Joseph Smith and Romans 4:5

BibleCorrectedJoseph Smith revised the Bible. Some say he “corrected” it. The resulting volume is known as the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) or the Inspired Version. My Mormon edition of the King James Version of the Bible (1989) includes seventeen pages of JST “excerpts too lengthy for inclusion in footnotes” at the back of the book. One of these excerpts is Romans 4:2-5. In this short passage the Prophet made fourteen changes to the text, but none so significant as his revision of Romans 4:5.

In the King James Version of the Bible, Romans 4:5 reads:

“But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

As Christian pastor and author Mark Cares has noted, “What is so striking about this passage is that it describes God as ‘him that justifieth the ungodly.’  Justifies is a courtroom term that means to acquit or declare not guilty.  In other words, this passage startles us by describing God as acquitting the ungodly.  That doesn’t seem right! But it is. This is what makes the Bible unique.  Where else do we hear about a God who acquits the ungodly?”

Not in Mormonism. According to Mormonism, God cannot save (acquit) people in their sins (see Alma 11:37), though He can save people from their sins (Helaman 5:10. See Book of Mormon Seminary Teacher Resource Manual, lesson on Alma 11:21-40, “True or False”). But (according to Mormonism) if one is to be saved from their sins, they cannot be ungodly (i.e., sinners) but must be godly (i.e., “putting off the natural man and becoming a saint.”)

This Mormon doctrine, that God cannot save people in their sins, does not square with Romans 4:5 as God gave it. But Joseph Smith, without any manuscript evidence to support his position, changed this verse:

“But to him that seeketh not to be justified by the law of works, but believeth on him who justifieth not the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (JST Romans 4:5)

Joseph Smith here changed God’s Word to state the exact opposite of what the apostle Paul wrote. Paul said God justifies the ungodly; Joseph Smith says God does not justify the ungodly. Joseph’s change brought Romans 4:5 into greater conformity with Mormon doctrine while at the same time spotlighting what Mark Cares described as “another striking difference between Christianity and Mormonism.  Christianity’s God is the one who justifies the ungodly. Mormonism’s god doesn’t.”

What’s so stunning about Joseph Smith’s change (other than his sheer audacity) is how preposterous it appears in the greater context of Paul’s argument that leads up to Romans 4:5. Christian theologian John Piper explains,

“Up to verse 21 of Romans 3, Paul has shown that all men are under sin and accountable before God… Now Paul turns his attention to the remedy of their universal disease of sin and judgment. ‘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.’ This is the best news in all the world for us who feel our guilt before God and know that our righteousness is wholly inadequate to win God’s favor.

Romans5“The good news is that God, in his great love, has made a righteousness available to all who find their confidence for life in Jesus Christ. We cannot work for this gift so as to earn it, merit it, or deserve it; but it is there for everyone who hopes in Christ. Romans 4:4, 5 make this plain: ‘To the one who works, his wages are not reckoned as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work (i.e., does not try to earn, merit, or deserve God’s gift) but instead trusts him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is reckoned as righteousness.’ The good news is that there is free acquittal for the guilty who stop trying to impress God and men but instead rest in Jesus. There is no human drug or salve that can ease the guilty conscience like this truth can.” (“How Is It Right to Justify the Ungodly?”)

Indeed, as Aaron Shafovaloff has said elsewhere, “justification of the ungodly by faith ‘apart from works’ seems to be the whole point of Paul in the passage”:

“What then shall we say was gained by Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh? For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. For what does the Scripture say? ‘Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.’ Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness, just as David also speaks of the blessing of the one to whom God counts righteousness apart from works: ‘Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.’” (Romans 4:1-8)

You who seek to follow Christ: does God justify the ungodly? (This is the God I worship.) Or does he not justify the ungodly? (This is the god Joseph Smith served.) Who got it right: Paul or Joseph? Which God is your God?

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.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christianity, God the Father, Joseph Smith, Mormon Scripture, Nature of God, Salvation and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

44 Responses to Joseph Smith and Romans 4:5

  1. Tom says:

    Truly, the final collapse of my Mormon shelf came as I read Romans 3:21 and the rest of the chapter in the NIV Bible. That single section is totally and diametrically opposed to the Mormon formula for salvation. My thought at the time? “Mormonism is God’s plan of happiness? No way. Mormonism is oppression of the soul. Now this–this is God’s plan of freedom and peace!” With that I was done. It took me a while to act on my realization, but I was irrevocably done with the LDS way, which is no way at all.

  2. falcon says:

    Now let me get this straight. When Joseph Smith “translated” the KJV of the Bible, he wasn’t working with the Greek manuscripts of the NT, right? So how did he do it then? Is there any record that he put his magic rock in his hat as he had done to “translate” the BoM golden plates which, coincidentally, he didn’t use either in creating (the BoM).
    Does the LDS church Mormon sect out of SLC use the JST as part of their famous “quad pack” or do they use the KJV of the Bible?
    And finally, what do the various sects of Mormonism, who claim the restored gospel revelation, use as their Bible?
    Let’s face it Mormons. Joseph Smith was into a free flow of consciousness when he came up with his very own super duper “translation” of the Bible. What he created from the beginning was an ever changing gospel. Brigham Young drew inspiration from Smith’s blue sky supposition when he came up with Adam-God doctrine.
    I would advise any Mormon to read the Book of Romans because it lays out the gospel as it was revealed and delivered to the saints once and for all and in finality. There’s nothing to add to it. Anyone who accepts these false gospels is not only a fool and a dupe but a lost soul.

