The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST)

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July 3, 2011
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Q. Why does the LDS use the KJV of the Bible and not the Inspired Version that Joseph Smith translated himself? I am a member of a Baptist church now but  I grew up and was in the RLDS. I still have my three-in-one and and I find that the inspired version speaks to me more and I get more out of it than any other translation there is.  I eagerly await your reply. Oh and although I am a Baptist now, I do not agree with people claiming Mormons and other LDS-based churches are not Christians and I respect what your church as done over the years. Keep up the good work; I know you are winning souls for Jesus. -Ivan

A. Thank you for your kind words, Ivan. I’m glad you are reading from the Inspired Version. I agree that it’s a tremendous resource for Bible study and worship and I pray you will continue to study it.

For the rest of our readers, let me explain a few things about your question before I get to the answer:

RLDS is an acronym for the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, now known as the Community of Christ, an off-shoot religion based on the one Joseph Smith founded in 1830. When the prophet Joseph Smith, Jr. was martyred in 1844, there was some confusion among the latter-day saints who should rise to lead them as the next prophet and president of the Church. A majority recognized the prophetic mantle had fallen upon Brigham Young and followed him west to the Utah desert. Some believed that eleven-year-old Joseph Smith III was supposed to succeed his father; this group remained in Illinois and eventually coalesced into the RLDS Church in 1860.

The Inspired Version of the Bible is also known as the Joseph Smith Translation (JST). It is an English-language translation of the Holy Bible based upon the King James Version (KJV). More details to follow.

A Three-in-One is a printing of the RLDS scriptures, including the Inspired Version of the Bible (JST), the Book of Mormon, and the Book of Doctrine and Covenants. It is similar to an LDS Quad, except we have four books (including the Pearl of Great Price), our Doctrine & Covenants is a bit different, and our Bible is KJV instead of JST. This is what prompted Ivan’s question (why don’t Mormons use JST?)

The Joseph Smith Translation

When Joseph Smith translated the Book of Mormon, he learned that the Bible was incomplete. An angel taught the Book of Mormon prophet-king Nephi that, “when [the Bible] proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, [but corrupt groups] have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away” (1 Nephi 13:24,26). In other words, the Bible lost some of its original teachings over the centuries and it needed to be corrected.

Fortunately, God’s work cannot be thwarted. Jesus taught, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). After Joseph had completed his translation of the Book of Mormon by the gift and power of God, the Lord instructed him to do a similar work on the Holy Bible, but instead of being a translation from one language to another, it would be a translation from corruption to purity by the gift and power of God. In many instances, the original writings of the ancients were restored. Some of the changes Joseph implemented were meant to give verses a “plainer” meaning (clarifying archaic phrases or harmonizing doctrines), and a majority were simply grammatical improvements.

One of the most significant changes was made to Genesis. Instead of starting with “In the beginning…”, the JST opens with an encounter Moses had with God on Mount Sinai. Moses asks the Lord about the earth and why it was created. The Lord shows Moses a vision of the seven days of creation, and of Adam and Eve, etc. At this point, it jumps into the familiar KJV story, and it also includes more details on various other things, including the mysterious character named Enoch, who “walked with God” (Genesis 5:24). This section of the JST is included in the Pearl of Great Price and is known as the Book of Moses. You can (and should!) read the Book of Moses. It gives wonderful insights into the fall of Adam and Eve, knowledge of the plan of redemption in ancient times, the purpose of life and much more.

There are many other JST changes throughout the length of the Bible. Most of the doctrinally-relevant ones can be found in the LDS edition of the Bible (in the footnotes, or in an appendix for lengthier passages). The full text is also available online at this link.

How Do Mormons Use the JST?

The Joseph Smith translation is not the official Bible of the LDS Church; the King James Version is. Among the reasons for this are the following:

  • It was never formally published by Joseph Smith. Although he clearly worked his way through the entire Bible by 1833, he was still making minor edits at the time he was killed in 1844, and it is unclear in some cases whether the notes he left in his margins and on his manuscripts were private thoughts or revealed truths.
  • At Joseph’s death, the manuscripts for the JST were in the possession of his widow, Emma. As Brigham Young was preparing to move the latter-day saints west, he requested that she provide them to him but he was denied (Emma had some animosity toward Brigham that led her to stay in Illinois; she became part of the RLDS Church when it was formed).
  • When the RLDS Church began publishing the Inspired Version, LDS Church leaders in Utah were suspicious that the RLDS publishers may have made some illegitimate changes. Decades later, they finally allowed the Utah Mormons to examine the original manuscripts and their fears were allayed.
  • For many years the RLDS Church maintained the copyright.

Even though the KJV is the LDS official Bible, the Book of Moses and the JST of Matthew 24 are officially canonized in the Pearl of Great Price. And, like I mentioned above, we have footnotes (I highlighted all of mine with green colored pencil) and an appendix full of JST notes as valuable resources to study. So, Ivan, we do believe in and study the Inspired Version.

The JST is a tremendous blessing for anyone seeking a better understanding of Bible teachings; I encourage you to use it often in your Bible study.

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45 Responses to “The Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible (JST)”

  1. cindy

    Does the RLDS still hold the copyright to the JST?

    When you study with the JST alongside the KJV and find differences between the two, to which one do you give precedence?    

    For example, which of these would you believe?
    1.  Now to him who is justified by the law of works, is the reward reckoned, not of grace, but of debt.
    5But to him that seeketh not to be justified by the law of works,but believeth on him who justifieth not the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

    2.  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
    5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.

     

     

  2. Thaddeus

    I’m not sure of all the legal details of the JST copyright, but since it was published before 1923 the first edition’s copyright has run out. In 1944, the RLDS Church published a “new corrected edition.” I don’t know what the distinction is.

    I’d go with JST. King James’s translators were earnest and prayerful (and they did get it right most of the time), but they were not prophets.

    I’d go with Joseph’s translation of Romans 4:4-5:
    “Now to him who is justified by the law of works, is the reward reckoned, not of grace, but of debt. But to him that seeketh not to be justified by the law of works, but believeth on him who justifieth not the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”

    Cindy, you have been quite active in our comments lately. Are you here to prove that Mormons are wrong?

     

  3. Cindy

    Thanks for your honest answer. So you’ll rely on works to get your grace? That seems consistent with what is being said here.

    In terms of my activity on thus blog…I am sort of using all of you…as a way to get a Mormon perspective on topics that are relationship breakers for my true Mormon friends and neighbors. And lucky for me you post on so many of the topics that are at odds withbiblucal Christianity. You are certainly welcome to ask me to leave. I just appreciate this opportunity for the candor without the fear of truly offending a loved one….not that I don’t love you all:)!

  4. Sean

    Cindy,
    Be careful of what you call “Biblical” Christianity. There are thousands upon thousands of Christian denominations adhering to differing ideologies that all say that they adhere to “Biblical” Christianity. There are many, many different “Bibles” with many different translations and books included in them. With different messages coming out of them because of those translations and interpretations. Many things that the various American Protestant sects call “Biblical” are actually 3rd century (and in some cases 19th century) additions.
    I don’t mean to be belligerent, but the word “Biblical” is one of my pet peeves, as many people who use that word are unaware that the majority of Bibles today are, even by themselves, not just one book, and also that these compilations have passed down two thousand years through different translations, interpretations, and organizations. How someone could think that these collections of epistles, Jewish scriptures, and histories could come to this century unchanged and pure is beyond me.

  5. Thaddeus

    Cindy, that particular reading of Romans 4:4-5 emphasizes that salvation comes by faith instead of our efforts to be justified by works.

    Is it that “not” at the end there that’s bugging you?

    I’m not anxious to ban anyone from the site, but during many of these exchanges I’ve felt more like we were defending from a siege than having a conversation. I’m sure that part of the problem is our knee-jerk reactions, so I apologize if we’ve come across as hostile.

    Let’s all take a step back and figure out why we’re here. When we write a comment, are we thinking, “How can I make them see how wrong they are?” or “Why do they hold these views?” This website is meant to address the latter question. The former is a waste of time.

  6. cindy

    Thaddeus,
    Thanks for your honest response…you chose the JST…I’ve tried to define what each one means below…what do you think?
    1.  Now to him who is justified by the law of works, is the reward reckoned, not of grace, but of debt.
    5But to him that seeketh not to be justified by the law of works,but believeth on him who justifieth not the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
    To the one who works his reward is earned.  To the one who doesn’t work but believes that Christ does not justify the ungodly (the sinful) His faith is counted for righteousness.  Isn’t that saying that Christ will only justify the righteous?  If that is so, then don’t we have to be godly (sinless) in order to be justified?
    2.  Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.
    5But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.
    To the one who works his reward is earned.  To the one who doesn’t work but believes that Christ justifies the ungodly (the sinful) His faith is counted for righteousness.  This says that if we have faith that Christ saved us while we were still in our sins, we are counted righteous.
    Which one requires more faith in Christ?
     
