Having a tough time discussing grace with Mormons? EMPP is my imaginary energy drink, as well as my corny acronym for making some helpful distinctions:

Evidence. Are works necessary to show the evidence of faith? Yes. James 2:14-26, Matthew 7:21-23?

Merit. Are works necessary to earn or merit eternal life or forgiveness? No. Romans 4:1-8, 6:23.

Purpose. Are works necessary to fulfill my life’s purpose to glorify God? Yes. Matthew 5:16, Ephesians 2:10.

Prerequisite. Are works necessary as a prerequisite or precondition to receive eternal life or forgiveness? No. Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:5-8.

Biblical Christianity says yes-no-yes-no to EMPP.

Traditional Mormonism says yes-yes-yes-yes.

Neo-orthodox Mormonism says yes-no-yes-maybe (depending on the person).

Jesus gives immediate adoption, forgiveness, and eternal life to anyone who, with a broken heart, trusts him for it — even before baptism, laying on of hands, church membership, completing a “repentance process”, etc. That isn’t something one clearly learns from, say, the LDS Gospel Principles, much less Kimball’s Miracle of Forgiveness in the Church Distribution Centers, or in the new LDS youth manuals (that I can tell, so far).

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58 Responses to EMPP

  1. MJP says:

    I admit, I have a hard time with works as evidence of faith. I say this because we can’t ever know what is in a person’s heart, and it is easy to work. I absolutely think a true believer will work, but I always hesitate to say that because someone works, that someone is a believer.

    I also struggle to define what actually constitutes works. We all have different strengths and abilities, and so we are not all going to do the same works.

    In the context of the discussion with Mormons, I think I have to agree with Aaron. Works are reflected in a true believers life. There is no doubt about that. But just because we see works we cannot necessarily conclude the worker is a believer. It is merely evidence of belief, and not proof.

  2. jaxi says:

    This is one of my favorite quotes,

    Fr. Anthony Coniaris has written: “…[W]hen a saint gets to heaven, he will be surprised by three things. First, he will be surprised to see many he did not think would be there. Second, he will be surprised that some are not there whom he expected to see. Third, he will be surprised that he himself is there.”

    Only God knows what works have been done by faith. We all have no clue. Live by faith and never look to your works. Works will come without you even knowing. Do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing.

  3. MJP says:

    Great quote, Jaxi.

  4. Bloom says:

    One of my Mormon friends basically has said, when we discuss biblical passages referring to grace as an unearned gift, “Yeah I see it, but I just feel that it’s too easy and that there should be things I have to do.”

  5. MJP says:

    Bloom, I am not surprised to hear that. I think it is easier for some to keep some amount of control in their own salvation than it is to give it all up to someone else.

    The giving up control is one of the hardest things we all have to do. I know I still struggle with that in far too many areas of my life.

  6. Mike R says:

    Bloom, MJP , I think that sometimes we don’t articulate well when sharing with Mormons
    in reference to what a person must “do” in order to receive pardon for sins and be given
    eternal life as a gift . Because of this Mormons think that we are saying that if we only ” believe ”
    ( mental assent ), in Jesus then that’s all . So it bears repeating that to “believe” in Jesus means
    to trust Him , to surrender and admit we can’t earn , merit eternal life . Our faith (trust) in
    Jesus is the only “work ” that we must “do” in order to be forgiven and receive eternal life .
    Is this just to easy ? Well, I do know that for a man to surrender his pride and admit to himself
    and to God that he is a lost sinner and in need of being rescued from hell , that is not an easy
    confession to come to . For many people this is an very difficult thing to admit about themselves
    and to humble themselves enough to ask God for His mercy and pardon.
    Thank God that receiving the fullness of eternal life in heaven with Him can’t be earned .
    Striving to become worthy by climbing up the Mormon gospel ladder of requirements
    is not the way to the Father . The way is through a person , because trusting in Him alone
    qualifies us to get to the Father ‘s house above — His name is Jesus . Jn 14:6 ; Phil 3:9 ; Eph 2
    Anyway that’s my thoughts on this issue .

  7. MJP says:

    Mike R.,

    I think you are right. We likely do under state the strength and importance of believing. It is much more than that. It is submission and trust. Giving our trust to someone else to completely alter our life is a very powerful event. In many ways, that is work alone. But it is not usually work seen on the outside. It is work done from the inside of each of us. We must allow ourselves to be transformed from the inside out, rather from the inside out.

    This is why we cannot say we are saved by works, because our works are on the outside. The transformation comes from the inside, and the outside works are only evidence of inside change (not proof, since works can be done for many reasons).

    Being born again of the spirit, becoming a new creation in Christ, is much more than mere belief. We ought not ever forget that or minimize that.

  8. TJayT says:

    Well said Mike R, that’s a much clearer explanation then I have heard from others at times.

  9. faithoffathers says:


    None of the passages of scripture which you refer to contradict what I have presented here previously about faith, works, grace, and salvation. How can you say that your view is correct and mine is wrong when none of these scriptures contradict what I am saying, but a few do indeed contradict your claim about grace?

    In the first passage from James, reference is made to Abraham being justified by works. How do you explain that? Abraham’s faith was made perfect, or completed, by his works. And he was saved by faith. And his works increased or completed his faith. Therefore, his works had a role in his salvation. This passage will not work to support your view. Works are clearly a contributing factor in salvation by increasing faith, which is the basis for salvation.

    Next passage- Christ’s sermon on the mount. The passage you refer to is one of the most often cited passages by LDS critics, and it is almost always taken out of context, as you do here. You are quoting it as if Christ is saying that He will cast out those who think their works will help their salvation. But you need to back up and look at the statement in context. This statement comes at the end of the sermon on the mount. And in that sermon, Christ teaches us to practice the religion that is real and in the heart, not the religion that is practiced to get attention and praise from others. Instead of praying to be heard of men, pray in secret to be heard of God. Instead of giving alms to be praised of men, give alms in secret to be rewarded by God in secret. Instead of fasting with suffering in our faces, fast in secret that God will reward us. Christ is clearly contrasting the true religion of those who obey and worship God in sincerity with the false religiosity of those who do things to receive attention and praise from other human beings. Just before Christ makes the statement that you quote, He says, “whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man who built his house upon a rock……” He goes on to say that those who hear these things and do not do them are those who build their house on the sand. And then He makes the statement you quote here. And in making that statement, Christ is very clearly calling us to obey Him in practicing the true religion of humble, faithful, service and obedience to God rather than the outward practice of getting attention from others. So in reality, Christ is very much teaching the need to obey Him and follow Him in doing good works. His meaning is exactly opposite what you are claiming. Do not seek to perform highly religious and outwardly great works to be adored and praised by man. Do the works out of a sincere desire to obey God and follow Him. It is the motivation for our works that Christ is addressing.

    The passage from Romans means that we are not saved by our works. In other words, it is not the work of our obedience that saves us. Rather, it is the work of Christ which saves us. But that does not mean we are not required to perform our works. It is just that doing so is not what does the actual work of saving. The other passage from Romans supports this idea that salvation is a gift from God, not a direct result or economic outcome of our works. Salvation is created in another economy to which we have no access as a result of being sinners.

    The passages from Matthew and Ephesians simply state that we are to obey God that others may see the source of the light within us- God’s love and salvation.

