Subject: grace/faith/and works*****************************************************
You have researched the issue of grace, faith and works extensively, but I'm afraid you still don't quite understand the doctrine as taught by my church. The Plan of Salvation is beautiful and simple, but first you must understand the atonement. Christ died for us, so we could be resurrected. This is a free gift without conditions. He also atoned for us in the Garden of Gethsemane shedding great drops of blood to suffer for all our sins if we would but repent. Repentance is a predominant theme throughout the Bible that cannot be ignored. I love repentance because it gives me hope that I can change and become a better person. The Savior has promised me that I can have a change of heart that will change me so that I will have no more desire to sin, but I must humble myself and repent to get these beautiful feelings from the Holy Ghost.
It scares me that many protestants believe that a Catholic, Mormon or Jew who is trying to be a good person will go to hell--while a murderer, rapist, robber, child pornographer, etc will be in heaven if they have accepted Christ as their Savior. I accept Christ as my Savior, but James 2 says faith without works is dead. What kind of place is heaven if it is filled with murderers, rapists etc--no kind of heaven at all. Is it? Of course you won't have to live with us evil Mormons, so it might be a nicer place if you dislike us, but most of us, if we are living our doctrine of works, are good people who have done no one any harm.
In our doctrine we do not believe you are going to hell. We do believe that good people trying to serve others and keep the commandments will be rewarded. We have three levels in our "heaven" and I am sure you will go to one of these. In fact, we do believe that almost all people will go to a part of "heaven." Murderers will have to suffer awhile and then even they will be released to their heaven. The only ones who will have to stay in their hell are those who deny the Holy Ghost. We also believe that people in Africa who didn't get a chance to accept Christ in this life will be given a chance in the life to come.
Baptism is essential to our doctrine and is clearly [sic]
Research this subject of water baptism with an open mind and see if you don't see many evidences of God's desire for us to follow the example of the Savior and be baptized.
What can it hurt to be baptized with water. It is certainly an outward symbol of the death of our sinful life and rebirth of our spiritual life. It is certainly a beautiful spiritual experience and reminder of our sins being washed away. It is simple, beautiful and symbolic.
Pray about this and see if the spirit doesn't convict you of the truth of it. To be a born-again Christian you don't need to throw out water baptism. Embrace is as a part of being reborn.
Here's some scriptures I have pondered and prayed about.
If water baptism is not essential to salvation then why did John 3:5 say we must be born of the water and the spirit. Additionally, if Christ was merely baptized to fulfill the lot and not as an example for all of us to follow, then why was the Eunuch baptized in water in Acts 8:36. There are many other references to the apostles baptizing and Paul being baptized. Acts 2:37-38 also makes it clear that after feeling the spirit and being "pricked in their heart" 3,000 people were baptized. It doesn't say they just confessed Christ, nor does it say--well they already had the Holy Ghost baptism, so they were saved.
Mark 16:16 states that he that :"believeth and is baptized shall be saved." This is after Christ has fulfilled the law. It is really taking liberty with the word of God to assert that the baptism spoken of here is only of the Holy Ghost.
1 Peter 3:20-21 is also very clear about water being essential to the baptism that is a part of being saved. It states that just like Noah and 8 souls were saved by water baptism doth save us. You can't detach baptism, salvation and water here. They are connected irrevocably.
Water is also unmistakable in Acts 10:47-48 Can anyone forbid water that these should not be baptized...And he COMMANDED them to be baptized.." Why command something that isn't important?
Titus 3:5 calls baptism a "washing"
Matthew 28:19 Christ commands his apostles to teach all nations, baptizing them. If baptism is merely immersing oneself in the word or feeling the HOly Ghost then haven't we baptized ourselves. But Christ is specific about telling them to baptize--do something physical to other people. This of course also takes place after the law is fulfilled.
Consider talking to a member of our church if you truly want the truth about what we believe about the Plan of Redemption. I'm sure anyone of us would be glad to explain and bear testimony of our beliefs.
3rd April, 2004 - TCE replies:
Dear DesraeGrace versus Works
thank you for taking the time to write to us.
I believe you underestimate, or even ignore, the degree of research we have done into Mormonism and the utter devastation it brings to the false view promoted by your church.
