Day 24 September 2 - Romans 5-10

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Walk In Newness Of Life

And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it. - Mosiah 2:41

And the Lord said unto me: Marvel not that all mankind, yea, men and women, all nations, kindreds, tongues and people, must be born again; yea, born of God, changed from their carnal and fallen state, to a state of righteousness, being redeemed of God, becoming his sons and daughters; - Mosiah 27:25

Scripture Reference: Romans 6:1-11

1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that agrace may abound?

2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?

3 Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.

7 For he that is dead is freed from sin.

8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him:

9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.

10 For in that he died, he died unto sin bonce: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God.

11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Elder David A. Bednar, Ye Must Be Born Again, CR April 2007

Just as a cucumber is transformed into a pickle as it is immersed in and saturated with salt brine, so you and I are born again as we are absorbed by and in the gospel of Jesus Christ. As we honor and "observe the covenants" (D&C 42:13) into which we have entered, as we "feast upon the words of Christ" (2 Nephi 32:3), as we "pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart" (Moroni 7:48), and as we "serve [God] with all [of our] heart, might, mind and strength" (D&C 4:2), then:

"Because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters" (Mosiah 5:7).

The spiritual rebirth described in this verse typically does not occur quickly or all at once; it is an ongoing process—not a single event. Line upon line and precept upon precept, gradually and almost imperceptibly, our motives, our thoughts, our words, and our deeds become aligned with the will of God. This phase of the transformation process requires time, persistence, and patience.

A cucumber only becomes a pickle through steady, sustained, and complete immersion in salt brine. Significantly, salt is the key ingredient in the recipe. Salt frequently is used in the scriptures as a symbol both of a covenant and of a covenant people. And just as salt is essential in transforming a cucumber into a pickle, so covenants are central to our spiritual rebirth.

We begin the process of being born again through exercising faith in Christ, repenting of our sins, and being baptized by immersion for the remission of sins by one having priesthood authority.

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life" (Romans 6:4).

And after we come out of the waters of baptism, our souls need to be continuously immersed in and saturated with the truth and the light of the Savior's gospel. Sporadic and shallow dipping in the doctrine of Christ and partial participation in His restored Church cannot produce the spiritual transformation that enables us to walk in a newness of life. Rather, fidelity to covenants, constancy of commitment, and offering our whole soul unto God are required if we are to receive the blessings of eternity.

"I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved" (Omni 1:26).

Total immersion in and saturation with the Savior's gospel are essential steps in the process of being born again.

Elder Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1956, First Day - Morning Meeting

Let us be reminded that we came into the Church of Jesus Christ through a cleansing and a purifying process. Believing that Jesus brought about our resurrection and put into operation the great plan of mercy by which our sins may be washed away in his blood, we developed a faith in him which moved us to repentance in the hope that we, by complying with the saving principles of the gospel, might be raised unto life eternal and gain an exaltation "through the atonement of Christ and the power of his resurrection." (Moroni 9:41.)

Then, in final preparation for Church membership, and as evidence of our willingness to take upon us the name of Christ and of our determination to keep his commandments, we were baptized by immersion for the remission of sin. As Jesus came forth from the tomb with a glorified body, having left all corruptibleness in the grave, so we through baptism should have buried in the watery grave the corruption of our sins, and come forth to walk in newness of life, never again to return to worldly lusts. Thus prepared we were confirmed members of the Church and given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Through these principles and ordinances we were cleansed and purified. Having thus washed our garments in the blood of Christ, we entered through the straight gate and stood redeemed on the narrow way which leads to life eternal. It should have then been, and it should now be, the controlling desire of every Church member, and it is the desire of every member who is on the way to eternal life always to retain this redeemed staus.

Elder Legrand Richards, Conference Report, April 1965, Third Day - Morning Meeting

I would like to make reference today to a few of my experiences. When I was president of a mission, a brother was on his way home from doing his branch teaching, and he saw my light burning, and he belled on, and said, "President Richards, I was just wondering, as I was going home, when I saw your light, if you would be interested in knowing what I was thinking." And I told him I certainly would. So he came in. He said, "I was thinking of who I was, and what I was when the Mormon elders came to my home, and who I am today and what I am, and I just can't believe that I am the same man." He said, "I have changed so much. I don't think the same thoughts. I don't have the same habits. I don't have the same ideals to live by. I have completely changed." Isn't that what the Apostle Paul meant when he said that we are buried with Christ in baptism and that as he arose to the glory of his Father that we should come forth and walk in a newness of life, knowing this first, that our old man of sin is buried with him? (Se Rom. 6:4.)

