Commandment-keeping and God’s Grace


It’s Throwback Thursday!
The following blog article originally posted at Mormon Coffee on September 26, 2006.


My October, 2006 edition of Ensign just arrived. I wish more of my Christian friends who think Mormonism is abandoning its heretical past would take closer notice of what the LDS Church is still teaching; for instance, in an article titled “Plain and Precious Truths Restored.” On page 53, Clyde Williams, BYU assistant professor of Ancient Scripture, emphasizes the importance of commandment-keeping if a person hopes to achieve God’s grace.

Elder B.H. Roberts of the Seventy (1857-1933) explained how the unconditional nature of the Atonement in regard to Adam’s transgression and its conditional nature regarding men’s personal sins is a doctrine “peculiar to ‘Mormonism’…and is derived almost wholly from the teachings of the Book of Mormon. In that distinction the beauty and glory of the Atonement, the balanced claims of justice and mercy shine forth as no where else, even in holy writ, — much less in the uninspired writings of men. It may be regarded as the ‘Mormon’ contribution to views of the Atonement of Christ, for it is to be found no where else except in Mormon literature.” The perfect relationship between the atoning grace of Christ and the obedient efforts of mankind is powerfully stated by Nephi: “We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). Furthermore, we are invited to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” When we deny ourselves “of all ungodliness,” then and only “then is his grace sufficient” for us (Moroni 10:32).

Think about it. Then and only then is his grace sufficient for us. There is nothing really new here that I haven’t heard before. Robert Millet and Joseph Fielding McConkie said virtually the same thing when they also coupled 2 Nephi 25:23 with Moroni 10:32. They wrote, “Indeed, it is only after a person has so performed a lifetime of works and faithfulness — only after he has come to deny himself of all ungodliness and every worldly lust — that the grace of God, that spiritual increment of power, is efficacious” (Joseph Fielding McConkie and Robert L. Millet, Doctrinal Commentary on the Book of Mormon 1:295).

My question is, do these men really think they have “denied themselves of all ungodliness and every worldly lust”? If not, it seems clear by their own admission that the grace of God is not efficacious in their lives. If they think they have denied themselves of all ungodliness and every worldly lust, then I think they need to re-read 1 John 1:8, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”

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19 Responses to Commandment-keeping and God’s Grace

  1. falcon says:

    Actually I think it’s good that these guys expose Mormonism for what it is and that isn’t Christianity. In the context of Mormonism, what they say is true. No one is going to become a god unless they qualify for that distinction. The qualifications are to strive for sinless perfection and not to waiver one bit. I wonder if these people ever consider Joseph Smith’s life as a model as to how they are to behave. Smith had a particular proclivity for sexual dalliances which included committing adultery and calling it spiritual wifery. The dude and his close followers didn’t even keep the “revelations” as laid out in their own Doctrines and Covenants concerning such behavior. They denied doing what they were doing as they went against their own commandments. This displayed a total disregard for their own rules of conduct, lied about it and defrauded not only the women but in Smith’s case the husbands of the women he sealed himself to.
    So when we read about how someone becomes a god in Mormonism, we just have to keep reminding ourselves of these things. First of all, Mormonism isn’t even a distant cousin to Christianity. Following Smith’s lead, these modern day Mormons have a model of “do as I say not as I do”.

  2. falcon says:

    So this is the restored gospel?
    You have to earn your place in the Celestial Kingdom where you will become a god, your family will be reunited forever, your wife will be a goddess after the god resurrects her by calling her secret name, together you will procreate spirit beings who will receive mortal bodies and people the god and goddess’ planets.
    This is what was practiced by first century Christians and was lost with the death of the apostles. That’s the premise upon which Mormonism, at least the LDS sect, is built.
    Does any of what I’ve presented here appear in the Bible, the writings of the Church Fathers or the heretics, in the traditions or history of Christianity? Of course not. That’s because Joseph Smith and the leaders that followed him made it up. Interestingly enough, there are other sects of Mormonism with their own modern day prophet, that have a totally different view of this restored gospel.
    This is why we recommend that a Mormon, regardless of the sect of Mormonism they follow, actually read the Bible and believe it.

