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. Sarah says:

    This part of one of the quotes struck me as particularly insightful into the mind and definition of the LDS grace:

    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.

    Put that against the actual words of John 3:16:

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

    What's missing from the Bible? OH! Just that pesky business of complying with His laws and ordinances.

    Proverbs 30:5-6
    Galatians 1:6-12
    Deuteronomy 4:2

    All these verses have to do with not adding to the Word or adding to the good news. And that is precisely what Mormons have done — quite literally in the case of Ezra Taft Benson — added words not taught by Jesus or God or the Apostles.

  2. falcon says:

    See this is what happens when men stop trusting the Bible and start following corrupt men who bill themselves as apostles and prophets and are clearly not. Mormonism is an abomination of a religion that seeks to draw men away from the saving grace of Jesus Christ to a system with a false god who, they say, demands works for his followers to become gods.
    We can never forget that this is what Mormonism is all about; men believing that they can become gods. We can see where operating under this paradigm, men will think that their works of righteousness will earn them their Celestial deity merit badge.
    The incredible thing is that Mormons fight tooth and nail to try and convince people that they are Christians and that their concept of grace is the same as that of orthodox Christianity. Mormonism is a false religious cult attempting to disguise itself the best it can in order to seduce unsuspecting people into its clutches.
    Sincerity, zeal, piety, and righteous living don't count for anything if a person misses who God is and what His plan of salvation entails. Is it any wonder that Mormons down grade the Bible and see it as a corrupted text. The Bible totally contradicts the Mormon doctrine of God, grace and salvation.

  3. gpark5 says:

    We don't earn our salvation, but true salvation will result in a heart filled with love toward God and man and fruit that is evidence of that love. Granted, actions and words are a reflection of what is in someone's heart. If one's actions and words are continually unlovely, the heart needs to be examined. For those who do not have a relationship with Jesus Christ, the only thing that makes sense to them regarding salvation is doing works in their own strength to make themselves worthy. A concept beyond their understanding is the love of God filling one's heart in such measure as to produce actions of love as a natural consequence. This is only going to be found in the true Christian believer, leaving those who "have it backward" to depend on works FOR salvation instead of works being the natural FRUIT OF salvation.

    The workers cry out, "Would I be doing such wonderful works if I were not a good person?" The true believers heed the words of Jesus, Who said, in John 15:5, NKJV, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. And those true believers cry out, 'Work out, O LORD, in me, "both to will and to do for [Your] good pleasure."' Salvation results in works. Works don't result in salvation.

    And, we shouldn't live to strive for exaltation either!

    Old Testament to New Testament, our Great God is given the all of the glory! Nothing we can do is deserving of glory. We will be rewarded for our works with crowns, but note what those in Heaven, already in possession of crowns, do with theirs. Revelation 4:9-11, NKJV, 9 Whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to Him who sits on the throne, who lives forever and ever, 10 the twenty-four elders fall down before Him who sits on the throne and worship Him who lives forever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying: 11 “You are worthy, O Lord, To receive glory and honor and power; For You created all things, And by Your will they exist and were created.”

    2 Timothy 1:9-10, KJV says, 9 [God] has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began, 10 but has now been revealed by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel,

    * NKJV Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.
    ** KJV is in the public domain.

  4. Engkei says:

    So what happens to an LDS person who tries to believe in faith and works together? Does a sense of compassion get compromised, potentially? What potential problems come out of this understanding? That was always a point I never understood when I was LDS. Why bible literalists seemed to have this contradictory message that you can't be saved by compliance to law, yet they fully expected a new christian convert to comply. So, what happens to a Christian convert who doesn't comply with some set of standards which are perceived to be given in the N.T.?

  5. Violet says:

    Christians do good works because we are loved and saved. We do not do works to help us be loved and saved. Its not like we have to do our best and let God do the rest. Christianity teaches that God does it ALL. God cannot love me any more than He does at this very moment. True Christianity is a DONE religion. We do good works because of what was DONE for us. We are little 'Christs' and the Bible tells us to Love and to Believe. Those are our two commandments.