You can go all over this Church and apply that to all who have come in faith and have entered into the waters of baptism and have taken upon them the name of Christ our Lord. According to the statistics here today we had nearly 100,000 converts during the last year, people who have left the teachings of their youth and joined this Church because they found something in it that they did not already possess in their own churches.

Elder Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1963, Afternoon Meeting

In one who is wholly converted, desire for things inimical to the gospel of Jesus Christ has actually died, and substituted therefore is a love of God with a fixed and controlling determination to keep his commandments. Paul told the Romans that such a one would walk in newness of life. "Know ye not," he said, "that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?

"Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead . . . even so we also should walk in newness of life." (Rom. 6:3-4.)

Peter taught that by walking in this "newness of life" one escapes "the corruption that is in the world through lust," and by developing within himself faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness, and charity, he becomes a partaker "of the divine nature."

One who walks in newness of life is converted. On the other hand, says Peter, "But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins." (See 2 Pet. 1:1-9.) Such a one is not converted, even though he may have been baptized.

** On Sabbath Day morning, 8 March 2009, I delivered a Sacrament talk to the congregation of the Annapolis Maryland Ward entitled "Walk In Newness Of Life". **

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Romans 5:10-11 Reconciliation and Atonement

Hugh Nibley

“The word atonement is only found once in the New Testament. It's found a number of times in the Old Testament, but only once in the New Testament. And it's not found at all in the Revised Standard Version. They don't use atonement at all. The word doesn't even appear in the New Testament. They use instead reconciliation, keeping it quite literal, from reconcilio. Reconciliation means ‘to return and sit down beside somebody again.’ …You return and then you sit down. You sit down by the side of the Lord, and you sit down again because you've been there before. It's reconciliation. It's redemption. It's the redeeming. This means buying back something that he had before. We weren't just created out of nothing, you see. We are returning to his presence. We've been there before, and the whole thing is a sense of returning to his presence. That's what reconciliation is, which is the equivalent of atonement, …[Atonement] is not a Latin word. It's not a Greek or Hebrew word. Atonement a good old English word, a theological word. At-one-ment, being at-one with the family, to go out no more, as he says, ‘with all our holy fathers, to go no more out.’

“There's your solid security. You're home at last. You're back where you started from, and we hope that you're back with some added credentials, etc. The only passage [where atonement is found] is in Rom. 5:11 in the New Testament. There in the King James [translation] you'll find the word is atonement, but now in the Bible they use only reconciliation, which is a good word. We're reconciled.” (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon--Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988--1990 [Provo: FARMS], 214.)

Neal A. Maxwell

“The Atonement was itself an act of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:19). Jesus ‘hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us . . . that he might reconcile [us] unto God’ (Ephesians 2:14-16).

“The theme of reconciliation is often found in the Book of Mormon as well: ‘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 10:24).

“There is no such thing as one party reconciliation. ‘And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation’ (2 Corinthians 5:18). God stands ready to reconcile us to Him, waiting with open arms to receive us (Mormon 6:17). There is no such thing as a solo embrace.” (Not My Will, But Thine [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1998], 99.)

Bruce R. McConkie

“Nothing in the entire plan of salvation compares in any way in importance with that most transcendent of all events, the atoning sacrifice of our Lord. It is the most important single thing that has ever occurred in the entire history of created things; it is the rock foundation upon which the gospel and all other things rest. Indeed, all 'things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it,' the Prophet said. (Teachings, p. 121.)

“The doctrine of the atonement embraces, sustains, supports, and gives life and force to all other gospel doctrines. It is the foundation upon which all truth rests, and all things grow out of it and come because of it. Indeed, the atonement is the gospel…

“Salvation comes because of the atonement. Without it the whole plan of salvation would be frustrated and the whole purpose behind the creating and populating of the earth would come to naught. With it the eternal purposes of the Father will roll forth, the purpose of creation be preserved, the plan of salvation made efficacious, and men will be assured of a hope of the highest exaltation hereafter.” (Mormon Doctrine, “Atonement”, p. 60-61)

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Romans 6:1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?

