This post is a continuation of the discussion on the previous post, “If Mormonism is a lie, what should people do about it?” The discussion evolved onto the topic of the role of feelings in discerning truth.
Paul’s letter to the Galatians, as some of you know, is centrally about living a Spirit-led life, particularly built upon the crucial foundation of justification by faith apart from works of the law. Gathering what we know on Paul’s view of the Law, “works of the law” included both distinctive works of Judaism (like circumcision and Sabbath laws) and the ten commandments. For Paul, love is the summary and fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:9-10). Paul writes that “all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, ‘Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them'” (Galatians 3:10). For Paul, the Mosaic Law not only excludes Gentiles, but it also brings a knowledge of the sin of both Jews and Gentiles. If anyone is going to even partially use a law of works to seek justification and the Spirit, there is only curse and condemnation. Just as Paul wrote elsewhere:
“Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20, emphasis added)
There is no real salvation or forgiveness or freedom in religions of merit-earning and worthiness-proving. To receive the Spirit and free justification we are told to, like Abraham, receive these things “by hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:5-6). After laboring over the topic of justification by faith apart from works and the implications of the freedom it provides, Paul encourages his Christian readers to walk by the Spirit which they have so freely received:
“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (5:16-26)
In the context of Galatians, “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith” are fruits of a Spirit-led life which has as its foundation justification by faith apart from works (both the worst of bad works and the best of good works). It is sad that Mormonism attempts to separate a Spirit-led life from free justification by faith apart from all works. In fact, Mormonism seems to teach that a person won’t live a Spirit-led life if they embrace justification by faith apart from works. Sadly, this is severing the fruit of love from the root of gospel-truth. For Paul, the only way to walk by the Spirit is to first receive justification and the Spirit “by hearing with faith”, not by works.
In context, the list of fruits in chapter 5 is not of impressions or sensations used to examine the truthfulness of God or the gospel or apostolic authority (cf. Paul’s defense of his own apostolic authority in chapters 1 and 2). Instead they are given to help examine a person’s new life in Christ and to speak of the attributes which a Christian spiritually grows in. It would be imposing an extra-Biblical framework onto the passage to assume that things like “faith” and “longsuffering” can be summarized as feelings. Nor can such a notion stand up to the realities of life. Longsuffering can involve quite the gut-wrenching kind of bite-your-lip-for-the-sake-of-love kind of patience. Love can mean spanking a child who is unruly, something no parent should take an immediate joy in. Gentleness is a disposition towards people, not a buzz or an impression or a sensation. Self-control often involves restraining desires that are influenced by very, very strong feelings toward something inappropriate. Joy can mean directing our hearts to the blessings of the next life while experiencing the most horrific feelings of suffering in this life. To summarize all these fruits of the Spirit as “good feelings” is not only inadequate but also oversimplistic and misleading. No matter how good it feels, a feeling it not pleasing to God if it does not correspond to objective, Biblical truth and does not come to fruition in the overflow of the worship of the only true God (for all worlds and universes and realities).
But let us not overreact to the excesses of Mormonism (or “charismania”). To completely divorce the fruits of the Spirit from the feelings of the heart would be misleading too. The “fruits of the Spirit” are contrasted in Galatians with the “works of the flesh” (5:19) which come from “desires of the flesh” (5:16,17). Rather than mere emotions, fruits of the Spirit therefore would better be described as the budding of a spiritual flower, deeply rooted in the soil of truth-based desires, watered by faith in the actual promises of God concerning free justification and free eternal life—all of which is put into effect by the personal work of the Holy Spirit in the life of a believer. This budding flower makes a person’s life spiritually beautiful and sweet to God and the angels and the saints. Elsewhere Paul indicates that the aroma of Christ in Christians is sweet to those being saved but is a stench of death to those who are perishing (2 Corinthians 2:15-16).
The fruits of the Spirit are demonstrated over time. Feelings can come and go within minutes or even seconds. To examine someone’s life (firstly and primarily our own!) to see if they are exhibiting the fruits of the Spirit, you should look at their words and actions and dispositions, particularly in relation to the gospel about Jesus Christ, consider their pre-conversion life, notice the change, and compare them in a measure with the person of Jesus Christ. Examining any person’s fruits by simply gauging what emotional impression they personally have or give is not only unwise but also shallow, dishonorable, unloving, and disrepectful. When the sheep and goats are identified at the final judgment by their fruits they won’t be identified by their feelings but by their heart’s deepest desires and beliefs which overflowed into their actions.
