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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Faith Without Works is Dead: The Testimony of Three Witnesses!

I once had a testimony that the Mormon Church was true. When I discovered that my testimony was false I went searching to find the true church. I spent almost nine years between Mormonism and Christianity and met people from all different kinds of faiths. I discovered many people with a strong testimony in their church. I even met Atheists, Shamans and Agnostics with a strongly held “faith” that what they believed was true. What I quickly realized is that the sincerity of a person’s “testimony” doesn’t necessarily mean that what they believe in is true. It just means they have “faith” in something.

Through all my searching there was one thing I clearly believed: every person has to do some level of good works in order to live eternally with God. In the back of my head I guess I always remembered what I had been taught as a Mormon—that “faith without works was dead”. What I never realized is that the Biblical teaching that “faith without works is dead” has nothing to do with where we spend eternity and why.

After the Holy Spirit brought me to faith in the true Jesus, it was exciting to read the book of James with new eyes. I discovered that James’ point isn’t “how” we are saved, but how to identify real faith when we see it. He claims that what uniquely identifies a “faith” in the one true God is that it is alive!

Faith is a gift from God placed in a person’s heart by the Holy Spirit. At the moment a person is brought to faith, that person crosses over from being spiritualy dead to being spiritually alive—truly “born-again” (John 5:24). Just as a newborn baby can’t help but take breathe in and out, and to cry out for food; when someone is “born-again” spiritually, they will do good works—they can’t help it! James emphasizes this point by saying that faith without works is like a dead body without a spirit. Even if someone claims to have a testimony of faith, if works are absent, that faith isn’t really a living faith, its dead.

James uses three witnesses to make his point—himself, Abraham and Rahab. He uses the actions of these three witnesses as proof that a living faith always produces works. His first witness is himself. He contrasts his own life of both faith and works with that of a man who claims to have faith, yet has no works. His outward visible actions prove his testimony of faith.

Through Abraham’s witness, James gives us the vital key that faith comes first, and then works automatically follow. Because faith is living, like a living creature; it naturally produces the “fruit” of works. Similar to an apple tree bearing the fruit of an apple, a living faith will bear the fruit of good works, naturally and without being forced. Good works are merely proof that faith is present. Abraham’s willingness to offer Isaac on the altar was one of many actions that evidenced his faith. His actions were the “fruit” of his faith and proved that his faith was true. Because his faith was alive, good works followed. It was not his works that made his faith alive.

We read that Abraham’s actions fulfilled a scripture from Genesis: “Abraham believed God and it was imputed unto him as righteousness”. Here James clarifies a very important point—that a person’s faith gains him righteousness and not his works. Abraham had been declared righteous by God many years before he proved his faith by his works, even long before Isaac was born! Abraham’s works did not make him righteous; his faith had already done that. Abraham’s works were merely evidence that he had already been made righteous by God.

The third witness is Rahab the harlot (who hid the spies at Jericho). Her strong faith and written testimony are found in Joshua: “for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above and in earth beneath”. Her life is a vivid example of how a woman had faith and then acted on it. Not only did she risk her life by rescuing Joshua’s spies, she lived the remainder of her life in Israel; got married and became the mother of Boaz, Jesse’s Grandfather and King David’s Great Grandmother.

Now let’s contrast these testimonies with those of a different group of three witnesses, written about in the Book of Mormon (Ether). These men were prophesied to one day declare to the world the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. But these three men all left Mormonism. Their lack of action is evidence that their faith was dead, their testimony false.

Interestingly, this was not all they claimed in their testimony. They also declared that one day they could be found spotless because of their own works. They testified:

“And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ.”

This testimony shows that they didn’t know what James knew and taught about Abraham: a person is found spotless in Gods eyes through their faith, and not their works!

The Apostle Paul taught the same thing as Moses and James. He revealed that God’s promise to Abraham was not written merely for Abraham’s sake, but also for yours:

“He 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)

Link to the Testimony of Three Witnesses:

Link to Ether Chapter 5:

Are You Worthy?

I volunteer with Truth in Love Ministry, a Christian group that reaches out to the Latter-day Saints. Through a media campaign, billboards ask the question “Feeling Worthy?” and point readers to our new website: HisHealingNow.com. Here we share with you the peace and joy we have found through our Savior. We want you to know that feeling unworthy is actually a blessing. The answer to your feelings of unworthiness is the sweet message of a Savior who loves you and came to save you—because you are unworthy! “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” (Matthew 18:11)

The reason we are focusing on LDS who feel unworthy is because your church leaders have told you the wrong way to be worthy. They claim that a person can be worthy through obedience and have created a set of standards for each member to follow. But no one can be found worthy through obedience. Jesus testified the truth of every human’s worthiness when He claimed “none is good, save one, that is, God.” (Luke 18:19). The prophet Isaiah declared “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6).

