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consiglieri

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Absolutely!

And I am once again left to wonder whether this is exactly what our Evangelical friends have been trying to tell us for so long.

Rhino?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

Yes!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm not Rhino, but I'll give the same answer I've given to some of my LDS friends who have asked the same question you're asking - i.e. "Is this what you've been trying to say?"

(Some of those friends have read Philip Yancey's What's So Amazing about Grace? It's a book I highly recommend.)

I also want to say that it's too bad we (LDS and non-LDS Christians, in general) so often talk past each other and fail to hear and understand each other whether because of delivery or presuppositions. For the last several years, I've been learning to listen more carefully and set pre-judgments aside, and I have great LDS friends who do the same with me.

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If there were no grace, could you be saved?

If you could not be saved without the grace of God, then it is only by and through the grace of God that you are saved.

Nes pas?

--Consiglieri

Let's go back to your parable of being saved from drowning, I would like to add something to the parable:

I am in the middle of a storm tossed ocean, my ship has sunk, nobody is in sight, and I am going down for the last time. I am doomed to certain destruction. Suddenly, out of the storm comes the light of a rescue helicopter, which lowers a man down on a cable and into the water by me. He reaches out to me and I grab onto him with all my remaining strength. He takes me in his strong embrace and I am cabled up with him into the helicopter and flown to safety. While being cabled up, the man asks me to put on a red hat, which I readily do. Later some people claim that I was saved by putting on a red had. Some people even started fearlessly boating in stormy seas while wearing red hats thinking that if they were thrown overboard they would surely be saved for wearing the red hat.

Did the act of doing what the rescuer asked save me, or was I saved by the rescuer alone?

T-Shirt

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Let's go back to your parable of being saved from drowning, I would like to add something to the parable:

I am in the middle of a storm tossed ocean, my ship has sunk, nobody is in sight, and I am going down for the last time. I am doomed to certain destruction. Suddenly, out of the storm comes the light of a rescue helicopter, which lowers a man down on a cable and into the water by me. He reaches out to me and I grab onto him with all my remaining strength. He takes me in his strong embrace and I am cabled up with him into the helicopter and flown to safety. While being cabled up, the man asks me to put on a red hat, which I readily do. Later some people claim that I was saved by putting on a red had. Some people even started fearlessly boating in stormy seas while wearing red hats thinking that if they were thrown overboard they would surely be saved for wearing the red hat.

Did the act of doing what the rescuer asked save me, or was I saved by the rescuer alone?

T-Shirt

Right. If a swimmer is drowning and a man throws out a rope and helps bring him in but asks him to not fight him and help him by kicking his feet in the water towards the rescuer, can the person that was drowing claim that he saved or partially saved himself by kicking and not fighting the man with the rope? I dont think so. With the man with the rope, the drowing man was doomed. Regardless of the efforts the drowning man made, he was completely saved by the rescuer. Even though the drowning man still had to make some effort on his own in the process. All credit goes to the man who through the rope and brought the drowning man in

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What consiglieri is talking about in this thread is justification by grace. But salvation is more than a remission of sins. In order to be sanctified--made holy--we must yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man (Mosiah 3:19). Becoming a saint through the atonement of Christ requires our active participation. It is not accomplished by an infusion of irresistible grace.

"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." (D&C 50:24)

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Consiglieri,

I think you should take a look at Eugene England's discussion of grace in his review of How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation (BYU Studies 38, no. 3 [1999]: 191-201).

He notes that "the crucial beginning of the journey of salvation (receiving Christ and being released from the bondage of sin--that is, becoming 'justified') is made possible through grace, not merit or works." However, unlike Protestant grace, which has "God freely doing something absolutely crucial for and to us in order to save some us from hell," Mormon grace "involves God freely doing something absolutely crucial to help all of us become new, saved beings." "Mormon grace begins in God's loving response to our intrinsic moral agency and thus emphasizes our choice, 'growing in grace,' and trying to change ourselves through repentance and righteousness into 'new creatures,' all of which results in a huge variety of 'degrees' of individual salvation" (192-93).

He continues: "Modern revelation teaches that salvation is a condition, a soul's state of being (Mosiah 3:12, 19), in fact a variety conditions. Mosiah 2:38-39 makes it clear that hell itself is a state of internal being rather than an external place. Such states of soul are not simply given or created by God; they are achieved or lost through a combination of our response to God's enabling opportunities, to his potentially transforming love in the Atonement. Salvation requires becoming 'new creatures in Christ' through our sincere participation in the saving ordinances and obedience to moral law, including service to others" (194).

What a marvelous quote. Seeing salvation as a state of being matches very closely my own experience. May I indulge in a little perspective from personal experiences?

I was reared in the LDS faith and taught carefully in the "gospel of works." In my adult years, a newly divorced mother, I found myself feeling that I fell so far short of the standard of perfection and despairing that I would ever be able to find such a place by works, I left the church and embarked on what I thought of as a "worldly" life, including alcohol as a sedative. It was not long before I found myself in deep trouble and in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, where I was first introduced to the practicality of grace. In the many years since then, I have returned with a full, grateful heart to the church, and find that in living my life by the grace of God, my "works" have shown significantly improved levels.