That common Mormon phraseology like “feeling the Spirit” is conspicuously missing from the Bible should be disconcerting to some of you. Potential converts in Acts are never told to pray for an emotional epiphany or euphoria but rather are directed to look at the public evidence of Old Testament scripture pointing to the Messiah, eye-witness testimony of the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ, and publicly manifested signs and wonders wrought by the Spirit, etc. The Bereans were commended not for seeking private emotional epiphanies but for examining Paul’s new message with what the Old Testament said. Luke writes, “Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
To those who have oversimplified the “fruits of the Spirit” as feelings and wrested them out of the context of a Biblical worldview, this might come as a surprise to you: I think Mormons are in urgent need of evangelism precisely because they do not exhibit the fruits of the Spirit. They characteristically do not “love” those who bring the truth about the gospel and the nature of God. They call what Christians believe an “abomination” and characterize most of the under-shepherds of authentic Christianity as “corrupt”. They revile God’s beloved bride, the church, as being apostate. They do not exhibit “peace” about those who denounce error and herald truth. They do not exhibit “faithfulness” to the gospel as communicated by the apostolic writings. They do not often practice “self-control” when encountering what is so viciously and hatefully called “anti-Mormon” material. And they spurn the one who supplies the Spirit and free justification and free eternal life, for instead of immediately and permanently receiving these gifts “by hearing with faith” (Galatians 3:2,5), Mormons are taught to merit and prove themselves morally worthy of them. Most tragically and disconcerting though, is that Mormons exhibit a “work of the flesh” which is most shocking to God and the angels: They exhibit “idolatry” (5:20) by expressing indifference and apathy toward traditional Lorenzo Snow couplet theology, and by teaching that Jesus Christ had to become a God in the pre-earth life. Instead of worshiping the God who was always fully God “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2), who authoritatively said of himself, “Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me” (Isaiah 43:10), they worship the God of Joseph Smith, who we have allegedly only “imagined and supposed… was God from all eternity“.
This is why I preach and teach and correct, hopefully with mingled kindness and concern and love and passion (trust me, I know I need a lot of help and growth in these areas). Satan has tricked Mormons into believing that their heart is not deceitful, but rather that it is the most reliable medium of truth. He has deceived people into thinking that he has no power to mislead with positive feelings. But Satan is powerful, and is even called the “god of this world” who has the ability to blind the mind:
“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4)
If he can blind the mind, tempt us to sin, send demons to inhabit a person, and is called, in a sense, a god, he is not so weak as to not be able to put deceitful feelings in what the Bible calls a “desperately sick” and incomprehensible heart, which is “deceitful above all things” (Jeremiah 17:9). Let that sink in. There is nothing more deceitful to humans than the human heart. While Mormonism teaches that the Bible is fundamentally corrupt, Christianity teaches that the human heart is fundamentally corrupt. While Mormonism teaches that the heart is spiritually alive and that the Bible is a dead book, in reality it is the “the living and abiding word of God” by which the Spirit brings a dead heart to life. Christians “have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God” (1 Peter 1:23). May God guard us from belittling the Spirit by treating him as a personified feeling or sensation. He is a real person who does powerful work through the living and abiding word of God.
You must be born again, my friends. And this is not something you can control with a ceremony like baptism.
“That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6-8)
Consider the fruits of the Spirit in the larger context of Paul’s incredibly passionate letter, full of what one pastor calls a “compassionate rage“. Receive the word of Christ and the permanent indwelling and sealing of the Holy Spirit “by hearing with faith”. He promises eternal life and free forgiveness and a secure future for those who would trust him for it. Only then can you truly live a Spirit-led life rooted in truth that is pleasing to God. If you believe the promises of Christ, then you will stop working for justification, stop trying to “pay” the “price” to “merit” the companionship of the Holy Spirit, and start trusting the God who justifies the ungodly (Romans 4:4-6) and gives the Spirit freely (Galatians 3:5-6). Then you can join us in singing:
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” (Romans 4:7-8)
Grace and peace in Christ, who justifies the ungodly like me,
PS I’ll be on my way to an airport when this post is scheduled to be published. I hope you all have a great discussion. It seems some of you have become very frustrated with your conversation partners. I recommend that everyone pray for the people you are trying to communicate with before writing your comments.
I believe that you are referring to Amos 3:7 actually. However if prophets know everything the LORD is going to do then why does your Church have continuing revelation? Shouldn’t we know everything by now? I think you are applying a double standard where there isn’t one. Also Paul’s statement and the literal reading of it agrees with Amos because until then salvation had been for the Jews however after that time salvation spread to gentiles also.
As for Adam’s children being kicked out of eden also yes, they would have because we are all caught up in the transgression of Adam. Why because all of Creation was cursed because of Adam’s transgression.
As for my “interpretation” of Faith and Works, if one allows scripture to interpret scripture you will come to the same conclusion.
Also you still have yet to answer the question, what does it mean to deny yourself all ungodliness, and have you done that whatever it means? According to Moroni 10:32 this is required for the grace of Christ to be sufficient for you.
