I Never Knew You – Part 1

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Chris

I was listening to an October 2016 General Conference address given by LDS Apostle David Bednar

Elders lets look at a talk given by Apostle David Bednar at the October 2016 General Conference.

Elder Smith

Is that the one titled, “I never knew you?” 

Chris

That’s the one.  Elder Bednar began his talk with a passage taken from the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:21-23.  His point was to emphasize that, the Lord’s statement in the King James Version, “I never knew you,” was changed in the Joseph Smith Translation to read “Ye never knew ME.”  

Then Elder Bednar recites in the King James Bible the Parable of the Ten Virgins found in Matthew 25:1-12, where Jesus tells the foolish virgins “I know ye not.”  And again, Elder Bednar explains that the King James Version was changed in the Joseph Smith Translation to read, Ye know ME not.” 

At the end of his talk found on lds.org or ChurchofJesusChrist.org – under references – you’ll find the footnotes to these JST passages. 

Elder Young

Thats why we believe Joseph Smith to be an inspired prophet of God.

Chris

Yeah well, it’s interesting the Lord inspired Joseph Smith to revise the word of God by taking out the incorrect wording and replacing it with what should have been in there.  But Elder Bednar makes a critical mistake in using the Joseph Smith Translation to prove his point.

Elder Smith

How so?

Chris

If we turn to the Book of Mormon – which is claimed to be the “most correct book,” – we find the Sermon at the temple in Bountiful, where Jesus supposedly appeared to the Nephites following His resurrection.  Would you please read 3 Nephi 14:23?

Elder Smith

 

“And then will I profess unto them: I never knew you; depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”  

Chris

Notice anything there?

Elder Young

3 Nephi 14:23 is word-for-word the same as it is in the King James Version of Matthew 7:23.

Chris

Exactly, including the same phrase “I never knew you.” 

Elder Smith

Look, here in the footnote of 3 Nephi 14:23.  It cross-references another Book of Mormon passage, Mosiah 26:27 “And then I will confess unto them that I never knew them; and they shall depart into everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” 

Chris

Do you see the mistake Elder Bednar made in using the Joseph Smith Translation?

Elder Young

It seems that the Book of Mormon agrees the King James Version and not the Joseph Smith Translation.  That’s confusing.

Chris

I think it’s very clear.  You not only have two verses in the King James Bible – but also two verses in the Book of Mormon – which was supposedly translated by the gift and power of God – that differ with the Joseph Smith Translation. 

Elder Smith

I wonder why – If it was good enough for the Lord to be quoted in the Bible and substantiated in the Book of Mormon – why did Joseph Smith feel it necessary to change the Lord’s words in his Inspired Version? 

Chris

And what was Elder Bednar thinking?  Why, is the footnote in Elder Bednar’s talk only referencing Matthew 7 and not, 3 Nephi 13 and Mosiah 26

Elder Young

I don’t know.

Chris

Is it because Joseph Smith copied the “Sermon at the temple” in 3 Nephi from the King James Bible “Sermon on the Mount?”

 

Look Elders – If you have a modern-day apostle telling its members in a world-wide General Conference that the Bible is wrong and the Joseph Smith Translation is inspired – in spite of what was just pointed out in the Book of Mormon – as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what do you do with that information?  

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Acts 22-28 ~ Come Follow Me

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Is there any comparison between Paul’s vision of Christ on the road to Damascus and Joseph Smith’s vision in the woods in New York? 

 This will be our last lesson from the Book of Acts.  The manual states that Paul’s “errand from the Savior was ‘to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel’ (Acts 9:15).  In chapters 22-28 of Acts, we see Paul fulfilling this errand and facing great opposition – chains, imprisonment, physical abuse, a shipwreck, and even a snake attack.  But we also see that Jesus ‘stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul’ (Acts 23:11).”