  3. Mike R says:

    It’s good to be reminded from time to time of the fact that in recent years Mormonism has been attempting to put on a face designed to help the general public see the Mormon gospel as not much different than the traditional Christians message of salvation — i.e. by faith in Christ ,not by works .

    But beneath today’s P.R. used in presenting their doctrine of salvation some Mormons can fool Christians into thinking that Mormonism really understands and teaches what Eph 2:8-9 declares about how salvation is received . Fact of the matter is according to what Mormon leaders have taught about how sinners receive the gift of eternal life from God , works are indeed necessary —
    — a lot of them . That’s why Mormon leaders have called their gospel a “ladder” because each rung of the ladder is a requirement a Mormon must do in order to climb up to God’s home above and receive eternal life from Him . Mormon leaders have taught that LDS must EARN eternal life by meriting it through works , that’s why LDS are told they are mere ” candidates” ” who must ” qualify ” in order to gain eternal life .
    However , the New Testament presents the truth about how sinners are pardoned by God to receive eternal life from Him to live in His home above –it’s by God’s grace alone through faith in Christ alone — and it stands in stark contrast to what the leaders of Mormonism have taught . LDS can become “worthy” to receive eternal life only by being clothed in Jesus’ worthiness which is given to sinners who trust in His merits alone as the “way” to God’s home above . So a choice must be made which apostles to follow — either the ones’ Jesus appointed and sent forth to preach the gospel or the latter days apostles of Mormonism .

    ” ladder ” reference : Mormon apostle George Q. Cannon in Gospel Truth , p 171

  4. falcon says:

    I always get a kick out of the LDS folks’ insistence of not understanding what Christians believe about faith and works. It’s almost like they do not want to acknowledge that we don’t believe that once you’re saved you can sin with impunity. In-other-words, faith gives a person license to sin. Total rubbish but it reinforces what they want to believe.
    But think of this. The LDS are universalists in their view of salvation. The only people going to Mormon hell (outer darkness) are apostate Mormons. The rest of the crowd gets to go to level one or two of reward regardless of how they live. And Mormons want to tell us that everything they believe is in the Bible. What it shows is that they have no clue what’s in the Bible.

  5. falcon says:

    I get a kick out of it when a Mormon will say that everything the LDS believes is in the Bible and then claim there’s a necessity for a restored gospel because the first century gospel was lost. How can there be a need for a restored gospel if everything that’s believed is in the Bible? I guess I’m not too good at Mormon nuanced thinking or the practice of cognitive dissonance.
    The Bible is quite clear that we are lost in our sins and in need of a Savior. God makes provision for us through His Son, Jesus the Christ. We are also taught in the Word that faith in Christ is what is required in order to appropriate the gift of eternal life that God is offering us. Once we are born again by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus, we then live a transformed life walking in the light as He is in the light. As we do this, the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from all unrighteousness.
    The Bible is not ambiguous in teaching this. It is clear. Now the LDS church has embraced another gospel that has no resemblance to what is presented in the NT. In fact, the message of the NT is that we should be on the look-out for those who would preach another gospel.
    There is no Mormonism in the Bible. That is a problem for Mormons. What do they do with that? Well they come up with conspiracy theories and pithy little sayings that the faithful repeat like tired old mantras.
    So, my advice again to Mormons. Go back and read the NT and find the Living Water and Bread of Life and coming to believe in Him, you will never be spiritually thirsty or hungry again.

  6. falcon says:

    If the LDS church is successful in hooking people into their sect, they can claim total control over them. Let me qualify that by saying, “for those who take it seriously”. The ones that take it seriously are those folks who sign on to the temple program and worry constantly that they are doing enough. There’s a lot of pressure on these believers in the Mormon program, especially the women. There’s a reason why there is so much use of prescription drugs.

  7. falcon says:

    Might want to check-out CNN “Unholy Addiction”.

  8. Mike R says:

    Contrasting the true gospel of salvation which Jesus apostles preached ( Rom 1:16 ) with the gospel Mormon leaders have preached :

    The true gospel : Rom 3:23- 28 ; 5:8,10 ; 6:23 ; 10:9-13 ; 11:6 ; Gal 2:16 ; Eph 2:8,9 ; Phil 3:9 ; Heb7:25 — to receive eternal life is by God’s grace through faith (trust) alone in Christ — not by
    adding works ( qualifying to be worthy through rules , commandment , keeping ) .

