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What exactly is a 'work'?


bluebell

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It seems like whenever the topic of salvation through faith verses works comes up, one of the stumbling blocks between non-LDS Christians and LDS is the definition of a 'work'.

Sometimes it seems like circular reasoning is used by many non-LDS Christians to explain what is a work and what isn't. Which seems to teach, basically, that anything that Jesus requires us to do to gain salvation, like have faith and repent, can't be works because works play no part in our salvation.

Is this just a loophole? Semantics?

What exactly makes tithing, for example, a 'work' but repentance not a 'work'?

I'm completely confused.

:P

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my thoughts:

either:

1 Salvation comes in a completely capricious manner independent of absolutely anything one can do--

or

2 Salvation is given "by grace" only to those who somehow qualify for that grace.

But any list anyone has of how one qualifies for salvation could be held up as "works" --any such list: Mormon or non-Mormon.

If there is absolutely nothing one can do to qualify for salvation without it being called "works", then it seems the only option is #1.

But why do the "works" of qualifying for salvation have to be "works" that replace the grace of God, and save oneself without Christ? Why cannot one accept that nothing one does replaces the grace of God, but still realize that one must do things to qualify for that grace?

And after one enters into Salvation through the first principles of the Gospel, why cannot works be required to obtain greater rewards and exaltation within the Lord's Kingdom? Many things in the Bible show men will not be all rewarded the same.

The Bible simply does not teach in salvation without works. That is because there is no such thing as Faith without Works.

Richard

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If you read further into this scripture Bluebell, I believe that it goes on to talk about the circumcision argument. He reminds the church members at Ephesus that they were considered "Gentiles" by the Jews because they were not circumcised. I think there was a lot of concern among the new "Gentile" Christians that perhaps they needed to become observant Jews in order to truly become Christians. Paul is reassuring them that they do not because Christ's grace is sufficient to save outside of the traditional Jewish ordinances. I believe that often (maybe not always), when New Testament writers spoke of "works", they were referring to religious ordinances--mostly circumcision, washings, sacrifices, etc.

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It seems like whenever the topic of salvation through faith verses works comes up, one of the stumbling blocks between non-LDS Christians and LDS is the definition of a 'work'. . . .

I'm completely confused.:

Remember, God is a God of order. The confusion comes in (from Mormonism in your case that disputes salvation is by grace through faith) when one doesn't accept what God says through His revealed Word recorded in Scripture (not all so-called "Scripture" is from God):

Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)

In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earthâ??in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory. (Ephesians 1:7-12)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10

More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, (Phillipians 3: :P

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:6- ;)

You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:4)

When one refers to a "work" it is something done post justification (salvation) as part of sanctification (being set apart for good works as ones nature has changed) and is identified as a "good work" done as the result of having faith because it is faith that produces the good work (being set apart for works of service).

This is what God does in bringing the knowledge required for salvation in the preaching of the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (the "work" and the "will" of God is for us to "believe"):

Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:28-29)

For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:38-40)

We are all born in trespasses and sin as being "dead" spiritually speaking which eventually ends in physical death. The Gospel is that message of salvation and is not a work we do but the work of God that we accept by faith.

The term "Gospel" means "Good News" in that Jesus paid the price (ransom) for the sins of the whole world which is all the people who have or will ever live before the end of the world. Not everyone will accept that and so the Gospel only applies to those who receive it. Once one receives that message of salvation have been saved from an eternal punishment at the point of belief in which one has passed out of "death" and into "life", even though one still dies a physical death (the spirit goes back to God Who gave it and is either a "sheep" or "goat" as in Matthew 25.

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It seems like whenever the topic of salvation through faith verses works comes up, one of the stumbling blocks between non-LDS Christians and LDS is the definition of a 'work'.

Sometimes it seems like circular reasoning is used by many non-LDS Christians to explain what is a work and what isn't. Which seems to teach, basically, that anything that Jesus requires us to do to gain salvation, like have faith and repent, can't be works because works play no part in our salvation.

Is this just a loophole? Semantics?

What exactly makes tithing, for example, a 'work' but repentance not a 'work'?

I'm completely confused.

:P

What is the wrong kind of work? Something you do for the praise of man, or for your own glory. The right kind of work, is anything you do out of love for God and/or others.

My opinion.

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Coolrok7, Mormonism does not dispute that salvation is by grace through faith, just that we believe that faith requires works - James 2:14-26 (especially verses 17, 20, 22 and 26)

Because faith isn't faith w/o works. Works is an ingredient in faith. Otherwise all you have is belief.

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Because faith isn't faith w/o works. Works is an ingredient in faith. Otherwise all you have is belief.

