After all you can do—-it isn’t enough!

As a Mormon, I could never understand how anyone thought they could be “saved by faith” in Jesus alone. It seemed clear enough from the words of James that we had to have works as well as faith. Also it was plain to see the many Bible passages listing all the commands Heavenly Father had given us to follow. Looking back, I see I was lacking one very important detail that I didn’t realize at the time. Mormon Prophets actually lowered God’s stated entrance requirements for eternal life! They changed God’s Words and lessened His demands. In reality, they had to do this in order to support their false teaching that a person can gain eternal life by adding their own works to their faith.

From what I can tell it started with Nephi. We read “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do”. Here we see the LDS teaching that what is required is our ‘best effort’. The determining factor to being “saved” is not the final product, it’s the effort expended. If you just try as hard as you can then Jesus will step in and His Atonement makes up the difference.

While this sounds comforting, it is false! You can search the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find one passage that backs up this false teaching. Not one single verse claims that eternal life can be gained by simply trying to follow God’s commands. Just look at every Judgment Day picture mentioned in the Bible and you will discover that any sin ends with the same exact outcome—living eternally in Outer Darkness with Satan and his demons. The Bible clearly states that God demands 100 percent compliance with his laws and commands. In fact it was James who testified that if you fail at even one point you are guilty of breaking all of God’s laws (2:10). James testimony is reinforced in the letter to the Galatians which clearly says that you are cursed if you don’t continue to do everything written in God’s law (3:10).

Jesus Himself told us the standard we must meet. The perfection required from us is to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:48). On Judgment Day we will not be graded on a curve or compared to our neighbor! The standard for perfection is God Himself!

But how can it possibly be bad to try and keep God’s commands? Let me explain the danger using an illustration. Imagine that you are at the Olympics swim meet with Michael Phelps. You know that he is the closest thing to a perfect swimmer in the history of the world. But, you want to help him win his gold medal so you offer to swim the first lap for him, or even just five feet. What do you think will be the outcome? Would your effort help or hurt Phelps’ performance?

The same is true with the perfection Jesus accomplished. On your behalf, Jesus spent His entire life living for you. In your place he kept every command perfectly. He is your substitute for the perfection demanded by God. Jesus alone meets the requirement to be as perfect as Heavenly Father. Adding your “best effort” to His perfect score only makes your score imperfect! This is why we can only be saved through faith alone. “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).

I know you are trying to do what you think is right. But believing that you can somehow add to the perfect works that Jesus did on your behalf actually angers God! Adding your works to His Son’s work and believing such works are mandatory only testifies one thing. It declares you do not believe that His Son’s immeasurable sacrifice was sufficient to gain you eternal life! God sees such works as an attempt to bring glory on yourself—to actually boast in yourself! When you have faith that His Son’s sacrifice has gained you eternal life this gives all the glory to His Son–where it belongs! Only then are you free to live a life of voluntary works, which brings even more glory to God.

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4 Comments

  1. Sandra Wall said,

    March 10, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    I think you are missing the point of the Book of Mormon verse. You are emphasizing the “trying” as earning salvation. The verse is stating that Christ made it possible for us to be saved but there is a responsibility placed upon us to keep his commandments, repent, be of service, seek first the kingdom of God, and whatever other good works you also believe in. You also quoted James but left out his instruction that “faith without works is dead”. That points to what we must do to benefit from Christ’s atoning for our sins. We must repent. That is repeated again and again in the New Testament. Christ prepared the way through his grace but we must do the works, show our commitment.

  2. choosethechrist said,

    March 13, 2013 at 8:48 am

    Sandra, I think you are missing the points of the Apostle Paul i.e. The Book of Romans. Once we are new creations in Christ Jesus, we do not focus on keeping the commandments for the “law” only serves to condemn us of our sinfulness which shows us our need for a Savior. The law convicts us of our sin. Sin produces death.
    Romans 7:4-6
    4 So, my brothers and sisters, you also died to the law through the body of Christ, that you might belong to another, to him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. 5 For when we were in the realm of the flesh, the sinful passions aroused by the law were at work in us, so that we bore fruit for death. 6 But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.
    Jesus saves us from sin and death. Jesus releases us to serve in newness of Spirit. The law brings condemnation, but we are set free by the Spirit of Life because we are set free from the law of sin and death.
    The law teaches us what sin is.
    The law teaches us we ALL break it.
    The law teaches us we are ALL sinners.
    The law teaches us we need a Savior.
    Jesus fulfilled the law and the prophecies of the prophets.
    When we walk by the law we are under condemnation. Romans 7.
    But, those who are saved walked in a newness of life in the Spirit because we have a new heart and a new spirit and a new desire to do the will of the Father.

