Mormons sometimes assert in public (especially of late, with an unquenchable desire for mainstream acceptance) that they believe like most Christians that the only way that they can enter into God’s kingdom is through faith in Jesus Christ. That statement alone sounds very mainstream Christian and would be in complete accord with the Word of God, as the Bible indeed declares without equivocation: Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16. That if you confess with your mouth, "Jesus is Lord," and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. Romans 10:9. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:10-12.
But not so quick. According to Mormonism, it’s not that simple. Presented here is an explanation of how the Mormon view of grace and works deviate from the Word of God - the Bible.
THE MORMON CHURCH’S THIRD ARTICLE OF FAITH
The deviation of Mormonism from biblical truth comes largely from the following official LDS church position made in the LDS 3rd 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.”
Notice that this LDS Article of Faith DOESN’T mention “by faith in Jesus Christ.” Instead, the LDS third article of faith says that it is through the Atonement of Christ, “by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel” that mankind “MAY” be saved.* What obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel really means shall be discussed in greater detail shortly herein. But for the moment, the point is that, as such, faith in Christ is NOT the Mormon requisite. Rather, obedience to all the laws and ordinances of the Mormon church is the Mormon requirement for salvation. Is this in accord with the Word of God?
Note that the Bible plainly declares that:
"For it is BY GRACE you have been saved, THROUGH FAITH — and this not from yourselves, IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD — NOT BY WORKS, so that no one can boast. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Ephesians 2:8-10.
So we see here that Grace is a gift of God. By its very nature, a gift cannot be earned. It is given, generally, as an act of love by the giver.
Note also that Grace is specifically not given as a reward for works, so that we will have nothing to boast of. Hence, we can’t earn Grace or Salvation by our own works. No, they are given because of our faith. Once we are re-created in Christ, we are then God’s workmanship created to do good works.
To further illuminate, with regard to works, Jesus declared:
“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29.)
AFTER ALL WE CAN DO
In contrast, and in addition to “by obedience to the laws and ordinances . . . “ specified in the 3rd Article of Faith, the Book of Mormon adds: It is “by grace that we are saved, AFTER ALL WE CAN DO.” 2 Nephi 25:23. Again, no mention of faith in Christ as the requisite. So, according to Mormon doctrine, the monkey is on our back to prove ourselves good enough to merit God’s grace. FAITH IN CHRIST ALONE WILL NEVER BE SUFFICIENT TO WARRANT ETERNAL LIFE, ACCORDING TO MORMONISM.
WHAT ARE THE LAWS AND ORDINANCES? - WHAT IS ALL WE CAN DO?
To bring a full understanding, we need to look then at what, according to Mormonism, are “the laws and ordinances of the Gospel” (“works”) that we must be obedient to and what are the acts in the “all we can do” (“works”) that we must first do before qualifying to receive the grace (gift) of God?
Among of the "laws and ordinances" and the "all we can do" list are (in addition to having a 'testimony' of Jesus Christ’s atonement and his role as Savior and Redeemer that would be asked at an LDS baptismal or temple recommend interview)** that you must:
-Accept and believe in Joseph Smith as a Prophet, Seer, Revelator, and Restorer of the ONE AND ONLY TRUE CHURCH on the face of the earth (numerous are the LDS Prophet and Apostle quotations that there is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith);
-Accept and believe in the Mormon church as the one and only true church on the face of the earth;
-Accept, believe in and commit to following the current Prophet and church leaders in strict obedience;
-Commit to and living the Word of Wisdom (no coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco, or illegal drugs), Commit to living the law of Chastity (no sex outside of marriage), faithfully Tithing, faithfully attend church, keep the Sabbath day holy, etc.
-You must be baptized in the Mormon church (the only church with authority, by the priesthood, to perform such an ordinance to be taken valid);
-You must be confirmed a member of the church and receive the “gift of the Holy Ghost” (again, can only be performed by a faithful LDS priesthood holder);
Note that the foregoing list is ONLY THE BEGINNING to achieve the bottom rung of the Celestial Kingdom (aka: Eternal Life in God’s Kingdom). It is the opening of the gate. If you miss any of the above, and you may not enter the bottom rung of the Celestial Kingdom.
