Doctrine: Tradition, in the church, leads us to summarize important gospel doctrines and principles into trite phrases (subject to misinterpretation) and high-level diagrams (that fail miserably as eternal cliff’s notes). Thus, the rising generation can’t understand the deep and essential truths of the gospel and are easily led astray because of “tradition.”

In the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 26:1, we read:

Now it came to pass that there were many of the rising generation that could not understand the words of king Benjamin…and they did not believe the tradition of their fathers.

This scripture is so accurate in its description of why the rising generation could not understand the prophets words and why they did not believe “the tradition” of their fathers. Such misunderstandings were related to “tradition.” And it is happening again today.

Tradition, in the church, leads us to summarize important gospel doctrines and principles into trite phrases (subject to misinterpretation) and high-level diagrams (that fail miserably as eternal cliff’s notes). Thus, the rising generation can’t understand the deep and essential truths of the gospel and are easily led astray because of “tradition.”

It is of some of these trite phrases, high-level conversations and diagrams, and generalizations that I’m blogging about today; and for today it all relates to the subject of the pre-mortal life (i.e. scripturally called “the foundations of the earth”).

Pre-Mortality

Pre-mortality. We often completely summarize it by calling it the war in heaven. We often make it out to be this obvious black and white choice. And yet, a third of the hosts (our spiritual brothers and sisters) made a choice against what we consider to have been an easy, obvious, and very understandable choice—to follow Christ.

The problem with boiling down the pre-mortal life the way we consistently do is that so much clear, necessary, helpful, and eye-opening doctrine is lost. So, here are a few of the generalizations we use to teach about pre-mortality and what I consider to be the deeper doctrines that are completely lost.

#1 – pre-mortal life was life through Christ

As alluded to above, we often present the pre-mortal existence as if it was all a war in heaven and only a tiny moment before coming to this world. And, when you and I think “war” we think conflict, fighting, weapons, blood, death, injury, etc. We think about mortal warfare. Now, I’m not suggesting that we didn’t have all of these things—of a kind—in the pre-mortal world, but I am suggesting that they presented themselves differently than we tend to think.

Pre-mortal life was life. It was the only life we knew. We had friendships. We had brothers and sisters we liked and those we didn’t like. There were personalities we got along with better than others. We spent time learning and growing in wisdom, knowledge, and understanding of many things. There was no mortal time crunch there. And, I suspect we didn’t have to worry about day-to-day survival when it came to eating and seeking a profession. We were free to pursue our interests and to become masters of whatever we chose. We know we had not yet achieved perfection—as God is perfected.

However, whilst in the midst of all this spiritual living, we attended church. Yes! Maybe it was called church, maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it was called Family Home Evening, maybe it wasn’t. But, we did in fact attend or were proselyted to, because we were all taught God’s eternal plan of salvation. It was The Plan. It was the only plan that had ever been and that ever would be. And, it was taught by Christ, Himself (JST of St. John 1:1). That plan, that gospel, was the center of our broad—yet spiritual—life. It was already “the light” of our lives.

Consider the Joseph Smith Translation of John 1:1-4

In the beginning was the gospel preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word, and the word was with the Son, and the Son was with God, and the Son was of God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made which was made. In him was the gospel, and the gospel was the life, and the life was the light of men;

Just as we go about down here on earth with Christ as the light/power that quickens our existence, His light was integral to our pre-mortal existence. Just as Christ established His church and kingdom on this earth, He also established it in the pre-mortal world. Just as Christ preached the gospel here on earth, He also preached it to us in our pre-mortal existence.

Thus, we can see that from the beginning, from the moment we were organized (Abraham 3:22), Christ was already the center of our lives and God’s eternal plan. He didn’t just show up at The Council to stop Satan from implementing another plan. Christ had been The Plan all along.

#2 Satan’s plan was never “a plan” it was an attempted coup

When we summarize pre-mortality as a war between Christ and Satan, we get the false idea that Satan’s plan had a chance of being carried out. We get the idea that the war was a battle against two equal opponents. We get the idea that there was a chance that Satan might have won.

