We like to tell the story of little orphan Andy to illustrate the difference between Mormonism and the Bible.
Andy lived in an orphanage. His greatest desire was to be adopted and become part of a family. It was all he could talk about. It was what he thought about every night before he went to sleep.
One day a couple came to the orphanage and told Andy they were considering adopting him. But they wanted to take him home for a month to see how it would work out. After the month, they would decide if they would adopt him.
Andy went home with them and tried to be on his best behavior. Every night, however, he couldn’t help but wonder if he was good enough. Talk about a stress-filled month! In fact, he was so stressed, that he wasn’t himself.
Let’s say, however, that the couple, instead of waiting for a month to decide, had come to the orphanage and told Andy they had already adopted him. The papers were signed. He was officially and forever their son.
Imagine the joy Andy would have felt. Imagine how he would show his gratitude to them by trying to be the best he could be. He would act even better than in the first scenario because he wouldn’t have the pressure of having to work to be accepted.
By bringing obedience into the discussion of salvation, Mormonism puts people into the position of Andy in the first scenario. Many Mormons feel tremendous stress as they work toward becoming acceptable to God. For example, the September 2009 Ensign says: “An upcoming Q&A feature will focus on the following topic: I often feel overwhelmed because I don’t feel I measure up to all that’s expected of me in living the gospel. How can I learn to rejoice in the gospel when I feel like I may never be able to become or do all that the Lord requires of me?”
The biblical gospel doesn’t put pressure on people; it takes it off. It relieves the pressure because it is all about what Jesus did for us, not what we must do. He has already paid for all our sins. He has already fulfilled all righteousness for us. Because of this, we now can be like Andy in the second scenario. We, too, try to please God – not to become accepted, but because God has already accepted us through Jesus. This difference in motivation makes all the difference in the world.