be it 1 or 1 million, is equivalent to someone coming into the court room and saying I will pay his debt, let him be free. Would you start saying “Thanks! but I also was a super fantastic person so that is also a good reason you should let me off the hook.”… – What a slap in the face of Christ is that.

    The law has been given to do just as jackg has experienced, and that is to let one know that they are in need of Christ Jesus. If you could keep the whole law and abandon/forsake sin permanently (as the Mormon faith teaches), what would you need Jesus for?

    Its not multiple sins that make you guilty, it only takes one sin to do that. And, no matter how good your works are, they will not cover the permanent blemish of sin that all mankind has. Jesus Christ is the soap and the water because he alone is righteous enough to be those. Don’t let the LDS church authorities tell you that you can help scrub the sin out, you will only be getting in Christs way. But try to keep your clothes clean after he washes your sin from you so that you may have the blessings in this life by following his commandments. Sinning will cause you to suffer, following the commandments will give you blessings.

  16. A paragraph from the MRM article on salvation that hopefully will help:

    Mormon language on salvation can be confusing and difficult to parse. Leaders speak of “salvation by grace” and relying upon the “merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah” (2 Nephi 2:8), but these phrases mean something in Mormonism that still tragically make it a false gospel. Mormonism teaches of a general salvation and an individual salvation. General salvation refers to the unconditional, universal gift of resurrection to all. Individual salvation refers to the process one must go through to receive exaltation in the highest heavenly kingdom of the afterlife, the Celestial Kingdom, where one may eternally enjoy family and become a God over his own spirit children. While Mormonism teaches that this process is made possible by the merits of Christ and blessings of his atonement, and that gracious guidance, encouragement, and strengthening is granted throughout the journey, it nevertheless teaches that the decisive factor which determines one’s final destination is one’s personal, meritorious righteousness and worthiness. According to Mormon apostle Robert D. Hales, “Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life” (“Personal Revelation: The Teachings and Examples of the Prophets”, General Conference, October 2007).

  17. jackg says:

    Grace is not something that is merely added to our life’s work as some mere appendage; to claim so is to say that God responds to our works with grace when, in reality, we respond to His grace with faith and works that bring Him glory. I believe we can say King Solomon understood the purpose of keeping the commandments: “…and may he maintain the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel, as each day requires; so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the LORD is God; there is no other. Therefore, devote yourselves completely to the LORD our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day” (1 Kings 8:59b-61). Peter also says: “Dear friends, I urge you, as aliens and strangers in the world, to abstain from sinful desires, which war against your soul. Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Peter 2:11,12). The purpose of obedience is to show evidence of our faith and to glorify God–not to earn us anything because we are saved solely on the merits of Jesus Christ, and we are only righteous because Jesus’ righteousness is imputed to us.

    It is because of God’s grace in my life that I can be obedient through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. Grace is a part of our lives from start to finish–not just at the end after all we can do. I am not saying that human effort is not necessary, just that human effort only matters after the point of justification because the engine for our human effort is God. As C.S. Lewis says, “…the Christian thinks any good he does comes from the Christ-life inside him” and “He does not think God will love us because we are good, but that God will make us good because He loves us…” (“Mere Christianity” 63).

    I praise God that I no longer have a backward perception of His grace. It has made all the difference in my life!

  18. bws71 says:

    “If you could keep the whole law and abandon/forsake sin permanently (as the Mormon faith teaches)…”

    “Don’t let the LDS church authorities tell you that you can help scrub the sin out, you will only be getting in Christs way.”

    Sigh. Once someone else starts telling me what the LDS chruch teaches, my eyes kinda glaze over.

    Interestingly it seems to me the first official word out of Christ’s mouth as he began his ministry was – guess what – “Repent.” (Mark 1:15, Matt 4:17) When the rich young man came and asked Jesus himself what he needed to do to obtain eternal life, seems like a great opportunity for Christ to lay it down and say, “All you need is to accept my free gift.” Oddly Christ responded with something else. So I am confused when someone tells me the bible says I can’t keep the commandments. Maybe the key I don’t understand is ‘by my own efforts.’

    Let’s say I’m wrong though. Let’s say I was mistaken when I read Christ’s gospel. When I get to heaven and he tells me – “BWS, I recognize all your efforts to keep my commandments. You really didn’t need to do all that in order to be with me. Sorry if that was unclear. But I can see you learned so much and you were blessed by following my teachings. Cool. Come on in.”

