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Introducing Christianity to Mormons: Chapter 9

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Chapter 9: Sanctification: A Life Marked by Good Works

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Sanctification is the continual process in a believer’s life to die to sin and live in righteousness. The Holy Spirit plays an important role in both justification and sanctification. For one, a saved individual has been baptized in the Spirit through saving faith. Those who have the Holy Spirit are commanded to be “filled with the Spirit” and display the “fruit of the Spirit.” The Holy Spirit also provides spiritual gifts so Christians can be equipped to serve. The two ordinances practiced by Christians are baptism in water and participating in communion with the local church body. 

Discussion Questions Chapter 9

1. How can James 2:20 and 26 be reconciled with Ephesians 2:8-9? What role do works play in the Christian’s life?

Both passages go hand in hand, so a Christian really can say there is no contradiction. In James 2:20 and 26, James is stating that a regenerated person will desire to do good works. A Christian cannot claim to be all about grace and then feel freedom to sin as much as possible. Meanwhile, Ephesians 2:8-9 says that it’s by grace through faith, not works, that justifies a person before God. In fact, verse 10 (often ignored by many) clearly teaches that a believer was created to do good works before he or she was ever born. Thus, a person’s good deeds have nothing to do with being justified, but they have everything to do with being sanctified.

2. Suppose someone told you, “I don’t need to do good works because I am saved by faith.” If this believer felt there is freedom to willfully sin as a Christian, how would you answer using a biblical point of view?

There are many passages in the Bible that describe the importance of good works. But we must be careful not to put the cart before the horse. I think probably the best passage to use is Romans 6. The first two verses state, “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” So, it’s important to let the Latter-day Saint know that good works should characterize every Christian believer.

3. In the ten-million-dollar illustration, the teenager may have thought that he had paid off his “gift” and had “earned” the ten million. Play the role of the grandfather when he learns this. What would be an appropriate response to help the boy learn from his understanding?

The boy’s motives may have been right, but he did not comprehend that this was a gift. It’s wonderful he wants to go good works, but he needs to be informed that the $10 million was given as a gift and not meant to be earned. Be gentle, but also don’t ignore the fact that he doesn’t understand. Once he “gets it,” he ought to be relieved and grateful because, when it comes to brass tacks, there is no way he could have ever earned $10 million mowing grass and shoveling snow. In the same way, nobody can ever do enough to earn God’s grace.

4. What role does water baptism play in the believer’s life? When it comes to the mode of baptism, do you prefer sprinkling, pouring, or immersion in water? Why?

It is a symbol of the regeneration that takes place in a person’s life. The act of water baptism is a work of sanctification. It is not something that is done to earn favor with God. Personally, I like the symbolism offered in immersion, as this is a clear portrayal of sin symbolically washed away. I also think baptism should only be done by those who understand what they are doing. In my view, performing this rite on a child is only displaying the parents’ faith, not the individual’s.

5. Why is celebrating the Lord’s Supper important? What is the symbolism behind the elements?

It’s important because it is commanded by the Bible. “Do this in remembrance of me,” Jesus said. This is a special time for believers to “commune” together in a very powerful ordinance. The bread symbolizes the body of Jesus while the grape juice or wine symbolizes His blood.

What do LDS leaders say about salvation?

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