The doctrine of grace is one of those things not very well understood within Christianity. While most traditional Christian denominations accept the doctrine of “Salvation by Grace Alone,” The LDS Church stands mostly by itself with a firm rejection of that doctrine. We believe that a combination of a belief in Jesus Christ as Savior, the knowledge and understanding of His Atonement and the resulting good works that emanate from that testimony are necessary for our complete salvation, to return to live with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ throughout the eternities. Exaltation, we call it.
“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)
The key to this scripture verse are in two distinct phrases:
“for we know that it is by grace that we are saved” and,
“after all we can do.”
“By grace we are saved” – We are saved from eternal death, brought about by the fall of Adam because of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. We receive this gift without condition, we cannot earn it and it is given to every person who ever existed or will exist on this earth.
However, then comes a tricky phrase:
“after all we can do.” – This would seem to indicate that the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ comes after the “do.” The footnote in the LDS Bible for “do” sends us to the Topical Guide section “Good Works.” This might lead one to the conclusion while reading this scripture literally, that you “work your way to heaven.” That grace is earned after good works. This is a common charge by those critical of the doctrines of the LDS Church.
So just what does “all we can do” mean?
Here is my take on it.
I do not believe that good works can fully justify us. That is, unless we bring to the Lord what He asked for, the sacrifice of a “broken heart and a contrite spirit.”
“The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Psalms 34:18)
“And behold, I have given you the law and the commandments of my Father, that ye shall believe in me, and that ye shall repent of your sins, and come unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. …” (3 Nephi 12:19)
“Thou shalt offer a sacrifice unto the Lord thy God in righteousness, even that of a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” (Doctrine and Covenants 59:8)
Someone who truly repented of his/her sins and tries to live the example of the Savior will be motivated to do good works as the Savior did. In doing good works will be a desire to more fully emulate the Savior, but not as a proof point about how well the person performs all the works of the gospel. In the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican (Luke 18), the Pharisee thought himself very justified and worthy before the Lord because of all the things of the law that he performed, while the Lord justified the Publican because of his humility.
It speaks to the idea that works:
- be motivated for the right reasons
- be inspired by our desire to serve the Lord
- not be done to seek the praise of others
- does not replace the Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ
- be combined with a true “broken heart and contrite spirit.”
So, I am saying that, “all we can do” is offer “the sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit” and the Lord provides the rest.
Alma 24:11: And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do, (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins and the many murders which we have committed, and to get God to take them away from our hearts, for it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain—
All we can do is come to Christ. AFTER we come to Christ, we do lots of great things through his strength. (Alma 26:12: Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.) We work together with Christ. The important point, though, is that this is something we do after we come to Christ and he applies the atonement to cleanse us of our sin. Evangelicals would call that “getting saved.” We don’t have to keep every commandment to come to Christ, otherwise nobody would ever be able to do it, since the reason we need Him is that we haven’t kept every commandment… We work because we love him, not because we’re hoping he’ll forgive us, because he already did that.
Good post Jeff. I have a couple of thoughts.
I think the differences between us and other religions is really a silly argument. Most Christian churches don’t teach that since grace is sufficient we can do whatever we want. As you’ve indicated, one who comes to Christ has a desire to emulate Christ. And Mormons don’t believe you get in on merit alone. Frankly, I feel like we’re just splitting hairs.
But I think where the differences manifest themselves is in our culture. We have a tendency to be self-righteous, and to make a big deal out of our deeds. We have a heavy focus on actions. I recently spoke with an old friend from my childhood. She said something interesting. She said “going to church in Utah often feels more like a job than an experience.” This, along with our checklist mentality, IMHO, is possibly a consequence of our works based faith. I think this is an unfortunate misinterpretation.
Perhaps in other religions the culture seems to give license to a more “eat, drink, and be merry” mentality (though I don’t know since I’ve only ever been a Mormon) as a result of the grace idea. I think this is what we fear in Mormonism. I think generally we are down on the doctrine of grace alone because we see it as giving a free pass to sinners everywhere. But again, I think this would be an unfortunate misinterpretation.
I think you’ve nailed it here:
I have concluded that the Mormons and evangelicals have simply been setting up strawmen consisting of what they imagine the other believes about salvation. Then they gear up to fight with all their might against what they have constructed.
Mormons do not believe that a person can be saved by works. Neither their scriptures nor their leaders advocate any such doctrine. However, we tend to preach the importance of works, often as a reaction to the evangelicals’ “saved by grace” emphasis. The LDS assume that the Christian rejects any commitment of action, which is also an unfair portrayal.
As jmb said, we Mormons fear that too great of an emphasis on grace will result in licentious behavior. And Evangelicals fear that an emphasis on works will result in legalism and pride. Both fears are well founded and that is why balancing and understanding the proper role of each is important.
I’ve been trying to promote an interfaith dialogue wherein each group would accept at least the basic idea that we believe in the same Christ. Is this even possible? Sure, guys, we have a few differences. But c’mon. How many white-robed bearded men had a mother named Mary, a father named God, lived in Judea and Jerusalem around 0-33 AD, claimed to be the Messiah, rose from the dead and founded a world religion based on his teachings?
The difference is not in his physical appearance but in his life, death, burial, and resurrection. The Gospel. You preach a different gospel. Therefore a different Jesus. Not the Jesus of the bible.
My sentiments exactly!
