James 2

James 2: Salvation Gained by Keeping the WHOLE Law

James explains that those who treat the rich man better than the poor man; “…have not the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with respect of persons.” (James 2:1) James explains that we are not in a position to judge others for God created all men equal and does not view them in measure of their worldly possessions but rather their wealth of faith. James urges people to treat the rich and poor equally; “If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:” (James 1:8)

James goes on to explain that we must follow all the laws of God, for; “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; whatdoth 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.” (James 2:14-18)

Essentially James explains that we need to not only have faith and preach good, but also do good. If we are to believe that God exists, we should understand His power, for even the devils; “…also believe, and tremble.” (James 1:19) No one is perfect, but if we work hard to do what we preach we will be filled with faith, justified by good works.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 1:26)

Galatians 6

Galatians 6: As Ye Sow… So shall Ye Reap

                “BRETHREN, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)

                Paul opens this last chapter of Galatians with a letter urging the members of the church to consider those around them, which may have fallen into temptation. He asks the members to help by restoring them spiritually. He urges the members to do this with a spirit of meekness, or in other words to guide the person who has fallen into temptation with humbleness, and patience. However, if someone does not want to be restored spiritually or in the process of helping them you are also dragged down into temptation… we should stop. In other words, helping people is good… but if it starts to affect our own personal salvation we should tread lightly.

Paul goes on to say that we should rejoice in our own work and burdens; “…let every many prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden.” (Galatians 6:4-5) We should not seek praise or praise one another to the point of idolatry. Being happy in our own work and being proud of another person’s work is another thing. Paul explains that we are responsible for ourselves and our sins, we cannot pass them on to another… therefore we are also not born with sin, for we cannot be punished for the Fall of Adam and Eve. In the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that; “…men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.” (Articles of Faith; 1) Therefore we are saved by grace, after all that WE do PERSONALLY. In the Book of Mormon; “…we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23; The Book of Mormon)

Paul explains that we are going to be judged according to our works. He also explains that God will not be mocked… Whatever a man gives, he shall receive. If you do evil works, evil will be your reward. If you do good works, good will be your reward.

“…God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galatians 6:7)

Galatians 3

Galatians 3: Children of Christ

                Paul addresses the Galatians and asks them; “Are ye so foolish? …are ye now made perfect by the flesh? …He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?” (Galations 3:3,5)

Paul is essentially asking the Galatians if they are justified by the law or by their faith in Jesus Christ. Many of the Galatians believed that if they followed the letter of the law, they would be saved. During this period of time in History the law was either directly from the scriptures or derived from the scriptures.  So one could say they are following all of the laws, but without having a true intent in their heart at following the commandments of God and having faith in Jesus Christ… they would not be saved.

Here is a modern day example: Someone drives 50 mph in a 25 mph zone. They obviously broke the law by doubling the speed limit. But, will they be judged of that by God? No, because they have not broken God’s law. If that person pays the ticket and goes on living a good life following the law of God, they will be saved. Let’s say that same person decides to speed down the sidewalk with the intent on killing someone. Now that person has still broken the law, but they have also broken God’s law by murdering someone. God will judge them now, and the chances of them being saved and returning to live with God has drastically gone down. However, we cannot say for sure what will ultimately happen to that person… because God will judge them in the end, and only HE can decide.

Paul goes on to explain that because we ALL are part of the Covenant, the same one made by Abraham we all have the potential to return to our Heavenly Father. This is so, because we can; “…receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:14)

Justified by Faith Alone?

                Some argue that it is by faith alone that we can return to live with God. Is it really that simple? Paul points out that “…the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24) Paul is saying that we are given commandments and laws to guide us so that we can not only have faith, but live by it. If someone has faith in Jesus Christ, they also have faith in His teachings. Jesus Christ taught that we are supposed to live a good life, filled with service, love and joy. Can someone truly have faith in Jesus Christ if they don’t live by His teachings? No, and that is why faith and works go hand-in-hand. In the very next verse Paul states; “…after that faith is come we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Galatians 3:25) Does that mean we no longer need to live by His laws? Absolutely not, but now that we have obtained our faith… we know how to live without someone having to tell us. The laws and commandments are known and our disobedience and lack of discipline will distant us from Him.  True DISCIPLEs of Christ, are  DISCIPLined in Christ’s teachings.