This, however, is a false idea (see #1 above). Satan’s plan was never a plan. It was an attempted coup. His sole desire was to dethrone the Almighty God, silence Christ’s preaching and power, and to have God’s power and glory in an absolute manner, which isn’t actually possible (Moses 4:1-4, Doctrine & Covenants 29:36). In fact, the war was not to decide which plan to follow, but to try to save those whom Satan led away “because of their agency.” God didn’t give up 1/3 of His children to maintain the “right plan.” One-third of His children—who had known all along what The Plan was—were cast out because they chose and attempted a fruitless coup on God, the Eternal Father.

Think about it. God won’t force us to accept His plan here on earth. And, He didn’t try to force us to accept His plan in the pre-mortal world. We can see that He is truly “the same, yesterday, today, and forever” (Mormon 9:9). We can also see that He is bound by law and covenant—which is critical to Him being God (Mormon 9: 15, 19; Alma 42:22-23).

Thus, Satan, in his pure arrogance, tried to manipulate God. “Not one soul will be lost,” (Moses 4:1) he said, IF you will “give me thine honor” (which is God’s power and glory).

Tradition progress future management assessment analysis company business concept businessman

#3 No souls are lost

We always talk about Satan’s plan like it was tempting because “not one soul will be lost” (Moses 4:1). We always talk about God’s/Christ’s plan as if souls will be lost. The problem with how we reference the two perspectives is terribly flawed for three reasons.

First, by attempting a coup, Satan led away a third of God’s children “because of their agency” (Doctrine and Covenants 29:36) and lost them their opportunity to become like God (the very thing he claimed to be protecting). So, that first third was the first evidence that Satan had no concern for the loss of any soul–to any degree.

Second, Satan’s idea of saving souls was coercion and unrighteous dominion. Think about life here on earth right now. What soul was ever saved (in any extent) by such leadership/relationship tactics? As well, no soul can be saved in ignorance (Doctrine and Covenants 131:6). That means that forcing us all to do right would not have saved our souls. Taking away our agency would not have saved our souls. It would have done the exact opposite. It would have damned every single one of us CONTRARY to Satan’s promise (and he knew that!). This is because salvation is extended to us based upon the true and sincere desires of our hearts which motivate our actions—NOT on perfect actions (Doctrine and Covenants 137:9). Likewise, eternal life (or life like God) is extended to us NOT because of what we do but because of WHAT WE BECOME as we try to do.

Without mistakes, sin, weakness, learning, experience, and opposition, we could not have been saved. It is quite clear that the atonement of Jesus Christ is the center of the plan because it allows us to learn from mistakes, weaknesses, and sin without being condemned by the learning process. We can’t become godly without fully understanding what it means to be otherwise. We can’t choose to become like God if we don’t understand what it means to be a god.

Third, in God’s plan (or Christ’s plan), none of us are lost. It’s the exact opposite of Satan’s lying proposal. Everyone who comes to this earth will receive, and inherit, a kingdom of glory, except sons of perdition. And, it is really, really hard to become perdition. Satan was perdition because He knew God the Father, He knew Christ, He knew the plan, and in the face of that perfect knowledge he rebelled. Cain was perdition for the same reasons. He walked and talked with God and knowingly set it aside (which he nearly almost did before being born onto the earth, Moses 5:25).

What Satan meant by “not one shall be lost” was that if God would give him His power, honor, and glory, he/Satan would give everyone godhood without them becoming godly first (which he couldn’t have done because even godhood is bound by law and covenant, but I suspect it was a lie anyway, as he was not the type to share power with anyone–so it was a lie within a lie). And yet “being lost” is exactly what would have happened had our agency been violated (by Satan) as he proposed. Thus, again, we can see it was a power play, a coup, and nothing more.

In this life, none of us lose the opportunity to become like God. It is presented to us daily. And, inasmuch as we submit to the enticing of the Holy Spirit (Mosiah 3:19) we become a little more Christlike, a little more like God, each and every day. It is only when we refuse to submit to God’s laws, ordinances, covenants, and to the Holy Spirit—because of our agency—that the “becoming-like-god” process is halted (Satan refused to submit and was therefore damned because of his own agency). And, by passing through this mortal life many determine that “becoming like god” is not actually what they truly want (because they’ve been presented with other options and found them more desirable). Thus, no one is lost. Everyone ends up exactly where they want to be, or, they receive as much godliness as they choose to receive (Doctrine and Covenants 88:15-40).

