Did Jesus Really Mean What He Said?

I really enjoyed teaching the 5th and 6th grade Sunday School class at my church. It was such a treat getting to know each child and sharing my faith with them. While I was surprised to discover how often these young kids talked to their LDS friends about spiritual matters, I wasn’t surprised that they were confused about the differences between beliefs. To help, I came up with a few illustrations to show the fundamental differences. These illustrations helped to contrast some of the Lessons being taught to their LDS friends with what the Bible teaches.

Today I share with you an exercise I used with my Sunday School Class that contrasts two very important and fundamental differences between Mormonism and Christianity. While both the Book of Mormon (Alma 11:37) and the Bible (Ephesians 5:5) agree that “no unclean thing” can enter the Kingdom of Heaven; the two differences are seen when we look at what God truly demands of us and at His eternal consequences if we fail.

According to LDS beliefs, our efforts at keeping God’s commands are more important to God than how well we keep them. Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated: “There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life], there would be only one saved person in eternity.” LDS leaders claim that the majority of people will spend eternity in one of the Kingdoms of Heaven. On Judgment Day, even those who never come to faith in Jesus, including those who hated God and were the world’s vilest sinners, will eventually go to a kingdom of glory.

These LDS beliefs are in direct disagreement with the Bible. When Jesus commanded us to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father, He really meant it. There is not one single Bible verse that lessens Jesus’ demands for perfection. There is not one passage that claims our best effort is sufficient to gain eternal life. Every Judgment Day scenario in the Bible shows the consequence for any sin is eternity in Hell with Satan.

For my Sunday School illustration I bring out two chairs. Each chair has a piece of paper taped to it, one with the word “God” written on it and the other with the word “Me”. These chairs are placed apart from each other, symbolizing the distance that separates man from God. The point of the exercise is to determine what God requires from man to reach Him and dwell with Him eternally. In this exercise I represent Jesus.

Illustrating LDS beliefs, I place the two chairs on opposite walls of a classroom. The distance between the two chairs is symbolic of the degree of righteousness required by God before man can be judged worthy to dwell in His presence. As I have just shown, this distance is something far short of perfection. Each child stands on the chair labeled “Me” and attempts to jump to the chair labeled “God”. How far they jump is symbolic of their “degree of righteousness” on earth and determines which Kingdom of Glory they will go to. Not one child has ever been able to jump all the way from one chair to the other—but they all tried as hard as they could. No matter how far each one made it, I go to them in my role as “Jesus” and help them walk to where the “God” chair is. This was symbolic of how LDS doctrine teaches Christ’s Atonement saves each person “after all they can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). The fact that they jumped indicated they believed they had to do their best before Jesus would help them. This also shows they did not believe Jesus had fully met God’s demands in their place.

Next we do our exercise with chairs according to what the Bible teaches. Since a classroom really isn’t large enough for this illustration, we pick up our chairs and go outside. We go to a side road next to the Church. I walk as far down the road as I can and put the chair labeled “God” on it. Then, I walk back to the other chair labeled “Me”. This distance is symbolic of the perfection required from God. Each child stands on the chair which is so far away from the “God” chair that it is hard to see. Then, I explain the rules according to the Bible. Symbolic of obeying Jesus’ command to be as perfect as Heavenly Father, they have to jump to where God is. If they don’t make it, in my role as Jesus, I will say to them: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

Guess what happens with every child I have ever done this exercise with? They look at how far away the chair labeled “God” is, and then, looking down at me they say “I can’t do it—it’s impossible!!” They won’t even try! In my role as Jesus, I smile and pick each one up and carry them down to the “God” chair. Carrying them is symbolic that Jesus does it for them—they do not and can not help. The fact that they did not attempt to jump indicated they believed me—that anything short of God’s stated requirements was insufficient. Symbolically, instead of attempting to do something that was impossible, they put their faith solely in their Savior and not in themselves.

Can you understand what my illustration exposes? The words from the LDS Lesson explain the true reason why Jesus had to come to rescue us: “There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life], there would be only one saved person in eternity…” He came to do it for us—because we can’t do it!

These words expose why faithful Mormons will not gain eternal life. Believing that you don’t have to “be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life]” means that you don’t believe your Savior. It means you won’t say “I can’t do it” and turn to your Savior who did it for you. It means that you won’t give up trying to gain eternal life by your faith and obedience. It means that you will stand before God on Judgment Day in your own woefully imperfect works of righteousness: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Is 64:6)

There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If Jesus had not come to earth to be perfect for us, in our place, no one could be saved in eternity. Christ’s mission was to meet God’s requirements to be perfect and live all God’s laws strictly, wholly, and completely. Christ accomplished His mission and met all God’s requirements for eternal life. He did this for you—in your place, as your substitute. It is through faith that He has met all the requirements for you, that you are credited with His righteousness. Only through faith in His atoning sacrifice will anyone meet God’s command to be as perfect as He is: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all… For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-14)

All who honestly believe they are credited with righteousness through faith respond to this gift with love, praise and thanksgiving. They will do “all they can do” voluntarily. Not because it is required to gain something for themselves, but simply out of love for their Savior.
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References for LDS beliefs, taken from two Lessons for 12 & 13 year olds:

Explain that we came to earth to show that we would do everything the Lord commanded us and serve him with all our might, mind, and strength…read Matthew 5:48: [Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”] “What commandment is given here? Has any person other than Jesus lived a perfect life? (No.) What do you think the Savior meant when he told us to be perfect?”…Enoch knew that in responding to God the test is not our capability but our availability… “There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life], there would be only one saved person in eternity… Explain that none of us knows when the end of his mortal life will be, but if we are on the right path we will continue until we become as our Father in Heaven is, and we will be able to live with him forever…” (Aaronic Priesthood Teachers Manual 2, Lesson 1: “Who Am I?” pages 2-3)

The Truth about Heaven and Hell Quiz…Have class members mark each statement as “True” or “False.”
1. After we have been resurrected and judged, each of us will dwell in one of three kingdoms of glory. True. Just as there are different degrees of righteousness on the earth, there are kingdoms of differing glory in the next life… To reward many different levels of faithfulness, there will be “many mansions” (see John 14:2)…
5. Hell is a place of never-ending suffering where sinners go. Most of mankind will be there forever because of their wickedness. False. Hell, or spirit prison, is a place for people who have rejected the gospel and people who have died without a knowledge of the gospel. The gospel is preached to them there, and those who accept the gospel and repent of their sins will be released and allowed to enter paradise until the Resurrection and Judgment (see D&C 138:29–34). Most of those who do not accept the gospel there will have to suffer for their own sins but will eventually be resurrected and go to a kingdom of glory (see D&C 76:81–85, 98–106).
” Preparing for Exaltation, Teachers Manual, Lesson 8: “The Three Kingdoms of Glory”, pages 38-39.

References for Biblical beliefs:

Now, let’s look at the Bible and determine if Jesus really meant what he said in Matthew 5:48. Reading the passage in context we see that Jesus gave this command while preaching His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5, 6, & 7). In His Sermon we discover that Jesus gave many difficult commands. We read that we commit sins of commission by swearing, getting angry, or judging others. Lusting after a woman is the very same sin as committing adultery. He also gave many commands that expose our sins of omission; such as loving our enemies, forgiving others and turning the other cheek. Amongst these and numerous others comes Jesus’ ultimate command: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Reading this passage in context it is quite evident that Jesus really did mean what He said.

Another aspect of studying scripture is to let the Bible interpret itself. That means that the rest of scripture must agree with our conclusion, and it does! There is not one Bible passage that disagrees with or lessens Jesus’ command to be as perfect as Heavenly Father. James’ testimony supports Jesus’ command: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (2:10). The most compelling evidence that shows Jesus really meant what He said is seen when we read what God’s stated consequences for sin are: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Galatians 3:10b). Jesus taught what happens on Judgment Day to those who merely committed sins of omission: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink.” (Matthew 25:41-46).

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66 Comments

  1. shematwater said,

    March 29, 2010 at 11:37 am

    I have to say that the enalagy is not truly accurate to what is taught.

    Example: “The fact that they jumped indicated they believed they had to do their best before Jesus would help them. This also shows they did not believe Jesus had fully met God’s demands in their place.”

    First, the fact that we “jump” indicates that we are willing to do what God and Christ command of us before expecting any reward. It is good sense.
    Second, it does not show that we do not believe Jesus fully met God’s demands. This is simply a false statement. We do believe it. The law was answered by Christ in its fullness.

    Now I am curious to know how many of the children would have tried jumping your further distance if you had told them that if they just jumped as far as they could you would carry them the rest of the way. Children are smart. Tell them this and they will jump.
    On this “Christian” part of the explanation you have hit it right on the head. “I can’t make it so why do anything. I’ll just wait for Christ to do it for me.” The LDS doctrine teaches us that good works are required, while the rest of Christianity teaches that since we can never do enough we don’t have to do anything.

  2. echoechoecho said,

    March 29, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    If you jump from one chair to the other having Jesus pick you up where you land and take you the rest of the way, you do not believe that Jesus has fully met God’s demands in your place. Here’s what I mean. Let’s say that the farthest one can jump is 3 feet and the span between the chairs is 10 feet. Then the math dictates that Jesus has only met 70% of God’s demands in your place after you have met the other 30% first.

    Shem said: “On this “Christian” part of the explanation you have hit it right on the head. “I can’t make it so why do anything. I’ll just wait for Christ to do it for me.”

    We don’t wait for Christ to do it for us. He has already done it for us. Jesus has met 100% of God’s demands in our place.

    While you are attempting to jump your 30%, there is always the chance that you will not try as hard as you can and only jump 29%. This means you will fall short of what is expected of you. This means that Jesus won’t put in his 70% because you didn’t do all you can do first.

    We on the other hand were carried to the other chair already. This isn’t something that happens in the future, It’s been done already. Now instead of jumping in fear or jumping to earn the reward, we jump with joy and thanks that we were carried there. We do that now, not when we arrive in heaven.

