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Ronnie Bray 25:23 & 2 Nephi 25:23 Looks atAnti-Mormon Folly
Aided and abetted by
I have visited MRM's1 webpage addressing 2 Nephi 25:23 and find them like old geysers, blowing lots of steam, spray, and spume out of their blowhole in no particular direction. Their difficulties, all of their own making are linked to the phrase ‘after all we can do.’ The following is the root of their difficulty. When anyone undertakes to pin down a precise and unequivocal interpretation to that phrase by means of a single activity or to a series of activities linked together, they are, in my opinion, stepping outside the remit of the passage. Let us look at the verse in question: For we labour 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 grace2 that we are saved, after all we can do.3 Aaron Shafovaloff, speaking for the MRM opines: “2 Nephi 25:23 is a key text by which Mormons identify and distinguish their view of grace, repentance, works, and merit. It has consistently functioned in Mormonism as a text speaking of the prerequisite conditions for receiving forgiveness, eternal life, and exaltation, although some neo-orthodox Mormon revisionists are attempting to recast it as being about receiving grace in spite of all the conditions that we can't fulfil.”
2 Nephi 25:23 ~ An Impossible Gospel
Says Aaron Shafovaloff
Mormon Research Ministry Ps. 130:4 (3–4); Rom. 3:20 (20–24); 7:5; 2 Ne. 2:5 (4–10); Mosiah 13:32; Alma 42:14 (12–16); D&C 20:30; 138:4. 3 James 2:24 (14–26)
“For we labour 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.”4 2 Nephi 25:23 is a key text by which Mormons identify and distinguish their view of grace, repentance, works, and merit. It has consistently functioned in Mormonism as a text speaking of the prerequisite conditions for receiving forgiveness, eternal life, and exaltation, although some neo-orthodox Mormon revisionists are attempting to recast it as being about receiving grace in spite of all the conditions that we can't fulfil. Mormon leaders and correlated literature continue to perpetuate the traditional interpretation of this passage. From General Conference talks that reference this verse, we glean that "all we can do" means: 1. our own merits 2. all we can do to pay to the uttermost farthing and make right our wrongs" 3. [exert] every ounce of energy 4. [t]rue and complete repentance
repent to fully pay our part of the debt giving all that we can give and doing all that we can do in our present circumstance, and, maximum effort.
2 Nephi 25:23
According to LDS authorities and church-published literature, these conditions are necessary prerequisites
to receive the fullness of the Lord's grace and, be made worthy to dwell with him, to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation, to go into the celestial kingdom, to have the Saviour’s magnificent Atonement [pay] the rest of [our] debt to have God take away our stain and, to get God to take [sins] away from our hearts.”
[End of quote] … The above is Shafovaloff’s exegesis of “For we labour 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.” Is he correct, or does he insert his own meanings into this passage of Scripture?
Is Aaron Right or Not?
Unless Mr Shafovaloff is open to allow Mormons to determine how that verse has functioned for them he will have to abandon his pretence of knowing how Mormons read and view it, and what contribution it makes to their understanding of what God requires of the faithful as preconditions for salvation, and also whether it is a key text for them, or not. If we adopt Shafovaloff’s obvious view that God imposes no prerequisites to candidates for salvation, then we have to abandon the scriptures in favour of the writings of minimalist theologians whose philosophies of Christianity have suffered from too wide an attention to a narrowing and diminishing number of biblical verses at the expense of many more verses that directly controvert their conclusions. The challenge before us and them, that is before Latter-day Saints and Anti-Mormon Christian minimalists, is whether we accept that the Bible is a guide to faith, and that what Jesus and the prophets say have any binding power on the beliefs of those that claim to be disciples of Jesus, to whether the passages within the Holy Bible are no more than optional suggestions that may be laid aside if they get in the way of someone’s pet theological position.
Mr Shafovaloff Further Says:
“From General Conference talks that reference this verse, we glean that “all we can do” means “our own merits”, “all we can do to pay to the uttermost farthing and make right our wrongs”, “[exert] every ounce of energy”, “[t]rue and complete repentance”, “repent to fully pay our part of the debt”, “giving all that we can give and doing all that we can do in our present circumstance”, and “maximum effort”. I can see him stamping his little feet, quite breathless at his ‘gleanings.’ He continues, “According to LDS authorities [Which? Where? and When?] and church-published literature [Which? Where? and Where?], these conditions are necessary prerequisites “to receive the fullness of the Lord's grace and be made worthy to dwell with him”, “to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation”, to “go into the celestial kingdom”, to have “the Saviour’s magnificent Atonement [pay] the rest of [our] debt”, to have God “take away our stain”, and “to get God to take [sins] away from our hearts”. The gentleman has now met himself coming back. For, if he argues, and he does argue most forcibly, that this verse is interpreted by Latter-day Saint authorities to mean that a Mormon must earn his or her salvation by their continuous and untiring actions that he lists as: 1. 2. 3. [Earning salvation by dint of] our own merits, all we can do to pay to the uttermost farthing and make right our wrongs [exerting] every ounce of energy
4. 5. 6. 7.
True and complete repentance, Repenting to fully pay our part of the debt of sin we owe to God Giving all that we can give and doing all that we can do in our present circumstance, And putting forth maximum effort,
Then I condemn his conclusions as false, crass, and deliberately misleading. It is hardly surprising, considering the gentleman’s background that he fails to find anything in Mormonism that argues against his extremism and distortion. It is, however, wholly surprising that he seems unaware of any requirements imposed on Christians by Jesus Christ, his prophets, and apostles that resembles the spirit of 2 Nephi 25:23 within the boards of his Holy Bible. I presume he has a Bible. Let us take Shafovaloff’s objections one by one and correct his misinterpretations by shedding the light of truth on Mormon belief.