#4 Mortal life is as much about becoming like God (through grace) as it is discovering who we are

When we are young we all want to become doctors, lawyers, or anybody who makes a big paycheck. We think we want money more than we care to think about what we actually want to do to make that money. As we get older, however, we come to realize (through trial and error) that even large sums of money don’t bring us happiness. We also learn that what money can buy doesn’t necessarily bring us happiness. And, we learn that fundamentally, we are drawn to different types of careers, hobbies, activities, places, etc., and which we love to be a part of regardless of the amount of money we receive in consequence. We become far more occupied with spending our lives and our time in ways that bring us happiness and joy than we are about money.

Becoming like God is follows a similar principle, though I’m not actually comparing godhood to mortal money. Yet, like lots of money, I suspect that many of us thought we wanted godhood in the pre-mortal life. And yet, as we pass through The Plan here on this earth, I’ve no doubt that many of us discover that the laws, ordinances, covenants, responsibilities, and principles that accompany “life like God,” are a little above what we really want to do—for eternity. Do we really want to spend eternity “bringing to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39)? Because, that’s what God does; and that’s what we’ll do when we become like Him. And, there is only one way to do that. It’s The Plan. The one we’ve been dissecting as part of the foundation of pre-mortal life.

I suspect the most merciful thing God has done for each one of us is to let us find out for ourselves if godhood is what we want–by passing through this life. And, not one soul is left out. If our part in this plan is such that we don’t have the opportunity to choose between godhood or the other options sufficiently, we will have our work done and the option given to us before the final resurrection and judgment through the vehicle of another part of The Plan, the spirit world. God’s plan is perfectly just and merciful because of the atonement offered by Jesus Christ. None of us will lose the opportunity for godhood. We must choose to let it pass by “because of [our] agency.”

Conclusion

Now, there are lots of doctrines tied to the pre-mortal world and life, but these are the ones I think people least ponder, consider, and understand. These are doctrines that we cannot be satisfied to shelter in church jargon and generalities. These are the doctrines that have the power to change behavior, increase understanding, and open our hearts to the inspiration, guidance, and promptings of the Holy Spirit. We all need this understanding.

It is not enough to suppose that there was a war in heaven. We must understand the fundamentals of why it took place and why it’s still a war that we are fighting today. We are still trying to help all of God’s children understand The Plan that has and will always be the only plan. We are still trying to help all of God’s children recognize who they are, what the purpose of life is, and to present them with the opportunity to choose godhood “because of their agency.” We are still fighting and trying to provide salvation in the only way it can be received. We are trying to offer exaltation in the only way it can be achieved.

BT

Doctrines: Spiritual interventions and ultimatums are godly, acceptable, and necessary to deliver before we can be justified in taking serious and drastic courses of action in close relationships. The whole point of an intervention or ultimatum is to invite a person to act on their agency. It is to invite them and provide conditions that encourage a person to decide what they truly want and to act on it. Interventions and ultimatums are about godly sanction for us to LET GO of the accountability we have tried to appropriate for others. Forgiving others for trespasses against us does not mean enabling them to continue trespassing against us and God’s commands.

A study of the standard works (Bible, Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great Price, as well as modern conference talks and lesson manuals) will reveal that God is a god of spiritual interventions and ultimatums. God is NOT an enabler of sin. These three terms are often used but loosely understood. So, let’s define them:

Intervention: come between so as to prevent or alter a result or course of events.

Ultimatum: a final demand or statement of terms, the rejection of which will result in retaliating action or a breakdown of relations.

Enable: give authority or means to do something.

Whether we believe it or not, whether we like it or not, this life is NOT about learning to become good. The majority of the people who come to this earth are good to varying degrees—naturally. Therefore, this life is about what level of goodness we want and our potential path to godhood. We are here to prove whether or not we want to become more than good. We are here to prove whether or not we want the power and accountability that come with the high and holy responsibility of godhood.