  6. clyde says:

    Christians do good works because we are loved and saved. Nice statement Violet. Can you get up in front of an audience and give a speech? Can you take charge in an emergency? Can you crochet blankets for Babies? Or hats for premies? Can you develop a skill that you don't have already? And if you did. How would that make you feel? What would an observer see in you? Would you be able to convey your skill to your children? So that they would have christ in their life. A lot of mormons are able to. They WORK at building good relationship with their children. It might seem that they are working for their salvation. When in actuality they are working to not lose it and for other to keep it.

  7. clyde says:

    Notice how she only post references from pauline letters?

  8. falcon says:

    In the book, "The Subtle Power of Spiritual Abuse" the author talks about how the church of which he was a member decided to remove any form of what they saw as legalism from their (church). He said the result was that some of the members went "merrily into sin". Now that might seem shocking but his conclusion was that it exposed who was really saved and who wasn't. Kind of an interesting concept, I think. He also tells the story of the mother who came to him upset imploring him to talk to her son because she (mother) didn't like how the boy was wearing his hair, who he was hanging around with, and how he was acting. So the pastor asked what the mother wanted him to do. She says, "I want you to get him to stand up for what he believes in." The pastor's reply? "I think he's already doing that!" He then told the mother, "If you want me to pray to God that he breaks his heart and comes to him in real genuine faith, I'll do that."
    The pastor was very wise. External pressures, rules and regulations will have an effect sometimes, through group pressure and sanctions, on a person's behavior, but it won't change their hearts.
    The culture of Mormonism, especially in the geographic areas in which it predominates, can provide an outward appearance of piety and righteousness. The works orientation can also keep some striving to achieve a false hope, becoming a god. In religious cultures like this, it's all about performance and appearances.
    I've seen the statistics regarding social ills that plague society and the culture of Mormonism. It's not a pretty picture.
    Christ died at a time when we were yet sinners. The Bible tells us that someone might dare to give his life for a good man, but for a sinner? Christ bridges the gap, not between our performance and God's expectations, but between our sinful nature and God's holiness. Changing our behavior won't get us even a little bit saved. The blood of Christ cleanses us from "all" unrighteousness. Even our best intentions will never be enough to satisfy a just God. Thankfully God is also merciful, kind and benevolent and loved us so much that He gave His only begotten Son that who so ever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.
    So should we continue to sin that grace might abound even more? I don't thinks so. Paul tells us that how should we, that have died to sin, continue in it. Paul understood perfectly our condition when he lamented his desire to be perfect, righteous and sin free didn't match his performance. He said something akin to, "Who will free me from this body of death?" The answer was obvious, Jesus.
    With our minds and hearts focused on Christ and what He did for us on the cross, our outward behavior is transformed and we become a living sacrifice to God. Not for the purpose of a reward, but in thanksgiving for what He has done for us; a free gift that isn't deserved and cannot be earned.

  9. Raul Zamora Jr. says:

    Excellent question and I can relate to your dilemma that you are having. One of the first misconceptions of becoming a Christian is that one must be Holy and have worked to a certain level of understanding to be accepted by Christ. The only requirement to be accepted is to have faith in Jesus alone. In my case I was and still am a sinner and far far far from being able to comply with the law of God. So yes one should work at becoming a better person and keeping God's laws, but it is not the compliance of keeping the law that will gain you favor or salvation into the Kingdom of God. Once again great question and I suggest a book by Steve Brown called "A Scandalous Freedom". It will open your eyes to how free you really are and how much God loves you, and the radical nature of the Gospel!!!
    Blessings in HIM

  10. Engkei says:

    Violet,__We are little christs? What does that mean?

  11. Engkei says:

    Then if you don't have works, you have no evidence of salvation?

  12. Engkei said

    Then if you don't have works, you have no evidence of salvation?

    Thats not entirely true. I say that because what if we confess Jesus as Lord, then die. Example, right before the earthquake in Japan a believer might have been sharing the gospel with someone and they said, I believe Jesus Died for me and then Boom, the earthquake hit and they died.