As far as I can tell, nobody is arguing that it’s our works that save us – it’s the Grace of Christ. I don’t think I’ve ever spoken with anyone, or heard in any Christian church, any teaching to the contrary.
But the Grace of Christ is only effective in salvation if we follow in His footsteps in a literal, practicing way – in other words if we actively perform His works. Christianity has to be practiced, not simply professed, to work it’s salvation. Faith in Christ involves believing, professing and practicing.
That’s about as simply as I can put it. Now, do people actually not agree with that? Or are we just arguing about semantics?
I will try and answer your question. Where in the phrase “deny yourself all ungodliness” does it say one needs to be perfect? That is your assumption. All of the Evangelicals on this site are saying that the natural man is ungodly, wicked, evil, etc. In the LDS scriptures it says the same thing, and we teach it as well (For example Mosiah 3:19 For the natural man is an enemy to God and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father Mosiah 16:3 For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil). So if we choose to turn our life around to follow Jesus Christ, isn’t that denying ungodliness? That is what the scripture is talking about – we turn our back on the natural man and become faithful followers of Jesus. It does not mean one has to be perfect. So in answer to your other question – yes I know many people who have denied ungodliness.
If you want to go to heaven, you have to
1) believe in Jesus and be a good person
2) believe in Jesus and be … whatever
(If you get it wrong, you can repent and guess again. But only two guesses! No cheating!)
The the question was not how do we simply deny ourselves ungodliness but how do we deny ourselves all ungodliness, there is a difference I could deny myself ungodliness in one area yet not in another, so I believe you have met people who have denied themselves some ungodliness but do you know anyone who had denied all ungodliness? The key word here is ALL whatever that means.
Can I attain exaltation without being a temple recommended Mormon who has preformed x amount of ordinances or had them preformed for me by proxy?
As to your question the answer is actually 3)Believe on Jesus and trust solely on the One who justifies the ungodly by grace apart from works of the law, depending on nothing inside yourself as meritorious, not even that which His grace allows you to do, but rather exchanging your life for His, and His death for yours, that God might be glorified in the Glory of the Cross.
You see the standard is perfection, you and I lack perfection, so the only way someone as filthy as you or I will enter the Celestial City is because we are declared righteous through the Merit of the Son, because He bore our shame, our imperfections, our sins in His body.
Its not just semantics, Donny. You believer workds are NECESSARY to be saved. We don’t.
That’s the distinction, and its much more than sematics.
Its about putting everything we do to Christ, and not what Christ can do for us after we have done all we can.
The first is putting all our trut in Christ, the second puts trust in him after we lose trust in ourselves.
Does this make sense?
Your example of the biker who turned his life around after being saved but yet would not repent of his homosexual life style is exactly what James is talking about. That kind of faith is not real faith in Christ. I would say that person is not really saved. Remember Jesus’ words after they said Lord didn’t we do this in your name, he said “I did not know you.”
The Biblical gospel view as held by Christians since Acts. Is that Jesus paid the sin debt that we couldn’t. God expects us to be perfect and that has always been His measuring stick. He knew we could never live up to that so He provided a substitute…Jesus Christ. Now we can believe that Jesus’ atoning work on the cross is enough to save us or we can believe that we have to add to it by keeping ordinances or doing good works, or what ever a particular religion teaches.
What sets true Christianity apart from all other beliefs is Grace. The Bible clearly teaches that God freely gives His grace as a gift. If we had to work for it then it wouldn’t be free, kind of makes since huh and you don’t need a special interpretation for that truth. As an EV I think good works are very important but that is because they glorify God. God sees my works as filthy rags but humans see them differently. Jesus said the greatest commandment is to Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind, and to love your neighbor as yourself. That is the greatest work a person who claims to be a follower of Christ can do and it is what pleases God. I for one am glad I do not have to worry or stress about whether or not I’ve done all I can do to be perfect because I know I have a savoir who did all He could do and was perfect.
Let me rephrase my question. Changing a lifestyle is a work, regardless of if it comes from being/feeling saved (Ev doctrine) or from our own faith (LDS doctrine). Now the Evangelicals here keep saying that works are OPTIONAL and DO NOT NEED to be performed – that it is just faith and grace that saves us. In this light, does one necessarily NEED to change their lifestyle in order to be saved? Your answer above was a “yes” from what I understood, which indicates that there are some works necessary to be saved. I get this understanding because you said that because the person did not change their lifestyle fully they did not have true faith and thus were not saved. However, if it is just faith alone that saves then they do not have to change their lifestyle to be saved if they do not want to because works are OPTIONAL.
Just suppose, If a person says to me that they are a Christian, have faith and are saved but this persons actions say otherwise then I’m going to question in my mind whether or not this person is really saved. The Bible says we’re new creations in Christ…that old things are passed away. I definitely believe that the Bible teaches that a real convert is going to show it by the change (repenting) in their life. It starts with confessing to Christ that you are a sinner. That’s why even the worst sinners can be transformed in an instant with just the power of the gospel message.