“As hard as it was for Judaizers to accept the end of the Law of Moses, there were those in the ancient Church who went to the other extreme. These people have been called ‘antinomians,’ and they believed that the end of the Law gave them license to do as they pleased as long as they professed a belief in Christ. Some went so far as to claim that Christians, who were no longer bound by the Law of Moses, were even under an obligation to behave contrary to the commands of the Law. (See Rom. 6:15.) Particularly among the gentile churches, a misunderstanding of Paul’s teachings about the end of the Law of Moses caused some to believe that for Christians all laws and rules had been abolished.” (Stephen E. Robinson, “The Law after Christ,” Ensign, Sept. 1983, 73)

Nothing makes Satan happier than for the believers to think they can sin without consequences. This egregious error has persisted through the ages. It is a classic example of Satan taking a true doctrine—in this case the gift of grace—and distorting it for his evil purposes. Elder Talmage quoted one false teacher as follows:

“Even adultery and murder do not hurt the pleasant children, but rather work for their good. God sees no sin in believers, whatever sin they may commit…Though I blame those who say, let us sin that grace may abound, yet adultery, incest, and murder, shall upon the whole, make me holier on earth, and merrier in heaven.” (James E. Talmage, Articles of Faith [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 432.)

Joseph Smith

“…it is not right to sin that grace may abound.” (History of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:494)

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Romans 6:4-5 we are buried with him by baptism into death

The ordinance of baptism is symbolic of death and rebirth in two ways; Christ’s triumph over physical death and spiritual death are both represented. First, the natural man, the carnal man must die. He is an enemy to God. Baptism symbolizes that death as the body is laid in the water just as a corpse is laid in the tomb. The result is the birth of a new man, the man of Christ, a son or daughter of Christ. If one walks in ‘a newness of life,’ enduring to the end, he or she overcomes spiritual death. Joseph Fielding Smith said of Romans 6:6, “Here is a very definite statement that through baptism we have been transplanted from the life of sin to the life of faith and obedience to the kingdom of God. In other words obtained a spiritual resurrection, or transfer from the life of sin to the kingdom of God, where sin should no longer abound.” (Take Heed to Yourselves [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1966], 312.)

The second symbolic element is Christ’s triumph over physical death. All of us will die and our physical bodies will be laid in the tomb like the body is laid under water at baptism. Being brought out of the water at baptism represents being brought out of the grave by the power of the Resurrection. Hereby, we overcome physical death.

Both physical death and spiritual death must be overcome for us to live in the celestial kingdom. The very act of baptism by immersion beautifully symbolizes Christ’s triumph over the all the consequences of the Fall, allowing us to return to the presence of the Father.

Rudger Clawson

“Oh! how simple is this ordinance, to some perhaps even foolishness, that a man or woman, by going down into the water and being immersed can have his or her sins washed away. . . By study and reflection, we can see the beauty of the ordinance. We can see that it is typical of death and the resurrection, and that as man goes out of the grave to a newness of life, to immortality and eternal life, so he goes into the water of baptism, is buried therein, and comes forth again to a newness of life upon the earth. Being relieved of his sins, he is a new creature, with a new heart, with new prospects, and with bright and glorious hopes before him.” (Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 2: 187.)

Rulon S. Wells

“How completely then are the crucifixion and the resurrection of our Lord, these two historic events the greatest events of human history how beautifully are they symbolized in the holy ordinance of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. And what an unjustifiable change the sectarian world has perpetrated by substituting sprinkling in lieu of immersion, thus destroying utterly its sacred meaning, its beautiful symbolism of the death and burial of our Redeemer on the one hand and on the other his glorious resurrection.” (Conference Report, April 1937, Afternoon Meeting 69.)

Orson F. Whitney

“This shows that baptism, when properly administered, is a symbol of burial and resurrection—rebirth. But the symbolism must be perfect or the ordinance is void. To sprinkle or pour water upon the candidate for baptism, destroys the symbolism, or the poetry of the ordinance. It does not represent a birth—a burial and a resurrection. When the body is immersed, however,—and that is the meaning of the Greek term to baptize—descent into the grave is typified; and when the body is brought up out of the water, birth or coming forth from the grave is symbolized. To be baptized or resurrected is equivalent to being ‘born again.’ The soul, cleansed from sin, is typical of the soul raised to immortality. Such is the poetry of baptism and the resurrection.” (Latter-day Tracts [Pamphlets], “The Strength of the ‘Mormon’ Position,” 29.)

