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Martin Luther On Works

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
November 25, 2019 8:38 am

Martin Luther On Works

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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One member is examining the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints from a biblical perspective view .1 limited to, sponsored by Mormonism research ministry since 1979 Mormonism research ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now, your host for today's viewpoint on Mormonism welcomed this additional viewpoint on Mormonism on your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director Mormonism research ministry with me today is Eric Johnson. My colleague at MRM. The relationship between faith and works, it seems to be a huge controversy between Mormon theology and those of us who claim to be evangelical Christians. But what is the true relationship between the two were going to begin with a statement made by Dr. Steven Robinson. He was a professor at Brigham Young University. This is what he said in his book believing Christ is that for centuries theologians have argued pointlessly over whether individuals are saved by faith or saved by works.

A pox on both their houses for neither by faith alone, defining faith as mere passive belief, nor by works alone. Are we safe that I wouldn't agree with Dr. Robinson saying that this argument is pointless because certainly the argument is very very important. One thing is clear though when it comes to the doctrine of justification by faith alone.

Mormon leaders have certainly been highly critical. You have, for instance, temp Pres. Joseph Fielding Smith in his book the restoration of all things.

This book came out in 1964 on page 192. He said one of the most pernicious doctrines ever advocated by man, is the doctrine of justification by faith alone which is entered into the hearts of millions since the so-called Reformation and he certainly wasn't alone. You have Mormon apostle James Talmage in a book that was commissioned by the first presidency a book titled articles of faith.

On page 432 of the 1984 edition. It reads the sectarian dogma of justification by faith alone has exercised an influence for evil. So you have pernicious doctrine and evil influence that doesn't sound like their big advocates of justification by faith alone. It was interesting about this whole controversy is that statement made by Joseph Smith in his Joseph Smith translation, which is really not a translation at all were.

He says in Romans 328. Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith alone, without the deeds of the law. I don't think Joseph Smith was consistent when he writes that in the Joseph Smith translation but it is there and I think that should be a problem for Latter Day Saints because it is in the inspired version. And if you're going to think it's inspired you're going to have to ask the question inspired by who or what will I thought in responding to this, we would turn to one of the big guns. Martin Luther, Martin Luther had a lot to say about this as you can imagine, but he puts it in such a perspective that I feel it's so easy to understand what our position is as New Testament Christians.

So let's look at some of the statements that Martin Luther made regarding the topic of justification by faith, and the relationship to works because we are not as New Testament Christians saying that we should not have works were not saying that at all.

So when you have Robinson, for instance, saying that someone is accusing them of being saved by works. I don't know of anybody that would say that of the Mormon people but that's all they believe you just saved by works. No, Mormonism does have a doctrine of grace.

They do have a doctrine of faith, so that could be a bit of a straw man on the part of Dr. Robinson but Martin Luther had some good things to say about this and maybe some of the things he said you can use in a witnessing situation.

Talking with a Latter Day Saints. He says we say that justification is effective without works. Not that faith is without works for that faith which lacks fruit is not an efficacious but a feigned faith without works is ambiguous then for that reason this argument settles nothing. It is one thing that faith justifies without works is another thing that faith exists without works and I think that puts it in a proper perspective notice. Martin Luther is not denying that a Christian a true Christian justified by their faith is not going to have works he say know they are going to have works and I think that's often lost a lot of Latter Day Saints because as Christians are trying to explain what we believe regarding our justification, we tend to overlook the fact that we certainly do believe that a true saving faith will have works.

So when Luther says without works is ambiguous, then I think is absolutely correct and I would say that a Christian who thinks that works are not at all a part of the Christian's life probably does have what he describes as a feigned faith. The book of Ephesians in chapter 2 talks about grace and faith in the importance of those in salvation and not by works, but a lot of Latter Day Saints like the answer with James 220 faith without works is dead. The way that you can handle that situation and say that you agree with James in the context of what he's talking about and in fact if you go to verse 10 of Ephesians 2 right after he gets done vice same, not by works, he says we are God's workmanship, created by Christ Jesus to do good works, which he prepared in advance for us to do so.

What Martin Luther is saying here is exactly right. If you have faith.

There will be works, but it's not the works that gives you the faith or gives you the ability to say that your saved through those works, I think, an expression that many Christians have used quite correctly is if you have a true saving faith that works will definitely follow it.