When you confess to God that you are a sinner and need a savior you’re in essence saying you cannot do it yourself. You are humbling yourself before God. You are showing glory to God by decreasing yourself and increasing Him. It’s very simple…
What I see as the Mormon gospel is you have to do things first to please God and then He’ll give His Grace. The true Christian gospel is Christ crucified. Without that you have nothing. The Bible says “God demonstrated his love towards us, that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us.” Do you understand the implication of that statement?
The bible absolutely teaches that we are to repent, be different, changed, called out or whatever but that change is proof of a true regenerated heart. But it doesn’t teach that we are to do that first or that it is a condition to receive Gods grace.
Let me ask you something….do you see yourself as a sinner?
Michael P. – A concise statement of the difference.
I asked the question about semantics because Lautensack’s March 3 discussion of faith and works seemed to come down on both sides of the argument in places – although I may be mis-reading. It left me wondering.
I agree as much as anyone that it’s the Grace of Christ that saves us – not our personal works. I don’t believe in a merit-based system because nobody could ever merit salvation. (Book of Mormon says it like this: “…if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.” (Mosiah 2:21)I rely wholly upon the merits of Christ for salvation.
But I do not in the least agree that we can be saved in the absence of personal good works (and the absence of personal sin through genuine repentance based on the atonement of Christ) – good works rooted exclusively in the motivation of Christ-like love (not just any works – charitable works – the right thing for the right reason). Good works create faith to salvation – faith can’t be built without the building of it. That’s James’s whole point.
I read Paul as a rebuttal to the arrogance of Jewish ‘works based’ salvation that was polluting the Christian Church and marginalizing gentile Christians. I read James as an direct and pointed rebuttal to the ‘faith without works’ doctrine that may well have come about because early Christians were mis-reading Paul, as I believe you are mis-reading Paul.
Faith without works is hollow, ingenuous and ineffectual. It will not lead to salvation because it isn’t really faith at all – it just appearance (I had a computer like that once!).
Christ Himself anticipated ‘faith without (charitable) works,’ “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven: but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven …” (Matt 7:21 – see also 22 & 23).
As I read these posts I am constantly struck with the lack of accurate portrial of what Mormons believe and who they are. Some of it seems to be innocent – such as mikeb’s view that, “What I see as the Mormon gospel is you have to do things first to please God and then He’ll give His Grace.” Well, no, that’s quite wrong – but I see this as a genuine lack of understanding of what we believe. That’s okay.
On the other hand, when I read Aaron S’s contorted and absurd diatride at the beginning of this string, I don’t see mis-understanding. I don’t see a mis-guided but nevertheless love-based mission to evangalized mis-lead “Mormons.” I see anger and thinly veiled hatred – an immoral attempt to degrade and marginalize a religious group. That’s not fine.
Circles, Donny, circles.
One minute you say it is faith, the next it is works coupled with faith. And I get my quotes from you (Mormons in general) yourselves.
Chuck staight up said you will not be saved without works. You say essentially the same thing, albeit a bit more veiled. I also know and see very clearly that you say faith is what saves us. And that is fine, but you cloud that by saying works are necessary to show faith. And this is also OK, but it is the specific rituals that you mean (to use Chuck’s clarification: ordinances) that throws you off. The translation is that you must do these rituals to show your faith. If you don’t follow these rituals, you’re not going be saved. This is the logic train that we criticize, and that is where I think you do not understand the criticism.
Works flow from faith, yes, but faith is first. I think you’ll agree with that. But works are not defined like you proscribe– temple rituals, baptism, marriage, etc. It is your reliance on these that we find problematic.
And I mentioned circles at the beginning of this post, because yours is a circular argument. You argue you must have faith, but you must work to show your faith, so if you don’t work, you don’t have faith. But if you have faith and don’t work, you really don’t have faith. So, on the one hand, faith is most important to you, but then in the other, works are most important. You want it both ways.
You can’t have it both ways, which is why we say faith is the most important factor, and the only one necessary for salvation. True faith will manifest itself through works. That is the natural course of events; but those works are not limited or specific to ritual ordinances. They are really acts to show your love for Christ and all human kind.
I am sorry for the confusion in my post on faith and works. My intent was never to confuse you. Perhaps this will help you a bit more. Works are not necessary but when faith is tested, as Abraham’s was 7 chapters after He believed and was called righteous, good works will flow, however these things that God does through us are not what saves us but rather they are evidence of our salvation, of our regeneration. Regeneration is the biblical doctrine of God working in us to make us a new creation where the old has passed away. Key texts on this include, Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:26ff; Jeremiah 31:31ff; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:4-5; John 6:63-65; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 1 John 5:1
So in one sense you could argue that works are necessary, however it is not our works that are necessary but God’s work for us through Christ on the cross. Sorry for the confusion.
