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Relationship between grace and works in Mormonism


StuddleyG

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The other day there were some Christian guys preaching on the WSU campus(Its where I go to school). They of course had some things to say to all the mormons. One of them started talking to me and ended up talking about the old argument about faith and works. I had grown tired of the whole debate while I was on my mission and I still haven't figured out a good way of explaining the Mormon view of it that makes sense to non-LDS Christians.

He brought up Moroni 10:32 which says that Christ's grace will be sufficient for us once we love God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength. He used the scripture to explain that Mormons believe we need to be perfect ourselves or Christ's grace won't work for us. I told him I had never looked at that scripture in that way before, I'm pretty sure that scripture doesn't quite mean what he says it meant. Thus I was left without knowing how to explain grace and works the way mormons really understand it.

IMHO, I think LDS and other Chirstians believe in grace more similarly than we realize. Mormons just use a different vocabulary. I just don't know how to put it into words in a way that makes sense to non-LDS.

Anybody have a good way of explaining it?

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Yeah, we can never keep all the commandments. I've always thought of grace as what saves us no matter what, but there is a difference between salvation and exaltation. Sure you are always going to be apart of a family and the Father will love you, that's where grace is happening. Though keeping the commandments as best you can is the works part, and I think that's what helps us know that we really do love our Father. I'm sure He knows it either way, but how much love do you really have if you aren't committed enough to show it?

I've always thought that grace may save, but it doesn't bring us into the presence of the Father. It simply means that satan no longer has a claim on our soul unless we choose that path.

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I belive Nephi Said it best "We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do"

And what is it that we can do and that it keep the comandments the best way we understand them, also there is two meanings in the scriptures about perfection one is eternal perfection and the other is finite perfection and the latter is all that we can earn in this life until christ comes to give us eternal perfection.

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The other day there were some Christian guys preaching on the WSU campus(Its where I go to school). They of course had some things to say to all the mormons. One of them started talking to me and ended up talking about the old argument about faith and works. I had grown tired of the whole debate while I was on my mission and I still haven't figured out a good way of explaining the Mormon view of it that makes sense to non-LDS Christians.

He brought up Moroni 10:32 which says that Christ's grace will be sufficient for us once we love God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength. He used the scripture to explain that Mormons believe we need to be perfect ourselves or Christ's grace won't work for us. I told him I had never looked at that scripture in that way before, I'm pretty sure that scripture doesn't quite mean what he says it meant. Thus I was left without knowing how to explain grace and works the way mormons really understand it.

IMHO, I think LDS and other Chirstians believe in grace more similarly than we realize. Mormons just use a different vocabulary. I just don't know how to put it into words in a way that makes sense to non-LDS.

Anybody have a good way of explaining it?

When arguments start to fall into tired old grooves, it is sometimes worth attempting to move to another track. Once such attempt appears in the latest Review, Gee's essay on the Grace of Christ.

http://maxwellinstitute.byu.edu/publications/review/?vol=22&num=1&id=798

He asks, how often does Jesus talk about grace in the Gospels? What do the gospels say about grace? What does the Greek word mean?

Another approach might be to refer to a non-LDS book, David Bercot's Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up, which has a chapter of quotes from the early fathers, and footnotes from the New Testament on the topic. For instance, page 53.

"They believed that our walk with God is a joint project. The Christian himself must be willing to sacrifice, to pour his energy and very soul into the project. But he must also recognize the need for God's help. As Origen explained, "He makes himself known to those who, after doing all their powers will allow, confess that they need help from him." Citing Origin, Contra Celsus, bk 6, chapter 42.

Bercot is not the last word on the topic (there's an interesting review on Amazon that takes him to task on lack of depth knowledge of context), but it's interesting to see the shock he feels on encountering such things that counter some basic Evangelical assumptions on at least a "proof text" level of inquiry. One of the missionaries in our ward loaned me the book on Sunday. I've been reading it on the commute train this week.

Kevin Christensen

Pittsburgh, PA

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Justification and freedom from the penalties of sin is through exercising Faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, and acknowledging Him as Lord and Savior by entering into Covenant with Him.

Sanctification is a cooperative process of submitting to the will of the Lord, and allowing His spirit to change you into a Holy individual with a pure heart.

Exaltation comes by putting forth effort through obedience to the Lord's Program to acquire the Lord's attributes.

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The debate about grace/faith/works is a classic, yo. Without getting into the nitty-gritty of the historic positions and twists, Evangelicals today typically emphasize the need to believe on Christ for salvation. They don't always go the Calvinist route, which basically puts all the volition on God's lap.