Paul had been falsely accused, arrested, and kept in prison for a couple of years by Felix the Roman ruler of Judea.  When Felix was replaced by Festus as ruler – Paul was brought before him.  Acts 25:7-8 “And when he was come, the Jews which came down from Jerusalem stood around about, and laid many and grievous complaints against Paul, which they could not prove.  While he answered for himself, Neither against the law of the Jews, neither against the temple, nor yet against Caesar, have I offended any thing at all.”  The high priest and others wanted Festus to send Paul to Jerusalem in order that he might be killed there.  The reason is because Paul had preached openly about Jesus being crucified for the sins of the world and he affirmed that Jesus rose from the dead.  Had Festus been persuaded by their rhetoric – it is possible that he would have been killed.  But God had promised Paul back in Chapter 23 that he would “bear witness to the truth at Rome,” and nothing was going to stop that from happening.  So, Paul was kept at Caesarea.  Acts 25:10 “Then said Paul, I stand at Caesar’s judgment seat, where I ought to be judged: to the Jews have I done no wrong, as thou very well knowest.”  Festus did not dare deny Paul the protection of the Roman laws, since Paul was a Jewish Roman citizen.  Acts 25:12 “Then Festus, when he had conferred with the council, answered, Hast thou appealed unto Caesar? Unto Caesar shalt thou go.”

Days later, King Agrippa and his sister Bernice, who was also his unlawful wife,  came to Caesarea to pay Festus a visit.  This Agrippa was the son of Herod Agrippa who was the great grandson of Herod the Great.  He was known as Agrippa II.  Festus explains Paul’s situation to Agrippa and says that he insisted that Paul get a fair hearing even though the Jewish leaders wanted to convict him.  Acts 25:22 “Then Agrippa said unto Festus, I would also hear the man myself, Tomorrow, said he, thou, shalt hear him.”  So, the next day Paul is brought before Agrippa and Bernice.  Which brings us to Paul and his eloquent response in chapter 26.   Verses 1-3 “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, thou art permitted to speak for thyself.  Then Paul stretched forth the hand, and answered for himself: I think myself happy, King Agrippa, because I shall answer for myself this day before thee touching all the things whereof I am accused of the Jews: Especially because I know thee to be expert in all customs and questions which are among the Jews: wherefore I beseech thee to hear me patiently.”  Paul was openly telling Agrippa that he was blessed to have someone who could understand where he was coming from.  Remember Agrippa was a Jew, himself.  At Verse 4 Paul begins his actual speech.  He recounts his youth as a Jew and becoming an educated Pharisee.  He knew and lived and followed the Law and traditions of the elders.  Then the bomb!  Verse 6 “And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers.”  In other words, Paul is proving that what he is offering the world is a fulfillment of what they as a nation had long taught and believed.  And what was this that Paul was saying – God promised unto the forefathers of the faith – the HOPE of the promise!  The promise had been given all throughout the Old Testament that the Hope of Israel – the Messiah would come.  Paul was saying that God was true, and he, Paul, was a witness to this Messiah, even Jesus Christ.  That the Messiah did come and do what God said He would do.  Having established this Paul now asks Verse 8 “Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?”  I think the bottom line to it all is that they rejected the resurrection of Jesus – because if they accepted it, they would have had to let go of their former ideas and beliefs and allow Christ to reign.  That was too much for them. 

At this point, Paul steps back into his biography and begins to admit in Verses 9-18 that he himself had things against this Jesus of Nazareth.  So, Paul is retelling here an account of his conversion whereby he presents the evidence that he was called of God to do what he had done.  I need to mention that the manual states: “The book of Acts contains three accounts of Paul’s miraculous vision on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:3-20; 22:1-21; 26:9-20).  Each of these accounts is slightly different from the others, and some provide more detail than others.  Because the accounts were told to different audiences for different purposes, it is reasonable that Paul chose to emphasize different parts of the experience for each audience.”  I can’t argue with that statement.  But then the manual tries to compare the three accounts of Paul’s vision by stating that: “Similarly Joseph Smith recorded several accounts of his First Vision (see “First Vision Accounts,” Gospel Topic Essays, lds.org).  The various accounts were given to different audiences for different purposes and provide insights that would not be available if only one account existed.”   The book of Acts from which we have all three accounts of Paul’s vision was authored or written by one person, Luke.  There is also one account in Galatians 1:11-16 in addition to several references to Paul’s vision, conversion, or commission elsewhere in Paul’s epistles (1 Corinthians 9:1-2; 15:8-9; Romans 1:4-5; Ephesians 3:1-8; 1 Timothy 1:12-16; 2:7; 2 Timothy 1:11-12).  Luke agrees independently with Paul’s epistles with regard, to the “who, what, when, where, and why” of Paul’s vision of Jesus Christ.  Since Peter and other apostles accepted Paul as an apostle – clearly they had accepted his claim that the resurrected Christ had appeared to him.  As an apostle, Paul articulated a revolutionary way of life based on love that broke down barriers and lifted human beings.  Paul lived a life devoid of material wealth, power, and sexual fulfillment yet without advocating retreat from ordinary life.  Paul suffered unjustly and repeatedly throughout his ministry and finally died for his testimony to the risen Christ. 