Is it even belief? If you believe that Jesus is the Christ wouldn't you want to do all the things he has commanded, and therefore have works? Without works faith is dead, plain and simple.

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my thoughts:

either:

1 Salvation comes in a completely capricious manner independent of absolutely anything one can do--

or

2 Salvation is given "by grace" only to those who somehow qualify for that grace.

But any list anyone has of how one qualifies for salvation could be held up as "works" --any such list: Mormon or non-Mormon.

If there is absolutely nothing one can do to qualify for salvation without it being called "works", then it seems the only option is #1.

But why do the "works" of qualifying for salvation have to be "works" that replace the grace of God, and save oneself without Christ? Why cannot one accept that nothing one does replaces the grace of God, but still realize that one must do things to qualify for that grace?

And after one enters into Salvation through the first principles of the Gospel, why cannot works be required to obtain greater rewards and exaltation within the Lord's Kingdom? Many things in the Bible show men will not be all rewarded the same.

The Bible simply does not teach in salvation without works. That is because there is no such thing as Faith without Works.

Richard

I agree, i don't know why the idea of qualifying for the Grace of Christ by observing the conditions that Christ has set equals being saved by your own works to so many Christians.

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If you read further into this scripture Bluebell, I believe that it goes on to talk about the circumcision argument. He reminds the church members at Ephesus that they were considered "Gentiles" by the Jews because they were not circumcised. I think there was a lot of concern among the new "Gentile" Christians that perhaps they needed to become observant Jews in order to truly become Christians. Paul is reassuring them that they do not because Christ's grace is sufficient to save outside of the traditional Jewish ordinances. I believe that often (maybe not always), when New Testament writers spoke of "works", they were referring to religious ordinances--mostly circumcision, washings, sacrifices, etc.

I agree that it seems that Paul uses the word 'works' in a much different way than a lot of Christians define it.

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Remember, God is a God of order. The confusion comes in when one doesn't accept what God says through His revealed Word recorded in Scripture.

Obviously.

When one refers to a "work" it is something done post justification (salvation) as part of sanctification (being set apart for good works as ones nature has changed) and is identified as a "good work" done as the result of having faith because it is faith that produces the good work (being set apart for works of service).

This is what God does in bringing the knowledge required for salvation in the preaching of the message of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ (the "work" and the "will" of God is for us to "believe"):

We are all born in trespasses and sin as being "dead" spiritually speaking which eventually ends in physical death. The Gospel is that message of salvation and is not a work we do but the work of God that we accept by faith.

The term "Gospel" means "Good News" in that Jesus paid the price (ransom) for the sins of the whole world which is all the people who have or will ever live before the end of the world. Not everyone will accept that and so the Gospel only applies to those who receive it. Once one receives that message of salvation have been saved from an eternal punishment at the point of belief in which one has passed out of "death" and into "life", even though one still dies a physical death (the spirit goes back to God Who gave it and is either a "sheep" or "goat" as in Matthew 25.

So, why is repentance (something that the scriptures teach must be done before one can be saved) NOT a work?

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Is it even belief? If you believe that Jesus is the Christ wouldn't you want to do all the things he has commanded, and therefore have works? Without works faith is dead, plain and simple.

James 2:19, " . . . the devils also believe, and tremble." Their belief isn't enough.

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I have always looked at the "works" spoken of in the Bible that do not save, are the works of the Law of Moses. The 10 commandments, give to man by God, were not done away with, but summed up with "Love the Lord God with all thy heart..." and "love thy neighbor...". Jesus also taught us how to 'be' with the beattitudes. There is a difference between the works of the Law of Moses, and the things we must 'DO' to follow the teachings of Christ. If we beleive Jesus, we will do as He taught.

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James 2:19, " . . . the devils also believe, and tremble." Their belief isn't enough.

Their belief and our belief is different. We have a veil of forgetfulness over our minds, they don't. Our belief comes from a place of not knowing, they already know. So for us, is it even really belief if we do not have works? For if we really believed Jesus is the Christ we would follow all the things he has commanded.

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Obviously. So, why is repentance (something that the scriptures teach must be done before one can be saved) NOT a work?

It is a proper response to what God commands. If one wasn'tspiritually regenerated, then one wouldn't care about what God commands. After one comes to the knowledge of the truth, then one does what God has laid out for us to do.

It is not a work as we are saved by grace through faith, not by works. Non-LDS Christians do not deny having good works. But the works don't save us, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. That is what saves us. Works are a testimony to the faith one has as a result of believing God (period).

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It is not a work as we are saved by grace through faith, not by works. Non-LDS Christians do not deny having good works. But the works don't save us, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. That is what saves us. Works are a testimony to the faith one has as a result of believing God (period).

