After a forced year off from in-person celebrations of our Lord’s triumphant resurrection, Christian congregations worldwide rejoiced to once again gather on Easter Sunday.
What did your church emphasize during its Easter service? Mine focused on the completed work of Christ for us, the “DONE” of the gospel, and the comfort it brings for life and eternity. The theme of my pastor’s sermon was “Hope is ALIVE!”
This year, as happens every few years, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints DID NOT gather for Easter Sunday services. The reason for their staying home this year was not Covid-19-related but rather General Conference-required.
What did the LDS church and its leaders emphasize during their Easter weekend talks? NOT a Hope in Christ and Christ alone focus on DONE, but a focus on the church, commandments, commitments, the United States Constitution, doing, and deeds, all without room for doubts.
In this April 2021 General Conference reaction, I won’t summarize or address each of the conference talks individually but will respond to the conference as a whole.
As I did with the October 2020 General Conference and plan for future General Conferences, I will provide reflections, contemplations, and a “What does this mean for our witnessing?” summary based on three primary themes that stuck out to me. I know there were many more themes and topics, and I would love to hear your takeaways. Please share them by email or in the comments section below.
Where, When, & What Took Place
On Saturday, April 3, and Sunday, April 4, 2021, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints held its 191st Annual General Conference. For the third consecutive conference, this bi-annual event, typically attended by tens of thousands in person, was hosted as a virtual-only event watched by millions. Only the speakers, leadership, and support staff appeared live in Salt Lake City, Utah. Although many speakers gave talks live from the main stage, a significant number prerecorded their talks. All of the music was prerecorded from past conferences or small groups performing during the Coronavirus time.
Unlike the October 2020 General Conference, which was doctrine heavy with a substantial focus on spiritual “preparation” and “progress” “step-by-step” on “the plan of salvation,” the April 2021 General Conference was focused more on the church and its member’s deeds as “an every growing testimony.”
A “this is who we are as the LDS Church and individual members,” “this is what we have done as a church and as members during the pandemic,” and “this is what we need to do and be” now spotlight was paramount. Topics covered included everything from “the gathering of Israel,” cyberbullying, and pornography to the Constitution, Rwandan Genocide, and abortion/adoption. Again, although there were many interesting threads to pull at, the three themes that stuck out to me most were:
- Don’t Doubt the Church, See Its Strength
- Embrace Unity and a Call for Reconciliation
- Behold, the Growing International Influence of the LDS Church
Don’t Doubt the LDS Church, See Its Strength in its Doings and Deeds
In 2020, although many wards ceased in-person sacrament meetings and temples worldwide were closed, the LDS church and its members were not sitting idle. Even though the statistical numbers for missionaries, baptisms, and coverts were way down in 2020, the church used the year of the Coronavirus to ramp up much of its technological and media infrastructure and plant its stakes deeper in strongholds old and new. We’ll cover more about this less visible global growth in the final reaction section.
In his “Welcome Message,” President Russel M. Nelson underscored how the church has continued to find direction and do good deeds during these problematic days saying, “Some lessons that I knew before have been written on my heart in new and instructive ways. The Lord directs the affairs of his church; he has executed the hastening of his work — even during a global pandemic.”
Nelson went on to say, “The strength of the church lies in the efforts and ever-growing testimonies of its members,” which “are cultivated in the home” and carried out in communities around the world. He warned members to deal with their doubts about the church by listening to the church, not dissenters. His encouragement was to observe the church and its strength to find strength for one’s testimony.
“See the Church’s Strength and be Strong.”
This “See the church’s strength to know its true” idea that has been a mantra of Russel Nelson’s presidency is something many Mormons are buying into wholeheartedly. An LDS missionary recently said to me, “Even if I might doubt some of the church’s teaching and some of what the prophets have said or done, I know the church is true because of all the good it is doing in the world and people’s lives. It couldn’t be a false church because it is so successful.”
Not surprisingly, in keeping with this “see the strength” theme, supplemental General Conference content exhibited how the church and its members were not just “telling” their testimonies but “showing” them. In several video segments aired between the Saturday morning and afternoon sessions, members of the church saw how the church and its members have been as busy as bees over the past year. The LDS church’s humanitarian efforts and its members stateside and worldwide were significant, startling, and even somewhat shaming of true believers as to their scope and substance.