To achieve the higher levels of the Celestial Kingdom***, according to LDS doctrine, one must:
-Receive the Aronic and Melchezidek Priesthoods (if you are male) (Note that prior to 1978 blacks were not allowed to receive the Mormon Priesthood);
-Be faithful in any church callings you may receive
-Be endowed in an LDS temple where you will learn the required signs, tokens and penalties that will allow you to pass by the angles that stand as sentinels that lead to the kingdom (note that, prior to 1978, blacks could not enter Mormon temples to receive their endowments or temple marriage because of the Mormon belief that blacks were the decendants of Cain and were prohibited from being allowed to hold the Mormon priesthood or to take part in the "blessings" of the LDS gospel beyond mere baptism which does not allow entrance into the higher levels of the "Celestial Kingdom" where Mormons believe faithful individuals can be "exalted" and become Gods, create their own worlds and have eternal increase. Prior to 1978 it was believed and taught in Mormonism that blacks could only enter the Celestial Kingdom - God's Kingdom where He dwells - as servants.);
-Wear the prescribed LDS garment (underwear) night and day;
-Be married in an LDS temple (the key to entering the highest level of the Celestial Kingdom) [And, if you believe in the Doctrine and Covenants, Brigham Young and other subsequent LDS prophets and apostles, you must accept polygamy and enter into polygamous marriages (read D&C 132) (“for all those who have this law revealed unto them must obey the same. For behold, I reveal unto you a new and an everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant, then are ye damned; for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter into my glory.”) The LDS church tries to downplay this as much as possible but comes short of disavowing it.]
Fail to be faithfully obedient to and accomplish any of the foregoing (and, of course, you must be Mormon to do so), you may not achieve the highest levels of the Celestial Kingdom. So when Mormons say that: "Mormons believe that there is no other way to heaven besides accepting Jesus Christ as their savior and having faith in him”, there is much more than meets the eye with such simple but misleading statement (and during 39 years as faithful member of the Mormon Church, I honestly never heard it said that it is faith in Christ is what will enable us to come into God’s Kingdom. It is only recently that it has become increasingly common for Mormons and the Mormon Church to make such statements. It was always taught that being completely faithful to the Mormon Church and all it requires that will enable us to come into God’s Kingdom. Being faithful to the Church and keeping the commandments is how we prove that we love God and are worthy to enter His Kingdom).
In answer to any assertion that it is indeed by faith in Christ that we are saved, Mormons will say “but we must keep all of God’s commandments to show our faith.” They will further insinuate that Christians believe that all they have to do is say that they believe and they are saved – then the Christian has a free-ride ticket to sin and do whatever they please and they want to. This LDS presentation of what Christians believe is certainly a true perversion of the truth. Unfortunately, this really is what the LDS church teaches its members that Biblical Christianity believes and practices.
First of all, let’s make clear that there is no question that works are an important part of the bible-believing Christian’s faith. For the true born again believer is “a new creation in Christ.” 2 Corinthians 5:17. For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Ephesians 2:10. A new creation in Christ will abound to every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:8.
But it is not our works that save us. Works do not save us, rather they are the evidence of our faith and a new heart in Christ. 1 John 2:3-11; Romans 11:6. Moreover, “Christ is the end of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes. Romans 10:4.
Second point. Now that we have illustrated the reality of the Mormon position. With regard to the “by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel and after all we can do”, an important question is where amongst the long list of Mormon “must do’s” to earn Eternal Life and the right to enter God’s Kingdom do find any of those requirements in God’s Word? Aside from (arguably) water baptism, where in the Old or New Testaments -- or even the Book of Mormon, for that matter -- is there any mention of ANY of the “must do’s” for Eternal Life according to the Mormon church?
