(*abbreviations: BOM = Book of Mormon; AoF = Articles of Faith; WtMToC = What the Mormons Think of Christ)
If being saved is a gift how can you work for it!
Ask a Mormon if he depends upon some achievements of his own for justification (being made right with God) - or whether he is resting upon God's grace, received through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ alone?
Can the Mormons answer this question clearly? One of their own main "theologians," James E. Talmage, obviously does not understand the doctrine - in fact he claimed that "justification by belief alone" is "a most pernicious doctrine." He fails to appreciate that orthodox Christianity has never taught a dogma to the effect that "a wordy confession of belief shall open the doors of heaven to the sinner." (*AoF, p.107-8). The Bible is clear that it is the atonement of Christ alone that opens the doors of heaven and a sinner who by faith identifies himself with Christ is not justified by works that he has done, but by the sacrificial death of Christ at Calvary. The crunch - which Mormons fail to understand - is that once you are saved by faith THEN works follow (James 2v14-18) as they were prepared by God for you to do (Ephesians 2v8-10) before you were even saved! Mormon "theologians" confuse the one who claims to know Christ - and yet who deliberately practises sin - with a born again experience which is life-changing (despite the possibility of temptation occasionally dragging the believer into sin). True, it is here that too many orthodox Church leaders fail God and His people by refusing to discipline their flock as demonstrated by Paul (1 Corinthians 5-6) and cults like the Mormons quickly fasten on to these failings as proof that they "have the truth" and the rest are in error.
Mormon "theologian" Bruce R. McConkie claims that "All men are saved by grace alone without any act on their part, meaning that they are resurrected and become immortal because of the atoning sacrifice of Christ" (*WtMToC, p.24). So McConkie teaches that God will raise people to be judged and cast into Hell by grace alone! He also claims that "all men by the grace of God have the power to gain eternal life. This is called salvation by grace coupled with obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel." (ibid.). As pointed out earlier, Mormons ridicule the idea of forgiveness solely on the basis of Christ's shed blood and this resulted in their horrendous doctrine of "Blood Atonement" (which they had to cease because of the power of the USA government over them), and through the idea that "salvation in the kingdom of God is available because of the atoning blood of Christ. BUT it is received ONLY on condition of faith, repentance, baptism and enduring to the end in keeping the commandments of God" (ibid., p.28).
By adding works to faith Mormons destroy the very essence of grace, for Romans 11v6 tells us that we are saved by grace, "and if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work." Grace is unmerited favour - the free gift of God - and everyone knows that a gift cannot be bought otherwise it is no longer a gift and the giver is insulted!
Mormons insist that propitiation (forgiveness) of sins comes "through the faith and good works of the sinner....conditioned on individual effort" (J.E. Talmage, AoF, p.87-9), but the phrase so often used by the Mormons - "the laws of the gospel" - is never found in the Bible (in fact try finding it in their BOM which supposedly contains the "fullness of the gospel"!). Anyone believing this doctrine has clearly never read and understood Romans and Galatians, for law and gospel and works and grace are unmixable! This makes it impossible to believe Mormon claims that they give any credence to the Bible at all for they have replaced this clear Biblical doctrine with occultic necromancy!
Where does the Bible or BOM claim that baptism is essential for salvation?
The Mormons try and teach that baptism is essential for salvation and when they approach you they will not bring the reason for this to the fore. But if you join their church, or insistently ask what they offer that orthodox churches do not, they will slowly make it apparent that they believe in baptism for the dead. This is one of the necromantic doctrines inherited from the occultist founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, and one of their Temple Ceremonies.
They attempt to use the Bible to support their teachings, so let us look at some of the verses they quote. Does John 3v5 teach that water baptism is essential to salvation? If you read verse 5 & 6 together it is clear that Jesus is talking about physical birth and spiritual birth and that this is how Nicodemus understood it, for he said: "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 3v4) Babies are literally "born in water" - but notice that Jesus never uses the term "baptism" here with Nicodemus. Jesus is emphasising that unless a man is born again spiritually - he will not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Until recent years it was very noticeable that Mormons rarely tried to identify with being "born again," emphasising instead their baptism. But in recent years they try more to mimic evangelical Christianity to pose as a bona fide Christian group.
It is made clear in Ephesians 1v7 that Christ's blood saves us - not water - and Ephesians 2v8-9 tells us we must be saved first then do good works - and baptism is a work! Baptism is a sign that we have made the decision to follow Christ - but it cannot do anything to help us gain salvation. 1 Peter 3v20-21 makes it clear that baptism has nothing to do with our being saved for, talking about the spirits to whom Christ preached, it says: "....which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering 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" Of course the Mormons will heavily emphasise the doubly underlined portion of this verse to you - BUT the last half of verse 21 makes it perfectly clear: "Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh [which is what water does], but the answer of a good conscience towards God, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ." It is not the baptism that saves us it is the appeal to God in our declaration - and hence our "good conscience" - that we believe in the resurrection of Christ. Notice that there is a clear analogy with the Ark - Noah and his family exhibited great faith in the midst of ridicule and were rewarded with safety in the ark as now Christians are safe in Christ - but in Noah's day it was the wet faithless ones outside the ark who perished!