I recently attended an Orthodox service. Afterward I spent about 3 hours discussing theology with the presiding priest and reader. I was amazed at the similarities in doctrine, with only minor twists. They even told me, point blank, they believed in a doctrine of progression, with the potential to become “gods” (with a little ‘g’ they pointed out to me). They then contrasted this immediately saying it was different than what we believed in Mormonism.
JMB abd BiV,
Thank you for your comments. We are in agreement. I too have had much experience in interfaith dialog which was not always friendly. it was like we were speaking English and Finnish to each other. Almost saying the same thing, but not necessarily understanding one another. I often commented to other Christians that we are not as far apart as they think, but then the “the Mormon cult” and different Jesus thing seems to get in the way much as the “all other Churches are wrong” sometimes hampers the understanding of LDS members.
I think that if Christians who believe that can’t “lose” their salvation realized it was never theirs to lose and LDS members thought a little more about why we do things rather than just trying to get through the laundry list of things to do, we all be better off.
“Mormons do not believe that a person can be saved by works.” I know this is true but sometimes we act like we don’t really believe this.
What’s missing here is a mention of how Mormon leaders themselves and church manuals have interpreted this passage. Before Mormons criticize evangelicals for complaining about the passage and it use, I think some internal house-cleaning is in order.
I meant “its use”
“I’ve been trying to promote an interfaith dialogue wherein each group would accept at least the basic idea that we believe in the same Christ. Is this even possible? Sure, guys, we have a few differences. But c’mon. How many white-robed bearded men had a mother named Mary, a father named God, lived in Judea and Jerusalem around 0-33 AD, claimed to be the Messiah, rose from the dead and founded a world religion based on his teachings?”
I’ve said the same thing, except I include his Roman social security number MCM-XI-VIII.
Jeff (OP) suggests that “The LDS Church stands mostly by itself with a firm rejection of the doctrine of “Salvation by Grace Alone””. I agree in principle with his ideas, but I think about it in other terms.
To be saved by grace, we must accept Christ’s atonement. What does it mean “to accept Christ’s atonement”? Some evangelicals have told me that merely making “an affirmation” is sufficient — a sort of a Christian Shahada, as it were. As Latter-day Saints, we know better. We know that accepting Christ’s atonement is accomplished through obedience to commandments, both ordinances such as baptism and duties such as loving our enemy.
Thus, far from rejecting the doctrine of salvation by grace alone, the LDS Church stands alone in the world as the only religion that both teaches the true meaning of salvation by grace and also offers the opportunity to obey the commandments through which grace is made operative.
Vort, what’s your understanding of the Catholic doctrine of grace?
Thomas, I have no particular understanding of the Catholic doctrine of grace.
First, I want to apologize for the threadjack, However, I felt that there should be a clarification of a point that you were trying to make
The reason why I find a discussion of faith to be difficult among religions is this. Usually the people who are engaged in the discussion have never really been to another church before. The only thing we know about other religions is what we read in books, this is not enough. We ask questions, which is good,but really its’ pretty hard to have an actual comparison when there is no frame of reference. Mormonism is really quite different from all religions,In comparison to other mainstream religions who have more in common with each other than things that they dont.
The other aspect of why things don’t often go well in a discussion from a Mormon point of view is this. I think it is difficult for the Member who has been Mormon all their life and who has been indoctrinated, weather, good or bad to believe that Mormonism is the one true church to discuss other religion. When discussing “our” faith we have a tendency to be myopic. Meaning this. We discuss our faith in the hopes of getting people to come to church and eventually baptized and or these people are wrong in their thinking. I’m not even saying that this is done deliberately, I don’t believe that. But I do believe that it is in our conscience weather conscienscly or subconsciently. (sorry about the misspelling.
That’s not to say that there can be some so called Christians’ who act the very way that you have described, but I have left those people out of my discussion with you because you have people who will say those kinds of things in every religion. I wanted to provide a more broad base
“The LDS Church stands alone in the world as the only religion that both teaches the true meaning of salvation by grace….”
“…and also offers the opportunity to obey the commandments through which grace is made operative.”
“First, I want to apologize for the threadjack, However, I felt that there should be a clarification of a point that you were trying to make”
First, please don’t assume anything, you will most likely be wrong. And in this case, you are.
Second, please do not lecture. If you wish to discuss the OP, I welcome you. otherwise, …
I do agree that one can get myopic if one does not learn about others in a meaningful way. But, it is not impossible to have a good working knowledge of other’s religious beliefs and practices.
All we can do is come to Christ. I really think that is a key insight.
It is not a conflict between grace and works, it is a matter of surrender and acceptance.
Once people get to that understanding, that it is a matter of coming to Christ, that it is by his grace we are saved, in spite of, or beyond, all we can do, the finite vs. the infinite, then we start to understand.
BTW, I had a secretary once that belonged to a church that taught that all are sinners, that we are saved by grace, that we still sin, but once saved, always saved, and was therefore supportive of those engaging in SS unmarried behavior (which was her orientation and practice). “The Family” is another group that in the criticism of its practices is treated as if it teaches that the favor of God is reflected in political power, therefor those with power are excused. Obviously not all groups agree with those approaches or interpretations, but they are out there, much like we all probably know people who are convinced that they have already worked their way into heaven. 😉
I love this topic, and we read about it often on the ‘nacle. And that’s fine.