To me, belief in Christ signifies some sort of mental deduction, an acceptance, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who suffered and died on our behalf so that we can be forgiven and return to live with God again. Even Calvinists and other Evangelicals will note the necessity of fruits, works, etc., but the power behind them and their results are not the same as how LDS imagine them.

In the middle of this definitional muddle I think belief gets confused for faith sometimes. In a conversation with one 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" (mental deduction) and according to him, is separate from works. You're either saved by faith or by works, or if by works they are completely directed and inspired y God alone. For Latter-day Saints, faith includes works. For many Evangelicals, it seems faith includes works, but you can't call them works. From a biblical angle I like to bring up the story of Christ and His disciples encountering a man possessed of evil spirits calling themselves "Legion." According to the account, 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 apparently not faith, it was just belief, even open acknowledgment. Even sure knowledge isn't faith.

The definition and source of works, fruits and rewards, and the extent to which we can act upon our own volition to accept the grace or salvation offered through Jesus Christ, are some of the key issues involved n the debate IMO.

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Nephi taught that we are saved by grace after all we could do.

In Alma, it is taught that all we can do is accept Christ and repent of our sins (alma 24:11).

Thus, according to LDS scripture, the relationship between grace and works is that we must have faith in Christ and repent and then, through the Atonement of Christ, we are saved (justified).

My experience though has been that it's almost always a losing fight trying to get non-LDS to understand this or accept that it's what we believe. Sometimes because those arguing with us don't want us to believe such, as it messes with their perceptions of LDS teachings.

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I think grace gives us a reason to work. There are some endeavors which we would never begin to attempt because we recognize that success is impossible, and our work would be in vain. It would be futile for me to work towards flying like a bird for example. Even though I would love to fly, I don

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Nephi taught that we are saved by grace after all we could do.

In Alma, it is taught that all we can do is accept Christ and repent of our sins (alma 24:11).

Thus, according to LDS scripture, the relationship between grace and works is that we must have faith in Christ and repent and then, through the Atonement of Christ, we are saved (justified).

Bingo.

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The best way I know of explaining it is by using the Book of Mormon which very plainly teaches the relationship of grace and works and how we are "saved by grace after all we can do." First it must be established that without Christ we cannot be saved, we cannot do it alone and we are not saved "in our sins" but from our sins. The flaw of traditional Christianity is the idea that we cannot keep the commandments... this is a lie. We can but we cannot do it without Christ's help. This earth life is all about us developing our faith in Christ to see if we will keep His commandments. The atonement is not intended as a means for excusing us from becoming perfect, but it is designed to help us become perfect. The scripture you references is very instructive if it is read correctly and in context:

(Moroni 10:32-33)"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 Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot."
The covenant of the Father is the covenant of baptism, if we keep the covenant and by that I mean endure in faithfulness to the end, then we will have a remission of our sins. Then we become holy and without spot. Nephi taught this as well:
(2 Nephi 31:10-20)"And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son. And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism
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The other day there were some Christian guys preaching on the WSU campus(Its where I go to school). They of course had some things to say to all the mormons. One of them started talking to me and ended up talking about the old argument about faith and works. I had grown tired of the whole debate while I was on my mission and I still haven't figured out a good way of explaining the Mormon view of it that makes sense to non-LDS Christians.

He brought up Moroni 10:32 which says that Christ's grace will be sufficient for us once we love God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength. He used the scripture to explain that Mormons believe we need to be perfect ourselves or Christ's grace won't work for us. I told him I had never looked at that scripture in that way before, I'm pretty sure that scripture doesn't quite mean what he says it meant. Thus I was left without knowing how to explain grace and works the way mormons really understand it.

IMHO, I think LDS and other Chirstians believe in grace more similarly than we realize. Mormons just use a different vocabulary. I just don't know how to put it into words in a way that makes sense to non-LDS.

Anybody have a good way of explaining it?

Well, I have my way of expaining it. :P Without the grace of our Savior the passage between this mortality and living "amongst the gods" would be impossible. Christ's sacrifice both in Gethsemane and on the cross has made this possible. Our part in the bargain is to stretch as often and as much as our own individualized, god-given capacity allows us - nothing more nothing less. This includes folks who do not even consciously think on the Savior's role for them.

There is no litmus behavior in-and-of-itself that would grant us entrance "through the pearlies" but that we met the standard of our capacity. As such, the standard for the highest glory is almost wholly individualized with no other human having exactly the same standard given him. Loving God "with all our heart, might, mind, and strength" looks different for each person. That scripture is not a commentary on needing to be perfect but rather a call for each to honor his conscience as his capacity allows.