    The second passage from Ephesians (2:8-9) is simply restating what was said before. We are not saved by works. But that does not mean we are not required to do those works.

    The passage from Titus says we are to devote ourselves to good works. Those works don’t save us. But those works are “profitable” for us. Hmm.

    All of these passages are completely consistent with my argument that we are not saved by our works, but that we are required to obey and do works to have the grace of Christ bestowed upon us. And in saying that, I am not saying that there is any stage of our progress in which we are not completely dependent upon the grace of Christ to help and assist us in following Him. From start to finish, we are completely desperate for His grace. As the Book of Mormon teaches, Christ is the “author and finisher of our faith.”

    Several of these passages create problems for the claim that we are not required to obey and work to receive the grace of Christ. But no problems are created for the doctrine and model I am maintaining.

  10. MJP says:


    Let me ask a simple question: is it difficult to give up all your control in your salvation?


  11. faithoffathers says:


    Not at all. Christ is at the helm and I have perfect confidence in Him. And the statements from Him and His apostles make perfect sense.


  12. MJP says:

    That was not my question.

  13. grindael says:

    In the first passage from James, reference is made to Abraham being justified by works. How do you explain that?

    Paul the real Apostle did:

    4 What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? 2 If, in fact, Abraham was justified by works, he had something to boast about—but not before God. 3 What does Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.”

    4 Now to the one who works, wages are not credited as a gift but as an obligation. 5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness. 6 David says the same thing when he speaks of the blessedness of the one to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:

    7 “Blessed are those
    whose transgressions are forgiven,
    whose sins are covered.
    8 Blessed is the one
    whose sin the Lord will never count against them.

    9 Is this blessedness only for the circumcised, or also for the uncircumcised? We have been saying that Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness. 10 Under what circumstances was it credited? Was it after he was circumcised, or before? It was not after, but before! 11 And he received circumcision as a sign, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised. So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them. 12 And he is then also the father of the circumcised who not only are circumcised but who also follow in the footsteps of the faith that our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.

    13 It was not through the law that Abraham and his offspring received the promise that he would be heir of the world, but through the righteousness that comes by faith. 14 For if those who depend on the law are heirs, faith means nothing and the promise is worthless, 15 because the law brings wrath. And where there is no law there is no transgression.

    16 Therefore, the promise comes by faith, so that it may be by grace and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring—not only to those who are of the law but also to those who have the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all. 17 As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.

    18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”[d] 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. 22 This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” 23 The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, 24 but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead. 25 He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.

    Try really reading more of the Bible instead of the Book of Mormon.

  14. grindael says:

    We are not justified by works because,

    “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20).

    If you believe in works then Christ does not live in you. You don’t have enough faith in Christ and you need your crutch of regulations that kill the spirit.

    He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant–not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.

    When Christ lives in us our minds are renewed by the spirit and we are transformed into ministers of righteousness. We do not need petty regulations or task masters to tell us what to do. We have Christ and the Holy Spirit to do so.

    Mormon “prophets” are only legal taskmasters (Galatians 3:24) for those who do not have enough faith (Galatians 3:12) to throw off the shackles of the law. They are cursing their own followers. (Galatians 3:10) Follow the “PROPHET”… follow the “PROPHET”… follow a man and his made up regulations and be cursed.

    “Do this… Do that,” and “eat this” and “eat that” and “give us your money”. It is everything that is condemned by the true Apostles of Jesus. Faith without works is dead. But not the works that are the petty regulations of men. James told us what those “works” are:

    Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)

    Or, the “Royal Law” which is Love God and your neighbor.

    If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.(James 2:8-10)

    The law kills. The Royal Law is the “works” James speaks of. The Spirit is life. There is nothing else required.

  15. Clyde6070 says:

    What seems to be happening is that ideas are polarized. We say works like it is a four letter word. While someone who says he is saved by grace alone and changes nothing in his life is being very hypocritical. What I see is that you keep yourself busy to keep from going back to your old ways. When Christ lives in us our minds are renewed by the spirit and we are transformed into ministers of righteousness. We do not need petty regulations or task masters to tell us what to do. At times it is good if someone suggest you do something as long it is helping you build your talents and give you guidance in Christ. It is good when you change for the good.

  16. falcon says:

    Here’s what we need to remember. Mormons are talking about Mormonism which requires works in order to become a god. They have a multi level of salvation. So our discussion is really going no where. We’re not talking about the same thing. The real question is, “Is Mormonism true?
    Mormons are trying to over lay, impose Mormonism on the Bible.

  17. Tom says:

    Faith of fathers said: “The passage from Romans means that we are not saved by our works. In other words, it is not the work of our obedience that saves us. Rather, it is the work of Christ which saves us. But that does not mean we are not required to perform our works. It is just that doing so is not what does the actual work of saving. The other passage from Romans supports this idea that salvation is a gift from God, not a direct result or economic outcome of our works. Salvation is created in another economy to which we have no access as a result of being sinners.”

    Folks, there in a nutshell is the very heart of Mormon thought. Without Jesus a person could do good works, even great works, his or her entire life but all that would do no good at all; there would be no benefit whatsoever. However, because Jesus came and made the infinite and eternal sacrifice, the eternal, positive effects of good works kick in and bring about eternal, positive rewards. The atonement, therefore, acts like a catalyst in a chemical reaction. Without the catalyst chemical elements just sit there. But as soon as the catalyst is added, boom! Things happen. Like epoxy glue, if you squeeze out the contents of one tube, it just sits there, totally unable to bind things together, although all the binding agents are present. Once you squeeze in some of the catalyst from the other tube, the binding agents become operative.

    I used to think that way. I staked my eternal life on that kind of thinking. I was wrong.

    The truth hit me while studying Paul’s letter to the Romans. When he talked about the Law or works of the Law, he wasn’t talking about personal good deeds. He was referring to specific “doing” that was required in the Torah and, by extension, by the Talmudic traditions (the Talmud probably wasn’t written yet but was a strong oral tradition).

    The parallel between what Paul was talking about and Mormonism goes like this: in order to receive the fullness of God’s gifts in the afterlife, that is, exaltation, certain things absolutely must be in place. A person must be baptized. A person must be confirmed and have received the gift of the Holy Ghost. A male must receive the Melchezedek priesthood. A person must receive the washing and anointing in the temple. A person must receive the endowment, along with its covenants, tokens, and their names. A person must be married, or sealed, in the new and everlasting covenant of marriage.

    In order to receive all of these saving ordinances,particularly the temple ordinances, one must qualify. Along with several belief requirements, one must live up to certain doing requirements. For example, one must keep the Word of Wisdom, and one must be a full tithe payer. No money, no temple recommend. No recommend, no saving temple ordinances. No temple ordinances, no exaltation. No exaltation, no receiving of the best God has in store.

    Tithing paying and Word of Wisdom keeping, along with everything else covered in the temple recommend interview, become works of the Law completely in the spirit of what Paul was talking about. It’s not about saving faith. It quickly becomes a matter of saving doing on our part.

    In the movie Lincoln, th President says, “Two things that are equal to the same thing are, thus, equal to each other.” In a similar manner, if the saving ordinances of the temple are necessary for exaltation, and they are, and if paying tithing is necessary to go to the temple, and it is, then ones exaltation absolutely hinges on paying tithing or giving of one’s time, talents, and everything with which The Lord has blessed you or may bless you to the Church of Jesus Chrisr of Latter-day Saints.