    Or Take the 9/11 attack, Sprint released audio tapes of 1,000's of calls from people trapped then later died. Some of those calls you hear people sharing Jesus and others confessing Jesus as Lord, but they then died. So they had no evidence of works, but according to God they were saved.

    Then their is also the issue of perception, and how people view certain things. I will use myself as an example. I feel I am a warrior at heart, I love fighting, martial arts movies, I have seen every UFC to date, know some of the fighters, did submssion style fighting for 6 years, entered two tournaments and taught some women in my church how to choke someone if needed. Not trying to be overly graphic but I have explained in detail to my 3 kids, if your being attacked and you know or strongly feel your life is in serve danger then you grab the person by the head and drive your thumbs into his eyeball until you touch the persons brain.

    So based upon this, people might say or think, How can you be a true believer. I say simple, I love Jesus and follow his word, I only fight if their is no choice and I warm people in advance, you dont want to mess with me, otherwise I will do….

    Then I also have a door into places where others do not. I can go talk with fighters and speak their language and share Jesus with them, but others can go places I never could. I dont wear suits and ties or dress up, so some of you can share Jesus with the Business type guys. Jesus summed up all the laws into two. Love Jesus and love your neighbor. So I dont need to carry a real or mental checklist marking off things like, I did not kill someone today, I did not lust today, I helped a little old lady cross the street today, Etc.

    But now I also know many LDS will say, we love Jesus and our neighbor. I would reply with, you must look at what God and Jesus say in the Bible about who Jesus is and compare Jesus of the Bible with the Jesus you claim to believe, They simply do not line up and we clearly have two different Jesus. Also If JS and BY and other LDS prophets got it wrong on some or all things about the gospel or even lied then your starting your believe on a lie and then you simply are wrong on so much that you have a false and different gospel like Paul spoke of in Gal 1:8-9.

  13. f_melo says:

    1 John 4:20 "If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?"

    and Paul says in Galatians 5:18-25 "But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit."

    James 2:26 "For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."

    Those are a few passages that deal with that, there are many more. Paul in other occasion talks about how sin torments him and he can´t get rid of it. So, Christians do have to have their faith manifest in their works, no question about it, yet they are still sinners and not perfect. Also it is important to note that James isn´t saying that we are saved by works. He says that we are saved by faith, but just saying that we believe doesn´t do much good, you have to be born of the spirit and that will manifest itself through your works. He exemplifies by explaining that when you see someone in need, you should help, you also shouldn´t treat the wealthier better than you treat the poor, etc.

    The works are a part of the Sanctification through the Holy Spirit, and Salvation comes by Grace through faith alone – as Paul explains you´re either saved by Grace or you´re saved as a reward for your works – now, if you´re not perfectly keeping the law, you´re breaking it and your reward is death and hell. That´s why Salvation can only be by the Grace of God, given us through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus.

  14. f_melo says:

    Clyde, that accusation against Paul is old, and it has no foundation in truth.
    Having been LDS and also having read some material about how Paul was an antinomian i started reading his letters with that assumption that Paul was all about faith and not works at all. Well, all that went to space quickly as i actually read his letters all the way to the end.

    Actually Paul is just like James, much in his letters are all about the things Christians should and shouldn´t do. I was actually quite surprised to find out how Paul was strict on those things and how he didn´t make room for people to justify sin. Those people that accuse him of being an antinomian are big fat liars! They are like the judaizers from his day that denied the Grace of God and wanted to earn their Salvation.

    btw, i mentioned James above as well. Clyde, it doesn´t matter how much you try to force your interpretation on it, the New Testament as well as the Old has one central message: Have faith in God, trust Him, There´s no other Saviour!

  15. f_melo says:

    Beautiful post, Falcon! The story of that kid reminds me of the parable of the Prodigal Son(Luke 15):

    "11 And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12 And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13 Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14 And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15 So he went and hired himself out to [1] one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16 And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.

    17 “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19 I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20 And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21 And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ [2] 22 But the father said to his servants, [3] ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23 And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.