My conclusion from the experiences of the last many years is this: works are an evidence of grace at work in the lives of people, rather than the necessary pre-requisite for that grace. My works are, as described for charity in earlier posts of several others, the result of grace making clean my inner vessel. I find that as I am willing to accept grace (the only part of grace that I have an active part in) my capacity and desire to behave has expanded exponantially. I do not believe that I am saved by my works, but rather that I have works because I have used my agency to accept the grace of God in my daily living. This includes, for me, the promise of D&C 88:4 that by accepting grace and the ensuing constant guidance of the Holy Ghost, I am promised celestial exaltation...by grace. D&C 76:94 states receiving grace is, in fact, one of the criteria for celestial glory.

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What consiglieri is talking about in this thread is justification by grace. But salvation is more than a remission of sins. In order to be sanctified--made holy--we must yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man (Mosiah 3:19). Becoming a saint through the atonement of Christ requires our active participation. It is not accomplished by an infusion of irresistible grace.

"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." (D&C 50:24)

Thus the obedience that follows the repentance.

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This coming Sunday, we will be covering those texts from the gospels dealing with the Savior's agony in Gethsemane.

As the Gospel Doctrine Sunday School teacher, I feel it an invitation to address the subject of the salvation offered us by Jesus, which is through no work of our own, but solely through his grace.

It has been my perception that the LDS Church has been modifying its teachings on grace over the last three decades, which I tend to see as a reclaiming of Book of Mormon doctrine on the subject.

Any thoughts about how I can do this in such a manner as to avoid offending the class?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

It is a great subject...I am a gospel doctrine teacher...what lesson is this? You should read a talk by Dallin H. Oaks who says (to parapharse) "The gospel teacher is not called to teach anything accept the lesson provided in lesson manuels".

In short if this is the lesson slated for that week go for it! If not tech the lesson as provided.

Have You Been Saved?

Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

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Dallin H. Oaks, â??Have You Been Saved?,â? Ensign, May 1998, 55

As Latter-day Saints use the words saved and salvation, there are at least six different meanings.

What do we say when someone asks us, â??Have you been saved?â? This question, so common in the conversation of some Christians, can be puzzling to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it is not our usual way of speaking. We tend to speak of â??savedâ? or â??salvationâ? as a future event rather than something that has already been realized.

Good Christian people sometimes attach different meanings to some key gospel terms like saved or salvation. If we answer according to what our questioner probably means in asking if we have been â??saved,â? our answer must be â??yes.â? If we answer according to the various meanings we attach to the terms saved or salvation, our answer will be either â??yesâ? or â??yes, but with conditions.â?

I.

As I understand what is meant by the good Christians who speak in these terms, we are â??savedâ? when we sincerely declare or confess that we have accepted Jesus Christ as our personal Lord and Savior. This meaning relies on words the Apostle Paul taught the Christians of his day:

â??If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

â??For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvationâ? (Rom. 10:9â??10).

To Latter-day Saints, the words saved and salvation in this teaching signify a present covenant relationship with Jesus Christ in which we are assured salvation from the consequences of sin if we are obedient. Every sincere Latter-day Saint is â??savedâ? according to this meaning. We have been converted to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, we have experienced repentance and baptism, and we are renewing our covenants of baptism by partaking of the sacrament.

II.

As Latter-day Saints use the words saved and salvation, there are at least six different meanings. According to some of these, our salvation is assuredâ??we are already saved. In others, salvation must be spoken of as a future event (e.g., 1 Cor. 5:5) or as conditioned upon a future event (e.g., Mark 13:13). But in all of these meanings, or kinds of salvation, salvation is in and through Jesus Christ.

First, all mortals have been saved from the permanence of death through the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. â??For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made aliveâ? (1 Cor. 15:22).

As to salvation from sin and the consequences of sin, our answer to the question of whether or not we have been saved is â??yes, but with conditions.â? Our third article of faith declares our belief:

â??We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospelâ? (A of F 1:3).

Many Bible verses declare that Jesus came to take away the sins of the world (e.g., John 1:29; Matt. 26:28). The New Testament frequently refers to the grace of God and to salvation by grace (e.g., John 1:17; Acts 15:11; Eph. 2:<_<. But it also has many specific commandments on personal behavior, and many references to the importance of works (e.g., Matt. 5:16; Eph. 2:10; James 2:14â??17). In addition, the Savior taught that we must endure to the end in order to be saved (see Matt. 10:22; Mark 13:13).

Relying upon the totality of Bible teachings and upon clarifications received through modern revelation, we testify that being cleansed from sin through Christâ??s Atonement is conditioned upon the individual sinnerâ??s faith, which must be manifested by obedience to the Lordâ??s command to repent, be baptized, and receive the Holy Ghost (see Acts 2:37â??38). â??Verily, verily, I say unto thee,â? Jesus taught, â??Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of Godâ? (John 3:5; see also Mark 16:16; Acts 2:37â??38). Believers who have had this required rebirth at the hands of those having authority have already been saved from sin conditionally, but they will not be saved finally until they have completed their mortal probation with the required continuing repentance, faithfulness, service, and enduring to the end.

