Why live any longer
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In his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, former LDS (Latter-day Saint) Apostle and Prophet Spencer W. Kimball defined the “gospel” of Mormonism as a “code of laws and commandments” by which humans “might attain perfection and, eventually, godhood.” According to Kimball, “this set of laws and ordinances…is the only plan which will exalt mankind.”1. One authoritative LDS Church manual, Gospel Principles, describes the LDS gospel plan this way:
As can be seen by the preceding illustration, the Jesus of Mormonism serves as a mediating “creditor” who essentially refinances our sin “debt” and sets the “terms” and conditions by which we can “pay” the “debt” to him through strict adherence to LDS gospel “laws.” Consequently, the Book of Mormon states: “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”2. “This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.”3. To stress the importance of expending one’s own best efforts to make oneself worthy of eternal life, Kimball went on to state:
Lest one obtains the faulty impression that the “perfection” required for ultimate eternal life is a process that can be worked out through the eons of eternity, Kimball responds:
Some may feel that it is unreasonable to believe that God would require total perfection in this mortal life. After all, one might think: “ ‘The Lord knows my heart is right and that I have good intentions.…’ But will one receive eternal life on the basis of his good intentions?” Kimball asks.4. He goes on to say: “Samuel Johnson remarked that ‘hell is paved with good intentions.’ The Lord will not translate one’s good hopes and desires and intentions into works. Each of us must do that for himself.…Men and women who live in mortality and who have heard the gospel here have had their day, their seventy years to put their lives in harmony, to perform the ordinances, to repent and to perfect their lives.”5. To emphasize the importance of becoming perfect prior to leaving this earth, the Book of Mormon also testifies:
The Book of Mormon not only stresses the importance of reaching perfection in this life, but it speaks of the critical role repentance plays in the gospel plan of devoted Latter-day saints. According to Mormonism, one cannot receive forgiveness of sins until one has completely repented of his sins. Kimball defines this repentance as the absolute “abandonment of the sin.”
Gospel Principles explains: “Those who receive forgiveness and then repeat the sin are held accountable for their former sins.”6. Therefore, it is only “as we repent, the atonement of Jesus Christ becomes fully effective in our lives, and the Lord forgives our sins.”7. Not only do authoritative LDS leaders claim that one must completely abandon his sin in order to validate his act of repentance, but LDS Scripture echoes this position.
How many of us can honestly claim that we have never repeated a particular sin after going through the motions of confessing and repenting of that sin? What person can at any time be certain that he has confessed and repented of every sin he has ever committed? And how can that person be confident that he will never repeat any of these sins? Since Mormonism claims that the “former sins return” to the individual who fails to abandon his sin, what assurance can one have of receiving forgiveness for his sins? The Bible testifies that “in many things we offend all. If any man offend not in word, the same is a perfect man, and able also to bridle the whole body.”8.
We sin daily in our words, actions, and in the attitudes of our hearts. Jesus said “whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.”9. Just being “angry” with one’s brother without a cause brings the judgment of God upon our souls,10. and even the mere failure to do something we know we ought to do is “sin.”11. Therefore the Bible declares:
If repentance requires the abandonment of sin,12. and if repeating a sin after receiving forgiveness makes one “accountable” for his former sins,13. how can any of us claim that we have totally repented of all of our sins? It is evident that by these standards, one would have to “be perfect” in order to fully comply with this formula of repentance. Thus, we see that in Mormonism, a failure to repent by abandoning all of our sins brings us under the condemnation accorded to those who “procrastinate” the day of their repentance.
According to the Book of Mormon, if there is one sin left not repented of at the time of your death, your repentance—being “procrastinated”—causes you to “become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his.” Since Mormonism claims that one must “merit”14. (earn) forgiveness through repentance which requires the “permanent” “discontinuance” of sin,15. what assurance can you have of God’s forgiveness being applied to your account? It is for this reason that the Book of Mormon proclaims:
As the above quote from the Book of Mormon explains, you must “deny” yourself of “all ungodliness” before you can receive the “grace” of Christ. Is it any wonder Mormonism makes forgiveness conditional upon one’s ability to repent by abandoning sins? Is it any wonder Kimball concludes: “…however powerful the saving grace of Christ, it brings exaltation to no man who does not comply with the works of the gospel”?16. It is at this point that we see the utter dilemma of the Mormon gospel. Not only does Mormonism require you to “deny” yourself of “all ungodliness” before you can receive the grace of Christ,17. but the Jesus of Mormonism cannot save you while you are in a condition of unworthiness—being “in your sins.”
Since the Jesus of Mormonism is unable to save you while you are “in your sins,” the Prophet Joseph Smith concluded that we are all responsible for our own sins.
Can you see why repentance according to the Mormon gospel demands “perfection” and the “permanent” “discontinuance of the sin”?18. Can you see why Mormonism claims that those who repeat a sin after confessing it are said to be “held accountable” for their former sins and ultimately lose their forgiveness?19. Can you see why in Mormonism, the failure to eradicate sin in one’s life brings one under the condemnation of procrastinating the day of one’s repentance, and if you die in this state of procrastination, you will become “subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his…and this is the final state of the wicked”?20. Can you see why the Jesus of Mormonism “cannot” save you while you are “in your sins”?21. In light of the evidence that it is impossible to receive the “grace” of salvation by expending one’s “own best efforts,”22. can you see why the Bible declares: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us”?23.
