The Plan of salvation

In this months Relief Society Lesson we are reminded that “Jesus Christ offered Himself as a sacrifice to save us from the Fall and from our sins.” Here we are taught about Christ’s part in the Plan of Salvation:

“It therefore became necessary for the Father to send his Only Begotten Son, who was free from sin, to atone for our sins as well as for Adam’s transgression, which justice demanded should be done. He accordingly offered himself a sacrifice for sins, and through his death upon the cross took upon himself both Adam’s transgression and our individual sins, thereby redeeming us from the fall, and from our sins, on condition of repentance. (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Fielding Smith
Chapter 3: The Plan of Salvation, p. 62)

This conditional “plan of salvation consists of the following things:”

“First, we must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; we must accept him as the Son of God; we must put our trust in him, rely upon his word, and desire to gain the blessings which come by obedience to his laws.

Second, we must repent of our sins; we must forsake the world; we must determine in our hearts, without reservation, that we will live godly and upright lives.

Third, we must be baptized in water, under the hands of a legal administrator, who has power to bind on earth and seal in heaven; we must, through this sacred ordinance, enter into a covenant to serve the Lord and keep his commandments.

Fourth, we must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost; we must be born again; we must have sin and iniquity burned out of our souls as though by fire; we must gain a new creation by the power of the Holy Ghost.

Fifth, we must endure to the end; we must keep the commandments after baptism; we must work out our salvation with fear and trembling before the Lord; we must so live as to acquire the attributes of godliness and become the kind of people who can enjoy the glory and wonders of the celestial kingdom.

Now I testify that these laws which men must obey to gain salvation and which comprise the gospel of Jesus Christ, have been revealed in this day to prophets and apostles, and that they are now administered by his church, which he has again established upon the earth.” (p. 65)

Did you notice all “we must” do? Thankfully, these are the words of false prophets. In contrast, I love the simplicity of God’s true Plan of Salvation as revealed through living prophets and apostles and found in scripture. It was Jesus who revealed this plan to us, and amazingly it’s all about what He has already done for us. The plan of salvations is an accomplished fact! Christ has already been lifted up on the Cross and His blood has covered the sins of the whole world. According to our Lord and Savior, the very moment you believe in Him, you receive eternal life! This is an unconditional gift from Heavenly Father:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:1-18)

God gave His Son to be lifted up on the cross because He loved us that much. Christ’s mission was to take away the sins of the world, and He did so. Everything necessary for us to live forever with Heavenly Father has already been accomplished. Read the entire chapter of John three to see all that Jesus taught Nicodemus regarding Gods Plan of Salvation. You will learn that the only “spirit children” of Heavenly Father are people who believe in Jesus. The very moment the Holy Spirit brings a person to faith, that person becomes a child of God, and is born-again through the Holy Ghost:

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13)

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

They Did Obey Every Word of Command With Exactness: That’s Your Only Safety?

Do you do exactly what is commanded by the Lord? This weeks Gospel Doctrine Lesson asks the question:

“Why is it important to be exactly obedient to the teachings of the Lord’s prophet? (See the quotation on the next page.)”

Here’s the answer from President Harold B. Lee. He taught:
“The power of Satan will increase; we see it in evidence on every hand… “Now the only safety we have as members of this church is to do exactly what the Lord said to the Church in that day when the Church was organized.” (Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson 32: They Did Obey-Every Word of Command with Exactness, pp 143-144)

These words are similar to an article I read in the Ensign about five years ago from General Conference. The General Authority testified to Latter-day Saints that their only path of safety was in keeping the commandments. He talked about an “80:20 principle” and claimed that keeping the commandments only 80 percent of the time is not acceptable: “There are precious blessings that come only from the complete yielding of one’s heart to God.” The blessing he refers to is “being saved”:

“President Heber J. Grant said: ‘There is but one path of safety to the Latter-day Saints, and that is the path of duty. It is not a testimony, it is not marvelous manifestations, it is not knowing that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is true, … it is not actually knowing that the Savior is the Redeemer, and that Joseph Smith was His prophet, that will save you and me, but it is the keeping of the commandments of God, the living the life of a Latter-day Saint.’ Now, young men and young women, as you begin to set your priorities in life, remember, the only true security in life is living the commandments.