  3. Kate says:

    I know the topic is more about God justifying the ungodly but I want to share an aha moment I’ve just had with my Mom. She has been telling me for years that the Bible contradicts itself on works. By our conversations, I have put it together that she is mixing up faith without works is dead (James) and grace vs. works (Ephesians). If one truly understands God’s Grace, there is no contradiction here. I think she is hung up on 2 Nephi 25:23 (saved by grace after all we can do) so she twists James to fit that passage. How truly sad that she can’t see the bigger picture of God’s Grace. I can’t make her see it either, her mind is seared. I don’t understand how Mormons can be so ugly towards the Bible and yet demand to be called Christians, it’s an oxymoron!

  4. cattyjane says:

    I understand this struggle very well. I would love to help if I can.
    I think understanding the definition of faith from a Hebrew perspective is important since these were Hebrew people that they were dealing with.
    Faith from a western understanding is a knowing, while faith from a Hebrew perspective is emunah, a firm action. Having faith in God is not knowing that God exists or knowing that he will act, rather it is that the one with emunah will act with firmness towards the will of God. When we say amen after a prayer, we are saying “I will do as you say.”
    Any time you hear Paul speaking of works it is the works of sacrifice that he is speaking about. He isnt saying that the ten commandments were a curse. The curse was that when we transgressed the ten commandments, or sinned, something must die. This is the curse of sin and death. That is why when the priests would offer up a sacrifice at the temple they would place their head against the head of the animal in order to pass their sin onto the animal. So the animal would suffer the consequences for the people. The Messiah in turn did the same for us. He became this sin offering.
    Hebrews 10:1-22 Explains it was the sacrifice that the Messiah took the place of and it is by his righteousness that our transgrssions are placed on him and removed.
    Does this mean that we can act however we want? Romans 6 says no. If we continue reading Hebrews 10:23-39 we see that once we have understanding of truth and have realized the price that was paid for our disobediance we are expected to stand firm (have emunah, faith). Hebrews 10:39. Not out of a way of bringing ourselves to God by our righteousness but because of our duty as a bond servant to the almighty God.
    When Messiah gave his life the bar was raised. His commandments were written on our hearts and minds and his spirit was left with us to guide us. We are without excuse now. We must walk in the light and not shrink back from dping what is right.
    What your mother must see is what was commanded of us by God and what the Institution of Man, the LDS church has commanded. These works are not authorised to forgive sin or elevate our spirits in anyway. Only God himself can forgive sin. I will provide verses tonight for you to show her. But God does desire us to be obedient and stand firm so that we can shine the light into the world and not bear his name falsely.

  5. homeschoolmom says:

    Kate~ “Works” is evidence that a faith transaction has taken place, but it is not what saves me. James 2:26-Faith without deeds is dead- answers the question, “What does faith look like?”, not “How am I forgiven?”

    Do I follow God’s footsteps to be forgiven, or because I am forgiven? It’s because I am forgiven.

    2 Corinthians 5:15-And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

    2 Corinthians 7:1b-perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

    Praying for you as you minister to your Mom.

  6. falcon says:

    Kate, cattyjane……….
    The point is that we can’t remove our own sin or atone for it. Only God could do that through Jesus Christ.
    Are there rewards for our works? Paul talks about it but I don’t know of anyone in the Christian faith that emphasizes working for a reward. What we emphasize is a changed life based on our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
    My wife has done some very selfless service for her mother, when he mother was alive, and an aunt. She does it without any fanfare or desire for it to be known or recognized. I know of course and always tell her that she just earned another jewel for her crown. It’s a joke of course because we both know that whatever we do it’s to bring honor and glory to the Lord Jesus Christ in gratitude for what He has done for us.
    As believers we are declared righteous. This is where Martin Luther struggled. No matter how hard he tried he would still sin. He finally read Romans 1:16-17 and when he understood it, he was set free from his body of sin and death.
    “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last,[a] just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.” (NIV)

    1:16,17 In these verses the apostle opens the design of the whole epistle, in which he brings forward a charge of sinfulness against all flesh; declares the only method of deliverance from condemnation, by faith in the mercy of God, through Jesus Christ; and then builds upon it purity of heart, grateful obedience, and earnest desires to improve in all those Christian graces and tempers, which nothing but a lively faith in Christ can bring forth. God is a just and holy God, and we are guilty sinners. It is necessary that we have a righteousness to appear in before him: there is such a righteousness brought in by the Messiah, and made known in the gospel; a gracious method of acceptance, notwithstanding the guilt of our sins. It is the righteousness of Christ, who is God, coming from a satisfaction of infinite value. Faith is all in all, both in the beginning and progress of Christian life. It is not from faith to works, as if faith put us into a justified state, and then works kept us in it; but it is all along from faith to faith; it is faith pressing forward, and gaining the victory over unbelief.

  7. homeschoolmom says:

    One thing I realized when learning about Mormonism, is that the goal of their religion is self-improvement, not redemption and reconciliation. There is no cataclysmic sin problem, no Adamic sin nature that has to be taken care of. So according to this world view, attaining a state of self-improvement without any effort by the individual simply does not make sense.

  8. Kate says:

    Cattyjane and homeschoolmom,
    Thank you for the replies, unfortunately my Mother won’t listen to a thing I say. I can show her anything in the Bible but you have to remember she has the Mormon mind set and she believes the Bible isn’t translated correctly, especially by someone who has apostasized from the one true church(me). She believes I’ve been deceived and that I talk nonsense. I wish it were as simple as showing her but she throws up a wall. She’s been deeply indoctrinated since birth and I can’t help her, I’ve tried. The more i show her the deeper she dig in her heels. I have to just leave it up to God.

    Strange that traditional Christianity is such a threat to Mormonism. In my experience , they get all bent out of shape if you talk about the God of Christianity or the teachings and doctrines of Christianity , they take it as an insult to their religion, yet if you even ask a simple question about Mormonism, you are persecuting them. Go figure…..

    It’s crazy to think about where I was six years ago and where I am now. The truth really does set you free and how comforting to know that the God of Christianity justifies the ungodly (me) !!!! Can the Mormon god do that?