    25 “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27 And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28 But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29 but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31 And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32 It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”

  16. f_melo says:

    Actually Clyde, Mormons are told to work so that people will look at them and want to become members of the Church. It´s a system that strives to keep the outer vessel clean while not caring that much about the inner vessel.
    It´s a system that sends mixed messages – "YOU HAVE TO OBEY TO BE EXALTED, but, hey, if you can´t, just do your best, that will be fine" and when you think your best doesn´t include, let´s say, genealogy work, they then say "YOU HAVE TO KEEP ALL THE COMMANDMENTS YOU COVENANTED YOU WOULD", and that goes on and on, it´s a cycle of spiritual manipulation that utilizes some damage control mechanisms to not lose too many members.

    Your skills in any craft have nothing to do with Salvation, and they in and of themselves are not a manifestation of Salvation. If that was the case, then many atheists would be Saved regardless of the fact that they despise and revile Jesus Christ. The fact that you´re useful to society isn´t all that important either. You can be of great help in relief efforts but still be a real jerk to your family…

  17. Engkei says:

    Interesting. Is that why many LDS people are noted for being so accomplished at doing so much? In a lot of ways that is a compliment. but if you really examine their life closely, it appears that some of these 'super saints' have no time to just relax and be themselves. I think that would make me feel neurotic feeling that I have to be constantly engaged in doing good deeds, not only for its own sake, but for the sake of avoiding some sin.

    That is one of the greatest blessings I have experienced in my departure from the LDS faith feeling that I can have my own opinion, have time to myself, and not having to feel the need to 'build up the kingdom of god' from the moment I wake up to the time I go to sleep.

  18. Engkei says:

    F Melo,
    I have gone to a few Atheist meetings. And yes some of them seemed to be perpetually trapped in hatred of religion in general. But most seem to have processed through all that and don't despise or revile jesus. Just keep in mind that the 'attack' on religion is universal, equal in addressing: hindu, pagan, spiritism, Islam,christian, mormon, sikh etc…. anything which suggests that there is something supernatural. They would be critical of unicorns, leprecons, elves, gnomes etc also. Some might even be critical of more recent UFO craze, if its unfounded in evidence.

  19. Engkei says:

    What is suspect about refering to Pauline letters only?

  20. Engkei says:

    F Melo
    That is interesting about paul being tormented with sin he can't get rid of. What exactly was that? If you can find the exact quote I think that would be interesting to examine.

  21. engkei said

    I thought the statement was that good works was evidence or a result of being saved.

    Good works are evidence that we are saved, but also People who are not saved do good works. I know many atheists who reject God and Jesus and they do good works, IE, They give money to the poor, they do help build houses etc, Then again Muslims, and JW'S and groups like that do good works also, but as other believers have stated and so does the Bible, Good works do not save us. Also if someone claims to be a believer, yet we do not notice good works in there life, we do need to give them a little time. Remember once someone gets saved it's not like everything they did or enjoyed simply goes away.

    Like if you do drugs, some times people will be delivered from the drugs, other times the people still struggle with them and need to over come. It also applies to every vice they deal with. Look at the people that entered the promised land, once they did they still needed to clear out people and wild beasts and other things. It was not like God just cleared everything out and they were able to just walk in and it was empty.

  22. falcon says:

    I guess I was unaware that Mormons have a beef with the apostle Paul. I think Paul proved himself. Unlike LDS prophets and apostles, Paul actually had the resurrected Jesus appear to him and also reveal the gospel to him. But the LDS types would also have a problem with Paul because he wrote about his life as a Jew and how he had accomplished all of these benchmarks in religion and it meant nothing.
    Read chapter 3 of his Letter to the Phillipians where he writes:
    "But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ , the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith…."
    To Paul it was all about Jesus not religion. Paul wasn't going to allow one tid bit of works to sneak in and destroy the gospel that Jesus personally delivered to him. Paul was a slave to Christ not to religion. Mormons are slaves to religion. Not only are their works misapplied in some vain belief that they will become gods, but Mormons become LDS slaves. They serve callings, give 10% plus to the coffers of the LDS corporate machine, and participate in mindless temple rituals that have about as much spiritual significance as the Free Masonry rituals from which they were stolen.
    The only place the LDS works have any significance is within their own religious club and their clique. It's just a form of the high school popularity game applied to religion.

