Your goal as a mentor is not just to convince transitioning Mormons that LDS theology is wrong, but to graciously to help them understand God’s good news in such a way that they embrace God’s grace and entrust their life and eternity to Jesus alone. Here are some thoughts on how to clarify God’s good news for former Latter-day Saints.
Jesus Paid It All and We Can Not Add Anything to What He Has Done.
Some people envision salvation as being partly by God’s grace and partly by our good works. But the Bible teaches that grace and works are mutually exclusive approaches (Romans 11:6). It’s not a matter of doing our best, and expecting Jesus to make up the rest. Jesus does it all. We can’t add anything to improve on what he has already done. All we can do is trust in his finished work.
[Related: How to Know Where You Stand with God]
Yet a changed life is the natural result of faith. In Christ,we become new people (2 Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 2:20-21). We receive a new, supernatural life (Ephesians 2:4-5) and new nature (Ephesians 4:22-24). Good works flow out of our relationship with God.
Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Good works are not the cause of salvation, but they reflect our new identity in Christ (Ephesians 5:8-10). Out of our love and gratitude, we want to follow him and serve him.
[Related: Understanding Grace and Faith After Mormonism]
[Related: Does Grace Mean I Can Do What I Want?]
There Are Several Things for Former Mormons to Learn About Salvation.
It helps to understand some of the issues about salvation that often come up with former Mormons.
- Experiencing grace. Many former LDS find it difficult to translate an understanding of grace into practice. They may have a hard time overcoming the sense that their worth before God depends on personal performance. They often cannot shake the feeling that they need to measure up to some behavioral standard to be accepted by God or to have a good standing in the faith community.
[Related: What Is Grace?]
[Related: Living in Grace After Mormonism]
[Related: Understanding Forgiveness after Mormonism]
- Extending grace. Some former LDS have trouble extending God’s grace to others. They struggle with a tendency to judge others based on outward appearance, or have a hard time accepting people who don’t measure up.
- Forever families. Most Mormons believe that families can be bound together eternally. This is a difficult concept to give up, but the Bible teaches that marriage is for this life only (Matthew 22:29-30; Revelation 19:6-8).
- Second-chance salvation. Transitioning Mormons often struggle with the fate of people apart from Christ, especially relatives who have died. But the Bible teaches that this life is the appointed time to get right with God. Be sensitive here. We cannot know any other person’s standing with God because we cannot know their heart or how God may have revealed himself to them.
- Baptism. Former LDS often hesitate to be baptized because they equate baptism with joining a church or placing themselves under religious authority. Or they fear that re-baptism will cause opposition from their Mormon family. The Bible teaches that baptism does not save us, nor is it about church membership, but it is a vitally important outward symbol. Make sure you take time to clarify the differences about baptism.
[Related: What About Baptism? Mormon vs. Christian]
Jesus Is Central and Primary.
Above all else, help your friend understand that in traditional, biblical Christianity, the focus is all about Jesus. It’s not about church or some prophet, or regulations and ordinances. Jesus is central. Jesus is primary. This is the answer to perfectionism and legalism. Make sure your own faith is robustly Jesus-centered.
Watch Your Attitude.
A transition from one worldview to another doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not easy to peel away everything you thought and trusted in, to approach God on a different basis. It’s not easy to let go of one’s sense of spiritual adequacy to admit you are a sinner in need of deliverance. So don’t expect instant conformity. Your friend will have a lot of questions, so be patient and gentle. Don’t mock their former beliefs, and don’t pressure them to adopt new ideas. Don’t expect them to believe anything just because you or some pastor said so. Give them good answers. Point them to reliable resources. Be sure to pray for your friend. Your friend doesn’t just need patient understanding and good information, but a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit to change his or her heart.
[Related: Foundations for Mormons]