Did God Really Give You a “Plan” of Salvation?

I didn’t realize how easy it was to get lost until after I got my drivers license. Driving to unfamiliar places without easy to follow directions often resulted in confusion and anxiety. When I lived in Germany for a few years my tendency to lose my way was exacerbated by the fact I couldn’t speak the language. I quickly learned to take a map with me whenever I was unsure of where I was going.

One day I went to visit a friend who lived in a nearby town. I had written down her address and had brought my trusty map along. But I soon discovered that even with the map, I was terribly lost. I knew what street I needed to get to, but could not find it. I saw a man walking down the street and even though I spoke very little German, I pulled over to ask him for help. I showed him my map and pointed to the street I was searching for. In my broken German I tried asking him for directions. Looking at both me and my map, he responded in English “Lady, you’re using the wrong map. That map is for a town twenty miles from here.”

This experience happened over 25 years ago but it came to mind when reading the Sunday School Teacher’s Manual for 12 & 13 year old’s. The lesson explains the “Plan” of Salvation according to LDS prophets and scripture. An Enrichment Activity directs the teacher to display a road map and ask the questions: “What is this? Why would someone use this?” The teacher is then told: “Explain that life is like a journey. Heavenly Father knew that we would need directions to help us find our way back to him, so he provided the plan of salvation as a kind of map for us to follow. How can we ‘read’ this map and know what we must do to reach our destination of living with Heavenly Father again? (Answers may include by studying the scriptures, following the prophets, and listening to our teachers and parents as they teach us about the gospel.)”

The lesson explains what must be done to live eternally with Heavenly Father: “Point out that the scripture names two things as God’s work—to bring to pass immortality and eternal life. Explain that these two words do not refer to the same thing. Immortality is a state of being resurrected, of being free from physical death. This blessing will come to all people. Eternal life is living with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the celestial kingdom. This blessing—which is also called exaltation—comes only to those who keep the commandments and make the necessary covenants.”

This week’s Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson “maps” out the same requirements. It explains that even though eternal life is the “greatest of all the gifts of God” you obtain it through your own works and effort: “We obtain this great gift, according to the Lord, ‘if you keep my commandments and endure to the end.”

I remember when I once believed these words. Reading them today makes my heart cry out for all who are trying to obtain eternal life by following these directions. Today, I write these words to warn you that you are using the wrong map! The LDS Plan of Salvation does not come from God—it was created by LDS prophets. All who follow this “Plan” of Salvation will never gain eternal life!

In both these Lessons, the belief that God gave us a “Plan” comes from the book of Moses, which is part of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament. We can know that this “Plan” is false by testing its words against already revealed scripture. Doing so shows it is in direct conflict with the testimony of our Savior Jesus, as well as God’s prophets and apostles. While LDS scriptures have nearly 60 passages discussing this “Plan” of Salvation, the word “plan” isn’t even found in the King James Bible. As well, the two Lessons I reference today don’t give a single Bible passage supporting the LDS “Plan” for gaining eternal life.

God’s prophets and apostles left us a “map” that truly leads to eternal life, and that’s the Bible. It is here that we read their testimonies claiming that the work of Salvation is finished! It was by our Savior’s obedience that eternal life was obtained for us. God provides “Salvation” as an undeserved gift to all who believe in His Son. Jesus testified that eternal life truly is a free gift, gained the very moment the Holy Spirit brought you to faith!

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24).

This gift came because of Heavenly Father’s great love for you: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Believe it and receive it! “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47).

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)

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23 Comments

  1. Todd Wood said,

    January 5, 2010 at 9:09 pm

    I listened to an LDS leader this week describing the Gospel plan as a ladder and how it does depend on how one keeps the commandments.

    I ached in my heart as I listened to the presentation.

  2. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    January 6, 2010 at 2:23 am

    Hi Todd,

    The LDS leader was merely quoting the LDS prophet Joseph Smith. Gospel Principles page 279 states:

    The Prophet Joseph Smith taught: “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil [died] before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 268).

    [This is the way our Heavenly Father became God. ] Joseph Smith taught: “It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God. … He was once a man like us; … God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith).

    Gospel Principles was “newly revised” for 2010. The sentence I have in bold, saying that climbing this ladder is the way Heavenly Father became God, was removed with the 2010 revision.

    What a blessing that we have the testimony of the prophet Isaiah declaring the truth about God:

    Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.
    (Isaiah 43:10)

  3. mamawhitey said,

    January 6, 2010 at 10:10 am

    Isn’t God wonderful! It is through his enabling power that helps us to “climb this ladder” of spiritual progression, and his matchless atonement that allows us to jump back on without looking back, Glory be to God!