    The Mormon gospel : ” the gospel of Jesus Christ is called the plan of salvation . It is a system of rules by complying with which , salvation may be obtained . ” [ testimony of ex Mormon Carolyn Sexauer published by Utah Christian tract Society , citing Mormon Elder E.F. Perry , in The Scrap Book ] .

    ” Celestial Glory for those who keep the whole law ; To enter the celestial and obtain exaltation it is necessary that the whole law be kept ….. Do you desire to enter the celestial Kingdom and receive eternal life ? Then be willing to keep all the commandments …” [ Mormon apostle Joseph Fielding Smith , in The Way To Perfection , p 206,207 ] .

    ” And however powerful the saving grace of Christ , it brings exaltation to no man who does not comply with the works of the gospel ….Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness
    of sins and assures one of exaltation through that perfection which comes by complying with the formula the Lord gave us.” [ Mormon apostle Spencer W. Kimball , in The Miracle of Forgiveness , p 207 ,208 ] .

    Mormons can make the mistake in thinking that because Christians tell them they don’t keep rules and laws in order to be saved , therefore that means Christians don’t want to live a righteous lifestyle that glorifies Christ , and so Mormons assume Christians live a blatant sinful lifestyle . Nothing could be further from the truth .

  9. falcon says:

    I can see two sides to this LDS attempt to achieve “perfection” on their way to Celestial glory as gods. On the one hand, the pressure to perform and always be “on” will take a toll emotionally as folks realize they are never going to make it. On-the-other-hand are those who become so totally arrogant believing that they are perfect, special, super spiritual and on their way to achieving god status.
    The CNN documentary was very informative because it was mentioned more than once about how this culture of perfection really led to despair. Quite frankly, I didn’t realize what an addiction problem there is in Utah. Someone was asked about how this could happen since the LDS are so emphatic about their Word of Wisdom life style. It was speculated that prescription drugs, for example, are thought to be OK because they are prescribed by a doctor. It sort of reminded me of Elvis and his rationale for taking prescription drugs.
    Another thing that I questioned dealt with a father who had lost his son to an over-dose. The father said he took comfort in that they would be reunited some day. What I was curious about was that I’m sure the father was talking about the boy having been sealed to the family. So how does that work. The young man abused drugs to the point of causing his own death and he’ll get into the Celestial Kingdom? He certainly didn’t “do all he could do” to achieve this status. There are too many holes in the LDS program as I see it.

  10. falcon says:

    In their pursuit of perfection as a means of becoming gods, LDS never really know if they have done enough to earn the distinction. The pathway to success is said to be the LDS sect of Mormonism and the system that has been established to achieve the end goal. I had a young LDS man disagree with me that their religion is a “system”. I’m wondering, if it isn’t a system, what is it?
    There are certain boxes that need to be checked off before an LDS can enter the Celestial Kingdom and become a god. One of the boxes to be checked is temple work. In order to do temple work, the faithful must be able to enter the temple. In order to enter the temple, a temple recommend must be obtained. In order to obtain a temple recommend, the member must go through an interview with the bishop to determine if they are worthy. Being “worthy” includes paying an entry fee that amounts to 10% of the member’s income. I guess we could call it a temple tax.
    If this whole program isn’t a “system”, I don’t know what it is. I’m not even using the term “system” in a general sense. There are specific steps along the way that must be taken in order to be right with the “system” to even begin the march towards deification.
    The LDS system is one that keeps the members busy, busy, busy. This is especially true of the women members. No wonder so many of them use prescription drugs to combat depression and anxiety. The LDS system is not one where a member can “chill”, even a little bit. There’s a lot of doing and a lot of trying to be perfect and of course, a whole lot of failure.
    Now for those super members who get the super secret distinction to having done enough, they have eternal security. The rank-and-file aren’t probably ever going to get to take part in that defining ritual.

