Having a Faith in Jesus is Different from any other Faith

I was only 22 years old when I found my daughter Laura, dead in her crib. No parent should have to endure the trauma of having their child’s lifeless body lowered into a grave. Twenty-nine years have passed and yet the emotional pain is a vivid memory that time has not erased. Today, I pray that I can use the example of Laura’s life and death as a means of teaching you what a “living” faith in Jesus looks like.

When Laura was born she was very much alive. I knew this fact immediately because when the nurse put her in my arms, she wiggled around and started to cry very loudly. Over the next few months, whenever she was hungry, her cry often told me that she was very much alive. The morning that she died, I was suspicious before I even saw her, because I had not heard that normal cry of hunger. The moment I saw her, I knew that her spirit was no longer in her body. I could see there was no breath of life in her because her tiny chest did not move as it had before.

When a person is brought to faith (converted) it is an instantaneous event, similar to when my daughter was born physically. Jesus told Nicodemus that a man must be “born again” and explained what that means:

“That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:6-8)

The Holy Spirit brings a person to faith in a miraculous birth called conversion. Just as a baby is born physically and does not contribute to its birth, when a person is brought to faith, they are “born of the Spirit” and have done nothing to make it happen. When a physical life is created, there are elements necessary to create this new life, so also with a spiritual birth. The Holy Spirit works His miraculous birth using the very Word of God as the conduit which creates a new spiritual life. Both Jesus and Peter explain:

“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)

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23)

When someone hears or reads God’s words and the Holy Spirit brings that person to faith, a new creature is born, one that did not exist before. Every person with a living faith in Jesus, has been brought to faith (born again) in this way—by the Holy Spirit.

I once had faith in the Gospel of Mormonism. That faith was not one that was created by the Holy Spirit—I myself had worked to “develop it by my obedience.” After that faith failed me, I tried a faith in Shamanism and then one in the New Age movement, and on and on I went—searching for something I could place my faith in. Finally I settled on the faith that having faith didn’t really matter.

Today, I am so thankful that the Holy Spirit worked on that miserable being and brought me to faith, opening my eyes and heart to the truth. Now that I know what a “living” faith is, I can clearly see the difference. Contrasting any other faith with a faith in Jesus exposes that all other faiths are “dead”. All who have a faith in Jesus have something that no other person has—a new spiritual creature that lives inside of them and has become a part of who they are. When the Holy Spirit brought me to faith, I did not want to be a Christian. I had given up on “religion” and certainly didn’t understand all the things I am explaining to you now.

In spite of the fact that I didn’t understand, I had this new spiritual creature living inside of me that was crying out and acting in ways that I had never before experienced. First and foremost, it wanted to be fed. Just like my daughter Laura who cried out when she was hungry, my new spirit craved spiritual food and sent me out to find it. Even though I didn’t understand why at the time, I couldn’t stop myself from going to as many different Church services as I possibly could. I would go to three different services on a Sunday and as many others as I could possibly find during the week. I was a thirty-six year old with a “born-again” spirit that needed to be fed voraciously. My hunger was satiated only where God’s Word was being shared—in Christian churches.

It was at one of these services that I heard a message that both my head and heart could understand. I heard the truth that gaining forgiveness of my sins did not depend upon my works—that work had already been done by Jesus! I learned that all my sins had been washed away with Christ’s blood, shed on the cross. Then and there I gave my life to Jesus and my life has never been the same. Every breath I breathe is for my Savior—driven by the new spiritual life that was created in me by the Holy Spirit, and fed by God’s Word working through me.

Heavenly Father knows who does and doesn’t have faith—He can see into our hearts. But for us, it is sometimes hard to tell who does and doesn’t have a living faith. Yet those who have a living faith, move and act in ways that someone without faith cannot do—because they have a spiritual creature living inside them. They will do many works out of love for their God who has already given them eternal life—not because they “have to” but because they “want to”. They cannot help themselves because that is what spiritually alive creatures do.

True good works (voluntary works not done to gain something for you) always follow saving faith—yet faith alone saves! Such works are motivated by gratitude to a loving God who saves undeserving sinners—they glorify God. Works done to gain forgiveness, eternal life or anything else are motivated by a love of self—they glorify self!

James explains to us that there will be those who claim to have a living faith—but don’t. He also tells us how we can tell if someone does not really have a living faith: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2:26) Just as I knew that my daughter Laura was physically dead because her body was not moving; we can know that someone is spiritually dead if there are no works as evidence that they have a “living” faith.

