Old Things Are Done Away, and All Things Have Become New: It’s Through Christ’s Atonement You Have Been Perfected Forever!

The sentence I most remember my Father saying was: “All blessings are predicated upon obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”

These words are from a revelation given by Joseph Smith and recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 130. Today, it’s important to look at how this principle affects qualifying for the grace of God so Mormons can be perfected in Christ.

We read in this weeks Gospel Doctrine Lesson:

“After teaching the Nephites that they should love their enemies, Jesus said, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48). “Why do we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to be perfected? (See… Moroni 10:32–33. (Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38: Old Things Are Done Away, and All Things Have Become New, p 171)

Next, lets look at a simple illustration of earning a blessing through obedience:

(Condition): If she cleans her room. . .

(Blessing): then, she can go outside and play with her friends.

Now lets apply the words from the Lesson to this same illustration. In the Lesson, the question is asked: “Why do we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to be perfected?” You are told to see Moroni 10:32–33 teaching us the condition for qualifying for God’s grace so as to be perfected in Christ:

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”

(Condition): If you deny yourself of all ungodliness, and if you love God with all your might, mind and strength…

(Blessing): then, you can qualify for God’s grace and be perfected in Christ.

But what does “deny yourself of all ungodliness” mean, according to LDS doctrine? Since I prefer to let LDS Prophets explain their own scripture, I went searching and found the LDS definition in the Sunday School Teachers Manual for 12 & 13 year olds:

“Have class members find and read Moroni 10:32. According to this verse, what must we do to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him”? (“Deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness, and love God with all [our] might, mind and strength.”) Explain that “deny yourselves of all ungodliness” means “give up your sins.” (Preparing for Exaltation, page 123)

I also learned from the LDS Apostle Neal Maxwell that this includes both large and small sins:

“Moroni declared the need for us to deny ourselves of “all ungodliness” (Moro. 10:32), thus including both large and small sins.” (Neal A. Maxwell, April 1995 General Conference, Ensign, May 1995, p. 66)

Can any person actually do this? Can you “give up” all of your sins? What about all the sins of omission: visiting those in prison, praying constantly or not worrying? Could you stop sinning for even one day? If you truly could give up all of your sins wouldn’t that mean you were already perfect in yourself?

The sobering truth is that no one can meet these requirements! Even though we are commanded to do so, no one can deny themselves of all ungodliness and love God with all their might, mind and strength! Not even for one hour.

Jesus testified to the rich young ruler that no one is good but God (Luke 18:18). Similarly, no one is Godly but God. Even one little white lie makes a person “ungodly”. No one (except Jesus) even comes close to denying themselves of all ungodliness.

So how does a person qualify for God’s grace? Instead of qualifying for it like you would a scholarship, it’s more similar to a need-based grant. You have to be poor and needy—you have to be sinful. A righteous person doesn’t need Christ’s Atonement. But guess what—the truth is that no one is righteous. We all need Christ! Jesus said: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth…” (Matthew 9: 12-13). It means that all of us are sick (ungodly) and need our Great Physician who came to heal us!

Christ’s mission for coming to earth was to die for the ungodly. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). If you believe this and know that you are among the ungodly—a miracle will happen! In an instant, you will be made godly through faith in Jesus! You will be perfected forever in God’s sight:

“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 10:10-18)

Don’t place your faith in the words of LDS prophets who claim that you must deny yourself of all ungodliness to be found perfect. If you do, you will die in your sins and spend eternity with Satan. Why? Because you rejected the Savior who denied Himself of all ungodliness for you—in your place.

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

Additional Testimony of the Bold Truth:
Believe in the God that justifies the ungodly:
– Romans 4: 4-8
Jesus is the Deliverer:
– Romans 11: 26-27
Christ died for sinners – the ungodly:
– Romans 5: 6-8
– Matthew 9: 12-13
– Luke 19:10
– 1 Timothy 1:15
Godly blessed / Ungodly shall perish
– Psalm 1: 1-6
Wrath of God against ungodly:
– Romans 1: 18
– 2 Peter 2:6
– 2 Peter 3:7
God’s law is not for righteous, but for ungodly:
– 1 Timothy 1: 8-9
Links to LDS Words:
LDS Definition of “Denying ourselves of all ungodliness”
– May 1995 Ensign
– Preparing for Exaltation
– Preparing for Exaltation
– JST Mathew 16:25-26
Mormons believe in a god who “justifieth NOT the ungodly”
– JST Romans 4:2-5
Advertisements

The Strengthening Power of Faith: Through Faith We are Credited With Righteousness!