The very next verse in 2 Ne 25 makes clear at least one reason why Nephi writes of “all we can do,” namely that they Nephites were still subject to the Law of Moses; although they looked forward to Christ, they still followed the law.
I appreciate BiV’s comment (#3) about the strawman created on this issue. Aaron’s (#6) comment rightly clarifies that we do see some actions required in order to enjoy all the blessings of the atonement and to return to our Father in Heaven. But we did not create those actions; God commands us to participate in ordinances (just as the Savior did), to love Him, and to love our fellowman.
For me, the grace is that I have any chance at all to participate in the process at all. That I have any hope of drawing closer to Him is a function of His grace.
“…and also offers the opportunity to obey the commandments through which grace is made operative.”
I’d always assumed that grace was a gift. How can it be a gift if we have to obey commandments to make it operative?
It is like receiving a wonderful lego box… Then you have to follow the instruction thouroughly to get the final result you see on the package… You can try without the instruction… But it might mean that you ate so experienced snd teained in the instructions already (having the gift of his spirit) that you can assemble it on your own…
“I’d always assumed that grace was a gift. How can it be a gift if we have to obey commandments to make it operative?”
If you’re given a gift, you have to accept the gift in order to have it. How do you accept the atonement? By obeying the commandments.
Thomas—you are going to have to spell it out for Vort……..
Yes, please. If the Catholic Church offers access to the saving ordinances that we through obedience need to return to God, that’s certainly news to me.
“the only religion that both teaches the true meaning of salvation by grace”
As others have pointed out, we are more in agreement with other Christian denominations than not. It is a question of terminology. For example, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.(Ephesians 2:8 – 9).
What constitutes the doctrine of salvation by grace alone is a truth. That we are saved from eternal death solely by the Grace of Jesus Christ. The difference being that LDS belief is that all people receive that by virtue of the Atonement while most traditional Christians believe it is received by accepting Jesus as our Savior.
But I guess I think the doctrine itself is true as far as it goes. But does not constitute all revealed truth as it pertains to our eternal life.
Not sure why you and Thomas have each quoted only the first half of my sentence, which clearly says “both”. By cutting off the second part, you have changed its meaning.
I grant that there may be some religions that teach more or less the true principle of salvation by grace — as I said to Thomas, I have no knowledge of the specific Catholic teachings of redemption by grace — but it is well-established LDS doctrine that the authority to perform saving ordinances, indeed the authority of the Priesthood itself, does not exist outside the LDS Church.
Is there anything about my actual statement that you disagree with?
I could not agree more with this statement: “As jmb said, we Mormons fear that too great of an emphasis on grace will result in licentious behavior. And Evangelicals fear that an emphasis on works will result in legalism and pride. Both fears are well founded and that is why balancing and understanding the proper role of each is important.” And the funny thing is, I think these are fair criticisms of each of the groups that espouse these perspectives. Mormons tend to be legalistic and prideful (checklists, measuring worthiness based on callings and outward observance) and “saved by faith” religions tend to be a bit “anything goes.” I suppose we gravitate toward what we gravitate toward, like the mother ship calling us home.
I think we Mormons are stuck on “by their fruits you shall know them” and sometimes many may seem to fake it (acting CTR, big smile being overly nice)… Instead of being genuine (ie letting other know I messed up, i am a mess, big time, yet again… for instance) and coming to Christ for redemption, mercy, forgivness… Yet that is how we are made perfect… Through Christ, not our performance (aka acting)… I say acting because, it seems we follow a script, a code, thou shalt, thou shalt… But wait… Isn’t that obeying the commandments? And don’t we obey the commandements passionately becauße we love Christ, his Gospel ans trust him like 1000%?… Now I confused myself… Well, HE for sure knows… For Hin, we are His children and in fact we are all just bunch of kids saying it is like this, no it is like that, no it is like this 🙂
Vort, the meaning of your sentence depends on whether it’s conjunctive or disjunctive. Are you saying that it’s true that (1) the Church has the only true understanding of grace, and (2 — an entirely separate point) the Church is the only entity with the ability to perform saving ordinances? If that’s what you meant (which is how I took it), I questioned whether you were really equipped to make the judgment reflected in #1, since you were pronouncing the Church’s understanding of grace superior to understandings you weren’t familiar with.
On the other hand, if the sentence was conjunctive — if you meant that the Church was the only entity that had both the correct understanding of grace, and the proper ordinance authority, then you have a point.
I didn’t think that my sentence could be read “disjunctively”; I thought the “both” precluded that reading. I meant that the LDS Church is the only religion that has both facets.
Of course, according to LDS doctrine, the Church is the only organization that has the second facet of authority, regardless of the presence or lack thereof of the first. But my meaning was inclusive of both correct doctrine and authority together, not each separately.
Your line below speaks to me and seems to hold a great deal of truth.
“So, I am saying that, “all we can do” is offer “the sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit” and the Lord provides the rest”
I also think it may be worthwhile to consider the use of the word ‘after’ in this context. In today’s manner of speaking it might be written with the word ‘even’ used, so that it reads as such: “…it is by grace we are saved, even after all we can do”.
To put it more plainly, in my own words:
‘even after all we can do, we are saved by grace’
‘In spite of all that we can do, we are still saved by grace.’
‘we are saved by grace, in spite of all that we can do’
Personally, I do believe we are saved by grace, but grace isn’t earned or extended for free.
there was no reason for you to be nasty in your response, I was offering a an opinion, which was not out of line, and as someone who is a convert into the church my opinion is very valid, especially, given your own terse response.