    One is thus saved by the works of the Law in direct contradiction to the New Testament.

  18. grindael says:

    At times it is good if someone suggest you do something as long it is helping you build your talents and give you guidance in Christ. It is good when you change for the good.

    That is what the Holy Spirit does. That is why we fellowship with believers. And as Paul states,

    “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2)

    It is not just “keeping busy”, or conforming to some man made program or pattern. That is what regulations are for. At 12, you become a “deacon”, at 14 a “teacher”, at 16 a “priest”. etc., etc.

    “For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law. 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.” (Galatians 3:21-22)

    The law was added because of transgression, because the children of Israel did not have enough faith to believe in the Holy Spirit to guide them. They needed the law. It made them “righteous”. And the day of atonement each year was simply a start over point. By the time Christ came, the legalism was so prevalent that there was little faith and belief, only more and more regulation. The law kills the spirit. It kills the joy of belief.

    Mormonism teaches that the more good works you do, (like having more wives, etc.) the more “glory” you have and you become a higher god than those that don’t do as much as you do. You get a better “kingdom”. Everyone is saved, but you “earn” what kingdom you get by obeying more regulations. It is a system based totally on merit. The atonement only gets you a resurrection. Why did Mormons used to rebaptize themselves over and over again? Because they could not believe in the grace of Jesus which is able to build you up, not a regulation that would wipe the slate clean so you could start over when you moved to “Zion” or committed adultery or some other sin. Confronted with the ridiculousness of this practice, they abandoned it at the turn of the 20th century. This was regulation gone amok.

    Christians let the Holy Spirit guide them and reveal what gifts they have been given for the upbuilding of the Kingdom of God. “We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us.” (Romans 12:6)

    It is not just changing for the good, but doing God’s will that works in us by the power of the Holy Spirit.

    “And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up” (Acts 20:32) “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby” (1 Pet. 2:2).

    6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body. 12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you. (2 Cor. 4:6-12)

    16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

  19. Tom says:

    My reference to the law of consecration, as given in the Endowment, is not a requirement to go to the temple to receive one’s own Endowment. The covenant to keep the law of consecration is given in the Endowment. However, the requirement to pay tithing, etc., etc., etc., in order to go to the temple in order to receive the saving ordinances found only there most certainly is in place. My bad.

  20. faithoffathers says:

    To all,

    I responded directly to each of the passages of scripture offered by Aaron. Yet nobody directly responds to my specific comments. You wave your hand and judge the motives behind the works which I refer to. You are not judges of the motives of anybody but yourselves. And this is the problem with your argument.

    Faith is “perfected” by works. And we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ. Without works, our faith diminished and withers away.

    Anybody want to respond to my comments directly without jumping to other scriptures?

    We are not saved by our works. Tom- I am not arguing that we keep the law. We don’t and can’t. But we must follow and obey Christ. That is not “the law” which the New Testament refers to. If you do not understand that, I don’t know how I can help you. You are conflated two things, and that is confusing you.

    MJP- you asked, “is it difficult to give up all your control in your salvation?”

    And I answered, “Not at all. Christ is at the helm and I have perfect confidence in Him.”

    How in the world was my response not an answer to “the question you asked?” Silly you.

    Christ’s grace accompanies everything good that we do and every expression of our faith. That grace is with us from the beginning of our faith and belief to our ultimate salvation. So you argument, Tom, simply falls flat.

    Anybody want to show how my interpretation of the passages is incorrect?

  21. grindael says:

    But we must follow and obey Christ.

    Mormon regulations do not come from Christ. They come from Jo Smith and other men, added because of “transgression”.

    Law of tithing – because they could not keep the law of consecration, etc. etc.

    This alone shows the futility of Mormon regulations and that they come from men.

  22. Tom says:

    We are not saved by our works. Tom

    I am saying that in order to receive the fulness of salvation, in the Mormon system, one must do certain works first. Using tithing as a representation of all the things necessary to do, without paying tithing you cannot receive what it takes to receive the fulness of God’s blessings in the hereafter. Tithing, thus, absolutely becomes a necessary work that we, and we alone, do. Whether or not one receives exaltation absolutely does hinge (with certain Mormon caveats and potential caveats) on paying tithing. It is so obvious that tithing becomes very quickly a work of the Law. Tithing is a required ‘doing’ for full, Mormon-style salvation. I don’t think I am confused. I think you do not, and probably cannot, see the concept of salvation by grace alone, through faith alone in Christ alone. I had to step outside of the Mormon bubble to see it. You can’t comprehend the Christian concept of salvation because you are inside of the Mormon belief structure. I don’t say that as a putdown at all. You can’t see what you can’t see. I do see the Mormon belief system. I do understand fully what you are saying. I do. I lived it for 40+ years as a faithful, believing, fully participating Mormon priesthood holder. Believe me, I know Mormon doctrine as well as you do. I do. It just took the Holy Spirit to nudge me far enough beyond the LDS belief bubble to be able to see the contrast between LDS theology and what the New Testament says by itself and about itself.

    Just because a person (me) was LDS and now isn’t and now is a believing mainstream Christian does not mean that person (me, again) did not and does not fully understand Mormon thinking.

  23. faithoffathers says:


    Telling me that I don’t really understand the true doctrine is not sufficient. Please explain how I am misinterpreting the passages of scripture which Aaron used to make his argument.

    Our works do not save us. But we are required to do them. I think it is you who does not understand how both of these sentences are true yet not contradictory.

    A few threads ago I posted many long explanations of what I am saying. Instead of retyping the same material, here is the link to one of the conversations:


    Here is a previous post in which I attempt to explain it:

    “I will admit that the word “law” can be used in various ways. And it is not too often that the word is used in these conversations precisely and appropriately. And there certainly can be confusion when people, including LDS, use it without explicitly describing which application of the word is intended.

    There is the general “law of God,” which could be equated with the eternal law of justice. There is the Law of Moses, which was fulfilled by Christ. And then there is the the requirements which Christ has established upon which we may obtain mercy. I believe Elder Scott is referring to this set of requirements as “law” when he states, “His mercy does not overcome the requirements of His Law, they must be met.” He is certainly not suggesting that we must live up to the eternal law of justice, the Lawthe universe or the abstract “law of God.” I am extremely confident that Elder Scott is not contradicting the consistent Book of Mormon teaching that “mercy satisfies the demands of justice.” None of us can meet the requirements of THE LAW on our own. All of us desperately need the mercy of Christ.

    In Alma, we read, ” And thus we see that all mankind were fallen, and they were in the grasp of justice; yea, the justice of God, which consigned them forever to be cut off from his presence. And now, the plan of mercy could not be brought about except an atonement should be made; therefore God himself atoneth for the sins of the world, to bring about the plan of mercy, to appease the demands of justice, that God might be a perfect, just God, and a merciful God also…..But there is a law given, and a punishment affixed, and a repentance granted; which repentance, mercy claimeth; otherwise, justice claimeth the creature and executeth the law, and the law inflicteth the punishment; if not so, the works of justice would be destroyed.” Alma 42:14-14,22

    In this video and talk from Elder Scott, the word “law” is defined by the principles and ordinances of the gospel. And as explained in Alma, mercy is functional in our lives based on our repentence. We must repent to be forgiven. Elder Scott is very clearly not saying we all must fulfill the eternal laws of justice. None of us can do that. But without defining the word “law” in his statement, it can be taken out of context to make it look like we believe we are justified by law. And we absolutely do not believe that.