  3. shematwater said,

    March 30, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    ECHO

    He answered the demands of justice and law. Let us not consider only those who can jump, but those who can’t. Do this same exercise with a kid in a wheel chair, or one on cruches. How far can they jump? They can’t, and yet you would still take them over to God.

    I think what would be a better way of explaining the true doctrine of the LDS church is to tell the children they have five seconds the cross the distance, and then allow them four more steps (as the free gift of grace). After that you help all those who honestly tried, but couldn’t quite make it (such as the physically handicap) the rest of the way a reward for their effects. Afterwards you explain that all those who are remain in the room have received of Salvation, but only those who truly worked sit with God.
    This is a much clearer, and more accurate analogy than that presented. Even this is not really accurate. After all, if Christ wasn’t there everyone would be kicked out of the room as none could gain salvation (which is what the room would represent).

    You, on the other hand, had a free ride and are now able to do what ever you want as Christ has already paid the price and there can be no more law set against you.

  4. echoechoecho said,

    March 30, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Shem said: “You, on the other hand, had a free ride and are now able to do what ever you want as Christ has already paid the price and there can be no more law set against you.”

    Since God has given us a free ride, we have come to know and understand his awesome love for us through that very event. After all, it’s really amazing that God would give us a free ride rather than make us live our whole lives in fear of not knowing if we have ever jumped far enough. That’s not loving, that’s cruel. And because God has first loved us in this way, we now love him. When a person but loves God, they can do whatever they want because those who love God will want to do what God wants them to do. When you love someone, you can’t help but want to please them.

    There is no more law set against us, the law has been nailed to the cross, crucified!:

    Col 2:13-14 “…He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. ”

    The law is only for those who aren’t yet saved:

    1 Timothy 1:9 “We also know that law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious; ”

    Scripture clearly teaches that those who attempt to jump from one chair to the other are irreligious, unholy etc. The reason is because they reject the only Savior of the world and we define that as “unbelief”. A person who dies in “unbelief” commits the unpardonable sin.

  5. shematwater said,

    March 31, 2010 at 8:24 am

    ECHO

    Regardless of what you personally believe teaching a free ride is going to inevitably lead people to do evil on the false assumption that it doesn’t matter. They will stop trying to do good, as you teach them they can’t succeed. It is a destructive doctrine.

    As to the love of God, I find his love so much fuller in the LDS church than anywhere else. In truth the way you describe it makes God out to be a selfish being who really has not desire towards us, only towards making himself better. In your doctrine you cannot improve yourself. You cannot make yourself better than what you are. And God will not make you better than a certain point, because that would make him less than he is.

    In LDS doctrine God loves us enough to want us to be the greatest we can be, and he is willing to do what it takes to push us to our full potential. No one ever reached their full potential by getting a free ride, and he knows this. Does that me that we live in fear that we haven’t done enough? Of course not, and to claim such shows a great ignorance concerning the LDS doctrine. We can know, we can have that peace and assurance. But it is not given to us for nothing.

    Scripture teaches that those who do not jump are condemned. Look at Matthew 25. Of the Ten Virgins five prepared, did what they needed (or jumped) and five did not. All believed, as all were waiting for the bridegroom, and all expected to be admitted to the feast. But only those who had the oil, or had done what was necessary (jumped) were allowed in.
    Again, with the ten talents, all believed for all waited for the master. But only two performed the actions required (or jumped). The same is true of the Sheep and Goats, for the goats fully expected to be admitted into heaven, but they had not done that which was necessary (jumped).

    The scriptures you site reference the Law of Moses, that was added because of transgression 430 years after the original law was had by the ancients (see Galatians 3). That law was nailed to the cross, with all its ceremonies and rites. The Law of God was not.

  6. echoechoecho said,

    March 31, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    Shem said: “Regardless of what you personally believe teaching a free ride is going to inevitably lead people to do evil on the false assumption that it doesn’t matter. They will stop trying to do good, as you teach them they can’t succeed. It is a destructive doctrine. As to the love of God, I find his love so much fuller in the LDS church than anywhere else. In truth the way you describe it makes God out to be a selfish being who really has not desire towards us, only towards making himself better. In your doctrine you cannot improve yourself. You cannot make yourself better than what you are. And God will not make you better than a certain point, because that would make him less than he is.”

    We don’t teach them that they can’t succeed. We teach them that eternal life in the celestial kingdom is a free gift right from the start. From the moment they are born again. This is reflected or mirrored in the way parents give their children a home right from the moment they are born. Before they do anything good. It’s only in this loving environment where certainty, security and assurance is given the child because of the sole unconditional love of the parents. It’s only in this enviroment that a child can grow and improve themselves and become better people. So not only do we NOT teach that they CAN’T succeed, we teach them that this is the ONLY way they will ever succeed!

    According to LDS teachings, the parents give birth to a child but that child cannot live with the parents until they have met a whole list of conditions first. There is no certainty, security and assurance for this child and that is because even though the parents may say they love that child, they really don’t love that child. Their love is conditional. The child has to work for his own assurance, certainty and security. The child is only forgiven if he meets all the conditions first! Of course this is a “selfish being[parents] who really has not desire towards us, only towards making himself better” just as you yourself have stated.

    Shem said: “In LDS doctrine God loves us enough to want us to be the greatest we can be, and he is willing to do what it takes to push us to our full potential. No one ever reached their full potential by getting a free ride, and he knows this. Does that me that we live in fear that we haven’t done enough? Of course not, and to claim such shows a great ignorance concerning the LDS doctrine. We can know, we can have that peace and assurance. But it is not given to us for nothing.”

    Children only reach their full potential after having been given a free ride into their parents home at birth and loved unconditionally thereafter. All of that given apart from anything the child has done or will do. Children who must do something to gain that assurance and peace and love are children of cruel parents.

  7. shematwater said,

    April 1, 2010 at 8:06 am

    ECHO

    It seems we have had this conversation before, but since I cannot find the thread I will summerize.

    We are not little children. We are the children of God, just as I am the son of my father here on Earth. I am 25. I no longer live with my father here on earth as I did when I was a little child. If I did live with him now most people would consider this a very bad life style, and I would agree.

    As to our heavenly Father, we had a home with him, while we were spirits. He didn’t throw any of us out, but loved and nurtured us with all the care and power he possessed. However, just as children leave home here on Earth when they come of age, we had reached the age when we needed to leave (kind of going off to college). Thus, in this life he is not treating us as little children. He is treating us as grown men and women, because that is what we are. As such the Christian view of things portrays a parent who simply doesn’t want to allow his children to grow and progress. He is a possive being whose only thought is to keep us under his control so he can feel important.
    However, the LDS view shows a loving Father who seems the need for us to grow, to progress, and is willing to do everything he can to assist us in that progression. However, he cannot do it for us, just as our Earthly Fathers cannot (or should not) raise our children, or do our jobs. If he did we would not progress.

    Your view has God treating us all as infants, while the LDS God treats us like adults. If we were infants I might agree that your view shows more love, but I do not believe we are infants, and as such your view does not show love, but selfish control.

  8. echoechoecho said,

    April 1, 2010 at 9:54 am

    Your thoughts are unscriptural.

    In this world when we are brought to faith it is therein that we are BORN again. It is then that we become spiritual infants, for the word “BORN” speaks of infants not adults, even though many are physically mature adults. The Scriptures speak of adults as being mere infants in Christ:

    1 Corinthians 3:1 ” Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly—mere INFANTS in Christ.”

    Ephesians 4:14 “Then we will no longer be INFANTS, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming.”

    Once we are ‘born again’, mere infants in Christ, we grow and mature spiritually from that point on.

    Shem said: ” If we were infants I might agree that your view shows more love, but I do not believe we are infants, and as such your view does not show love, but selfish control.”

    Scripturally speaking we do begin our faith life as infants of God. Second, I agree with you that my view does show more love. It’s an amazing love. Nowhere does my view say that we remain spiritual infants throughout our lives as you insinuate.

    In your view, since you are physically born as spiritual adults, there is no room for being “born again” as scripture teaches. In your view we are all children of God so there is no room for being “adopted” as God’s sons as scripture teaches. Your view is unscriptural.

    If you believe you are born on earth as a spiritual adult then you are expected to act like one. The father is perfectly Holy, perfectly righteous in every way and without sin. Does your life mirror that maturity now? Did your life mirror that maturity the moment you were physically born here on earth when even then you were considered a spiritual adult? If not, what is your reason or excuse? If we are born here as spiritual adults, why go home to the celestial kingdom at all, shouldn’t mature adults buy their own eternal home instead of moving back in with heavenly father?

    If you were spiritual infants and children in pre mortality, then why weren’t you already taught everything we Christians are only learning in this life (i.e. morals, obedience to heavenly Father, the love of the father etc) All of that is something that takes place beginning in infancy and continuing on throughout childhood by parents who love their children. Why are you only learning this in your spiritual adulthood? Why does God send you to college to learn these things? Why is it that in your infancy and childhood, you were then left without guidance, instruction, discipline etc and as a result, without love, until you became a spiritually mature adult? And if you are born into this world as a spiritual adult having lived life as a spiritual infant and child in premortality, what do verses like the one below state about your God and the way he brings up his children in premortality to maturity if maturity is something we reach at physical birth:

    Psalm 51:5 “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.”

    Because you believe in premortalilty, your God has therefore raised spiritual infants into mature adult sinners! That’s all he accomplished in your infancy and childhood!

    Yet your heaven with it’s 3 levels isn’t like a home, it’s more like a corporation. We aren’t God’s children, we are employees working our way up the corporate ladder. Those who put forth the most effort move on up the ladder and get the highest salary. Only the hardest workers in the corporation moving up have contact with the CEO. Those on lower levels of the ladder never have anything to do with the CEO, they only deal with their supervisors. They aren’t considered worthy to have contact with the CEO.