Dblock – Just FYI, Jeff is also a convert (from Judaism). I think that was the assumption he objected to (that he wrote in ignorance of other faiths), but I’m not sure.
Thank you hawkgirl
Which is exactly what I was trying to say, there is ignorance (for example, I can not as a former catholic/Mormon ever hope to in a million years ever believe to know how, or what it feels like to have my religious lineage almost wiped out simply because of what I believe) I have no frame of reference for that. I can sympathize, but I will never ever be able to comprehend the totality behind what took place.
That being said, I was digging
in my old catechism book because their was a question as to what Catholics believe on the Subject of Grace:
Catholics belive that we are saved only by God’s grace working in us. Thus we are justified and transformed from the state of unrighteousness into a state of holiness and sonship of God because of Jesus christ. Justification is the merciful and freely given Act of God which takes away our sins and makes us holy in our whole being This justification is given to us by the sacrament of baptism. Justification is the beginnin of our free response to God and our faith in Jesus Christ.
So, as you can see from here If I were Catholic I would receive grace, thru baptism and faith, not just by works alone. as previously mentioned
And No Jeff I was not saying that you were being ignorant, I apologize if that is what you took away from that. How about next time you ask me for a clarify of my position? I don’t have a problem with doing that, that is after all the point of discussion, isn’t it? and I would ask you to clarify yours if I thought you were saying something that you really didn’t mean to say/
And now that I’ve apologize I’m going to get really pissed off.
How dare you or any of men of accuse me of lecturing on any of these post. Have any you men taken the time to read any of your discourses on here and elsewhere. I don’t give voluminious replies in any discussion. But because I don’t agree, I’m lecturing, That is the epitome of being pompus and arrogant
“If you’re given a gift, you have to accept the gift in order to have it. How do you accept the atonement? By obeying the commandments.”
I thought one accepted the atonement by believing in Christ and the efficacy of his sacrifice. It seems to me that obeying the commandments flows from that faith.
*** I thought one accepted the atonement by believing in Christ and the efficacy of his sacrifice. ***
How does one believe in Christ? By obeying his words, of course.
“How does one believe in Christ? By obeying his words, of course”
I assumed that a person’s belief was an attitude of mind as influenced by the Spirit and apart from action. Suppose you’re unable to act physically in any meaningful way due to illness but still believe. Would that person not be able to accept the atonement?
Only God knows and judge what is all that we can do… Not even ourselves can rely on our judgment… And certainly not pur brother or neighbour… We can be so hard on ourselves and be miserable sometimes, thinking we should and could have done more…
All that we can do is to follow the command of following him, abiding in him, remain a disciple, a true friend, communing and remembering him always…
*** I assumed that a person’s belief was an attitude of mind as influenced by the Spirit and apart from action. ***
I do not agree with this definition. It seems to me that in any saving sense, “belief” must mean more than mere abstract philosophical attitude. Otherwise, I could claim I believe in Christ and his teachings about, say, adultery, all the while working alphabetically through my Book of Loose Women.
When the man whose child had a dumb spirit cried out, “I believe, help thou mine unbelief”, he recognized that belief was no mere philosophical attitude. He sought to generate faith but saw his own weakness. When Christ told the centurion (a gentile, I assume!) that his servant was healed as a consequence of his (the centurion’s) belief, it was clear the centurion had done more than merely have a philosophical conviction that Jesus could heal the man; he had physically gone to Jesus to implore him to heal the servant. In every instance I can think of in the New Testament, “belief” is always linked to some action, even as simple as asking for a blessing.
The sole counterexample that comes to mind is James’ contention that “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble” — this example being given to show that mere philosophical belief alone is insufficient to find God.
*** Suppose you’re unable to act physically in any meaningful way due to illness but still believe. Would that person not be able to accept the atonement? ***
As long as that person did whatever he was capable of doing, even if it was only reading the scriptures or just praying to God, then of course he is still a subject of salvation.
“As long as that person did whatever he was capable of doing, even if it was only reading the scriptures or just praying to God, then of course he is still a subject of salvation.”
Salvation or exaltation?
If I say I believe and Christ knows I believe then what else matters? It seems that this gets back to what was said above about those that believe in the primacy of works feeling like someone is trying to get away with something when they speak of faith and grace in the same breath.
I’m lecturing, yet Vort has 8 replies on this post alone. but I’m the one lecturing. I think your definition and my definition of the word lecture
The Point being the Brethren are the one’s doing the lecturing on this and all post, not me. Which isn’t really surprising. However, as in the church, its’ okay to be male and express yourself, its’ not okay if you happen to be female.
This is exactly the attitude and reason why I’m not only leaving the church,. Its’ exactly the reason why I’m having my name removed from the F records. I don’t think my god wants me to be beneath any man. That’s a totally Mormon concept. It must really piss you and the other brethren off because I have my opinions and I’m not afraid to offer them. If that makes you and the other brethren feel emasculated, I don’t give a crap.