LDS leaders claim that God gave us His laws as the way to prove ourselves worthy. But this is not true. God gave us His commands for exactly the opposite reason—to prove to us just how unworthy we are! His laws were given so “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) God intended for us to use the demands of His law as a mirror. When we look at ourselves in it, we realize just how sinful we are. The main reason God gave His law was to convict us of our unworthiness. The apostle Paul explains no one can be worthy by following any law of God: “for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.” (Galatians 3) Instead, “the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” God’s law brings us to place our trust in Christ when we realize that without a Savior, we are doomed to hell. This is the blessing of recognizing our unworthiness. We come to rely on what Christ did for us—led a perfect life and atoned for our sins.

So what can be so bad about Mormons trying to be worthy through obedience? The problem isn’t that you are trying to be worthy; it’s that you are using the wrong standard to judge yourself by. The LDS standard for worthiness was created by men and not by God. LDS prophets have lowered God’s standard and use a standard that isn’t high enough. All question as to what standard man should be held to were thrown aside when Jesus commanded: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) By lowering God’s standard they create the illusion of worthiness through ones own efforts.

LDS leaders use their own system of grading sins. When determining worthiness some sins are overlooked and others are judged as making a person unworthy. Simply reading the Sermon on the Mount verifies that this practice of grading sins didn’t come from God. Jesus testified that in God’s sight, murderers are as sinful as those who loose their temper; and looking at a woman in lust is committing the very same sin as adultery (Matthew 5-7) In God’s eyes, each and every sin is rebellion against Him and receives the same eternal consequence—Hell.

Instead of looking at Heavenly Father’s perfection to determine if you are worthy, Mormons judge whether you are worthy by looking at each other. Lowering God’s standard by grading sins only gives members a false impression that they are worthy. This actually leads you away from your Savior! Instead of reaching out for a Savior who did everything for you, you place your trust in a Savior who merely gives you the opportunity to be judged by your works. Doing so means that your eternal life hangs in the balance of whether you are worthy enough! Can you now see how deadly this doctrine of worthiness is?

There is only one way to be found worthy in God’s sight and it has nothing to do with your obedience to God’s law. Paul testified: “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21) Worthiness comes through faith that Jesus came to earth to be worthy for you—in your place! He is your substitute for the perfection required by God. Through the offering of Christ’s body you have been perfected forever! (Hebrews 10:10-14). Abraham was credited with righteous through faith: “And he believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

And please, don’t fall for the cheap trick of those who ask “Then why would you ever try to do what is right?” Everyone who trusts that Jesus has gained their worthiness for them are so grateful that for the rest of their lives they strive to please God. Not because they have to—but because their love for their Savior compels them.

Your Savior came to cover you with His righteousness. Believe it and you will rejoice with the prophet Isaiah:

“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)

Why is the Cross the Symbol of Christianity?

I love the symbol of the Cross!! But this isn’t how I have always felt. When I was Mormon I was often asked why we didn’t wear crosses or have crosses on our buildings. I always responded with what I had been taught: “We don’t focus on Christ’s death but on His life and the fact that he is still living.” In reality I was repulsed by crosses on churches or whenever I saw someone wearing a cross as jewelry. Now that I understand the true meaning of Christ’s Cross I am continually drawn back to its message—like a moth to a flame!

But what is the meaning of the Cross? Its message is seen as “foolishness” to many Latter-day Saints. Indeed, it is what divides Mormonism from Christianity! Today I share with you why the Cross is the symbol of my faith and pray that you will also make it yours.

My most treasured possession was won at the Cross—the forgiveness of all my sins! My entire debt of sin was canceled and taken away from me, in fact—my IOU’s were actually nailed to Christ’s Cross! (Colossians 2:13-15) When I first heard and understood this message of forgiveness, I gave my life to Jesus. As a Mormon I had been taught that even though Christ paid the debt for my sins, the debt hadn’t been canceled but merely re-financed. In fact, I still owed my debt to Jesus. For years I had tried to wash my own sins away by meeting the LDS requirements of repentance—and had failed miserably. Today, I cherish the meaning of the Cross because it boldly testifies that “where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin” (Hebrews 10:17-18).

