Salvation By Grace or Grace + Works?
One of the most important differences between Mormonism and Christianity is Salvation. That is what our hope is for. In Mormonism there is a different definition of salvation than in Christianity. Christians believe that salvation is redemption from sin, being found blameless before God, without spot so that we may live in his presence in heaven. Mormonism teaches that salvation is bodily resurrection from the grave to await judgment and exaltation is living in the presence of God in the highest kingdom of heaven. So to eliminate any confusion my use of the word salvation will mean the equivalent of the Mormon definition of living in God’s presence. Again, that is our hope.
There’s much more that could be spoken of first, but I’m not a writer and I happened to have studied this topic more than others. This was a big factor in my decision to leave the church and come to Jesus. The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and that it is a free gift that we cannot earn (Eph 2:8-10) Jesus taught that the only work God wants of us is to Believe in His Son. (John 6:28) The New living Translation puts this very clearly and further in vs 63 we learn that human effort accomplishes nothing.This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God came to earth as a man, lived a perfect life, suffered and died taking our punishment and was raised up to a glorified resurrected body that all who believe in him could receive salvation through him.
Mormonism teaches something different. Many of the details remain the same but the Twistianity comes in the form of works. The Book of Mormon teaches that we are saved by grace AFTER all we can DO. (2Ne 25:23) Mormon.org teaches us the Mormon version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s almost the same until they teach that we are still responsible to keep the commandments and first principals and ordinances of the gospel. Now, here is where the big faith vs. works argument comes in and James chapter 2 gets quoted. And here is the difference between Christians and Mormons. Mormons keep the commandments to earn grace. They DO all they can so that they might please God by their obedience and receive salvation based on their good works coupled with the atonement of Christ for the times they fell short (diluted grace). Christians keep God’s commandments because they love him, they know and accept that they can do nothing for their salvation and that God has done it all and the fruits of their faith or their works are out of gratitude and love for God and the purpose of the fruit is to bring God glory. After all the very faith that saved them was a gift from God.
Now, Mormonism also teaches that some ordinances have to be done. There’s a ladder to climb. (This is how I was taught to teach it on my mission) After accepting Jesus as your savior, Joseph and the current church president as prophets, the Book of Mormon and others as scripture and agreeing to keep the commandments including the word of wisdom and tithing you need to be baptized. (Yes there will be a topic t about baptism, let’s stay on topic though)After baptism comes the receiving of the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands by a Melchezidek Priesthood holder. Then males need to receive the two priesthoods, make their way to the office of Elder, receive their temple endowments and marry a worthy female for time and eternity in the temple.After all that is completed it’s a matter of enduring to the end.
This is highly contradictory the Gospel taught in the Bible. Paul warned the Galatians that any gospel other that the one he preached was no gospel at all, or in layman’s terms: Any good news that was different than the good news he taught wasn’t good news, it was bad news. It seems from the New Testament specifically the epistles; that the battle of faith vs. works for salvation started up almost at the beginning of the church. In most cases the culprits were Jewish Christians who believed that they should follow the law and also believe in Christ and tried to convince the gentile believers of following the law. This idea isn’t new; it was hatched by the devil himself. It is a religious and exclusive thought to claim that only the righteous or "good people" deserve to go to heaven. Man cannot comprehend how a sinner can be accepted into heaven; it’s not fair he didn’t play by the rules, so man changes it to fit his own understanding or fairness. The Bible is full of stories of undeserving people who found favor with God not because of their actions, but their faith. The story of Jacob, Esau and the birthright is a perfect example of the undeserving receiving the reward.
We are a corrupted creature, without Faith there is nothing we can do to please God. Works that are done with the intention to justify ourselves before God will only piss him off and bring his wrath upon you. Imagine it’s your birthday and your spouse/children/parents come to you with a pretty box saying “you’re going to love this! I got you just what you wanted.” You open the box and inside you find a pile of steamy stinky disgusting poo. That’s what Paul described our works for self justification is in the eyes of God. Isaiah used the term filthy menstrual rags. Gross huh? If you expect to live a “righteous life” with the intent of saying to God “look what I did!” your going to be judged according to what you did and it isn't going to turn out the way you planned.Your works will never be good enough. Faith in Jesus is what saves us and the faith that saves us bears fruit, this fruit doesn’t earn our ticket into heaven, the ticket was paid for and given to us when we believed. The fruit isn’t even ours to claim, it is of the Spirit of God living in us.
So, to sum this up: Mormonism teaches that you’re saved by a combination of grace and works. Christianity teaches that you’re saved by grace alone. So ask yourselves, if you were to die tomorrow would you be going to heaven or hell? Have you repented of every single sin you ever committed? Did you really do all you could do? should you have done more? Or did Jesus do it all for you?