Having a tough time discussing grace with Mormons? EMPP is my imaginary energy drink, as well as my corny acronym for making some helpful distinctions:
Evidence. Are works necessary to show the evidence of faith? Yes. James 2:14-26, Matthew 7:21-23?
Merit. Are works necessary to earn or merit eternal life or forgiveness? No. Romans 4:1-8, 6:23.
Purpose. Are works necessary to fulfill my life’s purpose to glorify God? Yes. Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 2:10.
Prerequisite. Are works necessary as a prerequisite or precondition to receive eternal life or forgiveness? No. Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5-8.
Biblical Christianity says yes-no-yes-no to EMPP.
Traditional Mormonism says yes-yes-yes-yes.
Neo-orthodox Mormonism says yes-no-yes-maybe (depending on the person).
Jesus gives immediate adoption, forgiveness, and eternal life to anyone who, with a broken heart, trusts him for it — even before baptism, laying on of hands, church membership, completing a “repentance process”, etc. That isn’t something one clearly learns from, say, the LDS Gospel Principles, much less Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness in the Church Distribution Centers, or in the new LDS youth manuals (that I can tell, so far).