When Paul speaks of the futility of the law, he speaks in the context of the law of Moses – not in the context of the commandments of Christ. That’s perfectly clear in his own writing.
Paul also makes it abundantly clear that we are saved through the Grace of Christ and not by our works.
But we can’t stop there and claim to have read Paul. Because he makes long lists of sins – anti-works if you like – and ends by saying “they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Gal 5:21) and further in Gal 6 -“whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he reap” – “let us not be weary in well doing” – “let us do good to all men” – this is characteristic of Paul. Righteousness and good works were important in his teaching about inheriting the kingdom of God. And he was writing to Galatian saints who had accepted Christ as their Savior – not to the unconverted.
We need to go all the way to the end of the doctrine.
You know, Michael P., it IS circles, and faith IS first. Faith promotes good works, good works in turn build faith, then increased faith greater works, and on, and on – “That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” (Tim 3:17)
Christ also had to deal with such things.
Many of the Jews felt that being the offspring of Abraham and following the law was all that was necessary.
But, as Christ said, “I am the away, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
He also said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
I would like to see the scripture that is opposing what is said by Christ Himself. To get to God you do need Christ. To follow Christ you must follow His commandments. I don’t know what term you call following the commandments, but the LDS define this as works. Following Christ’s commandments = Works. Pure and simple.
Donny, if it is a circle, there is no beginning.
Quote me where it says in Romans it is specific to Mosaic law.
Jacob, do you keep all the commandments without fail? Do you love everyone as Christ loves us, all the time? Do you pray the Lord’s prayer everytime you pray? Do you never find yourself having to repent? If you answer no to just one of these, you exemplify the concept of how works cannot do it for you.
Michael, just because a person is a sinner (which I shamefully admit) does not negate the necessity to follow the commandments. I think that is a very shallow argument. Because Judas went against Christ does that mean His church wasn’t true? I don’t think so.
Again I say, show me the scripture to counter Christ saying “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”
Is keeping the commandments love, or is it evidence of love? As for a scripture that doesn’t support your eisegesis from the mouth of Christ:
Here we see from Jesus that it is the drawing of the Father to the Son that gives eternal life. All that the Father gives the Son will have eternal life. In light of this John 14:15, which you quoted fits with my previous post, because as we see in John 14:12 it is belief that allows the works to even take place.
To clear something up, Christians do believe our lifestyles should be filled with good works yet it is not those works, that bill of goods that saves us or even has a part in saving us. The Mormon is going to submit his/her resume to God at the end of their life and say see I’ve earned celestial, terrestrial, or telestrial glory, the Christian is going to say I have earned hell, my filthy rags have fallen so short, I can but submit to the blood of Jesus alone as my righteousness, knowing that there is nothing intrinsically good in me. Is your faith in God and these good things you do serving Him with human hands as though He needed something, or is your faith in Christ alone?
But – what does it mean to “come unto Christ”?
(Peter speaking): “Of a truth I perceive that God is not respector of persons: but in every nation he that fearth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10:34-35
I think I’m going to do that ‘worketh righteousness’ thing just in case it’s Peter who’s right about this and not you, Lautensack.
And I guess I’d better get to work on that resume – you know, nobody ever told me that us Mormons needed a resume! All these righteous works, and now a resume!!
Thanks for the tip.
By the way – It’s not a RESUME that you need, it’s a SCRAPBOOK!
We got that covered. 🙂
You crafty Mormons, Donny 🙂
But for the sake of expanding horizons, here’s Acts 10:34-35 in the NIV:
“34Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism 35but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right.”
The NASB gives it this way: “34(A)Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that (B)God is not one to show partiality,
35but (C)in every nation the man who (D)fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. ”
Call me crazy, but these have an entirely different sense to it, no? And we can argue about what it means to do right all over again, but I don’t think that will get us anywhere. My only point is to show why looking at multiple translations when studying the Bible.
I agree God is not a respecter of persons, so are you perfect? If not then you deserve hell, the plain and simple truth. That is why we must be in Christ because He alone lived the life we could not live and died the death we should have died on our behalf. Therefore you are either in Christ, clothed in His righteousness or you are not. How we get there is the question, is it by following God’s commandments, I have to submit no, because God is not the respecter of persons, you cannot bribe Him with your good works, since you are guilty. It does not matter what walk of life you are from, as God is not a respecter of persons. Allow me to use an example of life, God the creator of us all, did not make us all equal, some He gave much to, some He gave very little to. God calls people from all walks of life, not simply the Jew, nor the Gentiles, not just men but women also, not just the rich but the poor. God is not a respecter of persons, He calls people from all walks of life.