Not only were my sins forgiven at the Cross, it was there that I was “perfected forever” through the offering of Christ’s body (Hebrews 10:10-14). This is amazing because I certainly didn’t deserve to be credited with righteousness. But through His death on the Cross, Christ reconciled me to God, presenting me “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Colossians 1:21-22).

How can these things possibly be true? Only through what my Savior accomplished! Even though Jesus was equal to God, He became a servant; He “humbled himself and became obedient” by dying on the Cross (Philippians 2:5-11). “For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, despising the shame.” (Hebrews 12:2) Notice here that He despised the shame. Have you ever felt shame? Shame is a horrible feeling that I know all too well! I have felt much shame over the years for the sins that I committed. But I deserved my shame. The Holy Son of God never once sinned and yet He took upon Himself every sin ever committed. I can’t even begin to imagine the magnitude of shame that our Holy Savior felt when He did this at the Cross!

Taking upon Himself every sin meant that it was like Jesus Himself had actually committed these sins! This was His role as our Substitute, and it had to be done at the cross to save us. Forgiveness can only be granted through the shedding of one’s life-blood. And the Cross was the altar where Christ shed His. This is why Christians use the symbol of Christ’s death–the Cross, as the symbol of their faith.

Without the Cross, I was cursed to spend eternity in Hell with Satan. The Apostle Paul told the Galatians: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” Because I could not do what was required, Christ came to do it for me. His very purpose for coming to earth was to be my substitute; and yours!! You were cursed because of your sins but Christ took your curse upon Himself. He actually became a curse!! Both for you and for me! As the final sacrifice “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”. Notice that His substitution happened at the cross! It was at the Cross that every sin ever committed was paid for and forgiven! Now, “where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin”!!!!

The LDS church shuns the Cross, because it claims to focus on Christ’s life instead. In reality, Mormon prophets reject the message of the Cross because it’s foolishness to them!!! “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.”

As I mentioned, I am continually drawn back to the message of the cross—like a moth to a flame. Whenever I feel guilt over the sin that so easily entangles me—I run to the Cross! It is at the Cross that I can leave my guilt and be reminded that my sin has already been forgiven. Then immediately, I turn in gratitude and thankfulness to my Savior who died on that Cross—for me!!!

The cross is the center of our lives

The cross is the center of our lives

When I got married a few years ago my last name became “Detro”. One day I realized that the “T” in the center of Detro could be made into the symbol of the Cross. My husband and I love the symbolism that this created. Christ’s Cross is the symbol of our faith—the very center of our lives and our marriage! My husband surprised me one year with this beautiful anniversary gift that sits by our front door.

Click here for additional LDS and Bible references:

The Empty Tomb Is Proof That The Mormon Jesus Is A False Christ!!

After the Holy Spirit brought me to faith, it took a few months before I understood the differences between Christianity and Mormonism. For a short time, I didn’t realize that the Mormon Church was not Christian. The Jesus I had been taught about while I was Mormon seemed to be the same Jesus as what the Bible taught. It wasn’t until I did a thorough Bible study on Christ’s Atonement, that I discovered the truth. The Jesus taught by Mormonism is a false Christ! He is not the “Christ” who saved us “in our sins”.

While Mormonism teaches similar aspects about the “person” of Jesus as that found in the Bible, the falseness of the LDS Christ becomes apparent when one looks at his stated purpose and mission. I have found numerous ways in which the LDS Jesus falls short of the true Jesus, as revealed on the pages of the Bible. I have already written a post comparing the LDS Jesus as Creditor with the Biblical Jesus as Savior; and, a post comparing the LDS Jesus as Exemplar with the Biblical Jesus who was our Substitute. Today, I focus on comparing the LDS Jesus who cannot save his people in their sins, with the true Christ who took away the sins of the world!

The Christ of Mormonism is a false Christ. We know this because LDS prophets testify that Christ cannot save his people “in their sins”! They make this claim because they believe the words of a false prophet, found on the pages of LDS scripture. This prophet, Amulek, taught of a false Christ who did not have the authority to save his people “in their sins“. Amulek claims that the reason, is because “no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.

How can we know that this Christ is not the true Christ, the very Son of God? By testing his mission and purpose, as revealed by Mormonism; with Christ’s mission and purpose, already revealed within the pages of the Bible.