     
     
     

  7. cindy

    Sean,
    Sorry…I didn’t mean to offend.  My definition of Biblical Christianity is any church that professes the Biblical definitions of God, Christ, grace, repentance, forgiveness, salvation, etc.  And while you say, “There are many, many different “Bibles” with many different translations and books included in them. With different messages coming out of them because of those translations and interpretations.”  There may be many Bible translations, but the message is always the same…here is a basic overview
    God
    Ro 1:19-20 “…that which is known about God is evident within them, for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.”
    Our Sins
    Everyone does wrong things. God calls this sin. These sins create a barrier between each individual and God. Eccl 7:20 “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who continually does good and who never sins.” Ro 3:23“All have sinned and come short of God’s standard …. Isa 59:1,2 “Behold! The Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save, neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you so that He does not hear.”
    Dead to God and Dead to Righteousness
    This is man’s natural condition. Concerning our relationship with God: Ps 53:2,3 “God has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there is anyone who understands, who acts wisely, who seeks after God. Every one of them has turned aside; together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.” “We are, by nature, children of wrath (Eph 2:3) … excluded from the life of God (Eph 4:18) … dead in our trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:18). We are dead in our sins – thus we are Dead to God. Concerning Righteousness: Ro 3:10 “There is none righteous, not even one” Isa 64:6 “All our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment” Ro 6:20 “ When you were slaves of sin, you were free in regards to righteousness” Ro 8:7 “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so ….” We will not – indeed cannot – do genuine righteousness before God. Thus we are Dead to Righteousness. The Bible also teaches that sin deceives us and hardens us (Heb 3:13), blinds us (Deut 16:19), enslaves us (Jn 8:34), and dominates us (Ro 6:16-20). But, that’s not all! “The payment for sin is death … so death spread to all people, because all have sinned.” (Ro 6:23 and 5:12) This is The Bad News … it is really bad news. Fortunately, this is not the end of the story.

    God’s Remedy – The Good News

    Jesus’ life and death. God, through Moses, preached to us what He expects of us (the Ten Commandments and the rest of the moral Law). Unfortunately, that damns us all as we fail to live up to it. So, God decided to practice what He had preached. He became a Man. That is who Jesus is. He obeyed His own Law perfectly – and never sinned. When Jesus was framed and murdered, God the Father took advantage of an opportunity. He requires life for sin (“the life of all flesh is in its blood” [Lev.17:14]) but where sin does not exist, death has no rightful claim. Death had no legitimate claim to Jesus – because sin was absent. But, on the cross, Jesus had our sins piled upon Him, and because His blood was pure, it could pay for them all. That is why I say, “Jesus died for me.” In His death, His blood paid for my sins. Phil 2:6-8 “…although He existed in the form of God, (He) did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” II Cor 5:21 “He (the Father) made Him (Christ) who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf.” I Pet 2:24 “He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, in order that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” I Pet 3:18 “For Christ also died for sins, once for all, the just for the unjust, in order that He might bring us to God ….” Isa 53:5,6,10 and 12 “He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities … the Lord (YHWH) has caused the iniquity of us all to fall upon Him … the Lord (YHWH) was pleased to crush Him as He render(ed) Himself as a guilt offering … He Himself bore the sin of many and interceded for the transgressors.” Col 2:13,14 “And when you were dead in your transgressions … He (the Father) made you alive together with Him (Christ), having forgiven us all our transgressions, having cancelled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us, and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross ….”

    Jesus Physically Rose From the Dead
    His death is not, “The End.” After being dead, on the third day, Jesus physically walked out of the grave alive. Actually, death had no rightful claim to Him (or His body) because He had no sin of His own – and death is imposed because of sin. All the sins that were placed upon Him while He was dying (our sins) were paid for the moment He died. So, there He stood on the other side of death’s door with no sin – so it was impossible for Him not to physically come out of that grave! Death had no rightful claim to Him – or His body! Acts 10:40,41 “God raised Him up on the third day, and granted that He should become visible, not to all the people, but to witnesses who were chosen beforehand by God, that is, to us (the disciples), who ate and drank with Him after He arose from the dead.” I Cor 15:1,3 and 4 “Now I (Paul) make known to you, brethren, the gospel … that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures (as had been predicted in the Old Testament), and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures (as had been predicted in the Old Testament) ….” Also Ro 5:8-10, Heb 7:25, Heb 9:14, Heb 9:28, Heb 9:22.

    Man’s Right Response

    Jn 6:40 “Everyone who beholds the Son, and believes in Him, has eternal life; and I Myself will raise Him up on the last day.” Jn 6:29 “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him (Jesus) whom He (the Father) has sent.” Jn 1:12 “As many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become the children of God.” Ro 10:9,13 “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’ and believe in you heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved … whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved.” II Cor 3:16 “Whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is taken away.
    When a person responds favorably (appropriately) to this message – God removes the sin barrier between the individual and Himself!
    This shows our transfer into His Family as the Veil (our sin barrier) is eternally removed! Col 12,13 “Joyously giving thanks to the Father who has … delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of the beloved Son.” Illustration: When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, the clouds of the “complete overcast” are totally removed. Just as the sun can be seen when the clouds disappear, so also when a person is in Christ, the sin problem is removed and a person has a direct, unobstructed relationship with God! Our personal veil of sin … eternally evaporates!
    Blood of Jesus Gift of Righteousness Eternal Life Alive to God Alive to Righteousness
    I Pet 1:18 (Blood of Jesus) “…you were bought with precious blood, the blood of Christ.” Ro 5:17 (Gift of Righteousness) “those who receive the gift of righteousness – will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” Jn 10:28 (Eternal Life) “I (Jesus) give eternal life to them and they will never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.” Ro 6:13 (Alive to God) “… present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead ….” Ro 6:18 (Alive to Righteousness) “and having been freed from sin, you became ‘slaves’ of righteousness.” Also Ro 4:2-9, I Cor 1:26-31, Phil 3:8-11.
    If you were to die today, and stand before God, and He asks, ‘Why should I let you into Heaven?’ what will you say?” The response to this question defines your understanding of salvation.
    If you say, “I am trusting in the blood of Jesus alone to pay for everything I have ever done wrong – for everything that I am – and I am trusting in His righteousness alone to make me acceptable with You. His perfect obedience to the Law, being credited to me as a gift upon receiving Him, is the only righteousness I have. It is upon these two things – His blood and His righteousness – lie my only hope for entrance into heaven. There are no other grounds which I bring to You for why You should accept me.” you are IN!!
    The point is this: either Jesus is your Savior – 100% or He is not. He will not share that glory with another. Everybody is on the same level. He will be indebted to no one. He owes heaven to no one. All our service to Him, and all efforts to live in a behaviorally acceptable manner, is our way of thanking Him for having done it all for us perfectly! We want to be like Him and prove to Him we appreciate what He did for us and our obedience and zeal for His fame is one way we show Him we love Him. But all our efforts to forward His agenda are not meant to supplant what He did.

  8. cindy

    Thaddeus,
    I guess my awfully log last post (sorry about that) defines what I think we are here.  If we are truly all Christians…we should be honestly professing Christ in all we say.

  9. Sean

    Cindy,
    I think we agree on a lot of fronts actually. True, we as LDS are not Nicene Trinitarians, but we both agree that works alone cannot save us, and that without the grace and atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ we cannot be saved, and that we can never be good enough for salvation, as natural man is an enemy to God, and that even if we repent, we still sin continually and fall short.
    However, I think we disagree on the faith only part. This doctrine is actually not much older than the LDS Church and originates from Martin Luther. He even went so far as to dismiss the Gospel of James as “a gospel of straw” because it conflicted with his new theory!
    I’m not going to Bible bash here and type out a list of scriptures supporting the faith, works, and grace salvation argument as we both have different interpretations of these various scriptures. So I’ll explain to you what I believe with just a few scriptures to show you the Mormon interpretation of them as opposed to the basic Mainstream American Protestant interpretation of them.
    I believe that Jesus Christ died in order to save us. (I believe that I am saved as I took upon His name) I believe that He took upon and suffered for all of our sins in the Garden of Gethsemane and finally gave His life for us and was resurrected. I believe that in order to live with the Father and the Son we must follow Christ’s example and be baptized of water and the spirit (receive the Holy Ghost, Acts 8: 14-17) by priesthood authority ordained of God (without that we could just baptize ourselves or get some guy off the street to do it) and endure to the end, striving to keep God’s commandments to our best ability.
    I don’t believe in a works based salvation. I believe that because I have faith in Christ and love Him I will be faithFUL in keeping His commandments. Just as faith without works is dead, so are works without faith also dead. Faith and works shouldn’t be separate. Living by works without having faith in the Lord and hoping for salvation of some sort is useless. So is believing in God and confessing His name but living a life blatantly contrary to God’s plan for us. Titus 1:16: “They profess that they know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient (there is a difference between sinning because you are human, and being openly disobedient)and unto every good work reprobate.”James 2:18: “Yea, a man may say, thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”
    I think there is a big misunderstanding between your philosophy and ours unless you take the Lutheran (the man, not the sect) extremist view that you ONLY have to believe in Christ and confess His name to be saved. I think there is a disagreement that doesn’t really exist. I haven’t met many people (there are some new age “Christians” who I’ve met who take this view) that would say you can acknowledge Christ as your Lord then do anything that you want without any consequences and you get a free pass to heaven. I would assume that you believe we are judged by how hard we try to keep the commandments as that is spoken of many times in the NT. Matthew 16:27: “For the Son of man shall come in the Glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Why should the man that tries not at all to follow the will of the Father yet who has been saved be rewarded equally with the man who has spent his life serving God in every way he can? There is no justice in that.
    I find your very last post to be heartwarming and encouraging: ” If we are truly all Christians…we should be honestly professing Christ in all we say.” 

  10. Sean

    Wow, that was rambling! Sorry about that.