Do you rest in the certainty that your works are sufficient to earn your Salvation? Or, does it make you squirm to hear these words from President Grant? How does it feel knowing that your “certainty for being saved” rests on your ability to keep the commandments?

If I had heard these words while I was LDS, I would have been completely stressed out. I was well aware of my inability to keep God’s commands. Reading these words today I am so very thankful that the Holy Spirit has opened my heart and eyes to the truth. I bear witness to you that these words are false! No one will be saved by following the path that Mormon prophets have set you on—no one will be found righteous by keeping the commandments. The only “path of safety” lies in having faith in Jesus!

I know that these words are false and you can know this too—simply by testing his words with God’s prophets and apostles, found in His holy scripture:

The Prophet Isaiah Testified:

“I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Is 61:10)

Not according to our works:

“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner: but be thou partaker of the afflictions of the gospel according to the power of God; Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel:” (2 Ti 1:7-10)

Saved through faith—Not by works:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Eph 2:8-10)

Not by Works of Righteousness:

“But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; 6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour” (Tit 3:4-6)

What Must I do to be Saved?

“And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? 31 And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.” (Ac 16:30-31)

Believe and You Will be Saved:

“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. 10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” (Ro 10:9-10)

Whoever Believes in Jesus Has Eternal Life:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (Jn 3:14-18)

The Gospel is the Power that Saves–Through Belief:

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Ro 1:16)

The Message of the Cross is the Power That Saves:

“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.” (1 Co 1:18)

The LORD Gives Salvation:

“For the LORD taketh pleasure in his people: he will beautify the meek with salvation.” (Ps 149:4)

The Record of God is That He hath Given to Us Eternal Life:

“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:9-13)

You Shall be Whiter Than Snow:

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight…

Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice. Hide thy face from my sins, and blot out all mine iniquities.

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me. Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation; and uphold me with thy free spirit. Then will I teach transgressors thy ways; and sinners shall be converted unto thee.” Ps 51:1-13

Along with King David, I Have confessed my sins to God, and have devoted my life to teaching transgressors about God’s ways. Whenever I am down, I pray for God to restore to me the joy of His salvation—so that many sinners will know Christ.

Link to General Conference talk: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2006/10/wherefore-settle-this-in-your-hearts?lang=eng

Do You Want to Have an Eternal Family?

I have a pretty awesome “little” brother. I love calling him my “baby” brother because it really irritates him. Even though he’s one year younger than me, he stands seven inches taller than me. He’s very hard-working and it seems that everything he touches turns to gold. I think one of the reasons he’s so successful is because he had to be responsible at a very young age. When we were both in middle school our father was seriously injured in an accident at the factory where he worked. He was unable to work for many years and as a result, my brother started working full-time at a local dairy at the age of 13. He worked four hours before school and four hours after school. There were several times he helped my parents with the mortgage payment and gave them money for our older brothers while they were on their missions.

As far as his personality, my little brother can be intimidating when you first meet him. But once you get to know him you find out how compassionate and awesome he is. If you have met my little brother, you would remember him, he’s just that kind of guy. One time when I lived on the east coast, nearly 3,000 miles away from our home town, I saw someone with an Idaho license plate at a gas station. When I started talking to him, I found out that he knew my little brother. As I said, if you have met him, you don’t easily forget him.

My brother and I have lived very similar lives. Both of us were sexually abused as children. Both of us committed sexual sins with our first spouses before we got married. Both of us desired to have an eternal family, so we became worthy to enter the temple and had our marriages sealed for time and eternity. Both of us, no matter how hard we tried, weren’t able to hold our marriages together. Even though both of our spouses were often unfaithful to us, we spent years trying to work things out.

Looking back, it’s easy to understand how emotionally messed up we were because of the sexual abuse. And, we both simply made horrible choices for marriage partners. Even though we tried everything we could to make our marriages work, our spouses still abandoned us. For both my brother and I, we lived some very difficult years with lots of emotional pain and hurt. Both of us lost our testimony in LDS prophets and left the Church. We both spent several years without any church or faith.