    I think the best demonstration or analogy of all this is found in the movie “The Ultimate Gift.” I would encourage people to see this movie. I can’t think of a better example of the very principles I am trying to describe .

    In the movie, James Garner plays an elderly, super-rich, oil tycoon who is dying. He has many children and grandchildren. But they are all spoiled brats, and he does not want to leave his empire to any of them. But he does have one grandson in whom he recognizes the potential for greatness and goodness. The kid is in his early twenties and living a somewhat riotous and rebellious life. But before the grandpa dies, he records a video in which he leaves a message to this one grandson. He outlines 12 tasks which this grandson must complete, after which the grandpa promises “the ultimate gift.” These twelve tasks include selling everything the kid has and giving it to the poor. Working on a farm building fences for many months. Working in a poverty stricken community in a third world country. And on and on- the young man must complete these tasks that require and develop selflessness, honor, trustworthiness, mercy, and decency in the heart of the kid. After a long time, the grandson completes the tasks. He meets with the attorneys of the deceased grandpa who manage his will and huge empire. They show the boy the final video from the grandpa wherein this oil tycoon places the grandson as the equivalent of President and CEO of his empire.

    This fits my description of grace, mercy, and works perfectly. The grandson does absolutely nothing to create the empire of the grandpa- he contributed in no way to its development and success. This can be equated to our salvation.

    The ten tasks from the grandpa are the “laws of the gospel” or the requirements which Christ has given us to qualify for His grace. We must meet those requirements, or in Scott’s talk, His “law.”

    The boy didn’t “earn” the empire because he did nothing to create it. But he was required to complete the tasks before receiving it. And the inheritence was the result of grace on the part of the grandpa.

    Great movie. What I am suggesting here regarding grace, works, faith, mercy, is perfectly demonstrated by this Christian movie.”

    We must obey Christ and repent. But that work does not do the work that saves us. Only Christ has the power to do the work, qualitatively and quantitatively, that saves us. We have absolutely no access to the economy in which our salvation is created. In the movie I mention, the grandson has no access to the oil industry in which his grandfather created his huge empire. And it is that analogous economy in which the work of Christ is conducted. So our works do nothing to save us. But He requires them of us as we receive His grace.

  24. Tom says:


    Telling me that I don’t really understand the true doctrine is not sufficient.

    I said you don’t seem to understand the non-Mormon Christian concept of salvation and not “the true doctrine.” And whether or not saying that is not sufficient to you is, in my opinion, irrelevant. It may be sufficient to God, however, when it comes time to be weighed in the balance.

    Your use of certain words in your last comment makes all the difference in the world. Repentance has a very different meaning in Mormonism from that found in traditional Christianity, as do the words grace, forgiveness, mercy, etc. You say there are “requirements which Christ has given us to qualify for His grace.” That comment alone is a real chin scratcher to us. If you have to qualify for grace, it isn’t grace anymore.

    You seem to be saying that God, through and by his grace, mercy,and justice set up a system whereby we are saved, and there are certain requirements we must do in order to tap into that system. Thereby Mormons can say we are saved by grace because it was God’s grace that set up the system in the first place.

    This is easy: this concept is the very concept that Christians reject. Adding quotes from Alma or Elder Scott only serve to overlay what the New Testament says with LDS theology. What Alma and Elder Scott say is not what the New Testament says when taken as a stand alone document. The New Testament is sufficiently clear in its salvation message. To us, adding LDS theological ideas via the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and general authority teachings only serves to change the message, and therefore can and should be rejected out of hand.

  25. faithoffathers says:


    Yet you would agree with me that you must qualify for the grace of Christ, right? Do you not have to believe in Christ to receive His grace?

    Or is the application of His grace 100% out of our hands? And if that is the case, none of this matters. Why even talk about it?

    From your comments, it seems you do not understand what I am trying to say. And maybe I am not saying it clearly enough.

    Bottom line, I believe my works do not save me at all. I am 100% dependent upon the grace of Christ for my salvation. I do not of the actual saving work for myself. But I must obey Christ. Only He can do any of the actual work that saves me.

    So I am saved 100% by grace. But He applies that grace to me as I follow Him.

    Still, nobody will show me how I have misinterpreted the specific passages cited by Aaron. If you cannot show me how I am wrong within the context of the passages you guys use to justify your doctrine, how can you simply and repeatedly insist that I am wrong?

  26. Tom says:

    Wow! To me, your last comment just supports my contention that Mormons and Christians use salvation words very differently, and therein lies the impasse. We are not speaking the same language. Although rather simple and straightforward, going through the Christian meanings of those words is beyond the scope of these threads on a blog.

    If I use my old Mormon understanding of grace,mercy,repentance, etc., I would have to concede that you have a valid argument. But once I came to understand some basic concepts as the difference between justification and sanctification, what grace is, what faith is, etc. from the Christian viewpoint, I saw how unnecessary Mormon faith claims are. “Ah,” you might say, “aren’t you just overlaying the New Testament with traditional Christian viewpoints, and are just doing what you claim I’m doing with my Mormon viewpoint?”

    No, because the meaning of the NT salvation vocabulary stems organically from an understanding of the Greek that was used, and we are immediately in the realm of Biblical criticism, which Mormonism doesn’t pay much attention to.

    The challenge you face is the New Testament by itself. As a faithful, practicing Mormon, I found it didn’t say what I thought (or was taught) it said.

  27. falcon says:

    This is actually quite simple. Mormonism is not true. End of discussion, right?
    Or does our Mormon poster want to discuss that? Because that’s really the point.

  28. Kenneth says:


    (These thoughts on James 2:14-26 influence my current understanding of the passage. I am not fully convinced that they are correct, although I am inclined to think that they are. Thus, I am sincerely interested in any critique you [or anyone else] would like to provide.)

    1: In 2:14-26, James might be talking about justification before humans, not justification before God. (See James 2:18.) Humans cannot see faith, so we must be demonstrate it to each other through works. God, on the other hand, can see the faith that motivates works before the works are performed. (See 1 Samuel 16:7; Psalm 44:21; Proverbs 15:11; Luke 16:15; Acts 1:24.) I don’t see anywhere in 2:14-26 where James says explicitly that people are justified before God (rather than humans) based at least partially on works.

    2: 2:19 makes me wonder if, in 2:14-26, James is contrasting the following two types of faith:

    a: Mental assent to propositional truths. For example, “I believe that Jesus Christ was a historical figure who fulfilled the prophetic description of the Messiah.”

    b: Reliance on the accomplishments of Jesus Christ alone for eternal life. For example, “I accept the unconditional gift of complete forgiveness of all of my past, present, and future sins based on Jesus Christ’s perfect life, death, and resurrection.”

    3: James 2:23 is a quotation of Genesis 15:6, which recounts Abraham’s response to a promise that God made to Abraham before Isaac’s birth. Do you think that this implies that Abraham was justified before the “sacrifice” of Isaac?

    (A different subtopic begins here.)