  11. Sean

    I think this snippet from the Encyclopedia of Mormonism explains our stance on Faith and Works pretty well: “True faith is belief plus action. Faith implies not only the mental assent or cognition of belief but also its implementation. Beliefs in things both spiritual and secular impel people to act. Failure to act on the teachings and commandments of Christ implies absence of faith in him. Faith in Jesus Christ impels people to act in behalf of Christ, to follow his example, to do his works. Jesus said, “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” (Matthew 7:21 italics added)

  12. Patty

    Sean,

    You said, “Faith in Jesus Christ impels people…to do his works.”  You then quoted Matthew 7:21.  Is doing His works the same thing as doing the will of the Father? 

    1. What specifically are those works?

    2. What to those who do not do those works? 

    3. What happens to those who do those works?
     

  13. Cindy

    Dear Sean,
    Thanks for your responses…even the rambling one…I can ramble myself at times, as you have well seen!  I appreciate the passion and your desire to trust in Christ behind your words as well.
    I think we both agree that faith and works are described in the Bible as parts of the life of every true believer.  But are they equal parts in terms of their role in our salvation?  I think that this is perhaps where we differ.  I believe that we truly ARE saved by faith in Christ alone.  That my salvation is reliant completely upon the work of Christ and not because of anything I can do.  But I also believe that it is through that faith that I am ABLE to be obedient to the commandments to love God and others. 
    The story of the sinful woman in Luke 7 explains my belief.  At the end of this story, Jesus makes the following statement, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, the same loveth little.”  What a beautiful witness of the power of completely trusting in Christ!  This sinful woman was empowered to obey the commandments (upon which all the others hang) to love God and others because she fully accepted the forgiveness of hers sins from Christ.
    If I believe that I am fully forgiven I can love much…I am able to to obey the commandments to love God and others…but if I am working for my forgiveness through the process of repentance I am able to love little…God or others.
    This is why James places his focus on works..because our works truly DO reflect our faith.  If we are able to love God and others as freely as the sinful woman…if we are able to care not at all about what others think of us as we weep and lavish praise on Christ as our Savior, we represent the kind of works that are only possible through complete faith in Christ!
    Rambled again…sorry!

  14. Sean

    Patty,
    I would say yes. Doing the works of Jesus Christ is the same as doing the will of the Father, as He wants us to do our very best.
    1. What specifically are those works?
    The OT and NT recognized by most modern western Christian religions are filled with commandments to follow the law and to do good works. As you know there are a lot and I need not list them here.
     
    2. What to those who do not do those works?
    Everyone trips up. Everyone slacks off to some extent. We are all human and imperfect. According to many passages (again, not listing them here unless you want me to) in the OT and NT, we will be judged according to our works, both good and evil. We will be judged on how well we follow the law and Christ and how well we live our lives and spend our time. 
     
    3. What happens to those who do those works?
    I think two and three are part of the same question. We are rewarded according to our deeds. Some people receive more, some less.
     
    Cindy,
    Thanks for the reply. None of us should really complain about rambling I guess lol. This is a blog and we are not writing college papers. ;)
    If we are saved (the LDS view is different) just by accepting His name and believing in Him, what about all of the evil people who have truly believed in Christ and taken upon His name? People like the Crusaders, whose crimes are well known, who butchered and violated Saracens and Greeks in the name of Christ, or murderer fanatics who have thought that they were doing God’s will, or the Christian slavers and slave owners, or the myriad of other believing Christians who have committed heinous crimes? Will the upright and just be given the same reward as the purely evil?
    In our church, we believe that acknowledging Christ as our Lord and Savior and believing in His existence are just the first step even before baptism. It’s a given for us, not an achievement.
    Our belief in salvation is a lot different than most other Christian philosophies. As you probably know, we believe that we existed before this life. We believe that we come into this life to receive a body and to accept the gospel of Jesus Christ and to receive His ordinances . After this life, we believe in three Kingdoms of Glory, or “Heavens”:  Telestial (“Hell,” like this world, where only the Holy Ghost comes), Terrestrial (The idealistic “Heaven.” Where Christ comes), and the Celestial (Where God the Father, Christ His Son, and the Holy Ghost dwell.)
    We believe that you can be saved in the Terrestrial Kingdom just by taking upon Christ’s name and living a decent life. However, to attain the highest, we believe that you must follow Christ as close as you possibly can by living the best life you possibly can, and receiving His ordinances such as baptism.
    We believe that “reward” and “punishment” are classified into more than just two locations: Hell (This word has become synonymous with “Tartarus,” the Greek place of fire and punishment, when in actuality the word for “Hell” in the Greek was translated not from Tartarus, but Hades, meaning “death.”) and Heaven. (“Elysium,” these views of “Heaven” and “Hell” are not surprising given the evident Hellenization of the various Christian groups in the centuries following Christ’s ministry.) We believe that all people are rewarded according to their deeds, and that the human condition warrants a multifaceted afterlife, as people are not black and white; neither completely good or completely evil.
    One of our prophets said something that really helps clarify our position on “reward”(one man’s reward is another man’s punishment) and “punishment” (one man’s punishment is a good enough reward for another man) in the afterlife. He said that when we are judged, we will be our harshest critic. We will know what we want and deserve.
     

  15. cindy

    Hi Sean,
    Thanks for your honest, and comprehensive response.  I truly wold rather read the fullness of what you believe even if it takes a bit longer!:)
    A couple of responses to your post:
    You said, “If we are saved (the LDS view is different) just by accepting His name and believing in Him, what about all of the evil people who have truly believed in Christ and taken upon His name?” 
     
    I would ask whether these people were truly saved if their response to salvation was evil?  James said that faith without works is dead…(you like that verse right?  Me too!) so did those who were doing evil really have faith in Christ in the first place?  The natural response to receiving complete forgiveness of sins would be love, not evil as Jesus spoke of in the Luke story I described before.
     
    You said, “We believe that all people are rewarded according to their deeds, and that the human condition warrants a multifaceted afterlife, as people are not black and white; neither completely good or completely evil.” 
     
    I would ask you to think about that.  In revelation 3, Jesus Himself says that God abhors lukewarm believers, ” I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”  Doesn’t He call us to either believe fully or not?  Haven’t we agreed that it is Christ or nothing? 

    I agree that we will be made aware of all of our actions and we will feel the weight of all as well, but it is Jesus who will make the final judgement of us, “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats . . . And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” Matthew 25:31-46” It sure seems like Jesus is saying it’s heaven or hell regardless of your definition.
     
    If our entrance to eternal life is based upon a continuum of good works then aren’t we denying the righteous life and death of Christ offered on our behalf?  If we work for our position in heaven aren’t we rejecting the complete righteousness that Christ offers us if we believe in Him?  Or did Christ simply come to serve as a model for us of what we can accomplish on our own?
     
    Much of this seems to be based on the LDS idea that there are three levels of heaven, and I think if you read Paul’s words in context you will find that he was not.  In Corinthians 15 Paul only mentions celestial and terrestial in his description of heaven and earth.  And in 2 Corinthians Paul is simply representing the representation of the different atmospheres of his day, The first heaven was of clouds, birds, etc.,  the second heaven was of stars and planets. And the third heaven was where God dwelt…otherwise known as paradise. 

    Given all of God’s emphasis on following Him and no one else, believing in Him and nothing else, receiving Christ and nothing else, doesn’t it make sense that the results of our belief would be either or as well?

  16. Sean

    Hey Cindy,
    Again thanks for the honest response!
    Even if these people committed horrors after they believed, they still believed, requiring anything after that is depending on a faith and works based salvation (being faithFUL once you started believing). I don’t think I was explaining myself well in my previous posts.
    I didn’t really explain our belief of “Hell” really well last night. We believe that spiritual death “Hades” is anywhere without fullness of God, and the lukewarm will not receive the fullness of God or the fullness of reward, but will be cast off from His (Christ’s) presence. Those who commit the unpardonable sin will be cast into outer darkness.
    Regarding Jesus being the only judge, it would seem right wouldn’t it? However the NT also says that the apostles will judge as well. Our prophet wasn’t speaking of us being the literal judges though, he was just saying we would be our own worst critic, as we will know our deeds and our lives will be lain out before us.
    “If our entrance to eternal life is based upon a continuum of good works then aren’t we denying the righteous life and death of Christ offered on our behalf?” I don’t think so. Christ made up for our mistakes, but we still have to try our best to follow Him (be faithful to Him). To be a disciple is to follow after His mode of discipline. If we do not follow after His discipline, we are not His disciples. The NT & OT are filled with people being judged according to their works. Not simply according to if they believed or not. I think “works” is tripping us up in our conversation. Christ did indeed command us to do certain acts, but when I think of works in the context of your whole life, I simply think of “works” as “living your life.” Either you did it the wrong way, or you did it right. Did you try your best to follow Christ, or did you slack off and/or do evil.
    Concerning Paul, like I have said before, we have very different interpretations of different scriptures. For instance, when Jesus said “upon this rock will I build my Church” the Catholics believe that Peter (rock) was just made the first Pope. We LDS believe that he is talking about revelation. We believe that in the case where Paul is talking about celestial and terrestrial bodies, he is speaking of differing glories. If there was only one “Heaven” (place of reward) then why did a man get caught up to the third heaven? We also hear of Christ speaking of many mansions. Again, we probably have differing interpretations there. 
    If the results were so simple I think there would be a great many truly evil people in paradise with God. That wouldn’t seem like a very just God if those who followed Christ as closely as they can were plopped in with murderers and others.
    A question. I am a bit confused as to your definition of “believing in Christ” and I think it might be tripping me up a bit. Do you mean, acknowledgement of His work for us and accepting Him as your Lord and Savior? Or acknowledging His work for us and accepting Him as your Lord and Savior and trying to live your life in accordance with His will? Are you saved if you just acknowledge Him and accept Him? Wouldn’t accepting Him imply following the laws of His kingdom? Are you truly saved if you do not live your life in accordance with His will as closely as you can?
     
