Much is to be said about the religious cult named the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints or Mormonism. Mormons deviate drastically from orthodox Christianity and hold many incompatible and defective doctrines and theologies. In my opinion, the worst and most insulting to orthodox Christianity is the doctrine of faith plus works in Christ for grounds of salvation in Mormonism. In this blog, I will seek to document the noted fallacy and present the biblical refutation.
The Book of Mormon, one of the sacred books of Mormonism, explicitly asserts twice a salvation by faith plus works. “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 (2 Nephi 25:23).” Clearly, salvation comes through Christ’s grace with an additional additive of human effort and/or conditions. Even Mormon leaders agree and assert with this flawed belief. Professor Daniel H. Ludlow in his book A Companion to Your Study of the New Testament said, “On the same basis men cannot be saved in their sins (Alma 11:37); the Lord has ordained the laws by which salvation and all good things come, and until obedience prepares the way, the promised blessings are withheld. Men can no more be saved without obedience than they can be healed without faith. All things operate by law; blessings result from obedience to law and are withheld when there is no obedience.” The 13th President of the Mormon Church, Ezra Taft Benson, said, “What is meant by ‘after all we can do’? ‘After all we can do’ includes extending our best effort. ‘After all we can do’ includes living His commandments. ‘After all we can do’ includes loving our fellowmen and praying for those who regard us as their adversary. ‘After all we can do’ means clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and giving ‘succor [to] those who stand in need of [our] succor’ (Mosiah 4:15)-remembering that what we do unto one of the least of God’s children, we do unto Him ‘After all we can do’ means leading chaste, clean, pure lives, being scrupulously honest in all our dealings and treating others the way we would want to be treated.” Mr. Benson fails to understand good works that result from saving faith and good works as the grounds for and/or addition to saving faith. Lastly, Harold B. Lee, a noted Mormon leader said “But all of these blessings are ours on one condition, and this is spoken of by Nephi, when he said: 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, [but mark you this condition,] after all we can do. ”
Moroni 10:32 also supports their belief of faith plus obedience to the law or works. Moroni 10:32 says, “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.” The clear and obvious implication from this verse is that one must “deny yourself of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind, and strength” for God’s grace to be sufficient for you. This verse presents a way of salvation that is completely impossible to the fallen man or woman.
The refutation of this insulting and derogatory Mormon argument is fairly effortless from the true Word of God, the Bible. Scripture makes it blatantly obvious that salvation is grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 says “ For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Notice that Ephesians 2:8 does not include the phrase “after all we can do” as 2 Nephi 25:23 does. Salvation is not by works. If it were, then those who are saved would get the glory. Paul makes this straight-forward argument many times through the books of Romans and Galatians. “For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law (Rom. 3:28).” The authors of the New Testament give numerous instances of salvation by grace alone through faith alone (John 3:16; Rom. 4:5; 9:30; 11:6). Jesus himself condemned those who combined faith and works (Matt. 7:22-23). The implication of a Mormon adding law to faith in Christ is a curse. Galatians 3:10 says “For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who does not abide by all things written in the book of the law, to perform them.” Paul makes is clear that if righteousness could be obtained by any other means than Christ, he died for nothing (Gal. 2:21). Mormonism undermines the bedrock of the Reformation with their false assertion of faith plus works for salvation.
Moroni 10:32 contradicts the evangelical belief of total depravity. Total depravity acknowledges that, as a result of the Fall (Gen. 3), every part of man-mind, will, emotions, and flesh- is corrupted by sin rendering him unable to obtain any merit before the holy God. John Piper says man’s total depravity is absolute in four ways: our rebellion against God is total, in his total rebellion everything man does is sin, man’s ability to submit to God and do good is total, and our rebellion is totally deserving of eternal punishment. Moroni 10:32 says we are to love God with all our might, mind, and strength. How is this possible if man is totally depraved (Jer. 17:9; Rom. 3:10-11; Eph 2:1,3; 2 Cor. 4:4-6; Rom. 7:18)? In the eyes of a Mormon, for grace to be sufficient, you have to be perfect. A feat that no mere man can obtain apart from total sanctification which takes place at death.
Mormons call their gospel the good news yet they put an impossible yoke on the backs of their converts with adding works to grace. Romans 14:23 says “For whatever does not proceed from faith is sin.” How are we to respond to this? Without Christ-exalting faith, our deeds will signify nothing but rebellion. All works are tainted apart from true glorifying faith in Christ. Adding works to faith in Christ is like adding one drop of cyanide to a glass of pure, crisp water. It’s only one drop, but it will inevitably kill you. Mormonism presents a defective Soteriology that ultimately leads to eternal punishment. Salvation was, is, and will forever be by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus Christ alone.
Pray for Mormons
Preach to Mormons
Teach the Bible faithfully
Guard your flock from defective theology
Learn the Word to better protect yourself and others
Love the Mormons but remember Luther’s words about love and doctrine
“I am not permitted to let my love be so merciful as to tolerate and endure false doctrine. When faith and doctrine are concerned and endangered, neither love nor patience are in order…where these are concerned, neither toleration nor mercy are in order, but only anger, dispute, and destruction- to be sure, only with the Word of God as our weapon.” ~Martin Luther
Until He comes,