What do Mormons Believe about the Birth of Jesus

by
May 29, 2011

Question: What are Mormons view on the birth of Jesus?

Answer: The birth of Jesus Christ was a wonderful event. Prophets from both the Old Testament and the Book of Mormon prophesied the birth of the Savior. That night when the King of Heaven and Earth was born, it wasn’t in a palace but in a lowly stable. It was in this humble beginning that our Lord and Redeemer was born.

Like other Christian churches, we celebrate his birth, especially around Christmas time. Usually my family would read the Christmas story from the New Testament, in Luke 2. Sometimes while growing up, we would even act it out.

This link is a great little summary video of the Christmas Story.

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68 Responses to “What do Mormons Believe about the Birth of Jesus”

  1. Michael

    We don’t actually hold services on Christmas as do other Christian churches. We do some musical events on TV with MoTab and there are a couple events in Salt Lake but overall our celebration of the Saviour’s birth is minimal as far as communal worship is concerned. However, I must state that we do Christmas much better than we do Holy Week and Easter. Our communal worship at Holy Week and Easter is horrific, in fact, it is basically non-existent.

    At least we believe in the Virgin Birth.

  2. Cindy

    A quick search of Mormon sources result in a number of references to this issue, and they all point to God the Father literally having sexual intercourse with Mary to sire Christ.
    Ezra Taft Benson taught:
    “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost. He is the Son of the Eternal Father.” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, pg.7; cf. Come unto Christ, p. 4)
    Orson Pratt taught:
    “[God] had a lawful right to overshadow the Virgin Mary in the capacity of a husband, and beget a Son , …it may be that … He intended after the resurrection to again take her as one of his own wives to raise up immortal spirits (bear his children) in eternity.” (‘The Seer, p. 158)
    The 1985 edition of Gospel Principles teaches:
    “Thus, God the Father became the literal father of Jesus Christ. Jesus was born of a mortal mother and an immortal father.” (p.57)
    How does the knowledge that Jesus was born in this way affect your beliefs and behaviors relating to your eternal life?

  3. Thaddeus

    Michael, you’re right. Christmas is widely celebrated by Mormons on a communal level throughout the season (in the annual First Presidency Christmas devotional, the ward Christmas choir programs, and many other ways), but the night of the nativity commemoration is reserved for individual families. I like that the Church enshrines the family as the most important unit of society (even more important than a congregation).

    Cindy, thank you for providing those quotes! I wasn’t even aware of President Benson’s or Orson Pratt’s thoughts on this.
    Knowing that God the Father is literally Jesus’ father and is a real person with a body and a family He loves helps me to have faith in Him. An ethereal being of “no body, parts, or passions” would be much more difficult for me to understand or to put my trust in.

  4. Cindy

    So if God the Father is a real person of flesh and bone and he progressed to the state in which he could sire a savior for his own world, did his progression include experiences similar to those which we experience here?

  5. Michael

    Thaddeus,

    I do respect the fact that the Church allows time for individual families to celebrate the Nativity together.  However, since only 40% of church membership are involved in intact full families, that leaves about 60% of church members that are single, divorced, converts without other LDS family members and or just plain disenfranchised from the ideal family situation nowhere to go to communally celebrate Christmas Eve or Christmas or Holy Week with other Latter-day Saints.

  6. Steve G

    Michael,
    That is a good point you bring up.  I think as families and as individuals in the church, we should look around and invite others who may not have anyone else, to come with us and celebrate these special holidays.  That would help us all become closer to Christ as we celebrate is birth, life, and resurrection.

  7. Michael

    Steve,

    The only challenge with your suggestion is the uncomfortableness of such a situation, especially when there is not an existing relationship between the family and the individual.

    I do strongly believe that our lack of communal worship for major holidays and also, to some extent, for regular liturgical purposes creates a spiritual hunger in many people that try to remain active in the wards.  This is not an uncommon occurrence and is not always easily understood by church members raised in the faith with a big extended LDS family or with an intact traditional family.  It does lead to isolation and departure by many that cannot be corrected without addressing the root cause of the issue.

    Just my thoughts.

  8. Patty

    Michael,
     
    I agree, there is isolation for those who don’t fit the family model of the church.  The isolation was even greater a few years back when I was a child.
     
    “I do strongly believe that our lack of communal worship for major holidays and also, to some extent, for regular liturgical purposes creates a spiritual hunger in many people that try to remain active in the wards.”
     
    However, I don’t think spiritual hunger in the wards comes from any lack of liturgy, holidays or not.  In my experience, a Mormon who strives to live up to the standards is kept very busy.
     
    The root cause of the isolation has to be in part from D&C 132… Exaltation is gained through the new and everlasting covenant.
     
    But back to topic, I am very interested where Cindy is going with this.  It seems we have two Mormon views of Jesus’ birth.
    Michael: believes in a virgin birth.
    Benson, Pratt, LDS books, & Thaddeus: non-virgin birth (sexual union w/ Heavenly Father and Mary).

  9. Steve G

    I wanted to share two quotes.  The first is by the Prophet Harold B. Lee, who was clear that the method of Jesus’ conception had not been revealed and he discouraged speculation on the matter:
    “We are very much concerned that some of our Church teachers seem to be obsessed of the idea of teaching doctrine which cannot be substantiated and making comments beyond what the Lord has actually said.
    You asked about the birth of the Savior. Never have I talked about sexual intercourse between Deity and the mother of the Savior. If teachers were wise in speaking of this matter about which the Lord has said but very little, they would rest their discussion on this subject with merely the words which are recorded on this subject in Luke 1:34-35: “Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.”
    Remember that the being who was brought about by [Mary’s] conception was a divine personage. We need not question His method to accomplish His purposes. Perhaps we would do well to remember the words of Isaiah 55:8-9: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
    Let the Lord rest His case with this declaration and wait until He sees fit to tell us more.”
    (Harold B. Lee, Teachings of Harold B. Lee (Salt Lake City, Utah: Bookcraft, 1996))

    The second quote is from the LDS Newsroom, which is the Church’s official resource for news media, opinion leaders and the public.
    •    Not every statement made by a Church leader, past or present, necessarily constitutes doctrine. A single statement made by a single leader on a single occasion often represents a personal, though well-considered, opinion, but is not meant to be officially binding for the whole Church. With divine inspiration, the First Presidency (the prophet and his two counselors) and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the second-highest governing body of the Church) counsel together to establish doctrine that is consistently proclaimed in official Church publications. This doctrine resides in the four “standard works” of scripture (the Holy Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price), official declarations and proclamations, and the Articles of Faith. Isolated statements are often taken out of context, leaving their original meaning distorted.
    •    Some doctrines are more important than others and might be considered core doctrines. For example, the precise location of the Garden of Eden is far less important than doctrine about Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice. The mistake that public commentators often make is taking an obscure teaching that is peripheral to the Church’s purpose and placing it at the very center. This is especially common among reporters or researchers who rely on how other Christians interpret Latter-day Saint doctrine.
    http://newsroom.lds.org/article/approaching-mormon-doctrine

    In this instance, the core doctrine is that the Savior of the World as come to the earth, to free us from sin.  There are a lot of obscure little things, like how Mary conceived, that we just don’t know.  Different members of the church might lean one way or another on how it was done, even some church leaders do.   But this is all just speculation, hardly worth spending much time on.  It is far more important to focus on the baby in the manager.