All I know is that I have listened to and respected all the opinions here and elsewhere to bad the brethren have responded with the typical Mormon male attitude, with their dismissive pompus attitudes or arrogance. Now that is my definition of a Lecture. To my male brethren I say F off
*** Salvation or exaltation? ***
*** If I say I believe and Christ knows I believe then what else matters? ***
*** It seems that this gets back to what was said above about those that believe in the primacy of works feeling like someone is trying to get away with something when they speak of faith and grace in the same breath. ***
Perhaps this is so. I would not know, given that I don’t believe in the apostate concept of salvation through works. But neither do I believe the apostate concept of salvation through Christian Shahada. I believe in salvation through grace, which grace is accepted through obedience to Christ’s commandments, as the Bible very clearly teaches.
Apropos of nothing: Can someone tell me why my name was changed to “Barney”? (This is Vort.)
It looks as if you are signed in under a different account. Perhaps you are at a shared computer? Try logging out above the comment box or on the right sidebar.
Thanks, BiV. This is a work computer, so it’s not likely anyone else used it for this site. I take it my account was not actually changed, then?
Suppose I obey and don’t have faith. What then? If I’m baptized and confirmed, pay tithing, go on a mission, make and keep temple covenants but have no faith at all in any of it, what then? If by all accounts I’m a good, decent, Latter-day Saint but have no faith, what then? Do I obey because I have faith or have faith and then obey for no other reason than that’s how I’ve become?
“As the bible clearly teaches.”
I suppose you can look at it that way if you really want to. Have a nice night.
Faith is important but If you have no love you are nothing… And love is a gift of God… You’ve been given it, just remember it, remember him, remember who you are… You now feel his love, you feel grateful, you have his love… You’re okay…off to the vineyard! 🙂
Not from this end, Vort. And we don’t have a default “Barney.” I can’t explain it. How odd.
this is long, but only cause im quoting verses left and right, so please bear with me.
here is the verse again
“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)
we always talk about the “we know it is by grace we are saved” and the “after all we can do” yet we never mention the first part where Nephi says “we…persuade our children…to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God…” given the context of the verse, this is all we can do.
To rephrase Ariel’s comment: all we can do is come unto Christ (or exercise our agency to receive God’s grace), and that agency is a gift of God (cf 2 Nephi 2:26), made possible by God’s grace. after being reconciled to Christ (all I can do), then it is God’s grace that finishes the work.
and Jacob (Nephi’s brother explains this) states: “Wherefore, beloved brethren, be reconciled unto him through the atonement of Christ, his Only Begotten Son” (Jacob 4:11) so how is all we can do, or, being reconciled to God accomplished? through the Atonement of Christ. It doesnt say “be reconciled unto him through your obedience” it says “through the atonement of Christ”.
as for the obedience that comes after: this from Philippians, “Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.” (2:12-13) here we find the “work out your own salvation” but it is given in the context of “it is God which worketh in you”, which is to say that you the individual are merely the vessel for God’s grace to flow, and it is His power, and not yours, that matters. 1 Peter 4:10-11 speak to this same idea, he says “if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth”. the reason given is “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever”. Paul explains this one in Romans “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God.” (Romans 4:2) See, if I come to Christ by MY good works, then I have whereof to boast, but in myself, and not of God. And I have room to say “look at what I did, look at how obedient I was”. On the other hand, if I recognize my lost and fallen state (Mosiah 4:2), and my dire need for God’s grace, then I boast in God’s love and mercy. That’s why grace is so important.
It is impossible to understand the strictness that most Protestants place on being saved by grace alone without understanding the Calvinist-Augustinian theology on the subject.
God creates the universe out of nothing. A pure act of grace. Everything that happens subsequently is either the deterministic consequence of that act or is otherwise dictated according to God’s Eternal Decree.
In Calvinist theology, everything is a manifestation of divine grace. People make fun of Protestant ministers for claiming that God caused the BP oil spill, where according to the dominant tradition in Protestantism, God causes everything including the free acts of individuals. So of course he caused the BP oil spill, and the San Francisco earthquake, and the 9/11 attack, and the Holocaust, and on and on. The only thing remaining for us is to wonder at the mystery of his will in decreeing such awful eventualities.
Arminian theology tones that down considerably by accepting a robust sense of free will, but still there is no independent source of any kind of grace or goodness in the universe. The only contributions humans really make is to accept divine grace and run with it. Nothing good ever occurs (nor is it possible for it to occur) without the assistance of divine grace.
Is there a part of this discussion that links to “nature” religions? In a “nature” religion, the aim of adherents is to become in harmony with nature (including their own human nature) rather than to overcome or subjugate nature. Of course, this is the most basic religious argument – whether nature is evil or benevolent. Mormon theology seems split on this point. I feel a future post coming on.
I once heard a parable/story that best illustrates my comment on your comments; I think it comes from the American Indians. The chief describes each of us have inside of us two wolves — a good wolf that persuades us to do good; and, an evil wolf the encourages us to do evil. They are constantly at battle with one another fighting for our soul. At the end of his story, one of the young tribesmen raised his hand and said which one wins. The chief profoundly said, “which ever one we feed”. Put another way, it is not important which one we choose, but which one we feed.
By doing no evil, the Savior completely overcame death, Hell and the Devil. He overcame the Devil by never feeding the evil wolf and thus starved it. It is by His Grace we are saved; but, we overcome our challenges by feeding the good wolf. Put simply, the more we do good, the easier it is to do good.
My wife made an excellent point about this yesterday. We have have our moments where were exhibit genuine Christ-like love toward others. Our ultimate goal is to put those moments together until there is no space in between for other behaviors. Then we will have reached that point where we can say we truly have a broken heart and contrite spirit.
