Salvation and Grace

In The Plan of Salvation LDS author Matthew B. Brown provides his audience with an appendix “designed to direct the reader to information on the LDS view of salvation and grace.” Included (among other things) are four pages of helpful quotations from prominent LDS leaders.  Here are some excerpts from Mr. Brown’s Appendix III.

“Grace consists of God’s gift to His children wherein He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him and comply with His laws and ordinances would have everlasting life. …By His grace, and by our faith in His Atonement and repentance of our sins, we receive the strength to do the works necessary that we otherwise could not do by our own power.” (Cited as Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 353-354)

“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. …One passage in the Book of Mormon, written perhaps with the same intent as Paul’s statement above [Eph. 2:8-9] – to stress and induce appreciation for the gracious gift of salvation offered on condition of obedience – is particularly enlightening: ‘For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Ne. 25:23)…Of course we need to understand terms. If by the word salvation is meant the mere salvation or redemption from the grave, the ‘grace of God’ is sufficient. But if the term salvation means returning to the presence of God with eternal progression, eternal increase, and eventual godhood, [then] for this one certainly must have the ‘grace of God,’ as it is generally defined, plus personal purity, overcoming of evil, and the good ‘works’ made so important in the exhortations of the Savior and His prophets and apostles.” (Cited as Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 70-71.)

“But the Lord through His grace appeared to man, gave him the gospel or eternal plan whereby he might rise above the carnal and selfish things of life and obtain spiritual perfection. But he must rise by his own efforts and he must walk by faith.” (Cited as David O. McKay, Pathways to Happiness, 129-130)

“Men must ‘work out their salvation’ (Philip. 2:12), and gain exaltation by continuous upward striving.” (Cited as Orson F. Whitney, Gospel Themes, 23-24)

“The faithful gain a forgiveness and are reconciled to God because they believe and obey His laws. Men are thus saved by grace alone, in the sense of being resurrected; they are saved by grace coupled with obedience, in the sense of gaining eternal life. The gospel plan is to save men in the celestial kingdom, and hence, Paul teaches salvation by grace through faith, through obedience, through accepting Christ, through keeping the commandments.” (Cited as Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 2:498)

I appreciate Mr. Brown’s candid presentation of LDS teachings on salvation and grace. Yet I cannot reconcile these Mormon ideas with the biblical teaching:

  • That salvation is by grace, through faith, a gift of God, not a result of works (Ephesians 2:8-9).
  • That a person is not justified by works of the law, but [rather] through faith in Christ (Galatians 2:15).
  • That there is a juxtaposition of law and faith: blessed are those who rely on faith, cursed are those who rely on law (Galatians 3:7-12).
  • That works and grace for salvation cannot co-exist; one overturns the other (Romans 11:6).
  • That those who seek justification by the law have fallen from grace and are severed from Christ (Galatians 5:4).

How does one get from these teachings in Romans, Ephesians and Galatians to the assertion that Paul teaches “salvation by grace through faith, through obedience, through accepting Christ, through keeping the commandments”?

The Bible does not reject the role of good works in a Christian’s life altogether, for we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Ephesians 2:10). Yet these works are evidence of our faith; evidence that we have been saved by grace through faith, a gift of God, not a result of works.

In the end, it is Mormonism or the Bible – the two cannot be reconciled.

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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51 Responses to Salvation and Grace

  1. gpark5 says:

    My apologies! I just noticed that I got the chapter/verse incorrect on my last post – should be 2 Peter 3:15-18 for the passage I posted originally in reply to Clyde's comment about Sharon's article (i.e., " Notice how she only post [sic] references from pauline letters?..")

    So, 2 Peter 3:15-18, NKJV, says, 15 Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, 16 as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.

    The 2 Peter 2:1-3 passage says, 1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

    Both are great Bible passages regarding false prophets; and, of course, the 2 Peter 3:15-18 passage specifically addresses those who criticized the Pauline epistles and shows that the Pauline epistles were already regarded as Scripture.

    * NKJV Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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