    BUT, none of this is the point I am trying to emphasize. The point we are discussing is what happens to us in the moment when we are brought to faith and therein, born again. This can happen at any physical age, even old age, but whatever the physical age it happens at, it makes that person a spiritual infant in Christ.

    It is in this exact moment, that we are given the certainty, security and assurance of eternal life in the celestial kingdom because of the sole unconditional love of Heavenly Father. It is only after this point that we grow and mature in our faith from the point of being a spiritual infant in Christ. It’s not our physical age that determines our spiritual maturity. We don’t remain as infants.

  9. shematwater said,

    April 2, 2010 at 11:19 am

    ECHO

    I never said we were spiritual adults. I said we were spirit adults, which is a very different thing.

    The verses you site change nothing. Paul is speaking in terms of knowledge, and understanding. When we first come into the faith we have a babes understanding of the Gospel, and so we must be instructed in the manner that a little child is instructed. This does not mean we are to be treated as infants.
    I am as little child when it comes to painting, meaning that you can’t ask me to paint like the masters on my first lesson. However, if I was to take painting lessons I would not want the teacher to treat me like a kid.
    It is the same in the Gospel. We are babes, in that we don’t understand the gospel when we first come to it. Thus we are given the basics first, building up to a greater knowledge (Milk before meat). But we are still expected to live that which we do know.

    As to learning moraltiy in this life, you have no understanding of LDS doctrine if you can actual claim what you do concerning it. You are takin gonly that which I have said here and running away with it.
    We did learn all that in our pre-Earth life, but we have a vail placed on our minds in mortality that blocks our memories of that life. We are still all born with what is called “The Light of Christ.” This is the conscience of each man, that little voice in the back of every persons head that tells them when something they are engaging in is wrong. We still have the morals we learned in the pre-existance.
    Of course, we are also mortal. As spirit we did not have all the desires and needs that mortality brings with it. We had not experienced these things. The whole point of this life is have these experiences and prove that we can retain the morals we have in the midst of them.

    God did not raise a bunch of sinners. The vaste majority of all men born on this earth are good people who hold onto their morals and listen to their conscience. However, there are those who are crafty in this life, as there were those in the pre-existance, and they lead people astray. Because we do not have that memory of our previous life people can be fooled into many foolish beliefs. But that is the whole test of mortality.

    As to your main point, I have to disagree. I still do not see it making us a spiritual infant, with the explanation as given above. What it does is makes us as innoccent as an infant, but we do not remain that way.
    (and just a note on being born again: to be spiritually dead simply means to be outside the presence of God, which was the immediate result of the Fall of Adam. The be born again is thus coming back into the presence of God. There is, in truth, no Spiritual age. You are either in God’s presence and thus alive, or out of his presence and thus dead. As such, the LDS doctrine is perfectly aligned with the idea of being born again.)

  10. Joel Duggins said,

    April 6, 2010 at 10:44 pm

    Latterdaysaintwoman,
    Your cited LDS teachings seem to contrast sharply with Spencer Kimball: “It is normal for children to try, They fall and get up again, numerous times before they can be certain of their footing. But adults, who have gone through these learning periods, must determine what they will do, and then do it.” Other contrasts are LDS scripture passages dealing with the concept of agency. Unless I misunderstand it, LDS doctrine states that men actually have the ability to (in your analogy) jump from one chair to the other, if they really try their hardest. Is this merely an example of inconsistency in LDS teachings?

  11. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    April 6, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Hi Joel,

    Yes, LDS doctrine does state that men actually have the ability to “jump from one chair to the other“. And, it also claims that men just have to try hard to be perfect; which is an example of inconsistency in LDS teachings. President Kimball was Prophet while I was LDS and he taught that man could become perfect. He linked perfection with the LDS doctrine of becoming a god. According to him, progressing to perfection was how a person became a god. “Man can transform himself, and he must. Man has in himself the seeds of godhood, which can germinate and grow and develop. As the acorn becomes the oak, the mortal man becomes a god. It is within his power to lift himself by his very bootstraps from the plane on which he finds himself to the plane on which he should be. It may be a long, hard lift with many obstacles, but it is a real possibility. … To be perfect, one can turn to many areas as a starting place. … He or she must become the perfect husband, the perfect wife, the perfect father, the perfect mother, the perfect leader, and the perfect follower.” October 1985 Ensign, page 3, Spencer W. Kimball

    Kimball’s words made it very clear that he believed perfection was attainable. Speaking of Matthew 5:48 he said: “Being perfect means to triumph over sin. This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise and kind. He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal.” Spencer W. Kimball, quoted in Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles, p. 386.

    Today the focus on an achievable perfection has changed. Ensign articles rarely exhort people to be perfect. Instead they discuss the perils of becoming too stressed by working too hard at being perfect. President Hinckley exemplifies this shift from an absolute requirement of perfection to a subjective target of “trying hard”. “I know we are not perfect men. We know the perfect way, but we do not always act according to our knowledge. But I think that for the most part we are trying. We are trying to be the kind of men our Father would have us be. That is a very high objective, and I commend all of you who are trying to reach it.” November 2005 Ensign, page 60, Gordon B. Hinckley.

    The predominate message today is that “all you can do” is good enough. This message, like Kimball’s, is supported by the Book of Mormon: “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.

  12. shematwater said,

    April 7, 2010 at 7:28 am

    JOEL

    There is not inconsistancy in the LDS doctrine, None of us could jump from one chair to another (using the analogy) and the prophets have never stated this. It is only through the atonement of Christ that it is made possible for us to cross that distance.
    Read my a alterations to the analogy given.

    We can be perfect, but that perfection is not required in this life. What is required in this life is the desire to be perfect, and the effect to attain that desire. This has always been the doctrine of the church from the time of Joseph Smith. If we do this we can continue to progress in the next life until we attain perfection.
    It is, however, doctrine that Perfection can be attained in this life, but not that it is required in this life.

  13. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    April 7, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Shem, you wrote:

    We can be perfect, but that perfection is not required in this life. What is required in this life is the desire to be perfect… If we do this we can continue to progress in the next life until we attain perfection.

    Can you give me any Bible passages that support these two teachings?

    1) Perfection is not required in this life: what is required is the desire to be perfect;

    2) Perfection is not required in this life: God will give us more time to become perfect after we die.

  14. shematwater said,

    April 8, 2010 at 5:49 pm

    LDSWOMAN

    I am not going to be baited into that trap. You know that it is not taught directly in the Bible as well as I do. But then we weren’t discussing the Bible, now were we. We were discussing the teachings of the Leaders of the LDS church and LDS doctrine.

    You made a claim to inconsistancy in LDS doctrine, and I corrected the great error that you were making. This is all. If all you can say is that it isn’t in the Bible than you have no real proof that what I say is not correct. It is stated in the Book of Mormon, a book of scripture just as authoritative as the Bible, and one that has been called the “Key Stone” of the LDS religion. As such, for me to state that it is the doctrine of the church is perfectly true. To say it has always been the doctrine is also true, as the Book of Mormon was before the church was organized, and thus one of the earliest sources of doctrine.

  15. Joel Duggins said,

    April 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Thank you, latterdaysaintwoman, I appreciate the clarification.

    Shem, what you tell me does not seem to match with other LDS teachings. What about this quote, from your Apostle Bruce R. McConkie:
    Thus the false and heretical doctrine that people who fail to live the law in this life (having had an opportunity to do so) will have a further chance of salvation in the life to come is a soul destroying doctrine, a doctrine that lulls its adherents into carnal security and thereby denies them a hope of eternal salvation.

    IF what McConkie says is true, it would seem that the end of this life is a sort of deadline. And, after all, if you can become perfect, but fail to do so, LDS doctrine teaches that grace is not sufficient for you. (See Second Nephi 25:23) Am I perhaps misunderstanding something?

    Incidentally, part of your criticism of the idea of a “free ride” is correct. If we were just given a free ride, we would, as you point out, commit terrible acts of atrocity all day long. However, Christianity does not teach that we are JUST given a “free ride.” It teaches that we are given a “free ride” (though I do not like that particular way of phrasing it) along with a new heart, so we no longer desire to do evil.

  16. echoechoecho said,

    April 10, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Shem,
    you automatically FALSELY assume that a free ride means we will go and do whatever we want without giving a second thought about sinning if we want to. The thing you overlook is that if man would but love God, man can do what he wants to do. Those who love God desire to only please him.

    You can spend your life beating yourself up with suffering for your sins and wondering if you have suffered enough for your sins. You can spend your life living in fear because you never know where you will end up in eternity and what that means for you. You can Live your life never knowing just what you have been forgiven for and just what you havn’t been forgiven for. And when it comes time to die, you will be afraid, for if your honest with yourself and with God, you will see that you have not done all you can do and therefore his grace won’t be sufficient for you. etc. Shem, with God as your witness, tell me what your life is like in this regard. Be truthful! Don’t be afraid to speak the truth in these matters. For if you don’t do it now, you will have to in the judgement.

    Your life can be totally different! You can be thankful TODAY that you don’t have to suffer for your sins ever again, Jesus has suffered for your sins in your place. You can be thankful TODAY that you never have to wonder if you have suffered enough for your sins, Jesus has suffered enough for your sins!
    You can spend your life with complete peace in your heart because you know exactly where you are going to end up in eternity and what that means for you! You can live your life knowing you have been completely and totally forgiven for all your sins, even the sins you still struggle with and have not yet overcome. And when it comes time to die, you will have no fear because Jesus has done all he can do FOR YOU!.
    Shem we live our lives out of love for God because God has done amazing things for us! Your God only puts fear in people’s hearts, our God takes all that fear away.