They are the result of being justified, not the means for being justified. What else did Luther have say on the subject. He says faith is a living, restless thing it cannot be inoperative. We are not saved by works, but if there be no works there must be something amiss with faith and I think you and I would totally agree with that. Often times when Latter Day Saints will point to what they see as hypocritical professing Christians. Oh, they say they believe but then they go out and they do this and they do that and they seem to have no conviction of the sins I would agree with them. There's probably something, as Luther says, amiss with this quote unquote faith that these individuals claim to have, so we would be in complete agreement with the Latter Day Saints who points to the hypocrisy of what they would see as on repentant Christians. Now of course we would then want to ask when you say Christian what you mean by that because there's a lot of people who profess to be a Christian but are they really that's the difficulty that I would say is not for us to judge because we don't really know where they are and all we can go by is what we see and of course Jesus was the one that admonished us to be careful not to judge according to the appearance, so as a finite human beings we are placed in a precarious situation when trying to make a judgment call like that. However, I don't think it would be wrong for us as Christians to question this professed faith that a man or woman may have who says they're Christian but yet shows no fruit of Christianity. I don't think there's anything wrong with challenging an individual like that and asking them if they really understand what Christianity is all about, because it certainly isn't the idea that we claim to be Christians, and then we go out and live with every way we please. There is a place for both.

But to say that somehow your works are necessary in order to receive that forgiveness of sins that is also necessary. You know Mormon theology to be exalted or to become of God in the next life know we wouldn't say works are or what we need for that at all. Another quote from Luther he says a Christian being consecrated by his faith does good works, but he is not by these works made a holier person or more of a Christian that is the effect of faith alone. No, unless he were previously a believer and a Christian. None of his works would have any value at all. They would really be in pious and damnable sins. That's an interesting phrase that he uses in pious and damnable sins.

And what is Luther really mean by this. Basically what he's telling us is if you think that by your good works, you are somehow going to be made right with God, you're sending your sending and I know that's a difficult concept for Latter Day Saints to put their head around but that's basically what I would say you're looking at something that certainly cannot save you. Remember, your works are only going to be as good as you are. If you are a sinful human being, your works are going to be tainted by that sin. I don't think a lot of Latter Day Saints really grasp what we mean when we say that they seem to stereotype us and try to give the impression that we don't think a believer should try to live a holy life or live a godly life and that certainly is not, in my opinion, an accurate appraisal of what the New Testament says about our works. Another quote by Luther. We do not then reject good works, nay, we embrace them and teach them in the highest degree.

It is not on their own account that we condemn them, but on account of this in pious addition to them and the perverse notion of seeking justification by them. Now Bill a lot of Latter Day Saints will say that we as Christians must believe that were saved by grace and we can go do whatever we want to do, but no Christians. As you've talked about earlier in the show embrace good works. We teach them to the highest degree Martin Luther's exactly right on this.

I think that the problem lies in the fact is, who's getting the credit here we as New Testament Christians would certainly be giving all the credit to God himself for calling a son to himself, saving us by his grace, even that faith to believe we look at as being a gift from God.

It all goes back to God.

We would never point anything that we have done and think that that had anything to do with the forgiveness of our sins are our justification as we call it Luther, I think states it correctly but on account of this in pious addition to them and the perverse notion of seeking justification by them. I think that's why Paul says in Ephesians chapter 2, so that no man can boast and if you listen to a lot of people who believe in works righteousness. They begin a lot of their senses with thigh because are talking about what they do exactly and again I think there is a lot of stereotype on the part of the Latter Day Saints when they've heard a Christian try to explain what we believe on this particular topic. They tend to.

I think turn a blind eye to what were trying to say now could Christians explain it badly. Yes, I think Christians can explain it badly. They can't explain justification by faith in a way perhaps that might sound more like antinomianism that we don't believe that there should be good works that follow a true profession of faith.

So I would hope that the Latter Day Saints wouldn't judge Christianity or judge our beliefs as evangelicals merely because someone explained it badly and sadly I have had emails from Mormons who do make judgments like this that they have heard something. Explain to them and I would I would agree that it was explained badly and they assume that that's what New Testament Christians believe when it's not. How about one more quote from the prince of preachers, Charles Spurgeon. He said if you believe first, you may have as many works as you please. But if you believe you will never trusted them for.

If you trust in them you have spoiled them and they are not good works any longer. I love that quote by Spurgeon and love when he says, is look. If you believe first.

If you justified go out and have as many works as you will. There's nothing wrong with that we would never condemn anything like that. I hope this explains a little bit what Luther's position was on on this touchy issue and perhaps you could use some of his arguments in a witnessing situation. Thank you for listening. If you would like more information regarding his research ministry. We encourage you to visit our website at you can request a free newsletter research. We hope you'll join us again as we look at another viewpoint is Mormonism 101 is a research ministry, Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson has helped many more to understand what separates Mormonism from the Christian faith. Mormonism 101 is available at your favorite Christian bookstore online and

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