After the Holy Spirit brought me to faith in the true Christ over 17 years ago, I desperately wanted my little brother to know of the joy I had found in Jesus. I shared with him the news of forgiveness as often as he would let me, but he wasn’t interested. I never ceased praying for him. I always had this vision that when he came to faith, I would be the one that led him to the truth. But God, in His wisdom, had His own plan. My little brother’s second wife is a Christian. Like me, she has spent many years in prayer, asking God to bring him to faith. I praise the Lord that He has heard our prayers and brought my brother to faith!! It happened a few years ago when he felt something missing in his life and started attending a Christian Church.

I am thankful that the Holy Spirit works the miracle of conversion through the hearing of God’s Word. When he heard the Word he passed over from spiritual death to eternal spiritual life. As Jesus said: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24) Because my brother believes that God sent Jesus to save him, he “hath everlasting life”. Notice how Jesus reveals that all who simply believe in Him already have eternal life?

It’s so amazing that my blood brother is now my spiritual brother and a member of Heavenly Father’s eternal family!!! When I was LDS I always dreamed of being worthy enough to have an eternal family. Both my brother and I were born under the covenant. Our four older siblings are faithful LDS members and believe they will live eternally with their families. But the LDS teaching about eternal families is a mirage—it’s false. There is only one eternal family and that is God’s! You become worthy to enter His eternal family the moment the Holy Spirit brings you to faith! At that moment you become a child of God and inherit all of His eternal blessings—including being credited with Christ’s righteousness.

I praise my Lord and Savior for choosing to save the weak and base things of this world, people like me:

“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 1:27-31).

Because of our sinfulness, my little brother and I were well aware that we desperately needed a Savior whose blood covered over our every sin. We knew we could not gain forgiveness with our own efforts. We knew we could never be worthy enough to meet God’s demands for righteousness. Our siblings, whose lives seem pretty “good” in comparison to ours, still reject their Savior who did everything for them. They reject the Christ who testified that eternal life is a gift from God given to those who believe. Even though Jesus clearly commanded that we be as perfect as Heavenly Father (Matthew 5:48), they still believe they can be worthy enough to gain eternal life “after all they [we] can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).

Do you want to spend eternity with members of your family? Then turn to Jesus and trust that His blood covers over all of your sins. Teach your children the wonderful message that the gift of eternal life is granted solely through faith alone. Then, spend the rest of your life serving your Lord and sharing Jesus with those who don’t believe:

“That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.“.

“He That Overcometh Shall Inherit All Things” We Overcome By Believing in Jesus!

Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God? If so rejoice, because you have overcome the world!!

The Apostle John declared: “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:7) While John is the one who revealed that we must overcome to inherit all things; he is also the Apostle who teaches us how we overcome:

“For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. 5 Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:4-5)

Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God! The moment the Holy Ghost brings us to faith in Him, we are “born of God”. That is how we become a child of God–through faith. Our loving God is the King of Kings. The children of the King inherit all that their Father has–not because of anything they have done, but simply because the King is their Father. An inheritance is an unconditional and free gift.

John testified that our King has also given eternal life to those who believe Jesus is the Son of God: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:9-13)

If you are LDS, you have not been taught these truths. This months New Testament Gospel Doctrine Class is Lesson 45: “He That Overcometh Shall Inherit All Things”. These false teachings are found in the conclusion of the Lesson:

“Testify that those who overcome the temptations and trials of the world will inherit the blessings of eternal life. Remind class members that the Savior’s Atonement provides a way for us to overcome if we repent and are faithful.” (p. 190)

LDS prophets and apostles “Testify that those who overcome the temptations and trials of the world will inherit the blessings of eternal life.”

In denial of this false belief, Christ’s Apostle John the Beloved revealed: “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

LDS prophets and apostles claim that the “Savior’s Atonement provides a way for us to overcome if we repent and are faithful.”

The Apostle John revealed: “Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5) Our Loving Savior did so much more for us than merely provide a way for us to overcome”.
He overcame the world for us–in our place!!

Christ testified: “These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)

Do you still believe that Jesus is the Son of God, even though His testimony contradicts the words of LDS apostles and prophets? If so, rejoice in the fact that you have overcome the world and inherited eternal life. Now you get to spend the rest of your life giving Jesus all the glory, honour and praise!

