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:

Is the LDS Process of Repentance a Blessing?

About a month ago the 12 and 13 year old’s were taught that “Repentance is a Blessing.” The Lesson Manual tells the teacher to explain the reason why repentance is such a blessing:

“Explain that repentance is the process Heavenly Father has given us for ‘erasing’ our sins. Heavenly Father wants us to return to live with him after this life, but no unclean, or sinful, person can live with him (see Moses 6:57). Heavenly Father knows that everyone will make mistakes and commit sins while on the earth, so he has given us a way to become clean again after we have sinned. This is repentance.” (Preparing for Exaltation, Lesson 12: Repentance Is a Blessing)

The Lesson teaches these children the many requirements to be met before they can gain forgiveness of a sin. This “process” has several aspects to it, but today I wish to discuss Joseph Smith’s revelation that a person gains forgiveness by keeping the commandments. D&C 1:32: “Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.”

Testing the words of this LDS prophet with those of our Savior reveals the truth. Jesus revealed that doing all things which are commanded of you is simply what God requires of you, and is your duty! (Luke 17:9-10) When you sin (fail to keep God’s commands) you incur a debt, and need Heavenly Father’s forgiveness. Doing what is expected of you (keeping the commandments) cannot gain forgiveness for a debt. This merely prevents you from piling on more debt.

Here’s an illustration to explain what I mean:

It’s expected that you will pay your monthly bills. Last month you used part of your bill money to go on vacation and so you couldn’t pay all your bills. You used your credit card to pay for these bills and so incurred a debt on your credit card. This month you paid all your bills. You call up your credit card company and say “I paid all my bills this month so please forgive my debt from last month”. Do you think your credit card company will accept this offer as payment for your debt? Heavenly Father also, will not accept as payment for your sin debt, the works He already requires of you.

So how does a sin debt get paid? The writer of Hebrews testifies that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). In the Old Testament we read that God’s people were required to offer animal sacrifices as payment for their sin. These animal sacrifices had to be perfect, without blemish.

But even if you gave your life’s blood as an offering to pay for your sins, your offering would be rejected by Heavenly Father. Why? Because you are not a perfect sacrifice! You are not without blemish. You are not without sin. Instead, you are in debt to God for all your sins. On Judgment Day, every single sin you’ve ever committed will be judged by Jesus, for all to see (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Anyone found unclean (without blemish) will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

But take heart, you are not without hope! Jesus shed His blood and paid the price for the sins of the entire world. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus was a perfect sacrifice—without any sin debt. Heavenly Father accepted Jesus’ payment for the sins of the world and forgave every person’s sin debt. In your place, Jesus offered His life as a perfect sacrifice and paid your debt.

There is only one way to “receive” the complete forgiveness that has already been won for you, and guess what? It isn’t through your efforts at trying to keep God’s commands. You can only receive forgiveness by believing that Jesus’ blood covers your sin debt. The moment you have faith in this, you will receive complete forgiveness of all your sins (past, present and future)! Jesus loves us and washed us from our sins in his own blood. (Revelation 1:5) Believe it and receive it! The Apostle Peter testified: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43).

Once you know just how much you have been forgiven, you can freely live a life of thanksgiving! You can keep Heavenly Fathers commandments out of gratitude and love, not out of obligation or trying to gain forgiveness and eternal life!

Click here to go to my Page titled “The LDS Process of Repentance”:

Link to LDS Lesson: https://www.lds.org/manual/preparing-for-exaltation-teachers-manual/lesson-12-repentance-is-a-blessing?lang=eng

Additional Testimony of the Bold Truth:

Debt to God
Jesus:
– Matthew 6:12
Sacrifice for Sin
Heavenly Father:
– Leviticus 4:1-5
Works Judged
Jesus:
– Matthew 12:36
Forgiveness Through Blood
The Apostle Paul:
– Colossians 1:14
– Ephesians 1:7
– Romans 3:24-25
– Romans 5:18-19
John the Beloved:
– Revelation 7:14
– Hebrews 9:12-15
The Apostle Peter:
– 1 Peter 1:18-19
Substitute Payment
The Prophet Isaiah:
– Isaiah 53:4-12
The Apostle Paul:
– Galatians 3:10-13
The Apostle Peter:
– 1 Peter 3:18
World’s Sin Paid
John the Baptist:
– John 1:29
John the Beloved:
– 1 John 2:2
Thankful Obedience
The Apostle Paul:
– 1 Corinthians 15:56-58

The “fulness” of the Gospel?