     

  17. Cindy

    Hi Sean,

    Sorry for the delayed response. Im away visiting family.

    You asked me to define what I mean by believing in Christ. To me that means what it says 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. Christ died for my sins and in Romans 3:23-26. Christ justified, redeemed me from death, accepted the punishment I deserve and exchanged his righteousness for my sin.

    I belive he did everything necessary for me to recieve the best God offers. Anything I do in response will glorify him because it’s not required but done out of gratitude.

    You said, “Christ made up for our mistakes, but we still have to try ourbest to follow Him (be faithful to him “. That seems to leave much up to you, and if that’s the case then won’t you also be the one to get the glory for your works?

  18. Sean

    Thanks for the response Cindy. And don’t worry about taking time between responses. A few years ago I was in Houston visiting family (I live in Dallas, 6th generation Texan! :D Pretty much my whole family lives in the state) and was stuck in the middle of a political debate on Yahoo. For some reason, I insisted on continuing the conversation during my trip. It didn’t ruin my time there, but I did spend time on the computer that I should have been spending with my family. I am in no way suggesting that you are doing the same thing. I just remembered that just now and thought I’d share it.
     
    Anyway, back to what we were talking about. I think it’s safe to say that you believe we will achieve Heaven regardless of our choices in this life, and that it is dependent entirely on if we acknowledge Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us? I truly wish to understand your theology. You know mine. (Strict Restorationist LDS) What general or strict philosophy do you adhere to? Calvinism, Lutheranism, or Methodism? (Baptist movements, Pentecostalism, and most other Protestant movements fall under those three categories) Or are you nondenominational, relying on either your minister’s interpretation or your personal interpretation of the Bible? Some of your beliefs (the ones you have shared with me) are definitely Calvinist/Lutheran in nature.
     
    I would like to know this because I would like to know how you reconcile priesthood authority and works/ordinance based salvation scriptures. Luther disregarded works based scriptures that disagreed with his new view completely, calling the Gospel of James, as I said before, a “gospel of straw,” and calling  the Book of Revelation “neither apostolic nor prophetic.” Calvin was more lenient, believing that both were inspired but disregarding their views (faith and works based) on justification.
     
    If you believe that the Canonical books of the Old and New Testaments (Traditional Protestant 66 Books) contain the fullness of truth. And that the Canon is closed as of the councils during the Reformation, isn’t it easier to acknowledge all of the words contained? We LDS do not take Grace out of our Doctrine. In fact the JST clarifies grace numerous times where it was absent. We just believe that Christ, through His Grace made it possible to attain salvation in Heaven if we but reach out and take it, holding continually to His commandments, being faithful to Him, being His disciple, and the the unconditional part of the atonement was victory over death, which all of Humanity receives.
     
    Of course I might be misunderstanding your belief, considering the possibility that some Protestant translations of the Bible might translate scriptures such as Romans 2: 6-10 differently than we do. We use the KJV: “Who will render to every man according to his deeds (not just his belief): To them who by patient continuance in well doing (good works, being faithful, enduring to the end) seek for glory and honour and immortality eternal life: But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the gentile; But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the gentile.”I would also like to see your interpretation and translation of Revelation 20:13. “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.” And also 2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
     
    Not to be a jerk, but as you know there are a great many scriptures which refer to us being judged according to our adherence to God’s laws. Believing in the Lord is only the first step. A kingdom must have laws. Our God is not the god of anarchic bliss. Christ opened the door for us. We must walk in. “That seems to leave much up to you, and if that’s the case then won’t you also be the one to get the glory for your works?” Yes, for my works I will be given honor if I deserve it. That is biblical according to several scriptures in the KJV. “...But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good...” The parable of the talents illustrates this well. Good servants are given more honor than slothful servants. This is justice, that the just are given salvation from Hell and the unrighteous are damned.We shouldn’t actively seek after glory, but we will receive it if we are worthy of it.

  19. Sean

    I would also very much like to know your positions on authority. Even Calvinism and Lutheranism do not reconcile this, even with Lutheran’s doctrine of the Believer’s Priesthood there are still many holes. I am very curious as to your answers. There are a lot of big questions that are never answered. Questions going back to the very roots of all debate, beyond the Creeds, statements, and various Biblical compositions and translations.
     
    By what authority did the Canon come into being?
    Why do you hold some scripture over other scripture? (What’s Canon versus what isn’t Canon)
    Who declares what is true about the Bible?
    Why could some believers perform certain ordinances in the Bible when others could not?
    Who can define Christianity? 
    Who can declare new doctrine such as the rapture, sola scriptura, etc…?
    What is the Church of Christ if there is such a wide spectrum of belief? 
     

  20. Cindy

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    Wow, there were a lot of questions in your last post…I’ll try to address each…
     
    “I think it’s safe to say that you believe we will achieve Heaven regardless of our choices in this life, and that it is dependent entirely on if we acknowledge Christ’s atoning sacrifice for us?”  I believe what Paul says in Romans 10, “For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.”

    I believe in the Bible as the inerrant, eternal Word of God, as Peter said, “the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever.”  Where it doesn’t seem to match up, I turn to context through which to understand.
     
    Justification by works and/or faith is one of those areas.  There are verses that seem to support the idea of being judged by our works, and just as many that promote justification by faith alone.  So I read the context in which the author writes.  For example, Romans chapter 2 is a part of Paul’s entire overview of the gospel which describes the righteous judgment of God.  God’s holiness demands complete righteousness and that is what Paul is describing.    God truly “will give to each person according to what he has done.” 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil”
    And doesn’t every human do evil?  That is his point…we can’t judge each other because none of us can keep the law.  “You who brag about the law, do you dishonor God by breaking the law?”
    Then in chapter 3 he goes on to say, “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away; they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.”
     
    So none of us should judge each other because none of us is righteous.  Why then is the law there?  To show us our sin.
     
    And, “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin.”
     
    He has carefully set the stage for the GOOD NEWS of the gospel of Jesus Christ! 
     
    “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.
     
    The rest of Romans describes the magnitude of the gift of complete forgiveness of our sins because of the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
     
    You come back to the same scripture again to make your point, “Yes, for my works I will be given honor if I deserve it. That is biblical according to several scriptures in the KJV. “...But glory, honour, and peace, to every man that worketh good...”   and God is saying, go ahead…make your choice…put your faith in your works and try to earn your own glory if you want, but no one can do it according to My standards.  God demands sinless perfection in order to abide with Him, and we need complete forgiveness of sins for that to happen.  How can you get that forgiveness?

  21. Cindy

    I’m sorry but I tried to edit my response in Word before posting it and I think I triggered some weird spam response…sorry.  I’ve posted y response here instead:
     
    http://perceptionsofchrist.blogspot.com/2011/07/jst-question-response.html

  22. Sean

    My response was too long to fit on the other blog. So I’ll post here.
     
    Cindy,
    Thanks for the response, but there are still holes that need to be covered. You said that God caused the canon to come into being. Which canon? Which translation? (Different translations say different things.)They all hold that Christ died for our sins, but they say different things because of translator bias.

    “Why could some believers perform certain ordinances in the Bible when others could not?  You will have to be a bit more specific for me here…” (Acts 19:13-16) Exorcist jews took upon the name of Jesus( which is all you have to do in protestantism) and tried to cast out devils, but failed, not having authority to do so. The apostles could cast out devils. (Acts 8: 14-21) People had been baptized, but had not received the holy ghost, which according to protestantism is a free gift to all believers, (to be baptized, you must believe in Christ, these people weren’t trying to get to heaven without Him) and had to have priesthood holders lay hands upon them. Some one tried to buy the priesthood, but was cast off for it. As you know, there are many times in the Bible that priesthood holders have had to do things that non priesthood holders couldn’t. These are just two scriptures out of many.

    If Christ defined Christianity, why is there such a big debate about what it is and who is and isn’t Christian?

    “I don’t believe that there is new doctrine.  I believe in the Bible as the fullness of God’s Word.” The rapture, sola scriptura, and others are definitely new doctrines not spoken of in the Bible. You can point to the dates of their introduction. The Bible itself speaks against sola scriptura several times in both the old and new testament by referencing scriptures outside of today’s protestant canon. Also, who can say what books are uninspired? Martin Luther denied many books. (Including, as I have said before, Revelation and James.) Was he a prophet? Was he the one that, through God, could determine what is canon? Was Calvin? Were the various presbyters who wrote new creeds and organized new canons?

    “While there may be some disagreement on minor issues within Christian denominations, the basic tenets of faith among all believers in Christ are the same.  Jesus spoke of the church in the following ways:The Church Is One (Rom. 12:5, 1 Cor. 10:17, 12:13, ) ” Many of the issues in Christianity are not minor at all. Many Pentecostals deny the Trinity Doctrine. There are many outside of Catholicism that deny the faith only doctrine. There are many that believe that baptism is essential. As you know, I could go on. There are many radically different beliefs within Christianity, not just minor things like predestination. If all of these differences, though major, are irrelevant, are Mormons, Catholics, JW’s, Arians, Orthodox, Syriacs, Armenians, plus the many outside of denominations that are included in “the Church?” Are we all saved as we all believe in Christ? Are the gnostics saved? They believe in Christ as well, but deny his divinity!