Paul ends this chapter by explaining how we are all counted under the Abrahamic Covenant; “For ye are all children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then ye are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:26-29)

1 Corinthians 3

1 Corinthians 3: Temple of God

                Paul speaks to the Corinthians and explains that he could not speak the full word to them because he fed them with “…milk, and not with meat…” (1 Corinthians 3:2) Why did Paul say this? It is simple as a baby can only handle milk without choking or dying… so it is with those who are babies spiritually. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is not learned to its fullest overnight, it takes time and patience to fully understand and appreciate the plan that God has for us in this life. Just with any learning, we must first start off with the basics, in this case milk. The once we are accustomed to the milk we can get to harder foods (deeper knowledge and understanding) until we can handle the chewy stuff, the meat (the deepest doctrine).

Paul goes on to say that WE WILL be JUDGED for our WORKS; “…the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is…” (1 Corinthians 3:13) He goes on to say that if your works are good you will “…receive a reward.” (1 Corinthians 3:14) and if you do badly you will “…suffer a loss…” (1 Corinthians 3:15) Therefore we should work diligently to do good in this life.

Paul ends by not only reminding us that we know NOTHING in the eyes of God; “…the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” (1 Corinthians 3:19) But Paul also reminds us that our body is a Temple; “Know ye knot that ye are the Temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? If any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy…” (1 Corinthians 3:16-17)

Romans 4

Romans 4: Faith, Works and Grace

Paul explains that Abraham was not justified by works, but declared righteous through his faith. Grace is a free gift from God, whereas the works and obedience to the Law, prove our worthiness to God. We know that Abraham was counted righteous before he was circumcised; meaning that circumcision is a sign of righteousness to the Law, but not the cause of that righteousness. God’s promise to Abraham was based on the principle of faith, and not by law or works.

If we are born into this world, we are immediately saved from our sins and the spiritual death. Jesus Christ opened the door to Salvation, is alone we could not do on our own. Jesus Christ had to take upon our sins so that we could return to live with God, this is our gift. However, we can chose to accept or reject that gift. How do we do that? If we accept the gift, then we must believe on our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. If we do not want to accept the gift, then we do not believe on Jesus Christ. It is very simple; we can chose to accept Jesus Christ or not. However, if we decide to accept Jesus Christ we must understand what accepting Him means.

What does Believing on Jesus Christ mean?

                If we decide to accept Jesus Christ into our lives, then we also accept His teachings, commandments and Laws. Therefore, if we chose to not follow the commandments of God, then we are not truly accepting Him into our lives. For this very purpose, Grace comes from our individual works and obedience to the Law. How can this be, if Jesus Christ made Salvation a FREE gift? Remember, Jesus Christ opened the door (something we couldn’t do alone), this was His gift to us. Fortunately for us, we have something called Agency. With this Agency we can choose good or evil, right or wrong. In order to take part in this FREE gift, we must accept it. By accepting the gift, we agree to accept Jesus Christ into our lives and into our hearts. This means that we ALSO accept to be a disciple of Christ. It is no coincidence that Disciple is a root word of Discipline. If we chose to accept Christ into our lives, we must be disciplined to follow His commandments and His law. This is where Faith and Works come into play, in order to obtain Salvation.

Grace and law are the principles, and faith and works are the means by which we pursue those principles for our relationship with God. In order to obtain Salvation we must accept the Grace of God, through His Son Jesus Christ and then work to fulfill righteousness in our lives.

Romans 3

Romans 3: Man is Judged by Faith in Jesus Christ

 

“What advantage then hath the Jew? Or what profit is there of circumcision?” (Romans 3:1) Paul addresses the Romans and states that regardless of being a Jew or a Gentile, ALL are saved through the grace of Jesus Christ. He asks: what does it profit a man to have only the LAW, and not the FAITH? Man’s unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God. The law cannot save us from our sin and the penalty that accompanies it. Paul points out that “…all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Romans 3:23-25)

Sinners (everyone) are justified freely by God’s grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus. Because Jesus Christ Atoned for the Sins of ALL, we can be saved. However, we must understand what being Saved means.

What is Salvation?

