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)

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Were You Required to Qualify for Your Christmas “Gifts” Before You Could Open Them?

How many gifts are still under your tree, waiting to be opened until you meet the requirements of the giver? Did anyone tell you that you had to do something for them before you were allowed to open their gift?

It might sound absurd to talk about gifts like this or think that we have to “qualify” for a “gift” before we can actually open it. Usually when we receive a gift, we don’t have to “earn” it before we are allowed to open it. We trust that the giver of the gift loves us and has given us their gift freely and unconditionally. In fact, if you look up the word “gift” in a dictionary you will find it defined as:

“Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation.”

But, when Mormons speak of spiritual matters, the word “gift” takes on a whole different meaning. In fact, it has been re-defined! There are really only two unconditional “gifts” in Mormonism and those are the gifts of immortality (bodily resurrection) and our free agency. All other “gifts” are “conditional”.

One simple example can be found in True to the Faith, page 52. In referencing Eternal life, it states:

“Like immortality, this gift is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, it requires our ‘obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.’ (Articles of Faith 1:3)”

The “condition” attached to this “gift” from Heavenly Father is obedience. 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.

But the truth is that your Savior 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 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 this gift. Day after day, despite many temptations by Satan, Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s laws—for you. He did this so that He could be your substitute for righteousness. Through faith, your are credited with all of His perfect works–so that you could meet God’s demands for righteousness. His suffering on the night of His death 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 the gift of eternal life.

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–that He worked on and made especially for you. Please, don’t do this to my Savior Jesus! Don’t reject the gift of eternal life He worked so hard to 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 to Him!

2010 LDS Curriculum: Comparing the Words of Prophets & Apostles

I was born into a devout Mormon family where I learned to dedicate my life to following the words of my prophets and apostles. My fifth generation grandfather, John Patten, was the first member of my family to become Mormon. He converted his brother David W. Patten, who became one of the original twelve apostles under Joseph Smith. The year before I was born, my Dad was ordained as Stake President of the Missoula Montana Stake by Apostles Spencer W. Kimball and Mark E. Peterson. Over the next ten years one of the Apostles or a member of the Seventy would visit our home during each Stake Conference.

My earliest memory of an Apostle is of one who visited our home. This experience is what really taught me the folly of not trusting the words of the prophets. I had a loose tooth and the Apostle (I don’t remember who it was) offered to give me a dollar if I would let him pull it out. Even though He promised that my tooth was very loose and that he would be very gentle, I still didn’t believe him. To encourage my trust, he let me take the dollar until I was ready for him to pull it out. I remember holding that bill in my little hands all through Conference as I tried to muster up enough courage. But I just couldn’t do it. After Conference I had to give him back the dollar as we said goodbye. Then, the worst thing happened. On the way home from Church—my tooth was so loose it fell out! I was so upset that I hadn’t been able to trust him. My father used that experience as an opportunity to teach me the importance of always trusting in and following the words of the Apostles.

Looking back, I realize what a blessing it was to have believed in absolute adherence to the words of my prophets and apostles. Because I believed their words, I poured over the pages of LDS scripture and literature looking for help. Because of their words, I trusted that the only way to gain forgiveness was through my works. It was my complete failure at following their requirements for repentance that caused me to give up. If I had not failed over and over again for so many years, I would not have found the truth that their words are false. And, most importantly, I might never have opened my heart to the truth. I might never have heard that all my sins were forgiven through Christ’s shed blood. I might never have known the joy that I now live daily—serving my Lord Jesus out of gratitude for what He has done for me.

Amazingly, I once again believe in absolute adherence to the words of prophets and apostles. But this time my trust is placed in God’s prophets and apostles—not false ones. Because of all I have found, I desire to share my joy with others. Over the next few days I will be posting five or six new “Pages” which will follow along with various Lessons being taught in the 2010 LDS Curriculum. These pages will provide a few direct quotes from the Lessons as well as links to each Lesson on lds.org. The main purpose of these pages is to provide reference material for many of the Posts I will be writing.

One reason I want to provide quotes from official LDS literature is because I have spoken to many LDS members who don’t seem to know what their prophets and apostles teach. An article in the January Ensign about using the new Gospel Principles Manual in Relief Society and Priesthood gave me some understanding:

“Why the Change in Curriculum? Since we first began using Teachings, millions of people have joined the Church. Many of them have tender testimonies and, with relatively limited experience in the Church, will benefit greatly by a focus on the fundamentals of the gospel. In addition, all Church members will benefit by a return to the basics. A careful study of core doctrines as presented in the new and improved Gospel Principles manual will help members strengthen their understanding of the fundamental teachings of the gospel.”

Another reason for providing the Pages with official LDS quotes is that there are many non-members who don’t understand the teachings of the LDS gospel. Many non-members have LDS friends or family and are genuinely confused as to the differences between LDS and Christian beliefs. As a volunteer with Truth in Love Ministry I have spoken at numerous Christian Seminars across the country. When teaching Mormon doctrine to Christians, I believe it is important to use LDS literature to do so. It is the best way to understand official LDS beliefs. It is also the easiest way to show how the LDS Church uses a different dictionary for many of the words used by Christians.

