Atonement – Part 1

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From the Missionary Guide – Preach My Gospel it says, “Our Father’s plan for us to be successful in this life and to return to live with Him is called the gospel of Jesus Christ, with Jesus’ Atonement at the center of that plan.  He satisfied the demands of justice when he stood in our place and suffered the penalty for our sins.  Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can receive eternal life if we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized by immersion for the remission of sins, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying of hands, and strive to keep His commandments to the end of our lives.”

I agree with some of what is said.  But, beyond exercising faith in Jesus Christ that He paid the penalty for our sins, nothing else is necessary or required of us to obtain eternal life. 

The Guide also says, “In paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus did not, however eliminate our personal responsibility.  We must show Him that we will follow His commandments.”

So, there is no assurance of having eternal life, unless you prove yourself worthy by working diligently to keep ALL, of His commandments? 

Mormons also believe that, through the Atonement of Christ they can qualify for exaltation through obedience to all the laws and ordinances and first principles of the gospel. (Preach My Gospel)

Mormonism says that a person’s salvation must be earned.  But this is not a biblical concept, in any way, shape, or form. 

Acts 10:43

“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

Paul validates that message in two of his epistles. 

Colossians 2:13-15 and Ephesians 1:13-14

“And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”                                                                                                     

And then in Ephesians, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise.  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

Paul is declaring that all sins – past, present, and future – are said to be forgiven, once for all. 

The author of Hebrews says in chapter 10 verse 10 that “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Verse 14 adds, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

Note the emphasis on these verses:  We are sanctified – made holy and perfect – through His atonement, when we accept Jesus as our Savior. 

Please continue reading verses 15-18 in Ephesians chapter 1.

“Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.  Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

But don’t you have to have good works in order to be saved?

Well, those good works come from the effects of the Atonement in our lives.  When we accept Christ’s payment for our sins, we become new creatures in Him. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” 

Paul goes on in verses 18-21, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”


Are you trying to say  – the acts of our sinful nature are replaced with the fruit of the Spirit – which is love.

For a Christian, good works are done out of gratitude for the gift that has been received – the gift of eternal life. 

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Salvation

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What is the
Mormon concept of salvation?

Bruce R.McConkie said in his book “Mormon Doctrine”,

“Unconditional or general salvation, that which comes by grace alone without obedience to gospel law, consists in the mere fact of being resurrected.”  And then a couple pages later says,“Immortalityis a free gift and comes without works or righteousness of any sort; all menwill come forth in the resurrection because of the atoning sacrifice ofChrist…In this sense, the mere fact of resurrection is called salvation by grace alone.” (p. 669, 671)

So
“unconditional” salvation by grace comes through the resurrection for all
mankind.  But you’re also taught, that “conditional”
salvation comes through personal works of righteousness.

LDS Third Article of Faith declares: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind
may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

Meaning the
laws and ordinances of Mormonism.

Latter-Day
Saints believe in doing all one can do and then believing that the grace of God
will make up for what we lack. 

I’m familiar
with the passage in the Book of Mormon – 2 Nephi 25:23 that
declares: “it is by grace that we are saved, after all
we can do.”

This Book of
Mormon teaching creates a sense of pride in a Mormon for doing their part to
make themselves “worthy”, doesn’t it?

We try to avoid being prideful, but our efforts to
keep the commandments is what helps us earn God’s grace.” – They say

However, the
abundance of clear biblical scripture leaves no room for us to think our own
works could save us in any degree.  I
would like to lay a biblical foundation of God’s point of view. 

Isaiah
64:6

“But
we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags…”

The Apostle Paul
has a lot to say about this.  Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the
works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, that we might be justified
by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of
the law shall no flesh be justified.”

And, Galatians 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you,
whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

Romans
10:4

“For
Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”

Romans
11:6

“And if by grace, then is it
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.”

Titus
3:5  

“Not by works of
righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by
the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

You see, the
emphasis is not on merit or works.  Rather
on grace – God’s free, gift.

How then are
we to understand what was said in James 2:20 “But wilt
thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

James is not
arguing for good works as a, means to salvation, but rather as a product of
salvation.  It might be put like this:
“Faith alone saves, but a saving faith is never alone.” 

We are
justified before God on, the basis of faith alone and before men on the, basis
of our works.  So, we can see that
“works” are a result of a life lived out of love for God.  But if one claims to be saved and shows no
“works”, he is not truly saved.

What about Philippians 2:12 where it says,
”Wherefore my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only,
but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and
trembling.”

Notice, that
it does not say “work FOR your salvation” but “work out your salvation” (that
which you already possess).  The
following verse 13 tells us, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of
his good pleasure.”

If the
Apostle Paul were telling us we had to do works to be saved, he would be
contradicting himself in the very next chapter, Philippians
3:9 says, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of
the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which
is of God by faith.”

The gospel
is the “good news” that Christ purchased our salvation for us.  He redeemed us in full.  All that is left for us to do is believe in
Him and receive His free, gift.  “His
works” will be manifested in our lives.  

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Article Bible References

  • Isaiah 64:6

  • Galatians 5:4

  • Romans 10:4

  • Titus 3:5

  • James 2:20

  • Philippians 2:12-13

  • Philippians 3:9