Because of the Fall of Adam and Eve, everyone will experience a temporal death. However, through grace, which was made possible by the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, everyone will be resurrected and receive immortality. Resurrection alone does not qualify us for eternal life in the presence of God. Remember, Paul said; “…all have sinned…” (Romans 3:23), these sins make us unclean and unfit to dwell in God’s presence. For this reason, we are saved through Grace, ONLY after all we can do. After all, Jesus Christ died for us, the very least we can do is follow His law. Essentially, Jesus Christ unlocked and opened the door to Eternal Life, we however must make the choice to enter through that door. This is where Grace is a FREE gift from God, but Eternal Life and Salvation require our part. What is it that we must do? We must live by God’s law and we must follow in the steps of Jesus.

Paul ends this chapter by asking; “Do we then make void the law through faith? God forbid; yea, we establish the law.” (Romans 3:31) What does he mean? He means that we should throughout either the Law of Faith, but have both. Faith without works is dead! The Book of Mormon helps us to understand a little more about grace; “…we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God, for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (Book of Mormon; 2 Nephi 25:23) 

Romans 2

Romans 2: Judged by our Works

                “Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.” (Romans 2:1)

Essentially we learn that those who judge others are themselves condemned. Why? Because those who judge others are usually just as guilty of another sin, if not the exact same sin! God demands humble repentance before Him. Those who judge others will not escape their own punishment from God. If we follow the commandments of God, we will not face the tribulation and anguish of God’s judgment.

“For as many as have sinned without law shall also perish without law: and as many as have sinned in the law shall be judged by the law.” (Romans 1:12) This means that those who did not have God’s commandments and through ignorance sinned, they will not be held accountable. However, those who sinned and knew the commandments of God will be judged according to their knowledge of those things. However, “…their conscience also bearing witness…” (Romans 1:15); essentially God gave us all the Holy Ghost to be able to tell right from wrong… if our conscience told us it was bad and we did it anyways, God will use that in His judgment against us. The Gentiles may by nature act according to the law, being a law unto themselves. Jews boast of the law, but the law condemns them. Circumcision of the heart and of the Spirit is more important than circumcision in the flesh. This means that Faith, without works is dead. If we only profess to Love Jesus Christ, but do not follow His commandments, then we will be judged by our works as well as our faith.

Luke 24

Luke 24: He Lives!

                Early in the morning days after the death of Jesus Christ, some of His followers (including Mary Magdelene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James) came to His sepulchre [tomb] to anoint Him with spices. Upon approaching the tomb, they found the stone, which sealed the tomb was rolled back and when they went in, they did not find the body of Jesus Christ. The followers were confused, but they found two men who were wearing shining garments, who told them; “…Why seek ye the living among the dead? He is not here, but is risen…” (Luke 24:5-6) The two men [or angels] reminded the followers that Jesus had told them exactly what would happen; “…The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.” (Luke 24:7)

When the followers heard these words, they remembered. The followers left to tell the Eleven Apostles, but the Apostles thought they were listening to idle tales, and did not believe. Peter ran to the tomb to see for himself; but departed wondering what would happen.

Later, on the way down to a village named Emmaus two of the Apostles walked while discussing the things that had happened. While walking a man approached them and began to speak to them, this man was Jesus Christ, but the two Apostles did not know Him. Jesus asks them why they are sad, and what the reason is for their communication. The two Apostles are flabbergasted as to why this ‘man’ would ask them these questions, they begin to tell Him about the ministry of Jesus and how He was crucified. Jesus responds; “…O fools, and slow of heart to believe… Ought not Christ to have suffered these things…” (Luke 24:25-26) Jesus explains that He has further to walk, but with the evening approaching, the two Apostles invite this ‘man’ to stay with them for the night. While with them, He breaks bread and communes with them, after He is done breaking bread, he disappeared. Upon realizing that the ‘man’ who was with them was Jesus and He had now left after breaking bread with them, they were perplexed; “…Did not our heart burn within us while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened t us the scriptures?” (Luke 24:32) Essentially the two Apostles were upset that they were so blind to not even see Jesus!

The two Apostles return to Jerusalem and proclaim to the other Apostles that Jesus had indeed Risen! While they were speaking, Jesus enters and says to them; “…Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? And why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.” (Luke 24:39) While the Apostles were in shock and were wondering what they had just seen, Jesus asks them; “…Have ye here any meat? And they gave him a piece of a broiled fish, and of an honeycomb. And he took it, and did eat before them.” (Luke 24:41-43)

Here is an important Doctrinal Truth: Jesus Christ has a glorified body of flesh and bones, just like we have as humans. Jesus told His Apostles to touch Him for He had flesh and bones, and He even asked them for food, so that He could eat. Jesus then “…opened… their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures… Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day… that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. And ye are witnesses of these things.” (Luke 24:45-48) Jesus opens their understanding, so that the Apostles and all those who follow Him can understand the scriptures and know the truth. Jesus had told the people He would be persecuted to death and rise again on the third day, but even then when it happens the Apostles did not believe Him. Jesus explains that His death had to happen, in order to open the door to a remission of sins and the start of missionary work throughout the world, starting in Jerusalem.