  11. Brian says:

    Thank you for this eyeopening topic, Bill. It could have been titled, “The insufficiency of grace.” In the writings you have shared from LDS leaders, the grace spoken of is not grace. Consider Romans 11:6:

    And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

    The grace spoken of by LDS leaders is no longer grace. Instead, it is simply another wage. Just as all blessings in mormonism are; wages in exchange for law-keeping. This is not God’s way, as the entire fourth chapter of Romans so clearly reveals. The law always brings condemnation on those who try to obey it (Romans 4:15).

    The idea of grace being something to be earned or merited is not a new idea. It was pervasive during the dark ages. Martin Luther wrote of this in his commentary on Galatians. Consider what he wrote about Galatians 1:4 (“Who gave himself for our sins.”):

    Note especially the pronoun “our” and its significance. You will readily grant that Christ gave Himself for the sins of Peter, Paul, and others who were worthy of such grace. But feeling low, you find it hard to believe that Christ gave Himself for your sins. Our feelings shy at a personal application of the pronoun “our,” and we refuse to have anything to do with God until we have made ourselves worthy by good deeds.

    This attitude springs from a false conception of sin, the conception that sin is a small matter, easily taken care of by good works; that we must present ourselves unto God with a good conscience; that we must feel no sin before we may feel that Christ was given for our sins.

    This attitude is universal and particularly developed in those who consider themselves better than others.

    To refuse God’s offer of grace is to refuse his love.

  12. historybuff says:

    For whatever it’s worth, the number of young active single males in the Mormon Church has been plummeting. There are lots of guesses about the cause, but nothing with any scientific basis.

    “In the past two decades, the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has seen its gender gap “widen dramatically,” Birger writes, “from a gender ratio of 52:48 female to male in 1990 to 60:40 female to male in 2008…”

    If we want to be optimistic I suppose we could guess that Mormon women in their 20s and 30s are absorbed in the “program” and busy taking anti-depressants to keep going, while Mormon men in their 20s and 30s are more realistic about the Church’s flaws and more are just dropping out. If that’s the case, we can hope they don’t throw the baby out with the bath water, and that they continue their search for Christ and the truth.

  13. falcon says:

    Lynn Wilder posted an article from Fortune Magazine today that discussed the dating/marrying habits of LDS and a sect of orthodox Jews. It wasn’t a crackpot new age type of article but cited recent research. The authors gave it an “economics” slant, basically looking at supply and demand. I believe in the LDS church the current ratio is something like 60 women to 40 men or some such number. It’s a real problem because LDS males are dropping out of the club. Interestingly enough, the women are turning to cosmetic surgery including breast augmentation to become more attractive. The men that are in the LDS church just keep holding out thinking they can find something better. It’s all a real problem for single women in their late 30s. The men are going for younger gals so the chance of older women snagging a man is pretty slim.
    I think the solution for the LDS church is to simply allow polygamy again. It’s still on the books, not practiced but believed. With more wives, an LDS man can increase his chances of making it to the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom as Joseph Smith taught.

  14. falcon says:

    Here’s the article. Actually it appeared in Time.

  15. falcon says:

    As if there wasn’t enough pressure put o women in the LDS sect to be “perfect”. Now there’s this major competition among the girls for a male to resurrect her after death. I understand that folk doctrine within this sect says that the Mormon god will assign single women to men in the Celestial Kingdom. Think about that Mormon wives. You’re going to get to share your god with another woman or women in Mormon heaven. Does that sound like a suitable reward for all you have done to get hubby to the top of the rung?
    From the article:
    Both of these socially conservative communities are suffering from marriage crises that are testing not only their faiths but social norms as well. “You have no idea how big a problem this is,” said Tristen Ure Hunt, founder of the Mormon Matchmaker, a Salt Lake City dating agency.

    Hunt, a 35-year-old who only recently got married herself, told me she has three times more single women than single men in her matchmaking database. She shared stories of devout Mormon women who wound up marrying outside the religion—officially known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints—simply because they had no other options. She has ten friends—“all good LDS girls!”—who gave up on finding a husband and decided to have children on their own. Said Hunt, “My heartstrings are pulled daily.”

