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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Color Key:
Quotes from the Ensign in blue.
Quotes from the Bible in red.
All my own words are black.

Work First, Atonement Second?
By Connie Raddon

One of the monthly sections of the Ensign is “We Talk of Christ”.  In the December issue, this article is written by Michael D. Woodbury. 

Woodbury states, “Because of the Atonement, I will be resurrected and any physical pain will be wiped away.  My wife, children, and I are sealed together as an eternal family.  The Atonement made that possible too.”

This goes against what the Bible teaches.  The Sadducees were questioning Jesus. They posed a hypothetical situation about a woman who married each of seven brothers after the previous one died.  They asked who she would be married to after she was resurrected.  “Jesus said to them, "Is this not the reason you are mistaken, that you do not understand the Scriptures or the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.” Mark 12:24-25

Woodbury goes on to say, IF we move forward with FAITH in our Savior as we pass through the TRIALS of life and ENDURE to the end, the Atonement will provide the path we need to follow, with the glorious promise of eternal life waiting at the end.”

Notice how all these things are based on what WE do.

WE have faith… WE pass through trials…WE endure to the end…

The “glorious promise of eternal life” that Woodbury refers to depends on…
1.      Moving forward with FAITH in our Savior. 
2.      Passing through the TRIALS of life.
3.      ENDURING to the end.

When the LDS leadership talk about “passing through trials” and “enduring to the end”, it’s not very clear what they mean.  When I was a Mormon, I understood that “enduring to the end” meant overcoming all the trials in life by remaining obedient to all the laws and ordinances of the Mormon Church.

The following paragraphs will explain what the Bible says about FAITH, passing through TRIALS, and ENDURING to the end.

FAITH: The Bible teaches that faith is something that we can’t get for ourselves.  It is a gift from God.  1 John 5:4  “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world.  And this is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.”  Our faith is born of God.  We can’t even take credit for our faith because IT is a gift from God.

TRIALS: The article says that we must overcome our trials.  The Bible also teaches that we will have trials.  The difference is the LDS teach that you must overcome your trials in order to prove yourself worthy of the benefits of the atonement, and eternal life. The Bible, on the other hand, teaches that once you are born again, the Holy Spirit is with you always – renewing you and strengthening you.  All the glory and all the credit goes to God when you overcome a trial.  If you believe you overcome it on your own strength, all the glory and credit goes to YOU. 

Jesus is speaking to his disciples in John Chapter 15 about how we must rely on Christ.  John 15:5  “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”  Trials are overcome with the power of God.  The glory is His.  We don’t deserve the credit, God does.

ENDURE:  Like I said before, most Mormons understand this to mean overcoming your trials on a continual basis by obeying all the laws and ordinances of Mormonism.  In the Bible, Paul speaks to the Philippians about how he has learned to be content no matter what happens.  Christ will give him whatever he needs.  Phil 4:13 “I can do all things through Chirst who strengthens me.”  We endure because God gives us every single thing that provides endurance.  To take any credit is to rob God of His glory.

So, this article explains that you must have faith, overcome your trials, and endure to the end FIRST.  THEN you will have earned, or been “worthy” to receive the benefits of the atonement.  And according to Woodbury, the atonement will provide the path.  This means your work is not finished.  The atonement only provides “the path we need to follow.” In Mormonism, following that path means to obey all the laws and ordinances of Mormonism, like going to the temple, paying a full tithing, obeying the Word of Wisdom (dietary laws), just to name a few. 

So let me point out that if the promise of eternal life comes to us after we have done all these things to earn it, then the credit and glory for this accomplishment would be ours.

The Bible says something very different:
Ephesians 2:8-9  “For by grace we are saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, so that no one can boast.”  In the Bible, “saved” means the same thing as “eternal life”, or “exaltation” in Mormonism.  Paul is trying to teach the believers in Ephesis that they do not need to earn eternal life through obedience to laws.  He says that eternal life can’t come from works, because then people would be able to boast and take credit for it.

So once again, let’s review what Woodbury said.   “If we move forward with faith in our Savior as we pass through the trials of life and endure to the end, the Atonement will provide the path we need to follow, with the glorious promise of eternal life waiting at the end.”

He says the promise of eternal life comes after our trials, endurance, and obedience.  But the Bible says we can be saved right now… immediately… currently… in the present. 
John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
This means that once you believe, or have faith, you have eternal life immediately.  You just happen to be spending the first few years of your eternal life here on earth. 

Notice how Jesus does not say that he who believes WILL HAVE everlasting life.  He says instead, he who believes HAS everlasting life, and HAS PASSED from death to life. 

The teachings in this article are NOT Biblical, and therefore,
NOT consistent with Christian beliefs.

On May 18, 1873 (as recorded in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16 p. 46), Brigham Young issued a challenge:  “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.”

I have accepted that challenge from Brigham Young.

In the December 2011 issue of the Ensign, the LDS religion FAILS this test.

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