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Romans 7 Introduction

“Chapter seven of Romans might well be labeled ‘Paul: Before and After.’ It might also be classified as an explanation of how the power of Christ can change men's lives. In the King James Version, Paul sounds very much like a helpless and largely depraved individual who has little power to choose good and live according to the things of God. Paul is ‘carnal, sold under sin’ (Romans 7:14). Further, those things which he knows he should do, he does not do; that which he should not do, he does. ‘Now then it is no more I that do it,’ he adds, ‘but sin that dwelleth in me’ (Romans 7:17). It is not difficult to understand how many, from Augustine to Luther to Bible students in our own day, could conclude from Romans 7 that man is basically a depraved creature, incapable of moving in wisdom's paths.” (Robert L. Millet, Selected Writings of Robert L. Millet: Gospel Scholars Series [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 2000], 52.)

“Gross misunderstanding is frequently the result of reading "Rom. 7:1Romans 7 without the invaluable assistance of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible…It is to the modern seer, Joseph Smith, that we turn for profound insights—the restoration of plain and precious truths, either of content or of intent. The Joseph Smith Translation stresses man's inabilities to effect righteousness without Christ:” (Robert L. Millet, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 6: Acts to Revelation [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1987], 50.)

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Romans 7:9-24 when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died

This section of Romans 7 is the source of greatest confusion for readers. The Joseph Smith translation changes the passage so that it cannot be misinterpreted. But there is a lesson to be learned from Paul’s teaching method. Taken in correct context, his statements make perfect sense.

Elder McConkie noted: “The fact is that the philosophical problems facing his Roman readers were wholly different from those with which we wrestle today. We do not have the Mosaic background, and are not concerned with how the law of Moses died in Christ; we are not confronted with the problem of rationalizing away those performances which had been drilled into Israel for fifteen hundred years; we are not faced with the problem of showing that the gospel grew out of the Mosaic order… Nonetheless, Paul's argument, given of old, does have worth and merit for us; it enables us to get an overall view of God's dealings with men; it helps us understand better what we do have in the revealed religion which has come to us. In effect Paul is saying that the law of Moses was good in its day, that God gave it for a purpose, but that now it is dead, and in place thereof God has given a higher law to which all men must now turn for salvation.” (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 257.)

What is the context of Paul’s remarks? Romans 7:9-24 is a brilliant description of where we would be without the atoning sacrifice of the Savior. Herein, Paul is not speaking as an apostle; he is not speaking as one who enjoys the daily companionship of the Holy Ghost; he is not speaking as one who has been justified and sanctified by Christ. He is speaking as the natural man. In this chapter, Paul uses the terms “me” “myself” or “I” forty-two times. He does this because he is trying to explain where he would be without the atonement. Without Christ, Saul of Tarsus is spiritually dead. Without Christ, Saul of Tarsus is ‘carnal, sold under sin.’ (v. 14) Without Christ, Saul is truly a ‘wretched man’ (v. 24). Let’s paraphrase Paul in this context:

“I was innocent before I was subject to the law: but as soon as I was taught the law, I committed sin and died spiritually.

Even though the law was given to bring life, I found that I could not keep it perfectly and therefore, without Christ, it wrought death instead.

Without a redeeming sacrifice, sin casts me from the presence of God…”

The Romans who trusted in the Law of Moses failed to understand how much they needed the redeeming power of the Savior. They didn’t understand that without Christ, the law brings death not life. Now let’s apply this same context to the latter-day saints. Imagine where you would be without Christ (2 Ne. 9:7-10)! Without the atonement, even the law of the gospel is useless. Without the atonement, your baptism was nothing more than a gathering of family and friends. Without the atonement, your priesthood has no power. Without the atonement, your endowment and your temple marriage have no force in the world to come.

Without Christ, you are carnal and sold under sin. Without Christ, no good thing dwelleth in you. Without Christ, we are all left to exclaim, ‘O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?’

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Romans 8:1-2 There is…no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus

Paul tells us that those who walk after the Spirit are under no condemnation. But often, we don’t really believe him. So frequently we see members who try their best yet are overcome with feelings of guilt and inadequacy. How is this possible when they are under no condemnation? Paul is whispering in one ear, “your free from the power of sin by the Savior’s atonement.” Satan is whispering in the other ear, “you’re not good enough; Sister So-and-so is more spiritual than you; you missed your visiting teaching again.”