Exaltation: As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be

After the Holy Ghost brought me to faith, I had a burning desire to share my Savior with my Father. He was dying of cancer in Idaho and I lived in Virginia. I was attending the College of William and Mary as an older student. During the summer before my senior year I grabbed an opportunity to take a few classes at Boise State. My daughters and I stayed with my folks and I took every opportunity I could to share my new-found faith with my Dad.

I felt that the Lord was leading me to stay in Idaho to witness to my father, so I gave up my last year at William and Mary and stayed with my parents. The Lord gave me a full year with my Dad before he died and I cherished every moment. We had different faiths, but the Bible was our common ground and while he lay in bed I read it to him often. I must have read the book of Romans to him a hundred times. The message of free and full forgiveness seemed so clear to me and I couldn’t understand how my family couldn’t see the truth.

My father’s health deteriorated as the months went by. I believe that through his physical limitations, God was giving him the opportunity to be humbled; to see his need for a Savior who had already done everything for him. One day about three months before he died, I heard him ask my uncle this question:

“Bob, how is it possible that we can become gods?” My uncle Bob replied “It’s possible, just believe it.” My dad said: “But we are so far from it!”

My heart sang when I heard his words! My father had taught the false LDS doctrine that man could become a god for many years. Now his words were those of someone who was truly seeing himself as the sinful man that he really was. He was being humbled by God.

That was over fifteen years ago. Since that time, I have discovered a simple truth: Those who believe in Jesus are fully aware that they sin all the time–even though they try not to. Because of their own struggles with sin, they believe and understand the Words of Christ; that “there is none good but one, that is, God” (Mark 10:18). Believers in Christ know that only God is good. That is one reason they are so thankful that it is through faith alone that they are credited with Christ’s righteousness, just as Abraham was (Romans 4:20-5:1)

Humility is one characteristic of every person who has a living faith in Jesus. Humble sinners know how often they sin. They know that if their eternal destination depended upon anything they had to do, they would be doomed to spend eternity with Satan. They know that God loves them so much He sent a Savior to rescue them from their depraved life of sinfulness.

The Apostle Paul described the criteria God uses to choose His followers and why:

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:25-31)

The very essence of LDS doctrine leads a person away from humility and towards pride. There is no better example of this than the belief that man is good enough to one day be a god himself! Gospel Principles Chapter 47 explains some of the blessings that will be given to those who obtain Exaltation through their obedience:

They will become gods (see D&C 132:20–23)…
They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have—all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge (see D&C 132:19–20). President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to His commandments.” (p.277)

Can you see how blasphemous this is in God’s eyes? To Him it would be the epitome of arrogance! The Prophet Isaiah testified that even our righteousness is like filthy rags: “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.” (Isaiah 64:6).

When you believe that you can really become a God, it shows two things: (1) that you have no clue as to how amazing God really is, and (2) you have no idea how utterly sinful you are. As my father had come to know, you are so far from God’s holiness that you could NEVER become a god!

The Apostle Paul knew how sinful he was:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:18-25)

The Apostle Paul did not despair because of how sinful he was. Instead, he spent his whole life thanking Jesus with a life dedicated to serving God! He knew that Jesus had already delivered him!

The Gift of Eternal Life is Truly a Gift! You Can’t Earn or Qualify for it through Obedience

Since today is my husbands birthday, I got to thinking about my gift for him. I decided to come up with a list of things he needed to do before I let him open his gift: mow the lawn, clean out the chicken coup, fix the rototiller, clean out the gliders cage, change the oil in both the vehicles… I know it’s a long list, but I expect him to finish everything on it before he can receive the gift I bought him.

It might sound absurd to talk about giving someone a gift with conditions attached; or to think that we have to qualify for the gift before we can receive it.  We trust that the giver of the gift loves us and has given us their gift freely and unconditionally. In fact, a gift is something that you freely give to someone you love–no conditions attached. If you look up the word gift in a dictionary you will find it defined as:

“Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation.”

In LDS church teachings, the word gift takes on a whole different meaning. In fact, it has been re-defined! You can do a simple search at lds.org–in the gospel library. Type in the words “conditional AND gift”. You will discover that even God’s love, mercy and grace are all “gifts” conditioned upon your worthiness.