This weeks Relief Society Lesson claims:

God grants faith as a gift to the righteous… We know that faith is a gift of God; it is the fruitage of righteous living. It does not come to us by our command, but is the result of doing the will of our Heavenly Father.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 17: The Strengthening Power of Faith, p 188)

This isn’t true. In fact it’s completely backwards. It’s not possible for someone to be righteous before the Holy Spirit brings them to faith! The Lesson acknowledges: “We are informed that without faith we cannot please God [see Hebrews 11:6]” (p 182)

The only way to become righteous is 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)

The basic message taught by the prophets and apostles of the Bible is that without faith, every human is evil and doesn’t even come close to meeting God’s demands for perfection. The first time I recognized this was when I read a Sermon about prayer. The Preacher boldly claimed that all the fathers listening to Him were “evil”!

Hearing that made me feel a little uncomfortable. I know that our earthly fathers aren’t perfect, but calling them “evil” seemed to be a bit harsh. I wondered why the Preacher hadn’t chosen to use a softer word like “weak” or maybe even “sinful”. A little later in His Sermon He even commanded us to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father!

Jesus is the Preacher giving His Sermon on the Mount. His actual words were: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” When I read His Sermon in context there was no indication that those listening to His Sermon were worse than anyone else. Jesus also told the rich young ruler “there is none good but one, that is, God”.

I soon discovered that Jesus talked about man’s evil deeds several other times during His Ministry. In the book of Mark, Jesus tells us where evil comes from: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts.” In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Jesus asked a question of those who thought that God wasn’t being fair: “Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”

Reading Jesus’ words enticed me to dig deeper into scripture. By the time I finished my study there was no doubt in my mind: all humans are evil. I discovered that the reason it’s difficult for us to see ourselves as evil is because our definition of what “evil” is differs from God’s definition. We like to categorize our sins, claiming that some are worse than others. We don’t tend to think that anything we do ourselves is actually “evil”.

It isn’t surprising that God consideres murder and adultery evil, but Nehemiah preached that not keeping the Sabbath day holy was evil. He also testified that marrying outside the faith was a “great evil” (13:27). Moses wrote in Deuteronomy that it is evil to not give money to a poor man in need. In Genesis, he taught the same message that Jesus had taught: “for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.

Everything I’ve mentioned so far is only a small part of what God’s Word names as “evil”. (The word evil appears 624 times in the Bible.) The Apostle Paul understood that God sees all sin as evil when he lamented about himself:

“but the evil which I would not, that I do” and “when I would do good, evil is present with me.” (Romans 7)

In Timothy he wrote that the love of money is the root of all evil. To the Galatians, he wrote God’s consequence for not following every single command: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” James solidified Paul’s curse when he proclaimed: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”

James then gave examples of evil: “the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” and: “where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”

Studying God’s Words leaves no doubt that our holy God considers any sin as evil. The writer of Proverbs tells us that “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” On Judgment Day “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

The inescapable conclusion is that in God’s eyes, anyone without faith is evil! It is amazing that God loves us in spite of our evil! It’s hard to believe, but His mercy is shown to evil sinners! In Galatians, Paul gives us the only reason why:

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.”

To the Ephesians Paul wrote: “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.” Every person the Holy Spirit brings to faith is equally evil. It’s through Christ’s Atonement that our evil hearts are “sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10)

The “Good News” taught in God’s Word is this:

Jesus not only died for us, He also lived for us. He obeyed every command perfectly, meeting God’s demands for perfection for us–in our place. He is our righteousness!

Heavenly Father credits Christ’s perfect works to all who trust solely in their Savior for righteousness. In God’s sight, all believers wear Christ’s protective robe of righteousness. That’s why eternal life is a free gift given to those who have faith in Christ.

The very same Jesus that proclaimed the dire consequences of evil, shares our only means of escape—it’s through faith alone that we gain 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.” (John 3:14-15)

Advancing the Work of the Lord: If You Shirk Your Part, Will You Forfeit God’s Blessings?

For most of my childhood my father held callings within the Church, including Bishop, Stake President and Stake Patriarch. The sentence I most remember my father saying was taken from a revelation given to Joseph Smith: “All blessings are predicated upon obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” (From Doctrine and Covenants 130) I’m sure my Dad taught this to me as often as he did because he loved me; and he wanted me to learn what he believed to be the only way to gain eternal life. I’m so thankful my eyes and heart have been opened to the truth in spite of what I was taught. As much as I love my Father, I place the words of my Savior above his:

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” And also of John the Baptist: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:15, 36).