  4. Todd Wood said,

    January 6, 2010 at 12:14 pm

    Mamawhitey, God is wonderful.

    He didn’t give me a ladder. He gave me a stretcher. And now I have nothing to climb. I am seated in the heavenlies as a joint-heir with Christ. From this exalted position, I can actually keep the commandments out of such love for Him. All grace. All glory.

    Becki, that is interesting about the revision. I didn’t know that.

  5. shematwater said,

    January 7, 2010 at 10:50 am

    I think it is always interesting that people focus so much on the quotes concerning faith, but than ignore those that testify to the need for works.

    Psalms 28: 4 “Give them according to their deeds, and according to the wickedness of their endeavours: give them after the work of their hands; render to them their desert.”

    Psalms 62: 12 “Also unto thee, O Lord, belongeth mercy: for thou renderest to every man according to his work.”

    Ecclesiastes 12: 14 “For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.”

    Jeremiah 17: 10 “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.”

    Matthew 16: 27 “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.”

    John 3: 20-21 “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.”

    Acts 10: 35 “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

    Romans 2: 13 “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the
    doers of the law shall be justified.”

    2 Corinthians 5: 10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.”

    Revelation 20: 12-13 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.”

    Revelation 22: 12 “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.”

    Now, with all these references to us being rewarded acording to our works (or in other words those things which we done in this life, not that Christ has done), can anyone tell me how it is that what we do has no bearing at all on our salvation?

    With everything that the Bible says that most logically belief is the Belief that our works have a great deal to do with our salvation, but that without Christ they could not be enough. Simple really.

  6. heathershairdos said,

    January 8, 2010 at 5:58 pm

    If there’s one thing I learned in all those Lutheran apologetics classes I took in high school, it’s that it’s safest to “interpret scripture with scripture.”

    So, Shem, I want to point out this verse:
    Galatians 5:22-23 (New International Version)

    22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.

    See, good works occur when the Holy Spirit is with us. But the fact that the Holy Spirit is in us means… we’re already saved! Prior to good works being done. It also means, good works are never ours to take credit for, only the Holy Spirit can, as the verse above says – these things are the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. They’re not our fruits! Our sins are continually washed away through Christ’s blood, and Christ’s blood alone.

  7. heathershairdos said,

    January 8, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    After some thought, I would also like to say how I feel about LDS and “good works”. Don’t you feel that the fact that you HAVE to preform good works in order to gain salvation sort of cheapens the works?

    Let me put it this way: if my husband comes home with a dozen roses because I demanded he do so, it doesn’t mean much to me.
    Conversely, if my husband comes home with a dozen roses on a complete whim, because he just felt like it – it means so much more to my heart!

    The fact that your faith demands good works, in my opinion, cheapens it. As a Christian, I know I’m not required to do good works in order to gain salvation. But because I’m so overjoyed that I’m a complete sinner, but that God loves me anyway, I’m naturally driven (via Holy Spirit within me) to serve others (aka, good works). I don’t get anything out of it (although other’s do), but I still do it.

    Don’t you think that makes a truly good work (which I honestly believe, are more rare than we all realize) more powerful? That I did it not because I HAD to for my salvation, but just as a celebration of God’s love?

    Something to think about…

  8. shematwater said,

    January 9, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    HEATHER

    I freely admit that the fruits of the spirit are good works, but this says nothing about faith. James tells us that the devils believe (have faith) (James 2: 19) and yet they do not have good works for they have not the Spirit of God. This is shown in the response of the devils in Luke 8: 28 when they saw Jesus coming.

    Now, I would suggest you read earlier in the same chapter of Galatians. Verse 16 “This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”
    Notice we are to WALK in the spirit. This term would indicate that we must be active in this, and thus by our actions our fruits will be that as listed in verse 22-23.

    I am not taking faith out of the equation. Far from it. Without faith our works would be of little proffit outside this world. It is by our faith that we find the strength to do the greatest works required. After all, if I did not have faith in the plan God has outlined why would I follow it?