In this mortality there is no one standardized behavior or group of them that would point to "eligibility" including temple attendance, WoW, sexual morality, or even conscience acceptance of the Savior's role. Each hand dealt is different from everyone else's and our Father looks to see how well we can play it. So yes, it is but for the grace of God go I after doing all that is expected of me. ;)

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We are saved by grace through faith (Ephesian 2:eight). And "faith, if it hath not works, is dead." (James 2:17)

The above both being true, then works are a pretty important part of being saved by grace since works is what makes our faith alive and it is through faith (most likely an alive faith and not a dead one) that we are saved by grace. Seems logical.

Does that explanation work for ya or not?

Or you could always use C.S. Lewis's explanation from Mere Christianity. I've always really liked that one.

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The other day there were some Christian guys preaching on the WSU campus(Its where I go to school). They of course had some things to say to all the mormons. One of them started talking to me and ended up talking about the old argument about faith and works. I had grown tired of the whole debate while I was on my mission and I still haven't figured out a good way of explaining the Mormon view of it that makes sense to non-LDS Christians.

He brought up Moroni 10:32 which says that Christ's grace will be sufficient for us once we love God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength. He used the scripture to explain that Mormons believe we need to be perfect ourselves or Christ's grace won't work for us. I told him I had never looked at that scripture in that way before, I'm pretty sure that scripture doesn't quite mean what he says it meant. Thus I was left without knowing how to explain grace and works the way mormons really understand it.

IMHO, I think LDS and other Chirstians believe in grace more similarly than we realize. Mormons just use a different vocabulary. I just don't know how to put it into words in a way that makes sense to non-LDS.

Anybody have a good way of explaining it?

It's very simple to explain.

You work, as hard as you can, and dedicate as much as you can to the Lord, and that is covered by works.

The rest is covered by the grace of Christ.

You work to your capability - faith without works is dead. And then Christ's grace carries you the rest of the way. If you did the work. (I'm referring to achieving exaltation, and not the lower kingdoms).

Work amounts to simply keeping God's commandments, and being true to him in your heart. But without both of those, without works, without the will to do the right thing, grace cannot save you.

That is what's meant by faith without works is dead. Faith, in true form, drives you to works. It doesn't exist without works, because true faith makes you lose your life to serving Christ and being obedient to him. And that means doing works. If you don't do works, you don't have true faith.

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It's very simple to explain.

You work, as hard as you can, and dedicate as much as you can to the Lord, and that is covered by works.

The rest is covered by the grace of Christ.

With respect, we must rely on the Atonement for 100% of our salvation. Everything is covered by it, absolutely nothing is covered by our own works.

Despite what some non-LDS christians believe, we do not believe that Christ's atonement only covers 'the gaps' in our behaviors and that we are responsible to save ourselves as much as we can.

:P

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The other day there were some Christian guys preaching on the WSU campus(Its where I go to school). They of course had some things to say to all the mormons. One of them started talking to me and ended up talking about the old argument about faith and works. I had grown tired of the whole debate while I was on my mission and I still haven't figured out a good way of explaining the Mormon view of it that makes sense to non-LDS Christians.

He brought up Moroni 10:32 which says that Christ's grace will be sufficient for us once we love God with all of our heart, might, mind and strength. He used the scripture to explain that Mormons believe we need to be perfect ourselves or Christ's grace won't work for us. I told him I had never looked at that scripture in that way before, I'm pretty sure that scripture doesn't quite mean what he says it meant. Thus I was left without knowing how to explain grace and works the way mormons really understand it.

IMHO, I think LDS and other Chirstians believe in grace more similarly than we realize. Mormons just use a different vocabulary. I just don't know how to put it into words in a way that makes sense to non-LDS.

Anybody have a good way of explaining it?

After lots of discussion on this board on this subject I have come to the understanding that the LDS belief is that you are saved by grace, but achieve exaltation by your works.

Respectfully,

Balzer

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With respect, we must rely on the Atonement for 100% of our salvation. Everything is covered by it, absolutely nothing is covered by our own works.

Despite what some non-LDS christians believe, we do not believe that Christ's atonement only covers 'the gaps' in our behaviors and that we are responsible to save ourselves as much as we can.

:P

I should have made it more clear I was referring to 'saved in the Celestial Kingdom' (exaltation).

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After lots of discussion on this board on this subject I have come to the understanding that the LDS belief is that you are saved by grace, but achieve exaltation by your works.

Respectfully,

Balzer

Yep, you got it right.

Also keep in mind that the resurrection of your body is a guarantee.

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