The gospel of Mormonism asserts that: “keeping the commandments of God will cleanse away the stain of sin.”24. But the Bible declares that: “we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.”25. How can one’s good works of “keeping the commandments” cleanse sin away when all the good works one does amounts only to “filthy rags”?
In the same way that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, the Bible declares: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”26. As you can see, it only takes one sin to bring the judgment of God upon you. One sin causes you to become guilty of the whole law. As a result of this, the Bible proclaims: “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”27.
Mormonism makes Jesus a “creditor” who merely refinanced the sin “debt” we owed to Heavenly Father and who requires us to pay him back through obedience to gospel “laws” and “ordinances.”28. But if we could not pay the sin debt we owed to Heavenly Father in the first place, what assurance can we have that we can pay the debt to His Son Jesus Christ? Certainly, Heavenly Father loves us and knows our hearts. Don’t you think that if it is possible for us to repay our sin debt through obedience to gospel “laws,” don’t you think Heavenly Father could have set “terms” and conditions for us to repay Him without requiring His Son to die and become our mediator?
Far from being able to make us worthy, the Bible proclaims that it is impossible to become righteous through obedience to the law, “for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.…”29.
The “law” of God reveals the depravity of our hearts and the wickedness of our “sin.” As our lives are measured against the perfect standard of our just and holy God, our “mouths” are “stopped” in shame, our “filthy rags” of self-effort are cast aside, and we “become guilty before God.” Therefore the Bible proclaims:
We could not keep the law. No matter how hard we try to measure up, our righteousness amounts only to “filthy rags.” Hence, as the above verses proclaim, once an individual has placed his complete trust in “the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” it is the righteousness of Christ that is imputed to one’s account. Resting in “his [Christ’s] righteousness” which is “without the law,” we receive the “remission of sins,” and Jesus becomes to us not only the one who is “just” (righteous) but the one who “justifies” (declares righteous) those of us who “believeth in Jesus.” “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified [declared righteous] by faith without the deeds of the law.”30.
Unlike the Jesus of Mormonism who paid our sin “debt” and requires repayment of the “debt” through obedience to “laws” and “ordinances,” the Jesus of the Bible paid our sin debt in full and “freely” offers us “his righteousness” in exchange for our sin.
At the cross Jesus proclaimed: “It is finished!”31. He declared that our sin debt had been paid in full. As He died, He “blotted out” the laws and “ordinances” that were “against us” because we could not fulfill them, and He took these “ordinances…out of the way,” no longer counting our trespasses against us. Therefore, the Bible declares that once we have placed our complete trust in Jesus Christ alone, God no longer looks at us in the context of our sin and guilt. Instead, He views us in the context of Christ’s all-sufficient righteousness. As a result, the Bible declares of the believer that “…ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.”32.
Jesus meets us right were we are. The Bible proclaims “…that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”33. It is Jesus who makes us “perfect”—not through obedience to a “code of laws” and “ordinances”—but by virtue of His sinless life being applied to our account. To “sanctify” means to “set apart as holy.”34. The Bible proclaims that not only is Jesus the one who declares us righteous, but He is the one who begins the process of sanctification within our hearts.
From the very moment we individually yield control of our lives to the Lordship of Christ, Jesus sets us free from the bondage of sin and death and creates within us a new heart and a new spirit. No longer are we striving to make our lives acceptable by outward conformity to a set of “laws” and “ordinances.” It is God’s Spirit who motivates our hearts from within and transforms our lives from the inside out.
Contrary to the Jesus of Mormonism who “cannot” save you “in your sins” and who requires you to “merit” forgiveness through the “abandonment” of “all uncleanness,” the Jesus of the Bible proclaims: “ ‘They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick.…I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’”35. Regardless of one’s ability to subdue sin, Jesus unconditionally offers His forgiveness to all who come to Him on the basis of faith.
The Jesus of the Bible promises that once an individual has personally “come” to Him in humble request for forgiveness, He will never cast that person away. Unlike the Jesus of Mormonism who only saves us “if we do our part,” the Jesus of the Bible saves us to the “uttermost” because He is the one who presents us “holy and unblameable and unreproveable” in God’s sight.36. Resting in the all-sufficient merits of our Lord and Savior, we have the absolute assurance of our salvation.
By implication of the completeness of our redemption, the believer can boldly proclaim: “There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.…For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels…nor things present, nor things to come.…shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”37.
Unlike “repentance” in Mormonism which requires the “permanent” “discontinuance of the sin” and warns that “unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return,” the Bible proclaims: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”38. As can be seen in this passage, the cleansing of our sins in response to our confession is contingent entirely upon the righteous merits of the Lord Jesus Christ and the faithfulness of our loving God. Apart from the admonition to repent by placing one’s total faith and trust in Christ, one will search the Bible in vain to find a single passage that remotely implies a conditional forgiveness based upon personal worthiness. For the Bible declares:
Even the well-known passage in the book of James that states that “faith without works is dead”39. takes on new significance when one recognizes that this passage is speaking about a dead faith which cannot save a person anymore than a physical body can live without the spirit.40. Just as fruit on a fruit tree proves that the tree is alive and well, so works follow true Christian faith and prove that the faith that spiritually saves the Christian is alive. While it is true that works prove that a Christian has the living faith that saves, works do not make a person worthy of everlasting life. For the Bible proclaims:
Indeed, the only true saving “work” is the work of faith as testified by Jesus in John 6:28-29: “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”41.
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