What do Mormons believe about works?

Many have asked me what Mormons believe about “works”, and how we reconcile those beliefs with the notion of being saved by grace, through the mercy of Christ and His atonement.

Indeed, Mormons believe that our salvation is made possible by the mercy of Christ, and were it not for his everlasting Atonement, we could not be saved.  For man is carnal, mortal, and imperfect, and as such, will inevitably sin.  But the atonement of Christ makes it possible for us to be forgiven for our sins by paying the demands of justice if we will repent.

For as the scriptures tell us, God is Just, and it is always required that the laws of justice be satisfied, for there are consequences for sin (as we read throughout the scriptures).  But if man will repent, the Lord will intercede with the demands of justice, having paid the price already himself.  Such is mercy. 

But if man will not repent, he cannot be saved, for no unclean thing can dwell with god.  And not only must we repent of our sins, but we must strive to live the gospel and keep the commandments, and there are certain things we must do in order to earn our salvation.

Baptism, for instance, is required for salvation.  So is obedience.  For why would God give men commandments if he did not expect them to be obeyed?  And why would he require men to repent, or why would his servants, the prophets, so continually preach repentance, if repentance were not necessary for salvation, or if obedience were optional and there were no consequence for disobedience?

Hence we believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel (1st article of faith).

The following are just a very few verses I’ve selected from the Bible that help provide the scriptural basis for these beliefs.  But the burden of proof of this doctrine of works is not upon Mormons, for the scriptures I reference here (among many others) are clear and present.  Rather the burden is upon those who believe contrary to this scripture, to come up with some alternative explanation for these and other verses.

Revelation 20:12-15 “And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God, and the books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”

Hebrews 5:5-10 “He became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.”

Romans 2:13-16 “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.”

2 Thessalonians 1:1-10 “When the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

James 1:22-25 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

Romans 2:5-11 “And revelation of the righteous judgment of God: Who will render to every man according to his deeds…”

Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”

Matthew 16:27 and Revelation 22:12-15 “For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of His Father, with His angels, and then He shall reward every man according to his works.”

Luke 6:46-49 “And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?”

John 7:16-17 “If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine…”

John 14:15-21 “If ye love me, keep my commandments.”

Acts 1-:34-36 “But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.”

Titus 3:8 “That they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works.”

1 John 1:6 “And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.”

Revelation 22:14-15 “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life.”

1 Samuel 15:22 “To obey is better than to sacrifice”

Matthew 7:15-20 “Ye shall no them by their fruits”

Matthew 24:13 “But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved”.

Galations 5:20-23 “Now the works of the flesh are manifest…of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”

James 2:14-26 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have no works? Can faith save him?… For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”

Rusty

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WordPress problems, missing posts

There was a problem tonight with WordPress, where many WordPress users, using the system during a certain period of time, had all of their custom sidebar code dissapear.  Unfortunately, I was a beneficiary of that bug.

I’ll work to restore that code as quickly as possible, since it is what granted access to all my past posts.

The post links will be there, but the categories are going to be messed up, and it won’t look pretty.  But I was intending to switch to TypePad anyway, but dreaded the ammout of work I’d have to do.  I guess the silver lining in this is that it gives me a good reason to just make that move now, instead of later.

Rusty

UPDATE:  Okay, it’s now 2:00 a.m. and I think I’ve restored links to all my posts in the same categories they were in before (although not necessarily in the same order, or location).  If you find missing links, please let me know by commenting here on this post.  Otherwise, I’ll get started moving and redesigning.

I look forward to much more discussion today!

Rusty

Is “anti” contrary to Christianity?

You can be “non” without being “anti”. 

I’m not a protestant (I’m Mormon), but that doesn’t make me anti-protestant.  The two are mutually exclusive.  And there’s a big difference from being “non” (like being non-Mormon), and being anti.  One is innocent, without malice, while the other is focused upon criticism and destruction.

I recently commented on another post, that as I study the life of the Savior, what I find is not a pattern of him being “anti” anything.  He didn’t seek opportunities to refute others.  Instead, he demonstrated a life of building, creating, of going around teaching the gospel, creating truth and testimony, performing miracles.  The times when he DID become more hostile or accusatory are when others sought him out to refute him, or to persecute him.  They were the “anti’s”.  Instead, His life was one of tolerance and love, understanding and empathy.  His conversations were not crammed with criticism.