Some Christians accuse Latter-day Saints who give this answer of denying the grace of God through claiming they can earn their own salvation. We answer this accusation with the words of two Book of Mormon prophets. Nephi taught, â??For we labor diligently â?¦ to persuade our children â?¦ 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 doâ? (2 Ne. 25:23). And what is â??all we can doâ?? It surely includes repentance (see Alma 24:11) and baptism, keeping the commandments, and enduring to the end. Moroni pleaded, â??Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christâ? (Moro. 10:32).

We are not saved in our sins, as by being unconditionally saved through confessing Christ and then, inevitably, committing sins in our remaining lives (see Alma 11:36â??37). We are saved from our sins (see Hel. 5:10) by a weekly renewal of our repentance and cleansing through the grace of God and His blessed plan of salvation (see 3 Ne. 9:20â??22).

The question of whether a person has been saved is sometimes phrased in terms of whether that person has been â??born again.â? Being â??born againâ? is a familiar reference in the Bible and the Book of Mormon. As noted earlier, Jesus taught that except a man was â??born againâ? (John 3:3), of water and of the Spirit, he could not enter into the kingdom of God (see John 3:5). The Book of Mormon has many teachings about the necessity of being â??born againâ? or â??born of Godâ? (Mosiah 27:25; see Mosiah 27:24â??26; Alma 36:24, 26; Moses 6:59). As we understand these scriptures, our answer to whether we have been born again is clearly â??yes.â? We were born again when we entered into a covenant relationship with our Savior by being born of water and of the Spirit and by taking upon us the name of Jesus Christ. We can renew that rebirth each Sabbath when we partake of the sacrament.

Latter-day Saints affirm that those who have been born again in this way are spiritually begotten sons and daughters of Jesus Christ (see Mosiah 5:7; Mosiah 15:9â??13; Mosiah 27:25). Nevertheless, in order to realize the intended blessings of this born-again status, we must still keep our covenants and endure to the end. In the meantime, through the grace of God, we have been born again as new creatures with new spiritual parentage and the prospects of a glorious inheritance.

A fourth meaning of being saved is to be saved from the darkness of ignorance of God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, and of the purpose of life, and of the destiny of men and women. The gospel made known to us by the teachings of Jesus Christ has given us this salvation. â??I am the light of the world,â? Jesus taught; â??he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of lifeâ? (John 8:12; see also John 12:46).

For Latter-day Saints, being â??savedâ? can also mean being saved or delivered from the second death (meaning the final spiritual death) by assurance of a kingdom of glory in the world to come (see 1 Cor. 15:40â??42). Just as the Resurrection is universal, we affirm that every person who ever lived upon the face of the earthâ??except for a very fewâ??is assured of salvation in this sense. As we read in modern revelation:

â??And this is the gospel, the glad tidings â?¦

â??That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness;

â??That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him;

â??Who glorifies the Father, and saves all the works of his hands, except those sons of perdition who deny the Son after the Father has revealed himâ? (D&C 76:40â??43; emphasis added).

The prophet Brigham Young taught that doctrine when he declared that â??every person who does not sin away the day of grace, and become an angel to the Devil, will be brought forth to inherit a kingdom of gloryâ? (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Brigham Young [1997], 288). This meaning of saved ennobles the whole human race through the grace of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. In this sense of the word, all should answer: â??Yes, I have been saved. Glory to God for the gospel and gift and grace of His Son!â?

Finally, in another usage familiar and unique to Latter-day Saints, the words saved and salvation are also used to denote exaltation or eternal life (see Abr. 2:11). This is sometimes referred to as the â??fulness of salvationâ? (Bruce R. McConkie, The Mortal Messiah, 4 vols. [1979â??81], 1:242). This salvation requires more than repentance and baptism by appropriate priesthood authority. It also requires the making of sacred covenants, including eternal marriage, in the temples of God, and faithfulness to those covenants by enduring to the end. If we use the word salvation to mean â??exaltation,â? it is premature for any of us to say that we have been â??savedâ? in mortality. That glorious status can only follow the final judgment of Him who is the Great Judge of the living and the dead.

I have suggested that the short answer to the question of whether a faithful member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been saved or born again must be a fervent â??yes.â? Our covenant relationship with our Savior puts us in that â??savedâ? or â??born againâ? condition meant by those who ask this question. Some modern prophets have also used â??salvationâ? or â??savedâ? in that same present sense. President Brigham Young declared:

â??It is present salvation and the present influence of the Holy Ghost that we need every day to keep us on saving ground. â?¦

â??I want present salvation. â?¦ Life is for us, and it is for us to receive it today, and not wait for the Millennium. Let us take a course to be saved todayâ? (Discourses of Brigham Young, sel. John A. Widtsoe [1954], 15â??16). President David O. McKay spoke of the revealed gospel of Jesus Christ in that same present sense of â??salvation hereâ??here and nowâ? (Gospel Ideals [1953], 6).