    “His Church also teaches just one set of doctrines, which must be the same as those taught by the apostles (Jude 3). This is the unity of belief to which Scripture calls us (Phil. 1:27, 2:2). ” That’s true, but most Christians disagree about what the scriptures teach. Constantine also tried to whitewash the spectrum of Christian belief in the Roman Empire, but it blew up in his face. “Christianity” as one set of beliefs did not and does not exist. There are thousands of interpretations of scripture. All Christians, when denying the beliefs of other Christians, quote scripture and say that you need to “get back to the Bible,” but when they get there, they start calling each other heretics and creating new ministries with different teachings. A good way to see the spectrum of belief in just protestant Christianity is to turn on a Christian radio station. I listen to my local evangelical station every day to learn about how they approach the scriptures. Their definitions of “Authentic Christian,” a favorite term of one host I listen to often, are different.

    “Religion “operates on the principle ‘I obey – therefore I am accepted by God.’”The operating principle of the gospel is “I am accepted by God through what Christ has done – therefore I obey.”  Without religion, there could be no gospel, for you must obey the gospel in order to accept the gospel. Mostly though, I agree with that quote, but even that quote could be broken down into nuances.

    “This is what the concept of grace is in Christianity that God accepts us because of what Jesus has done, not because of our own efforts.” That is a concept of grace in protestantism exclusively. We LDS and many others outside of the protestant school of thought believe that grace saves us from automatic damnation, but that you must obey and be faithful in order to enter into heaven. However, both of us can quote scripture to support our side.

    On your last paragraph, when you said: “We believe that if we don’t obey we are going to lose God’s blessing in this world and the next.” Are you batting for the other team, or do you actually believe that you can fall from grace? If you believe that, great, so does most of Christianity outside of American Protestantism. If a guy says “the Prayer of Salvation” and is saved, does good for a few years, then goes on a killing spree because he turned back to his old ways, do you believe that he will enter heaven?

    Also, one can be a moralist and do the will of God in gratitude at the same time. You must follow the law of the land to live in it, but you can also follow it out of love for your fellow citizens. They are two sides of one coin.

  23. Sean

    I’ll respond to your post here too. I believe that when Paul says “believe” he is speaking of not only Christ’s atonement, but all of his words.
     
    Most of your post seems to be based on the belief that some scripture is either false or irrelevant, and that the ones holding belief to be a factor in salvation are the only relevant ones. The thing is, there are far more scriptures stating that we will be judged according to our deeds than ones speaking of belief. The old and new Testaments are filled with them. I believe in both the scriptures that talk of believing in Christ AND the ones speaking of being judged by our works. One without the other is incompatible. You don’t have to discount Christ in order to believe that our deeds have a part to play in our salvation and rewards.
     
    and God is saying, go ahead…make your choice…put your faith in your works and try to earn your own glory if you want, but no one can do it according to My standards.”God isn’t saying make a choice, that isn’t in the text at all. He isn’t saying that those given glory and honor are trying to earn their salvation and won’t, just that they deserve what they get for living valiantly. God demands sinless perfection in order to abide with Him, and we need complete forgiveness of sins for that to happen.  How can you get that forgiveness?” Through constantly striving to obey the law as best I can, and repenting when necessary, knowing that even by doing this I will fall short, but knowing that Christ, by taking upon my sins, already suffered the punishment for them. Romans 2:13 “For not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified.” Those who try to earn their way to Heaven without Christ will fall short of it, yet those who simply make a superficial vow of devotion and disobey the law will be damned as well.
     
    I was listening to Jack Graham the other day. He told a story of how he logically cornered a man who believed that works played a part in salvation by using an example of a crashing plane. The people on the plane were given five minutes to live. One man, who lived his life like a scumbag and didn’t even try to do good, turned to his Christian co passenger and asked how he could be saved. The man who believed in works was asked to answer that question. Graham said the man was dumbfounded. However, Mister Graham is wrong as well. Not everyone who says Lord, Lord will enter into the Kingdom of Heaven, yet only those who obey Him. We all know right from wrong.
     
    Let me use a famous example from history. Constantine, who had death bed repentance, lived his life twisting the gospel and various churches in order to serve himself and his dream of one god, one emperor, one church. He had his wife and son killed. He clawed his way to the top of the empire through murder and intrigue, knowing that what he was doing was morally reprehensible. Yet on his deathbed he “gave himself to Christ.” (by an Arian priest BTW, who’s teachings he had banished at the Councils of Nicaea because Athanasius (Saint Athanasius ironically), a priest who passionately believed in One Substance and often defended it through violence, had bribed, threatened, and otherwise convinced the majority of Bishops there that Arius was wrong, showing you how “inspired” those councils really were.) He basically made a deal with God that while he was emperor, he would do what emperors do best, and that before entering death, he would switch his ways. According to the doctrine of faith only he was 1. Already saved when he became emperor, before committing even more heinous acts and 2. Even if he wasn’t saved then he was saved on his deathbed when he “gave himself to Christ.”  Requiring anything more than believing in God and confessing his name is acknowledging that works are a part in our salvation. By our works we are known as either followers of Jesus or otherwise.
     
    I’ll respond to the rest of your post later today or tomorrow.

  24. cindy

    Hi again…I wish we could do this one thing at a time, but okay…
    You asked, “Which canon? Which translation? (Different translations say different things.)”  I don’t think they do say different things…maybe you could post one example.
    You said, “Exorcist Jews took upon the name of Jesus( which is all you have to do in protestantism) and tried to cast out devils, but failed, not having authority to do so.” But that section of Acts says they WERE driving out demons “Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed” BEFORE they invoked the name of Jesus.  Satan has great power to do this kind of work too…
    You said “As you know, there are many times in the Bible that priesthood holders have had to do things that non priesthood holders couldn’t.”  Do you believe that the disciples were given the priesthood by Christ?  Which priesthood?  Which scripture shows that?  Maybe we can talk about priesthood separately…I have lots of questions about that.
    “If Christ defined Christianity, why is there such a big debate about what it is and who is and isn’t Christian?”  There is great debate about whether Mormons are Christian, because we don’t share the same basic beliefs from the Bible.  “Many of the issues in Christianity are not minor at all.” Here is a link to a listing of beliefs that are commonly shared among Christians of most, if not all denominations:
    http://www.mormonsneedhope.com/SiteData/mormonsneedhope/Evangelical%20Beliefs.pdf
    The bottom line is that Christians rely on Christ completely for their salvation.
    “The Bible itself speaks against sola scriptura several times in both the old and new testament by referencing scriptures outside of today’s protestant canon.”
    Just because the Bible references books doesn’t mean they are scripture…I agree with some things in the BOM but don’t accept it as a whole as scripture.
    “Also, who can say what books are uninspired? Martin Luther denied many books. (Including, as I have said before, Revelation and James.) Was he a prophet? Was he the one that, through God, could determine what is canon? Was Calvin?” although these men played roles in the movement of Christianity, God was in charge of determining His word, not them.  The Bible as it stands is the result of God’s work, not Luthers.
    “We LDS and many others outside of the protestant school of thought believe that grace saves us from automatic damnation, but that you must obey and be faithful in order to enter into heaven. However, both of us can quote scripture to support our side.”  Again, I would ask you to consider the verses of works salvation in the context of which they are written.  Anything we do in order to earn salvation demonstrates our lack of faith that Christ already saved us.
    “Also, one can be a moralist and do the will of God in gratitude at the same time.”  Can you?  What are you grateful for if not for the forgiveness of the sin you committed by being unable to follow the law? 

  25. cindy

    Hi again,
    I’ll respond to your second set of thoughts here.
    “I believe in both the scriptures that talk of believing in Christ AND the ones speaking of being judged by our works.”  So do I!!
    Maybe we need to clarify…I believe that true belief in Christ will result in a life filled with the fruit of the spirit/works.  Faith in Christ’s sacrifice as the complete sacrifice for our sins allows us to love much as it did the woman at Simon’s dinner table. 
    But, is it faith or works which justifies us…makes us able to receive God’s best for all eternity?  When you stand before God and ask Him to let you dwell in the Celestial Kingdom, what will you offer?
    You seem to be saying that obedience to the law is the same as works…maybe I am wrong, but you said, “Through constantly striving to obey the law as best I can, and repenting when necessary, knowing that even by doing this I will fall short, but knowing that Christ, by taking upon my sins, already suffered the punishment for them.”  Why are you trying to obey the sins you committed against the law if Christ already suffered the punishment for them?
    How will you know when you have repented enough?  What is necessary?  Isn’t it true that, “no unclean thing can dwell with God; wherefore, ye must be cast off forever.”  How do you get completely clean?  I don’t know about you, but I would need more than one mortal probation in order to clean up after all my sins!

  26. Sean

    Thanks for the site link, but I already know what evangelicals believe. (Evangelicals claim the title of Christian solely for themselves, but unfortunately for them they do not comprise most, or even half of Christianity. (The denominations of Anglicanism, and their descendents, though Protestant, are not evangelical in the American sense.) The protestant systems of belief are not much older than my church, the evangelical teachings are even younger than that and even have most of their roots in the Revival in the 19th century.) As I have said, I listen to them often, and living in Texas, many of my friends and neighbors are evangelical. To me their belief system is hollow, not beautiful and simple as many tell me, just hollow. It leaves too many questions unanswered (they tell me these questions don’t need to be answered and that they are beautiful because they are mysteries like the trinity….uhuh.), and ignores too many critical and historical issues.
     