All of God’s plan is set up to ensure we have agency to pass through this process with complete honesty, validity, and personal accountability. His commandments are about becoming godly. His covenants are about becoming godly. So also, His use of spiritual intervention and spiritual ultimatums, and His unwillingness to enable us in sin, are about leading us to godhood.

God does not actually intervene in our lives without some act of agency on our part. But, He does do all He can to open us up to His counsel, which if accepted and followed, will alter the course of our lives toward godhood. His enticements are what open us up to the available intervention He offers. He does this by providing multiple opportunities—daily—for us to receive spiritual guidance and counsel. These include:

  • Prayer
  • Promptings and inspiration from the Holy Ghost
  • Callings and opportunities to serve
  • Commandments and instructions on how to become godly
  • Scriptures—His written words
  • Wise friends and family
  • Trials and struggles
  • Uplifting music
  • Church meetings where we are taught and instructed
  • Dedicated temples (His house) available for us to become worthy to enter and receive guidance

We accept God’s intervention in our lives by inviting Him to make it. We do this by making and keeping covenants. Once we are in this “covenant zone,” we have willingly given our lives over to God, meaning that He can, in some ways, act to intervene, and give us a chance to alter our course toward godhood. Note that He doesn’t force us to change course, but He does have the authority we’ve given Him to offer frequent interventions, which allow us to act, or choose, to get back on course for godhood.

Stop Domino Effect - Hand Prevents Failure

If we start to get off the straight and narrow path—which we covenanted with God to follow—God will frequently call us up and offer interventions. If we get completely off the path, God will eventually issue spiritual ultimatums. Basically, if we are not trying to keep the covenant which we promised Him we would keep (and invited Him to help us keep), He will not let us sit around and twiddle our thumbs or make light of our relationship and covenant with Him. He will issue a final demand or statement of terms, the rejection of which will result in the loss of blessings, power, and most certainly a breakdown and loss of our covenant relationship with Him.

It is very important to understand what happens when we abandon covenants with God and we fail to respond righteously to His ultimatums. God will release us from our covenant and in consequence withhold blessings. He is not an enabler. He will not give us the authority or the means to use His blessings and powers in our pursuit of sin.

However, this loss of privileges, powers, and our close relationship with Him does not mean we step outside of His love. He will take back from us those gifts and privileges from Him that we didn’t want, didn’t honor, and took for granted. But, He will continue to offer back to us as much as we will receive.

The scriptures are, backwards and forwards, a record of spiritual interventions and ultimatums. They are issued to families, individuals, children, regions, wards/branches, and even the entire church; when such exhibit outright rebellion and are on the path to ultimate physical and spiritual destruction.

Here are just a few (a very few) examples:

  • Laman and Lemuel received spiritual ultimatums from Nephi to repent or be cast off.
  • The Nephites repeatedly received spiritual ultimatums from their prophets/spiritual leaders to repent or be swept off the promised land by the wicked nations around them.
  • The Israelites constantly received spiritual ultimatums to repent or be destroyed by the heathen nations around them.
  • Chief Captain Moroni offers a spiritual intervention with the Title of Liberty, allowing those sitting about the opportunity to rise up and defend their religion and their freedoms.
  • Alma and Amulek issued spiritual ultimatums to the people of Ammonihah to repent or be wiped out by the Lamanites.
  • Jonah issued a spiritual ultimatum to Nineveh to repent or be destroyed.
  • An angel issued a spiritual ultimatum to Alma the Younger to stop trying to destroy the church or he would be cast off eternally.
  • Abinadi issued a spiritual ultimatum to King Noah that the people needed to repent or they would be driven to and fro and made slaves by their enemies.
  • Paul often offered spiritual interventions in his many letters to the churches.
  • Lehi frequently pled with Laman and Lemuel and offered spiritual interventions, and asked them to accept.
  • God sent an angel to Laman and Lemuel (who were beating their younger brothers nigh to death) to intervene on both their behalf and Nephi and Sam IF Laman and Lemuel would listen.