Once again, it was not easy reading the Gospel Doctrine Lesson. The words which were difficult for me: “Brothers and sisters, we have the richest blessings that God can give to His children. We have the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We ought to be the most open, friendly, happy, kind, considerate, thoughtful, loving people in the whole world.

You hear these words and think you have been blessed with the “fulness” of the gospel. In reality, the gospel has been “stripped” of its fulness! You have not received any “blessings” from God because all blessings are predicated upon your obedience to His laws! I have been struggling with how to explain the difference between the “gospel” that you have and the “gospel” that I know. The best way I can come up with is to compare three gospel blessings provided by these two very different gospels.

The blessing of Eternal life:

A loving Heavenly Father has provided Salvation through His Son. All blessings are unconditional gifts given to His children because of His love. Every child rests in the assurance that their Daddy will take care of them in His home where they will live with Him forever. Eternal life is an unconditional gift given to God’s children through faith! Through the gospel of Christ a child of God can know they have eternal life right now (1 John 5:11-13). The LDS gospel took this blessing away and in its place, gives you a Plan” of Salvation. This “plan” exposes that your eternal destination hangs in the balance of your worthiness! It shows your gospel’s “condition” of withholding any blessing which has not been gained through obedience. Before you can live with your Heavenly Father you must first prove that you are worthy to do so. You can’t even know in this life whether you have done enough to be allowed to enter into his presence.

The blessing of having your debt canceled:

Even though I owed a huge debt to my loving Father, through the gospel of Christ He completely “wrote off” this debt as “paid in full”. In place of my debt, He gives me a mansion in heaven where I will dwell with Him eternally! The LDS gospel stripped away the blessing of being “debt free” and instead “refinancedyour debt, making your oldest brother your creditor. You now owe your debt to Jesus. You must pay off this debt by keeping the commandments, one at a time.

The blessing of forgiveness:

Heavenly Father sacrificed His Son to cover over all sins. Through the gospel of Christ I am one hundred percent forgiven! My Father in Heaven forgave every sin I ever committed over 2000 years ago at the cross! There were no conditions attached to this blessing and I received it the moment I believed in it (Acts 10:43). This blessing of unconditional forgiveness given through the gospel of Jesus Christ has been completely taken out of the LDS gospel. When you sin, forgiveness is withheld until you prove your worthiness to receive it—you must first keep God’s commands. In fact, God withholds his forgiveness of you until you completely forgive all others for any wrongs they have done against you, whether they are repentant or not. Your gospel claims that God doesn’t even hold himself to the same standard he demands from his children. The harshest aspect of the LDS gospel is that God revokes your hard-won forgiveness when you repeat a sin you thought you had finally abandoned.

The richest gospel blessings that God gives to His children are forgiveness and eternal life. These gifts are truly gifts! One cannot qualify for them nor can they be earned. They are undeserved blessings offered to all, solely through the gospel of Jesus Christ! Please do not reject this amazing gospel or you will forfeit the richest blessings God has to offer you!

Lesson 18 Beyond the Veil-Forgiveness through works?

LDS Belief:

A person is washed and cleansed from their sins (gains forgiveness) by keeping the commandments. Supporting LDS scripture found in Doctrine and Covenants 1:32 “Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.”