Jeff, I have to respectfully disagree here. I have a broken heart not when I am acting perfectly, but when I realize and admit my imperfections. Christ then begins working in my life to enable my good works, to enable me to be like him to the point that there is no space in between for other behaviors. When I reach that point, my broken heart will be mended and “God will wipe away all tears from my eyes.”
Perfectly OK to disagree with me. I was only going by how I interpreted those scriptures. I am not sure about Christ working in anyone’s life. It is we who have to conform ourselves to Him. He already did the work, paid the price and beckons to “Come unto me.”
The broken heart, as I understand it, is the ultimate realization of who we are, what our nature is, why we need the Savior and the forsaking, finally, of our sins and sinful nature. The final acknowledgment that we are “less than the dust of the earth” and we need a Savior to redeem us.
A process, not a singular event.
Hi folks – I have a little catching up to do.
Jeff Spector –
“So, I am saying that, “all we can do” is offer “the sacrifice of a broken heart and contrite spirit” and the Lord provides the rest.” BRAVO: HERE, HERE!
Ariel – 1
“We don’t have to keep every commandment to come to Christ, otherwise nobody would ever be able to do it…”
Well, maybe, outside of people like Job, Noah, Daniel, Enoch, and his city. My concern with what you said is; first of all, is this pick and choose day? The subject is salvation by grace, not ‘come unto Christ‘. The Telestial Kingdom will be full of people who never did come unto Christ, but they will still be saved. Secondly, if salvation is so great than don’t you want to try as hard as you can to keep all of them? If you would try what you will see at the end of your life, and maybe long before that, is that you will have accomplished perfection. How sad it is that the members of the Lord’s church will not accept that.
Bored in Vernal – 3
“Mormons do not believe that a person can be saved by works.”
Mormons DO believe that a person can be saved by works. The Lord’s church does not. I’ve been fighting Mormons for decades on this point and many others.
Aaron – 6
“Before Mormons criticize evangelicals for complaining about the passage and its use, I think some internal house-cleaning is in order.”
I have been and continue to be dismayed at the lack of understanding some of the leadership of the Church have of the principles of the gospel.
Thomas – 8
“I’ve said the same thing, except I include his Roman social security number MCM-XI-VIII.”
1900-11-8. I don’t get it.
Vort – 9
“…the LDS Church stands alone in the world as the only religion that both teaches the true meaning of salvation by grace and also offers the opportunity to obey the commandments through which grace is made operative.”
‘The LDS Church…offers the opportunity to obey the commandments through which grace is made operative.” is just another way of saying something other than grace is involved in our salvation. No it isn’t. The grace of God is all that is necessary.
Dblock – 12
“The reason why I find a discussion of faith to be difficult among religions is this. (your dialog continued)”
The reason the very great majority of Mormons find it difficult among religions is that Mormons tend not to know what they’re talking about on most points of the gospel.
adventurer – 27
“To put it more plainly, in my own words: ‘even after all we can do, we are saved by grace’ ‘In spite of all that we can do, we are still saved by grace.’ ‘we are saved by grace, in spite of all that we can do’”
Beautiful: but what’s this next statement all about?
“Personally, I do believe we are saved by grace, but grace isn’t earned or extended for free.”
Now you go and say that we are saved by grace, but we need something else. What? Works?? Please! Don’t destroy a wonderful beginning with a miserable ending.
Barney -39 – (Really Vort, I guess)
“I believe in salvation through grace, which grace is accepted through obedience to Christ’s commandments…”
Again, if we are save by grace but we still have to accept it than we are not saved by grace only. People, the grace of God is the only thing we need.
GBSmith – 43
Just don’t sin unto death and you will be saved.
Hawkgrrrl – 47
Is there a part of this discussion that links to “nature” religions?
“I have a broken heart not when I am acting perfectly, but when I realize and admit my imperfections.”
Ariel. Get to the point where you don’t commit sin and you won’t have to have a broken heart. Having to have a broken heart is not an assignment given to us but a necessity due to our sinful actions. “aBe ye therefore bperfect, even as your cFather which is in heaven is dperfect. But I suppose you’ll say that’s impossible.
#3,#24 posts – well said! Having once been a “born-again”, in most cases both parties tend to fall into their respective terminology traps. BTW, AFAIC, I’m still a “born-again”, I was born again upon accepting the Gospel and being baptized and confirmed a member of the Church!
Perhaps the best way to explain it is that “born-agains” have a question of “eternal security”…that is, they feel that once a “believer” attains that status (most will describe it as “accepting Jesus into your heart” which should be taken as meaning a sincere change of heart and desire to follow Christ, a process that no true LDS would have issue with) that they are ‘saved’…i.e, the issue is ‘decided’, and most believe that there is NOTHING a ‘believer’ can do to mess that up. Of course, this tends to contriadict any concept of accountability which the Savior in many of his parables (particularly of the ten, five, and one talents) spoke of. When Latter-Day Saints describe accountability, obedience to commandments, “saved after all we CAN do”, etc., this hits at the core of the “born-again” belief system. IMO, many ‘born-agains’, human nature being what it is, will react with defensiveness and hostility. We LDS need to understand that and be empathetic.