    If we are required to perform certain works in order for the justification available through Jesus Christ to apply to us, then how does God justify those who do not work (see Romans 4:5) and credit righteousness apart from works (see Romans 4:6)?


    I can empathize with your frustration with the direction of this thread (and others). Your points are legitimate and should be addressed directly whenever possible, as I have attempted to do above. However, I see value in discussing other scriptures alongside the ones that Aaron originally referenced. If God is a consistent Being, then we must be able to reconcile all of His revelation, not just some. (I am not trying to lecture you here. Also, I acknowledge that both sides of this debate [including myself] need to heed this advice.)

  29. SR says:

    FOF said: Our works do not save us. But we are required to do them.

    I’ve been reading this sentence over and over and over again and simply cannot wrap my brain around it. In fact, I feel a headache coming on.

    If I understand this correctly, then this is essentially what it being said:

    Works do not save us.
    We are required to do something in order to _______. What? Fill in this blank because I’m lacking.

    What are the required works going to get me in the end if my salvation comes without them?

  30. faithoffathers says:


    Thanks for the thoughtful response.

    I think asking one simple question could possibly clarify the meaning of the passage in James 2. That question is, “how do you strengthen your faith?” The only possible answer that I have been able to find is that obedience builds faith. Following Christ increases our faith. And we are saved by faith in Christ. And in that way, our works have an influence on our salvation. Again- our works do not do the saving. Nothing we do has any degree of ability to contribute to the direct work of our salvation.

    And this, I believe, is what is being communicated in James. He says that Abraham’s faith was “perfected” by his faith. Obeying God strengthened his faith. And it was that faith which saved him.

    And I believe also that faith being “dead without works” is not only saying that a person who claims to have faith but does not obey Christ does not have real faith, but that also a person who does not obey will experience a decrease in faith to the point that he or she will eventually have no faith.

    I don’t see anything in the text that would suggest that James is talking about an alternative type of justification other than the standard justification we refer to in being justified before God. By my reading, there is nothing to suggest he is referring to being justified before men. I don’t really think such a justification would matter at all, either to us or to Abraham.

    I think he is contrasting the difference between merely believing and accepting something as truth and being willing to actually act upon that knowledge. A guy who understand that smoking can cause lung cancer yet continues to smoke 2 packs a day is a lot different than a guy who learns this truth and is motivated to quit smoking. One has faith, the other merely demonstrates the mental ascent you allude to. In other words, it is the action that is the difference. And without action, we cannot claim to be any different than the devils. If we don’t follow and obey Christ, we cannot claim to rely upon His works to save us. If I disregard my physician’s instructions, I cannot claim to believe and trust him.

    As far as the timing of Abraham’s justification, I think it was a continuous process, like it is for all of us. In other words, as Abraham followed God throughout his life, he was justified by his faith. And since his willingness to sacrifice his son “crowned” his example of faith or required the greatest faith (and produced the greatest increase in his faith), we refer to that experience specifically as his act of obedience. And with good reason, I believe.

    I think the verse in Romans you refer to is trying to tease out the two different economies involved here. In other words, he is trying to demonstrate and show that we cannot save ourselves by working and that our works don’t do the actual work of salvation. We simply cannont do that. Only Christ can do the work of salvation. Only He has access to that economy because He lived a sinless and perfect life. He is trying to teach this concept that our works don’t do the work of salvation, which can be a tricky thing for people accustomed to thinking otherwise.

    The passage in Romans is showing the difference between two doctrines on works. The one states that our works actually do some of the work of salvation. The other doctrine states that none of our works do the actual work of salvation. This is completely independent of the issue of whether we must do works to be saved. Make sense? We are commanded to obey. But that obedience does not save us. Christ saves us, 100%. So we really have nothing to boast about.

    So, I would ask again, how does a person strenghten his or her faith? I think the only answer is obedience and works.

    Thank you.

  31. faithoffathers says:

    SR- sorry if this makes your headache worse. You cannot be saved without works. But your works do not save you.

    Go back to the analogy in the movie, “The Ultimate Gift.” It demonstrates what I am talking about perfectly. The grandson could not inherit the oil empire without completing the tasks his grandfather had outlined for him. But those tasks which he completed that were required by his grandfather did absolutely nothing to create or sustain the oil empire. It is really not such a difficult thing to understand.

    We are saved by faith in Christ. But we do not have faith in Christ if we do not obey Him. Obeying and following Him is the only way to strengthen our faith. And it is by having faith in Christ that we are saved. Not by the works directly, but indirectly because they increase our faith.

  32. falcon says:

    So if Mormonism is a false religious system, why spend time discussing with a Mormon the meaning of certain passages of Scripture?
    The Church Fathers went through this with the heretics and came to the point of pulling their hair out.
    In the case of Mormonism, it isn’t even based on the Bible. It’s based on some weird bizarre notions of a bunch of prophet wannabees.
    Joseph Smith was not a prophet. The BoM is total fiction. The LDS church is not “the one true church” and the current Mormon prophet is a figure head of LDS Inc. The priesthood is a sham and the total Mormon experience is based on conjured up emotions which are thought to be “spiritual” experiences.
    So what would a Mormon know about Scripture when the premise of the religion is false and the Bible is said, by them, to be corrupt?
    If the Spirit of God is not residing in someone, regardless of how sincere and devoted they are to a religious idea, their idea of what Scripture is saying is no better than an atheist.
    We may as call a spade a spade.

  33. Tom says:

    We are saved by faith in Christ. But we do not have faith in Christ if we do not obey Him. Obeying and following Him is the only way to strengthen our faith. And it is by having faith in Christ that we are saved. Not by the works directly, but indirectly because they increase our faith.

    My last post on this.

    Mormonism: In order to have faith in Christ you have to do works first.

    Christianity: By placing Christ as the object of our faith (belief, fidelity, trust,surrender), works flow as a natural result. As one is justified (declared not guilty, not found not guilty, because we are), the Holy Spirit driven process of sanctification (good works) begins.

    Mormons conflate justification and sanctification. And again, the works of the Law that Paul talks about and personal good deeds (good works) are not the same thing.

  34. falcon says:

    You wrote:
    “You cannot be saved without works. But your works do not save you.”

    Spoken like a true cultist. Yea, I know. This is so incredibly deep that only those with real spiritual insight can even begin to grasp these plain and precious truths. Hog Wash! It’s convoluted nonsense and twisted thinking.
    You’ve bought into a false religious system which has pickled your brain.

    But please keep posting because every time you do it demonstrates to the lurkers what true religious insanity and cult thinking is.

  35. SR says:

    No, you’re right, FOF, that makes no sense.

    You said: Go back to the analogy in the movie, “The Ultimate Gift.” It demonstrates what I am talking about perfectly. The grandson could not inherit the oil empire without completing the tasks his grandfather had outlined for him. But those tasks which he completed that were required by his grandfather did absolutely nothing to create or sustain the oil empire. It is really not such a difficult thing to understand.

    I’ve read your posts here and there on this analogy, but it’s an awful one. Do you know what? What’s the definition of a gift?

    Here are two definitions:

    1. something given voluntarily without payment in return, as to show favor toward someone, honor an occasion, or make a gesture of assistance; present.
    2. something bestowed or acquired without any particular effort by the recipient or without its being earned

    BY DEFINITION, a gift is something given without anything being a) given in return and b) being done to receive said gift.