It would seem that many—too many—listen to Satan’s alluring siren rather than Paul’s liberating declaration of truth—that living by the Spirit makes one ‘free from the law of sin and death.’ That should also mean that we are free from feelings of inadequacy, guilt, and self-deprecation.

Chieko N. Okazaki

“We all have challenges to face that test our courage. I want you to know that the Savior is with us in our difficult moments. And I urge you to take courage and be of good cheer. It's hard enough to bear our burdens and go about our duty without weighting our steps down even more by a downcast countenance and by a mournful consciousness of how sad we are. I'm not saying we should put on a facade or lie to ourselves or others, but I am saying that we should choose the path of courage and cheer just as much as we possibly can. It will strengthen us. And we certainly don't need to take on the totally unnecessary burden of inappropriate guilt and feelings of inadequacy that come from comparing ourselves to others.” (Aloha! [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1995], 122.)

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Romans 8:6 to be spiritually minded is life and peace

Dallin H. Oaks

“To be spiritually minded is to view and evaluate our experiences in terms of the enlarged perspective of eternity.

“Each of us has a personal lens through which we view the world. Our lens gives its special tint to all we see. It can suppress some features and emphasize others. It can also reveal things otherwise invisible. Through the lens of spirituality, we can know ‘the things of God’ by ‘the Spirit of God.’ (1 Cor. 2:11.) As the Apostle Paul taught, such things are ‘foolishness’ to the ‘natural man.’ He cannot see them ‘because they are spiritually discerned.’ (See 1 Cor. 2:14.)

“How we interpret our experiences is also a function of our degree of spirituality. Some interpret mortality solely in terms of worldly accomplishments and possessions. In contrast, we who have a testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ should interpret our experiences in terms of our knowledge of the purpose of life, the mission of our Savior, and the eternal destiny of the children of God.

“Spirituality is not a function of occupation or calling. A scientist may be more spiritual than a theologian; a teacher may be more spiritual than an officer. Spirituality is determined by personal outlook and priorities. It is evident in our words and actions.” (“Spirituality,” Ensign, Nov. 1985, 61)

Joseph F. Smith

“…There are no more spiritually minded people on earth than the Latter-day Saints. There is no more prayerful people on earth than the Latter-day Saints. There is not another people who are nearer to God their Father than are the Latter-day Saints; for they have the right to go to Him in their secret chamber, at the altar of prayer in their own homes; they can bow down and get very near unto the Lord, nearer, I think, than any other people. I do not say it boastfully either; I say it as I believe it to be a simple truth. Does it not stand to reason that a man who has received the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands a man that has been born again of the water and of the Spirit, in accordance with the plan that God has instituted by which he may come into His fold, can get nearer to God than those that have not been born again, or those who have not been endowed with the Spirit of the Lord? Of course, it stands to reason, and it is consistent to claim that much for the Latter-day Saints. Our mothers, and the mothers of our children, whose hearts are filled with solicitude for the welfare of their children, having had conferred upon them the gift of the Holy Spirit, by the laying on of hands, can go to their secret chambers and bow down before God and commune with Him as no other mothers on earth can do…” (Conference Report, April 1912, 6 - 7.)

James E. Faust

“An important part of the spiritual being of all of us is the quiet and sacred part from which we may feel a sanctification in our lives. It is that part of us wherein no other soul intrudes. It is that part of us that permits us to come close to the divine, both in and out of this world. This portion of our beings is reserved only for ourselves and our Creator; we open the portals thereof when we pray. It is here that we retreat and meditate. It is possible for the Holy Ghost to abide in this special part of us. It is a place of special communion. It is the master cell of our spiritual battery. But this great energizer becomes dead when transgression creeps with stealth into our lives. The Romans were reminded: ‘For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.’ (Romans 8:6.)

“As we undertake to strengthen the inner soul, we move beyond concern for things that we can hold and possess. A wise man said: ‘The wealth of a soul is measured by how much it can feel; its poverty, by how little.’ (William Rounseville Alger.)” (To Reach Even unto You [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1980], 16.)

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Romans 8:16 we are the children of God

Howard W. Hunter

“As children of God, we learn in our young years to know our Heavenly Father in a childlike way, and if we follow the right course, the time comes when we understand the larger meaning of this relationship to our Heavenly Parent. We realize that we are made in his spiritual image as well as his physical image. In our more spiritual maturity, a whole new vista of reality opens to as; and we commence to understand the statement of Paul, who said, ‘The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.’ (Rom. 8:16.)” (Conference Report, October 1968, Afternoon Meeting 139.)