  17. shematwater said,

    April 12, 2010 at 1:09 pm

    JOEL

    Read what Brother McConkie said again. He is talking about those who had the opportunity but still failed. The deadline is only there for those who had that chance.
    Also, to say that we will reach perfection in the next life is not contradictory. It is not failure to not live the law if we do not live it perfectly. We fail to live the law if we knowingly, and willingly refuse to live the law. Even in earthly law we are not punished (at least not to the same extant) if we are are actively trying to obey the law, but make a single mistake (like a warning before a traffic ticket).
    What Brother McConkie was talking about are the willful disobedient, not the accidental disobedient.

    ECHO
    The idea of a changed heart is nice, but it does not really fix the problem. How many people have you seen that claim to have a changed heart but still engage in things that are quite clearly against the teachings of Christ. What do you say to these people?

  18. echoechoecho said,

    April 12, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Shem,

    The idea of a changed heart is nice, but it does not really fix the problem. How many people have you seen that claim to have a changed heart but still engage in things that are quite clearly against the teachings of Christ. What do you say to these people?

    We don’t change our own hearts, God himself gives us a new heart:

    Ezekiel 11:19 “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh.

    What do you say to these people?

    There will be sheep and there will be goats.

  19. shematwater said,

    April 13, 2010 at 11:32 am

    ECHO

    My point is that you cannot call people to repentance, as Christ has commanded. In Luke 24: 47 it is written that “repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations”

    How can you preach repentance to those who are going against the Bible but have a “Changed Heart?”
    It is easy to say that “there will be sheep and there will be goats” but did not the Lord tell Ezekial that “When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.”

    With the doctrine you are teaching you have no power to warn the wicked, and thus their blood will be required at your hands. These are the things I am talking about. You have no power to correct, and so you must simply except everything that is happening, as who are you to judge wether they ahve a changed heart or not?

    This is the danger of the doctrine. Not that all people are simply going to fall into the vilest of sins, but that those who do not can do nothing to help them.

  20. echoechoecho said,

    April 14, 2010 at 12:43 am

    Shem,

    Where did I say we cannot call people to repentance?

  21. shematwater said,

    April 16, 2010 at 11:24 am

    ECHO

    You didn’t, not directly. But your doctrine makes it so that you cannot, at least not being consistant.

    Who are you to tell someone else they don’t have a changed heart?

  22. echoechoecho said,

    April 16, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    We don’t tell anybody they don’t have a changed heart. We take them at their word-If they profess to believe but in reality are hypocrites who truly don’t believe, we treat them as believers and not as hypocrites and go through the process of leading a fellow Christian to repentance.

  23. shematwater said,

    April 20, 2010 at 7:29 am

    But you can’t call them to repentance. You admit this. You may want to lead a fellow Christian to repentance, but you can’t tell them they need to, so how does it all work?

    You cannot tell a person what they are doing is wrong, so all you can do is fellowship them and hope that they learn something.

    The LDS church treats all people on Earth as sons and daughters of God, calling everyone, including believers, to repent. We can do this because we can say to a person that what they are doing is wrong.

    See the difference here. All you can do is hope they figure it out, while we can actually call them to repentance.

  24. echoechoecho said,

    April 20, 2010 at 11:21 am

    Shem said: “But you can’t call them to repentance. You admit this.”

    Where did I admit this? What I said is the exact opposite of what you are saying I said. You’re sinning by giving false testimony against your neighbor.

    Here is what I said: “we treat them as believers and not as hypocrites and go through the process of LEADING A FELLOW CHRISTIAN TO REPENTANCE.

    Shem said: “The LDS church treats all people on Earth as sons and daughters of God

    We don’t consider all people on Earth as sons and daughters of God because we believe God’s own word in the bible when it says that he who sins is a child of the devil.

    1 John 3:8 “He who does what is sinful is of the devil

    1 John 3:10 “This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God

  25. Joel Duggins said,

    April 20, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    As far as I have seen, none of the non-LDS people here have said anything that would remotely lead you to say that we (Christians who affirm the authority of the Bible and not that of the other books the LDS Church approves of) cannot call fellow Christians to repentance. Of course we call them to repentance: that is the first step in leading them to repentance!

    In fact, though, the LDS Church offers no hope to those who commit certain sins (namely adultery, which Jesus equates with lust, if you recall) more than once.
    D&C 42: 25 through 26
    “But he that has committed adultery and repents with all his heart, and forsaketh it, and doeth it no more, thou shat forgive; But if he doeth it again, he shall not be forgiven, but shall be cast out.”

    That doesn’t offer much hope for repeat offenders who want to repent, does it?

  26. shematwater said,

    April 21, 2010 at 9:51 am

    ECHO

    Leading a person to repentance is not the same as calling them to repentance. I think we are getting hung up on definitions. Let me use an example.

    You see a person ingaging in homosexual behavior. What do you say? You tell them this is against the Bible. Okay. They say they have a changed heart, and you accept this. What next? Are they still wrong? Yes. But if they have a changed heart than the grace of God is sufficiant and so it doesn’t matter.
    In this case you have two choices. You can declare that they are wrong and have need of repentance, With this you have basically contradicted your own doctrine in declaring that our actions do matter. Your second choice is to tell them that they don’t really have a changed heart. But then you are judging them, which God has commanded us not to do.

    No, you have not stated directly that you cannot call people to repentance, but the inevitable conclusion of what you have said is that you cannot without contradicting your own doctrine.

    In comparrison, the LDS church can tell a person they have need to repent without any contradiction in doctrine as that is our doctrine.

    JOEL

    I never said that a belief in only the Bible prevents one from calling others to repentance. What I said is that the doctrine that our own works have no effect on our salvation prevents this.

    As to the quote from D&C, You are misunderstanding things just a little. Adultery is one of the vilest of sins, with Murder and blaspheming the Holy Ghost as the only ones that are worse. As such the penalty needs to be more severe. However, this does not bar them from repentance. This is saying that a repeat offender is to be excommunicated. It does not say they cannot be reconfirmed as a member. There was once a Bishop who was excommunicated for adultery. He was eventually brought back into the church and once again made a Bishop. He again was excommunicated for adultery. He repeated the process a third time, becoming a Bishop a third time.

    Repentance is possible for all except the sons of Perdition, but is more difficult for those who commit the more serious sins (with full repentance being impossible for murderers). It is much like the judicial system of the Untied States, with misdimeanors and felonies, each with its own punishment. The harder crimes require more to be done (usually longer prison sentence) and have a lower chance of parole.

  27. Joel Duggins said,

    April 21, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    SHEM,
    “But if they have a changed heart than the grace of God is sufficiant and so it doesn’t matter.” Doesn’t matter? Doesn’t matter?! When did any of us say anything that would lead you to think that we don’t believe sin matters?

    And, in response to what you said to me, that does clarify some things. My remaining question, though, is this: If murder cannot be repented from, then what hope does anyone have, since Christ said that being angry with someone unjustly was murdering them in your heart.

  28. echoechoecho said,

    April 22, 2010 at 11:46 am

    Shem, Unlike the LDS, we believe a person can be truly repentant (have sorrow) over a sin and still be entangled in that sin. It is exactly because God has forgiven them, even in their sins, that they are motivated to seek his help in overcoming their sin. That kind of forgiving love God has for us produces that kind of desire within us- a desire to do his Will.

    You are not motivated by the fact that you have been forgiven, you have to overcome your sin to be forgiven. That makes your motive self serving. (i.e. if I overcome my sin, THEN “I” will be forgiven) That’s not a motive that God delights in, he detests motives that are self-serving.

    That leaves you having to be perfect in order to be perfectly forgiven. That leaves you with insincere repentance (LDS definition) because nobody ever overcomes all sin in this life. Don’t you know that the Bible teaches that the unrepentant are storing up God’s wrath?

    Romans 2:5 “But because of your stubbornness and your UNREPENTANT heart, you are storing up WRATH against yourself for the day of God’s wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed

    Joel made an excellent point. Anger “IS” murder. There is no difference between the two. God’s sentence for murder is the same as God’s sentence for Anger. They are equal! Lust and Adultery are equal! They all deserve the eternal death sentence in outer darkness.

  29. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    April 22, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Amen, and Amen!

  30. Joel Duggins said,

    April 22, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    Yes Echo, but one clarification: Unrighteous anger (or more anger than is righteous) is murder. I think it may not be a relevant distinction in this context, but based on other things the Bible says “(be angry and do not sin,” etc.) I think we can rightly understand that Jesus is talking about unholy anger.

  31. echoechoecho said,

    April 23, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Joel, I totally agree. Thanks for clarifying that point. I appreciate it.

  32. shematwater said,

    April 24, 2010 at 11:38 am

    JOEL

    First, the act is always more vile than the thought. A man who is simply angry can repent, for he has not commited the act of Murder. If one finds he has the desire to commit murder he is guilty of murder in that he wants it to do it. However, if he never acts on it he can alter his thoughts, and thus repent of it, for he has not yet commited the sin.

    Christ equated many thoughts with sin, as no one commits any sin without first thinking about it. The thought is where it all starts. If we can control our thoughts we can control our actions. However, our actions still carry a greater punishment than our thoughts.

    John does tell us that “Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.” (1 John 3: 15) With this I would find it dangerous to even speculate on what the punishment for the thought is in this case. However, I do not think that simple anger is enough to be murder. I think that one must be angry to the point that they are blood thirsty, that they are seeking the death of another, before they can be considered murderers. A simple statement made in anger that “I wish they were dead” I do not think is enough. Nor do I think a prolonged thought along these lines is enough. It is those who either actively try to kill another, or who are constantly reading the news and seeking out the gospip hoping the person is dead, and then rejoicing in the fact. These are murderers. If John is to be taken literally they are cannot gain full forgiveness, for they have not eternal life.

    As to sin not mattering, follow the logic. Are we saved in any way by our own works? If we are not than repentance is not needed, because our works do not matter.
    I never said that you actively teach that it doesn’t matter. What I said is that the inevitable conclusion of what you teach is that it doesn’t matter, which does away with the need for repentance.
    The LDS church teaches that if you do not do everything in your power to live the laws of God you will be cast out. the rest of Christianity teaches that you can’t do anything so why try.