Thanks Michael P. Not only does it help to read several Bible translations, which Mormons (and often many unstudied Christians) are often not wont to do, but it helps to start by reading the scripture in context of a single translation (which Mormons are often not wont to do either). Sorry if that sounds overly critical, but Mormons are just not taught to study the Bible this way. Peter (v34-48) compliments the piety and alms of Cornelius’s life, but then builds on it with new information by testifying of the Lord who has come, and the necessity of accepting Him as Lord and Savior. Obviously, keeping in this context, it does not appear justification is what “worketh righteousness, is accepted with him” in v35 KJV is speaking about. Nonetheless one’s acts of righteousness after having faith in Jesus is not diminished here, either. (I say that in fairness to address the false dichotomy that the faith/works debate often becomes.)
Helpful online study resources to further illuminate this chapter of Acts can be found at:
Parallel translations and brief commentary:
(Click on the various tabs above this page if you really want to knock yourself out. The Greek and hebrew resources are wonderful.)
More exhaustive commentaries (I love the Matthew Henry’s non-concise commentary):
The Greek word for “accepted of God through works of righteousness” in the KJV reference used above (Acts 10:35) is dikaiosune (acceptable righteousness before God). [Use the “Lexicon” tab of the Biblos.com site I referenced in my post above to read for yourself.] This is not the same as a saving grace through faith that Greek uses in the words sozo/sod’zo/sode’zo [See Lexicon listing for Eph 2:8] or soteria/soter [See Lexicon listing for Romans 5:1 among many others] (They mean to be rescued from danger or delivered from destruction). Therefore, it is important to be accepted of God, like Cornelius the Pagan, thru our desires to be pious and serve Him thru righteous works, for sure. But if we are Christians we want more, to be rescued from the damnation that our sin before the law requires. And that type of salvation is clear comes through faith in Jesus, if we are to accept the testimony of Peter and Paul discussed throughout this thread.
I think this understanding is plain using only English translations of the Bible. Nevertheless, by referencing Greek, the meaning starts to become even more appreciable. It takes more effort when one tries to study scripture incorporating Greek or Hebrew referencing, but I think it helps us to more fully understand the context of scripture, which I believe Donny incorrectly applied in the Acts 10 reference cited.
Mikeb, you said, “What I see as the Mormon gospel is you have to do things first to please God and then He’ll give His Grace.” That is because you are looking at it all wrong. Your perception of the LDS Faith is just that, a perception, not how it actually is. You then go on to ask a question, “do you see yourself as a sinner?” Great question, I can answer that as soon as you tell me what sin is? How does one commit sin? How can I recognize if I have sinned? Then I can answer your question.
Micheal P, I can see you are lookin gat ordinance wrong. You use terminology like “follow these rituals.” There is nothing to “follow”. Through these ordinance, you make covenants (two way promises) with God, to follow him. That is different than rituals (like sacrificial blood letting or the likes). Do you disagree with Jesus when he said “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16)? Or Peter when he said, “Repent, and be baptized” (Acts 2:38; Acts 10:48)? These are the ordinances we are referring to. The covenants we are commanded by Jesus Christ to enter into in order to be saved.
I have said it many times, like you, we believe in FAITH FIRST. FAITH ALWAYS COMES FIRST. Then the actions. The willingness to commit to Jesus Christ, not by word only, by in deed also. Both are important and you not only can have both but you MUST or faith is ineffectual just as you and your fellow Christians are stating. If they don’t have the works, they didn’t really have faith.
So two simple questions:
1) How does one commit sin?
I can show where not without baptism(works) you will not be saved.
2) Can you show me where works will make it so you are NOT saved?
First of all, http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/ritual. What you call ordinances are rituals.
Secondly, let me finish Mark 16:16: 16…but whoever does not believe will be condemned. Also view Romans 11:6, Eph 2:4-9, Gal 16-21, Gal 3, and 2 Cor 16-21. This is a starter list, but should give you an idea that we are stright before God in Christ, apart from anything we do.
Thirdly, it was you who said we are not saved if we do not complete the works, rituals, or ordinances (by one with proper authority, of course) Mormonism maintains. So, it is not faith based, even if you say faith is a part of it. They are a tandem, and so without one, you are doomed (at least in this life).
And to answer your first question: how does one sin? One sins when one goes against the will of God, and we all do it, no matter how much we try. Second question, when works are done to gain the favor of men. Witness the pharisees. Witness the rich man giving his offering and praying loudly. When works are done out of pride, they will damn you.
Firs of all, the ordinances have nothing to do with anxiety so I am not certain how you apply your meaning. I do know, that you should at least show respect and use the correct terminology. They are ordinances, not rituals.