Jesus died for ALL of us, that we might be saved. In order to be truly saved, we must follow Jesus, and all His teachings. We cannot follow Him, if we do not follow His commandments and teachings. Jesus is lifted up into heaven and the Apostles rejoiced and worshipped Him in the temple.

Matthew 7

Matthew 7:

The Sermon on the Mount: Part 3 

                Jesus starts this chapter with the simple and very famous;

“Judge not, that ye be not judged.” (Matthew 7:1) 

Jesus asks His disciples; “…why beholdest thou the mote that is in they brother’s eye, but considereth not the beam that is in thine own eye?” (Matthew 7:3) Essentially Jesus asks, why do you criticize or gossip about your neighbor/friend/stranger etc., when you, yourself have your own things to be criticized or gossiped about? If you allow yourself to be critical of others, without considering that you are not without flaw, then you are a hypocrite.

Jesus encourages us to ask, for if we ask; “…it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you.” (Matthew 7:7) How hard is it to ask our Father in Heaven for something? It is easy, pray and ask him. Are you confused by doctrines? What job to take? Who to marry? Etc… anything can be asked for!

Jesus then tells his disciples to enter into the straight and narrow path, which leads back to our Heavenly Father. For “…wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction…” (Matthew 7:13) The path back to our Heavenly Father, the path that leads us to righteousness is not a broad path, it is a path that is EASILY accessible, but only if WE CHOOSE to take that path. If we decide to take the righteous path, it won’t be easy. But the reward is worth the obstacle! Jesus warns us about the other path, which is wide and easy to travel, for that path will lead ONLY to DESTRUCTION. He sadly adds that “…few there be that find it.” (Matthew 7:14), referring to the path that leads back to our Heavenly Father.

Jesus warns His disciples about False Prophets; “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits… every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree cannot bring forth evil fruit.” (Matthew 7:16-17) In the last days many false prophets will arise, but by their fruits we can determine which prophets are true prophets of God. Joseph Smith was one of those prophets called of by God. Smith’s fruit or evidence that he is a prophet is the Book of Mormon, which was written thousands of years ago and translated by Joseph Smith.

Jesus also proclaims that it is not JUST by grace that you are saved, you must also do good works. For “…Not everyone 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 shall say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils?…And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” (Matthew 7:21-22)

Jesus ends his Sermon on the Mount by explaining that we should be wise and build our house upon his rock [the Gospel], instead of the foolish man who built his house upon sand, which washed away in the rain storm. We must do as the Lord has done, He has set an example and we would do good to follow him. The disciples explained that Jesus spoke as “…one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Matthew 7:29), therefore in the ending of the Sermon on the Mount we learn of the great importance having authority from God is.

Jeremiah 21-22

Jeremiah 21-22

Chapter 21: Judged by Works

Vision when Zedekiah was king he was given advice to submit to Nebuchadnezzar’s forces and live, rather than fight against them and die. Those who stay in the city shall die, but those who go out and submit to the Chaldeans shall live.

God instructs us that He will “…punish you according to the fruit of your doings…” (Jeremiah 21:14) or in other words, we will be judged for our works!

Chapter 22: Pastors will be confounded

The king of Judah must execute judgment and righteousness and protect the needy. If he does not, his house shall become desolation. All nations shall marvel at the desolation. Shallum (Jehoahaz) the son of Josiah will die a captive. Coniah (Jeconiah) the son of Jehoiakim will be given to them that seek his life, and his seed will be forever excluded from the throne.

“Woe unto him…. That useth his neighbour’s service without wages, and giveth him not for his work.” (Jeremiah 22:13)

This shows us that we must not steal and must also not expect anything for free. This reminds me a lot of people who think that they deserve a handout instead of a hand-up. We should never mistreat our neighbor.

In the last days hate will be preached and false teachers will arise, of these Pastors God said; “The wind shall eat up all thy pastors… surely then shalt thou be ashamed and confounded for all thy wickedness.” (Jeremiah 22:22)