    Kelly Blake* is painfully aware of the horrible odds. A single Mormon in her late thirties, Blake is a reporter for a Salt Lake City television station. When Blake attends singles events for Mormons, she said there are often two women for every one man. As a result, Blake rarely meets suitable men in these settings and often winds up spending most of her time chatting with other women. “I’ll go on a [Mormon] singles cruise and come away with no dates but all these incredible new girlfriends,” Blake 
told me.

    ……………..I’m serious. Is polygamy the answer for the LDS church? Now that the government has given the go-ahead to gay marriage, who’s to say that polygamy isn’t far behind? What kind of an impact would that have on the LDS community and culture? Are the women ready for this? I’d say it depends on how dedicated to the “one true church” they are and how much they are convinced that “once the leaders have spoken, the thinking has been done.”
    So here we’d have multiple wives all competing to be perfect in the eyes of their religion and of course their husband.

  16. falcon says:

    Another thing the LDS church could do is pair a married man with unmarried women and have a sealing ritual. They could even turn it into a money making venture by having the women pay a dory or the men paying a fee for the women. They could also auction off the women and the men could bid to get more wives for the Celestial Kingdom. These women wouldn’t have to have sex with these men or even live with them. It would be an LDS spiritual union. The men could be spiritual mentors to the women.
    Crazy? Not really. In the early days in Utah men were being sealed to men in order to build a larger Celestial Kingdom organization.
    “As most people who are familiar with Mormonism know, dedicated Mormons believe in sealing women to men and children to their parents for all eternity. Few people, however, are aware of the fact that the early Mormons sealed living men to other men in an unusual ceremony known as “the law of adoption.” Thus a man could have any number of men adopted to himself as his sons for eternity. For example, in June, 1896, Wilford Woodruff, the fourth president of the church, gave a synopsis of his work in the ministry since 1834. He wrote the following in his journal: “I officiated in Adopting 96 Men to Men.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, 1833-1898, typescript, edited by Scott G. Kenney, 1985, Vol. 9, page 408) In another synopsis for the years 1834-1885, he revealed: “I had 45 Persons Adopted to me.” (Ibid., Vol. 8, page 352)”
    “…….. it is interesting to note that even before the Mormons left Nauvoo to come to Utah, they were sealing men to men. An article concerning the law of adoption appeared in the Mormon Church’s publication The Latter-Day Saints’ Millennial Star, June, 1843, Vol. 4, pages 17-19.”

    It seems to me that Mormonism, LDS style, can make it up as they go along. Why not? It’s all about continuous revelation anyway.

  17. historybuff says:

    Falcon —

    I don’t even think a lot of Mormons care about “continuous revelation” or doctrine. They treat the Church like a social club and they’re very conscious of their status in the organization.

    For example, I’ve known quite a few LDS local leaders who have flatly stated that doctrine is secondary to them, and they seriously doubt that their leaders are always guided by continuous revelation. They’ve been clear in stating that they are in the Church for the long run to help other people with their personal problems and for the camaraderie.

    And almost every active LDS woman I’ve known states that she is fully committed to the Church and believes in it devoutly, while at the same time muttering under her breath that polygamy is a foul, vile doctrine that can’t possibly be of God.

    Hopefully, some day they’ll realize that Christ is not just a social director, and that truth and grace must play a major role in their salvation

  18. falcon says:

    Very interesting. I know there are different “types” of Mormons and it would be interesting to know how many of these social Mormons are in the sect. It’s kind of interesting to me that someone who basically doesn’t believe in the same way as the “chapel” or even “internet” Mormons, can even stay in the club. They certainly don’t get involved in the temple program, do they?
    If the women aren’t that into polygamy, maybe there will be too much pressure on the boys at the top to allow it. After all, they changed the temple ritual because the women were turned off by it.

  19. historybuff says:

    Falcon —

    I was talking about the “chapel Mormons.” They stand up and bear their testimonies on the first Sunday of the month, but it’s basically a rehearsed speech mainly to reassure their friends that they like them and to retain their status. They do it to stay in the club, just the way they pay their dues (tithing) and even go to the temple. Of course, this only happens in dense LDS communities where all your neighbors are LDS. When they move away from Utah and Idaho, and get away from their Mormon family members, sometimes they’ll stop and reconsider what they’re doing.

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