Did the words of Christ (which he declared would never pass away) actually originally contain the long Mormon list of requisites for salvation but each and every one of the items on the list of prerequisites were completely lost? Mormons are taught and truly believe that they were indeed lost through a corrupted gospel and a corruption of the bible. An important question the is, "if this list of requisites were lost, however, then why did Joseph Smith’s “inspired” translation of the bible**** not re-instate all (or, at least some) of the lost truths? Especially, when they are requisites for Eternal Life." The fact is that it didn’t.
Also, if these plain and precious truths were lost from the bible, strange also isn’t it then that not a single reference to any of the list of Mormon “must do’s” for Eternal Life is contained in the Book of Mormon that supposedly contains “the fullness of the everlasting gospel”? Were all those plain and precious things somehow also lost from the Book of Mormon too? How did that happen? If not, how then will following laws and ordinances that neither Christ nor his Apostles preached lead to salvation and eternal life? Was it, then only from the mid-1820’s forward after new “revelation” that suddenly God now requires adherence to the long list of LDS must-do’s for eternal life? As with everything in Mormonism, it all comes down to faith in Joseph Smith, as LDS doctrine came almost completely from this man and his “revelations” that he allegedly received from God.
If the LDS membership want to follow Joseph Smith and the “prophets” and keep the big list of requirements, fine. We are all free to believe and do as we choose.
I don't believe that anyone is trying to assert that keeping the LDS laws and ordinances and the long list of requirements will necessarily make a person “bad”. But, according to the clear and unequivocal declarations of the Word of God, they will not and cannot bring salvation and eternal life.
Consider what the Apostle Paul wrote:
“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.
For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature,not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.
When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 19He has lost connection with the Head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.
Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.” Colossians 2:8-23
“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. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:20-28
“What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. 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 4:1-8
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64:6
When Christ declared on the Cross: “It is finished.” It was truly finished. He had fully paid the price for our sins and opened the door to life and salvation through faith on him. Through faith on Him and accepting His blood sacrifice made in our stead and on our behalf, the righteousness of God is then imputed to us. There is nothing that we can add to what He has done for us through His own shed blood and His life that was laid down and raised again.
“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 5:21
Our “work” is to believe on Christ and to surrender our lives to Him.
“This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” John 6:29
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it. Matthew 16:24-25
“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus said to him, “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:36-40
“If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” John 8:36
The Word of the Living God speaks for itself.
May God bless you as you seek HIM in truth. The truth shall make you free.
For additional information on how Mormonism differs from biblical Christianity see www.truthshallsetufree.com
*For those who are not LDS, a more full and proper discussion would require an examination of LDS definition of “salvation”. But I will leave that topic alone for now, as that is material for a whole lengthy separate discussion. Suffice it here to say that, according to LDS doctrine, “Salvation” really means only resurrection to a new immortal body but not necessarily entering into the Kingdom of God. Eternal Life, on the other hand, means entering the highest degree of glory or the Celestial Kingdom – the real Mormon counterpart to the traditional “salvation” in the mind of the average Christian – but even Eternal Life in the Celestial Kingdom is significantly different in meaning for Mormons.
**For a better understanding of what a Mormon “Testimony” really is, see: http://truthshallsetufree.com/Mormon_Testimony.html
*** Mormonism teaches that, rather than a Heaven and a Hell, there are 3 “Kingdoms”: the Celestial Kingdom (where God dwells), the Terrestrial Kingdom and the Telestial Kingdom. All Only Mormons who have received all of the necessary ordinances and have been completely faithful will enter the Celestial Kingdom. All others will be relegated to a lesser kingdom (but not Hell). The Celestial Kingdom itself also has 3 degrees or levels. Only those who have been married in an LDS temple and have been completely faithful to all the laws and ordinances of the LDS church will enter this level of the kingdom which entitles them to be with their family (spouse and children) and to become Gods and to have eternal increase (creating their own worlds and populating them with your Goddess wife or wives).
**** Joseph Smith, who Mormons revere and accept as a prophet of God, “re-translated” the bible - or actually rewrote much of the bible and made significant changes to the text claiming to have done so by the power of revelation from God. The Mormon Church calls this the “Inspired Version” or the “Joseph Smith Translation”. No manuscripts were used in his rewriting - it was all allegedly done by inspiration from God.
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