Thursday, October 15, 2015

Words ? Works ?

Are mere words, such as—“I believe” or “I accept Jesus as my Savior”—sufficient to get us into heaven? Even otherwise thoughtful evangelists and pastors seem to promise salvation (i.e., heaven) with the mere recitation of words. Yes, there are passages that seem to give “faith in Christ” exclusivity,1 but what of the scriptural gestalt? And has this “doctrine” of mere words become a form of Christian vaporware?2 a near déjà vu of the old-time “sale of indulgences”?3

Perhaps we could ask ourselves if there is a Christian parallel to this quote:
Network World magazine called vaporware an "epidemic" in 1989, and blamed the press [read: truth-seeker]  for not investigating whether developers' [read: evangalists'/pastors'] claims were true. Seven major companies issued a report in 1990 saying they felt vaporware had hurt the industry's credibility.4
Have promises of formulaic salvation become epidemic? Does such salvation hurt the credibility of the gospel message? Do we really think we can “coast” up an incline?

Sure our good works will NEVER get us into heaven, but what if good works are essential to get us to the edge of that unbridgeable chasm over which Christ’s atonement will carry us if we have followed the way, the truth and the light?

Here are a few scriptures that perhaps we should investigate (and remember) when considering faith, works, and salvation.5
O ye house of Israel, I will judge you every one after his ways. (Old Testament | Ezekiel 33:20)

... shall not he render to every man according to his works? (Old Testament | Proverbs 24:12)

For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. (New Testament | Matthew 16:27)

They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate. (New Testament | Titus 1:16)

What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit? Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God. Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only. Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way? For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also. (New Testament | James 2:14-26)

… all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works. … And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: (New Testament | Revelation 2:23-26)

And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. (New Testament | Revelation 14:13)

And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. (New Testament | Revelation 20:12-13)

And it is requisite with the justice of God that men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life, and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good. And if their works are evil they shall be restored unto them for evil. (Book of Mormon | Alma 41:3-4)

And these things doth the Spirit manifest unto me; therefore I write unto you all. And for this cause I write unto you, that ye may know that ye must all stand before the judgment–seat of Christ, yea, every soul who belongs to the whole human family of Adam; and ye must stand to be judged of your works, whether they be good or evil; (Book of Mormon | Mormon 3:20)

And even unto the great and last day, when all people, and all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil— If they be good, to the resurrection of everlasting life; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of damnation; being on a parallel, the one on the one hand and the other on the other hand, according to the mercy, and the justice, and the holiness which is in Christ, who was before the world began. (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 26:4-5)

And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works. (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 27:15)

Verily, verily, I say unto you, this is my gospel; and ye know the things that ye must do in my church; for the works which ye have seen me do that shall ye also do; for that which ye have seen me do even that shall ye do; (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 27:21)

Write the works of this people, which shall be, even as hath been written, of that which hath been. For behold, out of the books which have been written, and which shall be written, shall this people be judged, for by them shall their works be known unto men. (Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 27:24-25)

