So my compañero and I were knocking doors the other day. After about the sixth door, someone finally answered and he let us right in. I’m always a little bit suspicious when that happens, but he was a very nice man and started the conversation by asking us some questions about the LDS church and how LDS missions work. We answered all of his inquires, but then he shifted the discussion a little by asking us how we viewed the whole “receiving Jesus into your heart” thing.
The conversation got a little more interesting, and we started telling him about some more specific doctrines pertaining to The Church of Jesus Christ. It eventually turned to the doctrine of salvation, and what constitutes being “saved.”
He made sure we understood that many “Mormon” doctrines don’t quite fall under the “umbrella of classic Christianity.” This is something that my companion and I are very well aware of. Many things that The Church of Jesus Christ teaches don’t agree completely with the traditions of what the world now likes to call “mainstream” Christianity.
Naturally, talking about salvation, we delved into faith and works. He was all for faith, which of course is a necessary thing. We must have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But he told us, “Don’t hang your hat on works.” Well, duh, I know I can’t earn my way to Heaven. I don’t know if people just think we’re stupid or something, but we know very well that only through the Atonement of Christ can anyone have any hope of salvation. Without Him, and without having faith in Him, our good works are in vain, and profit us nothing… because we’d all be damned to Hell. Simple.
I quoted James and told him that “faith without works is dead.” He tried to explain that good works come as a result of our faith and… as far as I understood it, ultimately don’t even matter anyway. They’re just… good things to do. We asked him about the Ten Commandments, if it was needful to obey them in order to gain salvation. His answer was no.
A bit puzzled, I said, “You don’t have to obey the Ten Commandments? So basically you can just be a bad person?” He said yes. Well, now that was interesting, ’cause last time I checked, they were still called the Ten Commandments, not the Ten Suggestions, or the Ten Creative Ideas.
I’m sorry (no, I’m really not), but “receiving Jesus into your heart” is more than just proclaiming a belief in Him and His atoning sacrifice. If you’re going to receive Him into your heart, then you better darn well get out there and do something about it.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps (1 Peter 2:21)
There are the words of Cephas himself. Christ suffered for us, not so we could sit on our butts and not obey His commandments, but that so we could see His example and follow it. “Work out your own salvation”, as Paul states to the Philippians, but still maintain an understanding that salvation comes “not of works, lest any man should boast,” as he counsels the Ephesians.
Find your faith in Christ and show it, otherwise your “faith without works is dead”, as James so boldly proclaimed. You may tell your neighbor, who is in need of food and clothing, to be fed and clothed, but what’s it going to do if you don’t do anything about it? If you proclaim your faith in Christ, that’s great, but if you seriously think that’s all there is to being worthy to receive the glory of God, you’ve got something to reconsider.
God didn’t go through the trouble of creating this entire world and placing us here for eighty something years just so we could say “Lord Jesus I receive you into my heart” and automatically become “saved.” You know what? Salvation isn’t cheap. It doesn’t come from saying a few lines that some random pastor guy made up off the top of his head. Christ didn’t suffer for that.
Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)
You believe in Christ? That’s great, so do the evil spirits that flood this earth. Does their belief in the Son of God do anything for them? No, because it’s not just about believing, it’s also about living a life that’s in harmony with what Jesus Christ taught.
So if believing that our salvation is also dependent on being a good person somehow makes me a non-Christian, then I suppose by today’s standards I’m not a Christian. But I do know that Jesus Christ died for our sins and that He lives again. And I know that only through His grace can we hope to be saved. Christ’s atonement is the bridge that has been built over the gulf of misery. Without it, our destination, no matter how good of person we were in this life, would be Hell. But with it, we can escape the captivity of the devil and enter into salvation. We must walk across that bridge, however. Standing there and saying, “That bridge has saved me!” is not going to get you over that bridge.
I know that through obedience to God’s laws and ordinances, all mankind may be saved, and that the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ is the only thing that has made that possible for us. His sacrifice has opened the door into eternal life, but He has left it up to us… to walk through it.