  10. Patty

    Steve,
     
    Well said.  This is a good quote: “If teachers were wise in speaking of this matter about which the Lord has said but very little, they would rest their discussion on this subject with merely the words which are recorded on this subject…”
     
    I do have a bit of an issue that words of the prophet spoken officially can be dismissed however.  It seems “authority” and “living prophets” are what separates the Mormon church.  It seems a good number of  quotes about the union being sexual from early Mormon prophets fit the “official doctrine” standard.  I find that this stance of “does not necessarily constitute official doctrine” undermines the whole restored priesthood theory.
     
    It is ironic that the “does not necessarily constitute official doctrine” statement came from the LDS newsroom.  Is the LDS Newsroom official?  Was this position divinely appointed and agreed upon within the necessary quorums and publications?
     
    Lastly though, I wholly agree that we should focus more on who Jesus is.  That is foundational.

  11. Michael

    Patty, so if I understand you clearly you are stating that the isolation and spiritual hunger is due to loneliness because they are not married according to D&C Section 132???

    Am I understanding you correctly?

  12. Patty

    Michael,
    Isolation for the non-traditional, or singled adult Mormon has its roots in D&C 132.  Look at it this way.  According to a Mormon what is the purpose of life?  According to D&C 132, how do you accomplish said purpose?  Kids sing about going to the temple someday and preparing while young to covenant; it’s their sacred duty.  I’m not sure how old you are or your level of experience within Mormonism.  If you’ve read some history, or even the Primary manuals it is clear that the new and everlasting covenant is temple sealing (and there was a time when that actually meant plural marriage).  (I can provide more info on this if you doubt).  Therefore, if you are outside this covenant according to D&C 132, your fate is damnation if you have been given this information.  That does lead to singles being isolated.
     
    On the other hand, spiritual hunger comes from having a relationship with the church, not The Person. “I believe the church is true.” “I love the church.”
     
    Jesus said those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will be filled,  and He is the well of living water that never runs dry and He is the bread of life, and those who are in Him will never hunger and thirst.  Why the spiritual hunger?  What they are hungry for is “righteousness” or being in a right relationship with God. The question then is how do you become righteous.  Michael, how do you propose a person become righteous?

  13. Michael

    Patty, 

    All I can say is Wow!  Your post is mind-blowing in its condescension and mis-representation of the Restored Gospel and of Discipleship.

    I will be respectful and leave it at that.

  14. Patty

    Michael,
    OHHH, so sorry if I was condescending!  I was trying to hurry and did not mean for it to sound that way.  What is it you feel I mis-represented?  I am honestly asking.

  15. Patty

    Thaddeus,
     
    “Knowing that God the Father is literally Jesus’ father and is a real person with a body and a family He loves helps me to have faith in Him. An ethereal being of ‘no body, parts, or passions’ would be much more difficult for me to understand or to put my trust in.”
     
     
    Thaddeus, with great compassion, I am going to challenge your line of thought.  We have you choosing which God or being you trust or have faith in.
    1. God the Father of flesh and bones who is the literal father of Jesus.
    2. God the Father who does not have a body of flesh and bones (the passions part is a straw man, so I’ll ignore that for now).
     
    Might I suggest that in choosing Whom you trust, you align that faith w/ what God has already revealed about Himself to us in His word, rather than who you can understand, relate to better or be more comfortable with.  Remember the children of Israel on at the foot of Mount Sinai in Exodus 19 & 20?  The great “I AM” descended in a cloud and fire and smoke on this Mount (no flesh and bone body – but the embodiment of righteous passion).  They trembled w/ great fear even to the point of fearing for their lives.
     
    In fact, it was in the very first two commandments that the holy God of Abraham, commanded the children of Israel that they do not have or make other gods … ones they are more comfortable with, can understand better, or relate to more.
     
    “For I am the Lord, I change not.” Mal. 3:6
    “…from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Psa. 90:2
    “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent.” Num. 23:19
    “Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man,…who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” Rom. 1:22-25
    “To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?…for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.” Isa. 46:5 & 9
    “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24
    “… for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Luke 24:39.
    “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Tim 1:17
    “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” Col 1:15
     
     

  16. Patty

    A good collection of references.

    <i>“For I am the Lord, I change not.” Mal. 3:6</i>

    We are at this time discussing the birth of that same God (Jesus Christ). Isn’t that a change? He isn’t referring to physical changes or making a past tense statement. Luke 2:40 tells us _ “And the child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God.” it uses the word “became,” which demonstrates change. Jesus showed surprise (change) and he wept (change). He was physical and died (change). He rose from the dead to be a resurrected person (change). This idea of him not changing must be kept in the context of the discussion. He was pointing out in Malachi there that he hasn’t destoyed them because they are of Jacob and he has preserved the descendants of Jacob inspite of their evil.

    <i>“…from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” Psa. 90:2</i>

    We dwell in time. At the end of this earth, time will cease and we go back into eternity (everlasting). And before time began in this earth (when it was eternity [everlasting]) he was God. So he is God from everlasting to everlasting.

    <i>Num 23 : 19, “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: has he said, and shall he not do it? or has he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”</i>

    The surrounding circumstances are very relevant to the interpretation of a few statements in this part of the chapter. Balaam is talking to a Gentile king (Balak), and saying that God is not like people he meets, who lie, and say they’ll do things, but don’t, or change their mind. He’s not making a doctrinal statement to explain the physical make-up of God, but of His attributes. Taking these statements literally, rather than in context of whom he was speaking to would come unstuck in verse 21 (as this is part of the same declaration, comprising verses 19 – 24), which says, “He has not beheld iniquity in Jacob, neither has he seen perverseness in Israel…” This statement was made to a king of the Gentiles. In comparison to the Gentiles it’s accurate, but as a doctrine it’s wrong. There certainly was iniquity in Jacob, and perverseness in Israel. This shows up immediately after this story of Balaam, Chapter 25 verses 1 & 2, where we find them committing whoredoms, and worshipping idols. These actions didn’t just pop up out of thin air, their minds weren’t in the right place. Many of them had just been destroyed by fiery serpents in the chapter before the Balaam story (chapter 21). So these statements must be taken in context.

    <i>“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man,…who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever.” Rom. 1:22-25</i>

    That’s a good one. The only problem you are still facing in interpreting it as you have is the enormous multitude of Biblical texts demonstrating that God does have a body and that we look like him. I’ll give a few at the end for you to consider.

    <i>“To whom will ye liken me, and make me equal, and compare me, that we may be like?…for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me.” Isa. 46:5 & 9</i>

    We aren’t posing that we are like God at this present time.