    Also, I do not see this as a cheapening of the works. At least, not when you actually understand the doctrine of the church. It is not just our physical actions that are the works on which we are judged, but also our thoughts. Yes, we have to do these works, they are required. However, if we do not do them in the proper spirit it will profit us nothing.
    There are three great driving motivations: Escaping punishment, earning a reward, or because you truly want to do it, regardless of the concequences. We will be judged on what motivated us, and our actions will be weighed accordingly. Thus a man who does the works only to gain the reward will be given less than a man who does the works out of love for God. On the other end, one who sins to escape an earthly punishment will be judged less harshly than one who sins for the fun of it.
    Understanding this, just because a person does the works does not guaruntee his salvation. However, if he does not the works his intentions will mean nothing. Read in Matthew 25 the parable of the talents. All three men believed, for all were looking forward to their masters return. However, one did not do the works required, and even though his motivation was good, he still lost his reward for not doing that which was required.

    Hope this clarifies a few things.

  9. heathershairdos said,

    January 9, 2010 at 2:10 pm

    Unfortunately, Shem, no it doesn’t clarify things for me regarding your view. It seems more like word games and beating around the bush to me.

    I need to point out – to compare humans to demons is to compare apples to oranges. Humans are offered redemption through Christ’s blood, fallen angels are not – nor are they the same species. So your argument that demons have faith but not good works does not apply.

    I do not want to beat around the bush any more than we already have. Simply put, I very much disagree with your interpretation.

    When a sinful human realizes he has salvation through Christ’s blood (offered to us for FREE), the Holy Spirit is with that person. We are sinful by nature, we don’t do true good on our own. Our souls are lost. The Holy Spirit that enters us through our faith in Christ and acts as a proxy on our behalf. Our souls are restored through our faith in Christ. Good works that might occur are because of the Holy Spirit within us, like the verse I cited states – truly good things are the FRUITS OF THE SPIRIT. Faith = salvation. Any true righteousness we display in the eyes of God is so because the Holy Spirit (aka FAITH) is our proxy, and thus the righteousness is a byproduct and not ours to earn credit for. It does not save us, it occurs naturally because we are saved. An unbeliever can do good in the world’s eyes, but he has not the Holy Spirit in him, this is not true righteousness, because it is not inspired by the Holy Spirit. That person is still seen as a sinner in God’s eyes, as there is no Holy Spirit in him to act as the righteous proxy. This is what I believe with all my heart, through study and and upbringing with the scripture.

    One more thing you said that bothers me, “one who sins to escape an earthly punishment will be judged less harshly than one who sins for the fun of it.”
    Sin is sin, my friend. God hates it, and we should hate it – says the Bible. It’s never validated. Ever. This reminds me of a scene from the book “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom (a true account of her family’s life in Germany during the holocaust). Corrie & her family were Christians who helped hide Jews from the Nazis. One day Corrie’s sister, Beth, was detained by Nazis. Corrie and her family were worried sick because Beth *NEVER* lied. And they believed Beth would only be able to escape the Nazis if she lied about their hiding the Jews. Miraculously, Beth was returned to their family: without telling any lies. When her family questioned her, she told them she never lied, but managed to be released anyway. She told her family something along the lines of “Did you think God would let me fall because I chose to follow his law?”

    This is why I have a problem with your quote. There is no such thing as a righteous sin. One sin is not slightly less evil than another sin. Remember:
    Psalm 5:4-6 (New International Version)

    4 You are not a God who takes pleasure in evil;
    with you the wicked cannot dwell.

    5 The arrogant cannot stand in your presence;
    you hate all who do wrong.

    6 You destroy those who tell lies;
    bloodthirsty and deceitful men
    the LORD abhors.

  10. shematwater said,

    January 11, 2010 at 8:59 am

    HEATHER

    First, if you have to have faith to be saved than you must first choose to have faith, thus you have made a choice, or performed a work, and thus at least one work is required, that of Faith.

    Now, what you say about the sinful man finding salvation in Christ, and his faith giving him the works, I really can’t argue against it, and neither does LDS doctrine, which is what you seem to misunderstand. However, my question would be, what of a man who has faith, who truly believes in God and the power of the Atonement, and that he needs it in his life, but still willfully sins? What of these men? Are they still saved? After all, they have the faith. A great example is Cain, the first murderer. He spoke to God. He had the knowldge of God first hand, and yet he still willfully rebeled. Is he saved?