Along with many other LDS leaders, George Albert Smith must not have read the words of Christ. In spite of what Jesus Christ taught, he claimed that if you shirk in promoting the Lord’s work, you will forfeit God’s blessings. This week’s Relief Society Lesson:

“I must carry that part of the load that the Lord places upon me, and if I shirk, then I realize that I forfeit the blessing that would come to me by obedience to the commandments of our Father.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 15: Advancing the Work of the Lord, p. 160)

Reading this lesson made me wonder how LDS women react to these words of their prophet. Do you really believe that you can “live by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of our Father in heaven”? (p. 161) Have you even had the time to read His “every word”?

Do you fear for your boys and girls who are not “walking in obedience to the commandments of the Lord”? (p. 164)

How does it feel, knowing that the Lord’s promise of protection and safeguarding depends upon your ability to “honor him and keep his commandments”? (p. 162)

Do you really believe that “Mormonism… is the power of God unto salvation to those who will keep the commandments of our Father”? (p. 165) Then my question to you, is “Which commandments do you have to keep?” Cause there’s no way anyone can even come close to keeping all of God’s commands. Anyone that believes they can do this, doesn’t really know everything that God has commanded of you in His law. Heavenly Father has given to us many laws that must be obeyed before we can dwell in His presence. By far the most daunting command given was when Jesus claimed we must be as perfect as Heavenly Father Himself! (Matthew 5:48 ) The Apostle Paul revealed that no unclean person can dwell in God’s presence (Ephesians 5:5).

The sobering truth is that there is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right (Ecclesiastes 7:20). That’s why Jesus had to come to earth and save us! He kept all of God’s commandments for us, because we were doomed to failure without Him. Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s will in our place. It was His Mission to be our substitute for the righteousness demanded by Heavenly Father. Christ’s very purpose was to do what we were unable to do for ourselves—fulfill God’s law. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second” (Hebrews 10:9). “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:3-4).

The blessing of eternal life can only be gained as a gift. In fact, the most amazing blessings are unconditional gifts given by our loving Father in Heaven! Jesus testified that this unconditional blessing is actually God’s will for all who believe in Him: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

If you don’t believe my words, then I beg you to honestly follow the words of your prophet—100%! Only then will you come to realize that you cannot do what your prophet demands of you.

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. 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.” (Romans 3:19-20)

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:21-22, 24)

How to Share the Gospel Effectively? First, Have Faith in What Christ Has Done For You

There isn’t anything I love doing more than sharing the Gospel of Christ. I can’t wait to tell everyone I meet what my Lord and Savior has done for me. When I was LDS I didn’t realize that all my energy was spent trying to do something that Jesus had already done for me. Reading this weeks Relief Society Lesson reminded me that you also are trying to do something which you will never be able to do.

President Smith claims that this is the mission of Mormons:
Our mission in the world is to save souls, to bless them, and to place them in a condition that they may go back into the presence of our Father, crowned with glory, immortality, and eternal life.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 14: How to Share the Gospel Effectively, p.153)

I bear my testimony to you that this is not your mission—it was Christ’s mission! Your Savior’s mission was to save souls: “And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.” (1 John 4:14) Jesus has served His mission and returned to His Father in Heaven with honor.

In saving souls He took “away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). He did this by taking upon Himself every single sin ever committed. At Christ’s death, he was the world’s biggest sinner. And in one instance, His shed blood washed away every single sin you’ve ever committed.

In exchange for our sinfulness, Jesus gave us His righteousness. It was His mission to place each of us in the condition that allows humans “into the presence of our Father”. By the offering of His body as the final sacrifice for sin, we have been “perfected forever.” All who have faith in God are credited with Christ’s righteousness.

The Apostle Paul testifies of this truth. He explains that Abraham was credited with righteousness through faith. He testifies that you too can be credited with righteousness, if you “believe on him that raised up Jesus”:

“He [Abraham] staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it 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; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification. Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 4:20-5:1)

We read in the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus commanded us to be as perfect as Heavenly Father: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) This is a command we must obey to gain eternal life and dwell in God’s presence. Unfortunatly, we have all failed miserably. The Prophet Isaiah testified that even our righteousness is 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)

Only Jesus could obey the command to be perfect. But amazingly we get credit for His obedience! It was His mission to make us perfect! He alone could grant us the “boldness to enter into the holiest” by His blood. The writer of Hebrews explains this beautifully:

“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: But 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… 17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus… 22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10:10-22)

The Prophet Isaiah prophesied of this mission of Christ many years before Jesus was born:

“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.” (Isaiah 61:10)

John the Beloved tells of this righteousness when he testifies that through our hope in Christ, we are as pure as Jesus Himself:

“Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”(1 John 3:1-3)

Now do you understand why I love Jesus so much; and why I can’t stop myself from sharing the Gospel of Christ?