  23. falcon says:

    Mormonism is a religious system that evolved as a means of making people think that they can become gods. In a way, I guess we have to hand it to Joseph Smith, he was great at borrowing ideas and incorporating them into his invention. If a person has the least amount of curiosity and an internet connection, they can pretty easily see what his religious influences were. When he really went off track, other Mormon sects jettisoned his most egregious ideas and stuck with the original recipe, letting the Salt Lake group have the crispy batter.
    Mormons have a real challenge in trying to borrow from the Bible because the Bible doesn't support the basic Mormon premises regarding the nature of God, man and salvation. It's pretty tough to use the Biblical Scriptures when you don't acknowledge the God that is revealed there. In fact, Smith had to come up with his own creative Biblical text, the Joseph Smith version, to sort of mold it to his own point-of-view.
    So a Mormon is going to be lost in a discussion regarding grace and works with Christians. The whole point of Christianity is that God, through His Son, provides us with the means of grace by which we can be saved on the basis of faith alone. The type of faith we are referencing is saving faith. What's that? Well lets contrast it with an event in the Bible where Jesus is acknowledged as God but the one doing the acknowledging is not saved.
    Jesus drives a ton of demons out of this guy and into a herd of pigs. Before Jesus does this the demons cry out, "What do we have to do with you oh Son of God. Have you come to torture us before the appointed time?" The demons knew that Jesus was the Son of God. They believed it, but they weren't saved.
    Believing in a historical Jesus won't cut it either nor will sending up a prayer occasionally because a person is in a tight spot. That won't get the job done. Saving faith is putting our trust totally in Jesus as the means of our salvation. Anytime someone starts wanting to nudge their own works into the formula, they're going off the clear path God has designed.
    Even though we are born again by the Spirit of God on the basis of our faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, we're still stuck with our sin nature. Doing a bunch of works is not going to be real effective in over coming or compensating for (our sin nature). We are told that if we walk by the Spirit we won't carry out the works of the flesh. How do we do that? I don't have a formula but what I think we can "do" to walk in the Spirit is to pray, be in God's Word, and be ever mindful of His constant presence in our lives.
    If we walk in the Spirit as He is in the Spirit we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus cleanses us (continually) from our sins.

  24. clyde says:

    Some biblical scholars suggest that Paul was not the senior apostle and had a different take on christianity. Paul put emphasis on a different aspect of christianity grace not works. It seems he was battling a mixed congregation of jews and gentile converts. they placed an over emphasis on works. Even Peter wrote that some of pauls writings were hard to understand. Martin Luther wanted to throw out the letters of Peter or James because they did not suit his theology. Fortunately they were left in.

  25. clyde says:

    Good point Sarah. I should be able to read the bible at least once a week by reading up to Dueteronomy Chapter 4 verse 2. then stopping. because all other verses are additions and God curses those who add to his word.

  26. clyde says:

    Very interesting point you make. There are some people out there who do things so naturally that they make it look easy. We do not realize that they are relaxing.

  27. clyde says:

    There is a learning curve that you seems to be missing. The more you learn the closer to God you get or you get farther from him. I believe it is one of the puzzles of life.

  28. Clyde and Engkei,
    You guys keep asking or talking about how me must keep the whole law and if we dont then thats an issue. What I am about to say has been said over and over by many of us Christians and is found in the Bible. If you break ONE LAW, your guilty of breaking them ALL. So Once you break one and therefore have broken them all your a lost sinner who cannot go back and fix anything.

    Since you broke all the laws your punishment is eternal death and unless you believe in and follow Jesus who took your place on the Cross, you are hopelessly lost. We owe a debt we cannot pay, so Jesus paid a debt He did not owe. Read your Bible, the Bible is all about How Jesus redeemed us and is our payment for sin. His blood was shed on our behalf. We cannot add to it by doing works. As I said before, The religious leaders asked Jesus, What WORKS must we Do. Notice the word WORKS is plural, more than one. Jesus replied with the ONLY WORK, (singular) That WE MUST DO, Is to believe on the one whom God sent. Who did God send? He sent His Son Jesus.