    <i>“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” John 4:24</i>

    John 4:24 states in the Greek that “God a spirit”, but is wrongly translated into English as “God is a spirit”. 1 John 4:8 states that the God IS love, in Greek as well as English. So if John 4:24 were stating that God “is” a spirit, it would use that Greek word as it does twice in verse 22 (only 2 verses previous) and also in the statement “God is love”. However it is true to state that God has a spirit. It must be noted what the point of the statement is, and that is to point out that we must worship God in our spirit inside, so John is referring to the fact that God has a spirit also (or that God has the Holy Spirit, and we must worship Him with the Holy Spirit in us): John wasn’t attempting to give a doctrinal discussion on the physical make-up of God.

    <i>“… for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” Luke 24:39.</i>

    Precisely. Jesus is stating that his resurrected body was made of real flesh and bones. He even ate fish to prove it. This is the body that he ascended into heaven with; and the angels promised he would return with. Even the prophesy says in regard his return that the Jews will ask about the holes in his hands (Zech 13:6). Thus stating that he will have the same hands.

    <i>“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 1 Tim 1:17</i>

    This doesn’t state that God has no body. I would add that in regard the “invisible” bit that Moses saw the invisible God (Heb 11:27). So obviously he is capable of being seen.

    <i>“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature” Col 1:15</i>

    Once again same reply. Yet interesting to note the birth of Jesus Christ as a spirit. Also interesting to remember that we were created in the image of God also.

    Some thoughts you can look at relative to God being made of flesh.

    When Paul was preaching in Athens he said concerning the Lord, (Acts 17 : 28 – 29) “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” ( I should add that nothing I say here should be concluded to mean that I am suggesting that Adam is God, nor do I hold that he is, in case anyone would try to read it into it). What is Paul trying to say? He’s said that we are the offspring of God. Whatever sense a person may wish to interpret this statement into, one thing is plain; Paul was using this relationship to prove a point, “Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is…” In other words he’s saying that since we’re God’s offspring, we shouldn’t think that the God is… The only way such a point could make any sense is if, as God’s offspring, we were like Him. So in what sense was Paul saying that we’re like Him. Did he mean some obscure spiritual sense ( I say, “obscure” because most people are still sinning, and so don’t reflect Him very well in that area)? The answer to that lays within the scripture also _ “..that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone…” This is not any spiritual sense that Paul is talking about, but God’s physical make-up. The logic of his whole argument here is that God can’t be made of stone etc., because we are His offspring, and we’re not made of stone, so how can God be. In other words God is made of the same substance we are (for those who haven’t caught on yet). I again qualify that I know that Adam isn’t God (nor did Brigham Young teach that he was) (as shown in Luke 3:38 and Moses 6:22 along with many other places).

    Genesis 18:1 & 33 _ <i>”Then the LORD appeared to him by the terebinth trees of Mamre, as he was sitting in the tent door in the heat of the day.

    “So the LORD went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.”</i>

    This is an interesting chapter. We have the Lord appearing to Abraham with two other men. Several things bear mentioning here. We note in the next chapter (verse 1) that two angels turn up in Sodom straight after the Lord heads off to Sodom and Gomorrah with two men. This seems a bit too coincidental. The Lord didn’t appear to the people of Sodom and Gomorrah yet appeared to Abraham. What’s more the Lord actually ate there, with, what was most likely, the two angels (also referred to as “men”) that the Sodomites wanted to have their way with (verse 5). The Scriptures say that at the end of the conversation with Abraham “The LORD went His way”. So the Lord was talking, and dining with Abraham all that time. The New Testament also makes mention of another appearance of the God of glory to Abraham.

    <i>”And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.”</i> Genesis 1:26

    These 2 words used here have different meanings in Hebrew. “Image” means “a phantom:” That which you can’t see. Likeness means “resemblance” as in the same shape. So we are like God in what you can’t see and in what you can see.

    You can also note Gen 5:3 which uses the exact same words to describe the relationship between Seth and Adam, his father.

  17. Patty

    Doug,
    My, that is a lot of info. I have a lot to reply and I suppose I could try to go point by point and give more scripture to support the original verses I quoted.  Then you would likely would come back w/ more of your take on things and back and forth we go.  Sounds like fun, but after checking out the sheer volume of blogs and material you write, in this particular case, it seems futile.  So, to back up a bit with some basics, maybe I could ask you a few questions about sin?
     
    What is sin?
     
    How bad is it, or in other words, will God grant you eternal life (exaltation) if you have failed to truly repent of all your sins?

  18. Patty
     
    John qualifies sin as being a transgression of the law of Moses (1 Jn 3:4). That seems a good explanation to me.
     
    To put that in a more usable form, it means that if I get angry at someone (for example) and then kill or hurt them I have sinned. If I lust after a women and act upon that lust I have sinned. If I get greedy and do some action against someone to obtain their goods then I have sinned.
     
    So sin is a bad outward action done after a bad inward desire or feeling.
     
    John also tells us that those who are born of God don’t sin anymore (1 Jn 5:18, 1 Jn 3:8-10). And we must be born of God to obtain eternal life.
     
    Yet as all have sinned at some stage (1 Jn 1:8, Rom 3:23) in the past we need Christ’s atonement to cleanse us of those sins (1 Jn 1:9).

  19. Patty

    Doug,
     
    So, you say failing to keep the commandments is sin?
     
    Would you also classify “sins of omission” as sin; as spoken of before by several LDS leaders in authority?  Those things we ought to be doing but don’t.
     
    In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus speaks of a person in danger of judgment because they are angry w/ someone for no good reason; or in danger of hellfire for calling someone a fool.
     
    In Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus speaks of looking w/ impure thoughts toward someone means committing adultery w/ them already in their hearts (even before the actual act).
     
    James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  Ceasing to do all wrong is only half the battle; you must be doing all good as well – or it is sin as well.
     
    Do you believe these verses?
     
    Would you also agree that ” And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins ; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins.” Alma 11:37
     
    1. So, say a member of the Mormon church is baptized and later sins (maybe slacking in their calling, lust, having bitterness toward another member, or maybe lying to the bishop about paying a full tithe), what are the consequences of those sins as it pertains to eternal life?
     
    2. Do those sins affect salvation – the kind of salvation spoken of in Alma 11:37 (please help me understand if you mean general salvation or exaltation)?
     
    3. At this point in the example, what can a member of the Mormon church do to become righteous; how are they cleansed from their sins?

  20. Patty

    Defining sin to the degree that you are looking for has problems in that whether something is a sin in reality depends on the circumstance and the individual. There is no universal answer.

    Isaiah says in regard Christ, “he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears.” Isa 11:3.

    In other words we can’t truly judge a real sin in the simplistic concept presented under the law given to Moses: No judgement by actions or words. (This law was only given to them because of the hardness of their hearts to spiritual things.)

    This was further presented when Christ said, “if you had understood the statement, ‘I would have mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent.” So breaking of a law doesn’t necessarily make a person guilty.

    He further states that those who are in the fullness of the gospel can’t be judged by their actions in that you will not understand what they are doing. “The wind blows where it wants. You hear the sound of it, but you don’t know where it is going. So is he that is led by the Spirit.”

    Amidst all this there is the question of how well the person knows the result of their action or lack thereof. Ignorance reduces the depth of the sin’s effect upon our conscience.