    In fact as I write that I’m reminded that I don’t try to keep the commandments because I’m trying to get in to heaven. I do so because I love God and he has asked me to. He has also taught me that I am happier when I do his will over my own. This is enough for me.

  19. Jeffrey says:

    Jackg, your post has made me think of something.

    When it comes to analogy’s on salvation, any work being done by us – how do you say? – Oh yes, “Does not compute.”

    I know LDS posters won’t accept God’s word on the matter, but they can keep on helping the mormon jesus save themselves while Christians give the glory to God for the finished work of Christ on the cross.

    There is no tandem bike of salvation because God knows we are paralyzed by sin. The best we can do for our salvation is to ask God to pick us up, dust us off, and place us on his handle bars and have faith that Christ will take us home to heaven. He likes to see our commitment to him by not falling off the bike and back into the dirt and mud, getting buried by sin to the point where we give up faith in him or outright deny his ability to find us and save us. He also likes to see us yelling at the top of our lungs to others who are “lost” in the mud/dirt/sin, or who are riding tandem bicycles with a different jesus.

    My Jesus doesn’t need me just as much as I don’t need me, I need Him and Him alone.

  20. Lancaster says:

    Having encountered little resistence promulgating the “limited geography model” to explain Book of Mormon archeology (or rather, the lack of it), FARMS discovered that it can pretty much dictate Mormon theology. Its current goal is to expunge what Kendall White calls “Mormon orthodoxy,” the belief in a “finite God, an optimistic assessment of human nature, and a doctrine of salvation by merit.” With Correlation dutifully following suit, it’s no surprise that the majority of Mormons already express outrage at the proposition that such things were ever taught or believed in.

  21. Goldarn says:

    The Kimball quote in Lautensack’s first comment is either confusing or chilling. Pres. Kimball seems to be saying that it is possible to “pile up credits against the accumulated errors and transgressions.”

    I had no idea that, if I did enough good things (like missionary work, which is the context of the quote), I could be pre-excused from the consequences of sin.”

    Regardless of the quote, however, Miracle of Forgiveness does stress the absolute necessity of obeying each and every commandment to the fullest, and doing so cheerfully and completely willingly. Any lesser effort requires repentance.

    Did Jesus tell the rich young man to sell all that he has, because he needed to do that act to earn his way to exaltation? Or, did He tell him to sell everything, because his possessions were interfering with his faith in the salvation of Christ?

    The question still seems to be, do we do righteous works because we are trying to do enough to be saved? Or do we do righteous works because of our love of Christ? Or do we do righteous works because doing them is the natural expression of our faith?

  22. falcon says:

    I really don’t see what the big deal is here. As I’ve pointed out endlessly, Mormonism is not Christianity. It is a religious system unto itself. If it were a Christian denomination then we’d have something to discuss. Mormons are trying to hit the Celestial jackpot and become gods. That’s not Christianiy. They get the mansion in the sky and their godly crown by their works. As Christians we have nothing to argue with them about (except that we think their whole system is bogus). So why waste our time with a discusion that is really about Mormonism? The restored gospel of Mormonism can be whatever it wants to be. Mormons can put on their costumes and pointy hats and go do their work-outs in the temple until their hearts’ content. If they think that’s the road to their personal deification, they can have at it. I would suggest as Christians, we don’t bother with a grace/works discussion with Mormons. We’re arguing at cross purposes because it’s got nothing to do with us. It’s their own program. They can argue who and how they make it into the inner rim of the Celestial kingdom.

  23. “Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life” – Robert D. Hales, “Personal Revelation: The Teachings and Examples of the Prophets”, October 2007 General Conference

    I think it is disingenuous for anyone to speak of the purpose of life and/or the criteria for receiving or authenticating or even achieving eternal life as divorced from one’s motivation to obey. If the purpose of life is, among other things, to merit eternal life, and the means of meriting eternal life necessarily involves proving one’s worthiness via obedience, then it is natural that, among other motivations, meriting eternal life would be a meaningful motivation for obedience.

    It seems that dropping the whole notion of meriting eternal life would be a lot simpler than trying to work it into one’s theology while somehow keeping it doctrinally sequestered from any motivation to obey.