III.

I will conclude by discussing another important question members and leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are asked by others: â??Why do you send missionaries to preach to other Christians?â? Sometimes this is asked with curiosity and sometimes with resentment.

My most memorable experience with that question occurred some years ago in what we then called the Eastern Bloc. After many years of Communist hostility to religion, these countries were suddenly and miraculously given a measure of religious freedom. When that door opened, many Christian faiths sent missionaries. As part of our preparation to do so, the First Presidency sent members of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles to meet with government and church leaders in these countries. Our assignment was to introduce ourselves and to explain what our missionaries would be doing.

Elder Russell M. Nelson and I called on the leader of the Orthodox Church in one of these countries. Here was a man who had helped keep the light of Christianity burning through the dark decades of Communist repression. I noted in my journal that he was a warm and gracious man who impressed me as a servant of the Lord. I mention this so that you will not think there was any spirit of arrogance or contention in our conversation of nearly an hour. Our visit was pleasant and cordial, filled with the goodwill that should always characterize conversations between men and women who love the Lord and seek to serve Him, each according to his or her own understanding.

Our host told us about the activities of his church during the period of Communist repression. He described the various difficulties his church and its work were experiencing as they emerged from that period and sought to regain their former position in the life of the country and the hearts of the people. We introduced ourselves and our fundamental beliefs. We explained that we would soon be sending missionaries into his country and told him how they would perform their labors.

He asked, â??Will your missionaries preach only to unbelievers, or will they also try to preach to believers?â? We replied that our message was for everyone, believers as well as unbelievers. We gave two reasons for this answerâ??one a matter of principle and the other a matter of practicality. We told him that we preached to believers as well as unbelievers because our message, the restored gospel, makes an important addition to the knowledge, happiness, and peace of all mankind. As a matter of practicality, we preach to believers as well as unbelievers because we cannot tell the difference. I remember asking this distinguished leader, â??When you stand before a congregation and look into the faces of the people, can you tell the difference between those who are real believers and those who are not?â? He smiled wryly, and I sensed an admission that he had understood the point.

Through missionaries and members, the message of the restored gospel is going to all the world. To non-Christians, we witness of Christ and share the truths and ordinances of His restored gospel. To Christians we do the same. Even if a Christian has been â??savedâ? in the familiar single sense discussed earlier, we teach that there remains more to be learned and more to be experienced. As President Hinckley recently said, â??[We are] not argumentative. We do not debate. We, in effect, simply say to others, â??Bring all the good that you have and let us see if we can add to itâ?? â? (â??The BYU Experience,â? BYU devotional address, 4 Nov. 1997).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers all of the children of God the opportunity to learn the fulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ as restored in these latter days. We offer everyone the privilege of receiving all of the ordinances of salvation and exaltation.

We invite all to hear this message, and we invite all who receive the confirming witness of the Spirit to heed it. These things are true, I testify in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

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Pa Pa :P

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What consiglieri is talking about in this thread is justification by grace. But salvation is more than a remission of sins. In order to be sanctified--made holy--we must yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit and put off the natural man (Mosiah 3:19). Becoming a saint through the atonement of Christ requires our active participation. It is not accomplished by an infusion of irresistible grace.

"That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day." (D&C 50:24)

I have encountered this response before, but more and more I am led to the conclusion it is not correct.

Just to be clear, what consiglieri is actually talking about in this thread is justification and sanctification by grace alone.

I think the justification part by grace (forgiveness of sins) would be noncontroversial in LDS circles. Obviously this forgiveness comes only by the grace and mercy of God through the atonement of Christ.

What is more controversial, unfortunately, is the equally important doctrine of sanctification by grace (i.e., being made holy through Christ).

I agree with you that grace is not "irresistable." It can be resisted, and often is. And I would agree that once grace is accepted, it can then be rejected.

But note that in Mosiah 3:19, which you quote, the work we are required to perform is to "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit." We must get out of the way and quit resisting.

The balance of this verse says that we must then "put off the natural man." This is commonly interpreted to mean that this is the part that we do, and that we must through the use of our free agency put off the natural man and become as a child, etc. I think this misses the point of the passage.

We have no power to put off the natural man. If we did, we wouldn't need a Savior and Christ is died in vain.

It is only through our "yielding" to God's grace that the natural man is put off. The natural man is put off by God, not by us. Of course, we have to choose to yield to God's grace in order for this to happen, but this choosing to yield is not a work as that term is traditionally understood. It is a prerequisite, certainly, and if one wishes to define it as a work, that is fine, so long as we are clear on our definitions so we do not end up talking past each other.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

D&C 20:30 And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true;

31 And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength.

32 But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God;

33 Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation;

34 Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also.

Edited to add the passage from D&C 20.

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What a marvelous quote. Seeing salvation as a state of being matches very closely my own experience. May I indulge in a little perspective from personal experiences?