Elaine L. Jack

“I, too, have experienced what Paul taught when he said, ‘The Spirit beareth witness that we are children of God.’

“When you have that witness, then you know that you are part of God’s family, that Jesus Christ is your elder brother, and that you’ve inherited the characteristics of love, forgiveness, patience, service, tolerance, obedience. Christ is our example.” (“Identity of a Young Woman,” Ensign, Nov. 1989, 87)

Mark E. Petersen

“Then, being children of God, we can see our true destiny. And being thus related to him, as his children, we now see ourselves in an entirely new light—not as the descendants of ape-like creatures living an aimless existence, but as the descendants of Almighty God, with the possibility of becoming like him!

“Now we can understand the true place and dignity of man. Now we can see his infinite potential.

“As members of the family of God, we can know that he has placed us here on earth in a type of school that will help us to become like him, if we are willing to follow the curriculum.” (Conference Report, October 1968, General Priesthood Meeting 100 - 101.)

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Romans 8:17 if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ

One of the most common criticisms of LDS theology is that we believe that man has a divine potential. The biblical evidence for this is more than ample (see below), but still we are misrepresented. Paul’s declaration that we will be joint-heirs with Christ is one of the foundational scriptures which point to man’s potential to rise above and even ‘pass by the angels, and the gods…to [our] exaltation’ (DC 132:19). Being a joint-heir with Christ does not make us equal to Christ, but it does entitle us to all that he inherits from the Father, ‘he that receiveth my Father receiveth my Father’s kingdom; therefore all that my Father hath shall be given unto him’ (DC 84:38).

“It should be noted here that the LDS doctrine of deification is often misrepresented. Despite what our critics claim, the Latter-day Saints do not believe that human beings will ever become the equals of God, or be independent of God, or that they will ever cease to be subordinate to God. For Latter-day Saints, to become gods means to overcome the world through the atonement of Christ (1 Jn. 5:4-5; Rev. 2:7, Rev. 2:11). Thus we become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17; Gal. 4:7) and will inherit all things just as Christ inherits all things (1 Cor. 3:21-23; Revelation 21:7). There are no limitations on these scriptural declarations; we shall inherit all things-including the power to create and to beget. In that glorified state we shall look like our Savior (1 Jn. 3:2; 1 Cor. 15:49; 2 Cor. 3:18) we shall receive his glory and be one with him and with the Father (John 17:21-23; Philip. 3:21). Sitting with God upon the throne of God, we shall rule over all things (Luke 12:44; Rev. 3:21 ).

“Now, if the Christian scriptures teach that we will look like God, receive the inheritance of God, receive the glory of God, be one with God, sit upon the throne of God, and exercise the power and rule of God, then surely it cannot be un-Christian to conclude with C. S. Lewis and others that such beings as these can be called gods, as long as we remember that this use of the term gods does not in any way reduce or limit the sovereignty of God our Father. That is how the early Christians used the term; it is how C. S. Lewis used the term; and it is how the Latter-day Saints use the term and understand the doctrine.” (Stephen E. Robinson, Are Mormons Christians? [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1991], 65.)

Joseph Smith

“To become a joint heir of the heirship of the Son, [one] must put away all [one's] traditions.

“…“What is it? To inherit the same glory, power, and exaltation, with those who are gone before.

“[You will] enjoy the same rise, exaltation, and glory, until you arrive at the station of a God.

““They are exalted far above principalities, thrones, dominions, and angels, and are expressly declared to be heirs of God and joint heirs with Jesus Christ, all having eternal power.” (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 155.)

Delbert L. Stapley

“In the important doctrinal discourse known as the ‘King Follet Sermon’ [Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 342-62], the Prophet Joseph Smith, referring to those who ‘shall be heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ,’ described the joint heirship as inheriting the same power, the same glory, and the same exaltation, until an individual ascends to the station of Godhood and rises to the throne of eternal power, sharing the rewards with all the faithful who have preceded him.

“A joint-heir legally inherits and shares all equities and gifts in equal interest with all other heirs. Nothing is excluded nor adjusted in value between the participating joint-heirs. . . .