So, why talk about spiritual interventions and ultimatums and how to NOT enable?

Because, we all tend to offer interventions and to issue ultimatums of our own, and we do it without godly direction. As well, many of us who try to be forgiving and well-meaning end up enabling those who sin against us to continue to sin against us, and God. So, we all need to understand a little better how to offer interventions, issue ultimatums, and to NOT enable. As we do, we may find that our relationships improve and agency is still honored.

Now, each of us is part of some type of human relationship. Either we are a devoted friend, a caring brother or sister, a worried mother or father, a hurting and struggling spouse, a faithful visiting or home teacher, a bishop, or the head of a presidency serving in the auxiliaries of the church. Sometimes we are bosses in a work environment.

5 to 12 - TIME TO ACT

In all of these relationships, spiritual interventions and ultimatums are necessary and appropriate IF done correctly.

My first suggestion is for each of you, as you study your scriptures, either tonight or in the coming weeks, to pay attention and pray to notice the spiritual interventions/ultimatums. When you come upon them, take the time to stop and make note of:

  1. Who they are offered/issued to
  2. Why they are offered/issued
  3. How they are offered/issued
  4. When they are offered/issued
  5. What happened to the person(s) who offered/issued the intervention/ultimatum
  6. What happened to the person(s) who received the intervention/ultimatum

Over time, you will be taught by the Spirit the things you need to know to offer/issue spiritual interventions/ultimatums in the relationships in your life. You will also be taught by the Spirit the things you do currently—when you try to offer/issue—that are not helpful.

However, here are some basic principles/doctrines regarding the spiritual ultimatums God offers:

  • A godly ultimatum states clearly and concisely the sinful actions of the sinner and that they have broken a specific covenant.
  • A godly ultimatum is not apologetic, nor is it laden with “I’m sorry to say this…” “Please forgive me that I have to do this…”
  • A godly ultimatum is not full of resentment, vengeance, or overt hurt and emotion (other than righteous anger). These tender, and valid emotions must NOT be included. Stating feelings at this point will only lead to an argument about how you have also hurt them. Who has sinned and how and who hurt who when is not in question. The ultimatum is about a lack of repentance (purposeful rebellion) and their clear intent to NOT keep their covenants.
  • A godly ultimatum includes immediate consequences and removal of blessings that cannot be restored without repentance during a probation period.
  • A godly ultimatum includes a final, or ultimate, consequence for failure to repent within the probationary period.

Now, here is one (and only one) example of a Marriage Covenant Ultimatum. Please take the time to look for and identify each of the principles/doctrines of a godly, spiritual ultimatum in this example.

Example: Marriage Covenant Ultimatum

Mindy is an abused wife (of 2+ years). Her husband, Mark, doesn’t beat her physically, but he is addicted to pornography and in consequence sexually abusive and verbally abusive. He consistently sins against Mindy and his marriage covenant and makes insincere apologies that turn into guilt sessions where Mindy is left feeling that if she seeks divorce she is abandoning her own marriage covenant.

Mindy has tried to confront Mark with his lack of repentance and unwillingness to treat her with love and respect. She has even gotten Mark to meet with her and the bishop a few times. Yet, while the bishop has called on Mark to repent and become better, he also keeps telling Mindy to not withhold sex from Mark. Mindy is barely clinging on to hope.

While Mindy has urged Mark to repent and tried to express how he is hurting her feelings, her offered interventions (as well as the bishop’s) have been ultimately rejected. Mark is now a rebellious, knowing, sinner who is refusing to truly repent and embrace the covenants he has made with God and Mindy. Therefore, it is now time for Mindy to issue a spiritual ultimatum.

She must issue a final demand or statement of terms, the rejection of which, by Mark, will result in Mark losing his relationship with Mindy.

Such an ultimatum may sound like this: “Mark, you have repeatedly shown that you have no desire to quit using pornography, to quit sexually and verbally abusing me, and to keep your marriage covenants. As of tomorrow, (no matter what you say or do) I am moving in with my parents for 6 months. If you love God and me, you will use these 6 months to truly repent, seek counseling and addiction recovery help, and embrace our marriage covenants. After the 6 months is up, if you have not done these things and shown that you sincerely desire to repent and change, I will file for divorce.”