    Now, as to your objection about my comment concerning sin, I never once said any sin was justified. Sin is sin and must be dealt with. However, I will always contend that all sin is not equal, and that the motivation that drove us to sin will be taken into consideration.
    It is much like the courts of the United States. There are misdemeanors and Felonies. The judge has power to weight the sentence in accordance with the circumstances. In like manner there are sins of minor wrong, and there are sins of great evil, and each will be weighed according to the hearts of men.
    Now, there is Biblical evidence for this belief, even though people tend to ignore it.
    First, Matthew 12: 31-32 “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”
    Here we have Christ himself deviding Sin into two levels: that which is forgivable, and that which is not. There is only one sin that is Unforgivable, but it sets a president sin not being equal.
    Notice also that all sin SHALL be forgiven men. It does not say that it can be, but that it will be. While it gives no timeframe it is fairly plain that eventually everyone who does not commit this one Unpardonable sin sill receive forgiveness.
    Now, this would seem to support the idea of all sin being equal, which is why I go to the next reference.
    1 John 3: 15 “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.”
    Now, here we have another distinction made. John has stated that no murderer has Eternal life. Yet we know from Christ that murder is not the unpardonable sin, and thus will eventually be forgiven. How than is it that Murderers do not have eternal life? It is because murder is a more serious sin than any other (except that which is unpardonable) and even though forgiveness is eventually granted, a murderer will receive less of a reward than those who receive eternal life.
    We have two cases of sins being more serious than others, and receiving a more serious punishment. Is it not logical to believe that all sin is thus graded on the seriousness of the act commited, and not on a level field.

    Now, before you get to much into arguing against this, please understand that I really don’t care if you agree or not. My intent is to explain LDS doctrine, not preach. All I want (generally) is for people to have a better understanding of what the LDS teach.

  11. heathershairdos said,

    January 11, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    Dear Shem,

    You said, “First, if you have to have faith to be saved than you must first choose to have faith, thus you have made a choice, or performed a work, and thus at least one work is required, that of Faith.”

    This is incorrect. Faith is given to us when we embrace Christ, via the Holy Spirit. It is not a work of our own. Why?
    My church says it perfectly on their website:
    “All men, since the Fall, are dead in sins, Eph. 2:1-3, and inclined only to evil, Gen. 6:5; 8:21; Rom. 8:7. For this reason, and particularly because men regard the Gospel of Christ, crucified for the sins of the world, as foolishness, 1 Cor. 2:14, faith in the Gospel, or conversion to God, is neither wholly nor in the least part the work of man, but the work of God’s grace and almighty power alone, Phil. 1:29; Eph. 2:8; 1:19; — Jer. 31:18. Hence Scripture call the faith of men, or his conversion, a raising from the dead, Eph. 1:20; Col. 2:12, a being born of God, John 1:12, 13, a new birth by the Gospel, 1 Pet, 1:23-25, a work of God like the creation of light at the creation of the world, 2 Cor. 4:6.”

    THis is taken from http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=569

    Also, the reason why I disputed your claim that “one who sins to escape an earthly punishment will be judged less harshly than one who sins for the fun of it.” was not because I’m arguing that in God’s eyes one sin might be worse than another, but because I feel your remark implief that God accepts some sins as a sort of “necessary evil”. That’s the idea I got from the “sins to escape an earthly punishment” part of what you said. As far as we’re concerned, sin is sin and it’s never ok – whether it’s a seemingly tiny infraction or murder. God is the only one who can justly hold us accountable for our sins. I worried you were implying the idea of a “righteous sin” so to speak, such as someone who steals a medication to treat their dying loved one. Stealing is stealing, it’s wrong. That’s the only part I think we need to be concerned about, for when we start judging our own sins as being worse or not worse than another – I think we’re getting ourselves into trouble. We’re sinful and in need of Christ – that’s where our minds need to be at.

    You’ve used this verse a couple times now: Matthew 12: 31-32 “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

    I would like to say I believe you are misinterpreting this verse. I read that and know it to be saying that while all sorts of different of sins will be forgiven, but if you’re speaking against the Holy Spirit (which is to deny the faith that is necessary to be saved through Christ’s blood) and thus denying God’s grace, there is no way you can be saved. This verse is not addressing levels of sins, but the fact that if you deny the Holy Spirit, you’re not accepting God’s free gift of salvation. This leads me to believe that all manner of horrible sins we commit can be forgiven if we do NOT deny the Holy Spirit, thus accepting the gift of salvation. It’s a wonderful verse in that context!

    Remember, we cannot perform good works through the Holy Spirit until we are already saved and the Holy Spirit is within us! Additionally, a truly good work is not ours to take credit for since it is a fruit of the Spirit, thus it is of no importance to our salvation, though it does please God and show evidence of our faith. This proves the great lie Satan has told, that our works are necessary and thus we are in part responsible for our own salvation, is impossible.