How is this different than LDS belief concerning works?

:P

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James The LORD OF LIFE'S Brother assesment of the Grace/Works argument He clearly states that Faith works "together" with [sunergei] works. If works were the passive effect of Faith, works could not work together with anything, being purely drivin by faith [The watered down definition].

In His Debt/Grace, Tanyan LDS JEDI KNIGHT.

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How is this different than LDS belief concerning works? :P

Sorry for the delay, I'm tearing the front lawn up for replanting.

The difference is not what we all do in the sense of doing "good works"' The difference is in what one expects for the doing of the works. This is where the difference of what the BofM teaches about "after all we can do" in the context of what it means to be "saved" Biblically speaking. The Mormonism of Joseph Smith redefines what it means:

. . .it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. . . (2 Nephi 25:23b; JOSEPH SMITH JUNIOR, AUTHOR AND PROPRIETER- from the first printing of the Book of Mormon)

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-10)

For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 6:23)

This is how the redefinition takes place:

By revelation, our Savior made known again the plan of salvation and exaltation. Resurrection comes as a gift to every man through Jesus Christ, but the reward of the highest eternal opportunities you must earn. It is not just enough to believe in Jesus Christ. You must work and learn, search and pray, repent and improve, know his laws and live them. (YOUR PRE-EARTH LIFE pamphlet, p.10)

Paul taught that the gift is "eternal life" which is not earned, merited or worked for as in Mormonism. The gift in Mormonism is only resurrection. Exaltation is the product of all the works Mormons do to be exalted to g/Godhood:

You May Earn Salvation through Christ (THE PURPOSE OF LIFE pamphlet, p.4)

Thus, brothers and sisters, along with the great and free gift of the universal and personal resurrection there is also the personal possibility of meriting eternal life. (The Ensign, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, 1997, p.23)

It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice. . .This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts. . . .(AFTER ALL WE CAN DO. . .GRACE WORKS, Robert L. Millet, p.18)

In the 1985 Gospel Principles manual, in the chapter on Exaltation, it says the following (there is no dispute with points 1&2, points 3&4 are not Biblically taught):

REQUIREMENTS FOR EXALTATION

. . .There are specific ordinances we must have received to be exalted:

1. We must be baptized and confirmed a member of the

Church of Jesus Christ.

2. We must receive the Holy Ghost.

3. We must receive the temple endowment.

4. We must be married for time and eternity.

In addition to the required ordinances, there are also many laws we have to obey to qualify for exaltation--We must . . . (p.291)

This is the way our Heavenly Father became a God. . . .Joseph Smith taught, â??it is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the character of God. . .he was once a man like us, . . .God himself, the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself didâ? (p.293; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp.345-46[King Follet Discourse])

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Sorry for the delay, I'm tearing the front lawn up for replanting.

Not a problem, sounds more exciting than my day.

The difference is not what we all do in the sense of doing "good works"' The difference is in what one expects for the doing of the works. This is where the difference of what the BofM teaches about "after all we can do" in the context of what it means to be "saved" Biblically speaking.

Don't Christians expect to be rewarded for their good works?

Paul taught that the gift is "eternal life" which is not earned, merited or worked for as in Mormonism. The gift in Mormonism is only resurrection. Exaltation is the product of all the works Mormons do to be exalted to g/Godhood:

How is LDS's beliefs about exaltation different than non-LDS Christians beliefs about being rewarded above and beyond 'salvation' for their good works? Aren't you using semantics (the difference in definition of the word 'saved' to LDS and non-LDS) to bolster your arguement and doesn't your arguement disintegrate when the different definitions and beliefs concerning 'salvation' are understood?

In the 1985 Gospel Principles manual, in the chapter on Exaltation, it says the following (there is no dispute with points 1&2, points 3&4 are not Biblically taught):

How is baptism NOT a work? How do you argue that baptism is not a work to Hoops22, an evangelical Christian, who has claimed that the bible CLEARLY teaches that baptism is not necessary for salvation (if i'm explaining his position correctly)?

If non-LDS christians, all claiming that the bible is the inerrant and infalible word of God which needs no other scripture to clarify it, can't even agree on what is a 'work' and what 'isn't', why is it only the mormons who are following 'another gospel'. In your view, why isn't hoops, for example, NOT following another gospel when he teaches such things that you say clearly are anti-biblical.

:P

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I was interested to see some early Mormon thought on this subject in my reading of the Journal of Discourses. Whereas coolpaste likes to select proof-texts to build his case, I can do the same.