In the world’s eyes, the LDS church does appear strong, but does strength always mean truth?
How are we to deal with the apparent visible successes/strength of the LDS church in our witnessing?
Start thinking about that question and possible answers. I will come back to that question with some thoughts after reflecting upon two additional interconnected themes.
The documentary-style videos and interviews that highlighted the “strong” partnerships between the LDS church and other sacred and secular organizations also highlighted a second April 2021 General Conference theme, a call for “unity” and “reconciliation” among members and non-members across congregations, communities, cultures, and continents.
Heed the Call for Unity and Reconciliation
The between-session “living testimonies” pieces included a compelling story about a member of the “Black 14” and his reconciliation and recent partnership with the LDS church. The video explained how the “Black 14” football players from the 1969 University of Wyoming football team spoke out against and planned protests about racial injustice, including restrictions on the priesthood. Leading up to their game against BYU, the U of Wyoming dismissed the 14 black “trouble maker” players from the team, and the whole event blew up for the U of Wyoming, BYU, and the Mormon church.
Now, years later, because of the “living testimonies” of church members and the willingness to take simple steps, reconciliation has been taken place between several members of the “Black 14” and the LDS church” Additionally, one member of the “Black 14” is partnering with the LDS church to carry out humanitarian aid efforts that have resulted in tens of thousands of individuals being served.
Other highly produced segments showed the LDS church and its members working with and supporting long rejected and ridiculed Native American communities in Utah and providing food and supplies to cultures and communities worldwide. These emotional stories of unity were very compelling.
A Kinder & Friendly Church
Building on the theme of “unity and reconciliation,” in his talk, “Hearts Knit Together,” Elder Gary E. Stevenson echoed the videos’ sentiments, stressing that “kindness is a fundamental, healing principle of the gospel.” He explained, “The Lord expects [Latter-day Saints] to teach that inclusion is a positive means towards unity, and that exclusion leads to division.” Stevenson concluded that the church members must “teach Christlike behavior to the rising generation in what we say and how we act. It is especially important as we observe a marked societal shift towards division in politics, social class, and nearly every other man-made distinction.”
Stevenson’s words are again striking and at the same sobering to Christian ears. What he said is true, but at the same time not, because the LDS church and its gospel are FALSE.
Building on Stevenson’s words, in his talk, “Hope in Christ,” President Russel M. Ballard encouraged LDS members to make special in-reach efforts in welcoming and uniting with singles in the church, both those who have never married as well as those widowed. Ballard urged, “The gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to unite us. We are ultimately more alike than we are different. As members of God’s family, we are truly brothers and sisters.”
Again, if the LDS gospel were the true gospel, Ballard’s encouragement to ministry to singles would be exemplary. The true gospel of Jesus Christ does have the power to unite us; the Mormon gospel ultimately does not.
Challenging Things to See
Once again, we must wrestle with the question, “How can a church that looks so strong and appears in some significant ways so Christlike not be the true or at least part of the true church?” (I will eventually provide some answers.)
The amount of humanitarian aid the LDS church accomplished this past year because of its “kindness” and “unity” is truly astounding. In a sense, it is also aggravating and challenging because it makes the LDS church look like such a strong entity and one which is at least from its well-marketed perspective more united and in-reach and outreach-focused than most Christian denominations.
In a year marked by strife, division, and calls for reconciliation, it is challenging to see the false church that calls itself the true church, at times taking more significant steps towards reconciliation and unity than true churches. Another challenging thing to see is how the LDS church has doubled and redoubled its outreach efforts to spread its enticing gospel globally.
The Growing International Influence of the LDS Church
In 2020, although the LDS church’s statistical growth was down significantly both in the US and internationally, that doesn’t necessarily mean that either the national or international presence of the LDS church was damaged or diminished. Even though on the surface, it might appear to be a setback year for LDS local and global expansion, they have strengthened themselves for decades to come.
2020 was for the LDS church a get-ready-for-the-future kind of year.
If LDS efforts, during Holy Week 2021, with their internal and external communications and advertisements indicate the LDS church’s direction, they will be doing even more than ever to market themselves as the better, kinder, friendly, and authentic version of Christianity.
