Am I Good Enough? Will I Make It?
This is the title of a talk given by Elder J. Devn Cornish at last month’s (October 2016) General Conference of the LDS Church.
Think of how you would answer those two questions. Most of us would answer the first question by readily admitting that we, by ourselves, aren’t good enough to get into heaven. Cornish gives a similar answer: “Of course, there is no such thing as ‘being good enough’. None of could ever ‘earn’ or ‘deserve’ our salvation.”
So far, so good.
How about the second question? We would be confident we would make it to heaven - because Jesus kept God’s commandments perfectly for us and washed all our sins away with his blood.
That’s not, however, how Cornish answers. He tells people to “really try”. He quotes President Hinckley: “All the Lord expects of us is to try, but you have to really try.” He continues with this theme throughout the rest of his talk. He even says: “because God respects our agency, we also cannot be saved without our trying. That is how the balance between grace and works works.”
As seen in this last quote, Cornish does talk about grace. But he uses grace as Mormonism defines it. He quotes the LDS Bible Dictionary which describes grace as “an enabling power”. In other words, God’s grace is a power which enables us to try all the more! But we won’t receive it unless we are already trying. Cornish says: “’Really trying’ means doing the best we can, recognizing where we need to improve, and then trying again. By repeatedly doing this, we come closer and closer to the Lord, we feel His Spirit more and more, and we receive more of His grace, or help.” (my emphasis)
In other words, a person first has to really try by doing the best they can. Only then will God give them grace, that is, a power boost so they can continue to really try. This fits in perfectly with 2 Nephi 25:23 which says a person is saved after all they can do.
How pitiful this is compared to what the Bible says! There we see how God acts in grace, in his love, to do it all for us from first to last. In fact, Romans 4:5 praises not trying. “However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (The Joseph Smith Translation corrupts this verse by adding a “not” making it say that God does not justify the wicked.)
Not only is Cornish’s emphasis on “trying” diametrically opposed to the Bible, it also burdens many Mormons. To be told to “really try” is not a comforting message. It’s messages like this which has caused many Mormons to give up and become inactive. Even if they haven’t become inactive, many are just plain tired of trying.
Such Mormons are ripe to hear what Jesus has done for them. Don’t ever hesitate to tell them.