Last night the topic of Mormonism came up, A LOT. Dad and I had a discussion where he opened up to me about his thoughts on the religion. Mormonism creates doctrinal issues, like substituting Grace for Works and even created a different Jesus that required works other than faith in order to achieve God's forgiveness. A year or two ago, I would have steadfastly denied, quoted James and brushed off the possibility, as much as it embarrasses me to admit it. But in the last couple of months and especially last night, I found that I agreed with what my father was saying. He especially drove the point home by pointing at me and said "keep in mind, Kristyn, that there isn't a man on Earth that can do God's job for him."
"There isn't a man on Earth that can do God's job for him." That definitely got me thinking. Because, for the last seven or eight years I have followed a man that claimed to be God's mouthpiece, not necessarily blindly, but definitely with devotion. I believed in a man that restored God's word with plates of brass and gold that was full of supplications to repentance and even tried to mold my life according to the requirements. And it made me angry. When I asked dad why the thought of the last few years made me angry, hurt and sad; he said "because you thought it was true and you'll never be able to make up for the years you were being deceived." That is the thing, too. I have come to realize that Mormonism isn't true and that I had been living a lie. And while I have come under condemnation for slowly making my way to that conclusion, I have also realized something else and it is the most important: No man can judge my eternal destination, not even a prophet.
All of this is found in Romans 8:1- Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
No condemnation means that those who are in Christ are saved from Hell because we are acquitted from our sins. Because we are in Christ Jesus by accepting him as his personal savior. Which means we are saved by GRACE.
But what is Grace? Grace is mercy. According to the Bible dictionary, Grace is a favor in expression. The unmerited and abundant gift of God's love and favor of man, "particularly made effective in Jesus Christ".
One particular form of grace can be saving from a cataclysmic event, such as found in the Book of Genesis. Noah was saved from destruction because of his faith and God showed mercy: Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Genesis 6:8
Another form of grace is found in the New Testament that is full of descriptions of God's tender mercies.
John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
The word is alive! It came to us from a loving God so that we may behold HIS GLORY! Because of His eternal truth and his good grace we are saved.
John 1:15 John testifies concerning him. He cries out saying; "He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me."
John is referring to Jesus, his cousin. Even though John was born before Jesus, he recognized that Jesus is above him because Jesus is the savior of the world.
John 1:16 From the fullness of his grace we have all received on blessing after another.
Grace, it is all about grace. Every blessing God has given us comes from loving grace.
John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses, grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.
While we were given laws by God, we are only saved by Jesus Christ. We can't work our way into Heaven.
Romans 5:15 But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!
Jesus' sacrifice covers all trespasses! God's grace cover us because His son has us covered! Jesus Christ is the only way we can be right with God. Because it's the love of God that forgives us and no amount of penitence will makes us right with Him unless we allow Jesus to cover us. Think of it like you go to dinner with Jesus and when the bill comes you both reach for it, but he says, "It's okay, I got it. The bill is on me." That, brothers and sisters is the grace that Jesus offered us on Calvary where he hung on a cross and took our sins. Why would we cheapen it by offering to pay the tip with penitence and constantly trying to earn our place in the Kingdom of God?
We are natural men! We are imperfect beings! I'm sure these thoughts are going through the minds of some. But to that, I offer 1 Corinthians 13:10 for your consideration:
But when perfection comes, the imperfection disappears. 1 Corinthians 13:10.
This means that we are imperfect, because we sin and we do it over and over and over and over. But Jesus is perfect. He never sinned and by immersing ourselves in his blood that was shed for us. Isaiah 1:18 says, "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are as crimson, they shall be as wool." Jesus makes us perfect if we accept his eternal gift of grace.
2 Corinthians 6: 1-2 gives us warning when it comes to grace.
1. As God's fellow workers we urge you not to receive God's grace in vain.
God's grace is truly a gift to us. We are the only creatures given this opportunity. We should never deny God. He wants us to accept this gift freely. He doesn't want us to reject him or worse cheapen His gift by trying to buy it with works. After all, Romans 4:4 says, "Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift, but as his due." When we work towards Heaven, if it were remotely possible, and we achieved it; God would give it out of obligation, not grace. Which is why Romans 4:5 says "And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness."
2. For he says, "In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you."
God helps us in our times of need and He is always there to help us. We just need to trust him to be there.
2 Corinthians 8:9 For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
Jesus loved us enough to humble himself and allow our sins to taint him, thus cutting himself off from the presence of God. Jesus was so rich because he was in God and God was in him. But he loved us enough to give up his perfection, God's presence and his physical comfort just for us. That is perfect grace, brothers and sisters.
8. For it is by grace you have been saved through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.
We are saved through faith, which is God's gift to us. We can't save ourselves.
9. Not by works, so that no one can boast.
We enter the Kingdom of God because it is his gift for faith. We can't do it with works. The Book of Mormon says that we are saved with grace AFTER ALL WE CAN DO (2 Nephi 25:23). But Joseph Smith is wrong. While works are an act of faith, they cannot make us worthy of Salvation. And, frankly, it is arrogant of the church to teach that we have to do works to be worthy of forgiveness and salvation. When it comes to the grace of God, we have no bragging rights.
FAITH IS NOT A WORK!
2 Corinthians 13:14 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and may the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
This is how we should fare people well. By letting them know of God's grace and wishing it upon them. This is how we glorify him and Jesus, by helping others see the wonders of God's eternal and majestic grace.
God be with you. Christ be with you.
Merriam Websters Dictionary: Grace- unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification. A virtue coming from God. A state of sanctification enjoyed through DIVINE GRACE. A disposition to or an act or instance of kindness, courtesy and clemency.