    Now add to that, Jesus said if we Love Him and love our Neighbor we will fulfill the entire law. Like I said before, If I love God and love my neighbor, I wont want to cheat on my wife, or steal or kill. So I can know I am saved by doing exactly what Jesus and God said, Simply believe and love. No wondering, am I good enough, did I do enough, Etc.

  29. Engkei says:

    If you break one law? Which are you speaking of? The 600 or so laws of the torah? Christian laws concerning behavior and ethics? Civic law? Mormons are encouraged to obey civic law.

    What you are mentioning about breaking one breaks them all, that sounds odd. I didn't say it wasn't true, but it sounds odd, mystical, supernatural, almost occultic. The more I learn about monotheism the more it seems occultic, some hidden knowledge that is so simple on the surface, but mysterious and strange if you examinine it closely.

  30. falcon says:

    We had a Mormon poster recently answer a question I asked by saying that the Holy Ghost that was guiding her was the same one that guides me, a Christian. I had to respectfully disagree but I couldn't help but make the observation that she was either 1) lying, 2) ignorant of LDS doctrine, or 3) honestly thought they were the same. I can never quite figure out what this obsession Mormons have about insisting that's it's all the same. It's obviously not and Mormonism was founded on that premise; that they were different from Christianity. Some people I know had some Mormon missionaries knock on there door and in response to a question she asked said that Mormons believed the same as Christians.
    My hope is that the Mormons who come here to read will at least see that there is clearly a difference between Christianity and Mormonism. With our current topic, Christians claim God's grace so that we might be saved and live a transformed life to His glory.
    Mormons are hoping that their works will some how qualify them to become gods. A person has to go no further than that to see that Mormonism and Christianity are not the same.
    Striving and serving the religious system of Mormonism will not allow someone to become a god. It will only result in a wasted life and an eternity separated from God.

  31. f_melo says:

    Clyde your comment shows that you didn´t understand what Sarah was talking about.

    When Sarah talks about adding to the word of God, she wasn´t talking about new scriptures. For example, the Bible says that Jesus DIED for our sins, not shed blood in the Garden of Gethsemane for it. Now Joseph takes that passage and adds to it saying that the atonement happened also in the Garden – that´s adding to the Word of God, it´s not about new scripture, it´s about putting words in God´s mouth which He didn´t speak.

    Another example of that is Joseph Smith´s "inspired" version of the Bible. He literally changed the Words of God as revealed in the Bible. He didn´t come up with new scripture, he altered the existing ones.

  32. f_melo says:


    Romans 7: 14 For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15 For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16 Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17 So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18 For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 21 So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand. 22 For I delight in the law of God, in my inner being, 23 but I see in my members another law waging war against the law of my mind and making me captive to the law of sin that dwells in my members. 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? 25 Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself serve the law of God with my mind, but with my flesh I serve the law of sin.


    2 Corinthians 12:"7 So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, [1] a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

  33. f_melo says:

    "But most seem to have processed through all that and don't despise or revile jesus. "

    Well, if they are atheists they claim that there´s no God, denying His authority, denying Jesus Christ, etc. They might not necessarily revile Him, but they do despise Him regardless of how they deal with religion.

  34. f_melo says:

    "If you break one law? Which are you speaking of? The 600 or so laws of the torah? Christian laws concerning behavior and ethics? Civic law? Mormons are encouraged to obey civic law. "

    This is what Rick is talking about – James 2:10-11 "For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. For he that said, Do not commit adultery, said also, Do not kill. Now if thou commit no adultery, yet if thou kill, thou art become a transgressor of the law."

    That doesn´t mean that, for example, if i lie, i´ll be also guilty of murder – it only means that if i transgress in one point, regardless of what it is i´m guilty of breaking the law anyways. The only way for the law to be kept is if it is kept perfectly at all times.

    The law he is referring to is mainly the Ten Commandments.

    "The more I learn about monotheism the more it seems occultic, some hidden knowledge that is so simple on the surface, but mysterious and strange if you examinine it closely."