    Having stated this let me get to that which you have quoted.

    “sins of omission”. We have to get a bit careful in regard sanctification verses having sins removed. This is an area that falls greatly within the problems I’ve mentioned above.

    “In Matthew 5:21-22 Jesus speaks of a person in danger of judgment because they are angry w/ someone for no good reason; or in danger of hellfire for calling someone a fool.”

    As the latter requires an action it leaves a person able to face hellfire because it could be a sin. Whereas the feelings bring a person in to danger of judgment, not sin of itself.

    “In Matthew 5:27-28 Jesus speaks of looking w/ impure thoughts toward someone means committing adultery w/ them already in their hearts (even before the actual act).”

    Yes, but this isn’t a sin that would put a person in hellfire. It would make a person in danger of judgment, however.

    “James 4:17 says, “Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.”  Ceasing to do all wrong is only half the battle; you must be doing all good as well – or it is sin as well.”

    I can see that in some cases James statement would be correct.

    Alma 11:37. I would have to qualify Alma’s statement and say that salvation from sins comes also to those who don’t inherit the kingdom of heaven. So he is talking about a different salvation (being saved into eternal life).

    Question 1.

    As I first mentioned those may not be sins in the specific case. Yet if they were transgressions of the gospel (which most you quoted were, not sins) then the person wouldn’t get eternal life (exaltation).

    Question 2.

    Already answered.

    Question 3.

    Supposing a person committed all of these offenses that you have mentioned. They would first need to repent of any sins they have committed. The lying to the bishop, if done in the wrong attitude could be sin in some cases. The slacking in their calling could come out as a sin in some cases. The others are transgressions, not sins.

    After repenting of their sins (which would require forsaking the sin) there would be a need for sanctification (for the transgressions also). This requires the Holy Ghost to help the person re-make themselves. They must become Christlike in their attitudes and lifestyles. The only way to obtain cleansing of sins is by the atonement of Jesus Christ.

  21. cindy

    A couple of questions:
    1.  Is it possible to forsake our sins?
    You said, “After repenting of their sins (which would require forsaking the sin) there would be a need for sanctification (for the transgressions also). This requires the Holy Ghost to help the person re-make themselves. They must become Christlike in their attitudes and lifestyles. The only way to obtain cleansing of sins is by the atonement of Jesus Christ.”
    2.  If we are must forsake our sins in order to receive forgiveness for them, why do we need the atonement of Christ?  If we are sinless, then aren’t we Christlike?

  22. Willie

    I felt like jumping in here, sorry if you intended the questions specifically for someone else.

    > A couple of questions:
    > 1.  Is it possible to forsake our sins?

    Yes.  I no longer punch my younger brother.

    > 2.  If we are must forsake our sins in order to receive forgiveness for them, why do we need the atonement of Christ?  If we are sinless, then aren’t we Christlike?

    We need the atonement of Christ to make up for the shortcomings that we all have.  Being perfect is a tall order.  Mormons believe that we need the grace of Christ in order to become perfected.  Christ was the only sinless man to walk upon the earth, and it should be our goal to become like Him.  We can only do this by coming unto Him.

  23. cindy

    Sure…jump away!  You said, “Mormons believe that we need the grace of Christ in order to become perfected.  Christ was the only sinless man to walk upon the earth, and it should be our goal to become like Him.  We can only do this by coming unto Him.”
    So how do we receive the grace of Christ in order to become perfected?

  24. Willie

    Grace is given to us by the mercy and love of Jesus Christ.  Your question may best be answered using one of Christ’s parables.  Initially we must accept His invitation of “come unto me” and “take my yoke upon you” (Matt 11:28-30).  Then we look at the parable in John 15:1-11 in which He talks of vines and branches.  Christ is the vine, and we are each a branch (verse 5).  He says things like “abide in me” and “continue ye in my love.”  He explains how we do this in verse 10: “If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love.”

  25. cindy

    So we receive His grace by keeping His commandments?

  26. Steve G

    I love how everyone enjoys the Christmas article I wrote, but it seems like the current discussion thread is going off topic.
    Here is a great article about Grace that might answer the questions that you have
    The Saved Little Toaster
    There are other articles too, that can be found using the search box at the top right corner, or from the “Topic Cloud” on the right hand side.

  27. Thaddeus

    Yep. That’s what I understand.

    Jesus also said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

    and

    “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him” (John 14:21).

    The problem comes when we think the keeping of the commandments is what makes us holy, or when we turn it into an unreachable burden in our minds.

    President Ezra Taft Benson wrote, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.”

    Cindy, what’s your view on this? Is obedience to commandments a positive or a negative from your perspective?

  28. cindy

    You said,
    “The problem comes when we think the keeping of the commandments is what makes us holy, or when we turn it into an unreachable burden in our minds.
    President Ezra Taft Benson wrote, “When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, in that moment God will endow us with power.”
    Don’t these two statements contradict each other?  I mean, if we embark on a quest to be obedient in order to be endowed with power, aren’t we thinking that it is the keeping of the commandments that makes us holy?
     
     

  29. Thaddeus

    If we embark on a quest to be obedient to the Lord, then He will make us holy. Obedience itself doesn’t make us holy.

    Do you see the distinction? Would it help if I explained it with an analogy? Try reading that article Steve linked to. And maybe we should continue the discussion over there (I’d still love an answer to my last question, btw). This is really off-topic from the OP.

  30. Cindy
     
    Christ’s atonement covers our past sins. Not sinning now won’t remove the hell feeling from the sins we have done.
     
    The reason we keep commandments is because it  brings inner joy and peace, as Christ promised. Yet in doing so we also raise ourselves in power. This just naturally comes through our oneness with nature (natural laws).
     
    This additional power helps us in assisting others. You are right that it would be contradictory to just seek power for our own glory. That is what Satan is about.
     
    Becoming Christ like is more than just not sinning (opposing nature). It is where we become in perfect harmony with nature (working for nature). This comes through sanctification by the Holy Ghost’s instructions. Love makes us expand as individuals. Our spirit inside is stronger. It brings our actions into the right place to produce what is best.
     
    Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ practice these principles and ask us to do so to gain the type of life they have. Once we come to accept that they are always right and we are always wrong where we disagree with them, then obeying them becomes easy. It requires faith at first, and even faith as we go along. But we come to see the fruits of our faith as we gain greater happiness in doing things their way. This makes it easier to have faith next time. And our faith grows like an exercised muscle.

  31. cindy

    Thaddeus,
    I asked how we receive the grace of Christ in order to become perfected, and you responded by saying that, in essence, we strive to become perfect and then we get His grace.   (“If we embark on a quest to be obedient to the Lord, then He will make us holy.”)
    If that is true, when do we get the grace?  We know we need to become holy (perfect) in order to live with God, so when are we holy?  How do we know?  How many times do we need to push down the button on the toaster in order to become “toasted?”
     
     

  32. cindy

    Doug,
    You said, “You are right that it would be contradictory to just seek power for our own glory.”
    but then said,
    “Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ practice these principles and ask us to do so to gain the type of life they have.”
    Aren’t you seeking your own glory, or gaining the life Father and Jesus have by practicing the principles of obedience?