Interventions, Ultimatums, and Learning NOT to Enable are about Proper Use of Agency

Agency is the most important thing God has given us and it is the one thing we should all protect. This is what godly interventions and ultimatums do. They do not try to manipulate people into a course of action. They invite them to act. Then, the choice and accountability is left up to them—not to us. As well, interventions and ultimatums are as much about us letting go as they are inviting others to act.

The whole point of an intervention or ultimatum is to invite a person to act on their agency. It is to invite them and provide conditions (which includes immediate consequences) that encourage a person to decide what they truly want and to act on it. It is not our job to protect others from consequences, nor allow them to continue to receive blessings if they do not merit them. It is also not our job to enable them to continue in sin or by appropriating accountability through micromanaging their actions—which is akin to trying to change their innate desires and repent for them.

If you offer an intervention or an ultimatum without being prompted/guided by the Holy Ghost to do so, or validated by the Holy Ghost when you express your plan to God, then you will likely offer it unsuccessfully.

If you do not pray, study, plan, and prepare before offering your intervention or issuing your ultimatum, you will not have the confidence to back it up or the ability to react in a godly manner if it doesn’t go how you expected.

If you do not stick to your plans (the ones God has validated/prompted) when you issue your ultimatum, or offer your intervention, and avoid inappropriate emotional responses and micromanaging, then it is no longer an ultimatum or intervention. You must own what you can do and let them own what they can, or are willing to, do. Offering interventions and issuing ultimatums are not about making statements of who’s right and who’s wrong. It’s about making a statement that will not change based on what happens after it is issued.

If you design your intervention or your ultimatum to guilt someone into choosing the right (or what you want them to do) by dramatic statements and exhibitions of emotion, then you are trying to get them to act in fear and pity rather than by the true desires of their hearts. This is a manipulation of agency. Whether they desire good or evil, you must allow them to choose what they want and then allow them to be accountable for what they choose.

In all things, we must learn to forgive others for their sins and trespasses against us (Doctrine and Covenants 64:9-11). But, in relationships, forgiving others does not mean enabling them to continue trespassing against us and God’s commands. It means letting go of our resentment and anger toward them and not seeking retaliation or vengeance. Interventions and ultimatums must not enable the sinner to continue sinning. There must be stated consequences and we must follow-through on those consequences.

God forgives us any time we sincerely and truly repent (Mosiah 26:30). God loves us always (Romans 8:39). But, He does not enable (give us authority or means) us to live against His will. This is why He continually offers interventions and issues ultimatums.

BT

Doctrine: There is only one way to access a fullness of grace and that is by seeking to BECOME GODLY. Becoming godly requires both WORKS and FAITH. These two spiritual items are welded firmly together and cannot be separated to serve our particular brand of righteousness.

Grace is not a topic that any one of us can claim to truly understand completely. Why? Well, because it’s God’s gift, not ours. God is the one who designed it. God is the one who has set its conditions on it. And God is the one who gives it.

However, when it comes to making sense of grace personally, most people tend to fall into two categories of understanding grace. You have the WORKS team and you have the FAITH team.

The WORKS team is under the impression that:

Good works = grace

In other words, keep the commandments, check everything off the righteous list and you get grace. It’s something you earn by being “good.”

The FAITH team is under the impression that:

Confessing Christ = grace

In other words, love Christ, believe in Him, and admit that you can’t get back to God without Him and you get grace. It’s something you get because of your “belief.”

Here is the sad reality. There aren’t two teams. There is only one team. It is the BECOMING GODLY team. If there is another team, it is the NOT BECOMING GODLY team. Which, would, in effect be the team that Satan presides over; not necessarily because he’s wanted as a coach, but because he’s the only coach available for those who don’t want to become like God. There are only two coaches: Christ and Satan. Stinks to not have a third choice, but there you have it.