So when you say we sin when we go “against the will of God.” What is God’s will? How does one come to know his will? The will of God or God’s laws would be synonymous. So we are bound by the law; God’s will.
Second, show me the scriptures that say when you perform works you are not saved. I have shown where if you do not, you will not be saved. Please show the scriptures that indicate it as clearly as the ones I have provided.
Did you look at the definitions of rituals? Call them ordinances if you’d like, but they are rituals indeed. I’ll continue to use the term.
The will of God is much more than following a set of rituals. It is a huge topic in and of itself. It can include God’s plan for us individually (He has a plan for all of us), or it can be how we treat everyone around us. God’s will also can be talked about in terms of His grand plans for us as mankind, and how we relate to that master plan. It can also be about how we live day to day, which is closest to the sense that you ask about. We know this by taking into consideration all the other information about His will, and by studying scripture, fellowship, and prayer. We do not accomplish God’s will by maintaining a checklist of “ordinances”. I think you mistake God’s will by equating it with law– His will is much bigger than law. I think you should reread Romans and apply it to law, not just Mosaic.
You ask for scripture showing where works will not leave one saved? Did you not read my answer? When works are done for men, out of pride. You know where to find the stories of the rich men and the Pharisees. You also know that Christ tells a rich man it is harder for him to get to do what is right than it would be for a camel to go through the eye of a needle.
Remember, rituals in and of themselves are not problematic. It is the heart behind the rituals. This is why Christ condemns the rich man’s huge donation and loud prayer and praises the poor woman giving her two coins. The lesson is clear…
“Remember, rituals in and of themselves are not problematic. It is the heart behind the rituals”
So what you’re saying MichaelP is that you can read our hearts (ie LDS members) and you know that we are not doing them with the correct intent or in faith, which is why you are condemning us.
On the flip side, if the heart is deceitful and evil as you Evangelicals keep telling us then how do you know your heart is telling you the right thing when it comes to your religion?
“This is why Christ condemns the rich man’s huge donation and loud prayer and praises the poor woman giving her two coins.”
When it comes to doing things in the LDS church, like giving tithing or doing service work, we are taught to follow the principle of not shouting it out for the world to hear. We do not pass around a plate so people can see/hear how much we place in it, we give a plain envelope to our bishopric – and I usually try to do it when no one is around or watching. When it comes to giving aid to communities after disasters the church donates a lot but does not advertise it outside of the membership – it is the members who go on after that and tell others what the church has done. We use the Salvos and the RC to distribute some of the items, and they get the ‘glory’ for it and we don’t care if they do. And the list can go on.
Yes some members keep a ‘tally sheet’ but we are taught not to, that its got nothing to do with keeping score and most members follow this teaching. Very few get up in testimony meeting and say that they were baptised on … and temple on … etc, they testify to what they know is true – ie Jesus as their Savoiur, God lives, the church is true, etc. Most Evs and Pentas I know start their testimony with “I was saved on …”; can this be classed as a tally sheet?
Not to drag this too far off topic, but I really need to say something about this. Here is what I’ve noticed about LDS service in the community, etc. Boxes of food and other items are typically distributed by people wearing shirts, vests or badges that identify them as Mormons. The boxes themselves are stamped with the name of the LDS Church on the outside and often contain a note identifying the Church as donor on the inside. The Church has hired a PR firm that produces press releases describing the service work done by the Church and its members. I have never noticed any other church making such a visible to-do about their charity work. Just my observation.
Michael P Let’s look at Romans. Let’s start with Romans 5:12-21. THE ONLY REASON WE HAVE GRACE is BECAUSE ONE MAN PUT US IN SIN, ON PURPOSE, THEREFORE ONE MAN COULD SAVE US ALL. ADAM SET UP THE LAW it was the PLAN of SALVATION (Don’t confuse this with the Law of Moses) If Adam did not fall Christ could not give us the atonement, read Romans 5 12-21 that is what it says! We would all be on our own and we would ALL have to be perfect! Adam, one man, setting up the law for ALL to fall, Christ, one man, could save us all. If this law was not set up Christ could not save us. If Grace is the only thing we need to think about what a waste of the Bible. Let’s go to Romans 11:6 a question is being asked. Works is just as much involved as grace. Keep reading! Israel was cut off because of unbelief and we stand by faith. 11:20 Be not high-minded, but fear. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. 25 For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery (What we don’t have it all, what is this mystery?). Israel lost it, could we have lost precious parts in 2000 years? We know the people before Noah lost it hence the flood. Joseph Smith restored many advancing ordinances. Romans 5:1 faith, peace, grace, hope, tribulations, patience, and experience takes you on the path to the Father. Serving others and tribulation will bring you more teaching experience then anything on earth. It’s not an easy path many need guide lines (commandments) to keep on the path. This hopefully will lead you to want to make a covenant with Father in Heaven as Abraham did. I think many EV and Mormons get confused on what the covenants are all about. It is a higher law and one you willingly choose to do and when you do it the Lord keeps his end of the promise. Does it mean you are going to be perfect, of course not, but it doesn’t mean you stop striving. Do you tell everyone about it, that would be a sin!