I pray that the Holy Spirit has brought you to faith through the reading of God’s Word. If you find that what I write is beginning to make sense, then maybe your heart understands what your head has not yet accepted. Turn to God’s Words found in the Bible.

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The Only True Security in Life is Living the Commandments?

There has been some discussion recently about things we can be absolutely certain about. Christiangirl said that she has “absolute certainty that God is who he said he is (all powerful, creator of earth, loving, just, redeemer, shepherd, no beginning and no end, etc), and the certainty that what Jesus did on the cross for me is sufficient to cover all of my sins.” I am thankful that she has shared her testimony and I agree with her wholeheartedly. I know with every fiber of my being that I have been saved—not because of anything I have ever done, but solely through faith in my Savior whose blood has washed me clean.

A few years ago in Conference a 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 is talking about 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.

If you were listening to this talk in General Conference four years ago, did you rest in the certainty that your works were sufficient to earn your Salvation? Or, did you squirm when you heard these words? How does it feel knowing that your “certainty for being saved” rests on your own shoulders—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. Today, reading these words 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 President Grant was a false prophet 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)

His salvation is forever:
Lift up your eyes to the heavens, and look upon the earth beneath: for the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, and the earth shall wax old like a garment, and they that dwell therein shall die in like manner: but my salvation shall be for ever, and my righteousness shall not be abolished.” (Is 51:6)

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.” (Eph 2:8-9)

NOT by works of righteousness, but according to his mercy:
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:
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 3:15-18)

The Gospel of Christ 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)

With King David, I confessed my sins to God, and have devoted my life to teaching transgressors about God’s ways. I pray daily for God to restore to me the joy of His salvation—so that many sinners will be converted to Christ:

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: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest… 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

Link to General Conference talk:

Do you Have the Peace that “Passeth All Understanding”?

The Young Women Lesson a few weeks back taught about the “peace that surpasseth all understanding“. The Teacher’s Manual claims: “The blessed part of being a peacemaker is that those who are peacemakers and who live the gospel principles receive a testimony borne of the Holy Ghost. They enjoy the peace that surpasseth all understanding, relief from inner tensions, joy and happiness, contentment, growth, and development.” (page 36)

Do you enjoy the “peace that surpasseth all understanding?” Is your life full of “joy and happiness”? Do you have “relief from inner tensions”? Are you “content”? According to your LDS leaders, if you are a a peacemaker and live the gospel principles, then you should be enjoying these blessings.

If you aren’t, then I’m not surprised. I grew up LDS and attended classes where I learned what these Young Women are being taught. As an LDS woman, I knew that all blessing are predicated upon obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel (D & C 130: 21). I so wanted to be at peace and full of joy and happiness, but I just couldn’t do enough to receive these blessings. It wasn’t until after the Holy Spirit brought me to faith in Jesus that I learned that true peace and joy could never be gained by my obedience.

The “peace of God that passeth all understanding” comes first and foremost from trusting in God for everything–especially the complete forgiveness of all your sins. This peace comes from the sure knowledge that in spite of how many times you sin, you have been reconciled to God through Christ. It was with His blood that Jesus made peace between God and man—we have been reconciled through His Atonement:

“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:” (Unfortunately, these verses from Colossians 1:19-23 are not listed in the LDS KJV Topical Guide under “Peace” or “Peace of God”.)

Knowing you have been reconciled to God, you can live daily with the full assurance of God’s love and approval. Each day that you truly give all your worries and cares to Jesus (trust fully in Him) you will live in “the peace of God, which passeth all understanding:”

“Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice. Let your moderation be known unto all men. The Lord is at hand. Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:4-7)

“Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength:” (Isaiah 26:3-4)

The Young Women Lesson brings up Jesus’ words: “Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called the children of God.” (Mathew 5:9). The teacher then asks the girls: “Why would peacemakers be called the children of God?” The answer given is: “a person who brings peace into the lives of others is becoming like God and so can truly be called a child of God.”

This answer is wrong! No one “is becoming like God” through their obedience. According to Jesus, no one is even good (Matthew 19:17). God alone is good!

Amazingly, every person with faith in Jesus can “truly be called a child of God”. It is through faith and faith alone that we become God’s dear children. And God’s children are peacemakers and do enjoy “the peace” that comes from faithful living. But they also know that their faithful works are merely God working through them. They are grateful that their own works have nothing to do with being found worthy before God.