    Look at the exercise this entire thread is based on. It says “They look at how far away the chair labeled “God” is, and then, looking down at me they say “I can’t do it—it’s impossible!!” They won’t even try! In my role as Jesus, I smile and pick each one up and carry them down to the “God” chair. Carrying them is symbolic that Jesus does it for them—they do not and can not help.”

    What does this teach people? It teaches them that they don’t need to worry about anything. They can do what they want, because Christ will take them to God anyways.
    My point in this entire thread is not that you believe we can freely sin without consequence, but that the doctrine you teach will lead others to believe it, and prevent you from correcting them.

    ECHO

    You have no understanding if you can really say what you do. There is no self-serving motivation in the doctrine of the LDS church. One who is motivated in this way will not be exalted with God in heaven.
    I do my best to obey my Father in heaven for one simple reason: I love him. I need no forgiveness before I obey (like you do), nor do I need it after I obey (as you claim I do). He loves me, and knows what is best for me. I love him and wish to honor him in every way I can. The greatest honor I can give him is to obey him, to become everything that he wants me to become. I seek forgiveness for my sins because they cause him pain and dishonor. Everything I do is for his honor, and his glory. If I can overcome and be exalted in heaven with him than his glroy is increased. If I can help others to achieve that same goal than his honor is increased. These are my goals in what I do. These are the things that the LDS doctrine has taught me to believe and do, and strive for. I want to be better, not for my sake, but for my Father’s sake.

  33. latterdaysaintwoman said,

    April 24, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    Shem,

    Echo’s observation of an LDS person’s motive for repentance was: “You are not motivated by the fact that you have been forgiven, you have to overcome your sin to be forgiven. That makes your motive self serving. (i.e. if I overcome my sin, THEN “I” will be forgiven) That’s not a motive that God delights in, he detests motives that are self-serving.

    In response, you wrote: “You have no understanding if you can really say what you do. There is no self-serving motivation in the doctrine of the LDS church. One who is motivated in this way will not be exalted with God in heaven.

    You have it wrong. LDS prophets believe that the motive for repenting is the hope of gaining forgiveness for your sins. Simply read your prophet Spencer Kimball’s words found in The Miracle of Forgiveness:

    “And, in recalling the words which Amulek spoke to Zeezrom, Helaman emphasized man’s part in obtaining forgiveness — repenting from his sins: …He said unto him that the Lord surely should come to redeem his people, but that he should not come to redeem them in their sins, but to redeem them from their sins. And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance…(Hel. 5:10-11. (talics added.)

    Hope Motivates to Repentance. Such scriptures breathe hope into the soul of the convinced sinner. Hope is indeed the great incentive to repentance, for without it no one would make the difficult, extended effort required — especially when the sin is a major one.”

    Kimball then tells about this young woman who thought she couldn’t be forgiven. She said: “I know what I have done. I know that I am damned and can never be forgiven, and therefore, why should I try now to repent?”

    Kimball replied: “You can be forgiven of this heinous sin, but it will take much sincere repentance to accomplish it.”

  34. echoechoecho said,

    April 24, 2010 at 3:51 pm

    Shem said: “The LDS church teaches that if you do not do everything in your power to live the laws of God you will be cast out. the rest of Christianity teaches that you can’t do anything so why try.”

    Do you see here how you stated that the rest of Christianity teaches that you can’t do anything so why try” ?

    Your flawed and soley “self-serving” thinking becomes very evident in your remark above. You simply cannot understand or comprehend how the teaching of Christianity: “that you can’t do anything to be saved”, actually has the opposite effect than that of your self-serving conclusion. The message of Christianity doesn’t leave us with the attitude of: “I can’t do anything so why try?”. The message of Christianity leads us to want to serve others rather than being self-serving.

    You have proven that you are motivated by self-serving alone because the message of Christianity leads ***YOU*** (not Christians) to think: “Why try?”

    In other words, your admitting that YOU wouldn’t try! That means that you are totally motivated by self-serving! You even inadvertantly admit your motivated so that you “will not be cast out” That’s a self-serving motive!

  35. shematwater said,

    April 26, 2010 at 7:09 am

    LDS Woman

    The purpose of repentance is forgiveness, not the motivation. The motivation for doing anything is the desire to please God, which we cannot do without repentance. God has declared this, and so we strive for it. What President Kimbal stays goes very much in line with this. You are simply taking only a few phrases from the book you quote. I have read the Miracle of Forgiveness, and find it to be very much in line with what I have said.

    Whe must repent to gain forgiveness. This is true. But if this is our only reason for repentence we have not fully repented. You need to see the wonderful video of “Godly Sorrow.” The motivations that you describe are not born of Godly Sorrow. Godly Sorrow is the pain that comes in knowing we have offended God, and leads to a desire (or motivation) to please God. How can we please him without repentance?

    ECHO

    You still don’t get it. My motivation is not self-serving, no matter how much you try to make it out to be. You really don’t understand psycology.

    My motivation is exactly what I have said it is, the desire to please and honor my Father. That is it. Yes, I look forward to becoming a God. I hope that I will be found worthy of this gift. But you seem to assume that if this wasn’t possible I would simply abandon God. I believe it is possible because he has told me it is, not because I want it to be.

    As to your doctrine, you still don’t get it. You seem to be ignoring what I am saying. Let me teach you a little about psycology.

    There are people who are self-sacrificing. They will do whatever is needed for others. For these people it really doesn’t matter what the doctrine is, they will always strive to help others. In general Christianity or Mormonism they will strive to serve God. This is simply who they are. I would say that most of us here on this thread are of this type.

    Then there are those who are self-serving. They want what they want, and they want it now. They don’t really care to do any work for it, and the work they do do is only to increase what they have.
    Apply your doctrine to these people and what will be the result? You tell them they are already forgiven. Great. So, what they do doesn’t matter and they can do what they want. This is supported by the doctrine as it is taught. What can you say to them? Nothing.
    What can the LDS tell them? We tell them that they are in need of repentance. At baptism they ahve been fully forgiven for all past sins, but not all future sins, and so they must keep working to be righteous. When they fail we tell them they have need to repent.

    This is my point. My point is that you are blind to the dangers of the doctrine you teach because of your natural disposition to be self-sacrificing. Because this is who you are you assume that no one who really believes can be any other way.

  36. catzgalore said,

    April 26, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Shem, you said…
    You still don’t get it. My motivation is not self-serving, no matter how much you try to make it out to be. You really don’t understand psycology.

    PSYCHOLOGY doesn’t have anything to do with it. We are talking about motivation here. You do good works so you will please the Father. If you please the Father, he will make you a god. Therefore, you want to please the Father so he will make you a god. Doesn’t that logically follow? Why else would you please God, if there wasn’t something in it for you? You HAVE to please God, or else you won’t make it. So your motivation is self-serving.

    What if the only reason you served God was that you loved Him? What if it was really as 1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.”

    “Obedience and good works, done from the principle of love, are not like the servile toil of one who unwillingly labours from dread of a master’s anger. They are like that of a dutiful child, who does services to a beloved father, which benefit his brethren, and are done willingly.” — Matthew Henry

    What if you could just serve God joyfully without worrying whether you were doing “enough” and whether you were “worthy” enough? What if you could love others out of the sheer joyful appreciation that you have for His unfathomable LOVE? What if you could be free of the thought that when all is said and done he will reject you because you aren’t worthy?

    Because NONE of us are worthy. For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. (see Romans 3:23)

    Matthew Henry said it so well…
    Must guilty man remain under wrath? Is the wound for ever incurable? No; blessed be God, there is another way laid open for us. This is the righteousness of God; righteousness of his ordaining, and providing, and accepting. It is by that faith which has Jesus Christ for its object; an anointed Saviour, so Jesus Christ signifies. Justifying faith respects Christ as a Saviour, in all his three anointed offices, as Prophet, Priest, and King; trusting in him, accepting him, and cleaving to him: in all these, Jews and Gentiles are alike welcome to God through Christ. There is no difference, his righteousness is upon all that believe; not only offered to them, but put upon them as a crown, as a robe. It is free grace, mere mercy; there is nothing in us to deserve such favours. It comes freely unto us, but Christ bought it, and paid the price. And faith has special regard to the blood of Christ, as that which made the atonement. God, in all this, declares his righteousness. It is plain that he hates sin, when nothing less than the blood of Christ would satisfy for it. And it would not agree with his justice to demand the debt, when the Surety has paid it, and he has accepted that payment in full satisfaction.

  37. echoechoecho said,

    April 27, 2010 at 10:39 am

    Shem,

    Being self-serving means doing something and getting something in return for doing it.

    When an individual does what he feels is the good and right thing to do and serves others , he/she can still be doing those “good” things in self service.

    For example if John Doe does good works and serves others so that he will be rewarded with eternal life, or some greater degree of heaven, he is serving himself.

    If John Doe overcomes his sin in order to be forgiven by God, he is serving himself.

    If John Doe changes his lifestyle to be more God pleasing and serves others so that he can avoid punishment, he is self-serving.

    If John Doe serves others to become worthy, he is self serving.

    If John Doe states that “the rest of Christianity teaches that you can’t do anything so why try.” then John Doe proves that he is self-serving.

  38. shematwater said,

    April 27, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    CATS

    You said “PSYCHOLOGY doesn’t have anything to do with it. We are talking about motivation here.”

    What do you think psychology is? Psychology is the study of the human mind and what makes it go. Motivation is a direct part of this. It is a specific branch of Psychology. If you are going to discuss anything dealing with Humans and how they act you are dealing with Psychology. Try to ignore it all you want, but in doing so you will never truly understand anything.

    You also said “You do good works so you will please the Father. If you please the Father, he will make you a god. Therefore, you want to please the Father so he will make you a god. Doesn’t that logically follow?”