  33. Cindy
     
    I have spent a lot of time in the presence of the Father and the Son. They are full of love, peace, patience, and every other good thing. They have power by virtue of the love. I don’t seek the power for my own good. Nor do I actually put that as a priority. My main thinking is the wonderful feelings that come from them. I want to spend forever enjoying that feeling.
     
    Yet if I love others, as I should; and if I love the Father and the Son, then I would want to become like the Father and share that feeling with others, that they might gain too.
     
    So in answer to your last paragraph _
    No, I’m not seeking my own glory.
    Yes, I am seeking the life that is in the Father and Jesus, which occurs by practicing the principles.
     
    Yet let me add that you seem to wish to turn it into a mathematical formula. And this isn’t how it feels to me. I LOVE the love of the Father. It is beyond explanation. Is your desire to imitate good attributes of your parents a mathematical equation? It shouldn’t be. It should be that you see the good that comes from that. You feel its goodness. You want to imitate it. Not for your glory. But because IT is good.

  34. cindy

    I don’t doubt for a minute that you love God, but loving God means submitting to the righteousness of Christ for our sake, not responding to God’s love by trying to be like God.  But as you said, you DO seek the power of God, even if it is through love.  And yet Paul says in Romans: For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.  Is it our righteousness that we should be seeking, or Christ’s that we should be accepting for ourselves?

    To answer your question, “Is your desire to imitate good attributes of your parents a mathematical equation”  I know that in order to be with God eternally that I must become perfect, but I also know that is not possible for me, so my desire is to believe that Christ offers me His perfection, His righteousness by dying on the cross for me.  And I believe that He will respond by giving me His spirit, so that I CAN obey…as He said in Ephesians, “That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed , ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise”

  35. Cindy
     
    I am concerned for you. Your way of presenting your thoughts on Jesus Christ are virtually devoid of heart feelings. This is amazing for a female. You speak of Christ as a subject. I would think I was talking to a Protestant minister.
     
    Yet leaving that aside let’s look at what the Bible says on what you present. You say that you can’t be perfect. Yet Christ delivered a speech in which he says that you now can, as the gospel has been preached. John claimed that he didn’t sin and that those born of God don’t either.
     
    I can tell you that I haven’t sinned for years. It is an old falsehood to propose that we are doomed to sin – Satan loves that one.
     
    Now if you are going to ask if I am ever tempted, I would say that even Jesus Christ was tempted. It isn’t a sin to be tempted. It is a transgression to take on the thoughts and a sin to act upon them.
     
    Paul tells me that I can grow to the statue of the fullness of Christ and be a perfect man (Eph 4:13).
     
    You have said
     
    <i>”…but loving God means submitting to the righteousness of Christ for our sake, not responding to God’s love by trying to be like God.”</i>
     
    Loving God means obeying his commandments (John 14:15). As I obey them, and you say you don’t, which of us has really submitted to the righteousness of Christ? And I have done this in spite of wishing to do his will and become like him, that I may work with him in this wonderful work.
     
    The quote you give from Romans chapter 10 about the Jews comes out with explanation by verse 10. <i>”For with the heart man believes unto righteousness…”</i>
     
    In other words man will begin to practice righteousness as he accepts to follow the righteousness of Christ (and Heavenly Father, for that matter). So in answer to your question _
     
    <i>”Is it our righteousness that we should be seeking, or Christ’s that we should be accepting for ourselves?”</i>
     
    Paul’s answer is, both.
     
    And I hope for your sake that you do get the promised spirit of Ephesians.

  36. cindy

    Hi Doug,
    Sorry for the delayed response, but I’ve been out of town.  I’m sorry too to come across as heartless…if you think that I could not be deeply touched by the fact that while I was still a sinner Christ died for my sins you are wrong!  Each time I become aware of another sin I feel the deep, godly sorrow of knowing that Christ took on all of the pain, guilt and death that I deserve for living a sinful life.
    You said, “Christ delivered a speech in which he says that you now can (be perfect), as the gospel has been preached.”
    I’m assuming you mean Matthew 5; the speech in which He also redefined breaking the commandments by telling us that we will be judged for the thoughts behind our actions.  Haven’t you ever wondered why He would, in the same speech, show us how utterly impossible it would be to perfectly obey all the commandments and then call us to be perfect?
    And what about the other scripture you mentioned in 1 John where he says, ” Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.”  How can that be possible when John also says, ” If we say that we have not sinned , we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.?” What did John mean by saying that we are liars if we say we don’t sin and then saying we can’t sin?
    I’m glad to know that you haven’t sinned for years, although accusing me of being heartless is slanderous and God says this about slander, “Whoever spreads slander is a fool.” Prov. 10:18a  “A truthful witness gives honest testimony, but a false witness tells lies.” Prov. 12:17,  “Like a club or a sword or a sharp arrow is the man who gives false testimony against his neighbor.” Prov. 25:18”

    I’m glad to know too, that you feel comfortable with your definition of sin, but how do you reconcile your definition with God’s? “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
    How are you becoming perfect?  How are you able to obey the commandments?

  37. Cindy

    I feel people in their writing. I can feel the Spirit in Matthew very strongly. I can feel the love in John very strongly. I have read Mao Tse Tung’s little red book and felt almost nothing (the book is a mind-wash). Whenever I have tried to read “Mein Kampf” (written by Adolf Hitler) I have felt this powerfully depressed spirit. I attempted it many times before I suffered to finish the first page (a struggle I would not put myself through again). Reading that first page was truly “my struggle” (the meaning of “Mein Kampf” in English).

    I can’t be slandering you in the Scriptural sense purely because I tell a truth about you that you don’t like. You would have to prove it to be false first. Else all the prophets and apostles would be slanderers for pointing out people’s shortcomings and calling them to repentance.

    I don’t doubt that you feel saddened that you sin. Yet it isn’t a saddness that stops you from doing it again. Therefore I would say to you, you be the judge of how much you love Christ and how much it is godly sorrow. I was raised a Protestant and so I know what you mean in regard your thoughts (or there abouts). Believe me, your whole perspective of the love of God will expand beyond your belief when you accept the fulness of the gospel of Christ as taught in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

    I did mean Matthew 5, yes. Yet your definition of his message is the opposite to what the chapter says. The chapter in fact frees us from the law, allowing us to become perfect. That is why he says at the end of it, “Therefore be perfect.” The “therefore” (in this case) means, because of what I have now told you.

    I would pose your question, therefore, back to you. Would Christ have demonstrated that it was impossible to be perfect and then command it of us? The answer is a resounding, NO! The Scriptures tell us that God is faithful and will with any temptation make a way that we can overcome it (1 Cor 10:13).