    I could never be a protestant, ever. Even less an evangelical. Its roots are too obvious for anyone who wants to look, and the scriptures such as being judged by our works are pretty much ignored by most of American Protestantism. Either that or danced around. I would be Catholic first, Orthodox before that, Syriac before that, and agnostic before that. I had a crisis of faith when I was a teen, so I started looking outside of the church. I was wholly cynical of it. First off I investigated the various beliefs of other Christian religions, starting off by reading the various creeds and confessions of belief. I had heard things from my LDS friends, but I wanted to know the source as my friends had a bias. I read the Bible cover to cover several times. That lead me to Classical History studies.
     
    So I started reading up on the histories of Rome and Greece, studying as much as I could about their religions, philosophies, etc…I did this because I was insecure. What started my crisis of faith was someone telling me something from Church history that I didn’t know. I can’t remember what it was, something about Joseph Smith drinking wine in Carthage Jail. I was angry and ignorant. I didn’t want anyone to be able to tell me something about Christianity and world history that I didn’t already know. A silly and impossible goal, I know, but I was like 15. Ignorant and passionate.
     
    After I got past the middle empire period of Rome I started reading about Christian History. (Eusebius and others) This gives me my cynical view of the creeds and the doctrines behind them. I read and reread the NT & OT apocrypha. (BTW, I don’t know why one wouldn’t consider those things scripture, as many of them are dated around the same period as the gospels and are not looked at as forgeries by most scholars. Some of them are even included in the Catholic Bible.) I saw that many of them were dis-included and labeled “apocrypha” after the third century because they went against the politics of the various Bishoprics of the day. Reading on, I studied the Normans and Byzantines, reading about the history of the Orthodox and Catholic churches and seeing their obvious connections to politics, power plays, and old myths (Beautifying (sainting) dead people is a lot like the Roman practice of deifying dead emperors.)
     
    Reading this, I began to understand a need for some sort of reformation or revival. Eventually I got to the reformation. Before I read about him, I had always idolized Luther as a brave and zealous man of god who saved Christianity from Catholicism. That’s what my parents told me. I found out that he just created a new religion based on the gospel according to Martin Luther. And Martin Luther did things the way that Martin Luther wanted them done. First he went 180 degrees from Catholicism and announced that there was no priesthood, which, Biblically even in the broadest sense of the word, is wrong. Then he later announced that by his reading of the Bible, we are completely justified by belief in Christ. This is morally and textually wrong, with too many logical holes in it to stand even a cursory glance of scripture. His solution? Discount scriptures that disagreed with his theory. Great guy. A real scholar.
     
    By about this time I was seriously thinking of “converting” to agnosticism. Even today, as I said above, I would be an agnostic if I were not LDS. Most of the people I can easily associate with are liberals and agnostics. (Not militant atheists. Closed minded as they are.) But there HAD to be a god. There just HAD to be. My dad is into physics and even when we talk today we still discuss it. I grew up hearing psychics and religion discussed as if they were one. I believe that emphatically. It and personal experience lead me to believe in a god. More than any book, as, knowing the history of holy books, I know that they could be fallible without revelation.
     
    Moving on, I then raced to the history of my church, skipping Methodist history as my mother was a Methodist until converting and knows it’s history and doctrine…..looking for everything hidden that I could find. At first I had a hard time finding objective sources, as, historically speaking, time heals most wounds and these wounds were fresh, with biased parties on both sides. Under the Banner of Heaven (very biased and supposedly objective) was ill researched, and reading outside of his book (and knowing anything about LDS theology) you can find facts that contradict his book. I couldn’t find anything good at Barnes and Noble either.
     
    I was going nuts. I already knew all of the things that used to shock me. ALL of the claims, even the REALLY bad ones (don’t even mention the God-Makers. That was a joke. I turned it off after 2 minutes of cartoony hyperbole.), and couldn’t find much that was objective. Secular notes are the BEST but they are few and far between. Eventually I had to break down and pray about what was true. (I was about 16 and a half at this point.) I am not one of those mormons who prays and receives a yes, or one of those non mormons who receives a no. As I have said before, I am a huge cynic. Secular studies and friends have made me that way and keep me that way. So praying was and is a challenge for me. While praying, I was almost in tears. If there was no god, then there was no point to life. That didn’t lead to good conclusions. I thought about what I did believe.
     
    I believe in a pre mortal life without question. I believe in an afterlife as I have seen spirits with witnesses. (My grandparents house was freaky.) I believe that there IS a god based on logical conclusions. I believe in prophets, and priesthood authority. Temples even in the sense of the LDS are historical.  Plus if I believe in God, then I believe in Jesus, based on OT prophesies about Him that clearly reference a Messiah. This widdles the list of religions down to one. I have seen miracles first hand, I can and have denied them at times, but considering I was the kind of person who wouldn’t have believed a miracle if it happened in my face. (I would have explained it away.) I second guessed my doubts and assumed that they were miracles, considering the contexts. There are many more profoundly personal reasons (I won’t say them here. I said them once to an atheist and he laughed, which didn’t bother me, but did warn me to keep some things confidential in the extreme.) why I believe. A big thing for be though is the belief that all other Christian schools are false. The flaws of men that people show me are proofs that my religion is false are just as evident in other religions. (Crusades, protestant and catholic persecutions of each other, Inquisitions, witch trials, KKK, antisemitism, popular racism, religious justification of slavery, famous “holy men of God” (pastors and popes) who people look to who have been..less than holy, etc…)
     
    Sorry for that diatribe, but I was trying to explain my PoV. Now, onto your response. If you want, I could reply. As you probably know, I have my own views on all of what you said. However, as you pointed out, this is becoming unwieldy as we are tackling too many subjects to be discussed coherently at once. I noticed this when I was typing my last post this morning, and felt especially guilty as I was typing this post. I would love to continue discussing with you. It’s pretty refreshing and rare to have a polite conversation where no one accuses the other of satanism/cultism. I think this time it would be more prudent to discuss one topic at a time. For instance, you put forth to me that you thought priesthood would be an interesting discussion to have, and, unless you weary of this conversation, which I could understand as I have blogged waaay too much over the past few years, I would be delighted to discuss my beliefs on it with you. I would also like to see your view on religion if you wish to continue.
     
     

  27. Cindy

    I’m glad to continue on if you like…

  28. Cindy

    I posted another response to you before but it seems to have been lost…sorry about that.  I appreciate your willingness to share, your thoughtfulness in sharing, and your willingness to back up your beliefs with scripture.  I’d love to take things a topic at a time, starting with the priesthood.  What is the basis for your belief in the priesthood…in ancient times and now?  What is it’s purpose?

  29. Sean

    Sorry for the delayed response. My life is moving forward like a tiller, and I’m pretty much just holding on at this point.
     
    I should probably start by stating my definition of priesthood in accordance with my interpretation of scripture. I believe that priesthood is the authority to act in the name of God, and that it must be transferred from person to person by proper authority. The basis of my belief in it derives from numerous scriptures and in my view, common sense. To deal with the scriptures issue first, it should be noted that in the times before Jesus, the priesthood was essential for religious life. Religious life that God, not the Sanhedrin, commanded numerous times in the Old Testament. The books of Moses are filled with priesthood references. In the New Testament, Jesus Himself had to receive priesthood ordinances, and conferred it to certain disciples. (the Apostles) The Apostles held the authority to baptize and confirm. After Jesus’s death and resurrection, the Apostles had the authority to proclaim what was true and what wasn’t.
     
    I believe that the priesthood can be explained logically as well. If there was no priesthood, Jesus wouldn’t have enabled certain of His disciples to perform certain acts while others couldn’t. If there was no priesthood, a worshiper of Zeus could have had all of the authority to baptize Christians and proclaim doctrine. If there was no priesthood, any Christian could proclaim his interpretation of scriptures to be true, and no one would be able to deny him, because they would have held no authority, because there is no authority. (or, in Luther’s view, when it spoke in the NT of a Royal Priesthood, it was referring to all who “take upon the name of Christ Jesus,” thus giving anyone who claims that authority. The only way to counteract this would be to say that the person claiming this doesn’t accept this or that creed or theology, and thus isn’t a “true Christian,” which, inevitably leads to the proliferation of Christian Churches and belief systems.)
     
    I believe that one of the greatest reasons there are so many Christian denominations is because of priesthood. Catholics believe that the Pope has senior priesthood authority over the Greek Patriarch, the Greeks believe that the Patriarch has senior authority over the Pope, etc, etc. This is a common theme amongst all Churches. The various Protestant denominations believe that they as believers of the “true faith” (Generally speaking, acceptance of the Trinitarian creeds, and acceptance of the doctrine of Sola Fides, or faith only salvation.) only they have the right to interpret scripture, and thus we have the various Protestant denominations, as there are, under the general rules, various interpretations of scripture.
     
    Basically, I believe that if a Church doesn’t have the priesthood, or pure authority, it cannot be the true church.

  30. Sean,
     
    Sorry to hear that your life is in such flux.  Your tiller simile is a powerful one and I hope you aren’t being dragged to that extreme.  Please don’t worry about timely responses to this blog…
     
    As I said before, I appreciate your dedication to scriptural support for your beliefs.  You started by saying that you believe that the priesthood was essential for religious life.  Can we expand on that a bit?  What specifically does the scripture say about the role of priests in OT religion?  Could you also specifically indicate the basis for your statements about new testament priesthood?  (In the New Testament, Jesus Himself had to receive priesthood ordinances, and conferred it to certain disciples. (the Apostles) The Apostles held the authority to baptize and confirm.)
     