    However, your explanation of the analogy from the movie shows that the real issue here is that you have a skewed understanding of what a gift is. In both the case of your analogy (a man doing things in order to be gifted an inheritance from his grandfather) and in the case of God’s amazing gift of grace, you don’t understand what a gift is.

    A gift is given without the need for a return.It’s also given to someone who hasn’t done anything to earn it. Period. It’s really, truly, as simple as that.

    However, like I said, it’s clear from your using the analogy in a movie called “The Ultimate Gift” that clearly isn’t at all about a gift but an inheritance requiring things be done so that the man can earn it, that you will never understand grace and God’s gift of it until He changes your heart and brings you to the truth. I pray that He does.

  36. faithoffathers says:

    Tom, falcon, SR,

    None of you have engaged these passages of scripture directly. You just tell me I’m wrong and have no idea what you are talking about. Well, I have no reason to think you are any closer to the truth as you cannot engage the scriptures provided by Aaron. Falcon- as always you fly off topic and make grand, broad sweeping statements and refuse to engage what is directly in front of you- the passages in the OP of this thread. I have tried to discuss those passages directly. Your dismissals are worthless in the absence of direct engagement.

    You guys are making this so much more difficult than it really is. A child can understand this. But you have been inserting your own interpretations into the words of these passages that you cannot back up and see the words for themselves.

    And none of you have answered my simple question as to how you can strengthen your faith? Such a basic question.

    SR- nobody really deserves salvation. So it is truly a gift for anybody to be saved. Even if they must do something to qualify, it is still a gift. (The boy did not deserve to inherit a multi-billion dollar oil empire. The suggestion that he earned it is ridiculous.)

  37. falcon says:

    I’m stating a clear perspective of a truth which is that you are a cultist with no understanding of what the Scriptures mean and in fact you cannot because you don’t have the Spirit of God. So what’s the point of going into a deep spiritual explanation of the Scriptures when you don’t have the spiritual capacity to grasp the meaning?

    Cattyjane, for example, came here confused but with an open heart. As the Scriptural truths were explained to her and she continued to ask questions with a humble and sincere heart, God through His Holy Spirit, opened the Scriptures to her understanding.

    Now with you it’s a matter of trying to teach a duck how to sing. It’s a waste of time and annoys the duck.
    I very clearly posted that Mormons take Mormonism and try to over-lay it on the Biblical Scriptures. So trying to engage in a meaningful discussion with someone who doesn’t even have a basic understanding of the Christian Gospel, is indeed a futile exercise.
    Do you want to discuss what the Scriptures mean or do you want to discuss what Mormons attempt to massage them to mean?
    As far as I’m concerned your just playing games. Anyone who believes that Mormons leave the LDS church because they don’t read the BoM enough is really in a total fog bank.

  38. SR says:

    SR- nobody really deserves salvation. So it is truly a gift for anybody to be saved. Even if they must do something to qualify, it is still a gift. (The boy did not deserve to inherit a multi-billion dollar oil empire. The suggestion that he earned it is ridiculous.)

    You’re right. It’s completely ridiculous to say that he earned it!

    No, it’s not a gift at all.

    “Qualify”: to provide with proper or necessary skills, knowledge, credentials, etc.
    “Earn”: to gain or get in return for one’s labor or service

    Both are fairly close in definition. In both, something needs to be done so that something else happens. By saying that one does not earn a gift but might qualify for it — yes, that is ridiculous.

    I can give you all sorts of Bible references here, which have all been done before. But the simple matter is, your definition of “gift” and “earn” and “qualify” and “works” are vastly different from mine (and, really, the English dictionary’s). Still, here are a few.

    Ephesians 2:8-9: For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.

    Romans 3:20-24: For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it — the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

    Those are specific to grace and salvation as a free gift, and I’m happy to keep quoting scripture at you.

  39. Mike R says:

    F of F , it’s amazing that the non Mormons on this thread have responded as much as they have
    to your strained reasonings concerning how a person is saved . Quite frankly your comments
    are sounding like Abbot and Costello’s , ” Who’s on first ” . You say a person’s works do not
    save them; then you say a person can’t be saved without works ; then you say ” we are not
    saved by our works ” ; then you say a person’s works had a role , and are a contributing factor
    in their salvation . Then one of your latest gems was that ” A child can understand this ” .
    You clearly are trying to see the gospel of salvation which Jesus’ original apostles taught to be
    the same system of rules , laws, regulations, commands that are the Mormon ” restored ” gospel .
    No wonder you don’t grasp what the N.T. teaches about how a person can receive reconciled to
    God and be given eternal life with Him in heaven . Unlike Jesus’ apostles , Mormon leaders
    have clearly taught that strict obedience to the rules, laws , commandments ,regulations are
    required to earn the Celestial kingdom , works are necessary for man’s eternal life ( exaltation).
    I was reading the testimony of Carolyn Sexauer a Mormon for 30 years before being saved by
    Jesus . She was asked by the Pres. of the Relief Society to teach doctrine . In preparing she
    studied the Bible and found herself comparing what she had been taught as a Mormon with
    what the Bible revealed . She cites a Elder E.F. Perry who taught the gospel of Jesus Christ :
    ” It is a system of rules by complying with which , salvation may be obtained.” She soon
    discovered that the N.T. taught no such thing , and relied on the clear and simple truth of
    Eph 2:8-9 ; Rom 3:24; 5:1 and others . She traded apostles —from the true ones who taught
    that eternal life is by faith in Christ alone through God’s grace alone , to the ones who 1700
    years later claimed that eternal life must be worked for , merited /earned by the efforts of
    the individual . A process of constantly striving to comply with a system of rules , laws , to
    merit eternal life may be a gospel , but it’s not the authentic one . When we see what Mormon
    leaders have introduced as ” gospel truth ” ever since their alleged appointment by Jesus to
    teach ( 1830) we see a good reason why we simply can’t trust them to be consistently reliable
    as teachers of spiritual truths related to how a person can have a right relationship with God
    and the fullness of eternal life with Him in heaven .
    I close with the testimony of Kathleen Baldwin who used to embrace the Mormon gospel before
    she met Jesus and allowed Him to save her : ” Most Mormons cannot comprehend the word
    grace . If you recite the standard definition , ‘ unmerited favor ‘ they won’t understand . If you
    want to use a quick phrase try the one word ‘ gift’ or the phrase ‘ freely given favor from God ‘
    ….But grace is so much more than a two or three word definition . It is : Christ paying the price
    so that we may stand unashamed in the courts of the Most High God , pardoned, completely
    accepted , favored, clothed in Hid robes of righteousness , standing as an heir —an adopted son or daughter of God . And all this is because of Jesus’ sacrafice. That’s grace. In truth, if your Mormon
    friend could really understand grace she probably would not be laboring under the law . Once
    God opened my eyes to what grace meant to me , I immediately began following after Christ ,
    and it was only a matter of time before I found it necessary to leave the Mormon church. “

  40. falcon says:

    I just got back after spending some time in the Nauvoo/Carthage area and while I was there what kept running through my mind was, “If the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is in you, then though your body is dead because of sin, your spirit is alive because of righteousness.” I don’t know if that’s an exact quote from the Bible but it kept running through my mind.
    The righteousness we have is as a result of Christ’s finished work on the cross. Nothing can be added to what Jesus did for us and that righteousness is credited to our account because of our faith in Him. Who can add anything to what Jesus has already done for us and what we have received through faith?
    The life we live after being born again through faith and by becoming temples of the Holy Spirit is a result of God’s changing power. Can anyone do something to merit or earn eternal life? No; it is the gift of God which He, through His love and mercy offers to us.