Do Mormons believe that salvation is dependent on their own efforts, and that Eternal Salvation is something that they must either earn all by themselves or else do without? Of course they do not, and neither does Jesus. How then does Mr Shafovaloff insist that a person is saved by doing nothing more than resting on divine Grace? Is he aware that when the crowd assembled on the day of Pentecost asked the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do? Peter did not say, “You don’t have to do one single thing. All you have to do now is to sit back and take it easy and God will do the rest for you through Jesus.” Instead of granting them a ‘do-nothing’ licence, Peter said: “Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” “What!” gasps Mr Shafovaloff, eagerly thumbing through his pristine Bible to find where this verse was hidden. “He told them do DO something?” [Acts 2:37-38] Here was a crowd of about three thousand men of Israel, convicted by Peter’s preaching that Jesus was the Christ, their Messiah, and recognising their mistakes about Jesus, they were cut to their hearts
and needed with all their beings to make themselves right before God. Hence their appeal to the Apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we DO?” Peter and the other Apostles knew the answer to their question, and without hesitating to consult with the minimalist theologians that were, even then, troubling the fledgling Church of Jesus Christ, he spoke with authority and told them what Jesus had divinely directed him and his companions to say with the commission and power given to him at his ordination, under the hands of the Saviour of the world: “Repent and be baptised, every one of you. And ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost Bill McKeever, a confederate of Shafovaloff on MRM, itemises the folly of believing what is written in Acts by listing it as ‘a new and peculiar heretical teaching of Alexander Campbell, and one that was not any part of Historical Christianity.’ Campbellites are heretics, McKeever writes, because of their: “Dependence on Acts 2:38 for the sequence of saving actions, which include faith, repentance, baptism, forgiveness of sins, the gift of the Holy Ghost, and appropriate good works to demonstrate persevering to the end, upon which eternal life can be assured.” Little wonder that my spellchecker wanted to change McKeever into ‘Makeover!’ because McKeever castigates Christians that rely on the sacred scriptures and the words of Jesus Christ and of the apostles of Jesus Christ, and arrogantly tags them as heretical beliefs.
To Bible-believing-Christians, and they include Mormons, it is evident that the hand of the Lord Jesus Christ directed and approved of the actions and sayings of his Apostles, and we note that it is the LORD that added to the Church those that would be saved. “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. “And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, ‘Save yourselves from this untoward generation.’ “Then they that gladly received his word were baptised: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. “And they continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. “And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. “And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with
gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. “And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” This fascinating series of events was driven by the Risen Lord Jesus Christ through the Holy Ghost inspiring the Twelve Apostles at the Feast of Pentecost! What MRM sees as an imposition, is actually the word of God to those that would be Christians and which the LORD would save. We ought not to be surprised – although we are! – that those that represent themselves as ‘ministers’ would turn their back on the divine word, on the Apostles, and on the activities of the Holy Spirit of God, and turn their hands to other distortions besides criticising and finding fault with Historical Christianity. Dare I suggest that these gentlemen are underemployed and stuck for something important to say, and so they fit the mould of those against whom the Bible gives us warning when it tells us that, “Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” [Acts 20:30]. This day is this scripture fulfilled in thy sight by Shafovaloff and McKeever. It is unavoidable that we recognise that those that ‘should be saved,’ were engaged in a series of activities recognised as appropriate and essential for all other Christians to imitate. These are listed by Saint Luke as: 1. 2. Repentance Baptism by Immersion for the Remission of sins
5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18.
Receipt of the gift of the Holy Ghost by the imposition of the hands of the Apostles They were also instructed to ‘Save [themselves] from this untoward generation,’ a further demand that they become positive actors in their own salvation after fulfilling the first fours Apostolic requirements of Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost, including: Continuing steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine Enjoying Christian fellowship Breaking bread together in communal meals Prayers – ‘the Christian’s native breath’ And all that believed were together Having all things common Selling their surplus possessions and goods Giving charitable gifts to all men according to need. Continuing daily with one accord in the temple breaking bread from house to house eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart Praising God Having favour with all the people. Being added to the church of God because they would be saved.
Of this event, John Wesley wrote: “So their [early Christians] daily Church communion consisted in these four particulars: 1. 2. 3. 4. Hearing the word; Having all things common; Receiving the Lord's Supper; Prayer. “Ye diff'rent sects, who all declare, Lo here is Christ, and Christ is there;
Your stronger proofs divinely give, And show me where true Christians live!” [John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes on Acts 2] Obviously, with their distaste for following the direction of the Word of God they are unlikely to be found within the confines of the Mormon Research Ministry. We should not doubt that primitive Anti-Christians accused Early Christians of being a weird cult that followed a charismatic leader, and were transformed from what they had been, faithful Jews, into something novel, for so they were! But following Jesus and his Apostles is not grounds to label these early Christians as heretics to be led away and burned at the stake! But that character into which quondam Jews and pagans were changed was exactly that which was commanded by God and Jesus Christ. Shafovaloff and McKeever would have you believe that God and Jesus are absolutely wrong or else they are misunderstood. To the Law and Testimony! The call to discipleship extended to all by Jesus and his representatives to all mankind is not a call to idleness. Christianity is no pipe dream, no pathological affectation of the mind, but a faith that required all of a man or woman that there was to them. Jesus gave more than broad hints when he preached his Gospel of Salvation, and he did not say, “Just leave everything to me. You sit back and enjoy yourselves. Watch the parade go by and I’ll take care of you when the time comes!” That kind of religiose minimalist absurd theology has nothing to do with God or Jesus.
What, exactly, did Jesus say he expected from Christians. To those that preach that all Jesus said about our eternal salvation was “Only believe and do nothing else!” “Confess me as your LORD and then you can go to sleep!” Jesus gave a stark and unmistakeable warning. Not every one that saith unto me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ [the Confession of Jesus as LORD] shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.5 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Paul agreed: "It is not those who hear the law who are righteous in God's sight, but it is those who obey the law who will be declared righteous.6 Jesus commends almsgiving, marking that which is done in the right spirit as leading to a reward from God. Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: that thine alms may be in
secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.7 Jesus did not forbid Christians to give alms. He encouraged almsgiving when it was done in the proper spirit. In 1 Peter 1:3-6, the head of the College of Apostles gives a call to action redolent of those given by the master. Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind [ACTION!], be sober [ACTION!], and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ [ACTION!]; as obedient children [ACTION!], not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: but as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation [ACTION!]; because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy. Here, Christians are directed to imitate Almighty God. Of course, Peter, one of the most human of the apostles, knew that perfection in toto was impossible in this life. Nonetheless he directs Christians to strive to become perfect, just as Jesus did when he charged Christians, “Be ye, therefore, perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.”8 Is this an example of a commandment that cannot be kept? Does Almighty God make commandments knowing that frail humanity cannot keep them, or is it merely divine torment as the Olympian gods employed to sport with humanity for amusement?
