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Mormonism and Eternal Truth

Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
(Henri-Frederic Amiel)

THE LDS VERSION OF THE ATONEMENT

“We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the [LDS] Gospel.” (3rd LDS Article of Faith)

LDS “GOSPEL PRINCIPLES”

Chapter 12 of the 2010 version of Gospel Principles, gives the impression that the LDS agrees that Christ bore our sins in His atonement, and that through faith in Him we can be saved. But they neglect to mention that in Mormonism, individual salvation and eternal life are conditional on a great many other things that have nothing whatsoever to do with Christ’s atonement.

Here are some of their teachings:

“…There is no salvation outside The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”Doctrines of Salvation, Volume 2, pp. 1-350, as quoted in Mormon Doctrine, by LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie, page 670).
“There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith as a prophet of God.” (Doctrines of Salvation, LDS Prophet and President Joseph Fielding Smith, Volume 1, page 188.)
“… As these sins are the result of individual acts, it is just that forgiveness for them should be conditioned on individual compliance with prescribed requirements, obedience to the laws and ordinances of the [LDS] Gospel.” (Articles of Faith, by James Talmage, member of the LDS Quorum of the 12 Apostles — the second highest governing body in the LDS church; page 87).
“… eternal life is a personal responsibility we must earn and be worthy of. ” (LDS Apostle Delbert L. Stapley, Member of the Quorum of the Twelve, The Path to Eternal Glory, Ensign, July 1973, page 99.)

The LDS’s ideas concerning Christ’s atonement strongly oppose the teachings of the Bible and deprecate what Christ did for us on the cross.

WHAT CHRIST ACHIEVED ON THE CROSS

The Bible clearly explains that Christ’s atonement provided for the forgiveness of sins and eternal life for whosoever trusts in Him for salvation.

“Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree.” (1 Peter 2:24, KJV)
“As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:14-15, KJV)

What right then does the LDS have to insist that we also need to have faith in Joseph Smith, become a member of their church, pay them tithing and serve their organization, in order for salvation from sin to come into effect? The reality is that Christ is perfectly capable of saving us to the uttermost without any help from the LDS church.

“Wherefore He (Christ) is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him….” (Hebrews 7:25, KJV)

Christ’s death and shed blood ratified a New Covenant, which the Bible says is far better than the Old (Hebrews 7:22, 8:6). And under the Old Covenant, God didn’t tell the Israelites that they would have to earn the right to the forgiveness of their sins. Instead He provided the sacrificial system. The guilty man took a blemish free animal to the altar. Then he placed his hand on its head to indicate that it was to be his substitute, and would die in his place to cover his sin (Leviticus 4:27-31, Numbers 15:22-26, etc.) This was a picture of the coming, promised Messiah, who would die once and for all, for the forgiveness of the sins of those who identified themselves with Him by faith.

THE GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE

The LDS detracts from the real meaning of Christ’s sacrificial death on the cross even further, by wrongly teaching that His atonement took place primarily in the Garden of Gethsemane, and that the cross merely signalled its completion:

“Where and under what circumstances was the atoning sacrifice of the Son of God made? Was it on the Cross of Calvary or in the Garden of Gethsemane? It is to the Cross of Christ that most Christians look when centering their attention upon the infinite and eternal atonement. And certainly the sacrifice of our Lord was completed when he was lifted up by men; also, that part of his life and suffering is more dramatic and, perhaps, more soul stirring. But in reality the pain and suffering, the triumph and grandeur, of the atonement took place primarily in Gethsemane.” (LDS Apostle Bruce McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 1:774)

Mormons are taught to classify the time Christ spent praying in the Garden of Gethsemane and agonizing over His forthcoming crucifixion, as an atoning sacrifice. But the Bible indicates that it was the physical death of the substitutionary sacrifice that covered the guilty person’s sin.

One can’t help but wonder what the LDS’s motive was in introducing this false teaching as it is in direct contradiction of what the Bible says. But it is a fact that they abhor the cross, and will not permit its presence anywhere on their premises.

REDEMPTION IN BIBLICAL TIMES

Christ’s substitutionary suffering and death on behalf of sinful mankind was more meaningful and easier to understand for folk who lived at that time than it is for us today. When a man was unable to pay his debt he was faced with the penalty of the Law and sold into slavery. However, a kinsman was permitted to redeem him provided that he paid the amount of the debt in full. This then set the debtor free.

To qualify to be our kinsman so that He would have the right to redeem us the Lord Jesus left the glories of heaven, took on a human body and lived in a fallen, sinful, hurting world, as one of us (Philippians 2:6-10). Then although He Himself had no sin He paid the Law’s full penalty for sin on behalf of those who identify themselves as being “in Him,” by faith. And because He has paid our debt in full, those who trust in Him for salvation are forgiven and set free from the consequences of their sins.

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:14 KJV)

In those days a creditor would nail a list of what was owing to him on the debtor’s door. And it would stay there until the debt was settled. We are like that debtor, filled with shame at our record of sins. But when we kneel at the feet of the Lord Jesus in repentance and ask Him for forgiveness and salvation, He writes “paid in full” in His own blood, across the list of charges against us.

“… having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us and which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” (Colossians 2:14, NASB)

John Reisinger explained Christ’s atonement in this way:

“The word vicarious means ‘acting on behalf of or as representing another,’ or ‘something performed or suffered by one person with the results accruing to the benefit or advantage of another.’ The key idea is representation in such a way that one party literally stands in the place of another and is actually treated as if they were the other person. The classic text is 2 Corinthians 5:21:

‘For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.’ (2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV)

If Christ actually stood in my place and bore my sin then I can never be punished for that sin. If Christ literally stands as a substitute in the place of any particular individual then that individual must be brought to salvation and be eternally saved. Substitutionary, or vicarious, atonement must actually secure a real salvation for all for whom Christ died or else it is not truly vicarious.” (Doctrine of the Atonement, by John G. Reisinger)

The following articles have relevance to the one above:

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