Such were the teachings of Rabbi Gamaliel of Tarsus as described in Acts who counseled Saul and others against persecuting the saints.  Acts chapter 5 describes an event where Gamaliel encouraged moderation, saying “take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men… refrain from these men, and let them alone:  for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:  But ifit be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against god.” (Acts 5:38-39)

This is wisdom.  This is the character of Christ, whereas “anti” is an attribute of the adversary.  The one is centered around moderation, love, patience, kindness, tolerance, and understanding, the other centered around destruction, negativism, criticism, and judgement.

Theodore Roosevelt said it well:

“It is not the critic who counts, not the one who points out how the strong man stumbles, or how the doer of deeds might have done them better.  No, the credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat, and blood, who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again…  Who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”

If you’re going to be “anti”, be anti about principles and morals, things like “anti-abortion”, “anti-dishonesty”, “anti-drug abuse”, but don’t be anti about people or religions, for such is not the character of Christ.  As the Lord taught Peter, we must have compassion, and forgive all men their trespasses.

 

Rusty

Advice From Bill Gates?

This has come to me in email a couple times.  It’s apparently an extract of a speech given by Bill Gates at some school.  Looking online, that appears to be in question, but regardless, the principles are worth reading…

Rule 1: Life is not fair – get used to it!

Rule 2: The world won’t care about your self-esteem. The world will expect you to accomplish something BEFORE you feel good about yourself.

Rule 3: You will NOT make $60,000 a year right out of high school and you won’t be a vice-president until you earn both.

Rule 4: If you think your teacher is tough, wait until you get a boss.

Rule 5: Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping: they called it opportunity.

Rule 6: If you mess up, it’s not your parents’ fault, so don’t whine about your mistakes, learn from them.

Rule 7: Before you were born, your parents weren’t as boring as they are now. They got that way from paying your bills, cleaning your clothes and listening to you talk about how cool you thought you were. So before you save the rain forest from the parasites of your parent’s generation, try delousing the closet in your own room.

Rule 8: Your school may have done away with winners and losers, but life HAS NOT. In some schools, they have abolished failing grades and they’ll give you as MANY TIMES as you want to get the right answer. This doesn’t bear the slightest resemblance to ANYTHING in real life.

Rule 9: Life is not divided into semesters. You don’t get summers off and very few employers are interested in helping you FIND YOURSELF. Do that on your own time.

Rule 10: Television is NOT real life. In real life people actually have to leave the coffee shop and go to jobs.

Rule 11: Be nice to nerds. Chances are you’ll end up working for one.

Rusty

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Sacramental cleansing

At my nephew’s baptism this last weekend, my brother in law spoke and used a wonderfully vivid analogy I’d like to expound upon.

He lives in Hawaii, and as you might expect, regularly visits the beach with his family.  He explained that each day, hundreds of people would come to the beach.  They’d spend hours playing on the sand, building castles and sculptures, and digging holes.  At the end of the day, the beach would be left scarred, nearly completely covered with signs of such daily use.

But no matter how scarred the beach became, early the next day, there it was, clear and clean, as though no one had ever stepped foot on it before.

He explained that late at night, high tide would come in, and the waves from the ocean would crash against the sand, washing away the marks of the past, and leaving in its wake a clear and pristine surface, ready again for another day.

He observed how much this is like baptism, and after baptism, the sacrament.  During the week, our lives naturally begin to show signs of wear, the signs of life, proof of our imperfections… the scars of mortality. 

Still, each week, we have the opportunity to present ourselves at the feet of our Savior, to cast our burdens upon him, to take His name upon us, and to wash away the marks of the past.

Spiritual entropy is unavoidable, but in His divine mercy and love, He has provided a mechanism whereby we might regularly cleanse ourselves, and become pure again.

Our gratitude to Him for such a reachable and attainable instrument should cause our hearts to swell and our minds to expand, but all too often the commonness of the sacrament causes it to lose value in our eyes. 

It’s the law of scarcity.  Those things that we perceive of being most scarce, we place the highest value upon.  Yet here is something directly within our grasp that is powerful beyond comprehension, and available to us on a weekly basis.