Like so many trendy exports, will the rest of the world embrace Mormonism as the best America has to offer? What is the true church to do?
Answers are coming soon, I promise.
The Changing Faces & Places of Mormonism
In addition to restructuring how their army of 18- and 19-year-old missionaries do their witnessing work, posturing mostly to online efforts, the LDS marketing gurus have integrated and intensified their print and digital in-reach and outreach communication efforts. With a new worldwide magazine, the Liahona launched in January, and extensive updates and enhancements to their websites, apps, and social media platforms, the LDS church has well-positioned itself to spread its poison to far corners of the globe for decades to come. Like, imperial colonizers, from its mecca in Salt Lake City, Mormonism’s modern masterminds have their sights set on world domination.
During the Sunday afternoon session, President Nelson announced the location of TWENTY new temples. Nine of those temples will be built in the US, primarily fortifying intermountain west strongholds. The eleven international builds will increase LDS entrenchments in Asia, Africa, Central America, South America, and Europe. The TWENTY new temples will bring the world total to 251 announced, under construction, or operating. With these temple additions, LDS leadership has made it easier for hundreds of thousands to be involved in the temple work, which conference talks past and present are deeming essential for all LDS members. These new temples also increase the visibility of Mormonism in cities and countries around the globe, in which it has placed significant stakes to claim territory for its treachery. Those 20 new LDS temples will cost hundreds of millions, and they will be visually impressive inside and out, but they will be devoid of the life and eternity they claim to embody.
A Glimpse Into Mormonism’s Future
As a mirror into the church’s future, Sunday morning’s session was distinctly international, reflecting the LDS church’s global gains. Each speaker hailed from a different country, and the music was performed by a variety of choirs from around the world singing compilation pieces in their native languages.
I have to admit that it was hard to see all of the multiethnic children’s smiling faces singing about a false American gospel. One of the songs, a favorite of primary students, “I Am a Child of God,” had a reoccurring refrain, “Teach me all that I must do to live with him someday.” That song, like all the others, shared during the conference, was filled with conditional statements, “Celestial glory shall be mine / if I can but endure,” and “If I but learn to do his will / I’ll live with him once more.”
Troubling Questions & Some Answers
How do we know that the LDS church that looks so strong and kind and united in its purpose and mission isn’t true? What’s the difference between the true church and a false one, the true gospel and a false one?
Even the most straightforward LDS childrens’ song shows and tells us.
It’s the difference between “do” and “done,” between “conditional” and “certainty.”
Joseph Smith and every false LDS prophet since him have preached a gospel of “do,” negating the gospel of “done” that Jesus preached and was. The LDS church is all about what it and its members must still do and be if they want to live with God (and be a god) one day. The true church is all about proclaiming what Christ has DONE to make us right with God now and for all eternity. It’s a certainty.
It’s the difference between human strength and God’s true strength hidden in perfect weakness.
On Good Friday, we behold the Lord of All Creation, hanging helpless, naked, and dying on a cross, paying for the sins of the world, for his bride the church, in all her ugly brokeness. Chad Bird explains this strength/weakness paradox well when he wrote of the messy, unimpressive church:
Christ shows up week after week to do his thing: he gives us himself. Over and over, more and more. He rides into our midst Palm Sunday style: on the back of simplicity, astride normality. His home is our home. And he makes our messes his messes. Into the void of hopeless hearts he speaks words pulsating with life. He strips off the filthy rags of prodigals, washes us with pure water, puts sandals on our feet, rings on our fingers, and robes bleached white in the blood of the Lamb.
All this he does camouflaged in the ordinary stuff of church. Hymns. Homilies. Baptisms. Prayers. Suppers. Nothing to write home about. Nothing really worthy of Instagram. But this is the way of the God of the cross. The Son who hung naked on that ugly tree, with nothing to attract our attention, and much to repel us, still walks into our assemblies in unassuming, even offensive, ways. He dares call us to repentance. He dares tell us we’re not enough. And, more surprising still, he dares to love us when we’re supremely unlovable.Chad Bird, God Loves Your Messy, Unimpressive Church
The true church exits where Christ’s Words and Deeds are declared.