  9. cattyjane says:

    I understand and that is good that you realise only God can bring the increase in understanding in her life. God brings us to him in his own way so that we are refined perfectly to be used for the purpose that he has for our lives. I can say that for certain only because of how I came to the understanding of the Messiah and the road I had to travel in order for my eyes and ears to be opened.
    Dont lose hope, and pray everyday for your mothers heart to be sofened. It may be that your journey to find truth has occured in order that your family will also find truth. Read the story of Esther. You may be where you are “for such a time as this”.
    Blessings to you and your family.

  10. johnnyboy says:


    I know we have discussed this before on here, but I feel it needs repeating. Discussing doctrine with Mormons is a waste of time. The best thing that can break through to a TBM is historical evidence. That is getting easier and easier to prove every day. Once a mormon accepts the true evidence, then they are able to listen to Christ’s gospel.

    I haven’t found many people who have left the LDS church on the doctrine and then found the historical issues after the fact.

  11. cattyjane says:

    But it sounds like you are still looking at the word faith from the perspective of it being an abstract kind of belief. Faith, emunah, is not what that is in the OT or NT. A person who truely comes to the knowledge of truth cannot continue to do things that are outside of Gods will and commandment. If they do, knowing they are wrong, than they are without hope unless they repent. We cannot be perfectly righteous but we also cannot continuously defy God and refuse to obey him.

  12. olliemom says:

    I have never commented here before, but I read most of the posts and most of the comments. I am so encouraged by your comments. It’s comforting (for lack of a better word) to know others are experiencing the same struggles and frustrations with LDS family and friends. Kate, it sounds like your frustrations with your mother are very similar to what we are experiencing here with my husband’s family. I so appreciate you and others sharing. Each week I get excited and encouraged by the dialogue here. Sometimes I can barely get through dinner before sharing comments I have read that day with my husband. Thanks to you all from a “listener”!

  13. fifth monarchy man says:

    Johnny boy said,

    I know we have discussed this before on here, but I feel it needs repeating. Discussing doctrine with Mormons is a waste of time. The best thing that can break through to a TBM is historical evidence.

    I say,

    I appreciate your perspective and I don’t want be disagreeable but it sounds like you are are saying that the only folks who God can use to lead people to Christ are Mormon history experts like Grindal.

    God’s word is infinitely powerful and the proclamation of the gospel is the tool that he normally uses to bring people to faith.


    So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
    (Rom 10:17)

    end quote:

    I’m sure that part of the process that Mormons go through on the way to God will involve understanding the evidence from history but I want to encourage folks that God’s word will not return void and proclaiming the gospel of grace is never a “waste of time”


  14. falcon says:

    Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh cattyjane.
    You are not going to make a very good Calvinist! (see perseverance of the saints) We’re getting into some murky territory here. How does the Bible define “faith”?
    “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
    If someone continues to defy God are they saved? I’d say that the Biblical principal of sowing and reaping would be applicable. Sin has a way of providing its own consequences. Beyond that I let God judge who’s saved and who is not saved and how far can a person go before they are “unsaved” and have to get “re-saved” if there is really such a thing.
    You have to understand that I grew-up in a system of venial sin and mortal sin and all of the rules that made them what they are and how you had to strain gnats to figure out if you did one or another. Then there were the associated procedures that would lead to getting yourself right again.
    It was religion and absolutely no joy, contentment or peace with God.

    With Mormons, who are caught in a system that is based on shame, guilt and never knowing where they stand, I offer peace with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I then emphasize the relationship with the Lord and find that pretty much takes care of any behavioral issues.

  15. Kate says:


    “I know we have discussed this before on here, but I feel it needs repeating. Discussing doctrine with Mormons is a waste of time. The best thing that can break through to a TBM is historical evidence. That is getting easier and easier to prove every day. Once a mormon accepts the true evidence, then they are able to listen to Christ’s gospel.”

    I respectfully disagree. I started out with all the historical stuff and it was brushed off. My mom kept telling me that I was just searching for things to be wrong. My mother has never used a computer in her life and has no desire to do so. She thinks I’ve found nothing but lies on the internet.
    Mormons will brush the historical stuff under the rug saying it all happened a long time ago and the leaders and prophets of the church are human and make mistakes.
    After getting absolutely nowhere because my mother believed I was attacking her beloved church, I took advice from Shawn McCraney and just decided to share Jesus with her. We started having chats about faith and works, baptism for the dead, the preexistence etc. If I show her that things are taken out of context, up goes the wall.
    I agree with fifth monarchy man, sharing the true gospel and the teachings of Christianity is never a waste of time. It’s frustrating as heck and I am not going to pierce her heart, only God can do that.
    How can a Mormon ever know the difference between Christianity and Mormonism if the only thing we share is Mormon history?

  16. johnnyboy says:


    I think sharing the gospel is fine, but I have yet to find a Mormon who changes their mind based on doctrine alone. I believe DEBATING with mormons is a waste of time, mainly because they redefine every single thing that christianity is. You use the same terminology but it means totally different things to them.

    I was the same way. For years I came to Mormon Coffee and argued for the church, and nothing doctrinally on this website could have changed my mind. I only had a change of heart when I realized that the history was all lies and things like the Book of Abraham were pure baloney. Then I was able to open my mind and come back as a new person. This was a process that took place over the course of a decade.

    If your mom isn’t open to even acknowledging historical facts then its a long hard road to really discussing true christianity and what it really means. It sounds like she may know deep down that there are some troubling historical issues, but is unwilling to recognize that they are problematic and that the church is hiding these things.

    The questions to ask are:

    Does she acknowledge and understand WHY they are problematic for YOU? Does she really believe that her own daughter is gullible enough to be duped and “led astray”? Does she think you as an adult can’t recognize what truth is? Does she think you would toss your whole salvation away over “trivial” things that don’t matter?