The LDS church’s approach to deflecting criticisms of Joseph Smith’s – nine first vision accounts – are to argue that similar issues pertain to Paul’s vision.  However, the comparative argument fails because it is based on isolated points of comparison rather than on comparing the two cases of Paul and Joseph as wholes.  It is evident that the case for Paul’s vision is quite strong, while the case AGAINST Joseph’s vision is just as strong.  The Mormons often point out that there are differences in the various New Testament accounts of Paul’s “first vision” of the risen Christ.  No one argues that Joseph Smith should have told the story with the same details and in the same words every time.  Thus, it is irrelevant that Luke’s report of Paul’s defense before Agrippa has a lengthier account of Jesus’ words to Paul than Luke’s other, parallel accounts of the same event.  Specifically, Mormons appeal to the apparent discrepancy as to whether Paul’s companions heard Christ’s voice or not (Acts 9:7; 22:9).  An obvious explanation of the discrepancy is that in Acts 9:7 they heard the voice, while in Acts 22:9 means they did not understand the voice.  The Mormons would argue that if Acts can have discrepancies in its accounts of Paul’s vision, and yet that vision still have taken place, Joseph Smith can have discrepancies in his accounts of his own vision and yet that vision still have occurred.  But this argument fails for three reasons:  First, the apparent discrepancy in Acts is a very minor, inconsequential difference that has nothing to do with the credibility of Paul’s having seen the risen Christ.  The difference does not come close to being as significant as whether Joseph saw God the Father!  Second, the discrepancies in Joseph’s multiple accounts of the First Vision are significant because the accounts were given at various times over a period of several years and paralleled his evolving theology during those years from monotheist to polytheist.  Nothing like that is going on with the accounts in Acts.  These accounts appear in the same book, produced at the same time, and therefore cannot be evidence of Paul (or Luke) changing the story with the passing of time.  Third, there are good reasons to think that the two statements in Acts are not contradictory after all, but complementary.  To say that someone could not “hear” what someone else said – can mean that he did not hear the sounds – or that he did not hear them well enough to make out the specific words.  Paul’s vision of Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus enjoys rich evidential support and is critical as an explanation for his dramatic conversion from persecutor of the church to apostle to the Gentiles.  By contrast, Joseph Smith’s vision of Jesus Christ and God the Father in 1820 is not only sorely lacking in evidence but is utterly lacking in credibility on a wide array of fronts.  That is why the manual’s attempt to compare Paul and Joseph’s visions is neither logical nor reasonable.

Then Paul ends his speech before King Agrippa by saying in Verses 19-23 that he did what God had called him to – by preaching the Good News to the Jews and then to the Gentiles, “that they should repent and turn to God.”  “That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles.”  In hearing this, Festus shouts at Paul “are you mad?”  Paul calmly replies in Verse 25 “I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth the words of truth and soberness.”  Built into Paul’s response is the challenge: Test what I am saying against scripture.  Challenge my testimony or witness but do not prematurely decide that I am wrong until you do.  After defending his words of truth and wisdom, Paul turns to King Agrippa who was a Jew and says in Verse 26 “For the king knoweth of these things, before whom also I speak freely: for I am persuaded that none of these things are hidden from him; for this thing was not done in a corner.”  Agrippa would have been well acquainted with Moses and the prophets, the expectation of a Messiah, and the promise of His coming.  He would have known of Pilate and Jesus’ death and perhaps even heard of His resurrection.