In all fairness, especially from the perspective of ‘born-agains’, the LDS tend to get so ‘wrapped around the axle’ in programs, relatively minor commandments, far-fetched interpretations of same, that we come across as legalistic and pharasaical to them. The object of all commandments (what Paul described as the “law” being a “schoolmaster”), programs, organizations, etc. IS to lead us to Christ, but we LDS ALSO being human, we tend to get off-track, or as described in the Book of Mormon, look “beyond the mark”.
For myself, the best analogy would be my own experiences (which are not unique!) in having weight-loss surgery (RnY bypass). I “worked” my way to meriting it by complying with Kaiser Pemanente’s program of counseling sessions, initial weight loss, and a doctor’s evaluation. The “grace” is the HMO covering the considerable expense (on the open market, the procedure runs in excess of $25K in the US, indeed, many go abroad to do it if they have to pay cash, which I didn’t) and especially the expertise (the laproscopic procedure helps to avoid far less complications!). The initial rapid weight loss is frankly due more to the logical outcome of not being able to each much initially rather than any ‘self-discipline’. The ongoing maintenance, as well as getting far more fit, is thanks to the efforts of yours truly (about twenty hours a week in the gym, doing cardio, weights, and pilates, and STILL neededing to watch what I eat). And lest I should boast, I see it as merely getting where I ought to have been all along with the corpus delecti that Heavenly Father gave me in the first place. Anyone who have fought their own “Battle of the Bulge” knoweth full well of whence I speaketh!
Likewise does the Savior save us from our own stupidity, but if we persist in it, even He won’t intervene.
*** Again, if we are save by grace but we still have to accept it than we are not saved by grace only. People, the grace of God is the only thing we need. ***
Rich, I don’t know if you are LDS. According to LDS doctrine, this is simply not so. D&C 88:31-33 describes those who receive a lesser (“telestial”) glory in the resurrection, as opposed to those who receive a higher state of glory:
“And also they who are quickened by a portion of the telestial glory shall then receive of the same, even a fulness. And they who remain shall also be quickened; nevertheless, they shall return again to their own place, to enjoy that which they are willing to receive, because they were not willing to enjoy that which they might have received. For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift.”
Clearly (from the LDS point of view), we must accept the gift God offers us if we wish to enjoy it. The idea of “irresistible grace” is a false doctrine among Latter-day Saints. We can indeed resist or refuse grace. If we wish to receive Christ’s grace, then we must actively do so.
“Rich, I don’t know if you are LDS. According to LDS doctrine, this is simply not so.”
Depends on what you are referring to. There is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves us from the eternal death brought about from the fall. There is the path to exaltation which after judgment assigns us to a kingdom based on the person we’ve become.
So, don’t be so quick to critic another person answer.
#56 Jeff Spector
You need to consider the context of Rich’s remarks in talking about grace vs. works. Rich’s statement was:
“Again, if we are save by grace but we still have to accept it than we are not saved by grace only. People, the grace of God is the only thing we need.”
If we consider that he might be talking about “eternal [physical] death”, then I suppose you could make the argument that we don’t have to “accept” Christ’s grace. But there are two problems with this:
1. This resurrection is given to all, including those in outer darkness who are forever separated from God. In this respect, does anyone agree that this “is the only thing we need”?
2. It is false that we haven’t accepted this piece of Christ’s grace. In fact, the very fact we are born into mortality proves that we HAVE accepted that grace; consider “the third part” who followed the rebellious Satan and are forever denied physicality.
On the other hand, if we consider Christ’s grace with respect to exaltation, then all my previous comments apply.
“So, don’t be so quick to critic another person answer.”
So you think I shouldn’t disagree with anyone? Or you think I shouldn’t come out and SAY I disagree with anyone?
“So you think I shouldn’t disagree with anyone? Or you think I shouldn’t come out and SAY I disagree with anyone?”
No, not at all. Disagreeing is one thing, telling someone they are wrong, especially in matters of opinion or interpretation is something we should avoid.
Considering “grace” as a gift from God that we receive whether or not we accept it, which is how Rich defined the term, in what sense is Rich’s claim true that “the grace of God is the only thing we need”?
I’m also curious why you did not tell Rich #53 that “telling someone they are wrong, especially in matters of opinion or interpretation is something we should avoid.”
I had to double check cuz for a second there I thought this must have been a guest post by Rich based on his comments.
Rich: “The reason the very great majority of Mormons find it difficult among religions is that Mormons tend not to know what they’re talking about on most points of the gospel.” Nice. Do you kiss your mother with that mouth?
You are right. Rich is out of line. But everyone seems to already know this.
To: Diane (re: Post#39)
Since I’m a “male” (not part of the ‘hierarchy’, just another run-of-the-mill MP holder, thank you), you probably wouldn’t take my comments seriously. I suggest you read Hawkgrrl’s posts and see if your assessment of whether self-expression is only encouraged for the men is true or not.
Not only is a mind a terrible thing to waste, so is one’s place in the Kingdom. Please don’t throw yours away just because some knucklehead(s) offended (or continues to offend) you. I wouldn’t have lasted the past 31 years in this Church if I didn’t have a hide like a Bantha.
OK, forks. This is where I am coming from, in more detail.
There is only one reason ever given for being baptized and that is to receive the remission of sins. “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.” (Mark 1:4) Without this no one who is accountable before God for his or her actions would be able to be made spiritually clean through repentance. No one would be saved. All would be in hell forever.
