"Learn of me ... and ye shall find rest unto your souls." - Matthew 11: 29

The Doctrine of Casseroles and Jell-O

I stumbled on a video on YouTube video recently that stated it had questions “every Mormon” should answer. I wanted to know what these questions were, as I love questions. The video interviewed a handful of ex-Mormons that are now Protestants. Each of the people in the video started out stating how active they had been in the Church and they listed their callings. Some grew up in the religion, some were converts.

While there were many inaccuracies in their ideas of what Mormonism is and teaches, it was clear they were never really “Mormons” in faith, but rather in socially gathering. I call this “religion” the doctrine of casseroles and Jell-O. All of them were searching for something more as they had no idea what they had found. Rather than learn the Word, they learned the mythologies taught in hallways and lost to the real Word.

Each of them talked about how they had callings and the men had gone on missions. They all had very common callings, high counselor, Primary president, stake Primary president, Ward Relief Society President, Elder’s Quorum president. These are callings every member seems to have at some point or another. Yet they spoke of their calling with prestige. Each talked about how hard they worked to be good people as members of the Church.

After getting past how faithful they were, it finally came out that though they were all very active, they didn’t really know very much about the religion. The first clue was the man that stated he thought he would be saved first by his works, then by Christ’s grace. The second clue that they didn’t know the doctrine, they thought that the Church would save us, rather than Christ.

These are two ideas are taught in the Church by those that do not understand the doctrine. They mock Protestants for their rejection of works, yet fall into the same trap by rejecting Christ’s grace.

While it is easy to quote the second chapter of the Book of James in the New Testament to learn about grace and works, verses 14 through 24 more specifically, it is just as easy to quote the words of Nephi:

“Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.” 2 Nephi 10: 21

Grace loving Protestants are right. Our works cannot save us, rather it is our works that show that we have been saved. That doesn’t mean that we don’t need works, rather it means we cannot do works without having Christ’s grace in the first place. Remember what Jacob taught us:

“Nevertheless, the Lord God showeth us our weakness that we may know that it is by his grace, and his great condescensions unto the children of men, that we have power to do these things.” – Jacob 4: 7

While Nephi did tell us that we were saved by grace after all we can do (2 Nephi 25: 23), we must remember that Nephi was still under the Law of Moses and he was obedient to that law. Yet his younger brother, Jacob, understood that all he could do was nothing compared to what Christ did, there is no work – no price – good or high enough to obtain Christ’s grace, which is free to all.

“And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free.” – 2 Nephi 2: 4

But the most powerful scripture that shows us that it is grace that saves us and our works that prove we have accepted God’s grace comes from Moroni.

“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.” Moroni 10: 32

Let’s brake this down.

  1. We must come unto Christ – we must accept that we are flawed and cannot be saved without his grace
  2. Once we accept Christ, we must reject sin and wickedness – surely any Christian would not want to be sinful once accepting the blood of Christ and his salvation
  3. Love God – the one “work” we must do to have Christ’s grace as even the devils know that Jesus is the Christ, but they do not love God (James 2: 19)
  4. Be made perfect through Christ’s grace – that’s it, come unto Christ, reject sin, love God

Works really aren’t mentioned here, except to say we must reject sin, but they are needed. We are baptized to show our dedication to Christ. We receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost (baptism by fire) and take the sacrament so we can always have his spirit with us. We attend the temple as a check list on on our path to having our calling and election made sure, and to receive the Second Anointing. We don’t need these to be saved, but rather to show that we are saved – not to show men but as a sign and token from God.

The second part idea so absurd, I don’t really know how to point out that it is flawed. There is no scripture that states salvation comes from the Church. Christ is the head of the Church (Ephesians 5: 23). The Church of Jesus Christ is the only true and living church (D&C 1:30) meaning that it is the only one that has the priesthood and that is led by prophets and apostles. But it does not save us and you do not have to be Mormon to be a “true” Christian or even to be saved. D&C 76 makes it clear that ALL that come unto Christ will be saved and made perfect through the blood of his atonement. But Jesus was clear when he hold us:

“Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church.” – D&C 10: 67

He didn’t say, “become Mormon” or “Protestant” or “Catholic.” He said to come unto him. He goes on in the next verse to say that those that go beyond this are not of him. We should join the Church that the Spirit calls us to. Not everyone desires the priesthood or temple work or the other blessings we enjoy in the LDS faith.

Conclusions:

We are not saved by our works, but rather prove we are saved by our works. We cannot have one without the other, yet the greatest work was done by Christ and there is nothing we can do to match his sacrifice. The Church does not have the power to save us, but rather gives power to the saved by allowing us a place of safety to work and pray together as we bring more souls unto Christ and grow in faith and grace.

Image: Jello Cubes 8-3-09 4 by Steven Depolo

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