My favorite reason for following along with the LDS curriculum is to help those who are leaving Mormonism. There are few things more thrilling than interacting with LDS members who have come to trust in free and full forgiveness through the blood of their Savior!! I have the joy of corresponding with LDS members who are at various stages of coming to know the truth. For these new babes in faith, it is so helpful to learn from someone who has already walked the path that they have just begun. Simple explanations showing the differences between Mormonism and Christianity help clear up unnecessary confusion.

But maybe the most important reason for providing “Pages” with the words of LDS apostles and prophets is found in scripture—we are told to “test” their words with God’s already revealed scripture. Even if an angel from heaven preaches a gospel that is different than what has already been taught, we must not believe him:

“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9)

Did Jesus Create Every Thing Out of Nothing?

I never really had an interest in art until I found a medium I fell in love with—glass. Once I began working with all the delectable colors and textures of glass I was hooked. My passion for creating glass art has been a part of my life for over twenty-three years now. It became such a passion that when I lived in Virginia I converted my bedroom into a work studio. It was the only space I had available so I got rid of my bed and slept on a mattress that could be moved into a closet during the day. My love for working with glass quickly evolved into a business and I began doing commissioned windows and teaching classes. I absolutely love making glass panels that are uniquely my own creations—using my own design as well as picking out which glass to use.

What is interesting is that once I am finished with the piece I have created, I have no more interest in it. In fact, I only have one panel on display in my house and that is one I made for my oldest daughter who doesn’t have any place to keep it.

Reading the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson: “The Creation” caused me to think about the comparisons between how I “create” my glass art with how God “created” our world. I realized that as an artist, the way I “create” art is similar to Joseph Smith’s explanation of how God “created” the earth. When I “create” a piece of glass art I am really just “organizing” already existing materials into an original piece of art. I pick out specific glass, cutting it into the shapes I desire; and then use foil and solder it all together into its final form. According to LDS doctrine, this is exactly how God “created” the world we live on:

“Was the earth created out of nothing? (See Abraham 3:24; 4:1.) The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The word create came from the [Hebrew] word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 350–51).”

When I was LDS I never questioned the LDS belief that God used already existing materials to organize the world—that He didn’t create “every thing” out of “nothing”. At the time, I certainly didn’t realize how this false teaching was merely one of many that diminish the amazing power of our God. Today, I am so thankful that my eyes have been opened to the truth. And, I am especially thrilled with some of the new passions God has given me. My love for creating glass art pales in comparison with my passion for studying God’s Word and sharing His truth with others. My God is the love of my life and every time I read scripture He speaks to me personally. If there is something that God wants me to understand, I trust that I will find the answer in His Word.

What did our loving God reveal to us in scripture about creation? Did Jesus merely “organize” already existing material when our world was created, or did He create “every thing” out of “nothing”? Digging into scripture to find the answer to these questions has thrilled me. Doing so has reminded me of just how amazing and powerful my Lord is.

God’s Word testifies that Jesus created “every thing” out of “nothing”—everything visible and invisible! Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1).

The Apostle John’s testimony verifies Paul’s: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

Just look around you to see a glimpse of the world’s most amazing artist. It is a blessing to know how glorious Jesus is. When He created our world, He did so out of nothing—merely by speaking. When I “create’ a piece of art, I have to use materials that someone else has made; out of materials that were originally created by Jesus.

By far the most comforting aspect of our Savior is that unlike me, He didn’t loose interest in His creation once He was finished. The Apostle John revealed Jesus’ testimony:

“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.” Believe it, and receive it!

Same Vocabulary but a Different Dictionary?

When my children were young we lived in Germany for a few years. It was during the 1980’s when the dollar was strong, which meant that we had enough money to travel. We visited Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium and the Netherlands. The people in each of these countries spoke different languages and it was difficult trying to communicate with them. They used different words than I did to convey the same thing. On each trip we took a dictionary to help us translate that country’s language into English, but it wasn’t easy. Somehow we managed to get along and we thoroughly enjoyed our travels throughout Europe.

It wasn’t until after the Holy Spirit brought me to faith that I discovered I had another language barrier with the people around me. But this time I was interacting with Christians. The language barrier was less obvious than when in Europe because we were using the same words—but the meaning was different! Talk about confusing! Even though we used the same words, my understanding of what those words meant was very different than theirs. I realized that because I had grown up in a Mormon family I had been taught a very unique language. I discovered that Mormons speak the same vocabulary as Christians, but they use a different dictionary! Once I recognized that this was the problem it became a lot easier to communicate and to study the Bible.

It took me two years of very intensive Bible study to really understand just the basic truths! Since I was familiar with the Topical Guide in the back of my LDS KJV, I used that as my starting point for each concept or word. Often, simply by studying each passage listed and then reading them in context, I could come up with the true meaning. Once I had done that I would use the Nave’s Topical Guide. This guide always broadened my perspective and often gave me several key passages that had unfortunately been left out of the LDS Topical Guide. After going through the Nave’s I would turn to the Strong’s Concordance and look up every passage using the words suggested by each of the Topical Guides. It was very time-consuming but I loved every minute of it! I still study God’s Word this way (except I now have a computer) and the more I learn the more I desire to dig in and see what God wants me to learn.