How grateful I am for the magnificence of the sacrament, for the love it symbolizes.  May I try harder each week, to present myself in the environment of the sacrament with a bit more humility, a bit more gratitude, a bit more self reflection, and a bit more reverence, that each week my life might be freed of the scars of the past.

Rusty

The Plan of Salvation – Love leads to action

As I mentioned in my prior post “Pondering the Plan of Salvation”, I mentioned how I thought that in nothing was the love of God more plainly manifest than in the Mormon doctrine of the Plan of Salvation.  The deeper you understand and appreciate of the Plan of Salvation, the more convinced you are, and aware you become, of the tremendous love of our Father. 

Knowledge of God’s love instills within our souls happiness and hope, confidence and courage.  It’s an enabling power that moves us to action. 

Reflecting on the times I’ve felt the spirit the strongest, I find that those are also the times I feel the most pressing need to act, to do something. 

Why is it that feelings of love and gratitude tend to be action motivators? 

Is there a way as a parent, a teacher, a leader, a son/daughter, or as a spouse that we can use this principle to incite positive momentum in others?  Is there less benefit when so contrived?

Rusty

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Beck’s $53 trillion asteroid

Today, CNN posted an article (here), where Glenn Beck discusses some frightening realities that we’re soon going to have to face.It’s worth a full read, but if you’re only interested in the summary, here it is…

  • $14.1 trillion is the size of the entire U.S. Economy
  • $53 trillion is the approximate size of the U.S. bill for Social Security and Medicare promises

In short, we’re insolvent.  With a bill this large, there will be no money for anything else – infrastructure, security, military, you name it – every dollar we pay in taxes would go to funding Medicare and Social Security.

To make those numbers more digestible (since $53trillion is a hard number to get your mind around), from the article:

“A million seconds is 12 days.  A billion seconds is 32 years.  A trillion seconds is 32,000 years.  And 53 trillion seconds?  1.7 million years.”

David Walker (former Comptroller General) says that these promises equate to an IOU of about $455,000 for every American household”.

The problem, as Beck so poignantly illustrates, is that none of this is news – the Government has known about it for a long time, and has done nothing but pass the buck to the next administration.  And what about the American people?  His illustration is that if an asteroid were heading toward earth by the tune of $53 trillion dollars, we’d demand something be done about it.  But here we sit – who’s speaking out?

As I said on my post about Hillary Clinton and honesty (here), where much is given, much is required.  It’s time to require our government to confront a problem that will make the current bickering seem comical. 

Throughout history, when the people stop getting involved, then things go awry – it’s only through ongoing intervention of we the people that keeps a government in check.  So what am I proposing we do?  At the very minimum, be aware, and talk about it.  Perpetuate the conversation.

An elected government is a government that focuses on things that will get them re-elected.  Those things that the people care and talk about the most, are those things that are bound to get the most attention.  But we have to talk.

Rusty

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Testimony of the First Presidency – Conference Highlights

In the wake of the magnificent 178th Semiannual General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, many highlight videos have been posted to YouTube, successfully leveraging this new media to proclaim the gospel, and teach the truth, that a whole new generation, intimately familiar with this style of on-demand communication, might be equal benefactors in such magnificent content.

A few of these I’ll highlight here, as they are strong and compelling predecessors to my weekend post – Are Mormons Christian.

For now, here are sections of the testimony of our living prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his counselors, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf, and President Henry B. Eyring.  The First Presidency of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormons).

 

httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_Zpu-VeuCE

If – by Rudyard Kipling

I’ve moved this post to my new Life-Engineering blog, dedicated to motivating people to achieve their goals and change their futures by taking control of their lives.

You can now find this post here:

http://life-engineering.com/if-by-rudyard-kipling/

The things of God are of deep import

Joseph Smith once said the following…

“A fanciful and flowery and heated imagination beware of, because the things of God are of deep import, and time, and experience, and careful, and solemn, and ponderous thoughts can only find them out.  Thy mind, oh man, if thou wilt lead a soul unto salvation must stretch as high as the utmost heavens and search into and contemplate the darkest abyss and the broad expanses of eternity, thou must commune with God.  How much more dignified and noble are the thoughts of God than the vain imaginations of the souls of men.”

We have been blessed to come to the earth during a time when the fullness of the gospel has been restored, and the great and everlasting principles of eternity have been manifest in their purity, and we have great claim to that knowledge.