At this point Paul directly asks and answers for Agrippa.  Verse 27 “King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets?  I know thou believest.”  When he asked Agrippa, “do you believe the prophets?”  Perhaps the King swallowed hard, and the expression on his face gave away his conviction.  Because after a moment – Paul said kindly, “I know you believe.”  After Paul confirms this knowledge to King Agrippa, the Spirit was calling to the man.  And in that space, the king had a choice.   Verse 28 “Then Agrippa said unto Paul, Almost thou persuades me to be a Christian.”  We all want King Agrippa opportunities in life.  We may have helped someone come to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior – but it is not our job to convert anyone.  That responsibility is the Holy Spirit’s.  Ultimately, the person has to choose.  Considering the fact that Agrippa was a King sold out to the Romans, was illegally married to his own sister Bernice, and he was rich – there was just too much for him to lose – too much at stake.  Verse 29 “And Paul said, I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, except these bonds.”  Paul is saying – this is my earnest desire, that with the exception of these chains, this bondage that I am in, I would to God that all within my voice could be as I am.  There was nothing Paul could do to overcome Agrippa’s heart – that would need to be a work of God.  Verse 32 “Then said Agrippa unto Festus, This man might have been set at liberty, if he had not appealed unto Caesar.” 

The rest of the chapters in the Book of Acts chronicle Paul’s harrowing voyage to Rome – as a prisoner where he was to be tried and executed.  But, in the weeks ahead – we will be richly fed from the letters Paul wrote to the saints in various locations. 

And, that concludes our study of Acts.  Don’t forget we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast, and check out our website at Talking to Mormons.com.

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Acts 16-21 ~ Come Follow Me

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Does the New Testament teach that all human beings are literal “offspring” of Heavenly parents?  Does God dwell in Mormon temples?

Okay, we are more than half-way through the book of Acts.  Today’s chapters describe two of Paul’s missionary journeys with his companion Silas.  We begin with Acts 16:5 “And so were the churches (ekklesia – assemblies) established in the faith, and increased in number daily.”  But, during their travels Paul and Silas are taken into custody for their preaching.  They were ordered by some magistrates to be stripped of their clothes and beaten.  Then the Jailor having been given strict orders, threw Paul and Silas into prison where their feet were locked in the stocks, so there was no chance they would escape.  Verse 25 “And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them.”  What an attitude these men had!  We often praise God in times of gratitude and joy, but do we – like these men – praise God in times of pain and trial and discouragement?  From this event, we are reminded that our joy comes from within – not from without. 

Verse 26 “And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed.”  This was truly the power of God doing His miraculous work of liberation.  Verses 27-28 “And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here”  Verse 29 “Then he called for a light (a torch), and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas,”  It suggests that the guard was aware of something supernatural occurring, for there would really be no other reason for him to come in trembling.  He probably had been hearing their songs and prayers to God through the night which was preparing his heart.  Then – BOOM – a sudden shake that opened the doors and loosed their stocks.   The jailor may have desired to have the kind of faith in God like Paul and Silas had even before the earthquake.   He wanted to be saved from himself and to be saved to peace and truth – the way Paul and Silas were.  He asks them in Verse 30 “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”  He merely wanted what these men were promising and teaching and, what they themselves possessed.  Often – even today – people have no idea about who God is, who Jesus is, what the Gospel is really about – but they want answers to the meaning of life and fulfillment.  So, he asks Paul and Silas, “What must (or can) I do to be saved?” 

