I was having a gospel conversation with a very good Evangelical/Calvinist Christian friend. I told him that I was listening to some lectures from Ravi Zacharias recently which I really liked about obedience, sacredness, thankfulness, and happiness. I told my friend that Ravi had been invited to speak in Salt Lake City at the Mormon Tabernacle and had spoken about the “sufficiency of Christ’s atonement”. My friend agreed with Ravi that he thought the LDS Church was astray because we had added to the “finished work of Christ” with our Book of Mormon and temple. (he believed the restored temple in Isa 2:2, Ezek 37:26-28, Mal. 3:1 was figuratively referring to the heart of man)
I had also been challenged in Stake Priesthood meeting to share something from the Book of Mormon that teaches the doctrine of Christ. I shared Moroni 10:32 because it discused the “sufficiency” of Christ’s atonement.
Moroni 10:32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
I have invited this friend to read the Book of Mormon in the past but he has said that when he tried, “it didn’t speak to him”. When I read the verse above, he immediately didn’t like the responsibility the verse placed on the individual. He didn’t like the conditions placed upon Christ’s atonement. He think’s trying is important, but once you accept Christ, Christ’s spirit will bare fruit in us regardless.
He thought LDS doctrine and temple was controlling and manipulative through guilt and fear. He thought the LDS Church was apostate and fooled people into following false prophets by using fear and guilt, and then adding things to the gospel to satisfy the fear and guilt it creates in its membership. He, on the other hand, believed that the gospel of Christ was inclusive, hopeful, and loving providing unconditional assurances. The pure gospel of Christ didn’t need to add anything because the Christ’s atonement has taken away all guilt and fear. According to him, there are no conditions to repentance.
My friend said that we still may and will make mistakes, but sort of misquoted Phillipians 1:6 saying Christ promised to “finish the work he had started in us and see it to its completion”. Christ will finish what He started and once we have accepted Christ into our lives, He will bare fruit through us. There is no reason to worry.
Phil 1:6 that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Yikes! I wasn’t expecting that reponse. I was initially a bit exasperated, because, I was hoping the Spirit would testify of the simple truths taught in God’s word. But, I said a silent prayer and sought to know what God would have me say and know how to respond.
In addition to discussing Gal 1:6 and Rev 2:4, we see Paul and John find Saints who were not bearing fruit had departed from the true doctrine of Christ, I reminded my friend that people can also be controlled and manipulated by telling them “smooth sayings” because of our “itching ears”.
Phil 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
I then focused the discussion on the Parable of the sower. According to Christ’s parable, some seed falls on stony ground, some springs up but is scorched by the heat, or choked by thorns and weeds. In each case, the seed is good and would have sprung up and yielded fruit, but we are responsible for the condition of our soil.
I them shared what the Book of Mormon teaches about the allegory of the seed in Alma 32 and our personal reaponsibility to prepare the soil and continually nourish the seed of faith as it grows up and takes root.
Alma 32:38 But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.
39 Now, this is not because the seed was not good, neither is it because the fruit thereof would not be desirable; but it is because your ground is barren, and ye will not nourish the tree, therefore ye cannot have the fruit thereof.
I told my friend that God knew we would be talking about the “sufficiency” of the atonement and about Christ’s atonement “bearing fruit” within us, and that is why these clarifications are contained in the Book of Mormon.