If thou lovest me thou shalt serve me and keep all my commandments. (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 42:29)
Surely we can see that mere words are not sufficient:
He that receiveth my law and doeth it, the same is my disciple; and he that saith he receiveth it and doeth it not, the same is not my disciple, and shall be cast out from among you; (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 41:5)
and that many of our “wonderful works” will not be viewed as so wonderful:
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (New Testament | Matthew 7:21-23)
1. New Testament | Romans 3:27; 9:32; 10:9; 11:6; Galatians 2:16; 3:2-5; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 3:5-7
5. Additional supporting scriptures re works:
  New Testament | 2 Timothy 3:17 ~ That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.
New Testament | Matthew 5:16 ~ Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
New Testament | Titus 2:7 ~ In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,
New Testament | Titus 3:8 ~ This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.
New Testament | 1 Corinthians 3:13-14 ~ Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.
Book of Mormon | 1 Nephi 15:32-33 ~ And it came to pass that I said unto them that it was a representation of things both temporal and spiritual; for the day should come that they must be judged of their works, yea, even the works which were done by the temporal body in their days of probation. Wherefore, if they should die in their wickedness they must be cast off also, as to the things which are spiritual, which are pertaining to righteousness; wherefore, they must be brought to stand before God, to be judged of their works; and if their works have been filthiness they must needs be filthy; and if they be filthy it must needs be that they cannot dwell in the kingdom of God; if so, the kingdom of God must be filthy also.
Book of Mormon | Mosiah 5:15 ~ Therefore, I would that ye should be steadfast and immovable, always abounding in good works, that Christ, the Lord God Omnipotent, may seal you his, that you may be brought to heaven, that ye may have everlasting salvation and eternal life, through the wisdom, and power, and justice, and mercy of him who created all things, in heaven and in earth, who is God above all. Amen.
Book of Mormon | Mosiah 16:10-11 ~ Even this mortal shall put on immortality, and this corruption shall put on incorruption, and shall be brought to stand before the bar of God, to be judged of him according to their works whether they be good or whether they be evil— If they be good, to the resurrection of endless life and happiness; and if they be evil, to the resurrection of endless damnation, being delivered up to the devil, who hath subjected them, which is damnation—
Book of Mormon | Alma 7:24, 27 ~ And see that ye have faith, hope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works. … And now, may the peace of God rest upon you, and upon your houses and lands, and upon your flocks and herds, and all that you possess, your women and your children, according to your faith and good works, from this time forth and forever. And thus I have spoken. Amen.
Book of Mormon | Mormon 6:21 ~ And the day soon cometh that your mortal must put on immortality, and these bodies which are now moldering in corruption must soon become incorruptible bodies; and then ye must stand before the judgment–seat of Christ, to be judged according to your works; and if it so be that ye are righteous, then are ye blessed with your fathers who have gone before you.
Book of Mormon | Mormon 8:19 ~ For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be; therefore, he that smiteth shall be smitten again, of the Lord.
Book of Mormon | Moroni 7:5 ~ For I remember the word of God which saith by their works ye shall know them; for if their works be good, then they are good also.
Book of Mormon | Alma 12:28-30 ~ …[God] saw that it was expedient that man should know concerning the things whereof he had appointed unto them; Therefore he sent angels to converse with them, who caused men to behold of his glory. And they began from that time forth to call on his name; therefore God conversed with men, and made known unto them the plan of redemption, which had been prepared from the foundation of the world; and this he made known unto them according to their faith and repentance and their holy works.
Book of Mormon | Alma 13:3 ~ And this is the manner after which they were ordained—being called and prepared from the foundation of the world according to the foreknowledge of God, on account of their exceeding faith and good works; in the first place being left to choose good or evil; therefore they having chosen good, and exercising exceedingly great faith, are called with a holy calling, yea, with that holy calling which was prepared with, and according to, a preparatory redemption for such.
Book of Mormon | Alma 26:22 ~ Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed; yea, and it shall be given unto such to bring thousands of souls to repentance, even as it has been given unto us to bring these our brethren to repentance.
Book of Mormon | Alma 40:21 ~ … the time which is appointed of God that the dead shall come forth, and be reunited, both soul and body, and be brought to stand before God, and be judged according to their works.
Book of Mormon | Ether 12:4 ~ Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God.
Book of Mormon | 3 Nephi 27:32 ~ But behold, it sorroweth me because of the fourth generation from this generation, for they are led away captive by him even as was the son of perdition; for they will sell me for silver and for gold, and for that which moth doth corrupt and which thieves can break through and steal. And in that day will I visit them, even in turning their works upon their own heads.
Doctrine and Covenants | Section 59:23 ~ But learn that he who doeth the works of righteousness shall receive his reward, even peace in this world and eternal life in the world to come.
JST New Testament | Matthew 7:23-35 ~ Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way that leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. And, again, beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits; for do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Verily I say unto you, it is not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter unto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. For the day soon cometh, that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works. And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity. Therefore, whosoever heareth these sayings of mine and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, who built his house upon a rock, and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell not; for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, who built his house upon the sand; and the rains descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.