    This does not logically follow. You make the assumption that if there is a reward the only motivation behind the action is attaining that reward. My motivation is to please my Father. What ever will please him that is what I will strive to do. That is my motivation. It just so happens that my Father in heaven has told me that his goal is to “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal elife of man.” Thus, he wants me to be a god. It is not that I want to be a god, but that he wants me to be a god.

    You also make many “what if” statements. I do not have to consider “what if” because I already know “what is.” I serve God for the reasons I have stated. I am devoid of any worry or anxiety over my worthiness, because I know what needs to be done and how far I need to go.

    Anxiety does not come from knowing you are unworthy, but from not knowing how far it is to become worthy.

  39. Joel Duggins said,

    April 27, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Actually echo, I would say that being self serving means doing something *for the sake of* getting something in return for doing it. I would make similiar corrections to some of your other statements, but I would also agree with you in that, if Shem is not simply “working a job” he is the anomaly in the LDS church. Even the LDS scriptures themselves are decidedly flavored with the idea of works-for-reward.

  40. echoechoecho said,

    April 28, 2010 at 12:51 am

    Joel, I agree. Your wording is better than mine. Thanks for clarifying.

  41. shematwater said,

    April 28, 2010 at 8:59 am

    JOEL and ECHO

    The scriptures, including the Bible, make several references to working for rewards.

    Matt 10: 42 “And whosoever shall GIVE to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose HIS REWARD.” (emphasis added)

    1 Corinthians 3: 8-9 “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive HIS OWN REWARD ACCORDING TO HIS OWN LABOUR. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” (emphasis added)

    Revelation 22: 12 “And, behold, I come quickly; and my REWARD is with me, to give every man ACCORDING AS HIS WORKS SHALL BE.” (Emphasis added)

    These are just three examples. There are 36 verse in the New Testiment that speak of rewards, and 60 in the Old Testiment (though not all in the Old Testiment refer to heavenly rewards).

    I am not an anomaly. I am part of the majority of people. We had a great talk in Sacrement meeting this past week all bout serving God, and why we do it. In the talk five motivations were named, but only one was accepted; that of obedience out of love for God. This is a common theme in LDS doctrine.

  42. echoechoecho said,

    April 29, 2010 at 1:41 pm

    All the rewards we get are “unearned” and “undeserved”

    The LDS teaches that you earn your rewards.

    What is the reward for all sin uncluding the sin of thinking you can earn rewards? The Bible tells us:

    1 John 3:8 “He who does what is sinful is of the devil,”

    Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death”

  43. shematwater said,

    April 29, 2010 at 3:19 pm

    ECHO

    I guess you just ignore the two scriptures I quoted that state directly that our reward is dependant on our works. Let me try it again.

    Revelation 22: 12 “And, behold, I come quickly; and my REWARD is with me, to give every man ACCORDING AS HIS WORKS SHALL BE.” (Emphasis added)

    1 Corinthians 3: 8-9 “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive HIS OWN REWARD ACCORDING TO HIS OWN LABOUR. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.” (emphasis added)

    And I will add one more:
    Hebrews 5: 9 “And being made perfect, he became the author of ETERNAL SALVATION unto all them THAT OBEY HIM.” (emphasis added)

    But I guess that these are all in error, as our reward is based on what christ did, not what we did.

  44. echoechoecho said,

    April 29, 2010 at 8:08 pm

    Shem said: “I guess you just ignore the two scriptures I quoted that state directly that our reward is dependant on our works. Let me try it again.

    I haven’t “ignored the two scriptures” you quoted. What has actually happened is you “ignored” what I said.

  45. Joel Duggins said,

    April 29, 2010 at 10:36 pm

    Please, don’t allow this to degenerate into a shouting match. Echo and Shem, I think your misunderstanding may be centered around something that honestly doesn’t receive much attention in many evangelical circles.

    Shem, Echo is centering his thought around the concept of salvation. Let me briefly explain his view (which happens to be my view, and, I believe, the Bible’s view, but not the view of the LDS church)
    God has a law. We are required to measure up to this law perfectly, to never do anything wrong, or we receive the penalty threatened for breaking the law. That penalty is what we refer to as hell, outer darkness, judgment, etc. If we break the law even once, we are no longer perfect, and there are no extra works we can do to become perfect again, because any works that we might be able to do are *required* of us anyway. No one keeps the law perfectly, which is to say that no one keeps the law. Therefore, every single person deserves hell. Once we have sinned (and everyone sins) the only way we can possibly be saved is if someone else takes our punishment in our place. That’s what Jesus did. Those who believe in Christ (true Christians, in other words) will not be punished because Jesus was punished instead, and will be rewarded, because Jesus was rewarded. Any good works that we, as Christians, would do are set within the framework of the “reward” that Christ has already earned (by keeping God’s law perfectly) and given to us (by taking our punishment). Other rewards exist, sure, but they are not the central reward, and they are not what Echo is talking about.

    Echo, Shem makes no distinction between the reward that Christ has earned for us and the prize that we stride towards. (the declaration “well done, good and faithful servant) He does not have the concept of mankind offending God and deserving punishment as a criminal in a court of law deserves punishment. He does not have the concept that, if everyone gets what they earned, we would all be cast into outer darkness. Reciting Romans 6:23 is not going to change the way he looks at things, because he sees that verse from a totally different angle (and yes, I believe it is an incorrect angle)

  46. catzgalore said,

    May 1, 2010 at 9:26 am

    Joel, you have hit on the reason why it seems impossible to have a dialogue with someone LDS. They are not defining things in the same way as the rest of us. When we think we are speaking of Salvation, we are not speaking of the same thing. Shem once said they have the encyclopedia. The trouble is, their “encyclopedia” redefines everything so it seems like they are speaking a different language! Traditional meanings have been “corrected” so we can no longer talk about things without misunderstanding. Salvation, atonement, works, and even the concept of God have been changed (the secret has been “revealed” from the LDS point of view). When we talk about Jesus, it is not the same Jesus! Not even the same god. How can we possibly come to any middle ground when the FOUNDATION is different? When Christians believe what the Bible says (ONLY ONE GOD) and LDS say ONLY ONE GOD (for us– but there are many others, and you can become a god too). If we disagree on that fundamental point, it seems like further discussion is foolishness (yes, I know, I have engaged in foolishness!!).
    The other problem I have found, and not just Shem, is their not admitting the changes in their church. They tend to insist that it has not changed, even though it is obvious that the current leaders do not teach the same things as Joseph Smith and early leaders taught. My daughter in law once covered her ears and said “I’m not listening, I’m not listening” when someone questioned her about doctrinal changes in her church (not me). So how can we have a meaningful discussion?

    The good thing about it, I think, is it challenges us Christians to really know what we believe. We see the errors of thinking, but don’t always know how to answer it. It does tend to be frustrating because sometimes it is so close but so far! So we as Christians need to use this as a starting point to really dig into what WE believe and go to the scriptures for the TRUTH.

    Praying for us all in this interesting journey…

    Catz

  47. shematwater said,

    May 1, 2010 at 11:41 am

    JOEL, ECHO, and CATZ

    Let me explain things as the LDS teaches them.

    God has a law. We are required to measure up to this law perfectly, to never do anything wrong, or we receive the penalty threatened for breaking the law. That penalty is what we refer to as hell, outer darkness, judgment, etc. If we break the law even once, we are no longer perfect, and there are no extra works we can do to become perfect again, because any works that we might be able to do are *required* of us anyway. No one keeps the law perfectly, which is to say that no one keeps the law. Therefore, every single person deserves hell. Once we have sinned (and everyone sins) the only way we can possibly be saved is if someone else takes our punishment in our place. That’s what Jesus did in the Garden, on the Cross, and in the resurrection. As a result all men will gain salvation and enter heaven (except the sons of perdition).

    Now that he has paid our debt for us, he has set the terms for us to repay him. He has made things easier for us, for absolute perfection is no longer required in this life, as he has met that demand for us. However, as he states in the verses I have given (especially the Hebrews verse) he requires obedience to gain any reward beyond the basic salvation. He has his reward, and he will give it to all men, according to their works (Rev 22:12).

    I think the real problem is that you don’t really understand LDS doctirne. Christ defeated death and hell, and thus all men, except those commiting the unpardonable sin, are saved in heaven. The reward I am talking about is the reward that we earn, which is the glory of the Father, to be joint-heirs with Christ.

    On a more individual note:
    JOEL – You seem to admit that there is some kind of reward that we do earn. As you put it “the declaration “well done, good and faithful servant.” However, Echo said “All the rewards we get are “unearned” and “undeserved”
    which would mean that even this has nothing to do with our works. This statement by Echo contradicts what is said in Rev. 22: 12. Now, it may not have been the intent, but it is what it is.

    CATZ
    In all truth, most definitions of words actual carry over from the rest of Christianity to the LDS. There are few that do not. The LDS definitions, usually include the general definition, but add more detail and insight to the meaning.
    There are a few exceptions, but this is true for the most part.
    As to changes, I find it partly funny and partly annoying that you would bring it up again. No one has ever shown any real change in the doctrine of the church. Ever attempt I have seen has been easily explained and shown false. Yet you keep wanting to bring it up.
    It seems that you are the ones unwilling to admit when you are wrong, not us.

  48. catzgalore said,

    May 3, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    Salvation as defined by a Christian– God’s doing totally. He saves us initially and preserves us. Salvation includes the beginning, the middle, and the end. GOD’s doing, totally. We are participants, but God starts, finishes, and ends the process. He is the Author and Finisher of our faith.

    Your lds.org website says this:
    In the doctrine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the terms “saved” and “salvation” have various meanings. As used in Romans 10:9–10, the words “saved” and “salvation” signify a covenant relationship with Jesus Christ. Through this covenant relationship, followers of Christ are assured salvation from the eternal consequences of sin IF THEY ARE OBEDIENT.” (emphasis added) “Salvation” and “saved” are also used in the scriptures in other contexts with several different meanings.

    also from the lds.org site..