There are really only two unconditional gifts in Mormonism and those are the gifts of immortality (bodily resurrection) and free agency. All other “gifts” are “conditional”.

“Immortality is to live forever as a resurrected being. Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everyone will receive this gift. Eternal life, or exaltation, is to live in God’s presence and to continue as families (see D&C 131:1–4). Like immortality, this gift is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, to inherit eternal life requires our “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (Articles of Faith 1:3).”

Praise the Lord that the true Savior of the world loves you and has many unconditional gifts waiting for you! One is the gift of eternal life! Not only does He offer it to you unconditionally but it is also given freely and voluntarily. This gift was made personally–just for you, and it wasn’t an easy gift for Jesus to make. He lovingly spent thirty three years working on His gift. Day after day, despite many temptations by Satan, Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s commandments—just for you. He did this so that He could be your Substitute for the righteousness required to dwell eternally in God’s presence. Through faith in Jesus you are credited with all of His perfect works. This is the only way you could meet God’s demands for righteousness.

His suffering on the night of His death as the Atonement for your sins was tremendous. It must have been excruciating to take upon Himself the sins of the entire world, and then to be cursed and abandoned by His Heavenly Father. His shed blood covered over every sin you will ever commit. He willingly lived and died to give you eternal life–as a gift.

Now, imagine that Jesus comes to you and personally offers His gift to you—freely and unconditionally. But, instead of graciously and excitedly thanking Him for the gift He worked so hard to make for you–you tell Him you can improve on His gift by adding your own works to it. Or, maybe you tell Him you can’t accept His gift because you believe you first have to qualify for it. Imagine His disappointment when you reject His loving gift–the gift that He worked on His whole life and gave His life for. He did this especially for you–because He loves you unconditionally!

Please, don’t do this to my Savior Jesus! Don’t reject the gift of eternal life He worked so hard to freely give you! Don’t leave His precious gift unopened for another minute! Through His perfect works He has already qualified you to live eternally with Heavenly Father:

“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

Believe (have faith) that Jesus has already gained this gift for you and you will receive it! Then, spend the remainder of your life freely serving your Heavenly Father. Freely because doing so is your voluntary and unconditional gift of love for your Savior!

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

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 what the Bible teaches. 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 Jesus (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…

Guess what? We do have to be perfect! That’s why Jesus came to do it for us—because we can’t do what God requires!

The LDS 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 Christ. 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 for us– 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 who loved them so much He washed their sins away with His blood (Revelation 1:5).
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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).

We Must Serve Others to Gain Eternal Life? No—We Serve Others Out of Love For God

This week’s Gospel Principles Lesson claims: “We must serve others to gain eternal life. God has said that those who live with Him must love and serve His children (see Matthew 25:34–40).”

Serving others is not a requirement to gain eternal life. There are no requirements for gaining eternal life. Eternal life is a blessing given to believers the very instant the Holy Ghost brings them to faith in Jesus—before they do any acts of service.

Jesus testified:

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

After a believer has been given eternal life, she will serve others. Faith alone saves, but faith in never alone. The moment a person comes to faith in Jesus, they become a new spiritual creature. All true believers will serve others—they can’t help doing so because they have been “born again”. But these works of service are not requirements for gaining eternal life—they are fruits of having already been given eternal life. All who love God will serve Him—and others, out of gratitude for all that God has given them. It’s simply a fact that believers will do works that please God.

The Apostle John declared that those who believe in Jesus already have eternal life:

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

Those who believe in Jesus “have” everlasting life. John stated his testimony of this belief even stronger in 1 John 5:

“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.”

Notice again that eternal life is a free gift, given to all who simply have faith in Jesus! And, the Apostle John states he wrote his words so that we can know that we have eternal life!

Believe it, and receive it!

“Here chicky chicky”— Do you know your Savior’s voice?

In my neighborhood, I am often called the “chicken lady”. I love my chickens! Over the years I have raised many different varieties of chickens and have found that each one has a unique personality. It’s amazing that as each chick grows to maturity, we get to know each other and become good friends. I love it when they finally trust me enough to distinctly know my voice. All I have to do is call “here chicky chicky” and they all come a running. They know me and trust my words to mean that I will have something to give them. They have come to trust in the promise of my words, that I will have “tasty” treats for them.