  12. shematwater said,

    January 11, 2010 at 4:54 pm

    HEATHER

    First, you have no logic in your words. First, whether faith is the work or not, a work is still necessary. You speak of us accepting the gift of God. We must choose to accept it or not accept it. As it is a choice that we are making it is a work we are performing. Thus accepting the fgift of Grace and Faith would than be the work required.

    As to what your church says, if this is true than no man can be justly condemned. If it is all up to God than it is by his choice that some are saved and some are damned. Thus, if I am damned it is his fault, for he did not give me the gift. That is the logic of what you have said, and thus you have taught the doctrine of Predestination, or the idea that God chooses who will be saved and who will not, and it really doesn’t matter what we do. If you believe this it is fine, but it is definitely not what I read in the Bible.

    As to what I said earlier, and your misunderstanding of it, I never meant to imply a justified sin. Nor do I think we should start trying to judge our own actions as better or worse than others. What I was saying is that all things are considered by God, including the motivation behind the act, and all things will be taken into account when judgement is pronounced. This is simply the way God works. I do not mean to judge others or even pass judgement on myself. However, I can say that this concept is understood by most and is even part of our earthly laws, for special consideration is given to those who commit crime under duress. would it be better to have not committed the crime at all? Yes. But it is better than committing it for other reasons.

    As to performing good works before we are saved, I like the example of Naaman who was told to wash Seven times in Jordan and be healed. He lacked the faith, but after a little persuasion he performed the work, was healed, and then believed. Just an example of Good Works proceeding faith.

    Now, the other thing is, it really doesn’t matter how you interpret the scriptures. The question is can you understand the interpretation I have given, and can you see how it is gotten from the text of the Bible. Whether I am wrong or right does not really matter at this point. What matters (for my argument) is that what I say is possible.

  13. osbornekristen said,

    January 11, 2010 at 6:20 pm

    Heather really hit the nail on the head! Of course blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is the only sin that cannot be forgiven because it means, as Heather said, rejecting Christ and his gift of grace.

    Correct me if I am wrong, Shem, but don’t LDS believe that the Atonement gives EVERYONE eternal life (in essence….at least to the first level of Heaven)……even if he/she rejects Christ and his gift of grace on earth?? This directly contradicts scripture. Just read the gospel of John. Jesus says, over and over and over BELIEVE, BELIEVE, BELIEVE and you will have eternal life. And he says that those who don’t will not have it and perish! He makes it very clear that those who chose to deny his power to overcome sin and give life will not have eternal life with him but will perish…..John 3:16.

    John 8:24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.

    Just think of the thieves on the cross. I get that LDS doctrine teaches that the one who believed in Christ is JUST in paradise…..not the Celestial Kingdom. But, what about the other guy??? Is he in paradise too?? If you believe that the Atonement gives every man a ticket to Heaven regardless of belief and faith in Jesus’s power to save, then wouldn’t he be there as well……..at least in the lowest level with the other guy???

    The answer has to be no because the other thief committed blasphemy by rejecting Christ and cursing Him as he died on the Cross. If blasphemy is an unpardonable sin, then he is not forgiven and will not receive eternal life. They same goes for the average American who is taught the gospel of Jesus by a loved one and rejects it completely on earth. He too will not receive eternal life.

    Also, Satan and his angels (demons) know who Christ is but certianly do not trust Him as their Lord and Savior. One can know who Christ is and what history and even the Bible says about Him and still never accept him as the Lord of their life. It is not just enough to simply have a historical knowledge of Christ…….one MUST ask Christ to be their Lord and Savior. An act that Satan and his angels and the other thief on the cross never did and never will do . Therefore, they will perish…..as, will all men who fail to accept his saving gift of grace here on earth……after being taught the gospel=blasphemy against the HS.

  14. heathershairdos said,

    January 11, 2010 at 6:52 pm

    Dear Shem,

    First, in response to “Naaman who was told to wash Seven times in Jordan and be healed. He lacked the faith, but after a little persuasion he performed the work, was healed, and then believed. Just an example of Good Works proceeding faith.“:

    I don’t agree that this was an example “good work“, as my church and myself define a truly good work this way, via interpretation of scripture:
    Before God only those works are good which are done for the glory of God and the good of man, according to the rule of divine Law. Such works, however, no man performs unless he first believes that God has forgiven him his sins and has given him eternal life by grace, for Christ’s sake, without any works of his own John 15:4, 5.”