Searching for the One True Church
Although it was Easter weekend and many of the April 2021 General Conference Sunday morning talks drew from biblical resurrection appearance texts, the comfort and certainty of the hope of eternal life in the resurrection of Christ were absent. As might be expected, hope was clouded and confused by a conditional gospel that finds its source of substance in sentimentality and sensationalism.
It was hard to watch the real tears induced by stories of individuals taking comfort in a conditional and uncertain gospel for spiritual resurrection and reunion. Those tears highlighted the necessity of proclaiming Christ to Mormons both in America and increasingly around the world.
Mormons are victims of a religion’s lies and deceits and trapped in a suffocating church, one that at first appears to give them everything they have ever dreamed of and more. Many are pulled into Mormonism’s clutches because the LDS church’s captivating beauty attracts them.
When Joseph Smith went looking for the true church, it was all around him but broken and bruised just as it is today. He was looking for unity and strength and instead found weakness and division.
The Church Broken, Yet Beautified in Christ
Today, as we observe the true church’s brokenness, we are ashamed but not surprised. As we survey the churches around us, consider the congregations in Corinth, Galatia, and Ephesus to whom Paul wrote such harsh letters just a few decades after the ascension of Christ.
Filled with weakness and sin, those early Christian churches clung to the only hope they had and were made beautiful through Christ. We trust this same Savior to wash away our failures and shame to present us as his perfect bride.
On Easter weekend, the LDS church focused on how the church and its members can make themselves beautiful, but the only one that can do that necessary beautifying is Christ. Talking about the relationship between human brides and grooms in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes the beautiful relationship between Christ the great groom and his bride the church.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:25-28)
A beautiful church doesn’t come about by the doings and deeds of the church.
The church is beautified because of and through Christ and Christ alone.
Don’t let the gold, good deeds, or gospel of the false Mormon church convince you otherwise.
What does this all mean for our witnessing?
Go in True Strength
As you witness to your LDS friends and family, you do so, not with a resume of strength and man-manufactured beauty; instead, you go with the strength of God’s unconditional promises connected to the power of the Holy Spirit. And as you go, you won’t proclaim a church or about Christians and their deeds; you will proclaim Christ crucified and risen for sinners like you and the rest of the church.
Don’t Let Shining Temples Discourage You
Last month, on a visit to Utah, well before the rising of the sun, I headed out on a 20-mile training run. The path I chose led me up onto a hillside above Draper with Salt Lake City and much of the valley in my field of view. From my various vantage points during the run, I saw four LDS temples glowing in the darkness and dozens and dozens of white stakehouse spires piercing the dawn. It was overwhelming to see those strategically planted “stakes” so boldly claiming captured territory, those temples so brazenly announcing, “This valley is ours.”
For a moment, discouraged by this demonic display, I started to lose hope. In my sorrow, suddenly, I stumbled, but then I looked up and saw right before my eyes a solitary cross hiding on a tiny Christian church, humbly tucked away on the hillside.
That cross, the darkness, and all that I was thinking about caused me to remember in reverse verse order one of my favorite hymns, “Abide with Me.” There in that valley, which had caused me to be so blue, I started singing as loud as my labored lungs would allow.
Hold Thou Thy cross before my closing eyes
Shine through the gloom and point me to the skies
Heaven’s morning breaks, and earth’s vain shadows flee
In life, in death, o Lord, abide with me
Abide with me, abide with me
As I sang, I slowly made my way back towards the hotel. The sun finally rose, and the whole valley filled with light, glorious, life-giving light. The temples and steples were still there. But now, with the cross and sun/Son emboldening my eyes, I saw differently. My focus was drawn to the tens of thousands of homes, belonging to those living in the darkness of unbelief, waiting to be immersed in the light of life.
No longer discouraged, I was re-energized to go and tell, seek the lost, and share Jesus with an anthem ringing in my ears, “Christ is the Light of the World, the Light no darkness can overcome.” On Easter, Jesus, the perfect Son of God, rose victorious. Sin, death, and satan are defied and defeated. Hope is ALIVE.
Thanks for taking the time to work through this material with me. Again, I look forward to reading your thoughts on April 2021 General Conference. Please send me an email or add your thoughts to the comments below.