To me, belief in Christ signifies a mental deduction, an acceptance, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He suffered and died in behalf of us, satisfying the demands of justice so that we can be forgiven and return to live with God again. I think belief gets confused for faith sometimes. In a conversation with an Evangelical Christian, I was informed that I'm not a Christian because I believe works are necessary in order for us to receive salvation. He informed me we are saved by grace through faith in Christ. Because I would also say I believe in salvation by grace through faith in Christ, I realized the real disagreement dealt with our definition of "faith." His definition of faith would correspond more with what I defined above as "belief," and according to him, is separate from works. You're either saved by faith or by works. For Latter-day Saints, faith includes works. For the Evangelicals, it seems faith includes works, but you can't call them works. On a trip to the country of the Gaderenes, Christ and His disciples encountered a man possessed of evil spirits calling themselves "Legion." The unclean spirits recognized Christ; they even believed in Him:

And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs. When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness) (Luke 8:27-29).

Christ cast the demons out, they took up the body of pigs, which quickly ran to their deaths. Their belief in the power of Christ- they specifically demonstrated belief in His power by requesting to be allowed to enter pigs,- was not faith, it was just belief, acknowledgment. Even sure knowledge isn't faith. Brigham Young once explained:

A great many say, 'I believe the Gospel,' but continue to act wickedly, to do that which they know to be wrong. I wish you to fully understand that merely believing the Gospel, that Jesus is the Christ, in the Old and New Testaments, that Joseph Smith was a Prophet sent of God, and that the Book of Mormon is true, does not prepare you to become angels of light, sons and daughters of God, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ to a divine inheritance. Nor does mere belief entitle you to the possession of the crowns and thrones that you are anticipating.

No, such preparation can be made, and such objects attained only by doing the work required of us by our Father in heaven, by obeying Him in all things, letting our will, dispositions, and feelings fall to our feet, to rise no more, from this time henceforth, and actually operating upon the principle that we will do the will of our Father in heaven, no matter what comes upon us. Then, if you are going to be killed by your enemies, or destroyed by the adversary, you can say, 'Kill away, destroy away,' (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 2:248).

Belief and acknowledgment didn't help the unclean spirits any more than it would help us to believe without having faith. Faith leads to action; that is what faith is: belief unto action. James was explicit on the matter, even mentioning the belief of demons not being true faith:

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 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 (James 2:17-20).

The Book of Mormon couples the word "unto"with faith; faith implicitly includes action. If I believe my seat belt will help in case of an accident I need to actually put it on, turning that belief into faith. It is my responsibility to place the seat belt on, while it is the seat belt that restrains and protects me. Christ's atonement doesn't eliminate our personal responsibility; it increases it. He satisfied justice in order to extend His hand in mercy, but we must clasp that hand:

And thus he shall bring salvation to all those who shall believe on his name; this being the intent of this last sacrifice, to bring about the bowels of mercy, which overpowereth justice, and bringeth about means unto men that they may have faith unto repentance. And thus mercy can satisfy the demands of justice, and encircles them in the arms of safety, while he that exercises no faith unto repentance is exposed to the whole law of the demands of justice; therefore only unto him that has faith unto repentance is brought about the great and eternal plan of redemption. Therefore may God grant unto you, my brethren, that ye may begin to exercise your faith unto repentance, that ye begin to call upon his holy name, that he would have mercy upon you... (Alma 34:15-17).

There are many more scriptures that could be cited here, but this will suffice for now; the main object of Brigham's comments was that belief doesn't equal faith. Even the demons tremble. But they never had faith unto repentance, and that makes all the difference.

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If you read further into this scripture Bluebell, I believe that it goes on to talk about the circumcision argument. He reminds the church members at Ephesus that they were considered "Gentiles" by the Jews because they were not circumcised. I think there was a lot of concern among the new "Gentile" Christians that perhaps they needed to become observant Jews in order to truly become Christians. Paul is reassuring them that they do not because Christ's grace is sufficient to save outside of the traditional Jewish ordinances. I believe that often (maybe not always), when New Testament writers spoke of "works", they were referring to religious ordinances--mostly circumcision, washings, sacrifices, etc.

To Paul's audience, works = ritual observances of Mosaic law.

(Look katherine, we actually agree on something!)

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I think it's all about the middle.

So much gets argued about as if the other side goes too far.

One side preaches against "Faith alone" in fear of works becoming "forced works" or "works without spirit"

The other preaches against "Faith only" in fear of people saying "I'm saved...I'll juts slack off now."

I think your average Joe and Josephine who just go to church, get that.

But when you hear it from a preacher, evangelist, or (dare I say) apologetic, it always sound like it's an epidemic on the other side.

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