Matthew 6.1-4 Matthew 5:39
If that is what these Minimalist Anti-Mormon gentlemen believe, do they also believe that Saint Paul is in on the joke and that he directly and deliberately set out to mislead Christians when he wrote, “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear [withstand] it”?9
1 Corinthians 10:13
All We Can Do
‘[A]ll we can do’ [means that Mormons believe we have] to pay to the uttermost farthing and make right our wrongs. Oops! Not even a complete idiot could make that mistake, and being a professional Anti-Mormon is no excuse for building a straw man out of fog and mist, if you’ll pardon the mixed metaphor. Well, I suppose that makes it a ‘fog and mist man!’ Mormons accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Redeemer, and are conscious of the fact that someone that has no debt for a Redeemer to settle has no need of a Redeemer.
Exerting Every Ounce of Energy
Latter-day Saints are the possible to outlive the constantly exert ‘every serving God, no human herself. first to acknowledge that even if it were extraordinary effort it would take to ounce of energy’ in worshipping and being could do enough to save him or
This is acknowledged by Latter-day Saints in a key scripture from the second chapter of Mosiah in Book of Mormon: 20 I say unto you, my brethren, that if you should render all the thanks and praise which your whole soul has power to possess, to that God who has created you, and has kept and preserved you, and has caused that ye should rejoice, and has granted that ye should live in peace one with another— 21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants. Being an unprofitable servant means that no matter what we do we could not extricate ourselves from the debt we owe to the LORD for his gift of eternal life. There is not sense of having to pay the ‘uttermost farthing,’ or ‘right all our personal wrongs.’ If we could do that, then we would have no need for a Saviour. I have yet to meet a Mormon that believes they can save themselves except by the Grace of God and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. In gratitude for these gifts, Mormons worship God and do all they can to be obedient to the LORD Jesus Christ. That Shafovaloff and
McKeever find cause for derision at our doing so speaks volumes about their characters. Nevertheless, nothing they can invent will ever beat the truth. The fate of the ‘unprofitable servant’ in the parable of the talents is said by Jesus to be consignment, “ … into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” [Matthew 25:30] The title, ‘unprofitable servant,’ is identified in the parable and in the outstanding commentary, ‘Barnes' Notes on the Bible,’ thus: “The spiritual meaning of the parable may be thus summed up: 1. The servants of God are not all endowed with equal gifts and talents. 2. All, whatever may be their ability, are bound to employ their talents in promoting his honour, and in a proper improvement of them. 3. By employing their talents in a proper manner, they improve and strengthen them. 4. They will be judged according to the improvements which they have made. 5. All sinners look on God as a hard master, and as unreasonable and tyrannical. 6. People will be judged not merely for "doing wrong, but for neglecting to do right."
7. If the servant who kept the talent entire without injuring it, and who returned it to his master as he received it, was nevertheless judged, condemned, and cast away, what must they expect who abuse their talents, destroy by drunkenness and lust the noble faculties conferred on them, and squander the property that might be employed in advancing the interests of morals and religion! Clearly, the Reverend Dr Barnes is at odds with MRM’s AntiMormon Ministry in its understanding of the Sacred Scripture, to which, they allege, they look to establish what they must do to be saved. Shall we follow the noble Bible scholar whose life was spent teaching Christians how to be better Christians. Or shall we follow Shafovaloff and McKeever into the depths of the unbiblical murky ditch?
True and complete repentance,
What is ‘true and complete repentance’? Is it that course which, when followed assiduously leads a person out of his sins and enables him or her to stand purified and righteous before God? The use of the word ‘true’ is an identifier that someone is using dishonest thinking. Either repentance is ‘true’ or else it is not repentance. When Jesus calls his people to repentance, as he frequently does, does he call them to ‘true’ repentance or to an inferior, substandard imitation of repentance? Is a repentance that is not complete really repentance? Should Latter-day Saints and other Christians try to use a nongenuine, moth-eaten repentance that is an attempt to pull a fast one on Jesus? That suggestion from the Brothers Grim is reminiscent of the pagan Omar Khayyam’s ‘Rubaiyat’ in which he excuses his insincere contrition: Indeed, repentance oft before I swore. But, was I sober when I swore? And by and by comes Spring with rose in hand And my threadbare penitence apieces tore! The words of Christ concerning repentance ring in the ears of Christians that are not seeking for paltry excuses to do nothing after they have come to Christ. We look at a few examples. If we find that they are given to us by an Insincere Saviour who does not mean what he says, then we will be right to ignore them and follow Shafovaloff and McKeever. Otherwise, we should trust and obey,
for there’s no other way to be happy with Jesus than to trust and obey. That hymn has been sung by Christians for more than a century. Hymn No. 467. Trust and Obey 1. When we walk with the Lord in the light of his word, what a glory he sheds on our way! While we do his good will, he abides with us still, and with all who will trust and obey. Refrain: Trust and obey, for there's no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey. 2. Not a burden we bear, not a sorrow we share, but our toil he doth richly repay; not a grief or a loss, not a frown or a cross, but is blest if we trust and obey. (Refrain) 3. But we never can prove the delights of his love until all on the altar we lay; for the favour he shows, for the joy he bestows, are for them who will trust and obey. (Refrain)
4. Then in fellowship sweet we will sit at his feet, or we'll walk by his side in the way; what he says we will do, where he sends we will go; never fear, only trust and obey. (Refrain) 10 Latter-day Saints join in wholeheartedly with Mr Sammis, and believe Jesus when he said it takes more than calling on the name of the Lord to be saved: Jesus told us it also took obedience to the ‘will of the Father.’ “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.11 One of the things Jesus said was the will of his Father for Christians is that they should repent. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.12 “I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to turn away from her immorality.”13
10 11 12 13
Text: John H. Sammis, 1846-1919, Music: Daniel B. Towner, 1850-1919
Matthew 7 Revelation 2:5 Revelation 2:21
"The time has come," he said. "The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!"14. “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” [Matthew 3:2] “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. [Revelation 3:3] “Repent therefore! Repent of your sin, or I will come to you suddenly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.” [Revelation 2:16] So the disciples went out, telling everyone they met to repent of their sins and turn to God. .[ Mark 6:12].. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent.15 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out.16 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord.17 Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you .shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.18
14 15 16 17 18
Mark 1:15] Acts 17:30 Acts 3:19 Acts 8:22 Acts 2:38
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near19 ... I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."20 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent21. Therefore I despise myself and repent in dust and ashes."22 [They] cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done. They did not repent of their deeds23. Who will argue against repentance before and after becoming a Christian when Jesus speaks so often and so fittingly of repentance as a principle that all full-hearted Christians must obey? Will you follow Jesus, or will you follow false teachers?