10 thoughts on “A Pastor’s Reflection on the April 2021 LDS General Conference”
I have a couple of questions.
It seems it’s not all “done,” or everyone would be going to heaven, which I don’t think you believe.
So the thing that you suggest that still needs to be done is what? I’m assuming it’s mentally deciding that you believe Christ is our substitute and has lived the law for us.
In your view then, and tell me if I have this wrong, for us to gain salvation then we need to do something. And that something is to believe that Christ’s claims are true. Is that right?
If that’s right and someone believes Christ was our substitute and already did everything for those who believe on his name, you said above that they’ll naturally want to keep the commandments. They’ll exhibit fruits.
This seems to go along with what James says. “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?”
So it’s not just any old faith. It’s the faith that leads to the types of works James talks about throughout his whole book. It’s the type of faith that leads to the works John talks about in 1 John.
Are we still on the same page?
If so, I’m not seeing the difference between that and Latter-day Saint belief. And I’ve been an active member for many decades.
Latter-day Saints are taught to exercise faith in Christ. How do you exercise faith in Christ? The Latter-day Saint answer has two parts.
Part 1 of that faith is that you take him at his word when he tells you what he’s done for you, that he’s overcome death and sin. It was impossible for us. Not for him. And it’s done. Happened 2,000+ years ago.
Part 2 of that faith is that you strive to do what he asks you to do. To pattern your life after him. That’s what a disciple did
back in those days. That’s what a disciple does today. You don’t just follow your master around, eating his food. You try to pattern your life after his. The sermon on the mount is about this. A great portion of the letters is about this with the apostles reminding folks to follow the pattern and behave in ways that become followers of Christ.
If at any moment, we decide that Christ’s claim that he overcame death and sin for us is hooey, then we’ve lost faith. Likewise, if at any moment we decide that we’re not going to strive to follow Christ’s instructions, then we’ve turned away from being his disciple. If either of those things happen, we separate ourselves from Christ’s gift.
We all fall short of his pattern. We all sin. But the key is what we do afterwards. Latter-day Saints believe you ask the Lord’s forgiveness, as so clearly instructed in the Lord’s Prayer, and try again.
That is the Latter-day Saint answer. And I’m not seeing where it differs from what you’re saying.
What am I not seeing?
Are you saying something different about James and John? About when Paul says God forbid we should sin? Are you saying people can turn away from discipleship and still be exercising the faith required for salvation?
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, I will say this. My Savior was crucified and resurrected to atone for my sins. He saved ME and Everyone Else. His grace means I will be resurrected when He comes again. Each of us needs to accept Christ as our Savior and come unto him. I totally agree that is the “Done”.
Here’s a question though. The bible talks of judgment and Heaven and Hell. If everyone is saved completely regardless of their works why is there talk of judgment and talk of Heaven and Hell? (Matthew 12:36)(Romans 2:12) Why would these concepts matter? What is Satan doing then? There is a difference between Resurrection and Exaltation. The Resurrection is “Done”. The Exaltation is the “Doing”.
I am saved from death because of Christ. I will have Eternal Life because of my Savior. That is a free gift by grace because of His atoning blood. What eternal life looks like depends on my willingness to accept Christ and come unto Him with a broken heart and contrite spirit. Christ conquered death and bought us with His blood. We are His. We belong to him and he is waiting with open arms to receive us. All who do this will receive his mercy and love and forgiveness.
When we talk of “doing” it is because that is how we show a repentant heart and our willingness to come unto Him. We in no way think we will “Do” enough to earn heaven. Only Through Christ can that happen. Our “Doing” is just to show our love for Christ and His sacrifice and our willingness to try to be like him and follow His example. By “doing” this we become closer to Him and His Holy Spirit can be with us more often to feel his love, comfort, and Joy. This is the plan of happiness we speak of. For each of us to come to Christ to feel His spirit because by having that Holy Spirit in our lives we feel peace and happiness.
Honestly, through personal experience, “doing” things to show that I love Christ and Accept His Gift; to allow Christ and His Holy Spirit more fully into my daily life to bring comfort and peace has kept me from making choices that would have led me down the dark paths of addiction, and the self-destructive things people do when they feel sad and alone and hopeless. We are never alone when we have Christ in our lives. That is how He has personally Saved me by my “works”. That is the only thing that is meant when we talk of “Doing”. I think you are getting stuck in the semantics of words instead of the spirit of the concepts.