The Lord has said:

“How long can the rolling waters remain impure?  What power shall stay the heavens?  As well might man stretch forth his puny arm to stop the Missouri river in its decreed course, or to turn it up stream, as to hinder the Almighty from pouring down knowledge from heaven upon the heads of the Latter-day Saints” (Doctrine and Covenants 121:33).”

There is much truth for us to discover, and an endless source from whence we can find it.  With living prophets and apostles whose very words are scripture, with the Book of Mormon, the Bible, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price, and with a great many other inspired works to choose from, the saving principles of eternity are before us, and we have but to exert some effort to make them ours.

The value of such exertion is clear, and enduring. 

“Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.  And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:18-19).”

We are also assured that the scriptures contain the words of Christ, his very voice and spirit.  And that “His spirit abideth and hath no end and if it be in you it shall abound.  And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things.” (D&C 88:66-68).

But that very same, almost unimaginable blessing of full comprehension is followed immediately by the warning to “cast away your idle thoughts and your excess of laughter far from you” (D&C 88:69).

Does that mean we should be humorless, or without gaiety?  I think it means that the things of God are of deep import, as Joseph Smith so eloquently described, and we need to be anxiously engaged in exploring the words of God and endeavoring to enrich our minds with the principles of eternity.

As we prove our commitment and demonstrate our thirst by throwing ourselves at the study of the scriptures and other inspired works, then line upon line, precept upon precept, the doctrines of the priesthood shall distill upon our souls as the dews from heaven.

By so doing we build a foundation for our souls, built with the words of Christ.  A foundation that will keep us firm and steadfast amidst the fiery darts of the adversary and even the most assailing of life’s challenges.

May we all remember that the things of God are of deep import, and apportion our time appropriately, for the worth your soul is great in the eyes of God, and He is anxious to pour down knowledge upon you.

Rusty

What every parent should know about the new Google browser.

Last week Google released a new browser, Chrome, making its foray into the browser world, and already it has generated a lot of buzz, and substantial downloads (for an initial beta release). 

Google Chrome’s entry is bound to raise the bar for browsers everywhere, is remarkably fast, refreshingly simple, and sports a solid set of cool features.  What’s more, it’s from Google, which means it’s likely to generate lots of attention and become widely used in a short period of time.

One of its features, however, should be brought to the attention of parents (like me) who care about technology’s ability to impact the lives of my children.

I’m talking about what Google calls “Incognito browsing”, which allows you to surf the web in a way that creates no “footprints” on your computer.  Usually, wherever you go on the internet, you leave little traces on your computer, allowing others to see where you’ve been.  But with “Incognito Browsing”, you can go anywhere you’d like, and when you’re done, nobody will know where you’ve been.  Many critics are (favorably) calling this simply “Porn Mode”.

While there is no substitute for creating what I call a “safe browsing environment”, “safe browsing guidelines”, and educating your children on (among other things) proper internet usage, parents would be wise to be aware of these kinds of features.

As Satan becomes increasingly adept in leveraging technology to create opportunities for temptation, so too should parents remain ever vigilant in being aware of these technologies.  Simply throwing up our hands because it’s “over our heads” isn’t a proper excuse.  Part of responsible parenthood is the requirement to “keep up”, and I’ll help (as will others) whenever possible.

Within Chrome, this feature is accessed by selecting “New Incognito Window” from the menu as illustrated below…

This puts you into “Incognito” mode (notice the “spy” in the top left corner below) and brings up the following description of “incognito”:

You’ve gone incognito.  Pages you view in this window won’t appear in your browser history or search history, and they won’t leave other traces, like cookies, on your computer after you close the incognito window. Any files you download or bookmarks you create will be preserved, however.

Below is a video describing Incognito Browsing:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3iCMkiezrs]

Google also lets you “pause” your web history tracking, and gives instructions on how to do that here.

 

Again, I don’t advocate “avoiding” Google Chrome, because it is a good browser, but rather being aware of it.  In truth, this kind of “private browsing” feature is something we’re going to have to deal with eventually, because not only is it in the new Google Chrome, but also in the new beta version of Firefox, Safari, and Internet Explorer (IE8).