The reason there is only one team for getting grace is that the purpose of grace is to become like god. It has no other purpose. So, if you’re only checking things off a list (WORKS) but your heart isn’t changing into something godly through faith in the process, then you are like a “whited sepulchers, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones, and of all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

Or, if you are saying you love Christ, believe in Him, and can’t get back to God without Him (FAITH team), but you have no desire to, or intent to, change your life too much (especially where it’s uncomfortable and difficult to change) to be more like Him, then you are in the group the Lord was referring to when He said: “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.” Faith that doesn’t lead to good works is not true faith.

Cooperate for successful work
Faith and Works are two pieces of the grace puzzle that can’t be separated.

I find it simply ridiculous that people study the scriptures, or Christian religion, until they find the sayings and scripture verses that support their beliefs and then leave off. It’s like they don’t want to know the whole truth, or they only want to know the truth they like, because it’s easy to keep doing what they are doing. Or, they are too lazy to make a study of the spectrum of God’s commands, covenants, and instructions regarding grace because it requires effort and change. They don’t really want to “know” God. Because you can’t throw yourself into becoming godly and getting to know Him without being prompted to start becoming so.

As we seek Him, God will give us more and more light and knowledge until we become like Him (Doctrine and Covenants 50:24; Alma 12:9-11). That’s why so many people stop. It’s scary! To stare grace in the face—real grace—and realize what God is asking is terrifying. To try and boil it down to WORKS versus FAITH is laughable, selfish, and prideful. While God has created us to experience joy (2 Nephi 2:25), He didn’t send us to earth to clown around and simply have a good time. A lot of people don’t want to know that.

People who count themselves as good commandment keepers (WORKS team) will quote WORKS scriptures all day and take joy in finding others have fallen short of grace; or at the least they will congratulate themselves that they have earned it when others are still hopelessly unenlightened. On the other hand, people who count themselves as good confessors of Christ (FAITH team) do the same thing in the opposite manner. They quote only faith scriptures all day long and hold enmity in their hearts for the WORKS team who acts so high and mighty. Both are exhibiting selfishness and pride.

God has asked not only for our acts, or body, but for our heart, mind, might, and strength –which I think covers just about everything (Doctrine and Covenants 59:5).

If grace is about becoming godly, then we need to think about what God has that we are trying to get.

  1. God has eternal family
  2. God has a resurrected, perfected body that cannot die
  3. God is perfectly just
  4. God is perfectly merciful
  5. God is all-knowing and omniscient
  6. God is perfectly obedient and sinless
  7. God is all-powerful (to the extent that He remains 1-6)

As a free gift for stepping into this mortal life we will all get #2. Wicked or righteous, it’s ours.

However, the rest of the things we need come through grace.

To get #6 we have to develop a nature that repents immediately and loses all desire to sin. We exercise faith when we act to repent and work toward change. The Holy Ghost takes that faith and work and uses it to put our soul in the furnace of grace and bend our desires to God’s.

To get #1 we have to receive specific ordinances and covenants (several) that one by one lead us to this great privilege of being bound to our spouse and children forever.

To get #3-#5 we have to have faith that by acting in obedience to God’s commands that over time we will become these things. We have to take the time to learn, ponder, and figure out how God does these. We have to seek the Holy Ghost for the knowledge we can’t get on our own. This requires faith and lots of work.

To get #7 we have to receive all the ordinances and covenants of God’s gospel plan so that as we receive power in this life, and in the eternities, that this power is controlled by our covenants and natures of righteousness. We have to have faith that as we receive these ordinances and receive these covenants that God, through the furnace of grace and the power of the Holy Ghost, will slowly alter our souls to become like His, so that He can share all He has with us–that includes His power.

The NOT BECOMING GODLY team looks the exact opposite of all of this. I’ll let each of you read through the above again in the negative. It has an incredible impact. We often fail to do this and we miss out.

So, you’ve seen the “BECOMING GODLYL team’s” viewpoint, and, the case in point is this. Why did anyone ever create two limited teams for grace at all? Why aren’t we all on the same team? A team divided cannot stand!