  41. Mike R says:

    A misprint in my last post concerning what I said about how Carolyn Sexauer traded apostles :
    It should have read that after discovering what the Bible actually revealed about being saved
    she then traded her Mormon apostles for Jesus’ original apostles .

  42. Mike R says:

    Falcon, glad you’re back home safely . Anything to share ?

  43. MJP says:

    FoF, sorry for the delay in response, but I guess, in a way, your answer does answer my question. You have confidence in Christ, but you still didn’t seem to cede all control. Christ being at the helm does not mean you play no role. Therefore, your answer is that you either do not understand the concept I am asking, or don’t agree with my premise.

    We have to 100%, fully cede everything to Christ. In other words, our works have absolutely nothing to do with anything. We put ALL of our faith in Christ. Our works mean nothing to us. The only thing that matters is Christ, not how much we tithe or how much time we spend at church, or anything. The ONLY thing that matters is Jesus.

    So, I will ask again, with the above information, and slightly differently: are you willing to forgo all of your own efforts and trust in Jesus to save you? To follow up, are you willing to admit that the ONLY thing that matters is Jesus, and that includes recognizing that your works, your tithes, etc. do not matter in the slightest?

  44. falcon says:

    Mike R.
    A couple of things stand out as I reflect on my trip to Nauvoo and Carthage. First of all my impression is that Mormons really depend on feelings as a sign that something is spiritual. There was a constant attempt to conjure up emotion by those who were leading tours or doing presentations. I would say that my wife and I were the only non-Mormons in the group most of the time. One elderly gentleman leading a tour cried of course as he “testified” and related his stories. At one stop in the tour, the group was asked to sing a Mormon hymn taught in Primary. Of course we had no idea what it was so we listened politely. I have to admit, my constant thought was, “Man, are these folks deceived.” I also had two Bible verses running through my mind one of which was, “If anyone is in Christ he is a new creature. The old has passed away. All things are new.”
    Secondly, Mormons are terribly naive and ignorant of their own history. They have been fed a perspective and they buy it hook, line and sinker. We were in the “murder room” at the Carthage Jail, me sitting right next to the window Joseph Smith jumped out of, and I asked, “Was there a precipitating event that led to Joseph Smith being incarcerated?” The tour guide and the family we were touring with both went into a long explanation of how persecuted the Mormons were. After three attempts to get the right answer, I realized they didn’t know about William Law and the Nauvoo Expositor. I decided not to ask about the shoot out and Joseph Smith having a gun. I’m always polite at these things and decide just to drop a few hints.
    The Community of Christ group owns quite a bit of the grounds on the flats of Nauvoo. Through Emma Smith, they have the most interesting sights. I had a good conversation with someone from that sect. What a difference! No stars in the eyes and not naive. This person knew the history and wasn’t one bit shy about speaking openly about it. I got the impression that they recognize their historical tradition in Mormonism but that they’ve moved on. In fact I was told that individual CofC congregations can choose the role the BoM plays in their (congregation). The congregation that this person is a member doesn’t use it all. In fact he couldn’t remember the last time the BoM was used in one of their services.
    We spent time at the Nauvoo Christian Visitors Center. That was very interesting and I really admire the dedication and hard work of the gentleman who runs it. He had some very interesting stories to share about Mormons who come to the Center and speak with him.
    Finally Mike, you are always quick to point out the decency and goodness of the Mormon people. I found this to be true. I had a combination of sorry and anger realizing how they’ve been deceived. Sincerity, honesty and devotion won’t cut it if someone doesn’t know God. It’s that simple. A different god and a different Jesus won’t do. God wants us to acknowledge Him and what He has done for us through His Son Jesus Christ.
    Coming back I feel more determined and dedicated to the Lord and His calling in the Lord Jesus Christ.

  45. Tom says:

    Falcon: “As far as I’m concerned your just playing games. Anyone who believes that Mormons leave the LDS church because they don’t read the BoM enough is really in a total fog bank.”

    . . . Or they think those who have left never really understood Mormon doctrine. Believe me, faithoffather’s description of Mormon beliefs are very familiar and spot on. When I encountered the Biblical salvation message for the first time, through the Holy Spirit working within me, I was able to see the stark contrast between what the Bible actually says and what I “knew” to be true in Mormonism. The difference is very clear and very real. With a heart opened by God’s unfailing love, a person can truly see.

    falcon is right. One’s heart must be open to see. Can I take credit for opening my own heart? No. If anything, after bearing years of a sense of deep spiritual feelings of what I liken to oppression, I one night called out to God with a faint hope that there was something more, something soul satisfying. Surrender for me came when there was nothing left. Some think they have surrendered when, like a vanquished soldier they allow themselves to be taken, all the while secreting a knife they have every intention of using. They just can’t seem to relinquish control. Mormonism is built on the notion of control to the point that it insists that we are in control of our own surrender. Utter nonsense. faithoffather’s likely will not get what I just said, but the rest will, and that’s why I agree with falcon; going the rounds with fof is a waste of time. He can’t truly surrender because he has a weapon stashed in his pocket.

  46. falcon says:

    Yup Tom, I get it!
    I really did feel compassion for the Mormons I encountered on my trip to Nauvoo because they do have a “form of religion” with all of its trappings, but they don’t have the Spirit as the Bible explains.
    They have “emotion” which they mistake for the Spirit of God.
    All through the Visitor’s Center in Nauvoo I would see pictures of Jesus but it’s plain that the pictures provide a cover for what lies within Mormonism. A religion of works has been created fueled by emotion and encapsulated in a system that demands commitment and devotion. This will feel real to a person embracing it, especially with the references to God and the Savior.
    At the end of the day, Mormonism is a lodge type organization with a religious theme. The members can work their way through the various stages thinking that the achievement is going to end in the ultimate reward. In the case of Mormonism, it’s becoming a god. In the Mormon system, no one gets to the top without serving the organization and doing a lot of work.

  47. faithoffathers says:


    Both of us believe that a person must do something to be saved. You believe a person must believe in Christ- independent of any obedience or action by the person. I believe a person must believe in Christ- I believe that action and obedience is inherent in believing.

    So either way, both of us believe that a person must somehow qualify for Christ’s grace. You are simply not recognizing that you do indeed believe a person must qualify for grace. And it could just as easily be argued that Christ’s grace is not a gift by your definition since a person must do something for it.

    The passages from Ephesians and Romans do not contradict what I am saying. I have explained why previously.

    MikeR- sorrow I have not been super effective in explaining my view of grace, faith, works, salvation. It really is not hard to understand. We are saved by faith in Christ. And obedience and works strengthen that faith. So our actions do contribute to salvation in that way. But they don’t actually do the work of salvation. This is precisely what the New Testament teaches.

    It could not be more simple than Christ made it Himself- “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” You can try to explain that away all you want. But you are ultimately dismissing the words of Christ, in my opinion.

