Faith Vs. Works: What Are We Saved By?

The biggest criticism against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints by Christians is that it is too caught up on works, and doesn't recognize faith. This post is therefore meant to tackle this issue by displaying the two sides of the argument the best I can. I am biased, however, agreeing with Christians who are outside the LDS Church. I will explain why in my argument. Now although I'd rather call it wisdom than an argument, I can't get around the fact that society may call this "an argumentative essay that's poorly done."

At church, it is the general Mormon consensus is that we need both faith AND works to be saved. We do our part by doing our best to keep the commandments. Then God does his part in saving us by grace after everything we can do to save ourselves, but fall short. Mormons (well, except for me I guess) will support this claim by using the following scriptures:

James 2:14-22 "What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?"

2 Nephi 25:23 "For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."

However, I personally believe that saying these scriptures support the fact that we are saved after everything we can do to keep the commandments is due to a total misconception of what saves us. Also, in forgetting wisdom by applying the verses other Christians like myself use to say the church is too caught up on works.

Indeed I will admit that it SOUNDS correct to say we are saved after everything we can do to keep the commandments, also believing in Christ, and then God will save us. However it is as it is written, "There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death (Proverbs 14:12)." I personally believe the reason why this doctrine Mormons support sounds right is because we are prideful human beings, wanting to show off what we can do to follow the commandments. But truth be told, we as Christians recognize that we cannot do ANY good on our own.

Romans 17:18 "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing:..."

Romans 3:10-12 "As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one."

But we recognize, as Christians, that we can do all good things in Christ, even as Christ did all things in his father.

John 8:28 "Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things."

And so we know, as Christians, that we are nothing but God is just and faithful to do all things through us who believe.

Alma 26:12 "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever."

Therefore we, as Christians, know that the works we do that are good do not come in and of ourselves. They are the works of God through us, for our faith. As we also know that the good works we do are ordained unto us because of the faith we have received with a willing heart.

Ephesians 2:8 "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

Thus concluding that if a man says he has faith in Christ, he must also believe in the commandments. Or else if he does not believe in the commandments, he is a liar and a hypocrite to the faith in Christ. But we are not saved because we are willing to keep the commandments and do what we can to keep them, for truth be told none can. We are all weak, and none can do good on their own. No, not one. You can boast all you want in your good deeds, saying you had done it yourself... But whether you knew it or not, those good works you did God ordained you to do, and HE did through you. It was not of yourself, whether you believe in God or not, because God wooed your heart to do the right thing.

Now there's a difference between those who believe and do not believe. Those who believe in Jesus Christ, his teachings, and his atonement shall be saved through Christ for giving their whole hearts to him. But those who do not believe, or say they believe one thing but not another, are not saved for loving sin more than God.

Now in this I tell you that there some who say they love God, but teach evil. But "What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; (Romans 3:9)"

It is true that not all who knock on the gates of heaven and say, "Lord, Lord, let us in!" shall be permitted to enter. There will be those whom God says unto, "Depart from me ye workers of iniquity. For I never knew you." But what persons are these? Do we know them? They are they who hear the truth, know it, and deny it while having perfect knowledge given to them by the power of the Holy Ghost. Which denial of is an unforgivable sin. "Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen (Romans 1:21-25)."

But I forbid any man from judging another as being such a son of perdition. For "thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things (Romans 2:1-2)."

So again I will repeat, or say if I have not said already, we are saved after everything we can do to exercise our FAITH in Jesus Christ. And yet even that faith is a gift given unto us by God's favor by no more than our own sheer willingness to follow (believe) Him. We are saved by grace through faith alone in Christ and the atonement because believing is the same as following. If we say we believe, but do not follow the teachings, we are liars and hypocrites when we say we believe God's ways are the better way. And so we then must also love the creature more than the creator, worshipping and serving idols more than God. Yet we are NOT saved because of the works, for the works are God's. Again, we are saved by grace through our faith that brings about the good works.

If we say we are saved after everything we can do to keep the commandments, instead of through faith that brings about God's works, we take the glory away from God. But rather so that God may have all the glory, let us admit we absolutely cannot do any good in and of ourselves save we have faith in God. And so we likewise cannot be saved without the gift of faith in the first place, which is bestowed by grace. And so in giving God all the glory for his grace that gave the gift of faith unto us that allowed God to do good works through us, are we truly then of God.

I hope this makes sense to you, and I will leave it with you in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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May 14, 2013