The true Christ’s mission was to take away ALL our sins, leaving us “no longer in our sins”! The Apostle Paul claimed that if Christ had not been raised from the dead, then their faith was in vain because they would still be in their sins. (1 Corinthians 15:17) The fact that Christ was raised from the dead meant that they were no longer in their sins!

John the Baptist testified that Christ’s mission was to take away the sins of the world! (John 1:29). Did Jesus fulfill His mission and return to His Father with honor? Did He take away the sins of the world? Yes!! The empty tomb, the fact that God the Father raised Him from the dead, proves that Christ’s body was accepted as full payment for taking away the sins of the world.

Because the tomb was empty on that first Easter morn, we can trust that we are no longer in our sins! Through the offering of Christ’s body, every sin was taken away from you. All who believe in Jesus can boldly enter into God’s presence, because they are no longer in their sins! When Jesus took away the sins of the world, He reconciled man to God! You are no longer unclean, because Christ’s blood has washed you clean!!!

No longer “in our sins” we are perfect, righteous, and pure. Through the offering of Christ’s body, “He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:10-14). Those whose hope is in the true Christ are as pure as Jesus himself (1 John 3). Just like Abraham, you are declared righteous through faith (Romans 4:20-5:2).

Many of the Jewish leaders didn’t believe that Jesus was the Christ. They thought that Christ’s mission was to overthrow the Romans and set up an earthly kingdom. But this was a vision of a false Christ! Jesus warned the Jews who did not believe in Him: “ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins (John 8:24). The logic here is that if the Jews would just believe in the true Christ they would not die in their sins.

Similarly, if you trust in the words of your LDS prophets, you also believe in the vision of a false Christ. One who cannot, will not, save you in your sins. Just as Jesus warned the Jews, He gives you the same warning: “if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins”. Dying in your sins means Eternal Death. Do you love your children and wish to live with them eternally? Reject the false Christ of Mormonism and in faith, turn to the true Jesus who has already saved you. Then, teach your children about the true Christ, who has already saved them in their sins!

Link to Additional LDS and Bible References:

Why Did Heavenly Father Give Us Commandments?

Many Mormons don’t understand how I could believe I don’t have to do anything to be saved. I’m often asked “Why would God give us commandments to follow if we don’t have to keep them in order to be saved?” The reason for the misunderstanding is that Mormon Prophets have changed God’s intended purpose for His commandments. Mormon doctrine claims that God gave His laws as the means to become righteous and gain eternal life.

One can find this LDS teaching in the third Article of Faith: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” Mormon Prophets testify that God gave His law so a person could become righteous through obedience: “The laws of God given to mankind are embodied in the gospel plan, and the Church of Jesus Christ is made responsible for teaching these laws to the world. They are given by our Heavenly Father for only one purpose, that you who are governed by law might also be preserved by law and perfected and sanctified, or made holy by the same” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church-Harold B. Lee, page 27).

But in truth, God actually gave you His commandments to show you that you could never become righteous by obedience! It is through God’s law that you become conscious of your sinfulness. The Apostle Paul claimed that God’s law is like a mirror. When you read His law and see what He demands from you, you will see how far off from the mark you are. When you look into the mirror of God’s law; you will see an utterly sinful self!

The uncompromising commands of God’s law prove we can’t meet God’s demands. In fact, we don’t even come close! Jesus knew that the commandments were given so we could see our sinfulness. Think about when He commanded us to “be as perfect as our Father in Heaven”. Did He truly believe that anyone besides Himself could fulfill this command? Just read through the entire Sermon on the Mount to see what Jesus commanded us. When Jesus claims that if a man even looks at a woman in lust he has already committed adultery in his heart. Or, if someone is angry with his brother this is the same as committing murder. Think about what it really means to love your enemies, bless those who curse you and to do good to those who hate and persecute you. Jesus knew that God’s law was given so that sin would increase (Romans 5:20). Can you believe that? God actually gave His commandments so that people would sin more!

Why would He do this? Because, it is only when you despair of saving yourself that you will see your complete need for a Savior. Only then will you give up on your impossible efforts to become righteous by obedience. Only then will you turn solely to Jesus for rescue. And when you do, a miracle happens. Through faith in your Savior you are credited with his righteousness, His perfect obedience! At that moment, you are righteous in God’s sight and receive the gift of eternal life! You have been saved by Jesus’ obedience to God’s laws, not your own! Isn’t that amazing?