I was reared in the LDS faith and taught carefully in the "gospel of works." In my adult years, a newly divorced mother, I found myself feeling that I fell so far short of the standard of perfection and despairing that I would ever be able to find such a place by works, I left the church and embarked on what I thought of as a "worldly" life, including alcohol as a sedative. It was not long before I found myself in deep trouble and in the rooms of Alcoholics Anonymous, where I was first introduced to the practicality of grace. In the many years since then, I have returned with a full, grateful heart to the church, and find that in living my life by the grace of God, my "works" have shown significantly improved levels.

My conclusion from the experiences of the last many years is this: works are an evidence of grace at work in the lives of people, rather than the necessary pre-requisite for that grace. My works are, as described for charity in earlier posts of several others, the result of grace making clean my inner vessel. I find that as I am willing to accept grace (the only part of grace that I have an active part in) my capacity and desire to behave has expanded exponantially. I do not believe that I am saved by my works, but rather that I have works because I have used my agency to accept the grace of God in my daily living. This includes, for me, the promise of D&C 88:4 that by accepting grace and the ensuing constant guidance of the Holy Ghost, I am promised celestial exaltation...by grace. D&C 76:94 states receiving grace is, in fact, one of the criteria for celestial glory.

That is a wonderful story, squarepeg, and matches the countours of the experience in my life.

C.S. Lewis said that part of the salvation process is actually trying to obey God with everything we have, and then finally realizing that, in spite of our best efforts, we fall short; we are incapable; we despair; we are ready to throw in the towel. It as that point that our heart is broken and contrite, and if we call out to the Lord from the pit of our despair, he is ready and able, and will save us.

Even as Jesus saved Peter from sinking into the storm-tossed Galilee when Peter realized he couldn't walk on the water on his own and called out to Jesus to save him.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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I have found this discussion to be very useful and fruitful. I am amazed that anyone could believe that their salvation and redemption somehow is determined by how good they are. No one is good enough to be saved. It is a gift from God, but the gift must be received. The only work we can do is to accept the gift offered and then to remain in fellowship with Christ. I believe the gift can be rejected and even lost through open rebellion, but I do not believe we have to be perfect in order to continue in God's grace. We must be willing to keep the commandments, and willing to take upon us Christ's name, we can't ALWAYS keep ALL of the commandments while in this fallen state.

That said, there is no such things as "free" grace in the sense that salvation is given irregardless of what we want for ourselves as shown in what we do. I can't expect to be saved if I'm in a state of open rebellion to God. I must submit, Christlike, to the will of the Father and do my best to follow him, repenting when I fall short.

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Thus the obedience that follows the repentance.

This might be a good place to quote an important verse from the Doctrine and Covenants on the matter.

D&C 20:37 And again, by way of commandment to the church concerning the manner of baptism--All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins, and are willing to take upon them the name of Jesus Christ, having a determination to serve him to the end, and truly manifest by their works that they have received of the Spirit of Christ unto the remission of their sins, shall be received by baptism into his church.

I feel this bears on our discussion as showing that the grace of Christ comes first, and all else follows, including the works.

The works we do only serve to "manifest" that we "have received of the Spirit of Christ."

It is after this that we are eligible to be received by baptism into the church.

My understanding of church history is that this particular verse caused some discontent with Oliver Cowdery, who rebuked Joseph Smith and wanted it changed to say that the remission of sins came only with baptism.

Joseph stood his ground.

Perhaps the spiritual descendants of Joseph should do the same.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Well said!

I think that if we as Mormons could embrace the Book of Mormon teaching that we are saved by grace alone, without adding qualifiers about what we must do in order to be "worthy," we would be better able to discuss the issue with our Evangelical brothers and sisters without causing them offense.

Again, great discussion here. It's interesting to see both sides of the issue coming around from different people. As far as the above statement, I wholeheartedly agree, absolutely. In most (if not all) previous discussions about grace in salvation with LDS, it often seems as though LDS are talking out of both sides of their mouth. I don't think this is intentionally misleading, but is a consequence of two conflicting/paradoxical streams of thought within LDS thought.

On the one hand, there is the "grace alone" aspect that is frequently seen in the Book of Mormon as well as selected talks by church leaders (as outlined by consiglieri and others here). On the other hand, there is the strong emphasis on works as a prerequisite to salvation, with salvation (read "exaltation") being seen as an entirely future event dependent on our own works and effort and self-perfection; there is no "past tense" to salvation at all. This is found in the more recent LDS revelations, including the D&C, and in more talks and publications by LDS leaders.

In my observation, the LDS leaders tend to focus much more on worthiness and works-related issues than on the simple and glorious fact of God's grace. This could be because the "worthiness" talk so grates on my nerves that it stands out more, but I do believe there is still more emphasis on it in today's LDS church.