Matthew 4:17 Luke 13:5 21 Revelation 3:19 22 Job 42:6 23 Revelation 16:11
Repenting to fully pay our part of the debt of sin we owe to God
Again crooked thinking invites us to believe that a debt that is not paid ‘fully’ is paid. Crafty use of semantic traps are the hallmark of the dishonest. God does not require ‘full’ payment. That is why he has caused a Saviour and Redeemer to be there for us. According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love.24 Divine election to salvation is in Christ the Redeemer. The crown of divine sovereignty is redemption. God rules the world to save it. He provided a Redeemer and Saviour, who is Jesus Christ. You can be forgiven of your sins through the Atonement of Jesus Christ by the process of repentance. Because Heavenly Father knew we would sometimes make wrong choices, He provided a way for us to be forgiven of our sins. “For God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son that whosoever believeth in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.”25 Jesus Christ is the literal Son of God. His birth, life, death, and resurrection fulfilled the many prophecies contained in the scriptures concerning the coming of a Saviour. He was the Creator, He is our Saviour, and He will be our Judge.26
Ephesians 1:4 John 3:16 26 Isaiah 9:6, 53:3-7; Psalms 22:16-18
What Mormons Believe About Jesus Christ
Under the direction of our Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ created the earth.27 When Jesus lived on the earth, He led a perfect life. He taught by word and example how people should live in love of God and others. Through His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and by giving His life on the cross—that is, by performing the Atonement — Jesus Christ saves us from our sins28 as we follow Him. Because of the Atonement, we can be forgiven of our sins when we repent.29 Through His Resurrection, Jesus Christ saved us from death. Because He overcame death, we will all be given the gift of resurrection, that is to say our spirits will be eternally re-united with our bodies.30 When life on this earth is over, Jesus Christ will be the final Judge.31 Latter-day Saints believe that Jesus is the Son of God, as related in the Scriptures, and that he is the only begotten of the Father in the flesh, born to Mary, and so is both divine and human. Jesus was known as Jehovah in the Old Testament, and is the Mediator between God and man. Apostle Bruce R McConkie gave his inspiring testimony thirteen days before he died. "I feel, and the Spirit seems to accord, that the most important doctrine I can declare, and the most
John 1:10; Hebrews 1:2 1 Peter 2:21 29 Book of Mormon, Mosiah 26:30 30 Acts 24:15; 1 Corinthians 15:22 31 Acts 17:31; John 5:21-22; Acts 10:42
powerful testimony I can bear is one of the atoning sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ. His atonement is the most transcendent event that ever has or ever will occur, from creation's dawn and through all the ages of a never ending eternity. It was the supreme act of goodness and grace that only a God could perform. Through it all the terms and conditions of the Father's Plan became operative. Through it was brought to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. Through it, all men are saved from death, hell, the devil, and endless torment. Through it all men who believe and obey the glorious gospel of God, those who are true and faithful and overcome the world, all who suffer for Christ and his word, all who are chastened and scourged in the cause in which we are, all shall become as their maker and sit with him on his throne and reign with him forever in everlasting glory. In speaking of these wondrous things, I will use my own words. Though you might think these are the words of scripture, words spoken by other Apostles and Prophets, true it is that they were first proclaimed by others, but they are now mine. For the Holy Spirit of God has born witness to me that they are true and it is now as though the Lord has revealed them to me in the first instance. I have thereby heard his voice and know his word. Two thousand years ago, outside of Jerusalem's walls, there was a pleasant Garden spot, Gethsemane by name, where Jesus and his intimate friends were want to retire for pondering and prayer. There Jesus taught his disciples the
doctrines of the Kingdom and all of them communed with him who is the Father of us all in whose ministry they were engaged and on who's errand they served. This sacred spot like Eden where Adam dwelt, like Sinai where Jehovah gave his law, like Calvary where the Son of God gave his life as a ransom for many, this holy ground is where the sinless Son of the Everlasting Father to upon himself the sins of all men on conditions of repentance. We do not know we cannot tell, no mortal mind can conceive the full import of what Christ did in Gethsemane. We know he sweat great gouts of blood from every pore as he drained the dregs of that bitter cup his Father had given him. We know he suffered both body and spirit more than it is possible for man to suffer except it be unto death. We know that in some way incomprehensible to us, his suffering satisfied the demands of justice, ransoms penitent souls from the pains and penalties of sin and made mercy available to those who believe on his holy name. We know that he lay prostrate upon the ground as the pains and agony of an infinite burden caused him to tremble and would that he might not drink of the bitter cup. We know that an angel came from the courts of Glory to strengthen him in his ordeal. And we suppose that it was mighty Michael who foremost fell that man might be. As near as we can judge, these infinite agonies, the suffering beyond compare continued for some three or four hours. After this, his body then wrenched and drained of strength, he confronted Judas and the other incarnate devils, some from the very Sanhedrin itself
and he was led away with a rope around his neck as a common criminal to be judged by the arch criminals who as Jews sat in Aaron's seat and who as Romans wielded Caesar's power. They took him to Annas, to Caiaphas, to Pilot, to Herod, and back to Pilot. He was accused cursed and smitten. Their foul saliva ran down his face as vicious blows further weakened his pain engulfed body. With reeds of wrath, they laid blows upon his back. Blood ran down his face as a crown of thorns pierced his trembling brow. But above it all he was scourged, scourged with forty stripes save one. Scourged with a multi-thonged whip in to whose leather strands sharp bones and cutting metals were woven. Many die from the scourging alone, but he arose from the sufferings of the scourge that he might die an ignominious death upon the cross, the cruel cross of Calvary. Then he carried his own cross until he collapsed from the weight and pain and mounting agony of it all. Finally on hill called Calvary, again it was outside Jerusalem's walls, while helpless disciples looked on and felt the agonies of near death in their own bodies, the Roman Soldiers laid him upon the cross. With great malice, they drove spikes of iron through his feet and hands and wrists. Truly he was wounded for our transgressions and bruised for our iniquities. Then the cross was raised that all might see and gape and curse and deride. This they did with evil venom for three hours from 9 a.m. until noon. The heavens grew black, darkness covered the land for the space of three hours as it did among the Nephites. There was a mighty storm as though the very God of nature was in agony, and truly he
was for while hanging on the cross for another three hours, from noon until 3 pm, all the infinite agonies and merciless pains of Gethsemane reoccurred. And finally when the atoning agonies had taken their toll, when the victory had been won, when the Son of God had fulfilled the will of God in all things he said "It is finished" and he voluntarily gave up the ghost. As the peace and comfort of a merciful death freed him from the pains and sorrows of mortality he entered the Paradise of God. When he had made his soul an offering for sin he was prepared to see his seed according the Messianic word. These consisting of all the Holy Prophets and Faithful Saints from ages past, these comprising of all those who took upon them his name and who being spiritually begotten by him had become his sons and daughters even as it is with us. All these were assembled in the Spirit World there to see his face and hear his voice. After some 38 or 40 hours, three days as the Jews measure time, our blessed Lord came to the Arimathæan’s tomb where his partially embalmed body had been placed by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathæa. Then in a way incomprehensible to us he took up that body which had not yet seen corruption, and rose in that glorious immortality which made him like his resurrected Father. He then received all power in Heaven and on Earth, obtained Eternal Exaltation, appeared to Mary Magdalene and many others, and ascended into Heaven. There to sit down on the right hand of God the Father almighty, there to reign forever in eternal glory.