“If we are led by the Spirit of God in our lives, we are promised heirship with him and joint-heirship with Christ our Lord in the great estate of God's kingdom and glory. [Rom. 8:17.] We ‘suffer with Christ’ as we sacrifice the things of the world and yield complete obedience to every truth, principle, and ordinance of the gospel plan. Whatever we contribute in honest tithes and other contributions along with unselfish participation and service to our fellow men to build the kingdom off God on the earth, increases our personal joy and happiness in heirship with Christ the Lord. . . .

“The Father has promised his sons who receive the Holy Priesthood and faithfully abide by the conditions of its oath and covenant that they are to share in all that which the Father hath. The Father possesses kingdoms, thrones, principalities, powers, dominions, and exaltations. These the faithful will receive of him as heirs of God and joint-heirs with Jesus Christ. This promise—and the Lord will not fail—is a challenging encouragement for all to do his will. It is natural for a father to share his estate with his children. Our Heavenly Father is no exception. He does so with a binding covenant with his faithful sons: Listen to the words of this promise: [D&C 84:40, quoted.]

“The number sharing these great and choice blessings will be limited. It is unfortunate that so few will worthily prepare themselves and enter the strait gate and faithfully follow the narrow way to the end to earn the promising reward of eternal life and its joint-heirship with Christ of all that God the Father possesses.” (CR, April 1961, pp 66-67 as taken from Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 3: 80-81)

George Q. Cannon

“There is nothing that the Savior has attained unto that God's faithful children are not promised. They are promised the same blessings, the same power, the same authority, the same gifts, the same graces. I know that we are apt to think that heaven is a sort of spiritual place. It is spiritual; but God our Eternal Father is a being of power. He controls the earth and the inhabitants thereof; He controls the elements of the earth; and we are promised that we shall be sharers with Him. He will give us an equal interest in all this power and authority.” (CR, April 1899, pp. 64-65 as taken from Roy W. Doxey, comp., Latter-day Prophets and the Doctrine and Covenants [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1978], 3: 274.)

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Romans 9 Introduction

Taken out of context, this chapter has confused many students; it has supported the false doctrine of predestination. It is crucial to understand that Paul is speaking to the Jews who claimed salvation through Abraham and the Law of Moses rather than through Christ. He is explaining a potential contradiction—that the seed of Israel as a group are the covenant people according to the foreknowledge of God, but that children of Abraham as individuals cannot expect salvation if they reject the Savior.

Bruce R. McConkie

“Paul here begins to comment about foreordination or predestination…Paul simply comments about matters already known to and understood by his readers. He does not define or explain the doctrines in any detail. Unfortunately his comments have given rise to major misconceptions in the minds of sectarians who do not have the doctrinal and spiritual background to know what the Apostle means in the brief allusions he makes to the great gospel truths involved. Since the true doctrines of the gospel have been revealed anew in this day, the Latter-day Saints find themselves in a position comparable to that of the Roman Saints; they can understand Paul's teachings because they already know the doctrinal concepts to which he is alluding.” (Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3 vols. [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1965-1973], 2: 267)

Joseph Smith

“The whole of the chapter (Rom. 9) had reference to the Priesthood and the house of Israel; and unconditional election of individuals to eternal life was not taught by the Apostles. God did elect or predestinate, that all those who would be saved, should be saved in Christ Jesus, and through obedience to the Gospel; but He passes over no man’s sins, but visits them with correction, and if His children will not repent of their sins He will discard them.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 189)

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Romans 10:9 If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart…thou shalt be saved

Joseph Fielding Smith

“There are throughout the Christian world various opinions regarding what is necessary to bring about the salvation of men. Some there are who have accepted very literally, but without comprehending the meaning of it, the expression that was uttered by Paul to the Ephesians: ‘For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.’

“Those who accept that view as literally as it is recorded, without any reference to the context, disregard or reject the epistle of James which, apparently to them teaches a very different doctrine, for James says this: ‘Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?’

“And so the controversy has been going on since the days of the Reformation, if not before, in regard to these scriptures. Some men contending for the doctrine of James and some for the doctrine of Paul, both misunderstanding what Paul has written and what James has written, for in reality there is no conflict.

“The world is full of good, honest people who believe that all that is necessary for one to do in order to be saved is to confess the name of Jesus Christ with their lips. A professed minister of the gospel once told me that if the entire Bible were lost with the exception of one passage, that one verse would be enough to save the world. It is as follows:

‘If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.’