So anyway, back to my first line: LDS will talk about God's grace on the one hand, and then talk about what is necessary for us to do in order to earn, accept, be worthy of that grace on the other. "Saved by grace, exalted by works" and all that. This always struck me as both contradictory in terms of reason and sensibility, and counterproductive in terms of helping people live a life through grace and not by constantly tugging on their own bootstraps wondering why they're not going anywhere. LDS would seem unable to simply talk about God's grace without adding numerous qualifiers about how one obtains, holds onto, and increases that grace. In keeping with this, when I saw consiglieri's thread title, I assumed that it was going to be some clever rhetorical trap in which any evangelical (usually me, considering it's consiglieri :blink: ) would be forced to admit that "grace alone" is a total crock and results in people saying they can commit murder and still be saved, etc. etc. I am quite pleased to be entirely wrong this time!

Having read the Book of Mormon twice through now, I would come away each time wondering why LDS did not actually take it seriously. I've told some of my evangelical friends that I could probably present the basic gospel message I believe using only the Book of Mormon, as it talks about things that line up quite well with mainstream Christian thought on the subject of salvation (which is not surprising if the BoM indeed hails from the 19th century religious revival, but that's for another thread :wub: ). I think as the LDS church progressed, this teaching was gradually subordinated to a high theology of works, which runs counter to both the Bible and the Book of Mormon, in my opinion.

"Rediscovering" this theology of grace can only help evangelicals and LDS talk to one another, instead of past one another. Kudos to consiglieri and company! :unsure::ph34r::angry:<_<

Take care, everyone :P

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The only work we can do is to accept the gift offered and then to remain in fellowship with Christ.

I think it is more than just accepting the gift. I think we also have to do the work of coming to understand how some of our actions are sins, how we have allowed ourselves to become impure, etc....and then, very important, we have to do the work of realizing this is not what we want to be. For some this work will be driven by fear, for others a desire to see themselves in a positive way, for others love of God, and probably many more reasons and often mixed together.

But if you've ever gone through therapy or just had a heart to heart with your parents over something they disapproved of, I think you would see this aspect of repentance--realization and remorse--can be very, very hard work and for some may be the hardest work they ever do. The descriptions given in the scriptures certainly indicate this. Wearing the yoke is easy, but sometimes taking off the yoke we've fashioned for ourselves so that we can take on the yoke of Christ is very, very hard. Or at least we made it that way for ourselves.

For others, the hardest part may be learning to trust the Lord enough to place their salvation in his hands and others maybe humbling themselves to accept the fact that they have to depend on someone besides themselves.

Simplifying the action of the Atonement in our lives to "accepting the gift offered" and enduring in faith make it harder, I believe, for some to understand the dynamics involved and why we believe that there will be individuals who refuse the gift even when they understand the fact of Christ's Redeemerhood and fully realize the consequences of refusal.

I think the simplified way many Evangelicals teach their principle of grace leads to misunderstanding and ultimately for many a rejection of them as a worthwhile and meaningful belief system.

Looking on each of the dynamics of the Atonement both of the Self and of God also demonstrate much better, imo, the ongoing nature--the acceptance may be a one time thing, but the realization of our wrongs and our remorse and commitment to change continues as we come to a greater understanding over time not only of the ways of God as we learn of him through his Spirit, but also our own internal ways.

1 Cor. 13: 12

12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

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I have found this discussion to be very useful and fruitful. I am amazed that anyone could believe that their salvation and redemption somehow is determined by how good they are. No one is good enough to be saved. It is a gift from God, but the gift must be received. The only work we can do is to accept the gift offered and then to remain in fellowship with Christ. I believe the gift can be rejected and even lost through open rebellion, but I do not believe we have to be perfect in order to continue in God's grace. We must be willing to keep the commandments, and willing to take upon us Christ's name, we can't ALWAYS keep ALL of the commandments while in this fallen state.

That said, there is no such things as "free" grace in the sense that salvation is given irregardless of what we want for ourselves as shown in what we do. I can't expect to be saved if I'm in a state of open rebellion to God. I must submit, Christlike, to the will of the Father and do my best to follow him, repenting when I fall short.

Great comments. One of the dangers inherent in this discussion is that when we preach the gospel of salvation by grace alone, the temptation is there to take that a step further and say that if it is by grace alone, it does not matter what we do thereafter. And then to take it a step further and say that if it does not matter what we do thereafter, then we cannot fall from grace. These are comments I encounter frequently outside this message board, but among the thoughtful EV Christians who post here, they would generally agree with the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants that it is by the grace of Christ, and only by the grace of Christ, that we are saved; and that thereafter our works will manifest the grace of Christ in our lives.

As to your last line, I like the quote from C.S. Lewis about the natural man: "The natural man is not an imperfect creature in need of improvement. He is a rebel who must lay down his arms." I think C.S. Lewis would agree with the Book of Mormon on this subject.

Mosiah 16:3 For they are carnal and devilish, and the devil has power over them; yea, even that old serpent that did beguile our first parents, which was the cause of their fall; which was the cause of all mankind becoming carnal, sensual, devilish, knowing evil from good, subjecting themselves to the devil.

4 Thus all mankind were lost; and behold, they would have been endlessly lost were it not that God redeemed his people from their lost and fallen state.