Monday, October 5, 2015

In Remembrance of John Huss

~ in this 600th anniversary year of his martyrdom • 1415 ~
John Huss was born … in Bohemia, about the year 1380. … In 1398, Huss commenced bachelor of divinity, and was after successively chosen pastor of the church of Bethlehem, in Prague, and dean and rector of the university. In these stations he discharged his duties with great fidelity; and became, at length, so conspicuous for his preaching, which was in conformity with the doctrines of Wickliffe, that it was not likely he could long escape the notice of the pope and his adherents[.]1
Eventually he was arrested, tried for heresy, and cruelly mocked when he would not recant. He was burned at the stake, 6 July 1415.

But why should we remember John Huss AND the other hundreds-of-thousands (if not millions) who have given their lives in standing2 for truth (as they understood it through prayer, study, and obedience to the Word of God)?

Perhaps we should remember for these reasons:
▪ because, in these latter-days, we seem too content to subsist on “likes”, worldly pursuits, skimmed milk,3 and “smooth things”;4
▪ because we seem unaware that there have been innumerable martyrs and that their stories can help prepare us to stand strong in our own convictions. (Read: John Foxe’s, Fox's Book of Martyrs Or A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Triumphant Deaths of the Primitive Protestant Martyrs)
▪ because in our distractions, pursuits, and entertainments, we seem devoid of the depth and conviction that carried so many martyrs through tortures and death;
▪ because we don’t seem to be preparing for prophetic fulfillments:
And I saw the woman [BABYLON THE GREAT] drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: (New Testament | Revelation 17:6)

And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; (New Testament | Revelation 20:4)
▪ because we don’t seem to care enough about the lessons and déjà vus of history;5
▪ “… lest the wickedness of men reveal these things unto you by their wickedness, in a manner which shall speak in your ears with a voice louder than that which shall shake the earth; but if ye are prepared ye shall not fear. And that ye might escape the power of the enemy, and be gathered unto me a righteous people, without spot and blameless—” (Doctrine and Covenants | Section 38:30-31)
▪ because fear is the forerunner of deception, impulsivity, confusion, violence, and chaos;
▪ because we shall fear if we do not have the Word of God firmly planted in our minds and hearts, to give us the peace and assurance that we can endure all things in Christ:
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish. Thou shalt seek them, and shalt not find them, even them that contended with thee: they that war against thee shall be as nothing, and as a thing of nought. For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee. (Old Testament | Isaiah 41:10-13)
▪ because too many of us seem to live as if we shall inherit all things on the wings of Babylon.
1. Foxe, John, Fox's Book of Martyrs Or A History of the Lives, Sufferings, and Triumphant Deaths of the Primitive Protestant Martyrs (Kindle Locations 2981, 2984-2987). Public Domain Books. Kindle Edition (2009-10-04). See also:
2. As in standing before idols instead of bowing down as exemplified by Shadrach, Meshach, & Abed-nego; as in the Savior’s words: “When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) (New Testament | Matthew 24:15)
4. Old Testament | Isaiah 30:8-11 ~ Now go, write it before them in a table, and note it in a book, that it may be for the time to come for ever and ever: That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceits: Get you out of the way, turn aside out of the path, cause the Holy One of Israel to cease from before us.
5. Doctrine and Covenants | Section 88:77-82 ~ And I give unto you a commandment that you shall teach one another the doctrine of the kingdom. Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms— That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you. Behold, I sent you out to testify and warn the people, and it becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor. Therefore, they are left without excuse, and their sins are upon their own heads. [Bold emphasis added.]