    If someone were to ask if another person had been saved, the answer would depend on the sense in which the word is used. The answer might be “Yes” or perhaps it might be “Yes, but with conditions.” The following explanations outline six different meanings of the word salvation.

    (read it here…. http://lds.org/ldsorg/v/index.jsp?locale=0&sourceId=ce49f73c28d98010VgnVCM1000004d82620a____&vgnextoid=bbd508f54922d010VgnVCM1000004d82620aRCRD

    Shem, you said…

    I think the real problem is that you don’t really understand LDS doctirne. Christ defeated death and hell, and thus all men, except those commiting the unpardonable sin, are saved in heaven. The reward I am talking about is the reward that we earn, which is the glory of the Father, to be joint-heirs with Christ.

    LDS doctrine is confusing to me. When you speak of salvation you could be speaking of at least six different things! I am used to thinking one thing when I hear the word “salvation” and you think another. As LDS, you will not know that you have been “saved” in all possible ways until after you die.

    And as far as changes go… ALL churches have docrinal changes, including yours. They adapt to the times. You define “doctrine” differently than I do, and because of that, you will always say your church doctrine never changes and I will say it does. Your church no longer teaches that the pyramids are made of adobe, or that men in Pilgrim attire live on the moon. Your church now allows minorities to become priests. FROM MY PERSPECTIVE that is changing doctrine (teachings) and to you it is something else. I’m sorry I brought it up again.

  49. echoechoecho said,

    May 3, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Shem said: ” I think the real problem is that you don’t really understand LDS doctirne.

    I do understand LDS doctrine, that’s not the problem. The problem is that you don’t understand what we are saying. Hopefully, over time, this can be cleared up as you learn more and more what our beliefs are.

    Shem said: “The reward I am talking about is the reward that we earn, which is the glory of the Father, to be joint-heirs with Christ.”

    He who sins receives no reward except the reward of an eternity in outer darkness. If a person wants to be rewarded in the way you are saying, they must be perfect and without sin.(Spotless)

  50. Joel Duggins said,

    May 3, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Shem,
    Echo has already admitted twice in this same discussion to misspeaking. I am sure that he would agree with me that, in some sense, Christians are aiming for a prize; he is not using precise language, admittedly, and I would encourage him to improve in that area. His main point stands strong, however. The Bible is very clear that our salvation from God’s judgment is not (and never will be) paid for by us. There is a very big difference between calling salvation a *gift* (as Christianity does) and calling it a *loan* (as the LDS church does).

    Additionally, I am curious about two things. First, what do you mean by Heaven? Are you referring to the Celestial Kingdom, to Godhood, or to something else?

    Second, how long have you been a follower of the LDS church?

  51. echoechoecho said,

    May 4, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Joel,

    “Well done good and faithful servant”

    Notice that the man is being complimented for his “faithfulness” and not his “accomplishments”. It is by the grace of God (Grace meaning undeserved, unearned love God has for man) that God gives us the gift of faith and the faithfulness that flows from that faith. Therefore even that mans faithfulness doesn’t earn or cause him to deserve a reward because God’s grace made it possible for him to be faithful in the first place. If anything is “accomplished” through that faithful servant, it is God alone who has accomplished it.

    You said that I would agree that Christians are aiming for a prize. I don’t serve God for a prize, I serve him because of his amazing love for me.

  52. shematwater said,

    May 4, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    CATZ

    Your deffinitions of the words saved and salvation have actually demonstrated my point. the deffinition you give is agreed with by the LDS, when used in its proper context. To complain that we use more than one definition is to complain about language, as many words have multiple meanings.

    As to changes, you keep mentioning things that are not doctrine (such as the parymids and moon people) or changes that were planned, that people knew would eventually happen, and thus the doctrine is not changed. Such as the priesthood being given to the black race. From the proclomations itself it is evident that every president of the church from the time of Joseph Smith had known that the restriction would one day be lifted, and were eagerly awaiting that day. We also have such references as these:
    “Any man having one drop of the seed of Cain in him cannot receive the Priesthood; but the day will come when all that race will be redeemed and possess all the blessings which we now have.” History of Wilford Woodruff, p.351
    “He (Cain) deprived his brother of the privilege of pursuing his journey through life, and of extending his kingdom by multiplying upon the earth; and because he did this, he is the last to share the joys of the kingdom of God.” J.D. 2:142-143

    The lifting of restrictions was known to be coming, and thus the doctrine remains unchanged.

    ECHO
    If you understand LDS doctrine than you really should actually try to show it in your words. I understand what you are saying. I think another problem is that you are trying to prove my wrong, but I am not really trying to prove you wrong. My only intent is to explain what my church teaches. You can except or you can reject it, but I would like you to know it before you decide which. As I am not actively commenting on your beliefs, for the most part anyway, I have no real need show my understanding of them. However, if you want to comment on mine, or make comparrisons between mine and yours, you need to show an understanding of mine.
    Even in my first post on this thread I only made direct comments concerning the part of the article that concerned my beliefs.

    JOEL

    And I would then ask you what definition of Salvation you are using. If you are refering to salvation from hell and admittance into heaven I would agree with you completely, as I have stated. However, as Catz explained, there is more than one meaning possible for that word.

    As to Echo’s comments, I cannot tell if he is mispeaking or not. All I can do is react to what he says. If he did mispeak than he can always tell me and I will consider his intended thought.

    Heaven also has a few possible meanings. For the purpose of this conversation I am refering to the eternal abode of all resurrected beings who are not cast out with Satan into outer darkness. This includes the three degrees of glory, for all are part of Heaven.

    As to your second question, I was born into the church, and thus have been an active member for nearly 26 years.

  53. echoechoecho said,

    May 4, 2010 at 4:56 pm

    Shem,

    It’s not that I am not showing LDS doctrine in my words, it’s that I am applying what I believe (as a NON LDS) to LDS doctrine and you are mistaking what I am saying as it being my interpretation of LDS beliefs when in fact they are my beliefs and not LDS beliefs.

    Shem said: “As to Echo’s comments, I cannot tell if he is mispeaking or not.”
    I am not mispeaking as Joel implies. I just went with his words because he didn’t understand mine. Which is fine.

    Shem said: “As I am not actively commenting on your beliefs, for the most part anyway, I have no real need show my understanding of them.”

    Not having a need to understand my beliefs will cost you your soul. (Eternity in Outer darkness)

  54. Joel Duggins said,

    May 4, 2010 at 7:53 pm

    Echo,
    I think you’ve gone from over-general language to splitting hairs. Yes, faith (I.E, belief, trust, or any other word you care to use that means roughly the same thing) is the gift of God, and it leads to faithfulness (trustworthiness,reliability, or any other word you care to use that means roughly the same thing). The “reward” we can “earn” that I was speaking of was God’s declaration “well done.” I don’t particularly care if you call it a reward or not; Shem seems to be demanding that we call it a reward, you insist that we not call it a reward. It is a result of faithfulness, which is a result of faith, which is a gift of God. So is this “reward” a gift of God in addition to salvation and the resurrection from the dead? In one sense it is a gift, yes; after all everything we get, even our next breath, is an undeserved gift. Is it a reward? Sure, sort of, in a different sense that that in which it is a gift. But, you know what? It doesn’t matter. It’s splitting hairs.

    Catz,
    Anything that we bring up as an example in changed doctrine, the LDS church will (most likely) have an answer of some sort to give. I don’t think that, however convincing they seem to you, Shem is going to be affected by your examples.

    Shem,
    I explained what salvation I meant. Salvation from God’s judgment. That is to say, salvation from the due reward we have earned: outer darkness. You and I and everyone else are sons of perdition, and God has saved us from outer darkness. This salvation is what I am talking about. It is the primary type of salvation the Bible discusses, and it (the Bible) is very clear that this salvation is a *gift,* which is different from a *loan.*

  55. echoechoecho said,

    May 5, 2010 at 12:46 am

    Joel,

    You said: “It doesn’t matter. It’s splitting hairs.”

    Is God just splitting hairs in Luke 18:9-14? Or is it a matter of eternal life and eternal death?

    If you were speaking with the pharisee in this Luke passage, you would want to get him to see himself as the tax collector sees himself. That would mean completely stripping him of every thought and inclination he has towards earning or deserving anything from God (i.e. removing everything he can boast about). That needs to be made very clear and without compromise for to compromise could cost him his soul.

  56. catzgalore said,

    May 5, 2010 at 7:19 am

    Joel, unfortunately it wouldn’t matter what examples I gave, he wouldn’t listen.
    Thank you for clarifying about Salvation. What a wonderful gift He has given!

  57. Joel Duggins said,

    May 8, 2010 at 10:06 am

    Okay Echo, now you are putting words in my mouth. We do not earn salvation, in any way. It is a gift, not a loan, and I never said anything remotely to the contrary. Do not accuse me of things I have not said. I am not compromising salvation; I wasn’t even talking about salvation when you started jumping on me. I was talking about living a faithful life, after salvation. There are many Godly Christians who would use the terminology of “reward” to discuss non-salvation issues, and all I was saying to Shem was that those are NOT the same thing as salvation.
    We, as Christians, DO “run the race for the reward set before us” (forgive the paraphrase) but we are not trying to earn salvation.

  58. echoechoecho said,

    May 8, 2010 at 12:22 pm

    Joel,

    You have misunderstood my post and my intentions. I wasn’t putting words in your mouth. I wasn’t “accusing” you of anything that you have suggested I have accused you of nor was that my intent. I don’t like putting words in people’s mouth. I am not jumping on you, sorry you feel that way. Let me try to clarify…

    I know you believe we don’t earn salvation. I know you weren’t talking about salvation but that you were talking about living a faithful life after salvation.
    I know that Christians talk about “reward” to discuss non-salvation issues.

    What I am talking about is my belief that even the “rewards” on non-salvation issues are still unearned and undeserved. It is also my belief that earned and deserved rewards, whether for salvation or whether they are rewards from living a faithful life after salvation, leave room for boasting. My belief is that there is no room for boasting at all.