His rising from death on the third day Crowned the Atonement. Again, in some way incomprehensible to us the affects of his Resurrection pass upon all men so that all shall rise from the grave. As Adam brought death, so Christ brought life. As Adam is the father of mortality, so Christ is the father of immortality. And without both, mortality and immortality, man cannot work out his salvation and ascend to those heights beyond the skies where God and angels reign forever in Eternal Glory. Now the Atonement of Christ is the basic fundamental of the Gospel and it is the least understood of all our revealed truths. Many of us have a superficial knowledge and rely upon the Lord and his goodness to see us through the trials and perils of life. But if we are to have faith as Enoch and Elijah, we must believe what they believed, and know what they knew, and live as they lived. May I invite you to join with me in gaining a sound and sure knowledge of the Atonement? We must cast aside the philosophies of men and the wisdom of the wise and hearken to that Spirit which is given to us to guide us into all truth. We must search the scriptures accepting them as the mind and will and voice of the Lord and the very power of God unto salvation. As we read ponder and pray there will come to our minds a view of the three gardens of God. The Garden of Eden, the Garden of Gethsemane, and the Garden of the empty Tomb where Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene. In Eden we will see all things
created in a paradisiacal state without death without procreation without probationary experiences. We will come to know that such a creation now unknown to man was the only way to provide for the fall. We will then see Adam and Eve the first man the woman step down from their immortal and paradisiacal glory to become the first mortal flesh on earth. Mortality including as it does procreation and death enter the world. And, because of transgression, a probationary state of trial and testing will begin. Then in Gethsemane we will see the Son of God ransom man from the temporal and spiritual death which came to us because of the fall. And finally, before an empty tomb we will come to know that Christ our Lord has burst the bands of death and stands forever triumphant over the grave. Thus, creation is father to the fall, and by the fall came mortality and death. And by Christ came immortality and eternal life. If there had been no fall of Adam by which cometh death, there could have been no Atonement by which cometh life. And now as pertaining to this perfect Atonement, I testify that it took place at Gethsemane and at Golgotha. And as pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that pertaining to Jesus Christ, I testify that he is the Son of the Living God who was crucified for the sins of the world. He is our Lord, our God, and our King. This I know of myself independent of any other person. I am one of his Witnesses. And in the coming day, I will feel the nail marks in his hands
and in his feet and shall wet his feet with my tears. But I shall not know any better then than I know now that he is God's almighty Son and he is our Saviour and Redeemer and that Salvation comes in and through his atoning blood and in no other way. God grant that all of us will walk in the light, as God our Father is in the light so that according to his promises the blood of Jesus Christ his son will cleanse us from all sin. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ Amen. McConkie also penned the hymn-testimony, “I Believe In Christ.” I believe in Christ; he is my King! With all my heart to him I’ll sing; I’ll raise my voice in praise and joy, In grand amens my tongue employ. I believe in Christ; he is God’s Son; On earth to dwell his soul did come; He healed the sick; the dead he raised. Good works were his; his name be praised. I believe in Christ; oh, blessed name, As Mary’s Son he came to reign ‘Mid mortal men, his earthly kin, To save them from the woes of sin. I believe in Christ, who marked the path, Who did gain all his Father hath, Who said to men: “Come, follow me, That ye, my friends, with God may be.”