Before we read Paul’s answer –

What would you say to someone who asked this question of you?  “What can I do to be saved?”  The LDS response – “Have faith, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, receive temple covenants, keep all the commandments including word of wisdom, paying tithing, receiving the priesthood and last but not least – endure to the end – but there is no promise that you’ll be saved until you die and are judged.”  What was Paul’s response to the jailor’s question “what must I do to be saved?”  Verse 31 “And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”   It was basically the same thing Peter said to Cornelius back in Acts Chapter 10.  When we talk about being saved – we are talking about placing our trust in Jesus.  Faith in Him alone is the saving grace we are talking about.  The jailor was not asked by Paul if he felt worthy enough.  The response was clear and concise – “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.”  Meaning – believe that Jesus paid for our sins and, that He lived the perfect life we will never live.  He is enough!  There is nothing we can do to add to being saved – but to believe.  Verse 32 “And they (Paul and Silas) spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”  So, they shared the good news of the gospel.  

Let’s move on to Chapter 17 in ActsVerse 10 “And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews.”  For their safety they were sent unto Berea, which was a city of Macedonia.  And they went directly into the synagogue.  At this point Luke makes a comparison between what Paul and Silas found in Thessalonica and what they discovered in Berea, saying Verse 11 “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”  Those in Berea were more noble because they received the word with more readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily to see whether the things Paul and Silas were teaching were true.  These Berean’s hadn’t let their predispositions get in their way.  They didn’t allow their prejudices to stop them from considering what Paul and Silas taught.  They nobly received the word with open, eager minds AND then, they searched the scriptures daily to see if what they were told measures up.  It cannot get better than this.  I mean, a person who will first hear and then test what they are being told against scripture.  That is the perfect description for a seeker of God and truth, in my estimation.  This is the key to conversion.  If we are willing to test all things – we should have no need to fear anything.  I remember when I was having doubts about my faith in the religion of my up-bringing – I asked myself, “if the LDS Church wasn’t true – would I honestly want to know?”  Yes, of course!  If it is true, then it will past the test of scripture, right?  As I earnestly searched the scriptures daily, I compared the fundamental teachings and doctrines of Mormonism with the Scriptures – the Word of God – to find out whether my high-demand, works-based religion was so.  And you know what?  The method works.  And, I had my answer – just like what was described in Verse 12 “Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.”  The Bible provided the standard of truth that can be used as a measuring stick for truth.  If individuals or churches teaching anything contrary to what the Word of God says – those individuals or churches are not teaching truth.  They are false teachers and prophets presenting a different gospel. 

Paul now travels to Athens where – as it says in Verse 16 “his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry.”  In the absence of a visible tangible God – our tendency to worship the tangible is irresistible.  And idolatry is as rampant today as it was back in among the Greeks.  If we look at the first two of the ten commandments: 1) There is one God and we are to have no other God’s before Him.  2) Make no graven images.  And so, here in Athens, Paul begins to dispute with the Jews and Greeks.  Verses 22-23 “Then Paul stood in the midst of Mar’s Hill, and said, Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious.  For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD, Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you.”  By rearing this altar these Jews and Greeks acknowledged their need of instruction.  Paul challenges their ignorance by stating in Verse 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;”  Paul speaks of God as the Creator of ALL things in heaven and in earth.  Thus, opposing their opinions that there were many gods.  Also, emphasizing that this One True and Living God does not dwell in temples made with hands.  Did you hear that my Latter-day Saint friends?  God does not dwell in man-made temples.  Hebrews 9:24 tells us that Christ does not enter into the holy places made with hands.  Paul also tells us in 1 Corinthians 3:16-17 that WE are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in us.  Paul’s intention was to introduce them to the Only True God – who to them thus far was unknowable.  As Jesus said in John 17:3 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” 

It is in the coming verses we find a troubling misinterpretation of God’s Word.  Acts 17:26-28 “And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”  This shows the foreknowledge, the love, the planning, of God, to set forth before all peoples – from every land – the truth of Himself.  He has established their boundaries in His time so that we might all want to seek after Him.  From what Paul says here – the very design of God placing man on earth in their specific habitation was so that at some point in time they would  desire to seek Him and come to a knowledge of His existence and character – and therefore obtain life eternal. 

