Sunday, March 1, 2009

Accusation: Mormons Don't Understand Grace or the Unnecessary Pursuit of Good Works (Part 3)

Accusation:
“With that said, I must say that of course someone who has lived a horrible life and accepts the grace of Christ 2 days before he dies deserves the same heaven as someone who has lived an almost perfect life. Why? Because NONE of us actually deserve heaven. We have all fallen short of the glory of God and none of us are perfect therefore we do not deserve to live with a perfect God. But that's just the thing that is so amazing about grace. It is not about us. It is not about what we do to deserve it or to deserve heaven. Grace is about God. It is about Jesus and the sacrifice he made so that we could spend eternity with him. By saying that one person deserves more than another in heaven is like slapping Jesus in the face. Jesus died for everyone so that everyone could be with him, no matter how good they are or when they come to accept His gift to us.”


Accusation (Part 1):
“With that said, I must say that of course someone who has lived a horrible life and accepts the grace of Christ 2 days before he dies deserves the same heaven as someone who has lived an almost perfect life. Why? Because NONE of us actually deserve heaven. We have all fallen short of the glory of God and none of us are perfect therefore we do not deserve to live with a perfect God.”

Response:
I think we’re in agreement that there was only one perfect life lived on this earth. Anything short of perfection would disqualify a person from returning to a perfect Father in heaven and His perfect Son, except it were for the Christ’s sacrifice and atonement. So I absolutely agree that none of us “deserve” heaven in and of ourselves.

Now, as far as who will enter into certain levels of heaven, I’m not the judge. We know that Jesus Christ is the ultimate authorized judge of mankind (John 5:22).
With that said, how will He judge us? “And death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” -Rev 20:13
Here’s one more for good measure:
“28 Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice,
29 And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” -John 5:28-29
We also know that there is more than one heaven—”I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.” -2 Cor. 12:2

So far we know that Christ is our Judge, we will be judged according to our works, whether good or evil, and we will be granted access to at least one of three heavens.
As to which heaven the person in your scenario goes, that is not our place to say. There are always circumstances to consider and judge, which we as mortals are ill-suited to do.


Accusation (Part 2):
“But that's just the thing that is so amazing about grace. It is not about us. It is not about what we do to deserve it or to deserve heaven. Grace is about God. It is about Jesus and the sacrifice he made so that we could spend eternity with him. By saying that one person deserves more than another in heaven is like slapping Jesus in the face. Jesus died for everyone so that everyone could be with him, no matter how good they are or when they come to accept His gift to us.”

Response:
I’ve had concerns about how to respond to these statements. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints believe in the grace of God, and that it is only by the grace of God that we are saved.
My problem with your statement is that I see it as more of a slap in the face of the savior to say that someone can be as horrible as they want in life and completely disregard and trample under their feet the commandments of their Savior, to give a lip-service confession of belief and feel entitled to the the choicest blessings of eternity.
“19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21 ¶ Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
24 ¶ Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:
25 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.
26 And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:
27 And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it.” -Matt. 7:19-27


Best Wishes,
Rusty

3 comments:

ama said...

Very well said Rusty!

Anonymous said...

I am a friend of the Tews and a seminary teacher. I am struggling with Grace. It is so misunderstood. One student actually said that Grace is not a Mormon doctrine...a RM told me his mission president told him that Amazing Grace was taken out of the Hymn book because of false doctrine...I closely aline myself with Robert Milletts talk on Grace. And with Elder Bednar's talk about Grace being the enabling power (see bible dictionary also)
I do believe that Mormons don't understand Grace. Perhaps they do and don't call it Grace. I am very concerned that so many times Good works becomes the priority. It takes the Savior out of the equation. As an experiment ask members what they think grace is....they think that the Protestants have coopted grace and steer clear of it...but they don't think they get to heaven without the Savior or his grace...they just call it something else...let me know what you think.
Donna Tagliaferri

Rusty Curtis said...

I appreciate your comments and thank you for taking the time to write to me.

I agree with you that many members of the Church don’t understand some fundamental gospel principles (think of the parable of the ten virgins Matt. 25:1-13). However, we know we can’t judge the Church by some of the members and their lack of diligence in study.

The scriptures are very clear on the role of grace in our salvation. I will quote the Book of Mormon as a valid source from which members of the Church of Jesus Christ should be learning true doctrine.

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.” -2 Ne. 10:24

“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” -2 Ne. 25:23

What is “all we can do?” I think King Lamoni answers that best:
“And now behold, my brethren, since it has been all that we could do, (as we were the most lost of all mankind) to repent of all our sins...” -Alma 24:11

If it were not for the atonement, any person with one single transgression would be doomed to eternal misery. However, too many people twist the scriptures to justify themselves in unrestricted sinning by saying as long as they accept Christ, they are saved. Depending on their lives, they may be saved in the Telestial or Terrestrial kingdoms, but only those who believe in and love Christ (which means they keep his commandments -John 14:15) can be exalted.

To sum it all up, we believe we are judged by our works and saved by grace.

Best Wishes,
Rusty

-Does this sound reasonable to you?

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