LDS Words
(Joseph Smith)

Found in lesson 18, page 220:
The Prophet Joseph Smith saw the following in vision, later recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 76:50–59, 62, 68–70: “And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—they are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—that by keeping the commandments they might be washed and cleansed from all their sins, and receive the Holy Spirit by the laying on of the hands of him who is ordained and sealed unto this power; and who overcome by faith, and are sealed by the Holy Spirit of promise, which the Father sheds forth upon all those who are just and true.

The Bold Truth:

Jesus loves us and washed us from our sins in his own blood. (Revelation 1:5)

Joseph Smith revealed that a person gains forgiveness by keeping the commandments. But Jesus testified that doing all the things which are commanded of you is simply what God requires of you and is your duty (Luke 17:9-10). When you sin (fail to keep God’s commands) you incur a debt and need Heavenly Father’s forgiveness. Doing what is expected of you (keeping the commandments) cannot gain forgiveness for a debt. This merely prevents you from piling on more debt.

Here’s an illustration to explain what I mean: It’s expected that you will pay your monthly bills. Last month you used part of your bill money to go on vacation and so you couldn’t pay all your bills. You used your credit card to pay for these bills and so incurred a debt on your credit card. This month you paid all your bills. You call up your credit card company and say “I paid all my bills this month so please forgive my debt from last month”. Do you think your credit card company will accept this offer as payment for your debt? Heavenly Father also, will not accept as payment for your sin debt, the works He already requires of you.

So how does a sin debt get paid? The writer of Hebrews testifies that without the shedding of blood there can be no forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22). In the Old Testament we read that God’s people were required to offer animal sacrifices as payment for their sin. These animal sacrifices had to be perfect, without blemish. But even if you gave your life’s blood, as an offering to pay for your sins, your offering would be rejected by Heavenly Father. Why? Because you are not a perfect sacrifice! You are not without blemish. You are not without sin. Instead, you are in debt to God for all your sins. On Judgment Day, every single sin you’ve ever committed will be judged by Jesus for all to see (Ecclesiastes 12:14). Anyone found unclean (without blemish) will not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

But take heart, you are not without hope! Jesus shed His blood and paid the price for the sins of the entire world. “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God” (Hebrews 10:12). Jesus was a perfect sacrifice—without any sin debt. Heavenly Father accepted Jesus’ payment for the sins of the world and forgave every person’s sin debt. In your place, Jesus offered His life as a perfect sacrifice and paid your debt. You can only receive forgiveness through belief, not through works (keeping God’s commands)! Believe that Jesus’ blood covers your sin debt and you will receive complete forgiveness of all your sins (past, present and future). Believe it and receive it! “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). Trust me; once you know you have been forgiven, you will live a life of thanksgiving! You will keep Heavenly Fathers commandments out of gratitude and love, not out of obligation or trying to gain something for yourself!

Eternal Consequences

If you believe you receive forgiveness by keeping God’s commands you will die in your sins. On Judgment Day you will stand guilty before Heavenly Father because you rejected Christ’s blood as payment for your sins.

Recommended Reading — The Apostle Peter’s Quest for Forgiveness

Unforgivable Saint

Additional Testimony of the Bold Truth:

Hebrews:
– Hebrews 9:12-15

Debt to God
Jesus:
– Matthew 6:12
Sacrifice for Sin
Heavenly Father:
– Leviticus 4:1-5
Works Judged
Jesus:
– Matthew 12:36
Forgiveness Through
Blood

The Apostle Paul:
– Colossians 1:14
– Ephesians 1:7
– Romans 3:24-25
– Romans 5:18-19
John the Beloved:
– Revelation 7:14
– Hebrews 9:12-15
The Apostle Peter:
– 1 Peter 1:18-19
Substitute Payment
The Prophet Isaiah:
– Isaiah 53:4-12
The Apostle Paul:
– Galatians 3:10-13
The Apostle Peter:
– 1 Peter 3:18
World’s Sin Paid
John the Baptist:
– John 1:29
John the Beloved:
– 1 John 2:2
No One Unclean
in Heaven

The Apostle Paul:
– Ephesians 5:5
Thankful Obedience
The Apostle Paul:
– 1 Corinthians 15:56-58