I believe in Christ—my Lord, my God! My feet he plants on gospel sod; I’ll worship him with all my might; He is the source of truth and light. I believe in Christ; he ransoms me. From Satan’s grasp he sets me free, And I shall live with joy and love In his eternal courts above. I believe in Christ; he stands supreme! From him I’ll gain my fondest dream; And while I strive through grief and pain, His voice is heard: “Ye shall obtain.” I believe in Christ, so come what may, With him I’ll stand in that great day When on this earth he comes again To rule among the sons of men.32 We are constrained to ask why Shavofaloff and McKeever, Tanner and McElveen, Geer and Budvarson, Decker and Hunt, Walters and Martin, Tryke and Eryl Davies, and their admirers, consistently ignore the robust and scholarly works that defend Mormons and their beliefs as Christian, and spend their resources in hostile endeavours to paint Mormons and Mormonism in the worst possible light. Apart from some of them becoming millionaires by the sale of their pejorative products, they make little impression upon Mormons or on Mormonism. Regarding the subject of Christian anti-Mormonism, Richard Mouw, President of the Fuller Theological Seminary, stated in an address he gave in the LDS Tabernacle in Salt Lake City,
LDS Hymns, No. 134
“I am now convinced that we... have often seriously misrepresented the beliefs and practices of the Mormon community. Indeed, let me state it bluntly to the LDS folks here this evening: we have sinned against you. The God of the Scriptures makes it clear that it is a terrible thing to bear false witness against our neighbors, and we have been guilty of that sort of transgression in things we have said about you. We have told you what you believe without making a sincere effort first of all to ask you what you believe...Indeed, we have even on occasion demonized you, weaving conspiracy theories about what the LDS community is 'really' trying to accomplish in the world.33 Similar pleas have been issued by David Rowe,34 Carl Mosser, Francis J. Beckwith, Paul Owen,35 Craig Blomberg,36 and others. Some church and parachurch groups have also made efforts to repair relations with the Mormons. In the 1980s, Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority "took some small steps toward Evangelical-Mormon cooperation for a shared social, political, and ethical agenda."37
Mouw, Richard (2005-01-15). "'We Have Sinned Against You'" I Love Mormons: A New Way to Share Christ with Latter-day Saints. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker 35 (2002). The New Mormon Challenge. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan. 36 Blomberg, Craig and Stephen E. Robinson (1997). How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 37 Blomberg, Craig and Stephen E. Robinson (1997). How Wide the Divide? A Mormon and an Evangelical in Conversation. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity,
More recently, a Pentecostal congregation in Provo, Utah held a public ceremony of repentance for its negative attitudes and actions toward the Latter-day Saint community.38 In 2001 the organization ‘Standing Together,’ based in Lehi, UT, was founded by a Baptist minister for the purpose of "building bridges of relationship and dialogue with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints."39 Standing Together hosts public seminars in which Evangelical scholar Greg Johnson and LDS scholar Robert Millet “communicate how they have maintained their friendship and at the same time discussed candidly their theological differences and concerns for one another.”40 Standing Together is acknowledged and highly regarded for their actions at Latter-day Saint General Conference where they really do stand together, taking up spaces to deny their use by those who attend to harass, insult, and to be otherwise disruptive.41
Dean Merrill, "A Peacemaker in Provo," Christianity Today, February 2000 Johnson, Greg. "About Us" 40 Faith Dialogue" standingtogether.org. 41 Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Mormonism
Giving all that we can give and doing all that we can do in our present circumstance,
Mormonism has been well described as ‘a work-a-day religion.’ It is a faith that inspires powerful faith in God and His Christ, and in honouring them by obedience to their commandments. That this is seen as wrong in the eyes of some critics, then that is their misfortune. We are sorry for them, but we will continue to follow Jesus and not be turned aside to their fables in fulfilment of Paul’s prophecy of a coming apostasy. And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.42 Too bad that these fable-peddlers seek only to tear down and destroy and provoke others to anger against a people that follow God and Christ as faithfully as they can, trusting in the promises of God to save them. Whenever God, Jesus, or his spokesmen encourage us to do good, we strive to do it. That Shavofaloff sees our striving as evidence of Satan is something that he mkust deal with, but as for us and our houses, we will serve the Lord as the Lord commands, and not as Shavofaloff urges us to ignore Almighty God.
2 Timothy 4:4
For We Are His Workmanship
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 ‘Unto good works’ - With reference to a holy life; or, the design for which we have been created in Christ is, that we should lead a holy life. The primary object was not to bring us to heaven. It was that we should be "holy." Paul held perhaps more firmly than any other man, to the position that people are saved by the mere grace of God, and by a divine agency on the soul; but it is certain that no man ever held more firmly that people must lead holy lives, or they could have no evidence that they were the children of God. ‘Which God hath before ordained’ - The word used here προετοιμαζω proetoimazō- occurs in the New Testament nowhere else except in Romans 9:23, where it is rendered "had afore prepared." It involves the idea of a previous determination, or an arrangement beforehand for securing a certain result. The previous preparation here referred to was, the divine intention; and the meaning is, that God had predetermined that we should lead holy lives. It accords, therefore, with the declaration in Ephesians 1:4, that he had chosen his people before the foundation of the world that they should be holy.43 “We are created in Christ Jesus unto good works. He has saved us that we may show forth the virtues of Him who called us from darkness into his marvelous light. For though we are not saved for our good works, yet we are saved that we may perform good works, to the glory of God and the benefit of man. Which God hath before ordained - Οις προητοιμασες· For which God before ̔
Barnes' Notes on the Bible - Ephesians 2:10
prepared us, that we might walk in them. For being saved from sin we are made partakers of the Spirit of holiness; and it is natural to that Spirit to lead to the practice of holiness; and he who is not holy in his life is not saved by the grace of Christ. The before ordaining, or rather preparing, must refer to the time when God began the new creation in their hearts; for from the first inspiration of God upon the soul it begins to love holiness; and obedience to the will of God is the very element in which a holy or regenerated soul lives.”44 [Emphasis added] We need hardly labour this point since the Bible and reputable Bible scholars plainly identify what God intends, even though the MRM – for reasons best known to itself – loudly disagrees with the Almighty and the rest of Christendom!
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible – Ephesians 2:10
Putting Forth Maximum Effort.
MRM makes it sinful to even try a bit, a medium amount, or a lot, when it comes to following Jesus and his Word. However, Jesus advises us differently than Shafovaloff and McKeever and other of their cult cronies. Is Jesus wrong? MRM says he is, and says he is wrong at the top of their voice! This is what Jesus tells his disciples to do. 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. 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? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.45 MRM says we need not do the will of the Father, but Jesus says we must. Who will you follow, Shafovaloff or McKeever or Jesus Christ? Not every one - Ου πας, a Hebraism for ‘no person’ having the force of ‘no one.’ Clarke in his excellent Commentary on the Bible offers, “The sense of this verse seems to be this: Jesus says, ‘No person, by merely acknowledging my authority, believing in the Divinity of my nature, professing faith in the perfection of my righteousness, and
infinite merit of my atonement, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven - shall have any part with God in glory; but he who doeth the will of my Father – [that is,] he who gets the bad tree rooted up, the good tree planted, and continues to bring forth fruit to the glory and praise of God. “There is a good saying among the rabbins on this subject: ‘A man should be as vigorous as a panther, as swift as an eagle, as fleet as a stag, and as strong as a lion, to do the will of his Creator.’”46 Despite this being known, MRM insists that cheap grace and inactive faith is all that is require to get you into heaven. They encourage idleness, which is something neither God, Jesus, or their apostles ever do. How does Paul render his credentials? “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.”47 Why would Paul have to fight a good fight if it were not required of Christians? Why would he have to finish his course of such were not required of the faithful? Why would he even have to keep the faith if MRM’s theology of ‘once saved always saved,’ were in force? While on the subject we might also ask why Saint Paul, the
