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Faith and works; a symbiotic relationship
Have you ever wondered how many angels can dance on the head of a pin? I've seen alot of differing opinions between people of varying faiths which make something which is completely irrelivent in regards to the salvation of mankind, the focal point of their reasoning as to why, "Were going to heaven and they are not."
Do you believe in a pre-trib rapture or are you post-trib?
Do you believe in predestination?
Are there points in the book of revelations which seem to be more accurately portrayed in one church than in another?
Lastly, did you know that none of these points, no matter what your position may be, gets you into heaven?
One of the arguments which has been leveled against latter day Saints in the past has been our interpretation of the relationship of faith and works. Some groups such as; Concerned Christians, Once delivered, Living hope ministries, etc. have gone around making claims that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints does not believe that faith is necessary for salvation. I myself have received a lot of first class silliness from the opposition when it comes to this argument in particular. The main problem is that the interpretation of certain scriptures goes back and forth in a circular motion, and we wind up in a wrestling match over something that could be simply put to rest by choosing to check our egos at the door and allow the Holy Spirit to do the teaching.
Feel free to take God's words literally
So there are some works that are required of us in order to enter God's kingdom.
1. Baptism- "I tell you the truth, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God"
2.Repentance-Luke 13:3 "except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish"
3.Partake of the sacrament-John 6:54 "Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day."
4.Charity-Moroni 10:21"except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God"
Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings.
Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation.
Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
All of these things are required by God to enter into his kingdom, they are all outward manifestations of faith, and it is by our works that our faith in God is manifested. they are the workings of the Holy Spirit.
It is a true principle that no good work can be accomplished in Heaven or Earth without first and foremost, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, which is one of the most basic fundamental assertions of the LDS Church.
In the fourth article of faith, the Prophet Joseph stated; "We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost. "
Consider the parable of the ten talents, the Lord gave his talents to three of his servants, two of those men took the talents and turned a prophet, the third one however kept the talent and buried it in the ground. when the Lord returned, he was angry with the man, took the talent and cast the slothful servent into outer darkness. The other two he was pleased with, because they worked hard to make their talents increase. Thus it is so with all of his servants. The Lord expects an increase when he has given you a gift he expects you to use your agency to make that gift grow.
It is true that you cannot earn your way into heaven. the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ is a gift for all of mankind, but it is your choice weather you accept that gift or not, it is a gift with strings attached. You have to fulfill your end of the bargain, and part of your end of the deal is to become a disciple of Christ, and that means to keep the commandments of God from one day to the next..It is not enough to say that you believe in Christ or that you will repent, because that same spirit that possesses you body today will have power to possess your body in the world to come.