    And I could offer thousands of testimonies of people who have left protestant and evangelical churches to join the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I appreciate testimonies. But your reference to the testimony doesn’t prove anything.

    MJP- I think you simply do not like my answer to your question. Yes- Christ is completely, 100%, the author of my salvation. But I must do something to be saved. I must follow Him and obey Him. I can’t make that any more clear. My following and obeying do the opposite of what you claim. They show I do trust Him. If I do not obey Him, I cannot claim to trust Him. Consider the physician analogy. He used that analogy Himself.

    To all- I still recognize the complete absence of an answer to my simple question- How does a person strengthen his or her faith? The answer shed a tremendous amount of light on the debate here. Your insistence that I can’t see something because I don’t have the Spirit is nothing but waving your hands and wishing my argument away. I have engaged each of the passages of scripture from the OP. You all have simply shaken your heads and dismissed it without really explaining how I am wrong in interpreting those passages of scripture.

  48. Old man says:

    Just popping my head around the door to give a simple answer to a simple question.
    You ask “how can you strengthen your faith? Well, first of all let me say this, the one who says ‘my faith is stronger because of the good works I am trying to do’ is quite simply living in cloud cuckoo land. The simple answer, in fact the only answer is, I can’t strengthen my faith, no one can. It is God who strengthens faith. Read Mark 9:24 Luke 22:32 Ephesians 3:14-17
    The ‘I can’ belief that is fostered not just in Mormonism but in all false religions, leads to an elevation of self that is the enemy of Grace & faith. Throughout history men & women have alienated themselves from God by their insistence on ‘I can’ or ‘I will’ so let’s see a little humility & admit that it is all of God & nothing of us.

    Reading your comment about Mormonism overlaying scripture reminds me of something that occurred when I was on an early morning walk a week or two ago. I was thinking about works & faith when a line from the old 60s hit ‘sound of silence’ popped into my head, You probably know the lines that goes like this
    “And the sign said the words of the prophets are written on the subway walls & tenement halls”

    That’s how I see Mormonism, it’s nothing but graffiti written on the wall of the Gospel.

  49. falcon says:

    I’m back to my original premise that you can’t discuss topics like “grace”, “works” and “faith” with a cultist because, as has been pointed out, the frame of reference isn’t the same.
    So if a Mormon wants to discuss these things it’s largely a waste of time because the Mormon will be talking about Mormonism and the Christian will be talking about Christianity. The two religions aren’t related in any way.
    Mormonism borrows some from Christianity in terms of labels but then Joseph Smith borrowed from every and any source he could find. This would include the Free Masons and Swenborganism.
    So the whole Mormon program is founded on false notions of millions and billions of gods in the universe all of whom used to be men who followed the Mormon system of works on a planet some where and morphed into gods.
    This crazy notion has nothing to do with Christianity or some other sects of Mormonism for that matter. So to discuss “grace”, “works” and “faith” with someone who believes in this crazy notion is a real waste of time. The person’s thinking is too warped.

    It isn’t a waste of time to discuss these things with a Mormon who has entered the contemplative stage and who is asking questions in the hope of finding real answers.
    These folks come to a point where they realize that the Mormon god is not the same as the God revealed in the Bible nor is the Mormon Jesus the Jesus revealed in the Bible. Soon enough the need for the priesthood disappears as do temple rituals, tithing to stay right with the system, eternal marriage/families and the rest of the features of the false religious system known as Mormonism.

    Jesus is sufficient. There isn’t “one true church”. There is simply faith in Jesus and leading a life that is consistent with faith in Him. A relationship with Jesus is fostered through prayer and service and doing the works that God has laid out before hand for us to do and in so doing, honor Him and bring praise to Jesus Christ.

  50. grindael says:

    Once again the Mormon tries to set up a straw man about strengthening faith but would have his question answered if he only read the New Testament instead of the Book of Mormon. You see, he is fishing. I know how this Mormon thinks. He is looking for a certain scriptural passage and I’m going to give it to him. First though, how is faith created?

    10 Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved. 2 For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. 3 Since they did not know the righteousness of God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.

    5 Moses writes this about the righteousness that is by the law: “The person who does these things will live by them.” 6 But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) 7 “or ‘Who will descend into the deep?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). 8 But what does it say? “The word is near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart,” that is, the message concerning faith that we proclaim: 9 If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. 11 As Scripture says, “Anyone who believes in him will never be put to shame.” 12 For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile—the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him, 13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

    14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (Romans 10:1-14)

    Notice that hearing the word creates FAITH to BELIEVE. Once you BELIEVE you profess your FAITH and you are saved. Mormon seek to establish their own righteousness through regulations (laws) when all they need to do is believe. According to Mormons, you can’t be righteous without works. But Paul says just the opposite. Even Jesus said so,

    The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!” 6 And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and be planted in the sea’; and it would obey you. 7 “Which of you, having a slave plowing or tending sheep, will say to him when he has come in from the field, ‘Come immediately and sit down to eat’? 8 “But will he not say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat, and properly clothe yourself and serve me while I eat and drink; and afterward you may eat and drink’? 9 “He does not thank the slave because he did the things which were commanded, does he? 10 “So you too, when you do all the things which are commanded you, say, ‘We are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done.‘” (Luke 17:5-10)

    Jesus says here that NOTHING they can do will make them worthy. But the apostles had another problem. They didn’t yet BELIEVE enough. They didn’t even believe enough right up to the time that Jesus was arrested. They all ran away. In fact in the next Chapter of Luke, Jesus asks, “However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?”

    In every case where Jesus proclaims that those he had interaction with had faith, or great faith, it was because they BELIEVED. In this example, Jesus said so when he answered the father of a boy possessed by an evil spirit who asked Jesus:

    But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” 23 “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes 24 Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” 25 When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, he rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” he said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.” 26 The spirit shrieked, convulsed him violently and came out. The boy looked so much like a corpse that many said, “He’s dead.” 27 But Jesus took him by the hand and lifted him to his feet, and he stood up. 28 After Jesus had gone indoors, his disciples asked him privately, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?” 29 He replied, “This kind can come out only by prayer.” Mark 9:22-23.”

    His apostles could not rebuke the demon. They did not have enough faith. Jesus said to strengthen their faith, they should have prayed. Paul again,

    3 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles—
    2 Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 that is, the mystery made known to me by revelation, as I have already written briefly. 4 In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. 6 This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.

    7 I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. 8 Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Christ, 9 and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things. 10 His intent was that now, through the church, the manifold wisdom of God should be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms, 11 according to his eternal purpose that he accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord. 12 In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. 13 I ask you, therefore, not to be discouraged because of my sufferings for you, which are your glory.

    14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I PRAY that out of his glorious riches he may STRENGTHEN YOU WITH POWER THROUGH HIS SPIRIT in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

    20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work WITHIN US, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. (Ephesians 3:1-20)

    This letter from Paul shows that the Book of Mormon is false, because the mystery that Paul speaks of (the Gospel to the Gentiles) was NEVER revealed until then. The Book of Mormon has it being revealed CENTURIES earlier. Paul states that NOW through the CHURCH (the body of BELIEVERS) the wisdom of God is made known. That is the message of Christ crucified and risen from the dead. The WORD. From hearing the word, comes belief and faith. How do you strengthen your belief? Your faith? Through PRAYER which God will answer with His Holy Spirit. There are no “works” involved here.

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