Being a peacemaker is a fruit of faith–it comes as a result of the comfort and love you feel from God. It is only after you have been brought to faith that you can do anything to please God (Hebrews 11:6). Even then, it is God who works in you, enticing you to do His will:

“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (Unfortunately, these verses from Hebrews 13:20-21 are not listed in the LDS KJV Topical Guide under “Peace” or “Peace of God”.)

Only through the sure knowledge that God has you held in His capable hands, will you finally find true peace. As a Mormon, God’s peace eluded me because I knew how unworthy I was. The day I learned that all my sins had been forgiven at the Cross– I found the “peace of God, which passeth all understanding”.

God loves you so much that He punished His own Son in your place. The Holy Spirit is enticing you to trust solely in Jesus. The moment you do, He will “present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” (Colossians 1:19-23)

Believe it, and receive it!

Link to Young Women Lesson 9: https://www.lds.org/manual/young-women-manual-2/contributing-to-family-life/lesson-9-a-young-woman-as-a-peacemaker-in-her-home?lang=eng

Can You Be Saved by Faith and Works?

The Epistle to the Romans is my very favorite book in the Bible. The essence of the book of Romans is this: by God’s grace, eternal life is granted through faith in Christ, and only through faith in Christ.

A commenter recently asked the question “Why is it that if I believe in works I cannot believe in faith, or the grace of God? Why must these things remain separate?” I responded by taking him to the eleventh chapter of Romans where the Apostle Paul boldly testifies: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

In response, the commenter has written: “IF you care to examine the entire chapter of Roman’s 11 you will notice that Paul is not talking about salvation or eternal life. He is talking about being born into the covenant line of Israel, or the church. This is a blessing given by the grace of God that we have done nothing in this life to earn. It is by grace, and not by works.

To examine the eleventh chapter of Romans we must first examine the tenth chapter, and all those before it. When someone writes a letter it is expected that whoever reads it will start at the beginning and read it through to the end. By the time Paul gets to chapter eleven, he has already stated multiple times that salvation is a freely offered gift granted ONLY to those who believe. In fact, through the entire Epistle, Paul has never stopped talking about salvation and eternal life. He hasn’t changed his message or theme: by God’s grace, eternal life is granted through faith in Christ, and only through faith in Christ. Because Paul is so sure of this grace, he tells his readers not to give up on the unbelieving Israelite’s. He gives the example of the remnant saved by grace during Elijah’s time, as it was also true for Christian Jews during Paul’s time. All people are saved the same way–only through God’s grace and not through works.

Paul begins his testimony in chapter one: “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” (verse 16). The salvation he speaks of is eternal life: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (6:23).

The reason salvation is granted solely through faith is because that is the only way a person can meet God’s requirement to be righteous!! One must be perfect to enter into God’s presence. Jesus came to earth and was perfect for us, in our place. It is only through faith in Him, as our substitute, that we are declared righteous!! This was true for Abraham and as well as for us: “And therefore it [faith] was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;” (4:21-24).

It is impossible to gain eternal life by being obedient to God’s law, or by trying to add your works to your faith. Paul explains, using Old Testament scripture: “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one ” (3:11-12). no one will be declared righteous by trying to follow God’s law: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (verse 20). Notice the important words “in his sight”. Heavenly Father has demanded we be as perfect as Him (Matthew 5:48). In HIS sight, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (verse 23).

The unbelieving Jews were sincere, but they were sincerely wrong! They earnestly sought righteousness, but they tried to acquire it in the wrong way. They thought they had to gain eternal life through obedience. They believed they could be righteous through their own works. They had a zeal for God, but they were ignorant of the truth! (9:30-10:4)

What is God’s truth? Eternal life is purely a gift of God, received by faith, without any works!!! In fact, if you bring works into the picture you ruin God’s free gift and you loose His favor!! That’s what Paul meant when he wrote: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Turn to your Savior who grants you His righteousness through faith: “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. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (10:9-10).

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

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

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

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

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

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

The same is true with the perfection Jesus accomplished. On your behalf, Jesus spent His entire life living for you. In your place he kept every command perfectly. He is your substitute for the perfection demanded by God. Jesus alone meets the requirement to be as perfect as Heavenly Father. Adding your “best effort” to His perfect score only makes your score imperfect! This is why we can only be saved through faith alone. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

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

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