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)]