Because of the Atonement, that all got changed. Now, outside of the sons of Perdition, all will be saved. (see D&C 76:40-44) How often have you heard that baptism is the gateway to the Celestial Kingdom? True. But that narrows down the scope of baptism very much. The Book of Mormon tells us that “ no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of God” (Alma 40:26). Well if that’s the rule for the kingdom of God than it must be the rule for all the kingdoms of God – including the Terrestrial Kingdom and the Telestial Kingdom. They are also kingdoms of God. He created them. This is how He saves all people regardless of how they live while they are here on earth (except the sons of perdition) . Therefore, baptism is the gateway to the Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial Kingdoms.
Now, again, if a person who is on the earth who is also accountable before God for his or her actions becomes spiritually unclean they will require the cleansing power of the atonement to be freed of that uncleanness. There is only one way to do that – a valid baptism. How often have I heard that when we do the work in the temples for the dead, it will only apply to those who accept those ordinances? Question. For all those names we will do, who will eventually encompass every accountable person, who’s not going to accept them? Answer. No one. That’s the only way they can be cleansed by the power of the atonement. They must first have the baptismal ordinance done for them.
“But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;
And heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever;” (D&C 76:109-110)
After the telestial (v.109) have suffered for their sins (not cleansed of them – only Christ can do that) and confessed Him as their Savior (v. 110) then they will have completed the first and second principles of the gospel (faith in Jesus Christ and repentance). Because of the work which will all ready have been done for them in the temples they now have ‘the remission of sins’ and the Savior can cleanse them – if they accept that work done for them in the temples. AGAIN, do you think they are going to refuse this work after what they have been through?? Do you think they are going to refuse this work after having been in hell suffering for their sins even as Jesus suffered in Gethsemane and now they can be cleansed of all those sins regardless of the terrible lives they have lived? Of course they are going to accept the work done for them in the temples – all of them will accept that work with overwhelming gratitude (thus verse 110). And when they accept Jesus as their Saviour, they automatically accept the ordinances of baptism and confirmation done for them in the temples and this is how they receive the remission of sins. Their acceptance of these ordinances also make them members of the Lord’s Church in the Spirit World and as these ordinances do for those in mortality.
If you now look at verse 111 what do you see happening? The judgment. They will now find out where they will live in eternity in their saved condition which for these will be the Telestial Kingdom. Why? Because the Judgment will judge ‘according to men in the flesh’ and their works in while ‘in the flesh’ were telestial. The same will apply to those going to the other kingdoms.
This is why The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is, because of it’s priesthood authority, the only church on the face of the earth through which man can gain access to the saving power of the atonement. Baptism is not just the gateway to the Celestial Kingdom. Baptism is the gateway to a glorious resurrection. Only Mormons get into the Celestial Kingdom, only Mormons get into the Terrestrial Kingdom, and only Mormons get into the Telestial Kingdom because only Mormons can be cleansed of sin. Outside of the sons of perdition, everyone will eventually be Mormons (or whatever you want to call members of the Lord‘s Church). The trouble is, is that most people will wait too long to get themselves into the Lord’s Church to be able to get into the Celestial Kingdom. ‘Now is the time to prepare’(in this life). Not later. To get into the Lord’s Church after this life will be, in many instances, to late for a celestial glory.
The kind of talk I hear when the subjects of salvation, the atonement, grace, the judgement, and the such come up tell me that what I have just said is not understood. I hope this helps.
Sorry about the ‘forks’. It’s ‘folks’.
“Do you think they are going to refuse this work after having been in hell suffering for their sins even as Jesus suffered in Gethsemane and now they can be cleansed of all those sins regardless of the terrible lives they have lived? Of course they are going to accept the work done for them in the temples – all of them will accept that work with overwhelming gratitude (thus verse 110).”
I think you are reaching a bit here. There is no doctrine or belief taught in the Church other than those who have passed through this life without the saving ordinances will have the opportunity to choose to accept them. If they have the opportunity to choose to accept them, they have the opportunity to reject them as well.
What may seem so obvious to you here, may or may not be as obvious on the other side. Who knows? It is mere speculation.
As for your claim that only Mormons get into the kingdoms, you probably should go back and re-read Section 76. there is nowhere that states that all will accept the gospel. It does say that ‘every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.” But even Satan will do that at some point.
Jeff. Of course they will get the opportunity to reject or accept the ordinances. My point is that after what they go through in hell suffering for their sins how could they ever turn down an opportunity to get out of there? You say the scriptures don’t show this. Well yes they do. Look at the suffering Alma, the younger, went through. He thought he would never get out and what joy filled him when he saw he could and ultimately did. The four sons of Mosiah quaked and trembled at the very thought of being in hell forever. Zeezrom burned with fever, not because he was sick, but because of the awful fear he had because of the sins he had committed. The devils greatly fear and tremble because of their belief in Christ and knowing that because of His work they will be in hell forever.
Consider the D&C 76:44:
“Wherefore, he saves all aexcept them—they shall go away into beverlasting cpunishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to dreign with the edevil and his angels in eternity, where their fworm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment—”
Now if Christ saves ALL except the sons of perdition than ALL except the sons of perdition MUST accept the saving ordinances. Therefore they WILL accept them – but not by force but by an overwhelming gratitude that we cannot yet comprehend (76:110).
I don’t know if I understood you correctly:
“There is no doctrine or belief taught in the Church other than those who have passed through this life without the saving ordinances will have the opportunity to choose to accept them.”
This is not really a sentence, but I took a shot at it anyway.