I came across you post as I am preparing to teach the women in my LDS (or as you call it, Mormon) church tomorrow. I am teaching about one of the talks that you mention by Elder Ballard, Hope in Christ. Your post is not accurate. You say the words these people are saying are wonderful and would be perfect if they were coming from the true church. Why do you believe that truths are false just because they come from one that differs from your faith? You also mention multiple times that on Easter Sunday no one spoke of the “DONE” when, in fact, nearly every talk begins acknowledging Christ and His Resurrection – a literal “done”. The Church of Jesus Christ of LDS believes that we will ALL be saved through Christ’s Atonement and Resurrection. EVERYONE. Not just the ones that “DO”. From you post, it sounds like you don’t believe there is any point to “doing” good. When, Jesus Christ spent his life being an exemplar of doing good. You are also confused about Temples. They are not there to entice. They do not mention the new temples built to be boastful. The reason temples are celebrated is because they give the opportunity for more work to be done in Christ’s name. We don’t have Crucifix’s in our church because we choose to focus on Christ’s life. We have pictures all over our buildings depicting His life. It is not because we are denying his Crucifixion. Without his Atonement, Crucifixion, and Resurrection none of us would be able to live eternally. It is the whole foundation of our “Mormon” religion, not to mention ever other Christian church. You are judging from a very limited perspective and then teaching others from that perspective. I urge you to learn more…
Thank you for taking the time to share your comments and reactions. You bring up many different topics, and I will attempt to respond to the most important ones. As I look at your response, most of your comments, in the end, have to do with the differences between the LDS and Christian biblical definitions of critical terms and concepts. Therefore, I will contrast these definitions to emphasize why I believe the summary I wrote is accurate and fair. I will limit the scope of this response to three terms: “the gospel,” “saved/salvation,” and “doing good/good works.”
When it comes to understanding the “Hope in Christ” talk by Elder Ballard, much of it hinges on the meaning of the word “gospel.” According to the LDS church, the gospel is what man must “do” to be exalted. According to Bible, the gospel is the good news about what Jesus has “done.”
The LDS manual, True to the Faith provides the following definition, which is in stark contrast to what the Bible describes as the gospel.
“The gospel is our Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness… In its fulness, the gospel includes all the doctrines, principles, laws, ordinances, and covenants necessary for us to be exalted in the celestial kingdom. The Savior has promised that if we endure to the end, faithfully living the gospel, he will hold us guiltless before the Father at the Final Judgment” (True to the Faith, p. 76).
The LDS Church teaches that the gospel was restored fully during these latter days through the Prophet Joseph Smith. By following the LDS gospel, a person can find happiness in this mortal life and eternally progress toward happiness in eternal life. Obedience, not faith, is a hallmark of following the gospel.
In contrast, the biblical word gospel means “good news.” The gospel is the message that God has fulfilled his promised rescue mission in Christ. It demonstrates God’s amazing love. The gospel is not a plan or list of activities we must do. It is the message that the work is DONE. As our substitute, Jesus’ perfect life, innocent death, and glorious resurrection have transformed the way God now sees us. “For in it [the gospel] is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17). The gospel assures us we are saved (2 Timothy 3:15), have eternal life (John 20:31), and empowers a life of thanks to God (2 Corinthians 5:14–15). As will be explained below about salvation, the good news is more than just a “done” regarding the resurrection.
In most LDS writings and explanations, saved/salvation is equivalent to resurrection. It is the only free gift in LDS theology. However, when it comes to salvation from sin, LDS teaching states:
“You will not be completely saved from sin until you have finished your life on the earth, having faithfully endured to the end. Note that you cannot be saved in your sins; you cannot receive unconditional salvation simply by declaring your belief in Christ with the understanding that you will inevitably commit sins through the rest of your life. Through the grace of God, you can be saved from your sins. To receive this blessing, you must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, strive to keep the commandments, forsake sin, and renew your repentance and cleansing through the ordinance of the sacrament” (True to the Faith, pp. 151-152).