    How so? Occult simply means hidden. Usually when we talk about occultism we are referring to witchcraft, or satanic practices of the kind.

  35. Sarah says:

    Missed my point entirely. My point is the Biblical scripture reads:

    John 3:16 God gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

    Mormon Ezra Taft Benson taught: He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him and comply with His laws and ordinances would have everlasting life.

    The good news is what it says in John 3:16. The Mormon church has denied the good news by adding to it and saying "that's not enough" you ALSO have to "comply with His laws and ordinances". This is NOT what the good news is. This is the distorted, false gospel of the Mormon church.

  36. Engkei,
    It seems F_melo beat me to it, The reply he gave pretty much is what I would have said. But I will say this much again, It seems you dont read your bible and I question exactly what your doing here. I can see someone not being a believer asking honest questions, but you, it seems your questions go beyond asking honest questions and it seems almost a subtle form of attack upon the Bible. It's almost like your saying Did God really say…
    Or why should I believe the Bible I see this or that as a problem.

  37. Engkei says:

    Perhaps you are correct, as the focus of the forum is between lds theology and evangelical christianity or perhaps christianity as a whole. There is a lot I don't understand, and its been a long time since I ever read the Bible as a believer, and that was when I was attending LDS church services. For a short time I attended some services from someone who just started a congregation on his own. There was something I thought was 'weird' about it, couldn't put my finger on it exactly. But it was enough for me to loose interest altogether. The electronic version of faith is even more elusive and difficult for me to exactly comprehend why people believe that they believe.

  38. Engkei says:

    F melo,
    I was wondering about that. Like if one parked at a meter and let it run out, and then one got a parking ticket. I visualized the judicial system charging you with everything in the law books. Like grand larceny for instance. It didn't make any sense. But is that how the spirituality of the Bible works? If you break the sabbath day, you are also an idol worshiper and an adulterer at the same time? I was raised with some sense that bible literalists don't have, that there were levels and degrees of sin. That is part of the foundation for the three degrees of glory. But apparently that is out the window.

  39. Engkei says:

    yes, occult means 'hidden'. When one gets blood work done, there is an 'occult' blood count. A different sense of the word. I think there are hidden meanings to verses, and hidden belief within Christianity and Judaism. I watched a program about an evangelical church who had some criminal activities associated with it. They spoke in code, and the program had to stop often and explain what particular terms and phrases meant. I think one only can understand it fully if one is involved as a believer over a lifetime. Often when I read things at MC I haven't the slightest what is being talked about, its like there is some secret sense of things. Things someone raised LDS wouldn't know much about. I am sure it goes the other way around also.

  40. Engkei says:

    That was a topic of the documentary 'From Jesus to christ'. How Paul had to walk a very fine doctrine line between gentile converts and jews. It seemed more political than anything.

  41. f_melo says:

    "But is that how the spirituality of the Bible works?"

    No. If you break one of the commandments you deserve punishment. Since we don´t keep all the commandments we are adding up to our debt everyday. It doesn´t matter if we commit murder, or tell a lie – it´s all sin, and all have consequences for God.

    So, for you to be justified by the keeping of the Law you´d have to keep it at all times perfectly to be debt free, so that you wouldn´t deserve God´s justice. Because of his fall, Adam managed to corrupt our human nature as a whole, we are all by nature rebellious against God. Our hearts delight in doing evil, some people more heinous evil than others but evil nonetheless.

    So, what happened was that the day will come when we will all be judged, and we all deserve God´s punishment. So, God Himself in the person of the Son came down to earth, was born of a woman, kept the Law perfectly at all times and took upon Himself the wrath of God that we deserved as a reward for our works. Now, if we believe in Him we´ll be forgiven of all our sins, and even though we still sin, when we stand before God to be judged, He´s not going to see our sins, but the righteousness of Christ will cover us, and we will be declared righteous before God, being able to live eternally in His presence.

    You said you haven´t read the Bible in a long time – i encourage you to read it again, at least the New Testament, Paul explains it a lot better than me.