    You said, “If there was no priesthood, any Christian could proclaim his interpretation of scriptures to be true, and no one would be able to deny him, because they would have held no authority, because there is no authority.”  is this really true, or did Christ declare His name as THE source of authority in Mark 9:  “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us.
    But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.
    For he that is not against us is on our part.”
     
    You make a sweeping generalization about religions being divided by the idea of the priesthood, and perhaps there are some who allow that issue to divide them, but the essence and unity within Christianity is the gospel of Christ, ” Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:”. 
     
    All who believe in their salvation through Christ are considered to be the elect that Peter speaks of when he defines them as the royal priesthood.  The purpose of that royal priesthood seems to be “that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light:”
     
    Christ is spoken of as the ultimate source of reconciliation as well (I interpret that to mean in interpreting scripture too),
     
    “For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby : 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”
     
     

  31. Sean

    Cindy,
     
    What you say about Christ being the only source of authority is true. But the things that He tells us through the scriptures can be, have been, and are being interpreted differently. For instance, in 4th century Christianity, as there is today, there was a vast pool of beliefs about the scriptures. Christianity was filled with differing ideas of what was true about the Gospels and Hebrew scriptures. The state didn’t dictate what was true and who was a heretic until the later part of the century.
     
    Today, when people think “Christian,” they generally think of a Nicene Trinitarian. Increasingly the rising generation, because of our “wondrous” and “free” western culture, has a growing apathy towards Christianity, and doesn’t even make that distinction. “Are those those dudes who worship Jesus?” That’s about as deep as you can go if you want to stick with “Christian” without delving into the different Christian religions. “You make a sweeping generalization about religions being divided by the idea of the priesthood, and perhaps there are some who allow that issue to divide them, but the essence and unity within Christianity is the gospel of Christ.” You seem like a very sincere and truly good person, who believes that all people who try to follow Christ are Christians, and that is very encouraging considering the divisions within Christianity. Would you consider a Unitarian to be an authentic Christian? Would a Oneness Pentecostal be considered a true follower of the gospel? Are Catholics right? Are Mormons right? Are we all following the gospel? Are both those who accept the doctrine of Sola Fide and those who don’t right at the same time? People can try to downplay the differences in Christianity, but it doesn’t work. Would you convert to Coptic Christianity because an eastern priest told you it was the will of Christ? I daresay you wouldn’t, and would tell him, kindly, that your theology was the only true path to God. That your interpretation of what the gospel message says was truer than his, and would walk away, sad for the man, pitying him that he didn’t see the truth, and the same could probably be said for the priest as he watched you walk away.
     
    Back in the days of the late empire, when people thought of Christians, they thought of people who believed in Christ. That’s it. There were hundreds of sects. In the east, Nicene Trinitarianism was actually in a vast minority, and was only later brought in force because of imperial efforts under the hand of Theodosius. The Nicene Creed was issued in the Councils of Nicaea, with only about 300 out of several thousand Bishops of Christianity attending. It is painted today as a broad consensus of Christianity as a whole, when in actuality the issuance of the Creed changed little save temporarily altering imperial policy. The emperor himself didn’t even subscribe to it. He was baptized by an arian priest! There were other councils that issued different statements of belief. Why aren’t those adhered to by Protestantism? Because Catholicism emerged triumphant, and most other creeds, though widely accepted, were deemed heretical, and buried.
     
    In those days, most of the people in the Greek speaking world were subordinationists (who Nicenes referred to as “Arians,” when in fact many of them didn’t even know who Arius was, not having cable TV to watch the Nicene debates between Arius and Athanasius) which means, as you could guess, that they believed that Christ was subordinate to the father, and a separate being.  Who had the authority to tell them that they were wrong? Who has the authority to tell subordinationists they are wrong today? Christ? But, according to them, He confirms their beliefs. Who has the authority to tell us we (Mormons) are wrong, and that you (Evangelicals? I think you are based on the link you kindly provided me) are right? Scripture? We take different things out of them. Each claiming that the scriptures are plain for all to see, but getting vastly different answers out of them.
     
    “All who believe in their salvation through Christ are considered to be the elect that Peter speaks of when he defines them as the royal priesthood.  The purpose of that royal priesthood seems to be “that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Here is an example. We believe that it is the duty of anyone who calls themselves a Christian to act like it, and to show forth praises to God, but we don’t believe that you have to have the priesthood to do that. When you believe that the “royal priesthood” reference was referring to all Christians we differ. The term was also used in Exodus, but only the levite males had the authority to use the priesthood, and they took up only a small portion of the Hebrew population. Other Hebrews were being spoken to, but only a few were spoken of in that instance. Historically speaking, all Jews didn’t have the authority to perform ordinances. The doctrine of the priesthood of all believers comes from Luther’s worthy and noble desire to have all people be messengers and servants of Christ, and from the desire to escape the socio-political grasp of the Catholic clergy, but I think he had a basic misunderstanding of what the priesthood was. He created a large problem. His new “pure” “true” religion of Lutheranism didn’t last as the only Protestant Church for long, as other “pure” and “true” religions and ideologies started to rise, riding on the idea that the scriptures are plain, and that all aspects of the truth are apparent in them, and that the other religions just weren’t seeing it. Sound familiar? The scriptures became their priesthood, and opened the floodgates once more, for the first time in a thousand years, to new religions and non catholic interpretations.
     
    Since gospel means “good news,” what is the good news other than Christ died for our sins on the cross and was resurrected? How can you confirm that your interpretation is more correct than mine, considering our differing interpretations of scripture? One thing that is often used against us by good natured, and not so good natured evangelicals, is the scripture that basically says that if any preach a different gospel, they shall be cast off. We counter by saying that we don’t preach a different gospel. Just that it is different than the general evangelical interpretations. Catholics use the same scripture against Protestants, and Protestants counter with a similar argument.  
     
    Sorry that I keep bringing up the Romans, but if one wants to understand the gradual evolution of Christian thought, they must be studied. The Emperor Julian, known as the Apostate because he was a pagan (His cousin, Constantius, a Christian, had had his family murdered for political gain, and he probably equated the two factors to some extent in his rejection of Christianity.) said once that he didn’t have to destroy Christianity, that it would rip itself apart. (It surely who have without imperial intervention and militaristic and political creedal enforcement.) Since Christianity became a mainstream religion 1600 years ago, and we are no longer persecuted for our beliefs, the greatest task of Christianity, more than any good, has been persecution of itself. We spend more time calling each other heretics and trying to shout each other down, and kill those who disagree with us (Crusades, numerous violent persecutions and inquisitions, KKK, etc…) that we do little else. I’m not saying that Christianity hasn’t done good, but I am saying that it has caused more problems than solved. The entire western world was “Christian” for a thousand years! Shouldn’t it have improved instead of descended into a dark age, where freedom of thought was forbidden? The higher ups seemed more intent on political domination than salvation. Even today we are in America a supposedly Christian nation! Shouldn’t we be peace loving? Why is there such poverty and crime? If all Christians were truly one body as you say, why the division? If Christ heads this one body and we all have the priesthood, what’s going on?

  32. Sean

    “…It surely who have without….” That’s would have. Typo. ^^

  33. Sean,
    I don’t mean to minimize your understanding of religious history or your passion to represent it accurately, but it seems as though you spend a lot of time describing the many ways that man has screwed up the relationship with God…and I agree!
     
    It is depressing to see how even the most well-intentioned men (women too) can get in the way of God’s desires for us.
     
    I don’t want to blindly ignore the follies of man and their role in the current state of religious affairs, but I do trust that God can, and will work all things together for good.  I want my focus to be on God and I trust that in reading His word with a desire to know His truth any two people, even us :), can become unified in our understanding.
     
    I also understand that you have faced much persecution for your beliefs and I am not here to offer more.  We have agreed to look at the role of the priesthood in ancient and present days and that is what I hope to do.  Maybe it’s my fault for asking too many questions in one posting (I seem to do that a lot…sorry), but can we start with m original question?
     
    What specifically does the scripture say about the role of priests in OT religion?
    How were they called?
    Who called them?
    How were they ordained?
    What did they do?
    (see…too many questions again…geez!)

  34. Sean

    Cindy,
     
    Dang you’re nice! It makes me very happy, and slightly bubbly. (Maybe I shouldn’t have stayed up all night…? Had a job interview yesterday after staying up all night the previous night, crashed after it, then woke up at around 11:30. Completely messed up my schedule.)
     
    Sorry I seem bitter and angry about Christian history. I was disillusioned with it for awhile. These days I see past the evils of men. It doesn’t change my view of it’s track record and the present state of “Christendom”, but I am not bitter anymore. “but I do trust that God can, and will work all things together for good.  I want my focus to be on God and I trust that in reading His word with a desire to know His truth any two people, even us , can become unified in our understanding.”  You ma’am, are a true Christian. You’re optimism is extremely refreshing for an irrationally pessimistic individual like me. I believe that He will resolve all things, but not now, and there have been long strides of time with people living without God. Sadly , I don’t think we will come to a mutual understanding, at least not here on this blog. We come from completely different traditions and are hard wired to think differently, from different angles, about different issues. However! I do not wish to give up hope just yet. I still find fault in my clumsy explanations of my beliefs on works, based on your question ” Why are you trying to obey the sins you committed against the law if Christ already suffered the punishment for them?” and wish to reiterate them more fluently later on.
     
