Hi Ben, my name is Eli. I have a few comments about your article.
You quoted Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
When Jesus said this, the last thing in His mind was the L.D.S. plan of salvation. In fact, the gospel of Mormonism is not easy... it is impossible, giving no rest to those who follow it. Jesus really meant, "Come unto me and I will give you rest." However, in Mormonism, coming unto Jesus means work, work, work.
When a person comes to Jesus in Mormonism, they must come by a strict requirement of repentance and obedience; a person must be worthy to come to Jesus. Even the definition of faith in L.D.S. doctrine is: "Having such trust in Christ that we obey whatever he commands. There is no faith where there is no obedience." (Gospel Principles, p.118) Spencer Kimball said, "Faith involves doing everything we can." (Faith Precedes the Miracle, p.205) "We have to work at it." (ibid.) No rest here.
In Mormonism, a person must be worthy to be baptized. Repentance precedes all the blessings in the L.D.S. religion. Nothing comes for nothing, as you yourself have written. Joseph Smith taught: "All those who humble themselves before God, and desire to be baptized, and come forth with broken hearts and contrite spirits, and witness before the church that they have truly repented of all their sins . . . shall be received by baptism into his church." (D&C Section 20:37) What is repentance? As taught by Smith himself and the L.D.S. Church, repentance is only repentance if there is a complete forsaking of sin. "By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins—behold, he will confess them and forsake them." (D&C 58:42-43) I know that you know this.
There is nothing easy about Mormonism. The opposite is true: Mormonism is impossible. The Jesus of Mormonism speaks with a soft, kind voice but asks for the impossible. He lays heavy burdens on men's shoulders which they are not able to carry.
And no Mormon can make an excuse, such as, "He knows I will fail." "He only asks me to try." "He knows I'm only human." The late President Spencer W. Kimball said concerning these excuses: "There is one crucial test of repentance. This is the abandonment of the sin... The saving power does not extend to him who merely wants to change his life... Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin... To 'try' is weak. To 'do the best I can' is not strong. We must do better than we can." (The Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 163-165)
Kimball is not being untrue to Mormon Scripture. 1 Nephi 3:7 removes any excuse from people who say what the Lord asks is too hard, too difficult: "For I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." Therefore, whatever God commands He expects you to do, and you have no excuse for not doing it. Your best IS obedience. All that you can do IS all that God commands.
So the Mormon gospel isn't good news for sinners. Grace comes at a cost. Forgiveness requires work. The atonement cannot be received without repentance: "We accept Christ's atonement by repenting of our sins..." (Gospel Principles, p. 75) If you don't repent of all your sins, which even the Mormon Jesus said, "won't be easy, but it will be possible", then you haven't received the atonement and you are still lost and will perish in your sins.
Ben, have you repented of all your sins? If not, you have not accepted the atonement, your baptism is disqualified, and you will perish.
There is no excuse you can give, because the only reason you don't obey is because you don't exercise your free agency to obey, showing that you really have no faith, or real intent. As a Mormon, doesn't that concern you?
I've never met a Mormon who has repented. Mormons are trying to repent, but repentance isn't repentance until it's repentance. All Mormons are striving, not resting. The Jesus of Mormonism gives men a heavy yoke of labor which they continually fail to bear.
But the true Jesus of the Bible actually meant what He said when He said:
"Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."
The true gospel of Jesus Christ liberates us from striving to earn the impossible. Christ actually frees us from our own work and labors. "For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works." (Hebrews 4:10) The good news of the gospel is that because we could not do any work for God (for all our righteousnesses are filthy rags in God's sight, Isaiah 64:6), Jesus Christ gave His life on the cross so that we could be fully forgiven and accepted by God through His shed blood and that alone. The New Testament teaches us that God promises eternal life freely to all those who simply receive Christ by faith. The moment a sinner believes on Christ alone, and ceases working, they are considered 100% righteous before God:
"Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted unto righteousness." (Romans 4:4-5)
Wow! That is rest! Christians have rested in the finished work of Christ for them and have to do no works at all for their justification (being made righteous before God). Now they are free to serve God with thanksgiving and joy, not for hire! They are fully forgiven by the blood of Jesus (Colossians 1:13-14). "Having forgiven you all trespasses." (Colossians 2:13) None of their sins are anymore counted against them (Romans 4:6-8)! Eternal life is theirs! No separation from Heavenly Father!
That is how much God truly loves. Consider this example: Suppose you have a house that is entirely unpainted. The house represents your righteousness, and to the extend that it is painted is the extend that you are righteous. God doesn't "love" you insofar that He gives you a paint brush and a paint-can so that you can get to work painting your house (as in Mormonism). He loves you so much that He paints the whole house for you! For Mormons, the atonement of Christ is a means to WORK. But for Christians, the atonement of Christ is a means to REST, just as the Bible says.
Ben, Mormonism does not offer rest. The forgiveness of your sins is solely dependent on your personal obedience day by day, as you yourself have written. You have to work to "retain" the forgiveness of sins! The true rest Jesus gives is final because it does not depend on our works but upon Christ alone. The righteousness that He gives by virtue of Himself is steadfast and unchanging. The day you come to Jesus is the day you will understand His rest.
Ben, I pray that you would become overwhelmed with the heavy burden of Mormonism, realize that you are a vile sinner who disobeys God, that you would cry out to the real Jesus for deliverance from hopeless striving, and come to understand that it is only through the shed blood of Christ alone that you can be right with God.
With loving concern,