**All passages of Scripture found in the Holy Bible are in the King James Version unless otherwise stated. Any emphasis added at any point is added by the blogger unless otherwise noted.
Ever since Pastor Robert Jeffress introduced Rick Perry as a true Christian, a definite comment in regards to the Mormon faith of Mitt Romney, the debate over whether or not Mormonism is a cult or true Christianity has hit an all time high. Since then, I have begun to delve into the world of Mormon teachings and belief. Call it curiosity. Call it a learning experience. Call it whatever you like, I am getting quite the education. Despite all that I have read to this point (and it has been a lot), I know that I have only scratched the surface of the maze that is Mormonism.
There are many things that have surprised me in my research. MANY things. I want to share just one of those with you today. It is the concept that is summed up in the question…is Christ’s sacrifice enough?
I was recently involved in a respectful conversation with a Mormon regarding the beliefs of the Mormon church. I asked the question “Do you believe that it is grace that saves you or works?” He responded “Grace”. I then quoted from 2 Nephi 2: 25 found in the Book of Mormon (hereafter referred to as BOM). Then end of this verse says “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all that we can do.” I asked this man again, are we saved by grace or by works. He still said grace, despite what this verse says. I then asked him what he thought about a particular quote of Joseph Smith’s successor, Brigham Young, of atoning for our own sins. Cue the crickets… because there has yet to be an answer.
Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV says “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” According the Articles of Faith of the Mormon church, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly: we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.” From what is available on the official church website , www.lds.org, I don’t see a change in this verse (for those of you who don’t know, there is a Joseph Smith Translation, JST, of the Bible). Another Mormon source, Doctrines & Covenants, hereafter referred to as D&C, states “Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.”
Another statement included in the Articles of Faith states “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” Yet Romans 3:20 NKJV says “Therefore by the deeds of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of Him.” I also point out here that I do not see a change of this verse by Joseph Smith, from what is available on the official church website. But, it is expedient that I mention that in Romans 7:22 JST (Joseph Smith Translation), it says “…I am not under the law…” Hhhhmmm.
Do we as mere mortals have the ability to carry out all of the law? Each commandment? It needs to be stated that there are over 400 commandments/laws contained within the Old Testament alone. Coupled with the commandments in the New Testament and that is a lot. Then add to those all that the Mormon church has added to its doctrine through the Book of Mormon and other writings…its mind boggling. 1 Nephi 3:7 of the BOM says “And now it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know 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.” Perfection is not only expected within the Mormon faith, they are taught that it is attainable: “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 or which was not attainable. Perfection therefore is an achievable goal.” (Kimball, Stephen W., Miracle of Forgiveness, pg 209). As far as I know, only God is perfect, and this quote leads into the Mormon teaching of attaining godhood after this life (it is also taught that God was once a man like us and attained His current status). But God is perfect… “He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he. (Deuteronomy 32:4). We cannot be perfect because we are sinful beings, conceived in sin, and have a sinful nature. “They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.” (Romans 3:12). “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Psalm 51:5) If we break one part of the law, we are guilty of breaking the whole thing (James 2:10). “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.” (I John 1:8). No matter how hard we try, we cannot keep the law. Romans 7:14-21 says “For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that [it is] good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but [how] to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.” (I do have to say here that what I found on the official church website was a complete change of this passage. If I were a Mormon, I would feel very discouraged in the fact that not even the Apostle Paul, according to Joseph Smith’s work, knows how we all struggle with sin and that no matter how hard we try, perfection cannot be attained as sin reigns in this body, even though Paul refers to himself as the chief of sinner in I Timothy 1:15.)
Why do I make this issue important? This issue of perfection under the law and where our salvation comes from. Romans 5:8 says “…that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” There is no talk in the Bible of having to make ourselves worthy of Christ’s sacrifice. That is the beauty of the cross. It was our sin that put Christ there, but it was His unconditional love for us that kept us there. There is nothing that we have to do, except believe, in order to obtain this precious gift. Yet the Mormon church teaches that we are saved due to obedience. Alma11:37 from the BOM says “And I say to you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that 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.” WOW!!! I must point out here that there is no “correction” to Romans 5:8 as quoted above by Joseph Smith available through the website. How blatant a contradiction is this! How scary and unforgiving is this religion!