Belief demonstrated by baptism
Justified by faith, not by the work of baptism
In Mark 16v16 it is belief that is emphasised - the baptism is a sign to others on earth that we believe. Being baptised does not save us as it did not save the thief on the cross whose belief in the person of Jesus made him IN Christ (and therefore safe for eternity) that very day in paradise! As usual they have added to Scripture by essentially rewriting this verse in their D&C 112:29: "And he that believeth and is baptized shall be saved, and he that believeth not, and is not baptised, shall be damned." 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)?!
Thus the Mormons contradict the Bible and their own BOM and make man his own saviour (autosoterism!), but he must also be baptised by a Mormon official: "Remission of sins comes to the repentant believer through baptism, when it is performed by divine direction and under divine authority." (C.W. Penrose, Repentance and Baptism, p.5) Consequently Mormons pursue "endless genealogies" for the millions who have died between Christ's time and now, and claim that they help dead people to salvation by proxy baptism. They fail to see that they are claiming that Christ's gospel failed on earth since no one has been performing these "rights" from the days of the Apostles until Joseph Smith supposedly restored these ordinances in the last century! Let us rather believe the Words of Christ: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24v35; Mark 14v30); "Upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hell shall not prevail against it." (Matthew 16v18).
Mormons fail to note that the extensive passages on justification (Romans 3v21- 5v21; Galatians 2-3) do not include baptism (the BOM also fails to emphasise baptism) and it is clear that repentant-faith is the sole condition of justification and baptism in water the outward expression of faith! The following quote shows that their President Brigham Young was confused about the role of water and the whole matter: "Will the water [of baptism] of itself wash them [sins] away? No; but keeping the commandments of God will cleanse away the stain of sin." (Discourses of Brigham Young, p.159) He contradicts 1 Peter 3v21 and then makes an impossible statement - for who can keep EVERY ONE of the commandments of God. There are literally hundreds of them - are they written down anywhere? Is there ONE PERSON in the LDS church who can even name them all? It is utterly impossible to know if you are saved if you need to keep every commandment - every Mormon must live in terror or ignorance of his fate before God! Every Christian should be baptised, but if it is physically impossible as it was for the thief on the cross - or if only a sprinkling is possible - we know that it is not the water which washes away sin. We are justified by faith, not by the work of baptism which should be the first act of obedience to the Master who has saved us.Who can baptise you?
Nowhere in the Bible is baptism performed by Aaronic priests - the priesthood is done away with by the perfect work of Christ (Hebrews 5-7) as all who claim to be Christian and desire to form priesthoods should note. Now every believer is a priest of God (1 Peter 2v5,9). Baptism for the dead is nowhere taught in the Bible (or BOM) and 1 Corinthians 15v29 refers to a sect which believed in the resurrection and therefore baptised for the dead. Read the passage carefully for Paul does not say "why are WE baptised" but "why are THEY baptised if the dead do not rise" - the whole passage is teaching about the fact of the RESURRECTION and the only other reasonable and consistent interpretation of the passage would be that those who are baptised after "the dead" do so because they also are certain of the RESURRECTION and that the dead DO rise!
We should note that Oliver Cowdery (who apostatised from the Mormon's - despite their claims) wrote a book: "Defense: In A Rehearsal of My Grounds for Separating Myself from the LDS," p.2 - in which he admitted that the voice of John the Baptist, who supposedly appeared to bestow the priesthoods, sounded like the voice of Sidney Rigdon (who was earlier disfellowshipped from the Baptists and Campbellites for his strange ideas on priesthoods and Baptism for the Dead). Another cunning Smith deception! If you read Alma 29v4 in the 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, it reads: "Yea, I know that he alloteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them Decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills." (p.303). But it now reads: "Yea, I know that he alloteth unto men according to their wills." Why was this changed - because it made the doctrine of "baptism for the dead" look ridiculous? Decrees that are UNALTERABLE clearly means that there are no second chances after death! The Mormon god contradicts himself repeatedly - and his unalterable decrees are constantly altered! This also proves that the LDS claims that the corrections in the BOM are insignificant is patently untrue. It is clear that the works of men can never save and we must recognise that Jesus' words make it absolutely clear: "You MUST be born again" (John 3v3-7)! Are YOU born again?