5 But remember that he that persists in his own carnal nature, and goes on in the ways of sin and rebellion against God, remaineth in his fallen state and the devil hath all power over him. Therefore he is as though there was no redemption made, being an enemy to God; and also is the devil an enemy to God.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Just to be clear, what consiglieri is actually talking about in this thread is justification and sanctification by grace alone.

I think the justification part by grace (forgiveness of sins) would be noncontroversial in LDS circles. Obviously this forgiveness comes only by the grace and mercy of God through the atonement of Christ.

What is more controversial, unfortunately, is the equally important doctrine of sanctification by grace (i.e., being made holy through Christ).

I agree with you that grace is not "irresistable." It can be resisted, and often is. And I would agree that once grace is accepted, it can then be rejected.

But note that in Mosiah 3:19, which you quote, the work we are required to perform is to "yield to the enticings of the Holy Spirit." We must get out of the way and quit resisting.

The balance of this verse says that we must then "put off the natural man." This is commonly interpreted to mean that this is the part that we do, and that we must through the use of our free agency put off the natural man and become as a child, etc. I think this misses the point of the passage.

We have no power to put off the natural man. If we did, we wouldn't need a Savior and Christ is died in vain.

It is only through our "yielding" to God's grace that the natural man is put off. The natural man is put off by God, not by us. Of course, we have to choose to yield to God's grace in order for this to happen, but this choosing to yield is not a work as that term is traditionally understood. It is a prerequisite, certainly, and if one wishes to define it as a work, that is fine, so long as we are clear on our definitions so we do not end up talking past each other.

Excellent post. I would also agree with your clarification in your last paragraph. Some people choose to look at even simply having faith as a work, or accepting grace as a work. But in reality, as you already said, this is not us working, but more accurately stopping our attempts to work out our own salvation apart from God working in us by His grace. Your C.S. Lewis quote is also quite apropos. It is somewhat ironic that this particular quote is immediately preceded by the well-known analogy oft quoted by LDS: "Asking what saves us, faith or works, is like asking which blade on a pair of scissors actually does the cutting." What is usually not stated by LDS is just what you quoted, that the works play a part in our salvation in that only by trying to do it by works, and failing, do we end up falling on God's grace alone to save us because we know it is the only way.

Take care, everyone :P

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I think it is more than just accepting the gift. I think we also have to do the work of coming to understand how some of our actions are sins, how we have allowed ourselves to become impure, etc....and then, very important, we have to do the work of realizing this is not what we want to be. For some this work will be driven by fear, for others a desire to see themselves in a positive way, for others love of God, and probably many more reasons and often mixed together.

But if you've ever gone through therapy or just had a heart to heart with your parents over something they disapproved of, I think you would see this aspect of repentance--realization and remorse--can be very, very hard work and for some may be the hardest work they ever do. The descriptions given in the scriptures certainly indicate this.

I agree with you that these elements are essential to salvation. Once more, they are internal changes in an individual, as opposed to outwardly manifested works, and I think what you have described is what the scriptures describe as a "broken heart and a contrite spirit."

I often encounter those who think that repentance can be planned. I will follow my own desires until just before my mission or (fill in the blank) and then I will repent. As if repentance is a switch one can simply turn on and off.

I think that if repentance is understood as stemming from the remorse at the realization of our standing before God in our sinful state; and our despair at being able to get in a right standing before God through our own actions; then we can see that repentance cannot be planned. It is not something we can do just when we choose to do it. I cannot say that I will repent on December 25, 2008 at noon. That is because I cannot plan when I will have a broken heart and a contrite spirit. This, too, can be seen as a gift from God to turn us to his grace. It really seems to be grace all the way around.

And oftentimes it is the most wicked who come to that point in their lives. Examples in the Book of Mormon would include King Lamoni, his father, as well as Alma the Younger.

On the other hand, and intriguingly, even the most obedient members of the church sometimes miss the grace element completely. I believe this is what is happening in the Book of Mormon during king Benjamin's speech. He preaches not to the wicked, but to the members of the church who were known for their good works. And it is to them that he preaches the necessity of salvation through the grace of Christ, and at the end of his discourse, the multitude cries unto God for mercy and they are saved, much to king Benjamin's joy.

The lesson? It is not the good works that saves, but the grace of God.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Excellent post. I would also agree with your clarification in your last paragraph. Some people choose to look at even simply having faith as a work, or accepting grace as a work. But in reality, as you already said, this is not us working, but more accurately stopping our attempts to work out our own salvation apart from God working in us by His grace. Your C.S. Lewis quote is also quite apropos. It is somewhat ironic that this particular quote is immediately preceded by the well-known analogy oft quoted by LDS: "Asking what saves us, faith or works, is like asking which blade on a pair of scissors actually does the cutting." What is usually not stated by LDS is just what you quoted, that the works play a part in our salvation in that only by trying to do it by works, and failing, do we end up falling on God's grace alone to save us because we know it is the only way.

Take care, everyone :P

Having actually experienced this in my life back in 1992, I have a testimony that what C.S. Lewis said is true. Which really should not shock anyone (though it was quite a surprise for me) since it is also what the Book of Mormon teaches, and I have had a testimony of that book since 1978.