  59. shematwater said,

    May 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm

    Hello again.

    First

    I think you misuse the term perdition.
    We read in John 17: 12 “While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.”
    Joel states that we are all sons of perdition, but Christ declares that the son of perdition is lost. If that is true we are all lost and there is no salvation.

    I believe in the free gift of salvation as Joel described, if you replace the term “son of perdition” with “sinful” for these are they that receive the free gift. Those who commit the unpardonable sin and become sons of perdition do not receive of this gift, for Christ has declared they have no forgiveness.

    I can say, however, that the salvation from the destruction of the soul in Outer Darkness is a completely free gift, given to all men who have not fallen into perdition. This is taught by the LDS church.

    ECHO

    As long as you apply what you believe to LDS doctrine you will never be able to show an understanding of LDS doctrine in your words, and I would doubt that you could ever have a full understanding at all. No one can take the doctrine of another, apply their belief, and still accurately show the others doctrine. It is impossible.
    I have seen so many people attempt to prove that the LDS church teaches various things by applying their belief to the doctrine, and they have invariably been wrong in their conclusions.
    If you are going to comment on the doctrine, first know what it is, and than describe it only as it is, and not as your faith makes it.

    You also said “Not having a need to understand my beliefs will cost you your soul.” I never said I didn’t have an understanding, I said that the conversation did not require me to show my understanding. And this all subject to opinion anyway. I could say the same about you not understanding LDS doctrine.

    As to Changes in Doctrine: If there is an expanation would it not indicate that there was no change. I find it interesting that people hold to ideas even after shown very logical proofs against them. And yes, I understand that you can say the same about me. No one can be truly logical in the eyes of another.

  60. echoechoecho said,

    May 8, 2010 at 12:57 pm

    Shem said: “If you are going to comment on the doctrine, first know what it is, and than describe it only as it is, and not as your faith makes it.”

    That’s a good suggestion for me to keep in mind Shem. Thank you for making it. I will take your advice and try to carry that out in our future discussions. Thanks again.

  61. Joel Duggins said,

    May 8, 2010 at 9:54 pm

    Shem,
    If it’s okay, I would like to set other things aside for a moment, and focus on the single issue that in this discussion (and elsewhere) matters most of all. Despite the little disputes that Echo and I have, we agree on the issue of the gift. What I mean by this is that God gives salvation to *some* people, and that His gift IS a gift, NOT a loan. Echo and I agree on this issue, but we do not agree with you, I’m afraid. The only way that we can do any work for God is if he first gives us that gift, but even when the gift is given, we could never pay him back, no matter how many works we do.

  62. shematwater said,

    May 11, 2010 at 9:49 am

    ECHO

    Your Welcome.

    JOEL

    Let me try and explain what the LDS church teaches in regards to this. I will try and give you all that I undestand, but please ask questions if there are any points you don’t understand.

    First, God the Father is the great judge. He has laid down the law, and justice requires that all violations of this law be paid in full. Just as James says in his epistle (2:10) “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” No unclean thing can enter the Kingdom of God (Alma 11: 37) which includes all the levels of Heaven.
    For this cause there was a need for a Savior, for every man sins (Romans 3: 23). There had to be one who is both willing and able to assume the punichment for our sins and thus satisfy the demands of Justice. Thus Christ stepped in and filled this role in his atonement.
    Now, you should watch the short video of the Mediator, presented in the seminary videos of our Church. Near the end the friend comes to rescue the man who has incured the debt. After the creditor agrees to the situation he turns to the debtor and asks;
    “If I pay your debt will you accept me as your creditor?” When the young men says yes he continues. “Then you will pay the debt to me, and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. You need not go to prison.”

    Now, I would like to examine this. First, the creditor has been paid, or in other words, our sins have been paid for, and we are thus admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven. To gain this all we have to do is accept the gift. As long as we do not reject that gift we will enter our Father’s Kingdom, or his house. However, we are still in debt to Christ, a debt that we must do all that is in our power to pay.
    Do not misunderstand this. The gift has already been given. We have been saved from prison. Even if we do pay off all that debt we will never repay the act that saved us from that fate. It is impossible.

    But, Christ has said that he will reward us according to our works (Rev. 22: 12). What is this reward? You mentioned the praise of “Well done thou good and faithful servant.” But in Matthew 25, which is the only place that this phrase is recorded, he adds to this praise “I will make thee ruler over many things.” The promised reward is not only a simple statement of praise, but a very real gift of power and authority.

    Thus, there is the free gift that saves us from hell. But once we have been brought out of hell there is a promised reward of obedience, which reward is power and authority over many things. This is why we speak of the degrees of glory. This is the reward that is promised. Those who are faithful and obedient receive the highest, while those who are not as faithful receive of a lesser reward, for their works have not earned them the higher.

    Just so that you don’t get the wrong idea about things, our works could never earn us the highest reward by ourselves. In a sense Christ has not only paid our debt, but has given us gainful employment with which we are enable to repay him. The Atonement works in three ways.
    Firstt; there is the resurrection that is given to all men, regardless of their works. This is a free gift.
    Second; there is the salvation from hell (or spiritual death). This is also a free gift.
    Third; there is the power of the Holy Spirit given to all the faithful. The more we are obedient the more power that is given to us. Thus, on my own I have the power to do very little. But I still must do what I can. After I have done this the Atonement of Christ works in my life to give me power to do more. It does not do it for me, and thus I must work again, using that power I have been given. If I do I am given more power, which I must also use to gain even more, until, through his power, I am raised to perfection, spotless of all sin and able to enter the presence of God the Father and be a joint-heir with Christ, receiving all that my Father has.

    I would like to give a passage of scripture to conclude this post. It is from the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 2: 21, 22-24;
    “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.
    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?”

    There is no way to repay Christ for all he has done, but he still expects us to try, for which he will reward us in heaven.

  63. echoechoecho said,

    May 11, 2010 at 2:59 pm

    Shem,

    Let’s suppose that I loaned you $100,000.00 and you couldn’t afford to pay me back so I decided to forgive your debt.

    By the very definition of the word: “forgiveness”, what that means is you don’t have to pay me back. The debt is forgiven!

    If you pay me back, the debt is not forgiven (by definition of that word.)
    I have not forgiven your debt, I have simply extended the time for you to pay your debt. back. Forgiveness doesn’t enter into that equation.

    The fact that debts here on earth have been forgiven by some generous people, that is to say that people weren’t expected to pay them back, makes Man look more loving, generous and kind towards other men than your God looks toward us!

    Having to work your way to eternal life is not LOVE by definition either. Not love on your part and not love on God’s part either.

    True LOVE by definition expects NOTHING in return.

  64. catzgalore said,

    May 12, 2010 at 9:15 am

    Shem, you said…
    “…our sins have been paid for, and we are thus admitted into the Kingdom of Heaven. To gain this all we have to do is accept the gift. As long as we do not reject that gift we will enter our Father’s Kingdom, or his house.”

    from the lds.org website
    “Individuals cannot be saved in their sins; they cannot receive unconditional salvation simply by declaring a belief in Christ with the understanding that they will inevitably commit sins throughout the rest of their lives (see Alma 11:36–37). However, through the grace of God, all can be saved from their sins (see 2 Nephi 25:23; Helaman 5:10–11) as they repent and follow Jesus Christ.”

    According to LDS doctrine, Is salvation a gift (as you say in the first statement) or not (as stated on the LDS site)? You SEEM to be speaking about the same “part” of salvation (salvation from sin). I just don’t see how both statements can be true. I can agree with the first statement, but not the second.

  65. Joel Duggins said,

    May 12, 2010 at 10:22 pm

    Shem,
    Echo has already pointed out that that’s not forgiveness. I would like to point out that it’s not a gift. It is, indeed, a loan. If I come up to you with a birthday gift of a nice car and say “Hey, I found this great deal, but you’ll need to pay me back,” it might actually be a nice thing for me to do, but it’s not a gift.
    So, in your belief system, God might be loving (in some limited sense) and saving (in some limited sense), and he might even be gift-giving, (for example, the gift of music), but the loving “gift” of salvation is not a gift. And the Bible says that salvation is a gift.

  66. shematwater said,

    May 13, 2010 at 10:20 am

    None of you seem to understand what I have said.

    First, CATZ

    The quote you give uses the term salvation in reference to Exaltation. This cannot be attained by a simple statement. We cannot enter the highest level of heaven if we remain in our sins. However, if you read the 76th section of the Doctrine and Covenants you will see that even murderers are admitted into the lowest levels. Only the sons of Perdition are cast out all together.

    ECHO

    In Luke 7 we read the parable of the two debtors. In verse 42 Christ says “And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both.”
    The forgiveness for sins that makes us spotless comes only after we have paid all we can, and have nothing left. It is still forgiveness, for we cannot repay all the debt, but it is also justice, because we pay what we can.

    If a person lent me $100,000 and then told me I didn’t have to repay him I would feel rather insulted, for he has not given me the chance to pay what I can. But a person who lends me that same money, and demands I pay all I have, but then after all is done tells me to not bother with the rest, that is a man I can respect, for he respects me.

    JOEL

    You missed the two gifts that I listed then. Of course, I think there is some confusion as to what the gifts are. To you the gift is a forgiveness of the debt. I disagree with this. I do not think this is the gift that Christ gave us through the atonement. The gift of the Atonement is salvation from death and Hell. Thus the resurrection, and the avoidance of outerdarkness. The debt remains, but through the gift we are saved from eternal damnation with Satan.
    This is where I think we separate on doctrine. I believe in the free gift of the Atonement, I just believe that it is something different than what you believe it is.
    It is like the video of the Mediator. Remember my quote. “Then you will pay the debt to me, and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be possible. You need not go to prison.” The gift is that we do not go to prison, not that we do not have to pay the debt.


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