You quote part of the view of the Mormon church - the part you present to the world - while ignoring important matters, such as our section
( http://www.thechristianexpositor.org/page59.html ) on 'Blood Atonement'! Why?
Your next statement confirms that you share in the Mormon belief that good works are more important than grace. You have not surrendered to the righteousness of Christ, but seek to get to heaven on the basis of your own righteousness. Those who repent and accept Christ as Saviour are no longer looked upon as 'murderers, rapists etc' - which is why even the most evil person has the opportunity to repent before death.
That your leaders deny 'death bed repentance' and promote a cursed gospel (Galatians 1:6-9) of good works (the book of Galatians describes the Mormon doctrines well) is testimony to their false teachings which do great 'harm' to all who believe them rather than the Word of God. In human terms, Mormons are 'good people' - but this will never get you into heaven, as the Bible makes clear.
We have already given good and irrefutable reasons for rejection of Joseph Smith and his false gospel on our pages. You believe Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, but on what basis? He has sent you after other gods and prophesied falsely (and was, in fact, 100% false in his prophecies) - the sure sign of a false prophet (Deuteronomy 13 and 18:20-22).
The reasons you give for allowing others who reject Mormon doctrine to get into a 'lower heaven' are, again, based on a false view of God's Word and therefore His justice. There is absolutely no mention in the Bible of 'second chance' repentance. Hebrew 9:27: 'And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.'
Again, the Mormon view you hold, that 'people in Africa who didn't get a chance to accept Christ in this life will be given a chance in the life to come', is contrary to the Bible and to logic. The Bible makes it clear that God had already given men good reason to believe in Him and they will be judged on the basis of what they did with the knowledge they had received (Romans 1:13-2:16):
13 Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I have purposed to come unto you (but was prevented hitherto), that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.14 I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the barbarians, both to the wise and to the unwise;15 so, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the Gospel to you also who are at Rome.16 For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one who believeth, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith; as it is written: "The just shall live by faith." 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God hath shown it unto them. 20 For from the creation of the world the invisible things of Him are clearly seen, being understood through the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. 21 For when they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God, nor were thankful, but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man, and to birds and fourfooted beasts and creeping things. 24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies among themselves. 25 They changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature. 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men, working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense for their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind to do those things which are not proper, 29 being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity. They are whisperers, 30 backbiters, haters of God, spiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affections, implacable, unmerciful. 32 And knowing the judgment of God, that those who commit such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but have pleasure in those who do them. 1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art who judgest; for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself, for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against those who commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, who judgest those who do such things and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of His goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But because of thy hardness and impenitence of heart, thou treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the Day of Wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God, 6 who will render to every man according to his deeds; 7 to those who by patient continuance in welldoing seek for glory and honor and immortality: eternal life; 8 but unto those who are contentious, and do not obey the truth but obey unrighteousness: indignation and wrath, 9 tribulation and anguish upon every soul of man who doeth evil, upon the Jew first and also upon the Gentile; 10 but glory, honor and peace to every man who worketh good, to the Jew first and also to the Gentile. 11 For there is no respect of persons with God. 12 For as many as have sinned apart from the law shall also perish apart from the law, and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law. 13 (For it is not the hearers of the law who are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. 14 For when the Gentiles, who have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, they, not having the law, are a law unto themselves, 15 which shows the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts meanwhile either accusing or excusing one another.) 16 Thus will it be on the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ, according to my Gospel.
Baptism as Work
Logic also proves the Mormon Doctrine of a 'second chance' to be false, for who, having been presented with the gospel of Christ after death, would ever reject it? Can you imagine it? You can either stay separated from God for eternity, or enter heaven. Who would ever say 'No'?! But we have already made this clear
( http://www.thechristianexpositor.org/page61.html ):
'Since the thief on the cross clearly believed and then died without being baptized it is essential to Mormon theology to introduce retrospective baptism for him - but once you do that it makes all testing on earth a mockery for who, once dead, would not accept Christ and baptism if they knew that rejection would lead to eternity in Hell (or an inferior Mormon heaven)?!'
We are well aware of the Mormon arguments that make the 'good works' of baptism 'an essential' part of the gospel of Christ - and of the confusion promulgated over this matter in your church. It seems that you have either not read carefully, or misunderstood, this section on works-baptism versus grace.