“Now, of course, this is a very extreme view. It would not be enough to save the world for the very good reason that the Lord has said unto us that we are to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God, and we are, as I have read to you, under the necessity of keeping his commandments.

“I desire to point out wherein there is no conflict whatever in the teachings of these two apostles of old; that Paul taught the doctrine that was taught by James; and James was in full accord with the doctrine that was taught by Paul—the fact being that thy were approaching the subject from different angles.

“Paul was dealing with the class of people who believed that a man could not be saved unless he subscribed to the law of Moses, that a man was under the necessity more or less of saving himself, and who denied the full power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

“James on the other hand was defending the necessity of works, counteracting the idea which prevailed among others, who professed faith in Christ, that if they had faith it was all-sufficient. Therefore they approached this subject from different viewpoints, and each of them taught the truth.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 3 vols., edited by Bruce R. McConkie [salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1954-1956], 2: 306.)

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Romans 10:17 faith cometh by hearing…the word of God

Joseph Smith

“Faith comes by hearing the word of God, through the testimony of the servants of God; that testimony is always attended by the Spirit of prophecy and revelation.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, 148)

John Taylor

“It is not the letter then that bringeth faith, but hearing the word of God dispensed by a living oracle or minister of God, clothed upon with power from on high. It is not a recorded gospel, but the preached word which emanates with power from a man of God inspired by the Holy Ghost. . . .” (The Gospel Kingdom: Selections from the Writings and Discourses of John Taylor, selected, arranged, and edited, with an introduction by G. Homer Durham [salt Lake City: Improvement Era, 1941], 332.)

Joseph Smith

“Every word that proceedeth from the mouth of Jehovah has such an influence over the human mind, the logical mind, that it is convincing without other testimony. Faith cometh by hearing. If ten thousand men testify to a truth you know, would it add to your faith? No. Or will one thousand testimonies destroy your knowledge of a fact? No.” (Kent P. Jackson, comp. and ed., Joseph Smith's Commentary on the Bible [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1994], 157 - 158.)

Gene R. Cook

“As you hear someone's testimony, your faith has a chance to increase. Your faith in the fact that God lives begins to grow and develop. Think of the words of Paul: ‘Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’ (Romans 10:17.) Some ask, ‘Do we really need to attend our meetings? Do we need to go where the servants of the Lord are preaching the gospel?’ My answer would be, ‘If you want your faith to increase, you need to be there.’” (Living by the Power of Faith [salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1985], 36.)

Jeffrey R. Holland

Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.’

“Now, at a time when our prophet is calling for more faith through hearing the word of God, we must revitalize and reenthrone superior teaching in the Church—at home, from the pulpit, in our administrative meetings, and surely in the classroom. Inspired teaching must never become a lost art in the Church, and we must make certain our quest for it does not become a lost tradition.

President Spencer W. Kimball once pled: ‘Stake presidents, bishops, and branch presidents, please take a particular interest in improving the quality of teaching in the Church. … I fear,’ he said, ‘that all too often many of our members come to church, sit through a class or a meeting, and … then return home having been largely [uninspired]. It is especially unfortunate when this happens at a time … of stress, temptation, or crisis [in their life]. We all need to be touched and nurtured by the Spirit,’ he said, ‘and effective teaching is one of the most important ways this can happen. We often do vigorous work,’ President Kimball concluded, ‘to get members to come to Church but then do not adequately watch over what they receive when they do come.’ On this subject President Hinckley himself has said, ‘Effective teaching is the very essence of leadership in the Church.’ May I repeat that. ‘Effective teaching is the very essence of leadership in the Church. Eternal life,’ President Hinckley continued, ‘will come only as men and women are taught with such effectiveness that they change and discipline their lives. They cannot be coerced into righteousness or into heaven. They must be led, and that means teaching.’” (“A Teacher Come from God,” Ensign, May 1998, 25-26)

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Romans 10:19-21 But I say, Did not Israel know?

Being of the house of Israel according to the flesh is not enough to guarantee salvation. The Jews of the time, however, preached otherwise. Therefore, as in the last chapter, Paul gives scriptural examples of the disobedience of the Jews and prophecies concerning the salvation of the Gentiles. In verse 19, the Jews are provoked by their neighbors because of their own wickedness. In verse 20, the Lord is found by a people that ‘sought me not,’ meaning the Gentiles. In verse 21, the Jews are again described as disobedient—even ‘a disobedient and gainsaying people.’

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