    Romans 8

    Life Through the Spirit

    8 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. 3 For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

    5 Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. 7 The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. 8 Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

    9 You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. 10 But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. 11 And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

    12 Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. 13 For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

    Those who are saved, are living by the Spirit NOT by the law!

    Galatians 5
    5 It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

    2 Mark my words! I, Paul, tell you that if you let yourselves be circumcised, Christ will be of no value to you at all. 3 Again I declare to every man who lets himself be circumcised that he is obligated to obey the whole law. 4 You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

    13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

    Isn’t that AMAZING? If I can simply LOVE, I can keep ALL of God’s commands!

    Galatians 5:22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. 24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.

    Praise God! I am a new creation in Christ Jesus! When I walk in the Spirit simply loving God and loving my neighbor I am keeping ALL of the commandments!

  3. Mike R said,

    March 18, 2013 at 9:50 pm

    Sandra, I can’t add to much to what Choosethechrist has clearly
    presented as the New Testament testimony on this issue. Don’t
    be misled into thinking that you just have to do a list of works in
    order to gain eternal life —that is a trap that is easy to fall into .
    Eph 2:8-9 is clear that salvation ( eternal life) is received by faith
    alone in Jesus — it is only after receiving complete forgiveness and
    being given the gift of eternal life that doing good things for Jesus,
    out of a heart of gratitude, can mean much . Being “worthy” enough
    to gain eternal life by climbing the Mormon ” gospel ladder” of
    requirements is good but a man made system . If you would take the
    time to view the teaching track record of Mormon leaders since 1830
    about what they have taught was necessary to gain God’s favor and
    what LDS must do to be able to attain eternal life , you’ll notice a
    pattern,unstable vacillating, so much so that a person would do well
    not to follow them as being reliable guides in spiritual truths related
    to gaining eternal life . The apostles in the New Testament are
    those men who we can turn to in order to know who Jesus is and
    how we can receive eternal life . This is important since Jesus knew
    that in the latter days men who come claiming to teach His gospel,
    though these men might be sincere they will add their own revelation
    to His gospel of salvation ( Rom 1:16) thus altering it . This would
    then dilute the true gospel that Jesus gave to His apostles thus
    creating a gospel that cannot save—Gal.1:8 . Jesus warned us all
    in advance of these latter days prophets —-Mark 13:22-23 .
    Sandra , please test your latter day prophets —1 John 4:1
    Much is at stake . Being nice is good but not good enough if we
    follow prophets who preach “another gospel ” —- consider Isa 9:16
    Matt 7:15 .

  4. choosethechrist said,

    March 19, 2013 at 8:00 am

    Good points Mike! We need to remember that our God does not change the way we are saved. God has always saved people by Faith.

    Romans 3:21 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. He did this 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.

    If God is the one who justifies us, where does that leave our works?

    Paul clearly shows us that Abraham was saved not by keeping God’s law, but by Faith! Abraham was saved, while he was a Gentile, before he was circumsized a Jew, and before God’s law was even established. Abraham was declared righteous 500 years before the law of Moses!

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

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

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

    The LDS 3rd Article of Faith (….saved by keeping the laws and ordinances of the gospel) places the LDS under a yoke of slavery, slavery to the laws and ordinances of the LDS Church. The wages of the LDS faith are an obligation, the LDS are not trusting God to justify them as the Apostle Paul has said. The LDS must have the Faith of Abraham and believe the promises of God! Joseph Smith changed the promises of God by requiring the keeping of laws for salvation.

    James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it.

    What a blessing it is to be the one “whose sin the Lord will never count against them.” Praise God!

    Romans 4:5 However, to the one who does not work but trusts God who justifies the ungodly, their faith is credited as righteousness.


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