    “I also understand that you have faced much persecution for your beliefs and I am not here to offer more.” I cannot emphasize how much your kindness disarms me. I don’t deserve it. I don’t mean to be a confrontational person. I’ve kind of grown used to displaying my arguments in a, well…argumentative fashion. I’ve been debating this stuff and politics for years. Both on the internet and elsewhere. People are not usually as polite as you have been. To address the quote above, I personally have never experienced persecution. Sure you get the Mormon joke and superstition, but everyone gets that kind of stuff. For Mormons it’s: “Don’t you people worship Satan in the temple, and don’t you worship Joe Smith?” and for evangelicals it’s: “Don’t you guys listen to hard rock at church and don’t your pastors hit people on the head to heal them?”  Most evangelicals I know are kind, God-fearing people. There are zealous jerks in all religions that delight in fighting and undermining each other’s beliefs with their version of the truth. I admit that I sometimes fall into that category, though perhaps “delight” is not the word I would use, but maybe an extreme, perhaps unhealthy fascination with religion in general, stemming from my aforementioned past insecurities. People I know often tell me that I need another hobby.
     
    Sorry for blabbing! My brain is fuzzy this morning. I just wanted to let you know that I read your post and will hopefully be responding today. I need to sleep first. Then bust out my Old Testament. I’ll also take a look at the priesthood in the New Testament era, if that’s alright with you.

  35. Thank YOU for your nice response!  I hope you got some well-deserved rest…I’ve been in the job hunting mode before too, and between the constant feeling of having to put on your best face and the steady stream of rejection I don’t know if there is anything more exhausting.  I will pray that you remember that you have gifts to share, and that God created you to be exactly who your very most authentic self is (sort of dorky, religious fanatic that you are..I am taking the liberty of saying that because I am the same!)…and it is that person who is also the very most compelling to an employer…probably very near you!
    Again, no hurry on the post reply…I am studying it too…

  36. Sean

    So sorry I haven’t responded yet Cindy! I have been incredibly busy at my new job and haven’t read the scriptures at all in about two weeks. I’ll get to it I promise! :)

  37. But that means you got a job!!! Way to go!  Take your time…God’s truth endures forever!

  38. Kym

    Hello Cindy,

    I have seen several comments by you that are focused on the question of whether or not our works have any affect upon our salvation. This seems to be a very special topic to you, I appreciate all of the time you have spent in researching scriptural references that help explain your belief. I wondered if you were still waiting for a response as to what Mormons believe about this subject. It seemed to me that you weren’t quite satisfied by the answers you have received thus far. I have spent a lot of time lately researching this same topic and have stumbled across a really wonderful talk entitled Salvation: By Grace or by Works? by Gerald N. Lund. You can read the talk in it’s entirety here. 

    After defining several words and ideas that are associated with this topic Lund draws a very simple analogy about a powerhouse. He says”

    We are like a powerhouse on a mighty river. The powerhouse has no power residing in itself; the potential power rests in the energy of the river. When that source of power flows through the generators of the power plant, power is transferred from the river to the power plant and sent out into the homes (lives) of others. So it is with faith. The power to achieve justification does not reside in man. Man requires the power of the atonement of Christ flowing into him. If no power is being generated, one does not—indeed, cannot—turn the generators by hand (justification by works); but rather, an effort is made to remove those things which have blocked the power from flowing into the generators (working righteousness as a result of faith). With this background then, one can understand why the scriptures clearly stress that faith includes works (see James 2: 17-26); that is, obedience, commitment, and repentance—these are the works of faith that open up the channels so that the power of the atoning sacrifice of Christ can flow into us, redeem us from sin, and bring us back into the presence of God. Disobedience and wickedness dam those channels. (How literal is the word damnation!) The righteous works in themselves do not save us. The atoning power of God saves us. But our righteous works, activated by our faith in the Savior, are the condition for the operation of that power. Thus, each of us has something to say about whether he will be able to seek the gift and power of the Atonement in his behalf.”

    In revelations 3:20-21 it says “20: Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.

     21: To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.”

    In 1 John 5:4 it reads “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

    We are asked to answer that door. To use our free will to accept the amazing gift that Christ offers to us.

    Lund explained in the article cited above that “Paul said we are justified through and by faith (see Gal. 2:16; Rom. 3:28), which is the first principle of the gospel. In other words, faith is the principle that activates the power of the Atonement in our lives, and we are put back into a proper relationship with God (justification) as faith activates that power.

    We believe that faith is a principle of action and power. In Hebrews 11:1 it says “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” If you continue to read the rest of that chapter it lists several examples of individuals acting “by faith” to receive a promise. Note that the word used here is “receive” not earn. 

    Christ commanded us to be perfect. (Matt 5:48). But we cannot become perfect on our own, through our own works. Only through Christ can we be saved. 

    In the Mormon faith we believe that there are different levels of glory to be had after we die. These are our inheritances. 

    Lund said in the article I am using that “In one of the most beautiful images in all of scripture, we find the solution to that awful dilemma we all face as sinners. We are standing before the bar as defendants, facing the great judge, God the Father. Our defense attorney—our “Advocate with the Father”—steps forward, not to refute the charges or to hold up a record of good works on our part to counterbalance our guilt, but to plead our case in a different manner:
    “Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
    “Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
    “Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.” (D&C 45:3–5.)
    Nothing man could do for himself could bring him past that judgment bar successfully without such an Advocate. That is why eternal life is always a gift, and those who receive it do so by “inheritance.” It is interesting to note that the wordinherit and its cognate words are used seventy-eight times in the Doctrine and Covenants, while the wordearned and its related words are not used once.”

    As we learn to exercise our Faith in our Savior Jesus Christ through righteous works, little by little we become like Him. We cannot become perfect without Him but we can strive to emulate his life and as we become more like Him we qualify ourselves to inherit a greater glory. Qualifying ourselves does not mean that we do not need a savior. It does not diminish the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is simply a measuring stick by which God the Father will look at our lives and reward us according to our Faith. If we do little to utilize the blessing of the atonement in our lives, then our reward will be less than if we actively seek to use the atonement to better ourselves. WE do not better our selves, but through Faith the power of the atonement can better us. It takes action though. Everyday as we repent of our sins and strive to keep God’s commandments we are given further access to the power of the atonement and become worthy of a greater reward. We don’t earn, create, or produce this reward, but we become worthy of it.

    Remember the parable of the talents in Matt. 25? Through the works that these three servants enacted with the GIFT that they were given, they qualified themselves for different rewards. Later in the chapter those who do the works of Christ are praised, and those who do NOT the works are cast out. 

    I hope that you will read the talk. I hope that I was able to approach this topic in a way that clarifies WHAT Mormons believe about the relationship between grace and works, as well as WHY we believe it. I was not trying to refute your beliefs, but rather to help those who read this understand ours.

  39. Craig

    The article did not even answer the question. The questioner asked why the lds do not use the JST exclusively. The writer dodged it and went into a lengthy explanation that was really nothing but excuses.

  40. Thaddeus

    Hi Craig,
    You feel that I avoided answering Ivan’s original question. The reasons I gave for only partial adhering to the JST were unsatisfactory to you. You don’t believe this article reflects true Mormon beliefs. Is that right?

  41. Dave

    Hi, I believe Ivan’s question was answered under Thaddeus’ heading of “How Do Mormons Use the JST?”
    Ivan, what do you think?

  42. Dave

    Cindy, do you think Thaddeus answered the original question about the Joseph Smith translation?

  43. Tanner

    Thaddeus did answer the question. I don’t agree with the answer but he did answer it.

    I am not Mormon/LDS but I find it odd that you would consider a Bible that you don’t believe in and is loaded with errors to be the book of your religion. But yet it is still called the word of God by many Mormons. To me that is comparable to the Christian church teaching on the Koran. Although there is a lot of similarities with some of their texts. They even speak of Jesus but they only regard Jesus as only a prophet and not the lord and savior as christians believe. We would not do so because we feel it is inaccurate.

    As a Christian I don’t teach on a book I believe has numerous errors. I and a majority of Christians actually believe just what it says, and it is the word of God.

    Second, I thought the book of mormon was the correction of the bible? I am not Mormon so excuse my ignorance if it is not. It has a creation story just like the bible but it contradicts the bible. It has a end of day story just like the bible but it contradicts what Jesus told us in revelation.

    I am very curious to hear a reply. I was not aware of the JST until today and I was shocked that the JST wouldn’t be your go to text if it is accurate and not the KJV. Especially if Joseph Smith is the prophet and God told him to correct the bible.

    From this I would have to say that Community of Christ would be more of a representation of Joseph Smith and the Mormon faith than the current LDS?

  44. Tanner

    By the way. I am not here to prove a point, or to make anyone look silly. I am christian but I am no expert on your religion. I have done a fair amount of reading and studying but that does not consider me to know more than the Mormons.

    So I am hear seeking answers. Maybe you can convince me otherwise, or make sense of what I disagree with?

  45. Thaddeus

    Hi Tanner,
    We Mormons don’t disbelieve the Bible. It’s the word of God. We just recognize there have been plain and precious truths removed from it by men over the centuries, and God has the power to return to us the pure truths through His prophets.

    The Book of Mormon is not the correction to the Bible. It’s a separate book entirely; it does not contain a creation story and it does not contain very much end-of-days prophecy. It’s another testament of Jesus Christ. Read this for more info.

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