Advocates for WORKS, who are themselves usually great commandment keepers, are so afraid that others will get the same glory without all the same effort. They are so afraid that by not preaching WORKS that others will take grace for granted and sit around in laziness expecting to be saved. What these WORKS advocates don’t realize is that they are just as lazy as those who advocate FAITH. They are lazy in the aspects of the law that are not visible to others. They have left some stuff undone!

Did not Christ say, “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone” (Matthew 23:23).

Yet, if you look closely, this verse also instructs the FAITH team that though judgment, mercy, and faith are weightier, the other more “worksy” commandments are still not to be left undone. The FAITH team needs to stop being lazy in the more visible aspects of the law.

BOTH FAITH and WORKS are synonymous with BECOMING GODLY. You can’t become godly without both. So, it’s time to get rid of the delineation and animosity between the teams.

People connect letters to compose the team word. Teamwork concept
We’re all on the same BECOMING GODLY team.

Could you have faith in a God whose works you couldn’t trust, who didn’t adhere to law? Could you have faith in a God who only had good intentions but never carried them out? Imagine God saying to you, “Well, I meant to bless you, and I believe I should and that it’s a good thing, but I’ll get to it another day, unless something more important comes up.” I can’t. So also, we should not expect to become godly with only good intentions and invisible faith.

On the other hand, none of us can imagine a God who cared only about works and not about faith, hope, charity, and mercy. Indeed, if God were not merciful and didn’t love us despite our lack of good works, we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all.

The reality is that those who truly love God will attempt with every mortal breath to emulate Him (John 14:15) both in WORKS and FAITH. That requires faith and works.

Now, when it comes to others we have to stop judging who has access to grace and who doesn’t. We cannot judge others to be outside of grace only because they sin differently than we do (whether visible or invisible). We cannot treat them as if they are outside of grace. They are not. We can postulate and estimate and guess all day long what other people need to fix and do better, but it will still never give us a sum of grace for them that is accurate. And, if we do so, we are sitting in the same hot pot that the scribes and Pharisees sat in which wasn’t so great. So, if I were you, I’d get out.

All of us are eternally bound within Christ’s grace to the extent that we meet its many and varied conditions. Grace is how we live and breathe. We all have access to it in differing amounts based on the light and truth we are willing to receive and honor. But, when it comes to others, we should always treat them as God does-with grace. Accept all the good they can offer, and let them and God work out the other details we simply will never be good enough to see. It’s not your job to carry their burdens, to make them feel guilty, to forgive their sins, or to cast judgment upon them. Christ has taken all that. So, let it go.

As a final thought on the oneness of the terms FAITH and WORKS, Let’s look at one example. Prayer. We get on our knees to pray (WORKS) because we have FAITH that God is there and He is listening. Then, add our real intent to do as He asks (WORKS) believing that if we do it He will bless us (FAITH). How could anyone ever separate FAITH and WORKS of any kind, ever?

I could go on and on. The evidence is there in the scriptures (all of them) as clear as day. FAITH and WORKS have never been separate. They have always been welded firmly together. One validates the other. One leads to the other. One inspires the other. Only humanity has been unsuccessful in trying to separate them. And look at the damage it’s done.

WORKS without faith is useless in accessing grace. FAITH without works is useless in accessing grace. God demands both as the condition of receiving salvation and exaltation.

As well, conditions for grace that require WORKS and FAITH do not keep people from godliness (or a specific heaven, as some might say). Such conditions, requiring WORKS and FAITH are what protect godliness, or a specific heaven. Godliness isn’t for everyone. It is only for those that choose it. And, to get such great glory and power requires—through grace—FAITH and WORKS.

So, if you’re good at works. It’s time to buckle down and get better at charity and the weightier matters of the law, which requires prayer, faith, and hope—stuff that’s hard to measure. If you’re good at charity and forgiveness, it’s time to buckle down and get better at keeping laws, ordinances, and covenants. You can’t forever be of two opinions. “If the Lord be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him” (1 Kings 18:21). Don’t sit around and “answer not a word.” There is no middle ground. There are only two coaches.

At some point you either have to choose the BECOMING GODLY team or the NOT BECOMING GODLY team. As for me and my house, we choose the BECOMING GODLY team (Joshua 24:15).

BT