    I would recommend asking her those questions, because it forces her to address your concerns and not brush them aside. Maybe show her the Uchtdorf “doubt your doubts” talk and explain to her that this talk proves that problems exist. You could show her the “essay” about the rock in the hat and ask her why we don’t teach or talk about it in gospel classes. Or why her old BOM says the american indians are ancestors of the lamanites and that the new BOM says something different. That’s easy to do without using the “evil internet”. The latest BYU alumni issue has a whole article discussing that the historical issues are a major problem for the church. It just came out this week.

    My parents dismissed all the historical issues as well, and became EXTREMELY irate when I began discussing Christian vs. Mormon doctrine. The knives came out when they realized I was serious about not believing in LDS inc. Up until that point, they just thought I was reading “antee-mormon” lies and that I was only “doubting”. This forced me to ask them “do you REALLY think that I don’t know how to research if something is true or false? Is that what you think of me? Would I really leave a church I have given my whole life to, over trivial issues? If that’s what you think of me, then that’s pretty offensive.”

    The problem is many mormons from older generations are afraid of admitting they have been duped. My own mother was a convert to the church and she ostracized her whole family by joining the church. It caused a serious divide that still exists to this day. She has been a faithful member for over 50 years. For her to abandon mormonism would be a HUGE slap in the face to her family and there is no chance in hell it will ever happen. Which saddens me.

    Anyhoo, I am glad you are working with your mom. At least she willing to dialogue with you which is more than my family will do.

  17. johnnyboy says:

    @fifth monarchy man

    Mormon’s who are unwilling to “hear” will never change. Mormons like to be heard. I don’t believe that one needs to be a mormon historian in order to break through a TBM’s heart, but this site is the perfect example of how Christians can reach mormons. Show them LDS history, explain how contradictory it is to Christ’s word, and THEN explaining what true Christianity is. Thats the whole point of Mormon Coffee and MRM!!

    The latest video on MRM with Bill Mckeever is the perfect way to get mormons to HEAR! They have to see how stupid their history is in order to have a dialogue about Christianity. If you watch the video you can see that this method forces mormons to use the brain God gave them. It plants seeds. If Bill was just standing around shouting the words of Christ, that woman would most likely just have walked on by and ignored him.

    The historical evidence is a tool we can use to help mormons to hear the word of Christ. It also happens to be the most effective tool. Which is why we are seeing an exodus in the church now. And the studies show this is the number one reason people are leaving. They aren’t leaving because they are suddenly hearing about Christianity for the first time.

    I never would have come to this website if it only discussed Christianity vs. Mormonism. Not in a million years. And 90% of mormons wouldn’t either. They aren’t willing or ready to “hear”. Until they are, you are literally throwing pearls unto swine.

  18. johnnyboy says:

    Just to lay out a counter argument against myself,

    There are plenty of instances of mormons leaving over just doctrine and NOT historical issues, but I find this to be the exception and not the norm. The story of Micah Wilder (adams road) is a perfect example of someone leaving by just discovering the word alone. His story is inspirational.

  19. falcon says:

    Andy Watson, who used to contribute regularly here, also did quite a bit of work with Jehovah Witnesses. Andy said that the most effective way to deal with the JWs was to get them to lose faith in the Watchtower organization. He told me that playing scripture ping pong wasn’t all that effective because of the twisted way their minds worked. He also found that controlling the agenda was very important when dealing with these guys. That meant sticking to a specific amount of time they would meet and a specific agenda regarding the topics to be discussed.
    Andy simply took and maintained control of what was going on during the meeting.
    How many people leave the LDS church because they just get fed-up with the organization? There are probably a ton of low commitment individuals in the LDS church thus the high percentage of inactives and the relatively small number with temple recommends and active participation in that particular aspect of the religion.

  20. johnnyboy says:


    My brother left a few years ago because he was just tired of it. But he still thinks mormonism is “good”. I have started to show him over the past few months the reasons my wife and I left and now his attitude about how “good” it is has started to change.

    Over on RFM a new post appeared today that really struck home with those of us trying to talk to family members about “why we left”. I recommend everyone to check it out.,1263078

  21. johnnyboy says:


    funny thing about JWs. I talked with them quite a bit during my mission. They also were gaining grounds back in the 90’s in south america. So much so that our mission president had us start using their “method” of proselytizing. They had a particular way of controlling a conversation that we began to adopt which was called the “cloud / sun / question” method.

    They start by painting the world as a dark gloomy place, then describe the bright sunshine of their religion and how happy you can be with it, then they lead you into a loaded question by asking “Wouldn’t you like to be happy?” Well hells yeah! Who wouldn’t?? It was so manipulative but apparently it worked extremely well with men which is why our mission president was so eager to make us do it. This is why I try never to ask my children loaded questions where the only way they can answer is yes.

  22. cattyjane says:

    Let me explain. There is so much argument around the word faith. One said says its all faith and no works and the other side says works are necessary. Then you have the side that says that works are produced by faith. When in reality it is exactly what I said above.
    Faith is an action. Faith is an action. Faith is an action.
    If you read it in context with all of the verses that speak of faith, the Hebrew definition I gave you works in them.
    I will give it again. Faith from a western understanding is a knowing, while faith from a Hebrew perspective is emunah, a firm action. Having faith in God is not knowing that God exists or knowing that he will act, rather it is that the one with emunah will act with firmness towards the will of God. It is an agreement to do what God says.
    You quoted Hebrews 11:1 . That is a good verse, especially since it follows Hebrews 10 that speaks about people knowing the truth and then returning to sin. So lets use the definition of Emunah in this verse and see how it works.

    Now acting with a firmness towards the will of God (faith) is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. This is what the ancients were commended for. Hebrews 11:1-2

    That makes sense right? Because the ancients, the prophets of the OT acted in obedience (acted with a firmness towards the will of God) because they knew of the covenant that God had with them. They looked forward to the one promised to deliver them. The Messiah.