In Luke 23:32-43, we see Jesus hanging on the cross. He was crucified between two thieves, both of which ridiculed Jesus. As we continue to read, we see that one of the criminals had a change of heart and asked Jesus to remember him when He entered His kingdom. What were Jesus’ words? “…Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43) The Mormon church teaches a very different response. Spencer W. Kimball, the twelfth president of the Mormon church, stated “The Lord cannot save men in their sins but only from their sins, and that only when they show true repentance. The one thief did show some compassion, whether selfishly with hope we are not sure. He was confessing, but how could he abandon his evil practices when dungeon walls made evil deeds impossible? How could he restore stolen goods when hanging on the cross? How could he, as John the Baptist required, ‘bring forth fruits meet for repentance?’ How could he live the Lord’s commands, attend his meetings, pay his tithing, serve his fellowmen? All these things take time. Time was the one thing he was running out of very rapidly. ‘No unclean thing can enter the kingdom of heaven.’ This though has been repeated throughout the scriptures numerous times and is a basic truth. We may be sure that the Savior’s instructions to the thief on the cross where comparable to his instructions to the woman caught in adultery: ‘Go your way and transform yourself and repent” (Miracle of Forgiveness pg 166). (These “instructions” nor anything like them are shown in the account given in the Book of Luke). This man also said "One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation. Along with all the other works necessary for man’s exaltation in the k...ingdom of God this could rule out the need for repentance. It could give license for sin and, since it does not require man to work out his salvation, could accept instead lip service, death-bed 'repentance', and shallow, meaningless confession of sin." (Miracle of Forgiveness, pg 206).
Mormonism also does not teach the forgiveness we find in the Bible. The Bible teaches that God has removed our sins from us as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12); that God casts our sins into the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19); that God casts our sins behind His back (Isaiah 38:17); and that God remembers our sins no more (Jeremiah 31:34). Yet, in D&C 82:7 it says “And now, verily, I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge: you your ways and sin no more; but unto the soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.” Mr. Kimball said, “To return to sin is most destructive to the moral of the individual and gives Satan another hand-hold on his victim. Those that feel that they can sin and be forgiven and then return to sin and be forgiven again and again must straighten out their thinking. Each previously forgiven sin is added to the new one and the whole gets to be a heavy load. Thus when a man has made up his mind to change his life, there must be no turning back.” (Miracle of Forgiveness pg 170). I’m really thinking that the name of that book needs to be changed, because what kind of miracle of forgiveness is it when God is some cosmic being just waiting for you to make a mistake in order to hurl all of your prior sins back on your back. We sin so much there is absolutely no way that we could ever redeem ourselves. There is no way we could every do enough to “transform” ourselves. That is why Christ, the perfect Lamb, without spot or blemish, had to die. Hebrews 9:22 says that without the shedding of blood there can be no remission of sins.
I alluded to a quote by Brigham Young earlier. I was utterly shocked when I read these words. It needs to be remembered as you read the following words, that the president of the Mormon church is held in high regard. Like the pope of the Catholic church, this man is considered to be God’s mouth piece and those things that come from them are coming from God himself.
“Suppose you found your brother in bed with your wife, and you put a javelin through both of them, you would be justified, and they would atone for their sins, and be received into the kingdomof God. I would at once do so in such a case; and under such circumstances, I have no wife whom I love so well that I would not put a javelin through her heart, and I would do it with clean hands…. There is not a man or woman, who violates the covenants made with their God, that will not be required to pay the debt. The blood of Christ will never wipe that out, your own blood must atone for it; and the judgments of the Almighty will come, sooner or later, and every man and woman will have to atone for breaking their covenants….All mankind love themselves, and let these principles be known by an individual, and he would be glad to have his blood shed. I could refer you to plenty of instances where men have been righteously slain, in order to atone for their sins…this is loving our neighbor as ourselves; if he needs help, help him; and if he wants salvation and it is necessary to spill his blood on the earth in order that he be saved, spill it.” (Brigham Young, “Journal of Discourses” 3:247; 4:219-220)
I do not see any miracle of forgiveness with the teachings of the Mormon church. The words of Brigham Young are haunting. Do his words sound like grace to you?