    Taken from: http://www.lcms.org/pages/internal.asp?NavID=571
    and I strongly suggest your read that article in it’s entirety.

    Good works, ones that are good in God’s eyes, never proceed faith.

    You also so, “What matters… is that what I saw is possible.” Again, I disagree through my knowledge and study in scripture. But clearly, you’re convinced of what you know. To this I just want to pose one last question, what if you’re wrong?

    According to you, if I’m wrong, I suffer the fate of a much lower rank in the after life. If Christianity is right (which by your logic in that last paragraph in your previous post, it’s possible) your fate is a far worse one to suffer. I just hope you have taken this possibility seriously in your heart. Predestination is a complicated topic and one many Christians have questions about – but of this I am certain: God WANTS you. His gift is free for the taking, all he asks is faith in Him (which I disagree on being a work, but rather, a choice.)

    Thank you for discussing this so deeply with me.

  15. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    January 11, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    One can know that “faith” is not a “work” by reading Ephesians 2:

    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.

    Even if you don’t believe you can be saved by faith alone, this passage clearly states that you are saved by faith and not by works. If faith were considered a work, it wouldn’t say that “through faith” is “not of works“.

  16. shematwater said,

    January 12, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    HEATHER

    First, I think you are misinterpreting the passage of John 15: 4-5. However, I do see your interpretation, and it seems to all depend on your definition. You define a Good work as something that occurs because of faith in Christ and his spirit working in your life.
    To me, a good work is any act that falls in line with the law of God. Thus, when a man is honest, regardless of what religion he is, he has done good. When he helps the poor and needy, regardless of his religion he has done good.
    The Good works you describe, and the only things you consider good works are those that I would say are Saving Works, which I agree we cannot do of ourselves, but need Christ to bear such fruit. With this definition I have no argument against what you say, and in truth, you seem to be very much in line with LDS doctrine.

    As to which one is right or wrong, I would have to disagree with you on what my eternal fate is. If I am wrong I have still put all my trust is Christ. He is the only one that can save me and I will freely admit it. I do the works because I believe he has commanded me to do so, not to earn my salvation. My Salvation is dependent on him, and him alone. Thus, if I am wrong I has still followed what the rest of Christianity teaches.

    KRISTEN
    You confuse terms. Eternal Life is to be exalted in the Celestial Kingdom and become like God. This is not given to all men through the atonement. John states that Murderers cannot have Eternal Life (1 John 3: 15). No, Salvation will be given, at least in part, to all those who do not blaspheme the Holy Ghost.
    Jesus did say to Believe, but he also said to do. Matthew 7: 22 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that DOETH the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

    As to the Thief, this idea of Just in paradise is a little silly. He was in paradise immediately after his death, yes, but that is only a temporary abode. I do not really know where he is now, but he will eventually enter heaven. In his case I think he may just make it to the Celestial Kingdom, but I really couldn’t tell you. As to the other, there is no way for him to make it to the Celestial, but he still has a hope of the Terrestial. He would not have been in paradise, but in Prison, where the wicked dead go to wait.

    I really think you need to actually learn the doctrine of the LDS church before you try to argue against it.

    LDSWoman

    Read verse ten as well. Here he states that we are to walk in Good works

    I don’t think people really understand the concept of Works and Faith in the LDS church. It is told very nicely in the book of Mosiah chapter two. In verse 23-24 “And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him. And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?”
    This is how it works. We must do as God has commanded or we cannot hope to gain eternal life. However, even if we did good all our days we would still need the Atonement of Christ, for we are indebted to God and cannot repay that debt. In verse 21 King Benjamin puts it like this “I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.”

  17. osbornekristen said,

    January 12, 2010 at 11:23 pm

    Shem,

    I think You need to understand what Jesus taught in the Bible before you argue against it! I find it interesting that if you go to lds.org and read the def. for eternal life…..the only biblical scripture ref. given underneath the def. is John 3:16. Which even the youngest children know by heart to say, “Whosoever believeth in me will have eternal life.” Jesus in no way adds, “However, to inherit eternal life requires our “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3)” as commanded by your church. In fact, he was talking to Nicodemus when he stated this…who was a Pharisee and believed that following the law and being obedient equaled eternal life!

    Is salvation simply becoming immortal or is it more than that to you? You told Heather that you believe your salvation has nothing to do with you and all about Jesus and is dependent on Him alone. In it’s def of salvation lds.org says, “through this covenant relationship, followers of Christ are assured salvation from the eternal consequences of sin if they are obedient.” Notice the word obedient. So, it isn’t just about Jesus is it? At least that is not what they say. YOU must be obedient……..but how obedient. How perfect must you be? Do you have some sort of chart that defines this?? How many mess ups can you have?