Only by knowing what your Savior has truly done for you will you be compeled to share the Gospel truthfully, and effectively. And, since you won’t have to spend your time trying to do what Christ has already done; you are now free to glorify Him with all you do.

“Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen” (Jude 1:24-25)

BeYePerfect.org. Christ was Perfect for You

An Enthusiastic Desire to Share the Gospel: What Christ Taught—at “BeYePerfect.org”

I found it sad reading the Relief Society Lesson, chapter 12 of Teachings of Presidents of the Church. President George Albert Smith taught “There is a real famine in the world for the words of the Lord.” Then he had the audacity to claim what is being taught by Christian Ministers around the world. I wonder if he ever even attended a church service that wasn’t LDS. He certainly isn’t describing any Pastors’ messages that I have heard.

In speaking about Christian Ministers, he claims:

“These good men, not understanding the gospel and the necessity for the ordinances of the same, confine their teachings very largely to moral lessons and to reading the psalms to their congregations. Isolated passages of scripture are chosen as texts for addresses on virtue, honesty, etc., all of which are helpful and uplifting, but few sermons are preached explaining the requirements made of every soul before we can enter the kingdom of heaven. It is this information of which the world is most in need.

Few ministers have a message for their congregations that inspires in them the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ and the necessity of partaking of the ordinances of the gospel prescribed by him.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 12: An Enthusiastic Desire to Share the Gospel, p. 125)

The Ministers at my church follow the example of Jesus Christ. He Preached a wonderful sermon called the Sermon on the Mount. Here, Jesus preached about many commands that God requires each of us to obey. His most difficult “requirement made of every soul before we can enter the kingdom of heaven” is to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48)

I belong to a church called “Cross of Christ”. Our “ministers have a message… that inspires in (us) the belief in the divinity of Jesus Christ.” That message is about our Substitute Savior Jesus Christ, Who was perfect for us–in our place! It is only through faith in Him that we meet God’s requirements for eternal life. It’s knowing all that our Savior God has done for us, which inspires us to live our lives for Him.

My church website explains the basic message that will be shared in each sermon:

“At Cross of Christ our messages reflect these basic truths:

1.) We have sinned against God and deserve his punishment. (To show how we have sinned, our Pastor teaches something that God requires of us in His law, which leads us to see that once again we have sinned.)

2.) God’s mercy is infinitely greater than our sin, and He has freely forgiven our sins by taking our punishment for us and crediting us with His holiness and perfection (through faith).

3.) As we Christians apply these first two truths to our lives, we are motivated to give thanks to God and love him in return for his love shown to us in Jesus. God teaches us very practical ways to live for Him every day. God also gives us incredible promises and special comforts to guide and bless us in our daily tasks.

All these points are shared each week in practical messages for all people.”

Despite what President Smith claimed, Christian ministers do teach what God requires of us. We must be as perfect as God Himself! Christians are taught every Sunday that that’s why they need a Savior: Because of what God truly requires of us, we know we have failed and are hopelessly lost. Christians are people who honestly look at themselves and know that they can never meet God’s demands. We sin all the time. That’s why we place our trust for eternal life solely in Christ. “He has freely forgiven our sins by taking our punishment for us and crediting us with His holiness and perfection through faith.”

Would you like to learn more about this topic? The Ministry that I volunteer with has just released a new website: BeYePerfect.org. It was written especially for you!

After “all” the Bishop Could Do, it Wasn’t Enough

Reading the Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Lesson 9 reminded me of a talk I gave back when I was in high school. I served on the Seminary Council and one of my assignments was to speak in Sacrament Meeting. I decided to talk about Christ’s Atonement, specifically what we had to do to receive the “conditional gifts” associated with it. (You have to understand a little about my personality before I explain what I did to the Bishop during my talk. I grew up with three brothers and a Dad who incessantly teased me. Just to survive, I learned how to stand up for myself, but usually in a joking manner.)

In giving my talk, I wanted to teach about the Atonement, but the illustration I used was also done in a way meant to tease the Bishop. For my talk I brought some props from home. On the podium I set a large scale like the one you see for the “Scales of Justice”. On one side I piled about thirty large onions. The other side was empty. I set this up as an attention getter before I started talking. Then, I proceeded to talk about Christ’s Atonement. I spoke about our unconditional gift of bodily resurrection and what a blessing that was. Then I moved on to what we had to do to receive Heavenly Father’s conditional “gifts. Next I brought up Nephi’s passage testifying that we are saved only “after” all we can do.

