What Do Mormon’s Believe?–Works vs. Grace

It is not unusual to find those who are confused as to what Mormons believe regarding salvation by works or by grace.  Somehow the idea has been perpetuated that Mormons do not believe in salvation by grace but rather that somehow we believe we can work our way to heaven.   This can be particularly disturbing to those who believe that one only needs to confess Jesus as their Christ and exercise faith in Him to receive salvation.  When we turn to the Bible to examine its teachings regarding faith and works, we find that James teaches us in chapter 2:18-24

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.  Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.  But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?  Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?  And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the friend of God.  Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.

In addition to this passage confirming that Abraham was justified not only by his faith, but also by his works, it also tells us that even the devils believe that Jesus is the Christ, and thus belief alone is not sufficient for salvation.  We can find multiple verses in the Bible that express this same sentiment.  However, we can also find verses such as those by the Apostle Paul in his epistle to the Romans, found in chapter 3:28, “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” and in his epistle to Titus found in chapter 3:5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost”.

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe that Paul’s emphasis is that no amount of good works will be sufficient to save us without the mercy and grace available to us because of the magnificent and transcendent gift of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.   We also believe that as disciples of Jesus Christ we have a responsibility to be His light to the world as taught in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”  We join many of our Christian brothers and sisters who also follow the teachings and commandments of Jesus. We desire to be His witnesses because of our love, adoration, and gratitude to Him.  Our belief and hope is that our good works will glorify our Heavenly Father and His son Jesus Christ.  In addition, we know that our Heavenly Father loves us.  We know that His commandments are for our personal happiness.  By following His commandments, we receive greater happiness and peace in this life.

As Mormons, we absolutely believe that we are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ.  I know that He is truly my Savior and Redeemer.  I strive to follow His teachings each and everyday, but am very well aware that I fall miserably short.  Nevertheless, I can rejoice because of His goodness and mercy knowing that I do not trust in my own ability to save, but rather in His redeeming blood.  “We labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. . . And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.” (The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23,26)   “I, [truly], stand all amazed at the love Jesus offers me, confused by the grace that so fully He proffers me.  I tremble to know that for me He was crucified, that for me a sinner He suffered, He bled and died.  Oh it is wonderful that He would care for me enough to die for me.  Oh it is wonderful, wonderful to me.” (Hymns, 1985, no. 193.)

Next Week:  Article of Faith #12–Mormon beliefs regarding obedience to laws of the land.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog?(Feb. 17, 2011)]

What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #11

LDS Las Vegas Temple

We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

We, along with many others, believe it is important to protect the right of every individual to be able to worship according to their own choosing.  The only time in which this right should be revoked is when that worship would infringe upon the rights or well being of another individual.  We believe that

Jewish Synagogue

all governments should allow their people this same privilege and as citizens we should do our part in making sure this freedom is preserved.

To learn more about freedom of worship, please read “Teach Us Tolerance and Love” by Elder Russell M. Nelson.

Almudena Cathedral

Next Week:  Article of Faith #12–Mormon beliefs regarding obedience to laws of the land.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog?(Feb. 17, 2011)]

What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #10

Second Coming of Jesus Christ

We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

To aid in the understanding of this Article of Faith, it is important to give a brief and very condensed history of Israel.  In ancient days, the Lord made both temporal and spiritual promises to Father Abraham concerning his lineage that were extended through his son Isaac and grandson Jacob.  Jacob later became known as Israel.  Israel had twelve sons whose posterities became known as the twelve tribes of Israel.  Although they initially co-existed peacefully, eventually they were essentially divided into two kingdoms known as the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom.  The Southern Kingdom consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin while the Northern Kingdom comprised the remaining ten tribes.  Eventually the Northern Kingdom was taken captive/scattered by the Assyrians.  Subsequently, the Southern Kingdom was taken captive by the Babylonians.  In time, some of the tribe of Judah (the Jews) returned to Jerusalem.  However, those ten tribes from the Northern Kingdom have remained lost and scattered.