    In Roman chapter 7 Paul explains how impossible it is for someone under the law to be perfect. But by chapter 8 he is telling us the other half of the story – how that following the gospel of Christ frees us from that _

    <i>”That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.”</i> Romans 8:4-6

    The Law given to Moses was given because of the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites at the time and from then on till Christ came. Paul points out that the gospel had been preached to those people at Moses time, yet they had rejected it (Heb 4:2). Because it was just about outward observances with no inner feelings a person was always at variance between what his body wanted and what his spirit wanted. Yet because we know to look to our heart we now can obtain that righteousness by listening to his Spirit and obeying it to the happiness of our hearts. This makes our actions righteous. We cannot sin because our heart is right with God (1 Jn 3:9). God is love (1 Jn 4:8). Love works no ill toward his neighbour (Rom 13:10).

    You have asked a good question in regard 1st John _

    <i>And what about the other scripture you mentioned in 1 John where he says, ” Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him.”  How can that be possible when John also says, ” If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.?” What did John mean by saying that we are liars if we say we don’t sin and then saying we can’t sin?</i>

    The second quote you give means that God has stated that certain things are sins. If we say, in doing them, that they are not sins we are claiming God is lying.

    Yet, that aside, we know also that all HAVE sinned at some time in our lives (other than Jesus Christ). This doesn’t mean we need to go on sinning, however. Christ removes those past sins as we truly repent. Then through the instruction of the Spirit and a sanctification process our being comes to see things differently.

    You have asked _

    <i>I’m glad to know too, that you feel comfortable with your definition of sin, but how do you reconcile your definition with God’s? “Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law.”
    How are you becoming perfect?  How are you able to obey the commandments?</i>

    The quote you give IS my definition of sin. I couldn’t have said it better myself. The only thing I would qualify is that sin requires evil intent. Whereas the Law of Moses doesn’t account for intent. It was a set of outward laws that God knew usually meant good or evil intent. For example someone doesn’t usually kill someone with loving intent. Though it can happen.

    Obeying the commandments isn’t really all that complex. We know what they are. All we need to do is come to find the love of God. As we come to feel the love that God has for us we come to love him back. Through the Spirit and conversations with the Father we can come to see that he is right. It is only because a child can’t see the wisdom of the parent that causes a child to err. Even if I can’t see the wisdom in what God is saying at the time I just do what he asks because I don’t want to make him feel saddened (which he will feel, knowing in his heart that I will be worse off if I don’t do what he is saying).

    When you ask about how I’m becoming perfect let me say that there are 2 definitions of perfect. Being perfect as the Scriptures are defining it merely means a person who doesn’t break the Law of Moses anymore (sin). Then there is the perfect whereby we become more like our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in our inner being. The latter is continual, and done through spiritual education, service and prayer. We gain greater patience, greater empathy, greater love, etc.

  38. cindy

    Wow, that was a lot!  Thanks for taking the time to fully respond…I’ll try to do the same.
    First of all, I don’t mind having you call me heartless…it might very well be that I need to hear that.  I recognize my sinful nature and I am open to correction from God, regardless of the source.  In this case, it might be tough to prove either way, as my heart can only be truly seen by God anyway!
    I also understand that you strive to get a sense for people through their writing, but I doubt that you would want to be judged in the same manner.  Our hearts are deceitful (as Jeremiah says) so an objective source like the scriptures is always the best means against which we can test the words of others, don’t you agree?
    As you describe how we can keep from sinning you seem by saying that it is possible by simply following the gospel of Christ…as that right?
    Are you saying that the gospel of Christ is this: “The Law given to Moses was given because of the hardness of the hearts of the Israelites at the time and from then on till Christ came. Paul points out that the gospel had been preached to those people at Moses time, yet they had rejected it”
    Does that mean that the gospel of Jesus is simply the original law of Moses performed without the hardness of our hearts?  So we can become righteous simply be agreeing to do God’s will with a happy heart?  If so, what is the role of Christ in our salvation?
    You said, “This doesn’t mean we need to go on sinning, however. Christ removes those past sins as we truly repent.”  Is the role of Christ simply to remove our past sins, while we learn to stop sinning on our own?
    If Christ removes my sins as I repent, what is true repentance?  Is it what is described on the LDS website as the following?
     
    Sorrow for Sin.
    Confession.
    Abandonment of Sin.
    Restitution.
    Righteous Living.
    So what would I look like if I truly repented…specifically if I abandoned sin and lived righteously?  Wouldn’t I be perfect?  If so, why would I need Christ to remove my sins?
     

  39. Alexander

    Forgive me for interjecting into your debate, but I feel I have something to contribute with regard to the last question that was asked.

    Your question was: “So what would I look like if I truly repented…specifically if I abandoned sin and lived righteously?  Wouldn’t I be perfect?  If so, why would I need Christ to remove my sins?”

    My answer: The only reason we are able to repent at all (or rather, repent and have it be efficacious) is because of the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ in offering Himself as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.

    The grace of Jesus Christ is what allows us to be forgiven. It is through His grace that we can become perfected. Without Him, all the world would be lost in sin.

    Now if you’ll forgive me, I’m going to suggest a little aside. The following is a video clip taken from a scripture video made by members of the Church (but not officially by the Church). My reason for mentioning it is that I find the simple, poignant testimony offered by Abinadi to be very succinct in explaining the principles of repentance and salvation by Christ’s grace as I understadn them. Please pardon the imperfections of the video clip — its message remains plain and beautiful despite any flaws of the developers.

    Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BKGEeRBy8ek

  40. Cindy
    I haven’t actually called you “heartless.” What I said was that your expressions about Christ were as if he is a subject – I din’t feel any heart feelings in what you were saying. It is like it was a script.
    You have even agreed with me by quoting your opinion of Jeremiah’s statement that he is posing that mankind can’t rise above the natural man and be good in our hearts. Therefore you have felt that you must stand by the script only.
    I’d pose to you that Jeremiah’s statement only refers the mankind when they aren’t listening to the Spirit and following its direction. In other words it is speaking of mankind as he stands without divine help.
    I don’t need to strive to feel people in their writing or when I am with them. I can see inside a person as clearly as I wish. I believe that if I just kept going I could tell them what they had for breakfast. This is the only entirely successful way to judge others. And I have no fear of being judged in such a way. Bring it on!
    In regard Christ and repentance. I second all that Alexander has said.
    Mosiah 2:38 “Therefore if that man repenteth not, and remaineth and dieth an enemy to God, the demands of divine justice do awaken his immortal soul to a lively sense of his own guilt, which doth cause him to shrink from the presence of the Lord, and doth fill his breast with guilt, and pain, and anguish, which is like an unquenchable fire, whose flame ascendeth up forever and ever.”
    In other words hell comes from inside us, made by our own conscience. Christ must appease our conscience to have us at peace and forgiven. He does this by his suffering (which from his point of view was done almost 2 thousand years ago – I won’t get into the time eternity bit as it isn’t the point).
    This forgiveness is essential to happen now because we want to move forward in our progression once we have seen we were wrong. Christ is the only one capable of doing this as he was sinless. We then can begin the sanctification process whereby the Holy Ghost can abide in us as our conscience is cleared of sin. Sanctification brings us to think more like Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as we listen and learn.
    In case I haven’t made it clear – while we can become perfect in the sense that we aren’t sinning, only through the atonement of Christ can we remove the bad conscience for our past sins and truly be sinless.
    The gospel of Jesus Christ is about what we feel. Nephi killed Laban, yet felt no desire to kill him.
    The Law of Moses banned such action because it pre-supposes that people usually kill for ill intent. Yet God knew that Nephi felt no ill intent. God had to make a law to a hard-hearted people. So he made a law that covers most situations and tries its best to allow for the unusual.
    True repentance would involve or bring about those steps that you quoted.
    Yes, if we follow the gospel of Christ we can’t sin in the true sense and purpose.
    Christ’s purpose in our life continues on in our relationship with himself and the Father. We always need to look to the Son and appreciate his example, love and help in our lives. The same would be said of the Father. We need to develop a relationship with the Father, through the Son. He is never out of the picture. As we develop these relationships we become more like them – full of life, love, patience, light and all good things that bring true joy to our hearts and eternal happiness.

