Credit for Trying
At the last General Conference (April, 2016), Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, one of the 12 apostles of the LDS Church, gave the closing talk. It was an encouragement to keep on trying. In the course of his talk he made this statement: “With the gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength of heaven to help us, we can improve, and the great thing about the gospel is we get credit for trying, even if we don’t always succeed.”
Getting credit for trying? Not according to the Bible. “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it” (James 2:10). One stumble – one unintentional sin – causes the verdict of “guilty” to rain down on our heads. Jesus didn’t say, “try to be perfect”. He said, “be perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
But “try” has become one of the favorite words of Mormons. Wherever their scriptures or official writings give an absolute command, many Mormons temper it with the word “try”. For example, D& C 58:43 says a repentant person “will confess them (their sins) and forsake them.” Many Mormons, however, shrug this off with the explanation that all we have to do is try and forsake them.
This is why one of the main things Christians need to do when witnessing to Mormons is to not allow them be satisfied with trying. We need to lovingly but firmly challenge them. Ask them where the Bible says to try. If, for example, the discussion is on “be perfect”, we can say we have looked hard and long for the word try in the passage but it’s not there. Or we could ask them where their own scriptures condone trying.
Dong this isn’t always pleasant, but it’s extremely necessary. As long as they have the escape route of “try”, most won’t realize the tremendous danger they are in. Most are shocked to hear that even one sin will cause them to hear “guilty” from Jesus on Judgment Day. Therefore, for their own sake, we need to hold their feet to the fire.
Only then will they want to hear about a Savior who does everything for them. A Savior who does not save them by giving them an example of what they have to do, but one who saved them by doing it all for them as their substitute. A Savior who not only cleansed us from all our sin but also gave us his perfect righteousness so that now, through him, we can meet the standard of perfection. In Christ we have keep all the commandments. In him we are perfect.
This is something Elder Holland, one of their 12 apostles, does not realize. A few sentences after stating the above, he added: “We take some solace in the fact that if God were to reward only the perfectly faithful, He wouldn’t have much of a distribution list.”
How wrong he is! God does only reward the perfectly faithful – those who are perfectly faithful through the merits of Jesus Christ.
Thank God Jesus has done everything for you. Thank him by telling this wonderful news near and far.