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February 3, 2010

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How Christians and Mormons view perfection differently

by Dave Malnes

The Bible could define Christianity or a believer in Christ as one who is perfect in Christ.  The standard for going to heaven is perfection as the Bible states, “Be perfect, therefore as your heavenly father is perfect.”  It is Christ’s substitute on the cross for us that Christians can consider themselves already perfect.  Faith alone receives this gift from God.  Mormonism, on the other hand, would change one key word.  Instead of “be” perfect, Mormons will say that a Christian must “become” perfect.  One thing about Mormonism is that they have lowered the standards for obedience.  You don’t necessarily have to be perfect as the Bible commands.

I share this post in reference to a Bible verse given in a recent comment by a Mormon on this blog site.  In it he uses Hebrews 8:9.  If I may also include verse 8, here is the following verse.

Hebrews 5:8-9: “Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.. “  (NIV)

I agree this is a great verse for it gives us insight on the miracle of the incarnation — God’s Son taking on human form and suffers.  Jesus has to be perfect in order to carry out God’s plan to deal with our sins. Jesus became the author of our salvation (Heb. 2:10) by his perfection. His suffering was the cost and his obedience to go the cross as our perfect substitute was carried out during his time in the garden and the wilderness.  And “for all who obey him” matches the thought of Christ’s obedience when we see 1 John 3:22-23 explain, “We obey his commands and do what pleases him. And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ.”  Faith is obedience to God.

There are other verses Mormons will use to justify their own theology that salvation is faith AND works.  I would like to take a look at them.

“to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”  (Eph. 4:12)  This verse talks about how God equips believers with spiritual gifts for the sole purpose of building up a body of believers. God calls on us to exercise our faith by doing so. These works gives evidence of a living and active faith, but does not justify us nor is a requirement for salvation.  Christians, those with saving faith, are saved by faith alone, but faith is never alone.

Luke 13:32 reads, “He replied, “Go tell that fox, ‘I will drive out demons and heal people today and tomorrow, and on the third day I will reach my goal.'” (NIV) This is Jesus talking and he was referring that his life had a predetermined plan that would be carried out and no harm would come to him until his purpose was accomplished (see Luke 4:43 and 9:22). That third day was ofcourse, Christ’s resurrection which is paramount to the Christian faith.

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God.  (Hebrews 6:1) This verse was a response to those Christians who were not taking steps of maturity in the faith. In fact, they had becoming spiritually sluggish and lazy which is a great danger for one can lose their faith. The only way to mature in the faith is by being in God’s Word. Repentance is turning away from sin. And it is coupled with faith in God. “Acts that lead to death” reminds them of their former unbelief in that they were dead in their sins (Eph. 2:1) and deserving of the wages of sin (Rom 6:23) which was death. Faith alone saves but faith is never alone.

And Phil 3:12 “Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.”    Paul is talking about how our Christian lives is all about growing in Christ. Our living for him ought to be a constant striving for perfection or holiness, with the goal and prize of eternal life always kept before our eyes of faith. Here is possibly where Christians and Mormons differ. We are sinners on earth corrupted by sin. On earth, we will never be perfect in our bodies. However, spiritually speaking, which is of the most importance, we have been made perfect because of Christ’s sacrifice.

Consider Heb. 10:10 “And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Also Heb 10:14 “because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.”

So those who have placed their trust in Christ, and his completed work on the cross, are striving to be holy in our condition of sinful flesh, to have a faith that is living and active by remaining in God’s Word, since our status as believers has been secured by Christ. Since perfection is required for eternal salvation, Christ has made us perfect through His obedience and we are to remain diligent to keep that faith.

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus , and you will be saved — you and your household.” Acts 16:31

1 Comment Post a comment
  1. Apr 3 2010

    Acts that lead to death” reminds them of their former unbelief in that they were dead in their sins (Eph. 2:1) and deserving of the wages of sin (Rom 6:23) which was death.

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    Reply

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