Does Forgiveness Depend Upon Your Own Works, Or Christ’s?

Have you ever wondered why many Christians claim the LDS Church is not a Christian church? The most important distinction between Mormonism and Christianity can be seen by looking at the doctrines concerning how to gain forgiveness for a sin. In Mormonism, gaining forgiveness for sins depends upon the works of each individual person. In Christianity, gaining forgiveness for sins depends solely upon the works of Christ.

Tomorrow, every LDS Church around the world will be teaching the foundational LDS doctrine of how and why one gains the forgiveness of sins. The Gospel Principles Lesson on Repentance exposes why the Mormon Church is not Christian, and how its teachings are opposed to Christianity. Chapter 19 claims:

“Repentance is the way provided for us to become free from our sins and receive forgiveness for them… To make our repentance complete we must keep the commandments of the Lord (see D&C 1:32). We are not fully repentant if we do not pay tithes or keep the Sabbath day holy or obey the Word of Wisdom… First, one repents. Having gained that ground he then must live the commandments of the Lord to retain his vantage point. This is necessary to secure complete forgiveness.

This false teaching is near and dear to my heart because I spent so many years believing it. I was tormented by my sins, sincerely trying to do all the required works necessary to gain forgiveness. I spent many hours studying the words of my prophet Spencer W. Kimball in The Miracle of Forgiveness. One paragraph overwhelmed my heart, like an angry storm cloud:

“Your Heavenly Father has promised forgiveness upon total repentance and meeting all the requirements, but that forgiveness is not granted merely for the asking. There must be works – many works – and an all-out, total surrender, with a great humility and ‘a broken heart and a contrite spirit.’ It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility, your sincerity, your works, your attitudes.” (pages 324-325)

I believed these words because no one had ever told me the truth—that all my sins were already forgiven through Christ’s shed blood. The foundational message of Christianity is that forgiveness depends upon Christ’s works, not our own. John the Baptist testified of this mission of Christ:

“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

When Christ offered His life as the final sacrifice for sin, His blood covered the sins of the entire world. John the Beloved testified that Christ’s finished work has already washed us from our sins:

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” (Revelation 1:5)

This free gift is given to every person who ever lived. Those who don’t believe that Jesus has already won their forgiveness, reject His most precious gift. The Apostle Peter testified that those who believe in Jesus receive forgiveness:

“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)

What about repentance? The Greek word for repentance literally means “a change of mind”. Now that I understand this, it resonates in my heart as I see how it differs in Mormonism. Whenever I do something that is against God’s will, I feel regret, sorrow and guilt. But then I turn in thankfulness to my Savior for paying the price for that sin – for taking my guilt upon Himself. When a person truly believes that Christ paid the price for her sins, she does not rely on her own efforts to gain forgiveness for a sin. In actuality, repentance is abandoning trust in yourself and placing all your trust in what Jesus has already accomplished in your place.

When I was LDS, I lived every day trying to gain forgiveness through the LDS Process of Repentance. Now, my most precious gift is the complete forgiveness of all my sins! I live every day in a continual state of repentance—trying not to sin. But also in continual awareness that it is Christ’s work that has made me guilt free! In joy, I respond to my Savior in thankfulness!

Anyone who does not place their faith for forgiveness solely in Christ’s work, rejects this most precious gift. The gift of forgiveness cannot be earned by your works—it is received solely through faith in Christ:

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:3-8)

I am praying that you will believe it, receive it, then respond to it in thanksgiving!!
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I’m often told that I misunderstand the correct LDS definition of Repentance. I have created a Page on this blog with many quotes from LDS leaders defining the Process of Repentance. Click here to read this Page:

Link to LDS Lesson:

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