Today I want to start a new series in the bulletin looking at fundamental differences between Christianity and other major religions. I want to keep looking at what each religion teaches about how you get to go to heaven and where this differs from Christianity. I will start with Mormonism.
The Book of Mormon teaches that ‘it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do’ (2 Nephi 25:23). This sounds very familiar to what Paul teaches us in Ephesians: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith’ (Ephesians 2:8). Does this mean that Mormons are Christians who believe in salvation by grace?
But notice the difference. The Book of Mormon says that you go to heaven by grace after you have done all you can do. Another verse in the Book of Mormon explains their doctrine of grace a little more fully: ‘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’ (Moroni 10:32). To be saved by grace you need to love God with all your might, mind and strength, then his grace saves you. In other words, to go to heaven you need to first love God completely.
This is at odds with what Paul teaches. Look at what Paul says in Ephesians again, but this time with verse 9 as well: ‘For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God–not by works, so that no one can boast’ (Ephesians 2:8-9). A Christian is saved by grace alone. Salvation does not come because you love God perfectly. This is good news because if you are honest you know you don’t love God perfectly – in fact you fail to love him continually.
The problem with Mormonism is that it takes grace and then adds something to it. This is a little more subtle than religions that teach you are saved by works alone. But if you add anything to grace, it is no longer a gift, it is a wage earned by the worker. This is not Christian teaching.
Are you saved by believing in the grace of God alone? Or do you want to add some good works to it like Mormonism teaches?