I’ll have a separate post on each of these in case these are the preferred browsers in your home.  To further aid parents, I’m also working on an Internet Safety for Parents post, that covers topics that I mention above, including how to create a safe browsing environment, creating safe browsing guidelines etc.

If you have additional questions, please as; I would love to help.  Otherwise, please forward the URL for this post to your friends and associates, that we may lift the web of awareness amongst all parents, and collectively combat the chasm of technology awareness that is so prominent between children and parents today.

Rusty

I love to see the temple, I’m going there someday

We just recently had a Stake Conference.  For Mormon’s, stake conference is when the whole area gets together for one large-scale meeting where we often hear from a general authority and the stake presidency.  During this conference one of the counselors in our stake presidency (President Green), made a comment that really resonated with me.

He stood up and said “I love to see the temple, I’m going there someday”, quoting the words to one of the popular Mormon Primary songs.

But, he added, why is it always “someday”?  Why isn’t it “I love to see the temple, I’m going there today”… or tomorrow, or next month, or something specific?

The problem is that we too often procrastinate things in our life that are important.  Going to the temple is only one example, but it could just as easily be seeing the bishop, repenting, forsaking that favorite sin, apologizing to someone, forgiving someone, serving someone, etc.

There are all kinds of things in our lives that press for our attention, and we tend to focus the most on those things that are most urgent, not necessarily most important.  Because of this, we end up convincing ourselves that we’ll do it “someday”.

How about today?  If not today, then set a date.  Make it real.  Get it done.  You’ll be happier once you do.

Life is often about momentum, and momentum is nothing more than the accumulated effect of lots of little steps.  So take a little step, set a date, and do it.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, in “The builders” presents this case well.  He also readdresses it in his poem “A Psalm of Life” when he says”

Not enjoyment, and not sorrow,
Is our destined end or way;
But to act, that each tomorrow
Find us farther than today.

Rusty

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Picking the lock of salvation

For those of you who weren’t aware, last week was the national HOPE conference in New York.  No, this isn’t a self-help conference teaching us how to increase our capacity to hope (I wish it were).  Rather, it’s a gathering of some of the most talented and well-known hackers around the planet.  HOPE stands for “Hackers on Planet Earth”.

At every HOPE conference there’s a popular area called “Lockpicking Village” where they discuss all the latest lock picking techniques. 

Reflecting on the whole thing, I couldn’t help but draw the parallel to those who somehow think they can “slide” into heaven, somehow opening the “doors” of heaven without actually going through the mandatory prerequisite steps. 

A lock is made of tumblers in a tube, each of which must be in the correct place before the lock will turn.  Inserting just the right key will put those tumblers in their required positions, but inserting any other key, or a partial key, will only place a few of the tumblers, if any, in the necessary position, and no matter how hard you twist, or how long you wait, the lock simply won’t turn and the door simply won’t open.

So many religions teach the doctrine that man needs to do little, if anything, for salvation.  In fact, often they teach that it’s as simple as accepting Christ, or being baptized.  But first, baptism must be done by one holding the proper authority, but even then, that is only one of the tumblers in the lock.  There is more we must do.  Baptism and faith alone are insufficient for our exaltation; they’re only part of the lock.  Religions that teach such doctrine, therefore cannot adequately equip you to enter into the kingdom of God. 

The proof is in scripture itself, for we will, as Revelation 20:12-15 states, be “judged… according to their works”.

While the sacrifice of our Savior put the gate on the barrier, making entrance possible, it does not make entrance sure.  The surety of our salvation can only be gained by approaching that day armed with the right key, the one that satisfies the demands of all the tumblers in the gate, baptism by authority being one of them.

While this doctrine is far from traditional, it is prevalently backed by scripture.  And while critics are quick to protest, it is not the burden of Mormonism to back this claim, but the burden of anyone believing contrary to come up with a suitable explanation for each of the scriptures which clearly state otherwise (and which I list in detail here – a post that has gone almost entirely unchallenged).

But the miracle of Mormonism, or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is that through Joseph Smith, the great latter-day prophet, the gospel of Christ was restored to the earth in its fullness along with all the keys, authority, ordinances and covenants necessary for us to do all we must do to enter the kingdom of our Father.

I invite you to learn more about this prophet Joseph Smith (here), partake for yourself in the miracle of Mormonism, and experience the rich blessings that come from understanding and living the fullness of the gospel.

Rusty

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