Clarke, Commentary on the Bible 2 Timothy 4:6-8
Apostle to the Gentiles, talks like a Mormon? Why do other apostles, and Jesus Christ himself do the same? Are they Mormons? Evidently these holy men of ages past have more in common with latter-day Saints than they do with MRMs, M&Ms, Shavofaloffists, and McKeeverites. Hear ye them: Says Paul, “ον αγυνα τον καλον ηγωνισμαι,”· meaning, “I have wrestled that good wrestling – I have struggled hard, and have overcome, in a most honourable cause.” Why did he if it was unnecessary? Is he denying the easy grace and quick, easy, salvation of once=-saved-always-saved-no-matterwhat-you-do that is redolent of Gnosticism? The Gnostic doctrine was ‘Love and do as you will,” which was a licence for immorality and false doctrine. Yet here we have two big shots in the AntiMormon phalanx advocating the same false gospel. How are we to explain their departure from the faith, unless we take note of what Paul wrote? “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.”48 “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. But watch thou in all things, endure
afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”49 Paul defines a time coming to the Christian Church of Jesus Christ when men will not believe the Gospel of practical truths that make demands on them, but they will come to prefer speculative opinions, which can do no good to the soul, and will, if adopted and followed, corrupt and destroy the souls of men, contrary to that wholesome life-giving doctrine of "deny thyself, take up thy cross and follow me,"50 which Jesus Christ set firmly in place in his Church. But after their own lusts – For these false teachers they will follow, and hate those preachers and that doctrine by which they are opposed even though it came from the mouth of Jesus Christ, and from inspired men taught by Jesus and by the Holy Ghost. Shall they heap to themselves teachers – They will add one teacher to another, run and gad about after all to fins pleasing speakers and flatterers, to find out those who insist not on the necessity of bearing the cross, nor of their willingly being crucified to the world, nor of having the mind that was in Jesus. In this disposition interested men often make their own way, as they suppose, to heaven, bypassing the rigours of the Christian life as a disciple of Jesus Christ, willing to do what he did, suffer as he suffered, that they might eventually be glorified with him at the side of his Father in heaven. These big men, giants in their own eyes, set themselves up as teachers of the Word of God, “and widen and strew with flowers the broad path that goes down to eternal ruin,” taking care to soothe the passions and flatter the vices of a trifling, superficial
2 Timothy 4:3-5 Mark 10:21
people whose faith does not compel them to do what is right and good, even though Jesus Christ himself commands them so to do.
Witness For The Defence
My final witness is another strange non-Mormon ‘Mormon,’ German Theologian Dietrich Bonheoffer, who wrote the compelling book, ‘The Cost of Discipleship,’ a classic of Christian thought. The original title is Nachfolge (Discipleship) and centres around an exposition of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in which Bonheoffer spells out for us what he believes it means to follow Christ. Bonheoffer’s theology of costly discipleship developed in the years of the rise of Nazi power and out of his personal his response to Nazism, opposition to which led to his death. The essence of his notion of Costly as opposed to Cheap Grace is summed up thus: “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.” In other words, Cheap Grace is to hear the gospel preached as follows: “Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness. The main defect of such a proclamation is that it contains no demand for discipleship. In contrast to this is Costly Grace: “… confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit
and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Bonheoffer argued that as Christianity spread, the Church became increasingly ‘secularised,’ accommodating the demands of obedience to Jesus to the lesser requirements of a society in which faith became weakened to the point where it was something parsons talked about and people listened to, but few did anything with their faith, and so the light of their faith dimmed and failed. In this way, “the world was Christianised, and grace became its common property.” The hazard of this was that the gospel was cheapened, and the necessity of obedience to the living Christ was misplaced and lost under a thick coating of prescription and ceremonial, so that in the end, grace was literally sold for coin and profit. But that Cheap Grace is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, nor is it Mormonism, the Gospel of Jesus Christ restored to a tired and seeking world that has been led astray by the likes of the Mormon Research Ministry and their for sale Cheap Grace, Cheap Gospel, and their do-nothing programme of lie back and let Jesus do everything for you, but from, you, nothing at all is asked or required. Instant Salvation sits on their market shelves alongside instant coffee, instant cereal, and instant confusion. Have they not heard what Jesus warned them of? “Not everyone that calls on my name, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but only those that do the will of my Father in heaven.”
“But, Lord, we have done wonderful things in your name! You can’t not let us in!” And then shall I say unto them: “Depart from me, I never knew you, ye workers of iniquity.” Hey there, friend, are you willing to risk it?
What The Holy Bible Says
Shafovaloff urges Christians not to strive for their salvation. Jesus tells Christians to do the opposite. ‘Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.’51 Saint Jude was equally convincing. Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called: Mercy unto you, and peace, and love, be multiplied. Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints, For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day. Even as Sodom
and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire. Likewise also these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities. Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee. But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great
swelling words, having men's persons in admiration because of advantage. But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life. And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh. Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.52 The word here rendered "earnestly contend" - επαγωνιζεσθαι ̓ epagonizesthai - is one of those words used by the sacred writers ̄ which have allusion to the Grecian games. It means "to contend upon" and is applicable to the earnest effort put forth in those games to obtain the prize. The reference here, of course, is only to contention by argument, by reasoning, by holding fast the principles of religion, and maintaining them against all opposers. It would not justify "contention" by arms, by violence, or by persecution; because:
The Epistle of Jude
(a) that is contrary to the spirit of true religion, and to the requirements of the gospel elsewhere revealed; (b) it is not demanded by the proper meaning of the word, all that that fairly implies being the effort to maintain truth by argument and by a steady life; (c) it is not the most effectual way to keep up truth in the world to attempt to do it by force and arms. For the faith - The system of religion revealed in the gospel. It is called "faith," because that is the cardinal virtue in the system, and because all depends on that. The rule here will require that we should contend in this manner for all "truth." Barnes,53 in his ‘Notes on The Bible,’ explains what St Paul meant when he said, ‘Work out your own salvation.’ This important command was first addressed to Christians, but there is no reason why the same command should not be regarded as addressed to all - for it is equally applicable to all. The duty of doing this [working out our own salvation] is enjoined here; the reason for making the effort, or the encouragement for the effort, is stated in the next verse. In regard to the command here, it is natural to inquire why it is a duty; and what is necessary to be done in order to comply with it?
Albert Barnes (b. 1798, d. 24 Dec. 1870) was an American theologian who graduated Hamilton College, Clinton, New York in 1820, and Princeton Theological Seminary in 1823. He was ordained in 1825 as a Presbyterian minister. Born in Rome, New York, Barnes was pastor of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown, New Jersey from 1825-30, and the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia from 1830-67. He never was a Mormon, although his views of what Christian discipleship means clearly align with Mormonism’s views of Christian discipleship.
