"John you will notice that a lot of these scriptures require an action of some kind on our part".
- Verse #1. Acts 10:35 - but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.
Well from the very beginning we can see that this verse isn't talking about a person and their righteousness. It is about an entire nation. However I am REALLY BIG on context so let's look at the paragraph that this verse is in.
Acts 10:34-38 Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached— how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how HE went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.
So as you can see the context of this passage has nothing to do with anything we do so let's move on the next one shall we...
- Verse #2. Mathew 3:15 Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.”
Well this verse taken out of context would appear to prove his point but what is the "it" he is referring to? Let's look.
Mathew 3:13-16 Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to be baptized by John. But John tried to deter him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Jesus replied, “Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness.” Then John consented.
Well we can see the "it" is Baptism now. However is it something that must be done to be righteous? This isn't talking about anything we need to do. It is talking about the Baptism of Jesus. So this passage doesn't fit Stephens argument.
- Verse #3. Matthew 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness
Does this passage need any further explanation? I think anyone who wants to be closer to God has a hunger and thirst for righteousness. Does this imply that anything we do achieves that goal on our own merits? No.
- Verse #4. Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you
Yet again I think all believers would agree that we seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Does this ever imply we will achieve it on our merits? No. And what are these things that will be added to us. It is talking about the small things in life for if he takes care of the plants and birds he will surely take care of us.
- Verse #5. Romans 5:17 For if by the one man’s offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
Of all the verses he would try and cherry pick I think this is possible one of the worst to try and prove his case. The one man's offense it is referring to is Adams, and then it goes into grace and the gift of righteousness. If it is a gift then it wasn't anything you did to earn it. Again the credit goes to Jesus and not us.
- Verse #6. Romans 6:18 And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.
O.K. Maybe I was wrong. This has got to be the worst possible verse to prove his case. This tells us that we were set free from sin before we achieved any kind of righteousness. Nothing leading up to.
- Verse #7. Romans 8:4 that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Well for starters I think we need to take a look at the prior verse. It goes "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh". Well there goes his argument with this verse. Right out of the gate we see that our salvation is not dependent upon our merits.
- Verse #8. 1 Corinthians 15:34 Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.
Now we may just be getting somewhere. This verse would appear to help his cause as it sits. Let's look at the prior verses. Verses 29-33 Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour? I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. If, in the manner of men, I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantage is it to me? If the dead do not rise, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die!” Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”
Now this could go down a completely different issue when it comes to Mormonism with Baptism for the Dead. Without going way off topic I think we can see that this has nothing to do with any merits on our part but in what company we keep.
- Verse #9 Ephesians 6:14 Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness
Now again at face value this would appear to help his cause. However who is this passage addressing? It is talking to those who are already Christians. It is talking about the Armor of God in order to resist the devil. I see no part of this section talking about us being able to make ourselves righteous.
- Verse #10. Ephesians 5:9 for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth.
I think we would all agree with this verse. For if you have the spirit in you should display goodness, righteousness, and truth. And if that isn't enough verse 8 says "For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light". The following verses say " And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret. But all things that are exposed are made manifest by the light, for whatever makes manifest is light." I think it is safe to say that this could be applied to Mormonism but not in the light Stephen was shooting for. It is because of verses like this that I and many others stand up against Mormonism and its so called fruits.
- Verse #11. 2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts; but pursue righteousness, faith, love, peace with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
Again Stephen I think we would all agree that we need to pursue righteousness. I again see nowhere that it says anything we do will make us so. If we read the context of this passage we see it again is talking about us standing up against those who proclaim the wrong message.
- Verse #12. James 3:18 Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
I have no argument against this verse, but what does it have to do with any part of our merits making us righteous? I would like to think the passage this verse is in is talking about wisdom and yielding to his spirit. Not about any of our merits making us righteous.
Last but not least...
- Verse #13. 1 John 3:6-11 Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him. Little children, let no man deceive you: he that doeth righteousness is righteous, even as he is righteous. He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil. Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother. For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.
Instead of me trying to explain this I will leave this to Pastor Marc Estes.
And Pastor Frank Damazio.
So in conclusion we can see that LDS apologists will make any efforts they can to sway the investigators to believing their efforts and yours have an impact on our salvation and righteousness. I pray that the message of the cross can impact all members of the LDS church and help them realize their efforts are in vain and need to lay all their cares at the cross.