  41. cindy

    Hi Alexander,
    Thanks for taking a shot at my question.  I asked, “what would I look like if I truly repented…specifically if I abandoned sin and lived righteously?  Wouldn’t I be perfect?  If so, why would I need Christ to remove my sins?”
    And you answered, “The only reason we are able to repent at all (or rather, repent and have it be efficacious) is because of the grace of our Savior Jesus Christ in offering Himself as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”
    So how do I receive the grace of Christ in order to be able to repent?  Isn’t grace given “after all we can do?” and “if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you?”
    What would I look like if I denied myself of all ungodliness?

  42. cindy

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    Doug, you said, “I don’t need to strive to feel people in their writing or when I am with them. I can see inside a person as clearly as I wish. I believe that if I just kept going I could tell them what they had for breakfast. This is the only entirely successful way to judge others.”  This is just plain scary.  It sets us all up to judge each other based on nothing other than our belief in our own feelings instead of our mutual reliance on God’s truth.
    You also said, “we can become perfect in the sense that we aren’t sinning” and Paul disagrees…see my posting to Alexander.  Jesus Himself describes the way to justification through the following story: “Two men went up into the temple to pray ; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. 11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. 12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess . 13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying , God be merciful to me a sinner. 14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased ; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”  We don’t achieve justification by practicing religious activities.  We accept God’s mercy through our admission of our sins.
    In addition, you define the gospel as “The gospel of Jesus Christ is about what we feel.” Paul disagrees.  In 1 Corinthians 15:1-8,11 he says “Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,  that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.”
    It is not what I feel about this that assures my salvation…it is about whether or not I believe it.  The amount of forgiveness I accept from Christ determines how much I am able to love Him and others in return. “There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. 42 And when they had nothing to pay , he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? 43 Simon answered and said , I suppose that he, to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged”
    If I accept forgiveness only for my past sins and try to perfect my future actions, am I not denying the complete forgiveness of Christ?  “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God”

  43. Alexander

    Your quote: “So how do I receive the grace of Christ in order to be able to repent?  Isn’t grace given “after all we can do?” and “if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you?”
    What would I look like if I denied myself of all ungodliness?”

    That’s several questions, and I’ll do my best to provide you with concise answers, considering I don’t have a lot of time at the moment.

    Question 1: “How do you receive Christ’s grace in order to repent?” 

    That gift has already been given. Christ’s atoning sacrifice is eternal, extending through all time and space to all mankind. Whether an individual chooses to receive that grace is up to the individual. All Christ asks is that we exercise faith, repent of our sins and come unto Him.

    Question 2: Isn’t grace given “after all we can do?” and “if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you?”

    The full scripture you first quoted is “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

    It is not Christ’s grace that comes after all we can do, it is our salvation by that grace. Christ has already been gracious. What is “all we can do?” The scripture tells us: “believe in Christ.” What does believing in Christ entail? I’m sure you already understand that without me really having to explain. Moreover, the second scripture you quoted explains it: “denying ourselves of ungodliness” = repentance and “loving God” = keeping his commandments = exercising faith. That is what is required of us.

    Question 3:  “What would I look like if I denied myself of all ungodliness?”

    I must admit that your intent in asking this question befuddles me. Are you concerned with a change in your temporal or physical appearance? Because I really think that would be missing the point of the commandment.

    Rather than what you look like, I think the point is who you should be like. First I’ll paraphrase Alma here: “Have you received His image in your countenance?” And then quote from John: “Now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”

    That is what our focus should be on.

  44. cindy

    Hi Alexander,
    I’m just trying to get this straight:
    1. Our salvation is given through the grace of Christ
    2. That grace is gained through our exercising of faith
    3. Our faith is defined as “denying ourselves of ungodliness”, repentance, “loving God”, and keeping his commandments”
    Is that right?
    So my salvation will be given after I have denied myself of all ungodliness, completed the repentance process for all my sins, loved God always, and kept all of the commandments?
     

  45. Cindy

    What do I do to help you?

    I quote you Biblical texts which are stating EXACTLY what I’m saying and you declare me wrong by an interesting perspective of something Paul says. NO attempt to harmonize your interpretation of Paul and the other Biblical statement. I’m wrong because you read Paul this way and Paul outranks the other apostle(?????). Even where the other apostle states it plainly.

    Most of what you are doing is playing games of semantics. We could write for ever in endless circles. I say I have become perfect, and you say, “Oh Paul says you can’t, but it is only through Jesus that we become perfect.” Now where did I say I became perfect without Jesus? Then you just fly off somewhere else and come back to the same nonsense later.

    So I’m going to attempt to keep a Protestant on subject and teach some logic.

    Do you believe your Bible, Cindy? Or are you one of those who interpret it to follow Protestantism?

    Has anyone ever been perfect other than Christ? Yes, obviously they got there through Christ. But has anyone obtained perfection?

    Among a multitude of others Gen 6:9, 17:1,

    You quote me and make comment _

    <i>”‘I can see inside a person as clearly as I wish… This is the only entirely successful way to judge others.’  This is just plain scary.  It sets us all up to judge each other based on nothing other than our belief in our own feelings instead of our mutual reliance on God’s truth.”</i>

    Hmmm. What interesting assumptions. Do I actually have to take that seriously? Where do I propose that nothing God taught me is used in my analysis of what I’m seeing?

    And this is what I mean by semantics. This is NOT a logical argument. you haven’t presented evidence that I am not using information from God.

    Then you quote the story of the man who said how good he was because of his good works, as support for the idea that I must be wrong in stating that I don’t sin. You are attempting to put a square peg in a round hole. Again, not a logical argument.

    You quote part of what I said in saying the gospel is about what you feel (which you’ve taken completely out of context because you aren’t hearing me with the Spirit).

    Then You stated __

    <i>”It is not what I feel about this that assures my salvation…it is about whether or not I believe it. The amount of forgiveness I accept from Christ determines how much I am able to love Him and others in return.</i>

    So its not about feelings, just how much I can accept forgiveness and whether I can love. I’m glad you cleared that up.