On the first of these inquiries, it may be observed that it is a duty to make a personal effort to secure salvation, or to work out our salvation: (1) Because God commands it. There is no command more frequently repeated in the Scriptures, than the command to make to ourselves a new heart; to strive to enter in at the strait gate; to break off from sin, and to repent. (2) it is a duty because it is our own personal interest that is at stake. No one else has, or can have, as much interest in our salvation as we have. It is every person's duty to be as happy as possible here, and to be prepared for eternal happiness in the future world. No person has a right either to throw away his life or his soul. He has no more right to do the one than the other; and if it is a person's duty to endeavour to save his life when in danger of drowning, it is no less his duty to endeavour to save his soul when in danger of hell. (3) our earthly friends cannot save us. No effort of theirs can deliver us from eternal death without our own exertion. Great as may be their solicitude for us, and much as they may do, there is a point where their efforts must stop - and that point is always short of our salvation, unless we are roused to seek salvation. They may pray, and weep, and plead, but they cannot save us. There is a work to be done on our own hearts which they cannot do. (4) it is a duty, because the salvation of the soul will not take care of itself without an effort on our part. There is no more reason to suppose this than that health and life will take care of themselves without our own exertion. And yet many live as if they supposed that somehow all would yet be well; that the matter of salvation need not give them any concern, for that things will so arrange themselves that they will be saved. Why should they suppose this anymore in regard to religion than in regard to anything else?
(5) it is a duty, because there is no reason to expect the divine interposition without our own effort. No such interposition is promised to any man, and why should he expect it? In the case of all who have been saved, they have made an effort - and why should we expect that God will favour us more than he did them? "God helps them who help themselves," and what reason has any man to suppose that he will interfere in his case and save him, if he will put forth no effort to "work out his own salvation?" In regard to the other inquiry - What does the command imply; or what is necessary to be done in order to comply with it? We may observe, that it does not mean: (a) that we are to attempt to deserve salvation on the ground of merit. That is out of the question; for what can man do that shall be an equivalent for eternal happiness in heaven? Nor, (b) does it mean that we are to endeavour to make atonement for past sins. That would be equally impossible, and it is, besides, unnecessary. That work has been done by the great Redeemer. But it means: (i) that we are to make an honest effort to be saved in the way which God has appointed; (ii) that we are to break off from our sins by true repentance; (iii) that we are to believe in the Saviour, and honestly to put our trust in him; (iv) that we are to give up all that we have to God; (v) that we are to break away from all evil companions and evil plans of life; and,
(vi) that we are to resist all the allurements of the world, and all the temptations which may assail us that would lead us back from God, and are to persevere unto the end. The great difficulty in working out salvation is in forming a purpose to begin at once. When that purpose is formed, salvation is easy. ‘With fear and trembling’ - That is, with that kind of anxiety which one has who feels that he has an important interest at stake, and that he is in danger of losing it. The reason or the ground for "fear" in this case is in general this: there is danger of losing the soul. (1) so many persons make shipwreck of all hope and perish, that there is danger that we may also. (2) there are so many temptations and allurements in the world, and so many things that lead us to defer attention to religion, that there is danger that we may be lost. (3) there is danger that if the present opportunity passes, another may not occur. Death may soon overtake us. No one has a moment to lose. No one can designate one single moment of his life, and say, "I may safely lose that moment. I may safely spend it in the neglect of my soul." (4) it should be done with the most earnest concern, from the immensity of the interest at stake. If the soul is lost, all is lost. And who is there that can estimate the value of that soul which is thus in danger of being lost forever?
Biblical Verses That Motivate Christians To Act
Matthew 5:48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 2 Peter 1:5-8 For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with selfcontrol, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 John 2:1-29 My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world. And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: ...
Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood. Philippians 4:8 Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Genesis 3:17-19 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
James 2:10 For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Romans 3:1-9:33 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God. What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” But if our unrighteousness serves to show the righteousness of God, what shall we say? That God is unrighteous to inflict wrath on us? (I speak in a human way.) ... Acts 15:24 Since we have heard that some persons have gone out from us and troubled you with words, unsettling your minds, although we gave them no instructions, Acts 12:4 And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people.
Isaiah 1:1-31 The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord has spoken: “Children have I reared and brought up, but they have rebelled against me. The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master's crib, but Israel does not know, my people do not understand.” Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly! They have forsaken the Lord, they have despised the Holy One of Israel, they are utterly estranged. Why will you still be struck down? Why will you continue to rebel? The whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint. ... Genesis 2:16-17 And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Jude 1:3 Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints. Hebrews 12:23 And to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
Hebrews 11:40 Since God had provided something better for us, that without us they should not be made perfect. Hebrews 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture [writing] is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. 1 Timothy 2:1-15 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, ... Romans 3:19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. Romans 1:1-32
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be the Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith for the sake of his name among all the nations, ... Acts 24:15 Having a hope in God, which these men themselves accept, that there will be a resurrection of both the just and the unjust. Acts 17:1-34 Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” And some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women. But the Jews were jealous, and taking some wicked men of the rabble, they formed a mob, set the city in an uproar, and attacked the house of Jason, seeking to bring them out to the crowd. ... Numbers 1:1-54 The Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai, in the tent of meeting, on the first day of the second month, in the second year after they had come out of the land of Egypt, saying, “Take a
census of all the congregation of the people of Israel, by clans, by fathers' houses, according to the number of names, every male, head by head. From twenty years old and upward, all in Israel who are able to go to war, you and Aaron shall list them, company by company. And there shall be with you a man from each tribe, each man being the head of the house of his fathers. And these are the names of the men who shall assist you. From Reuben, Elizur the son of Shedeur; ... Colossians 1:28-29 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me. Colossians 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. Acts 2:47 Praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 12:48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. Mark 2:27 And he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. Matthew 16:18 And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Jeremiah 6:16 Thus says the Lord: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Well, according to the Bible, is there salvation without obedience to God and Christ?
An Inspired Psalm
Psalm 5 could have been written for our times. Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up. For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee. The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity. Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing:54 the LORD will abhor the bloody and deceitful man. But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple. Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face. For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue. Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee. But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest
An Old English word for ‘lies.’
them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield. The Lord protects and cares for his own, and we have his word on that. No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD55 And that’s good enough for me. Amen.
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