We fully believe in baptism wherever possible, but where did Jesus make a statement that 'Baptism is necessary for salvation'? There are certainly many Scriptures that have been mis-interpreted by cults to try and teach this dogma, e.g., John 3:5 in which Jesus says to Nicodemus:
Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
If we take verses 5 and 6 together and read the passages in context, it is clear that our Lord is talking about physical birth and spiritual birth. The spiritual new birth can only take place if one has first been born physically. Nicodemus understood what Jesus was saying about the physical birth, for he states:
How can a man be born when he Is old? Can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? (John 3:4)
We all recognise that the birth of a child is described by Jesus' words 'born of water.' Babies are literally born in water. The first birth is physical, the second is spiritual. Unless a man is born again - born spiritually - he will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Notice that the word baptism isn't even mentioned here by Jesus. Baptism cannot be a requirement for salvation because Christ's blood saves us, not water (Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 3:21). Also, baptism is something we do, a work, and Ephesians 2:8-10 makes it clear that salvation is a free gift - not something we can earn - and only afterwards can we do the good works which are pleasing to God but which pay absolutely no part in our salvation. If works played any part in our salvation then it would not be described as a gift in Scripture. Do you want to try and insult God by offering to pay Him for the gift He has given you? Would you dream of insulting anyone on earth by thanking them for the nice gift they had just presented to you - and then offering to pay them for it?
Baptism of the believer should be performed as a sign that the convert has made the decision to put their trust in Christ, the Lamb who was slain for the sins of the world, but it cannot do anything to help us gain salvation. If baptism was utterly essential for salvation, then there is no way that the thief on the cross could have entered Paradise with Christ that very day (Luke 23:43) because clearly, by his own admission, he deserved to die and obviously had no faith in Christ prior to his agonising suffering alongside the Saviour. Therefore the record shows that he was not baptised, had done no good works subsequent to accepting Christ as Saviour, did not belong to any church and had merely thrown himself totally on the mercy of the Saviour God. This is the Magnificent Saviour God, and the Great Gospel of Salvation through Grace Alone that orthodox evangelical Christians believe in!
To say baptism is absolutely essential is to deny the many passages that show works are not a requirement for salvation. Those who believe in salvation by works also use 1 Peter 3:20-21 to support their claim that you must be baptized to enter heaven:
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the long-suffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us.
What they fall to realize is that the last half of verse 21 makes everything clear:
Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh [which is what water does], but the answer of a good conscience toward God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
In the context of baptism, it is important to note that it was Noah and his family who were dry and stayed alive - the wet ones died outside the protection of the ark!
You may think that Acts 2:38 proves you must be baptized in order to be saved:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
The disagreement between orthodox Christian theology and false theology stems from the use of the word for in this verse. Cultists claim Peter taught the act of baptism grants remission of sins. This is where the error of taking one verse and ignoring all others to create a doctrine is shown to be in error, for the Bible clearly states that it is only the blood of the Word of God, Christ, that cleanses from sin, not the water of baptism:
In whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:14)
But if we walk In the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. (1 John 1:7)
The Greek text from which for is translated in Acts 2:38 uses the word eis. Pronounced 'ace,' the word in this context means 'in view of,' 'with a view', or 'because of.' You are not baptized to receive forgiveness, but rather because you have already been forgiven.
This same Greek word is translated 'at' in Matthew 12:41:
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas.…
The Ninevites did not repent 'to get' the preaching of Jonas, but rather 'because of' the preaching of Jonas.
Another verse misused by believers in works-baptism-righteousness is Mark 16:16:
He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
To fully support the idea that one must be baptized to be saved, the verse would have to read: 'He that believeth not and is baptized not shall be damned.' Since it does not read this way it is poor exegesis to assume it does mean this. There are many Scriptures to support the idea that unbelief brings damnation, not a lack of baptism and, of course, the clear example of the death of the 'thief on the cross' proves that simple belief in Christ brings salvation, not any work-sacraments!
The Word (Jesus, John 1:1) cleanses us, not water baptism.
Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. (John 15:3)
That He might sanctify and cleanse it [the church] with the washing of water by the word. (Ephesians 5:26)
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost. (Titus 3:5)
(Continued on page 377)