    You ask _

    <i>”If I accept forgiveness only for my past sins and try to perfect my future actions, am I not denying the complete forgiveness of Christ?”</i>

    So let’s get this logic straight: I stop sinning but fully accept the atonement of Christ in my life: That he has removed all bad feeling for my past sins. But this means that I really haven’t accepted forgiveness for my past sins because I don’t sin anymore?

    Hmmmm. Are you sure you haven’t been to ministerial college?

    Interesting that you have a fear of being looked into by someone. I have heard so many women say, “I wish he could see me inside and see how much I love him and what a nice person I am.”

    But then you keep telling me of all these sins of yours that you wish to keep nailing Christ to the cross again for. So it is no wonder you have expressed a phobia.

  46. cindy

    Okay, believe me, I would love to stay on topic and focus strictly on what the Bible says.  Maybe our problem is that we are looking at a number of topics at once.

    The big difference between what we are saying seems to be in terms of the idea of humans becoming perfected…whether that is possible and if so, how it happens.

    If you are willing, perhaps we could let the other issues slide for now and concentrate on that…sound okay?

    Would you mind sharing with me which characters in the Bible you believe were perfect and how did they become that way?

  47. Bus Gillespie

    The Bible states that Job was perfect.   But I think a bigger issue here is a confused idea about sin and perfection.  The LDS belief in the plan of happiness deals with progression.  Progression is moving forward, advancing, and becoming better.  Stopping that progression is to dam it or damn the movement forward.

    Sins of commission are thoughts and actions that go contrary to the expressed commandments of the Lord, while sins of omission are inaction, not doing good when an opportunity is there.  
    The monastic orders of our brothers in the Catholic church were originally an attempt to separate themselves from the temptations of the world.  The problem with that approach to life is that it also separates us from the opportunities to progress, expand our talents, and do good in the world.
    So who is perfect?  Many people are perfect in certain aspects of the law.  I’ve never killed another person so I’m perfect at following commandment # 7.  I pay my tithes and offerings every month so I’m perfect in abiding by that commandment.  But do I act selfishly or harbor some ill will towards another, sure I do so I’m not perfect there.  However, weekly I can re-covenant with Christ that I am willing to live up to his expectations and when I do that I can be perfect for a few minutes because Christ has taken the sins I have committed upon himself and ransomed me from them and their effects.  
    The LDS belief of sin and redemption is a lifelong endeavor with Christ helping out along the way as we strive to become more like him.  It isn’t a one time shot, we as children of our heavenly father have great capacity to change, repent, and progress, yet all of that is dependent on our willingness to rely on Christ’s help in our efforts to become “perfect, even as he is”. 

  48. cindy

    Hi Bus,  thanks for the reply.  

    First of all, I struggle with the idea that Job was actually perfect for a couple of reasons.  One is that the Greek word for perfect in this case means to complete, so it seems that it is Job’s position with God is perfect, nit his moral behavior.  That fits better with the many references in the Bible that speak of no man being righteous, don’t you think?  Secondly, if Job was really perfect, why did he need to repent? He (Job) explains his sin in his own words. In responding to God’s questioning, he said: “You asked, ‘Who is this who hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”  Job’s sin was that he questioned God’s ability to mete out justice.

    But it seems we do have very different views in terms of the bigger issues of sin and progression.  If sin is the transgression of the law of Moses (the ten commandments) then you are perfect as you say.  but didn’t Christ redefine the law of Moses in Matthew 5 when He said, “Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill ; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:  ButI say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of thejudgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say , Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. ” (among other redefinitions).

    Wasn’t He saying that keeping the law was about more than just controlling our outward actions? That if we truly loved God we would keep the law in our hearts as well? If so, He raised the bar of His expectations to a much higher degree…one which, if we could reach it would truly distinguish us as followers of Christ, but also one which is certainly out of our reach without Him.

    But isn’t that great because then if we can do that our actions will be a witness of Him and will draw others to Him instead of drawing others to us, right?

    Then the question is how do we progress to the point where we actually keep the law in our hearts? Does this sound like how it happens from your perspective? “Justification is conferred in Baptism, the Sacrament of faith. It conforms to the Righteousness of God, who makes us inwardly just by the power of His mercy. .Jesus Christ himself continually infuses his virtue into the said justified…this virtue always precedes and accompanies and follows their good works, which without it could not in any wise be pleasing and meritorious before God.” This is actually from the catechism of the Catholic church, but to me it sounded just like what has been described in this post.

    I have a different belief about how we are made able to keep the law in our hearts, but I’ll wait to hear back from you first.

  49. Cindy
     
    Cindy

    In demonstrating something from the Bible I think it important to establish the principle that anything stated in the Bible should be taken at face value first. In other words if the Bible says we can fly to the moon we don’t sit and change its meaning because we don’t believe that now. We take it as the ultimate word of God for discussions sake.

    Only if it plainly contradicts a direct statement clearly saying the opposite would we consider further evaluation to be necessary.

    Without compliance to these 2 rules we can easily just go in circles.

    Having stated this I believe it is important to note with it that there are 2 levels of doctrine in the Bible – Law of Moses and Gospel of Jesus Christ. So these can be seen as a contradiction due to knowledge and spiritual levels of individuals. This does throw in a complication to the simple concept above.

    So remembering all this let’s see how we go.
     
    The Bible tells us that Noah was a just man.

    “… Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”
     
    Whatever we may wish to interpret of the idea of him being perfect in his generations as specifically meaning, we are left with him being “just” and walking with God. To feel comfortable walking with God would require a person to be spiritually clean.

    “There was a man in the land of Uz, whose name was Job; and that man was perfect and upright, and one that feared God and eschewed evil.” Job 1:1 (also note 1:8 and 2:3).

    “Mark the perfect man, and see he upright; for the end of that man is peace.” Psa 37:37

    “My eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: He that walks in a perfect way, he shall serve me. Psa 101:6

    These are some few to start with.
     
    Let me re-iterate that John states over and over that those born of God no longer sin at all. He states such things as that they CAN’T sin because they are born of God and his seed is in them.
     
    John states that those born of God overcome the world.
     
    John states that those born of God are so full of love that they can’t work ill toward their neighbor. This is all very clear.
     
    Bus has presented the lower doctrine given to the church at this time due to the lack of high-level spirituality within it. This will alter soon enough. But you will find that his doctrine and mine will only relate half the time. So carry on your discussion with him as a separate issue.

    The second part of your question is how they became perfect.

    To achieve that you just change your heart perspective through sanctification of the Holy Ghost.

  50. Cindy

    Thank you for your desire to believe in the Bible. We share that desire. I also appreciate the fact that you want to accept the literal nature of the Bible and I share that belief as well. I also agree that unless there are two conflicting views on a biblical topic the Word is Truth. Don’t you think that the perfection of man is one of those topics? I mean, for each of the verses you shared with me about how we can be perfect, just and sinks, there are as many that describe our sinful, unworthy, evil nature as well. In your statement about the two levels are you saying that if we are within the gospel if christ we are able to be perfect while under the law of Moses we aren’t? I could see that given my belief that we are freed from the law through Christ, so without the law we are not able to sin, right?

    So the question is how do we get freed from the law through Christ? Can you explain what you mean about how we change our heart perspective? How does that happen?