When I was a Mormon I misunderstood Christians who claimed they didn’t have to keep the commandments in order to be saved. I thought this meant they didn’t want to keep the commandments and I assumed they must be living a life of blatant sinfulness. Now I understand this isn’t true. Christians don’t have to obey God to be saved, because they already have eternal life. But, they are privileged to obey God simply because they love Him. What a blessing this is for me! In thankfulness to Jesus my whole life is devoted to Him!
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“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. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:21-24, see also Romans 3:19-20, 5:20, 7:7-8).

The Testimony of Three Witnesses: Faith Without Works is Dead!

I once had a testimony that the Mormon Church was true. When I discovered that my testimony was false I went searching to find the true church. I spent almost nine years between Mormonism and Christianity and met people from all different kinds of faiths. I discovered many people with a strong testimony in their church. I even met Atheists, Shamans and Agnostics with strongly held “faith” that what they believed was true. What I quickly realized is that the sincerity of a person’s “testimony” doesn’t necessarily mean that what they testify is true. It just means they have “faith” in something.

Through all my searching one thing I clearly believed was that I had to do something to live eternally with Heavenly Father. In the back of my head I always remembered that “faith without works was dead”. What I never knew is that these two teachings aren’t the same thing. It was exciting when I discovered that James’ point isn’t “how” we are saved, but how to identify real faith when we see it. He claims that what uniquely identifies a “faith” in the one true God is that it is alive! Faith is a gift from God placed in a person’s heart by the Holy Spirit. At that moment a person crosses over from spiritual death to being born again into a new spiritual life (John 5:24). Just as a newborn baby moves and breathes, someone with faith in God will do works—they just can’t help it! James emphasizes his point by saying that faith without works is like a dead body without a spirit. Even if someone claims to have a testimony of faith, if works are absent, that faith isn’t a true faith, its dead.

James uses three witnesses to make his point—himself, Abraham and Rahab. He uses the actions of these three witnesses as proof that a living faith always produces works. His first witness is himself. He contrasts his own life of both faith and works with that of a man who claims to have faith, yet has no works. His outward visible actions prove his testimony of faith.

Through Abraham’s witness, James gives us the vital key that faith comes first, and then works automatically follow. Because faith is living, like a living creature; it naturally produces the “fruit” of works. Similar to an apple tree bearing the fruit of an apple, a living faith will bear the fruit of good works, naturally and without being forced. Good works are merely proof that faith is present. Abraham’s willingness to offer Isaac on the altar was one of many actions that evidenced his faith. His actions were the “fruit” of his faith and proved his faith true. Because his faith was alive, his works followed. It was not his works that made his faith alive.

We read that Abraham’s actions fulfilled a scripture from Genesis: “Abraham believed God and it was imputed unto him as righteousness”. Here James clarifies that a person’s faith gains him righteousness and not his works. Abraham had been declared righteous by God many years before he proved his faith by his works, even long before Isaac was born! Abraham’s works did not make him righteous; his faith had already done that. Abraham’s works were merely evidence that he had already been made righteous by God.

The third witness is Rahab the harlot (who hid the spies at Jericho). Her strong faith and written testimony are found in Joshua: “for the Lord your God, he is God in heaven above and in earth beneath”. Her life is a vivid example of how a woman had faith and then acted on it. Not only did she risk her life by rescuing Joshua’s spies, she lived the remainder of her life in Israel; got married and became the mother of Boaz, Jesse’s Grandfather and King David’s Great Grandmother.

In the Book of Mormon (Ether) we read about the testimony of a different group of three witnesses. These men were prophesied to one day declare to the world the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. But these three men all left Mormonism. Their lack of action is evidence that their faith was dead, their testimony false.

But, this was not all they claimed in their testimony. They also testified that one day they could be found spotless because of their own works. They testified: “And we know that if we are faithful in Christ, we shall rid our garments of the blood of all men, and be found spotless before the judgment-seat of Christ.” This testimony shows that they didn’t know what James knew and taught about Abraham: a person is found spotless in Gods eyes through their faith, and not their works!

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38: Be as Perfect as Heavenly Father?

LDS Belief:

Perfection comes by complying with the formula Jesus gave us—keeping all the commandments and triumphing over sin. This command to be as perfect as Heavenly Father is an achievable goal.

LDS Words

Found in lesson 38, page 168:
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—“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.”

Found in: The Miracle of Forgiveness, President Spencer W. Kimball, pages 208-209: “This progress toward eternal life is a matter of achieving perfection. Living all the commandments guarantees total forgiveness of sins and assures one of exaltation through that perfection which comes by complying with the formula the Lord gave us. In his Sermon on the Mount he made the command to all men: ‘Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.’ (Matt. 5:48.) Being perfect means to triumph over sin. This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise and kind. He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal.