Here the manual states “As you examine Acts 17:24-31 together, consider discussing the truth taught in Verse 29 ‘We are the offspring of God,’ meaning that Heavenly Father is the literal Father of our spirits… What does this fact that we are children of God teach us about God? about ourselves?”   Let me put this in context.  Paul was raised in Tarsus, a Greek city of Cilicia that was under Roman control.  He was familiar with Greek writers to a certain extent even though he was a devout Jew.  In Cilicia was a poet by the name of Aratus and he wrote a hymn to Jupiter that includes the line, “For we are also His offspring.”  Appealing to the wisdom they possessed here in Athens, Paul cites this particular poet.  The word “offspring” here is also translated “kin.”  Are we “kin” to God?  We are His only kin as we are made in His image.  We are literal creations made in the image of the invisible God – with the means to reason and choose – and are in fact, His created offspring.  Mormonism has misconstrued the meaning of Acts 17:28-29 by reading into the text an idea that is not there.  Here’s the context.  Paul was preaching to the Athenians. They weren’t believers in the true God.  But despite their unbelief, Paul goes on to affirm that we are all offspring of God.  Why?  Simply because God is the Creator of us all.  Whether we believe in Him or not, all of us were nevertheless created by Him, and thus are rightly called His offspring.  God is the Father of all humanity in the sense that He created all humanity.  Acts 17:28-30 says nothing at all in support of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother or Mothers giving birth to billions of spirit children.  The emphasis in these verses are on God’s creation, not procreation.  Show me a single reference in any book written by any of the New Testament authors that explicitly states that humans pre-existed in spirit-bodies.  Show me in the Book of Mormon for that matter.  It can’t be done.

The first part of Verse 28 says, “For IN HIM we LIVE, and MOVE, and HAVE our being.”  These are words to describe the whole of us.  In Him we have our very lives, our every move, our being.  We should love Him with all our heart, mind, and strength.

 

And, that concludes our study.  Don’t forget we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast, and check out our website at Talking to Mormons.com.

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Why I Left Mormonism – Part 2

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I read in John 1:12,13which really had an impact.

“But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:  Which were born, not of blood, nor or the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”

I can see how that beautiful passage would have an, effect on you – or anyone for that matter. 

Exactly! You see, to a Mormon, the “power to become the sons of God” refers to the power or potential to become exalted.  Latter-day Saints love to sing the song “I am a Child of God” because they believe everyone comes to earth from the pre-existence as a son or daughter of immortal heavenly parents.  Mormonism teaches that every human being is born a child of God. 

That’s not what the Bible teaches.  We don’t inherit our sonship from God.  To a Christian, verses 12 and 13, means that as many as received Jesus as their Savior – He will grant the right and privilege for the new birth.  No one can attain this new birth by his or her own power, merit, or ability.  Only God can grant it.  It is a gift of God. 

Then is says in verse 14 “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”  According to The Proclamation on the Family, the LDS Church teaches that in pre-mortality, all of us, including Jesus were begotten and born as spirit children of heavenly parents.  But that Jesus was the only mortal whose father was literally Heavenly Father.  Thus, to a Mormon, Jesus is the Only Begotten of the Father as a mortal. 

 

But as Christians we believe verse 14 is saying that God became incarnate by taking on a mortal body.  He was “begotten of the Father” – meaning, He was uniquely qualified.  Christ – the Logos – did not cease to be the Logos when He became flesh.  Christ still had the fulness of the shekinah glory in Him, but that glory was veiled so he could function in the world of humanity.  This is the mystery of the Incarnation: Christ – the Logos – was not part God and part man, but fully God and fully human, as it says in Colossians 2:9.  Christ is the perfect expression of God in human form. (Philippians 2:5-9)

Another big verse for both the LDS and Christians is Verse 18 “No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”  Joseph Smith twisted this scripture in the Joseph Smith Translation to read “And no man hath seen God at any time, EXCEPT HE HATH BORNE RECORD OF THE SON; for except it is through him no man can be saved.” 

The LDS rely on Smith’s translation to support their belief that God supposedly appeared in Joseph Smith’s First Vision.  But Christians believe the King James Version as being correct in saying that “no man has seen God at any time.” 