The fact that Mormons speak many of the same words as Christians but use a different dictionary causes lots of misunderstandings. Over the next couple of weeks I plan on discussing some of these words and showing the two different meanings.

What Does “Repentance” Mean?

When Mormons and members of other Churches talk about spiritual matters they often end up misunderstanding each other. This is because neither one realizes that the other uses different definitions for the vocabulary being used. As a Mormon I had no idea that I spoke a different language than my Christian friends. Even though we all spoke English and used the same vocabulary, I had a different dictionary for many words! I didn’t realize this until after I left Mormonism and got involved in several Bible studies at my Church. It quickly became evident that the Mormon definitions I carried around in my head were dramatically different.

A good example of this can be found in the Ensign (January 2009), pages 72-73. In “Latter-Day Saint Voices” Marcos Walker writes an article about letting go of his past. He writes “My mind and heart were troubled, and my soul was filled with pain and sorrow.” Marcos then tells a co-worker (who is a member of another church) that his anguish is the price he has to pay for his mistakes. His colleague responds “Jesus Christ has paid the price, if you have truly repented of your sins.” The word I want to highlight is “Repented”. You can see by the last sentence in Marcos’ article that he uses the LDS definition for the word Repentance. “Although my trials continue, I know that as I repent, turn to the Lord, and keep the commandments, He will continue to sustain me.” What Marcos doesn’t know is that his colleague meant something entirely different when he said “if you have truly repented of your sins”.

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, and even sorrow. But then I turn in thankfulness to my Savior for paying the price for that sin.

This is what Marcos’ Christian friend meant when he said “if you have truly repented”. Because his friend believes that Christ paid the price for his sins, he does not rely on his own efforts to gain forgiveness for a sin. Repentance is abandoning trust in yourself and placing all your trust in what Christ has already done for you.

As a Mormon I lived every day trying to gain forgiveness through the “LDS Process of Repentance”. I was tormented by my sins, trying to do the required works necessary to gain forgiveness. Now, my most precious gift is the complete forgiveness of all my sins! I live in a continual state of repentance, turning constantly to my Savior in thankfulness!

I’m often told that I misunderstand the correct LDS definition of Repentance. In truth, I believe that unlike many Mormons, I actually believed the words of my prophets and apostles. For many years I tried with all my heart to meet their impossible demands. One simple example of these demands can be seen in the Gospel Doctrine New Testament Lesson, Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord. It teaches that among other things, repentance means to abandon your sin and obey the commandments. Just think about what that would mean. Can anyone truly keep all the commandments and abandon their sins? No one can meet these demands and hence, no one can gain forgiveness in this way.

There was only one perfect person who came to this earth and His name is Jesus. That is why we need a Savior!

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 “Peter’s Journal” contrasting his true repentance with Judas’:

Has Mormonism changed the meaning of the word “gift”?

This Christmas I would imagine you received at least one gift. But, did you receive any “conditional” gifts? Did anyone tell you that you had to do something for them before you could open their gift? How many gifts are under your tree, waiting to be opened until you meet the requirements of the giver?

It might sound absurd to talk like this or think of “gifts” that we gave or received in this manner. When we know the person that gives us a gift, we realize that we don’t have to “do” something before we open their gift. We trust that the giver of the gift loves us and has given us their gift unconditionally and freely. In fact, if you look up the word “gift” in a dictionary you will find it defined as “Something that is bestowed voluntarily and without compensation.”

But, when speaking of spiritual matters in Mormonism, the word “gift” has been redefined! There is really only one unconditionalgift” in Mormonism and that is the gift of immortality (bodily resurrection). All other “gifts” are “conditional”. One simple example can be found in True to the Faith, page 52. In referencing Eternal life, it states “Like immortality, this gift is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. However, it requires our “obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” The “condition” attached to this “gift” from Heavenly Father is obedience. Do a search at lds.org in the gospel library and 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.

But the truth is that your Savior 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 voluntarily. This gift was made personally, just for you, and it wasn’t an easy gift to make. Jesus lovingly spent thirty three years working on this gift. Day after day, despite many temptations by Satan, Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s laws for you. His suffering on the night of His death was tremendous. It must have been excruciating to take upon Himself the sins of the entire world and be cursed by His Heavenly Father. His shed blood covered over every sin you will ever commit. He willingly lived and died to give you the gift of eternal life.

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 must first qualify for it. Imagine His disappointment as you reject this loving gift He made just for you.

Please don’t do this to my Jesus! Don’t reject the gift of eternal life Jesus worked so hard to give you! Through His perfect works He has 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 that Jesus gained this gift for you and you will receive it! Then, spend the rest of your life freely serving God. “Freely” because doing so is your voluntary and unconditional gift of love to Him!