It is our belief that although the ten tribes are lost to the world, they are known to God and that He will still keep His promises made to Father Abraham.  It is therefore necessary that God gathers Israel from the four quarters of the earth that they may receive these promised blessings.  We believe that the gathering of Israel will be both of a physical and spiritual nature.  This gathering has already commenced and, in part, consists of individuals coming to a knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ and entering into sacred covenants with Him.  He knows His sheep and as their Shepherd, they will know His voice and be brought into His fold.

This gathering will continue until the second coming of Jesus Christ which will be a real and literal event.  At that time, the earth will be renewed and return to its Edenic state of paradise.

To learn more about the Second Coming, please read “Preparing the World for the Second Coming” by Neil L. Anderson.

Next Week:  Article of Faith #11–Mormon beliefs regarding freedom of worship.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #9

President Thomas S. Monson prophet, seer, and revelator

We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

Amos 3:7 tell us that “Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.”  This principle of revelation has existed from the beginning whenever God has had authorized servants upon the earth.  He has revealed many great and important things pertaining to His kingdom to the designated prophet of the day.  The revelation regarding the building of the ark came to Noah, not to previous prophets.  Likewise, the revelation to lead Israel out of bondage from Egypt was not given to Noah, but rather it was given to Moses.  Because God is “no respecter of persons” and because within Him there “is no variableness”, just as He revealed His will to prophets of old such as Abraham, Moses, and Noah, He continues to reveal His will to His authorized servant, President Thomas S. Monson, today.

This principle of revelation is not limited only to prophets, but is available to all those who seek to know and do God’s will in their personal lives.  He desires to lead and guide us in the paths that will lead us back to Him.  As we come unto Him through prayer, with a desire to do His will, He will reveal to us the course our lives should take.

Revelation can come in many ways.  It can come as dreams, visions, and conversations with heavenly messengers.  However, these types of revelation are rare.  Most often, revelation comes as described by Elijah in 1 Kings 19:12  “a still small voice” or feeling.

We live in tumultuous times.  Never in the history of the world has there been a greater need of Heavenly guidance than there is today.  It is a comfort to me that God has not forsaken us and still speaks to a prophet today.  It is also a comfort to know that I can receive personal guidance from Him as I face the challenges of life.

To learn more about revelation, please read “The Spirit of Revelation” by Elder David A. Bednar.

Next Week:  Article of Faith #10–Mormon beliefs regarding the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #8

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.

In Ezekiel 37:16-17 we read, “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.”

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we believe The Holy Bible to be the stick of Judah and The Book of Mormon to be the stick of Ephraim to which Ezekiel here refers.  We do not consider The Book of Mormon to be more important than the Bible.  In fact, in every formal reference to the two, the Bible is listed first.  We consider them both to be very sacred companions to one another in declaring that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior and Redeemer of the World.  As such companions, these sacred writings fulfill the law of witnesses to which Paul refers in 2 Corinthians 13:1, “…In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”

Because the Bible has been translated many times throughout the years, it is inevitable that translation errors have occurred.  These errors have mostly been unintentional and simply due to the fallibility of man.  For instance, consider the verses found in 1 Chronicles 21:15 which say: And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it: and as he was destroying, the Lord beheld, and he repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed, It is enough, stay now thine hand. And the angel of the Lord stood by the threshingfloor of Ornan the Jebusite.

This verse seems to imply that the Lord repented of his evil, but the Lord has no evil in him.  Thus, we believe that this was a translation error that should have read:  And God sent an angel unto Jerusalem to destroy it. And the angel stretched forth his hand unto Jerusalem to destroy it; and God said to the angel, Stay now thine hand, it is enough; for as he was destroying, the Lord beheld Israel, that he repented him of the evil; therefore the Lord stayed the angel that destroyed, as he stood by the threshing-floor of Ornan, the Jebusite.