In contrast, biblical Christianity teaches that salvation from sin is free and complete in Jesus. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). Jesus not only paid the price for all sin, but he also kept the law perfectly for us. Salvation is his gift to us. Salvation, literally “being saved,” is God’s rescue of sinners. This salvation was accomplished for all the world by Jesus (John 3:17).
Additionally, in the Bible, salvation is not only deliverance from physical death (1 Corinthians 15:22) but also sin (Hebrews 9:26) and eternal death (Romans 6:23). Since salvation is complete (John 19:30), believers have full confidence they are forgiven of their sins and will live eternally with God (John 3:16).
Doing Good/Good Works
I am by no means advocating that doing good should not be done by believers. However, the good works flow from a heart that has been changed and compelled by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus does serve as an example to us but, first and foremost, he is our substitute.
The Bible makes it clear that we are not saved by works. “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” (Ephesians 2:8–9). Mixing works with grace ruins grace. We are saved because of Christ’s work alone.
This does not mean works are unimportant. On the contrary, they flow naturally from faith because Christ now lives in us (Galatians 2:20). Works are the fruit, not the root, of salvation. “He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). Only believers can do good works (Hebrews 11:6, Galatians 5:22-23).
Christians recognize they have been freed from sin (Romans 6:18) to do good works (Ephesians 2:10). God now works in and through us as a result of our new life through Christ. Rather than a duty or obligation, works are done in love (2 Corinthians 5:14) out of thanks for Christ’s saving work. “We love him, because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
Thanks again for taking the time to leave your comments. Would you mind letting me know if there is anything else that you would like to discuss?
Thank you so much for writing up this summary and the encouragement of how to actually face the Goliath of Mormonism. We live in Idaho and are very active politically, which brings us into contact with many, many Mormons in the state legislature. We pray often for wisdom on how to speak to them about their faith vs. real faith in Christ. It is definitely a challenge to know how to speak to people who are sure they’re Christians and sure that they’re right.
May the lord Jesus always with us, as opportunity us to understand the words of God and being able to shared ,we are in his kingdom of God, and our purposes we are it fulfillment which we been created for, Hallaluyah , Because we are been assured in the Book of plasm 16;5, told us tha,t You God are all we have, and u give us our need, when that being than we are God on earth , has God himself declared Human being, in the Book of plasm 81;6 ,let keeping reaching out to their lose and being always prayer for them to known the true way of Christ ,in Jesus name amen.
Thank you for sharing your insights on this.
I try to watch parts of the conference every six months but it’s really hard to get through so I only watch a little of this and that. I notice they usually talk about the same things; how many new temples they are going to build,maybe a change or two in policy, an exhortation to the saints to strive to be worthy of God’s blessings, as well as a somewhat contradictory message about Heavenly Father’s love in which grace is implied.
I now live in the midst of many Mormons, and though I have had opportunities to encounter and witness to them in the past (mostly missionaries) it’s different this time. These dear people who live on my street appear to have ‘everything’ outwardly — until I am reminded of the fact that we are all born into sin and need a real Savior. I desire to reach them with the truth of Jesus and the Good News. Since moving here I have written scriptures on cards for Valentine’s Day and placed Bible tracts about Jesus in Christmas cards and placed them at every door in my circle. Because the LDS use the same words as us (with different meanings) it crosses my mind a lot about how difficult it would be for me to reach them. I’m thankful this is the work of God. Our salvation surely is a miracle.
Thank you for your thoughts. It is indeed hard to listen to the entire conference. That’s why I just tried to pick up on some reoccurring threads for this specific one.
I love what you are doing with the cards. If you haven’t done so already (or have and need a refresher), check out the Dictionary of Mormonize section of the TILM.org website. You might find some helpful insights into how to use and apply words. Also, feel free to print up devotions from http://www.beyeperfect.com to share in your cards.
Have a blessed week living in the hope of our resurrected Savior Jesus.
Thank you for this summary. I loved “The Church Broken, Yet Beautified in Christ” section. Let he who boasts, boast in the Lord (not the church). Good word!
Isn’t it so comforting to know that the church, as broken as it is, will be made beautiful in Christ our great groom?
– Pastor Mark