    These are a lot of verses from Hebrews 11:4-31 and all speak about faith but they all point to acts of obedience by these people. People who had great emunah. The most important being Abraham.

    Hebrews 11:17-19 By acting with a firmness towards the will of God Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had received the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son, even though God had said to him, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.” Abraham reasoned that God could raise the dead, and figuratively speaking he did receive Isaac back from death.

    Abraham knew that God cannot lie nor can he break a covenant that he has made. The covenant he made had to do with Isaac.
    Genesis 17:19 Nevertheless, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall name him Isaac; and I will maintain My covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring to come.

    Abraham knew that God would provide a way for his son to live on. That is why he said WE will return to you.

    Genesis 22:5 Then Abraham said to his servants, “You stay here. The boy and I will go up there; we will worship and we will return to you.”

    Even the verse FMM provided works with this definition. It is specifically talking about obedience in this passage. That is what is so ironic. Romans 10:16-21. In order to act in obedience we first must hear instruction. That is what is meant by faith comes by hearing.

  23. cattyjane says:

    Welcome Olliemom!
    Im glad you decided to post and say hello.

  24. fifth monarchy man says:

    Hey Jonnyboy

    you said

    Mormon’s who are unwilling to “hear” will never change.

    I say,

    again I do appreciate your perspective and I’m in favor of anything that works but in the same passage that we find that “hear” verse we find this


    But I ask, have they not heard? Indeed they have, for “Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.” …………. Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, “I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
    (Rom 10:18 and 20)

    end quote:

    Again the Gospel is powerful. It’s strong enough to even penetrate the ears of those who are not intending to hear it.


  25. johnnyboy says:


    And yet not everyone who hears the word actually hears it and believes. Why is that? Why didn’t everyone just believe Jesus when they heard his voice? God was standing right in front of them!! They got to hear Gods own words straight from his own mouth!! I hate to use the oft quoted scripture by Mormons but “many are called but few are chosen”.

    He that hath ears to hear, ya know?

    Now I’m not saying that only showing lds history to Mormons is going to somehow magically bring them to Christ. It won’t. In fact, most Mormons who discover that the church has lied to them end up as atheists. My point is that in order for Mormons to be able to hear the word of God they need to be in the right place and state of mind in order to hear it and for it to take affect.

    Remember the seed falling on stony ground? Mormons are stony ground. Their soil isn’t good. We need to break up that stone and smash it to bits before a seed can grow there.

    There are endless websites about Christianity but no Mormon will ever see or read or seek them out. It’s the old, “if a tree falls in a forest and no ones around” story. You and I wouldn’t even be having a conversation if this site was ONLY about Christs word, because I never would have found or read this site. Bill Mckeever realized this years ago which is why his approach is effective. Shawn Mccraney did the same thing which is what made his show popular. Now that Shawn has stopped talking about problems in Mormonism is anyone listening? (Nope). I personally owe Shawn a big thank you for helping my mother in law discover Christ. But she never would have heard Shawn if he was just another preacher on tv.

    This is a similar predicament to what people are finally realizing about certain sites or platforms for discussion, like twitter for example. Talking about things on twitter is like pissing in the ocean. You have to give people a reason to pay attention and listen or else it’s a waste of time to them. If you can get their attention and they listen, by all means preach the word! But don’t expect the seed to grow in stony ground.

  26. falcon says:

    I was sitting here yesterday tap, tap, tapping away wondering if we make any sort of impact at all in our efforts. I appreciate very much that you have acknowledge that what you read here is of help to you.

    When I read your last post I was thinking about the idea of “intellectual assent” being “faith”. The idea that someone has a vague insight that there is a God isn’t saving faith.
    Mormons know “a god” but that god has no power to save them because he doesn’t exist. Now these LDS folks are very action oriented, devout and sincere but they are, in the end, putting their “faith” in their works to transform them into being gods. Their actions have no practical effect although their morality and clean living has its own rewards.
    I think what you are getting at starts with repentance and then making Jesus Lord of our lives. In-other-words, He’s not only our Savior but also Our Lord.
    I’ve mentioned the three tenses of salvation with the second one “I am being saved”. That’s the process of sanctification through the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives. This change in our lives is attitudinal but also reflected in action. It’s a natural result of our faith.
    I’m a sports fan and have favorite teams. I know people who set-up shrines to the teams in their homes. I don’t go that far but I do have a variety of tee shirts, sweat shirts, and hats. I read articles about my teams and watch them when they are on TV. My team made it to the final four this year in the NCAA tournament and lost a heart breaker at the end of the game. I was in agony.
    These days I don’t plunk down the money it takes to actually attend a game. Am I still a fan? I think I qualify.
    Get my point?

  27. falcon says:

    My point is that religion starts qualifying what “faith” is in relationship to its own notions. That’s why Mormons are caught in a trap of doing, which is action which is their faith.
    In many ways I could be classified as an “inactive” Christian because I’m not that into church activities. When I was Catholic, out of compulsion, I was active. We had to refrain from eating meat on Friday and doing so was a mortal sin, if not repented of, would send you to hell. I attended mass every Sunday and on the holy days of obligation because willfully missing was a mortal sin if not repented of would…………… get the point.
    So I’m a little sensitive about this “action” idea because it can be used by religious authorities to manipulate people and steal their joy.
    The apostle Paul talks about the desires of the flesh and the Fruit of the Spirit telling us we should reject the former and embrace the latter.
    I think that’s probably a good faith formula.

  28. johnnyboy says:


    I’m sure you are probably aware of this, but the idea of “faith being an action” is deeply rooted in Mormonism. While not native to Mormonism, the idea (within lds doctrine) owes itself to Joseph Smiths “lectures on faith”.

    I thought you might be interested in that. The whole “just believe” misconception Mormons have about Christians most likely springs from that.

