Thank you for your questions and congratulations on being such a wonderfully devout Christian. The world needs more people like you.
I think you would be quite surprised to learn that our beliefs are not that far apart. We definitely agree that one cannot “earn their way to Heaven”, but it is the grace offered through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ that makes salvation possible.
8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9 Not of works, lest any man should boast. (New Testament | Ephesians 2:8 – 9)
I agree with you that it is the Holy Spirit that brings about the “change of heart” you mention and being thus “born again” (John 3:3;5, see below) the true believer will follow and serve our Savior. Yes, we go one step further to emphasis the importance of following and serving the Lord, but it is through his grace that we have any hope of being saved from spiritual death, or in other words, saved from being eternally separated from our Heavenly Father and our Lord, Jesus Christ. (See the attached chapter we prepared on our view of the Atonement of Christ) We note passages in the Bible that teach us how important it is to follow him; for example:
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. (New Testament | John 3:5)
I think the name of your church indicates that you, as do we, believe in the importance of being baptized as was Jesus (Mathew 3:7-16) and as was emphasized by Peter to a group who believed on his words and ask what they should do. (The name of our Church, by the way, should indicate that we accept Jesus Christ: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I cannot see how anyone could honestly say we do not believe in Jesus Christ.)
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. (Acts 2:38)
In the very next chapter, Peter again taught that to have sins “blotted out” we needed to repent.
19 ¶ Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; (Acts 3:19)
John the Baptist, whom Jesus said was the greatest prophet, also taught of baptism and repentance for the remission of sins:
4 John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.
8 Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham.
9 And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. (Luke 3:8 – 9)
15 And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel.
How many dozens of times is repentance taught as a prerequisite to salvation in the Bible? Here are a few:
12 And they went out, and preached that men should repent. ( Mark 6:12)
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
How can those who believe in the Bible propose that all that is required is to believe and that repentance and baptism and enduring to the end is not required to enter into the Kingdom of God?
22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. (Matthew 10:22)
At the mention of being “hated of all men”, let me insert the question here: Why do I hear that the Baptist preachers knock the “Mormon” faith from the pulpit, even to claim we are a “cult”, as you have mentioned? Why are we being attack so severely on the internet and at certain pulpits? Is reminiscent of the way the early Christians were treated. Is that how traditional Christians are supposed to treat others? Sorry for that little diversion. Back to the question: Is faith alone enough?
Jesus himself said:
5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. (Luke 13:5)
32 I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.
(Luke 5:32) Are we not all sinners?
21 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. (Matthew 7:21)
This passage in James, seems a direct contradiction to the passage in Ephesians 2:8-9, but it really emphasizes that faith alone is not sufficient:
How could this parable be ignored?
31 ¶When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd
divideth his sheep from the goats:
33 And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom
prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited
me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.
37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?
40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it
41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand,Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared
for the devil and his angels:
42 For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee?
45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me.
46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
But, again, as you have said, without the grace offered through Jesus Christ, whatever we would do, whomever we would help, there would be no hope of salvation.
There also seems to be a little contradiction in a couple of your statements. Can you explain why you would write: “
Jesus Christ being God the Father, God the son, and God the Holy Spirit
” then later “
Jesus came in the flesh to tell the world about God the Father
” and “
Jesus Christ paid the price for our sin by being obedient to God the Father
? Your second
is easily confirmed in holy scripture is such passages such as:
On the morning of Christ’s resurrection, he was met by Mary Magdalene and as she approached him;
17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God. (John 20:17)
Why would Jesus pray to himself thus?
1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:
2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him.
3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.
4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do.
5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was.
Stephen, as he was being stoned and filled with the spirit, had a vision where he saw the resurrected Lord standing on the “right hand of God”.
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
(Acts 7:55 – 56)
Yes, there are passages that declare that Jesus and the Father are one, but given the rest of the prayer Jesus offered in John 17, their oneness is obviously that of
unity of purpose as he prays will be the “oness” on his disciples and those who would believe their teachings:
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. (John 17:11; 20-23)
Even the Holy Ghost is represented by the sign of a dove as a separate being as the Father spoke from the heavens when his Son was baptized “to fulfill all righteousness”.
6 And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:
17 And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (Matthew 3:16 – 17)
Concerning the continuation of Christ’s “true Church” down through the hearts of believers, I can see some truth to that, because even though the apostles and prophets were all killed, there were those down through the dark and middle ages who were devoted to Jesus, but the organization, described in the new testament did not survive and the priesthood authority as described in the scriptures did not survive the wicked world and the true Church with Jesus organized was lost from the earth. I am not going to try to answer this here, but will attach a few chapters we have prepared that should shed light on our beliefs in this regard.
In the meantime, I want to thank you for your concern and I hope you will consider honestly my deep convictions. I do know that Jesus Christ lives and is our Savior and Redeemer and without his atoning sacrafice, we all would be lost regardless of what we could do.
Let me know what you think of my responses.