In a similar way, those who know and trust Jesus run to Him when they hear His voice. Jesus referred to these people as His “sheep”. His sheep trust His every word and believe in His promises. Those who don’t trust in Christ’s words, don’t believe Him and are not His sheep. When He was speaking to some unbelieving Jews, He said:

“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:26-28)

Are you one of Jesus’ sheep? Do you trust His words? Do you believe this promise that He gave to His sheep: “And I give unto them eternal life”?

Or, do you hear the voice of a different Christ, one who claimed that eternal life must be gained “by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel”? (Articles of Faith 1:3)

The Savior of the world knows that no one can obtain eternal life “by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel”! No unclean person can dwell in God’s presence and God alone defines what “unclean” is. Just listen to Christ’s voice in the Sermon on the Mount. He taught that if a man even looks at a woman in lust he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. He revealed that someone who is angry with his brother has committed the same sin as murder. Do you truly love your enemies, bless those who curse you and do good to those who hate and persecute you? Do you hear the voice of your Savior as He commands you to “be as perfect as our Father in Heaven”? (Matthew 5:48) Jesus’ sheep know that when He gave this command, He really meant what He said.

Those who love and follow Christ trust His words; that on Judgment Day, the standard for perfection will be God Himself. Do you believe the voice of your Savior as He describes what will happen on Judgment Day to those who merely committed sins of omission? (Those who didn’t feed the hungry or clothe the naked; visit the sick or those in prison.) He testifies that He will send these people to the very same eternal domain as Satan:

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”. (Matthew 25:41-46)

All those who are Jesus’ sheep believe Him when He said “There is none good but one, that is, God:” (Matthew 19:17). Jesus knew that we were doomed unless He came to earth to save us. Christ’s sheep have given up trying to be worthy and gaining eternal life through their obedience. Instead, they cling to their Savior’s promise that eternal life is a free gift—given to all who have faith in Him:

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:15-18)

How is it possible that a sinful person can be granted eternal life as a free gift? Because it is through faith and faith alone that one meets God’s requirement for perfection! Through faith in Christ we are credited with His perfection. The writer of Hebrews explains that through Christ’s Atonement, we have been perfected forever:

“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)

When my chickens hear my voice they come running because they know that I have gifts waiting for them. They don’t hold back wondering if they are worthy of my gifts. In this way, Jesus longs for you to truly know Him and trust His promises; to finally believe all that He has done for you. I pray that you will hear His voice and come running to Him, regardless of how worthy you feel. The very moment you do, you will receive His amazing gifts of perfection and eternal life. Believe it, and receive it. Then you will be free to live the life I live. Serving God with everything I do–simply because I love Him.

No Good Thing Comes Without Work? Do You Believe God’s Prophets, Christ & His Apostles; or LDS prophets?

Shem recently commented: No good thing comes without work.

While his words testify to the teachings of Mormon Prophets, is that what God’s Prophets, Jesus and His Apostles taught?

Would you consider being healed (forgiven) a good thing? The Prophet Isaiah prophesied:

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)

How about being washed from our sins? Don’t you think that’s a good thing? The Apostle John testified:

“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, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Revelation 1:5)

How about being redeemed from the curse of not following God’s laws? The Apostle Paul taught:

“For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. 11But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. 12And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:10-14)

How about being reconciled to God & not having our sins imputed to us? Would you consider that a good thing?

“To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:19-21)

Would you consider being made righteous a good thing? The Apostle Paul testified that this good thing comes without our work:

“Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous. Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:18-21)

How about being perfected forever? The writer of Hebrews tells us that this gift is because of Christ’s work, not ours:

“By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; From henceforth expecting till his enemies be made his footstool. For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

How about gaining eternal & everlasting life? Jesus Himself proclaimed:

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. 18He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Think about these amazing gifts. Being washed from our sins and forgiven, redeemed, reconciled, made righteous and perfect, and gaining eternal life. These are all very good things! And yet, we do no works to receive these amazing gifts.

However, in one way, Shems words are true: No good thing comes without work.

All of these good things come because of Christ’s work!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But certainly not by our works—our works are like filthy rags in God’s sight:

“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.” (Isaiah 64:6)

Every breath I breathe is in thankfulness to my Lord and Savior!

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