  29. falcon says:

    Thanks for that clarification.
    Mormons/LDS do work themselves to death if they’re really into it. They have callings which need to be fulfilled along with all of the other razzmatazz. That’s why when someone leaves the LDS church they find that they have a lot of time on their hands they didn’t have before…………and money.
    This is especially so with the women folk who work themselves to death and go to bed at night wondering if they’ve done enough. It’s no wonder that they dispense so many mother’s little helpers out of the pharmacies in Utah.

  30. falcon says:

    Who is the Lord of the lives of LDS members?
    I know they speak in hush tones about “heavenly father” and maybe even husher tones about “heavenly mother” but in point of fact, the Lord of their lives is the LDS church and the system there in.
    That’s because even “heavenly father” had to do the system on another planet to become a god. The LDS heavenly father is not the omnipotent God that is revealed in the Bible. The LDS god is just another guy who did the work. This LDS god is, according to some past Mormon writers, still progressing.
    Joseph Smith rewrote the sections of the Bible that didn’t correspond to what he believed at the moment. That’s why there is no correlation between what is revealed in Romans 4:5 and how Smith rewrote it.
    The article above quotes the KJV of the Bible:
    “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
    Smith’s system turned into a two tier system of a universalist salvation for everyone and then the merit badge program and system of rituals and rites that, if obeyed, resulted in someone becoming a god.
    That notion is diametrically opposed to what the Bible reveals. Hence we have the Mormon narrative of the lost gospel and the Bible being recopied so many times that it’s not accurate and of course the conspiracy theory of Catholic monks in the middle ages leaving Mormonism out of the Bible.
    So why do Mormons believe it? Because they were either brought up in Mormonism and don’t know any better or they got the tingles over Smith’s story and jumped into the baptismal tank.
    Either way they don’t know what the Bible teaches about God and His plan of salvation. It’s there. Clear as a ringing bell. But they don’t hear it.

  31. Reagan says:

    I’ve attached two articles that have helped me greatly on these issues. They actually use some of the above points.

    About Biblical faith:

    About faith and works:

    Long story short, faith is an internal attitude or mindset that can described as loyalty (in this case, loyalty to God). And any attitude that does not lead to corresponding action was considered (in the Hebrew mindset of the time) to be in vain. Thus, real faith leads to actions consistent with it. Note the direction of causality: it’s faith causes action.

    I hope these help.

  32. fifth monarchy man says:

    Hey johnnyboy

    You said,

    My point is that in order for Mormons to be able to hear the word of God they need to be in the right place and state of mind in order to hear it and for it to take affect.

    I say,

    I feel my inner Calvinist fixing to come out so I think I’ll just let this comment lay.

    I would ask you all to pray for me. The Lord has opened up an unexpected door for me with a friend who is a Mormon. I won’t go into details but please pray that I do what is pleasing in God’s sight and I don’t give him any cause to be ashamed of me.


  33. grindael says:

    Any time you hear Paul speaking of works it is the works of sacrifice that he is speaking about. He isnt saying that the ten commandments were a curse. The curse was that when we transgressed the ten commandments, or sinned, something must die. This is the curse of sin and death. That is why when the priests would offer up a sacrifice at the temple they would place their head against the head of the animal in order to pass their sin onto the animal. So the animal would suffer the consequences for the people. The Messiah in turn did the same for us. He became this sin offering.

    All due respect, but I am having some problems with this. It just doesn’t feel right. Let me explain, or rather, let Paul explain:

    19 Now we know that whatever the law says, it says to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be silenced and the whole world held accountable to God. 20 Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of our sin.

    This is profound. Through the works of the law, men became conscious of their sins, and no one can be declared righteous by way of the works of the law. No one. These works have nothing to do with sacrifice, as we see above, but they have everything to do with making us conscious of our sin. That is why Paul says,

    21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood—to be received by faith.

    Apart from the law (or action), the righteousness of God has been made known. This righteousness has been given through FAITH…. And what is that? The Hebrew definition alone? I don’t think so. There is more to it than that. For example, (in your second post) there are numerous quotes from Hebrews 11. (They don’t all speak of ACTS of obedience). For example,

    6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

    Not “earnestly OBEY Him”. This is the definition of true faith. This is what makes us righteous (belief), not the obedience, which is simply a by-product of our faith. If it were simply a matter of obeying God, then the law would suffice. But since we are all sinners, we can’t keep the law. It took belief in Jesus (His atonement) and the gift of the Holy Spirit to write that law on our hearts. Does it really make sense to translate this as “And without acting with firmness it is impossible to please God because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him”? How can we “act with firmness” BEFORE we believe that he exists? Now see the context of Hebrews 11:1

    Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for.

    Confidence in what? In our BELIEF that He exists, and assured in what we do not see (God). Commended for what? Confidence in their HOPE (Belief in God) which brought assurance of what they could not see. This naturally was also applied to their WORKS in that chapter, which described a continuation (obedience) of their FAITH (belief & hope that he exists) in GOD. We OBEY, because we BELIEVE. We cannot “act firmly” unless God draws us to Him, and he does this by our BELIEF in Him.

    40 For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and BELIEVES IN HIM will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” … 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.

    FAITH comes by HEARING and BELIEVING, not by WORKS. Obedience to God is implicit in this, because we believe in Him. This is the great divide between righteousness by faith and righteousness by works of the law.

    He did this [shed his blood] to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus. 27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. Because of what law? The law that requires works? No, because of the law that requires faith. 28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law. 29 Or is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law. (Romans 3)

    Why do we “uphold the law”? Because it is written on our hearts because of FAITH (belief) in JESUS. Now we come full circle to the OP:

    1 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. (Romans 4)

    How can those who are ungodly “act firmly”? They can only do so if they first believe and trust God. We “trust God” after we believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. We learn this from the Word of God. You simply can’t put the cart before the horse.