  42. f_melo says:

    "Paul had to walk a very fine doctrine line between gentile converts and jews. It seemed more political than anything."

    Engkei, you need to re-read the epistles of Paul – see if he cared about that fine line at all.

  43. f_melo says:

    The same way that if i went to a Buddhist teaching lesson i would be completely lost.

    The only thing you need to be careful is that there´s no hidden doctrine that will possibly contradict the plain teachings of Jesus and the Apostles, such as what mormonism claims or the Gnostics claimed during those times. Also there´s no Bible code that has hidden info as some guys like to preach it.

  44. RalphNWatts says:


    So too Traditional Christians are told to do good works so others will look at them and want to convert –

    Matthew 5:13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men. 14 Ye are the alight of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. 15 Neither do men light a acandle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. 16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

  45. Brian says:

    Wonderfully stated, falcon! Thanks.

  46. Brian says:

    Great observation, Sarah. It does appear the author of the first quote in the appendix used John 3:16 as his starting point, and then turned it around to mean precisely what it does not:

    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.

    The author was flattering himself if he believed he had ever complied with God's law. Evidently, he had never believed John 3:16. Why else would he have changed it?

  47. Brian says:


    Wonderful article you've written. Thank you.

    When I saw the title of the book you've reviewed, I was reminded of something Mark Cares said. (He is the author of "Speaking the Truth In Love to Mormons.") He said, in effect:

    * The Christian has salvation
    * The Mormon has a plan

  48. f_melo says:

    Ok, Ralph, so, apparently we have two contradictory statements by Jesus one very close to the other.

    First is Matthew 5:13-16

    “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people's feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven."

    and Matthew 6:1-4

    "“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you."

    So, in the first passage, Jesus tells them to let their light shine so that people would see their good works and Glorify God. Now, how you can take that to mean that you do good works with second intentions to convert people, without of doing it out of your heart, naturally, i don´t know. You can see that in action through the life and ministry of the Apostles. They let their light, Jesus and the Gospel, shine in their preaching and people then noticed their works that they were really performed with power from God and glorified God and believed Jesus.

    The case i was focusing on was the second passage – that´s what Mormonism is all about, practicing righteousness to be seen of men. That´s what they are doing when they publicize about their programs in the media. That´s what those Mormon Helping Hands vests are all about – to let the public(future costumers) know that the people helping the poor and needy are mormons! Do they need to advertise or could they just forget about $$ and do the work anyway?

  49. gpark5 says:

    Engkei wrote: Then if you don't have works, you have no evidence of salvation?

    First, Engkei, please accept my apologies for taking so long to reply! My Mom is 79 and has already had one very bad episode with her heart. I wanted to pay her a visit for a few days and have been out-of-town.

    In answer to your question, I'll list three Bible passages and then comment on them.

    Ephesians 4:30-31, NKJV, 30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice.

    Galatians 5:22-25, NKJV, 22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. 24 And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. 25 If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.

    John 15:1-5, NKJV, 1 “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. 2 Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. 3 You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. 4 Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. 5 “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.

    If one is born again, one has the Holy Spirit abiding within oneself. There is a precious relationship there, more important, deeper, than one's relationship with any other; deeper, even, than the relationships with one's family and dearest friends. If I 'grieve' my husband, my children, my Mom, my sister, my closest friends, because of unkind words or actions, it hurts me to know that I have hurt them. Why, then, would I not be much more greatly disturbed by grieving the Holy Spirit. How true a relationship with God can I claim if my actions are continuously unloving, depressing to myself and others, quarrelsome, impatient, unkind, evil, unfaithful to God and to those I claim to love, lacking in gentleness, lacking in self-control.

    Bearing the fruit that is spoken of in Galatians 5:22 is living testimony of the fact that I am 'abiding in the true vine.'

    I am not perfect, but the Holy Spirit within me lets me know when I have grieved Him. God has not ony saved me, but He keeps me, disciplining me for my own good, and for His glory, as I continue to grow in Him.

  50. gpark5 says:

    2 Peter 2:1-3, NKJV, 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.

    NKJV – copyright 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

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