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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Excellent post. I would also agree with your clarification in your last paragraph. Some people choose to look at even simply having faith as a work, or accepting grace as a work. But in reality, as you already said, this is not us working, but more accurately stopping our attempts to work out our own salvation apart from God working in us by His grace. Your C.S. Lewis quote is also quite apropos. It is somewhat ironic that this particular quote is immediately preceded by the well-known analogy oft quoted by LDS: "Asking what saves us, faith or works, is like asking which blade on a pair of scissors actually does the cutting." What is usually not stated by LDS is just what you quoted, that the works play a part in our salvation in that only by trying to do it by works, and failing, do we end up falling on God's grace alone to save us because we know it is the only way.

Take care, everyone :P

I agree with everything you said, rhinomelon, and I'd now like to add another thought to those thoughts.

Even though our own works do not save us, I believe God expects us to do and/or keep trying to do everything that he tells us... OIOW, to stop opposing his will to work with us and within us and instead accept everything in his will.

And thinking about that now leads me to another thought.

I believe our Father wants to see and prove us herewith concerning whether or not we will do what he tells us... OIOW, whether or not we will let him have full control of our lives.

... and I believe that includes whether or not we will repent by doing or keep trying to do everything that he tells us... OIOW, whether or not we will fight against him when his will is to work within us.

And yes, I believe it is really that simple... OIOW, there is nothing more to it. <_<

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... and I believe that includes whether or not we will repent by doing or keep trying to do everything that he tells us..

Do you mean doing all that God wants us to do in order to be worthy of God's grace, or do you mean trying to do everything He wants us to in response to God's grace and by the power of God's grace? I think the latter would be closer to what consiglieri's getting at, although he is more than welcome to correct my understanding.

Also, in response to consiglieri's last question, I am also curious. Has your opinion of the evangelical/mainstream Christian view of salvation solely by God's grace changed at all as a result of this thread? I'm especially curious about consiglieri's thinking on this question.

And out of curiousity, how did your opinion change, Doctor Steuss?

Take care, everyone :P

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[...]

And out of curiousity, how did your opinion change, Doctor Steuss?

Take care, everyone :P

The Orthodox Jew in me has always (and probably still will for a while) had a knee-jerk reaction to non-legalistic notions. I never really took the time to look and see that it is G-dâ??s grace completely and solely. Before taking the time to think about what the great and wise consiglieri was proposing, I would never dare say the following:

Our obedience to G-d comes from our faith in Him and His grace. It is His grace, and His grace alone which saves us (and exalts us).

Nowâ?¦ Iâ??m quite comfortable stating such, and look forward to refining the belief. All-in-all, Iâ??ve shed a bit of my legalism (not much, mind you <_< â?¦ but enough to where I am able to see that without G-dâ??s grace, we would be completely helpless [and hopeless]).

That, and my opinion of baloons changed. Don't know how (or why), but this thread helped.

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Do you mean doing all that God wants us to do in order to be worthy of God's grace, or do you mean trying to do everything He wants us to in response to God's grace and by the power of God's grace?

The latter.

Has your opinion of the evangelical/mainstream Christian view of salvation solely by God's grace changed at all as a result of this thread?

No.

Having come from an evangelical/mainstream Christian background, I knew LDS were in agreement with evangelical/mainstream Christianity on this issue when I first joined the (LDS) Church about 18 years ago.

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Also, in response to consiglieri's last question, I am also curious. Has your opinion of the evangelical/mainstream Christian view of salvation solely by God's grace changed at all as a result of this thread? I'm especially curious about consiglieri's thinking on this question.

My thinking regarding this issue began to develop in the late 1980's as a result of personal life situations coupled with an intense study of the Book of Mormon. As a result, I wrote a paper titled Cry Redemption: The Plan of Redemption as Taught in the Book of Mormon, which the good folks at The Journal of Book of Mormon Studies saw fit to publish in 1994. Vol. 3; Issue 1; pp. 148-69.

Perhaps the technologically adroit Dr. Steuss could provide a link, if he wishes?

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

Yes, and I thank you for that (truly).

If I could be of any benefit to the life of anybody on this board, it would be you, my good Herr Doktor.

(Of course, you know that this entire thread could be merely an exercise in cavernous evil. :P)

All the Best!

--Consiglieri

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There is a pernicious trend in the church to redefine grace as so presented in the LDS Bible Dictionary. This definition speaks to grace as being the "enabling power". Thus the grace of Christ enables US to DO those things which WE need to DO to fulfill the requirements of the law. I don't know where the BD definition came from? BRM? Bednar and others have used this definition. We just can't come to grips with our "nothingness" and our inability to merit salvation - hence the need for some form of unmerrited forgiveness. However, in contemporary LDS theology we must first "qualify" for his grace. Paul seems to be quite clear and very insightfull on the matter... 2,000 years ago ... if salvation is by works, we fall short since we become prideful. We pride ourselves since we carry a TR - evidence of our works.

Earl

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