    Throughout the gospel, we see over and over Jesus speaking the words ETERNAL LIFE. HE says over and over BELIEVE in me and you will have eternal life……..so is he saying……believe in me and you will be immortal?? He says those who don’t believe will perish……so obviously they won’t be immortal. But, the bible uses the words eternal life not immortality. It simply says believe and you will receive it. And, the verse from Matt. 7, Doing the will of the Father IS believing in his son and accepting him as savior!!! Those people crying Lord, Lord and not being let in are like the parable Jesus taught about the Pharisee and the tax collector in Luke 18:

    11The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
    13And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. 14I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

    There are lots of folks, like the Pharisee, who know the historical man called Jesus but have no trust in his power to save and lack an intimate, personal relationship with him. They think that the works they do in Christ’s name will gain them eternal glory……but they have missed the mark. They are of the belief that their works……what THEY did…..are earning their heavenly reward. These are the folks Christ is speaking of in that verse. Just flip on the TV and I’m sure you can find some TV-evangelist who “claims” to preach in Christ’s name and brags about those he has healed and how much he has GIVEN to others. No matter the works this man has done or how many times he has claimed to be from Jesus…..if his heart is not right with God and he lacks saving faith……he will be turned away for he did not do the will of God which is to know and accept that eternal life is found in grace alone.

    Jesus says in this parable that the man who confesses and acknowledges that he is a failure and sinner is the one who is justified. That is what Christianity is all about. Recognizing that we are sinners and turning our lives over to Christ. We are justified when we accept that our failures are covered by his blood and that our eternal security rests in Jesus not our own obedience to the law. We are obedient because we are justified not to BE justified!!

    And the whole murder deal……you took that verse in 1 john 3:15 out of context. It is speaking about real Christ-like love and that we are supposed to lay down our lives for our Christian brothers. Verse fourteen says that a person who does not love is headed for eternal death (or abiding in death KJV). It is explaining that hating your brother is like having a heart like a murderer…..who is without love. It does not say that murder cannot be forgiven in this passage……but simply a person that does not love and does not have Christ’s love living within them faces eternal death! I agree!! Christians who have the HS inside of them LOVE others! If you don’t have any love……you don’t know Christ….who IS LOVE!! It also never says that one who hates or murders cannot be fully forgiven.

    I John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It doesn’t say except for murder……it says ALL unrighteousness!!

  18. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    January 13, 2010 at 12:52 am

    Shem, you wrote:

    To me, a good work is any act that falls in line with the law of God. Thus, when a man is honest, regardless of what religion he is, he has done good. When he helps the poor and needy, regardless of his religion he has done good.

    When you say “To me” that means you are using your own opinion and logic to determine God’s truth. But, truly, all that really matters is what God sees as a good work. Thankfully, God has already revealed what He sees as a good work. The Holy Spirit has inspired the writer of Hebrews to testify that without faith, it is impossible to please Him:

    But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

    It doesn’t matter if someone thinks they are doing wonderful works, if those works don’t please God. Jesus testified that on Judgment Day:

    Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-23).

    Notice verse 21 that Kristen mentioned where Jesus says that not everyone shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; “but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

    What is the will of the Father? Just as Kristen told you, Jesus has also told you: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

    You wrote:
    I don’t think people really understand the concept of Works and Faith in the LDS church. It is told very nicely in the book of Mosiah chapter two. In verse 23-24 “And now, in the first place, he hath created you, and granted unto you your lives, for which ye are indebted unto him. And secondly, he doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you; and therefore he hath paid you. And ye are still indebted unto him, and are, and will be, forever and ever; therefore, of what have ye to boast?” This is how it works. We must do as God has commanded or we cannot hope to gain eternal life.

    Maybe you are just taking these passages “way to literally”. How do you decide whether a passage means what it says or whether it shouldn’t be taken literally? Do you just take any passage that disagrees with your opinion and determine that God must not really have meant what He said?

  19. shematwater said,

    January 13, 2010 at 10:11 am

    KRISTEN

    You need to learn more about the church doctrine, and not just go with a few quotes here and there.