This is the moment I called the Bishop to the stand. Without any prior warning, I told him he had to eat ALL the onions sitting on the Scales of Justice. Obviously, he couldn’t do it. Then I moved three onions to the other side and asked the Bishop if he could eat that many? Once again, the answer was no. In the end, the Bishop was only able to eat one small bite out of an onion! I remember making the comment that “all” that the Bishop could do wasn’t very much! I loved how my illustration generated lots of laughter from the Ward members. But, despite the humor involved, I was making a very important point. If we want to balance the Scales of Justice we must first do all we can. And then, Christ’s Atonement will cover the rest.

Thinking back to this Sacrament Meeting talk given over thirty years ago I am so thankful that the Holy Ghost has opened my eyes to the truth. I never knew that combining my works with my faith as a way to gain eternal life was false. I certainly never realized that attempting to do so would result in spending eternity with Satan. I fully trusted that Nephi and other Mormon prophets were truly God’s prophets. That was why I taught this message in Sacrament Meeting: “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)

But Nephi taught us a way to be saved that is in direct opposition to what God’s Prophets and Christ’s Apostles taught: “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 2:8-10)

Here, the Apostle Paul testified it is faith, and not works that saves us. Nowhere in the Bible will you find the belief that we can gain eternal life by trying as hard as we can. Using the illustration of eating all the onions, taking even one bite means you believe Christ’s work was insufficient to pay your entire debt!

You are either saved because all of your works are perfect, or because you have a Savior who was perfect for you–in your place. There isn’t a “third” way that combines your works with Christ’s works to balance the Scales of Justice. If you take even one bite this means you would have to eat the entire basket of onions. No one will be saved by adding their own imperfect works to their faith.

Lesson 9 of the Gospel Doctrine Class is titled: “My Soul Delighteth in the Words of Isaiah“. Does your soul delight in these words from the Prophet Isaiah, about our own 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.” (Isaiah 64:6)

I praise the Lord that Isaiah also testified that Jesus covers us with His robe of righteousness:

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.” (Isaiah 61:10)

All my Bishop could do was eat one bite of an onion–it wasn’t enough. Similarly, all you can do, isn’t enough! You will only be saved by faith alone or by being one hundred percent perfect your entire life (as Jesus was)!

In one way, I do believe in faith and works. My faith in Christ’s works. I have faith that Christ’s works were sufficient to pay my entire debt! It was at Christ’s Atonement that He exchanged my sins for His righteousness!

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)

In thankfulness, I devote my entire life to “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)

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).
______________________________________________________________

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).

“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!

Did God Allow “Same-Sex” Marriages in the Temple?

I grew up dreaming about the day I would be married in the Temple. I think that dream is something instilled in the heart of every LDS girl. From a very young age we were taught that the only place to be married was in the Temple—for time and all eternity.

The Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Manual explains:

Why is it important that we marry in the covenant? (If necessary, explain that in our day, the phrases marriage in the covenant, eternal marriage, and temple marriage are often used interchangeably. How long has marriage in the covenant been a commandment of God? (It is an eternal ordinance that has been the Lord’s order in all ages when the fulness of the gospel has been on the earth. Adam and Eve were the first on this earth to enter into this ordinance.)” (page 41)

But if the eternal covenant of marriage were truly the Lord’s order in all ages since Adam and Eve, then wouldn’t Temple marriages have been practiced in Jewish Temples? Was the “fulness of the gospel” on the earth when Jesus and His Apostles lived? Were Temple marriages performed during Christ’s time?

The truth is, the only people allowed inside God’s Temples were men! Women were not even allowed inside! The Temple consisted of an outer Court for Gentiles, one for women, and one for men. Only the Priests were allowed to enter the Temple. The Holy of Holies, which is where God’s presence dwelt, could only be entered by the High Priest one day each year. He did this on the Day of Atonement, only after he purified himself with the shed blood of a perfect sacrifice.

If there were marriages taking place in God’s Holy Temple, then every single one would have been a “same-sex” marriage—men marrying men!! Since this is forbidden by God, we can be certain that there were no marriages taking place in God’s Temples!

When Jesus shed His blood on the Cross, His body was the ultimate sacrifice–paying the entire debt for the sins of the world! The very moment Jesus died, the veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. God does not dwell in Temples built by men anymore. Literally, He dwells inside of the hearts of men and women themselves. Every person with faith in Jesus is a Temple of God. This can only happen because believers have been “perfected forever” and are as pure as Jesus Himself!

My dream of a Temple marriage has been replaced with joy from the most intimate relationship I have ever known—one with my Lord and Savior Jesus!! He actually lives inside of me, and the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

I so want to share with you this amazing love. Even though I don’t know you, I pray for you as the Apostle Paul prayed:

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:17-21)

« Older entries