    Basic action theory typically describes action as behavior caused by an agent in a particular situation. The agent’s desires and beliefs (e.g. my wanting a glass of water and believing the clear liquid in the cup in front of me is water) lead to bodily behavior (e.g. reaching over for the glass). Faith is NOT an action, it is a confidence in belief or hope (desire). The action is produced because of the faith. Faith without works (obedience to the will of God), is dead.

  34. falcon says:

    What was the major controversy regarding the gentiles and the Law? It was should the gentiles be required to keep the Mosaic Law? I don’t know? How many requirements are there to the Mosaic Law? The point that Paul keeps making, especially in Galatians, is that the gentiles don’t have to be circumcised.
    I think the verse that kicked all of this off is pretty clear.
    “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
    Are we to continue to sin that grace might abound? May it never be. How can we who have died to sin continue in it? Mormons, by and large, have the behavior piece down in terms of knowing right behavior and trying to act in a moral manner. Does the restored gospel, with all of its rules and regulations save them? They even have faith in someone they refer to as “heavenly father” and someone else they refer to as “the savior”. Can faith in these two beings that they believe appeared to Joseph Smith in that little grove save these Mormons? Can faith in these two beings plus the individual believer’s faith make them into gods?
    There works and moral behavior and faith in these two beings are all useless in providing any type of eternal reward.

  35. falcon says:

    Our position before God changes from being declared unrighteous to being declared righteous through faith in Jesus Christ. That’s the way it works; faith + 0=righteousness. The Bible is plain about that in the New Covenant sealed by the blood of Jesus. What the Law couldn’t do, weak as it was in the flesh, God did for us through faith.
    So maybe a question should be, “How do we maintain our saved status before God?” Do we do it by works? Having begun by faith are we now to live by works? What are works anyway? Are works avoiding sin? Are works acts of charity? What is faith? Faith is trusting completely in Jesus Christ for our salvation. That’s it! Putting our faith and confidence, not in the flesh, but in Christ Jesus Our Lord.
    Our behavior changes as we draw closer to Jesus in faith.

  36. Mike R says:

    What a awesome truth those verses in Rom 3:21 through 4:6 convey . In verse 4:5 it says
    ” believeth ” on Him . It seems Mormons stumble over this word . It’s used in the gospels
    in many places ( Jn 3:36 ; 5:24 ) , and it means to TRUST . We believe in Jesus as our Savior —
    since He rose from the dead therefore He is able to pardon us and give the gift of eternal life ,
    and that gift is not by works of righteousness which we do , it’s completely by faith ( trust)
    in Jesus . Faith as it relates to the subject of receiving the gift of eternal life is not just head knowledge it is trust in the RISEN Jesus — His ability / identity .

    Sadly, Mormons are told that by doing works of righteousness is a “way ” to gain eternal life
    in the world to come . But Jesus’ apostles did’nt teach this , and what Paul penned in Rom 3 &4
    is evidence of this . So people have a choice to make : either accept the New Testament
    teachings about how salvation is received , or join the Mormon church and start climbing
    what Mormon leaders have created and call their gospel ” ladder ” of rules , regulations .
    It’s a big ladder .

    The way that Joseph Smith reworded Rom 4:5 reminds me of how Jw’s have worded Jn 17:3
    in their Bible : ” This means everlasting life , their taking in knowledge of you , the only true
    God and of the one whom you sent forth , Jesus Christ . ”

    Ministering to them I try and explain that it is the Father’s arrangement that we can know
    Jesus personally — salvation is knowing Him personally not merely knowing about Him .
    Jesus is alive today and also deserves our praise and devotion , this pleases the Father .
    To ” know” vrs ” taking in knowledge ” is a critical difference , and it plays out in the lives
    of Jw’s in how they view Jesus .

    Jw’s are sincere people who have been short changed by their prophet . Relentlessly they are working to gain God’s approval for salvation . Like Mormons they are mere candidates who
    must qualify for salvation , and whatever their leaders introduce as another requirement must
    be accepted . God’s judgement awaits those who call into question what leadership introduces !

    The Mormon people are decent people who have been detoured by men into accepting a
    imitation gospel . These men have attempted to mimic the claims of Jesus’ true apostles
    and sincere people have been fooled by them . But we get to point them back to the right
    way —- Jn 14: 6 .
    God loves the Mormon people and so do we .

  37. falcon says:

    We know we aren’t saved by our behavior if we are to believe the verses from Romans that we have been considering. I know of people who get saved and their behavior changes dramatically and instantaneously. I know of others who get saved and struggle with all sorts of sinful behavior. The transformation takes a life time with a lot of two steps forward and one step back. So if our salvation is maintained by our behavior, I’m in trouble. Now I don’t struggle with what I’d characterize as the “big stuff” but we are told that sin is sin. If we break one of the laws, we are guilty of all of them. OUCH!! DOUBLE OUCH!!
    This is where I sort of become a Calvinist with the letter “P” of the “TULIP” formula. That’s the “perseverance of the saints” part. If God didn’t extend His grace to me, I’d be in huge trouble. I was reading in the NT some where, where the apostle Paul says something about being who he is by the grace of God. I got thinking about that and if I flip it a little just to satisfy myself, I can claim that God is responsible for my negative traits and character qualities because I am who I am by the grace of God. It’s not my fault, right?
    That’s a joke. I’m not serious. But hay if these Mormon prophets can take license and make all of these blue sky pronouncements, why not me? Well it’s because I know better and I don’t play games with the word of God and misuse the process of “revelation”.

  38. johnnyboy says:


    Many do justify themselves with this claim. The only way you can do this without joking about it is by abdicating your free will and ability to choose. This is one reason I can’t buy into any sort of Calvinistic system (sorry fifthmonarchy ;). Calvinism is like being trapped in a twilight zone episode.

