What Must I Do To Be Saved?
Proclaiming the
in Utah

A few weeks ago I was on the BYU campus to meet with a friend. We rendezvoused at the Wilkinson Center and as I waited for him to grab a bit of food I picked up a copy of the Winter 2011 BYU Magazine for later reading. Inside I came upon a very telling article.

Page 33, “Gratitude–A Commandment of God”. The author, Mrs. Samuelson, mentions a story recounted by Corrie ten Boom in the book The Hiding Place [New York: Bantam, 1971, pp. 197-199, 208-209]. Corrie had originally demured from thanking God for the fleas in their prison barracks yet her sister Betsie insisted and ultimately they both did thank God “even for the fleas.” Samuelson writes that “Corrie was struck by the blessing that came from her obedience to thank God in all circumstances.” The guards stayed away from their barracks because they did not want to enter the flea infested space. As a result, the sisters were able to retain possession of their Bible and share Christ with their fellow prisoners.

Trouble is, Samuelson mistakes some facts. She claims the blessing “came from [Corrie's] obedience.” Did it?

The actual story goes like this: Corrie was reading from 1Thessalonians 5.16-18: Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Betsie immediately resolves to thank God for various things. Corrie is thankful they are together; Betsie adds the Bible they smuggled in; also the crowded conditions that result in more people hearing the Word; finally, “the fleas.” Corrie steadfastly refuses, “Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.” Betsie calmly replies, “… Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.” Corrie recounts, “And so we stood between piers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”

In the weeks that followed they read their Bible nightly to the women in the barracks. Soon they read it twice a day as more and more women listened. One day Betsie informed Corrie she knew why no one had bothered their Bible studies–because of the fleas; the guards wouldn’t step through the door because of the fleas. Corrie recalled, “My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.”

So, did the blessing of safety and freedom to read the Bible come from Corrie’s obedience? Obviously not! God blessed them despite Corrie’s disobedience/begrudged pseudo-obedience! Corrie’s prayer was actually sinful and has no ground of merit. The Bible says, whatsoever is not of faith is sin (Romans 14.23). Corrie admits she did not believe the initial prayer was valid, so she lacked faith, and thus was sinning. Clearly she was not obeying. Thus God clearly was not rewarding her obedience.

Unfortunately Mrs. Samuelson has changed the facts of the story to fit her Mormon Theology rather than telling the story as it actually happened, which better fits the ten Boom’s Christian Theology.

You see, God treats us all far better than we deserve. Those who receive his Grace and are Saved do not first obey. They obey after they receive his grace. As the Apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 2.5-9: … even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)… 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.

The sinner is dead when God does the miraculous work in him. A dead man does not reach out for a Savior. The Savior comes to him and gives him life.

Importantly, once the man is alive he then acts accordingly by doing good works. Again, as Paul states it in the verse that follows (v10): For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. Even the good works are planned by God. Salvation and the fruit that follow from it are 100% of God.

I am grateful for Mrs. Sameulson’s article because it highlights the difference between Mormonism and biblical Christianity.

In the Mormon religion man attempts his own salvation by trying to obey the commands and ordinances, then he looks for God’s blessing. In the Christian religion man gratefully receives God’s gracious blessing, admits he continually fails to obey the commands, humbly confesses his failings, receives God’s forgiveness, rests upon Christ’s righteousness (realizing he has none of his own to offer!), and then does good works with no boasting because God prepared them for him.

Ah grace, glorious grace! Beats presumed merit any day.

Category: Apologetics Topics: , ,

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