Ralph, the trouble lies in that you do these things with the belief that if you do them enough you can achieve godhood. Loudly or not, this is indicative of a heart in the wrong place.
I have no problems with someone who relies on works (rituals/ordinances) to keep them concentrating on God. It is when, though, these things become more important than God and when personal gain is expected from them. By definition, expecting godhood is expecting personal gain.
Again MichaelP, are you saying you can read what’s in my heart/mind? I am doing the things that God has asked me to do because He has asked me to do them. Yes He has promised a reward for doing them but that is not why I am doing it. It is because of my faith. What you said “It is when, though, these things become more important than God and when personal gain is expected from them“ you can also include all of Christianity in there as you expect to get to heaven (this is described as a reward in the Bible) because of your faith and from what I understand if you ‘decide’ to do good works because you are saved, you will also get other rewards in heaven. So from this, if you ‘decide’ to do good works you are doing it for personal gain.
As I have said earlier, our belief about becoming like God is all about God because that is His WORK AND GLORY, to help us become like Him. If I do not follow His plan and achieve salvation then I have not contributed to His glory. This is what He wants, so yes because of my faith it is what I want as well, to glorify my Father in Heaven.
And its not a case of “[doing] them enough” as you put it, we do what God has asked us to do. Some members may go overboard, but it will not profit them, in fact it most likely will do the opposite because then they become as you are asserting all LDS are like in the above statements.
Micheal P, I read your definition of rituals provided by the link above:
“A detailed act or series of acts carried out by an individual to relieve anxiety or to forestall the development of anxiety.”
Our ordinances have nothing to do with anxiety. You should read the definition carefully. If you read the definition of ordinance, it is closure to the truth. So are you not about truth?
Your references about “works” say nothing to the point that if you do works you are damned. They talk a lot about grace and faith, but where does it say specifically if you perform works you are damned? I have provided scriptural evidence that without works you are damned.
Mark 16:6 “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.” There is an AND in there. You must believe AND be baptized to be saved or you are damned. Baptism is “works” as you EVs define it.
So show me where if I perform works, I am damned.
For example, is there a scripture anywhere in the bible, in context of course, that says something like, “And he who performs works will be damned or condemned”? Please provide the specific reference.
Nothing you have provided shows with as much clarity as I have provided with Mark 16:6.
Chuck: not sure where the link came from, but this is copies from the source I intended.
Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) – Cite This Source – Share This
rit·u·al /ˈrɪtʃuəl/ Pronunciation Key – Show Spelled Pronunciation[rich-oo-uhl] Pronunciation Key – Show IPA Pronunciation
–noun 1. an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite.
2. a system or collection of religious or other rites.
3. observance of set forms in public worship.
4. a book of rites or ceremonies.
5. a book containing the offices to be used by priests in administering the sacraments and for visitation of the sick, burial of the dead, etc.
6. a prescribed or established rite, ceremony, proceeding, or service: the ritual of the dead.
7. prescribed, established, or ceremonial acts or features collectively, as in religious services.
8. any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.
9. a prescribed code of behavior regulating social conduct, as that exemplified by the raising of one’s hat or the shaking of hands in greeting.
10. Psychiatry. a specific act, as hand-washing, performed repetitively to a pathological degree, occurring as a common symptom of obsessive-compulsive neurosis.
–adjective 11. of the nature of or practiced as a rite or ritual: a ritual dance.
12. of or pertaining to rites or ritual: ritual laws.
Works will not damn you in and of themselves. You can do a simple Bible study, and look to see how verses play off each other and find this out. Jesus never says works are a problem, it is only when those works are done for the wrong reasons, as evidenced by what I have listed. I choose not to list all the verses because they have been listed before.
Ralph accuses me of knowing his heart. True, I cannot know for sure what is in it, but I do know that we cannot become gods, and since that is your goal, you are not following the same God I am.
Michael, you said “Works will not damn you in and of themselves”. Then why do you continue to preach that we do not need works? I have shown on numerous occasions that works is how we will be judged, and if you have not baptism (something Christians considers works), you will not be saved. The right reason to do them is because God has commanded it. That is why we perform (works) as you like to put it. We call them ordinances. They are required. So the Mormons are doing them for the right reasons, its commanded of God.
As for becoming a God, if you do not accept the doctrine, then you are right, we are not following the same God. But one day you will be brought before your maker and have a bright recollection of all your guilt. You will then realize the error of your ways. Unfortunately, by then it will be too late.