  39. falcon says:

    The thing I don’t understand about the Calvinism-Arminianism debate is how people get angry about it. It’s just a point of view. To me, what’s the big deal? It’s sort of fun for me to mull it over and talk about it, but in the end it’s just a thought piece. It’s plain that we are separated from God by our sin. It is plain that God had a plan to restore us to Himself. That plan was that Jesus would shed his blood to redeem us and that when we accept His sacrifice we are born again. Our spirit is regenerated. The Holy Spirit indwells us. We become, then, the temple of the Holy Spirit. We are saved.
    I happen to believe that Adam’s sin was imputed to mankind. That through one man sin came into the world and through one man we become righteous again through faith. We are totally depraved, in my view. I also believe that Christ’s shed blood is effective only for those who receive His sacrifice.
    Is God’s grace “irresistible”? It certainly seemed so in my case. But the biggy is, of course, can we lose our salvation once we are regenerated by the Holy Spirit? Does it really matter what we believe about this? Only if we think what we believe reflects reality. I’m willing to say, “I don’t know” and leave it at that. So, is our salvation maintained by faith or is it maintained by our moral behavior? It seems to me that someone who has a deep and abiding faith in Jesus and have drawn close to Him, will effected that faith through their behavior. But in the end, I think it’s our faith that saves us because it’s through our act of faith that we are declared righteous. We aren’t declared righteous by what we do.
    It’s just too challenging for me to be morally perfect. I rest in God’s grace. I agree with Paul that the good I want to do, I don’t do and the evil I don’t want to do, I do. Who will save me from this body of sin and death? This is why I’m so grateful for what God did for me through Jesus and why, despite my futile attempts and often failure, try to live out the gospel through the Spirit of God.

    Now Mormons will say something like, “This is why we need a prophet to speak to God and then reveal these things to us.” Then we see what their super prophet did when he decided to “translate” portions of the Bible and came up with a totally different gospel.
    I would say that Mormons are better off without one man who’s suppose to be talking to God and then revealing what God says to the people. The Mormon prophets and apostles and other leaders have a terrible track record of “revelation”.
    I happen to believe that their are prophets today as outlined in the NT but they support God’s revelation, they don’t change it. Reading through the Book of Acts will give a seeker or believer a good example of what role a prophet plays in the NT church.

  40. johnnyboy says:

    Someone should create a cute acronym for the Mormon belief system. Maybe start backwards with an acronym first and then fit lds doctrine in somehow. D.U.M.B. could work. I’m just joking (not really).


    Happy Mother’s Day!! Give mama a big hug today (even if she thinks you’re going to hell for leaving Mormonism)!

  41. johnnyboy says:


    I agree with you totally. Sometimes people get a little “butt hurt” over details of minutia within Christianity. Your admission of being totally ok with “not knowing” gives me comfort. I have started to come to grips with this feeling while exiting Mormonism. It’s been hard for me because Mormonism tries to have an answer for nearly everything, while still answering nothing. Yet Mormons tend to have an almost snobbish elitism towards other religions (plain and precious truths vs philosophies of man) without realizing how ignorant they are of their own beliefs and how empty the promises of Mormonism truly are.

  42. falcon says:


    Here’s the deal. Cults make hay with people in crisis because the people need comfort and answers. Cults also make gains with people who have a “low tolerance for ambiguity”. In-other-words they need things to be black and white, binary and no loose ends.
    So Joseph Smith comes along and pointing to the difference in the denominational treatment of various doctrines and cries that it’s all confusion and needs someone to set it straight. And low and behold who should be the one to do just that. Yes indeed it’s the man with the magic rock and all sorts of stories about appearances of spirit beings and revelation.

    I’m fine with ambiguity. The great 19th century preacher Charles Surgeon recognized that there was some Calvinism and some Arminianism in the Bible. Rather than get all upset about it, he just embraced the tension.
    Really, what’s important? To come to an understanding that we are sinners and need a Savior. Jesus is the qualified Savior and by putting our faith and trust in the finished work of the cross, we have peace with God.
    Let me repeat:
    I’m fine with the idea that I’m a totally depraved sinner and that my sin nature was inherited from Adam. I’m dead in my sins, not just a little bit sick as some would teach. I can handle limited atonement and irresistible grace. I can even see the concept of “election” and perseverance of the saints. I’m also fine with people who have a different opinion. I don’t even care if someone believes that Jesus will return prior to the tribulation, at the mid point or at the end. I don’t care if someone thinks we are in the millennium now or if it starts at some future point after the tribulation. I don’t even care if people baptize babies or if they believe in adult baptism.
    Here’s the deal, I don’t need a “prophet” to tell me what to think about any of these things claiming he’s heard directly from God.
    As you can see, I’m very comfortable sticking with the 8-10 basics of the Christian faith which I’ll repeat if anyone is interested.

  43. falcon says:

    So why do Mormons buy into this notion that they need a living prophet who speaks for God today?
    I think Mormons need to read the NT and get the drift about what the gospel message of Jesus Christ is all about. When the Father sent the Holy Spirit to the Church on the Day of Pentecost, the believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit. The Father made provision for the functioning of the Church by providing Gifts that are the manifestation of the Spirit. There is no single person that speaks for God. God speaks to the Body and distributes the Gifts as He wants to.

  44. Mike R says:

    Falcon said ,
    ” So why do Mormons buy into this notion that they need a living prophet who speaks for
    God today? ”

    Short answer : the Mormon people have been fooled into thinking that Jesus’ church has one
    man at the top as God’s mouthpiece . Men have cleverly convinced them that this is the New
    Testament arrangement . There are other individuals today who claim to be God’s prophet ,
    His sole channel of truth to mankind , so this doctrine is not confined to Mormonism .
    Jesus said these individuals would come , especially in the latter days —Mk 13:22-23 .

    God help the Mormon people to see this error and be free from following a man who God did
    not appoint .

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