  24. GRCluff says:

    I think I can settle this debate:

    Abr 3:24
    And there stood one among them that was like unto God, and he said unto those who were with him: We will go down, for there is space there, and we will take of these materials, and we will make an earth whereon these may dwell;
    25 And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them;
    26 And they who keep their first estate shall be added upon; and they who keep not their first estate shall not have glory in the same kingdom with those who keep their first estate; and they who keep their second estate shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.
    27 And the Lord said: Whom shall I send? And one answered like unto the Son of Man: Here am I, send me. And another answered and said: Here am I, send me. And the Lord said: I will send the first.

    The purpose of life is plainly stated, from the Mormon perspective, in bold. And from sanctioned Mormon scripture I might add.

    The need for a savior is ALSO addressed in the same context, also from the Mormon perspective.

    Why must God send someone to earth? To save mankind from their sins. Christians will continue to insist that He must save mankind IN their sins, but that has never been his intention.

    My question at this point is:

    How does the Christian’s effort to become “saved” THEN keep God’s commandments differ from the LDS version to keep Gods commandments THEN become saved?

    Isn’t that just a chicken and the egg discussion?

    Both include:
    1. Keeping Gods commandments.
    2. Finding salvation through God’s grace.

    All you have to do is tell me that Christian don’t really need to keep God’s commandments to be saved. Then I can continue to be justified in teaching the world that Christians are all about DESTROYING God’s plan.

    We can settle all this with one question. Do Christians have to repent or not? Yes, they are the same as Mormons, No…

  25. JessicaJoy says:

    Lancaster,

    That is very interesting what you wrote. So, if FARMS begins to dictate theology, are LDS people in danger of becoming apostates if they accept FARMS or BYU theology instead of the prophets? When did Millet, Robinson, and FARMS apologists become prophets? And what’s up with Gaskill now saying that it is a fallacy to say that works exalt us?

    Spencer Kimball said “one of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation” (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 206). Is that what Gaskill is now teaching? (I haven’t read his book yet so I don’t know, but it sounds like it from this quote).

    So…if LDS authors start teaching the Biblical doctrine of salvation by grace alone, what are LDS people to do? I thought “when the prophet speaks the debate is over.”

    Or have Kimball and others been guilty of scripture twisting when teaching that our “individual efforts” are part of the “2-facet” aspect of salvation (God’s grace and our efforts)?

    Kimball believed “we are saved, after all we can do” is what Paul meant in Eph. 2:8-9 (Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 207), but we all know that isn’t what Eph. 2:8-9 actually says. It says the exact opposite. Paul said elsewhere, “For as by one’s man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous” (Rom. 5:19).

    Is there any room for boasting in this? None at all. I don’t have anything to present to Christ of my own merits. I am resting entirely on His promise to save a wretched sinner like me and I am growing daily in grace and knowledge through the power of His Holy Spirit that He gave to me the day that I received, in simple faith, His free gift of righteousness. My desire to abide in Him and walk in His Spirit is a result of His transforming power in my life.

  26. Michael P says:

    Oh, Cluff, you sound so mighty and confident in your response.

    I’ll tell you that you don’t have to keep the commandments to be saved. Of course, in answering this, we have to go back and define commandments.

    When we both say commandments, do we mean the same thing? You know the answer.

    I view God giving us one commandment above all others, and all commandments are fulfilled in Christ. That one commandment is to love. First we are to love God, and then we are to love others, finally, we are to love ourselves. Reminds me of a philosophy held at a summer camp I went to in junior high, Camp Kanakuk, that spoke of the “I’m third” doctrine. It taught to view yourself as third in a heirarchy involving others. God first, others second, me third.

    So, the other “commandments” that you view as such, baptism (by one with authority of course), getting married, temple ordinances, sacriment, wearing specific clothing, paying tithes, etc. are not viewed as commandments by us. Actually, only baptism, tithes, and communion can be applied to us, though we lack, in your view, appropriate authority anyway.

    You say that by me answering that we don’t have to follow the commandments to be saved as destroying God’s plan. Do you care to define what God’s plan is that we are destroying by saying God’s gift of salvation comes by seeing who He truly is?

    Thanks.

  27. GRCluff says:

    Michael asked:
    When we both say commandments, do we mean the same thing?

    I am not talking about ordinances at all, although we HAVE been commanded to be baptized, etc.

    I mean the 10 commandments. And you are right, if we keep the first 5 we love God and put him first, if we keep the next five we love others more that we love ourselves.

    You dance all around my question. Are all Christians required to repent?

    It is a yes or no question. If the answer is yes, then there is NO significant difference between Mormons and Christians and we can be happy together.