Link to Lesson:

Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38

The Bold Truth:

Only Jesus kept all of Heavenly Father’s commands perfectly. He acted as our proxy and accomplished what we were unable to do—be as perfect as our Father in Heaven. Perfection comes by trusting that Jesus was perfect for us, in our place. Through the offering of Christ’s body as payment for your sin, you have been perfected forever!

My focus today is on one of the commands given to the Nephites. This command is also found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:48: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Have you ever noticed that Jesus has set Heavenly Father as our standard for perfection? I often wondered why Jesus didn’t command us to be as perfect as one of God’s Prophets, like Abraham. Did Jesus truly mean we couldn’t commit even one sin? James agrees with Jesus: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all” (2:10). This shows that even if we were able to keep 99.99% of God’s commands we would still fail. Perfection is an all or nothing thing—you either are or you aren’t!

The sobering truth is that God doesn’t overlook any imperfection. His penalty for even one sin is being cursed! “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them” (Galatians 3:10). As James says, the reason is because this law breaker is guilty of breaking the whole law! All who do not continue to keep every single command are cursed. Jesus will say to them, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

I’m often told that what Jesus must have meant is to “become” perfect someday. But notice the command doesn’t say to “become” perfect; it says to “be” perfect! Even Joseph Smith translated: “Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect.” The verb is “be” and not “become”. “Be” describes a present state and “become” describes a progression. For instance if your Bishop tells you to “be” morally clean, certainly he doesn’t mean for you to eventually progress towards becoming morally clean someday. He expects you to be morally clean right now.

Nephi testified “that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.” President Kimball agrees: “Being perfect means to triumph over sin. This is a mandate from the Lord. He is just and wise and kind. He would never require anything from his children which was not for their benefit and which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal.”

There is a way to be perfect, but it is not through your own obedience as Mormon Prophets claim. The only way is to believe that God sent a proxy in your place to do what you were unable to do for yourself. His Son did not come to show you how to be perfect, but to be perfect for you. “For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Hebrews 10:14). You are sanctified by the offering of his body (verse 10). Because Jesus kept all of God’s laws perfectly in your place, Heavenly Father accepts you as perfect right now. This wonderful gift from God comes not because of anything you have every done or could ever do, but because of what Jesus already did for you!

Eternal Consequences

If you believe your righteousness is achieved by keeping the commandments and triumphing over sin—you are in big trouble! Since Jesus is the only person who could achieve perfection with His own efforts, anyone else who tries will fail and is under God’s curse. For rejecting Christ’s efforts on your behalf He will send you to live eternally with Satan.

Additional Testimony of the Bold Truth:
No one does good:
– Psalm 14:2-3
– Ecclesiastes 7:20
– Proverbs 7:20
– Romans 3:10-12
– Romans 3:23
– Genesis 8:21
Our own Righteousness is like filthy rags in God’s eyes:
– Isaiah 64:6
Righteousness comes by Faith in Jesus not by works:
– 1 Corinthians 1:30
– Romans 1:17
– Romans 3:22
– Romans 9:30-32
– Romans 10:1-10
– Galatians 2:16, 21
– Philippians 3:9
– 2 Timothy 1:9
Own works will not profit us, trust in God:
– Isaiah 57:12-13
Christ has covered us with His robe of Righteousness:
– Isaiah 61:10
Through Christ’s sacrifice we have been perfected forever:
– Hebrews 10:10-14
Those whose hope is in Jesus are as pure as He is:
– 1 John 3:2-3
We are holy and blameless in his love:
– Ephesians 1:3-5
Links to Additional LDS words:

TofP=Teachings of Presidents of the Church

Christ came to establish the standard of God’s perfection
TofP-Harold B. Lee
TofP-Joseph F. Smith
God will not give us a commandment we can’t obey
Book of Mormon-Prophet Nephi
Gospel Principles-Basic LDS Doctrine

Human perfection comes through individual effort
TofP-David O. McKay
Savior would not mock us by giving us an unobtainable goal to be perfect
TofP-Harold B. Lee
Every member of Church can live all laws of gospel perfectly
TofP-Harold B. Lee
TofP-Heber J. Grant
TofP-Brigham Young
The Lord demands perfection, commanded to be supermen, gods in embryo
TofP-Spencer W. Kimball
TofP-Spencer W. Kimball
TofP-Joseph Smith