    The Salvation as describe on the church website is speaking of full, complete salvation, which is the same as Eternal life. This is only given to the faithful obediant. However, all those who enter into heaven, regardless of what level or degree it is, have gained at least a portion of Salvation. All those who are not exalted as gods in heaven will deal with the eternal consequences of sin, which is an ending to their progression. However, all those who enter heaven have received a portion of the saving grace of the atoment, and thus have, at least in part, received of salvation.

    Speaking of the Pharisee and Publican, I would agree that the Pharisee is depending on his works, and his works alone. However, this is not the case in Matthew 7. In this the people Christ is speaking about are depending on their faith. Read it again.
    “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied IN THY NAME? and IN THY NAME have cast out devils? and IN THY NAME done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”
    What is the argument used here. The argument is not “We did this so we should be saved.” The argument is “Because we believed in you we did all this, so why are we not saved?” They had the faith, they believed in Christ, for knew him when he came, and had performed many works in his name. However, they were not known (or excepted) by Christ, and thus do not enter the Kingdom of the Father. The statement that “not all who say Lord Lord” is saying that not all who believe.

    As to the will of the Father being our faith in the Atonement, I would agree, for without that faith we cannot be saved. However, it all comes back to James chapter two, where we are told that Faith without works is dead. Thus, the will of the Father is for us to have enough faith that we are willing to do the works required.

    As to the whole murder thing, you really need to get a better understanding of the Scriptures. Read the whole thing again, and than answer this: Is it possible to not love, but to not hate? In verse 14 it says “abideth in death.” This would indicate that they are already dead, and have not yet gained life. Thus, in this context John is stating that those who love not remain in the state of spiritual death that was caused by the Fall. In verse 15 he states that hate have not eternal life. He switches from a present condition (that of the fall) to a future condition (that of the eternities). Murderers do not have eternal life, meaning they cannot gain this gift from God. However, those who do not love are simply remaining in the state they have been in.

    LDSWOMAN

    See my comment above about the Matthew referance. As to nothing pleasing God without faith, I have no problem with this at all. Without Faith we cannot be saved. If we are not saved in the highest levels of heaven God is not pleased, for he desires for us to have all the blessings he is able to impart. Thus, when we fail to gain these blessings he is not pleased. As we cannot gain these blessings without Faith, nothing done without faith truly pleases God.
    However, just because it does not please God does not mean it is not good.

    As to taking things literally, I take those things literally that can be taken literally, and those things that can’t I don’t. The Mosiah quote can be taken literally for two reasons. It does not contradict any other doctrine, and there is nothing in the chapter that would cause the meaning to change.

    As to my opinion, I am speaking of definitions, something that changes for every person, even if that change is slight. However, the doctrine of the church agrees with my definition, and so I am safe in using it, as long as I explain what it is to those with whom I am discussing.

  20. heathershairdos said,

    January 20, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    [To have Faith in Christ] means, of course, trying to do all that He says. There would be no sense in saying you trusted a person if you would not take his advice. Thus if you have really handed yourself over to Him, it must follow that you are trying to obey Him. But trying in a new way, a less worried way. Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions, but inevitably wanting to act in a certain way because a first faint gleam of Heaven is already inside you.
    C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

  21. shematwater said,

    January 21, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    HEATHER

    This is a very good quote. I especially love that he says Christ has “begun to save you” and that it is only the “first faint gleam of heaven.” It seems to be a perfect discription of the truths of the Gospel. Faith is only the beginning, the first faint gleam, but it cannot stop there.

  22. heathershairdos said,

    January 28, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Yes, but that part is better in it’s entire context:

    “Not doing these things in order to be saved, but because He has begun to save you already. Not hoping to get to Heaven as a reward for your actions…”

    C.S. Lewis was a fantastic author with great insight. Sometimes the Holy Spirit works on us for a while, drawing us out from our lives in darkness, before we become truly saved by our faith. This is what Lewis meant by “begun to save you.”

    Nice try.

    😉

  23. shematwater said,

    February 2, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    I agree that we should do righteous works for righteousness sake. Read the whole thing and you will actually see a great similarity between what I have said and what he says.

    We do not perform our actions to gain salvation, because he has begun to save us already. In other words our actions come after that initial salvation, or beginning of salvation. They are not to start the process, but they are required to complete the process. It is not a desire to gain heaven through your actions, but to be ready to enter heaven when you get there, for that first faint gleam is in us.

    I really can’t say what C. S. Lewis was thinking, but I have read this book, as well as others by him, and I have to say that no man to my knowledge has come so close to the truth but still miss the mark. He is not a prophet, but a philosopher, and thus what he says is not binding on anyone, it is just a facinating read.


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