    I think most Mormons assume that is yes. That is why we are so confused when you say we are so different.

  28. Michael P says:

    Actually, CLuff, I answered the question.

    No, we are not required to keep the 10 commandments. Required to repent? Yes, are to repent, but you fail to establish this as the equivalent of a work.

    You also, do not answer my question of how we destroy God’s plan.

    And it fails to address so many issues we have addressed at this blog. No need to redress them now, except to say it is this clouding of the issue that we object to. You are not Christian. You are Mormon. You use the same words, but the words have different meanings.

    Falcon in his last post said you can do whatever you want, and you can. But I will add one thing to his response. When you start equating the godhood progression Mormons believe in with Christianity, you take yourselves out of our scope.

    Finally, I’d like to add a thought to your idea that repentence means there is no significant difference. I’d like to hear you say what major religions do not think repentence, under any name, exists and is a requirement? To my knowledge, they all pretty much believe in leaving certain behaviors behind. Are we then to think there is no significant different between Islam and Christianity? Or Judaism and Christianity? What’s another interesting thought is that the significant differences come, largely, in how all these groups view God.

    What say you to these thoughts? And please, tell us how we destroy God’s plan.

    Thanks.

  29. faithoffathers says:

    A fundamental element in effective communication involves restating, or providing feedback to a person who has said something to ensure the intended communication was understood. I can honestly say that I have not seen one non-LDS person here, or one critic here who has described what I believe, or what I understand the LDS doctrine is on this subject. Either I and others are not communicating effectively or the message is not being understood. I don’t know which. Or maybe people do not want to understand what I and other LDS believe?

    A couple questions:

    1. What is your view on judgement day? How will we be judged? Will we be judged by our works?

    2. If faith in Christ is fundamental to our salvation, how do we exercise or strengthen our faith?

    falcon- it is so apparent from your posts that you absolutely detest our beliefs. I am sorry you find us and our religion so abhorent. It is the most beautiful thing in my life. It has brought spiritual and intellectual unity to me. I don’t know what else to say to you. I am so excited about the gospel and the Savior- I have experienced so much happiness from it.

  30. Michael P says:

    I hate to post twice like this so quickly, but GRCluff did post something very interesting. He said, “Are all Christians required to repent?

    I think most Mormons assume that is yes. That is why we are so confused when you say we are so different.”

    I think it is probably true that many Mormons assume much about our beliefs. I don’t think they really care to find out, beyond that the creeds are largely the creation of men and can’t be trusted, and that ours is a shallow faith that ‘only’ requires faith and no action, that it’s a lazy faith.

    I don’t think many Mormons truly understand our faith, and its intricate yet simple nature. I don’t think they have a clue what it is we belive. For a long time, here and elsewhere, I have challenged Mormons to really look into, and understand what we beleive and why.

    First, its what they charge us when we critique them. We’ve seen that in this thread. Second, such a challenge isn’t faith promoting. Third, I think the meanings are so different it either confuses them or they lose interest. All too often, Mormons will come and disappear. Why is that? Is it that their assumptions didn’t match up to what they actually see here?

    These are my thoughts, my opinions, but it is interesting that he says that Mormons assume and why they get confused. Its as if they can’t possibly fathom that the same words might actually mean something else to someone else.

    In the context of this discussion, is it possible that commandments can mean something different, and that the Mormon assumption shapes their bias in such a way they cannot fully see the other side? I think it might be…

  31. Lautensack says:

    faithoffathers asked: What is your view on judgement day? How will we be judged? Will we be judged by our works?
    Yes, Christians, Mormons, Muslims, Atheists, et cetera will all be judged by our works. Unfortunately we will all fail the judgment, the standard of course is perfection. Thus it is only those who the Son knows, those who”are known by God” who will be saved, not those who do great and wonderful works. (Gal 4:9 cf. Mat 7:22-23)

    faithoffathers asked: If faith in Christ is fundamental to our salvation, how do we exercise or strengthen our faith?
    The quick answer is Trusting in the Lord. Hebrews 11:6 states that “without faith it is impossible to please Him [God], for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him.” Paul states “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Rom 8:7-8) Thus first God must illuminate our mind so that is is not “set on the flesh” Then we must believe that God exists, yet we must also believe certain aspects about Him. Scripture takes this a step further stating faith (belief) in Christ is required. (Ex. John 3:16) Saving faith looks outside of ourselves and places its trust wholly on the person and work Christ. Paul wrote to the Galatians: “You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4) Why had they fallen away from grace, we see that it was because they were trusting in Christ and Circumcision. Paul is making the point that trusting in Christ plus anything is not saving faith, rather it is a way to fall from grace. One could say that the more we trust in Christ, the more we “we exercise or strengthen our faith.”