This helps to clarify that it was not the Lord who repented of evil, but rather that the Lord stayed the hand of the angel because Israel had repented of his evil.  Therefore, ‘We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly…’

I have read The Book of Mormon, many, many times throughout my life, often side by side with The Holy Bible.  I can testify of the miraculous spirit I have felt as I have gleaned many important truths from both of these books and have striven to apply their eternal principles in my life.  They indeed testify that Jesus Christ is truly the Messiah–a truth for which I am profoundly grateful.

Please take time to watch this very short video with Elder Jeffrey R. Holland as he explains our love for both The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon.

To learn more about The Book of Mormon, please read ‘Safety for the Soul‘ by Jeffrey R. Holland and my previous post ‘What is The Book of Mormon?‘.

Next Week:  Article of Faith #9–Mormon beliefs regarding revelation.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #7

Jesus Raising Jairus' Daughter

We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

Certain signs and gifts have always followed those that believe.  For instance Mark 16:17-18 states, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them: they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

In addition, we find that on the Day of Pentecost, the gift of tongues was used in order that each person could hear the gospel in his own language.  Acts 2:4-8 states, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.  Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.  And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilæans?  And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?”

Jesus Healing a Blind Man

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we know that these spiritual gifts are still available to God’s children today.  It is important to note that these gifts are given for the benefit of those who already believe; they are not given for the purpose of convincing one that a particular church or doctrine is true.  Jesus himself said that “. . . An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas” (Mathew 12:39).  In addition, the Gift of Tongues was not and is not used as a means of showing some mystical power, but rather so that each person can hear the gospel in his own language.  Today the Gift of Tongues is still in operation as thousands of missionaries go throughout the world teaching the gospel to the people of many nations in their native tongue.  God desires to bless His children and for those who believe, He will do so in miraculous and powerful ways.

Please enjoy the beautiful video below “Jesus Was No Ordinary Man”.

To learn more about gifts of the spirit, please read “Gifts of the Spirit” by James A. Cullimore.

Next Week:  Article of Faith #8–Mormon beliefs regarding The Holy Bible and The Book of Mormon

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]

What Do Mormons Believe?–Article of Faith #6

Jesus Ordaining His Twelve Apostles

We believe in the same organization that existed in the primitive church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

During Jesus’ mortal ministry, He organized His church here upon the earth.  This organization consisted of various positions or offices.  For example, we are all aware of the calling of His twelve apostles.  The Bible also speaks of prophets such as Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Abraham. Ephesians 4:11 tells us that “He gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers”.   This pattern has existed throughout time.

The Twelve Apostles Today

Today, this same organization has again been restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith.  Again we are blessed to have    ‘. . .prophets, apostles, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth’ providing order and direction to the saints just as there was in Jesus’ day.

According to the LDS Guide to the Scriptures, a prophet is “A person who has been called by and speaks for God.  As a messenger of God, a prophet receives commandments, prophecies, and revelations from God.  His responsibility is to make known God’s will and true character to mankind and to show the meaning of his dealings with them. A prophet denounces sin and foretells its consequences.  He is a preacher of righteousness.  On occasion, prophets may be inspired to foretell the future for the benefit of mankind. His primary responsibility, however, is to bear witness of Christ.

The First Presidency--(sitting) President Thomas S. Monson, (standing from left to right) Henry B. Eyring (1st counselor), Dieter F. Uchtdorf (2nd counselor)

The President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is God’s prophet on earth today.  Members of the First Presidency and the Twelve Apostles are sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators.”

To learn more about the importance and role of apostles today, please see “And He Gave Some, Apostles” by Edward J. Brandt.

Next Week:  Article of Faith #7–Mormon beliefs regarding gifts of the spirit.

In the meantime, Remember that 2 Plus 2 Doesn’t Always Equal 4  [And please take time to read my original post to understand Why the Title of this Blog? (Feb. 17, 2011)]