    Lautensack

  32. At the risk of annoying everyone here, I think that both the neo-Calvinist and LDS sides of the debate of “faith v works” miss the mark.

    I actually like Calvinism as a systematic theology, but both the neo-Calvinists and their opponents don’t appear to appreciate the story within which the Bible approaches these issues, in particular the story of the Exodus (which forms an important, but implied backbone of Paul’s logic in his Epistles).

    We are certainly saved by faith (Eph 2:8) and we are certainly judged by our works (Rev 20:12). In terms of the Exodus story, we can see God redeeming his people by divine fiat (there was no way they could get themselves out of their slavery and no way they could part the sea), but his people still needed to put one foot in front of the other to enter the promised land. To me, thinking this through in terms of the Biblical stories makes sense, not least because that is what the NT authors did. Boiling it down to abstract principles and modern analogies seems risky, contentious and fruitless.

    Following the Biblical story to the NT, I see that having all the machinery of religion (the temple, the law, the prophets) does not deliver us to God even when it is God-ordained. The “good news” is that Christ does. I suggest that both sides consider this; that when we pride ourselves in our church structures, ordinances, systematic theology, prophets or whatever, we’ve lost the plot.

    LDS should really take note, however, because faith in the organisation is one strong signal that I receive from its posture and teachings.

  33. bws71 says:

    Micheal P, thanks for your comment. I totally accept that I do not understand parts of the mainstream christian view. I fear much of our debate on this topic is semantic. Do you really believe in a lazy christian walk? I doubt it but we tend to see you that way. Do I believe I can ‘save myself’ or ‘clean my own sins?’ I do not. Yet I am told over and over again that this is in fact what I believe. The only thing I’m the expert on is what I believe. Quoting the leaders of *my* church and telling me what you think they mean is actually not super helpful to me. Since they are leaders of *my* church doesn’t it matter most what *I* think they mean and how *I* interpret their words?

    So you are right. My interest in staying on this blog is already waning. Who wants to be mis-told over and over what they believe? Let me tell you what I believe and try to be satisfied with my answer. How can we understand each other when we refuse to hear?

    For the record I believe Jesus is the redeemer of the world. Only through his merits and the power of his atonement can a person return and live with God when this life is over. I believe we depend totally and completely on Christ for our salvation/exaltation/sanctification etc. From reading His words I understand He requires more of me than a profession of faith in order to benefit from his atonement. I believe He requires that I act. If this is true who am I to argue with Him? I realize others here have read His words and found them to mean something different. I respect that.

    Someone said above that there is no tandem bicycle in the gospel. I see their point but I disagree. I believe there is such a thing. Christ called it his yoke.

  34. germit says:

    bws71: I haven’t said much on this post, I’m kind of burned out on the works vs. grace theme, not that it isn’t important, but I share your weariness with trying to get at who believes what. I like your points made above, but I’d add: what do I have to go on ,other than the words of your leaders (past and present), when it comes to LDS belief. AND: if LDS disagree about what the leaders meant by what they said, and you certainly do, how can it be surprising that we (you and I, for example) disagree about what they meant by what they said?? I’m not trying to needlessly create an argument where there isn’t one, but can you see my dilemma?? Pointing to an INDIVIDUAL’s beliefs, like your own, is helpful when talking to YOU, but I can’t really apply that to the LDS at large.
    Hope you decide to stick around, even if occaisionally, yours seems to be a voice of sanity in a very loud room. Blessings, GERMIT

  35. jackg says:

    Lautensack,

    I appreciate your response; it was right on the mark.

    bws,

    “From reading His words I understand He requires more of me than a profession of faith in order to benefit from his atonement. I believe He requires that I act.”

    The only thing I want to suggest is that instead of being “required” by God to do anything other than believe, we need to “respond” to His offer of grace in our lives. Other non-LDS posters have provided wonderful Christian apologetics. Lautensack’s 10/13 post is exceptionally well-expressed. Have a blessed day!

  36. Sharon Lindbloom says:

    This thread has gotten out of hand. I’m shutting it down in hopes that we can discuss these issues in a more thoughtful and specific manner sometime in the future.

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