That’s because it is supported by other verses in the Bible that teach that no man has or can see God.  1 Timothy 1:17 and Hebrews 11:27 teaches that God is invisible.  1 John 4:12 clearly states “No man hath seen God at any time.”  The Bible teaches that some have seen His glory, but no one has seen Him, because He is Spirit – not an immortal resurrected exalted man – like Mormonism teaches. 

Even the Book of Mormon refers to God as the Great Spirit in Alma 18:24-28; Alma 19:25-27; Alma 22:9-11; Alma 31:15. There is absolutely no mention in the Book of Mormon that God has a body.  Only that God was Spirit. 

I think we can state the obvious here – The Jesus of Mormonism is not the Jesus of Christianity.

 

I arrived at this conclution after reading the first chapter of John’s gospel.  LDS Church President and Prophet, Gordon B. Hinckley agrees with us as well.  Let me read from the LDS Church News, June 20, 1998, p.7.  The paper reports, “In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints ‘do not believe in the traditional Christ,’ ‘No, I don’t.  The traditional Christ of whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak.”

 

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Why I Left Mormonism – Part 1

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Ava

Chris, when did you realize as a Mormon that – what you had been taught, believed, and practiced all your life, was a lie?


Chris

Well, Ava – I had returned from an LDS mission, got married in the temple, was very active in the Church, when I began to feel that something was missing in my spiritual walk.  That something, I recognized was a greater relationship with my Savior.  I decided one day to read the New Testament but this time with fresh eyes.  I started with the, Gospel of John and remember asking God to help me understand the truth of who He is.  I barely got through the first three verses in chapter 1, when an awakening started to happen within me. 

Ava

What did those verses say?

 

Chris

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  The same was in the beginning with God.  All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.”   

 

Ava

So, what kind of awakening were you experiencing?

 

Chris

I realized the significance of those verses:   In the beginning – from before anything else – the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  And – ALL things – were made or created by Him THAT caused me to stop and ask – EVERYTHING?  What does everything mean? (Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 44:24; Ephesians 3:9; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2)

 

Ava

And why was that so astonishing? 

 

Chris

That meant the Word – who I soon realized in this chapter was Jesus – had always existed.  He was uncreated.  He didn’t start out as a literal spirit child from heavenly parents in the pre-existence as I had understood in Mormonism.  He didn’t earn His status as deity.  He has always been God.  And, if He created all things, then The Word – God – preincarnate Jesus – created Lucifer and all of us.  That meant that neither Satan, nor human beings could be spirit children of heavenly parents.  Nor could Jesus be our elder spirit brother.   Jesus is equal with YHWY, yet He is distinct from YHWY. 

Having considered myself, a student of the Scriptures – how did I miss this!  How did I read these verses before and never understand what they meant?

 

Ava

Probably because you had always viewed scripture through the lens of Mormonism. 

I think when we read the next couple of verses, it might make sense why you missed the true message about Jesus.  It says in, Verses 4 and 5 of John “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.  And the light shineth in darkness; and darkness comprehended it not.” 

Could it be that the darkness of lies and deception of Mormonism blinded you from seeing and comprehending truth?

 

Chris

Oh, absolutely!  Like the blind man who Jesus healed in John chapter 9, I realized that God had given me new in-sight.  Once I had been blind – now I could see.  As I read in John 1:4, He is the giver of life since He is the Creator.  He also gives Eternal Life to all those who believe on Him.  The light of Jesus as it says in John 1:5, penetrates and enlightens the hearts and minds of men and women.  When Christ’s light shines, we can see our sin – and His glory.  We can also refuse to see the light – and remain in darkness. 

“I have to go but next time I want to tell you the rest of the story.”

 

Ava

 

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Kinderhook Plates – Part 2

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Following the discovery of the six Kinderhook plates in 1843 that supposedly had ancient writing on them, what ever became of those plates?

During the Civil War the plates were thought to be lost.  However, some time in the 1960’s, Wilford Poulson a professor at Brigham Young University, found one of the original plates #5 in the Chicago Historical Society Museum.  After examining the plate, Professor Poulson believed it to be a forgery. 

 

Welby Ricks, who was President of the BYU Archaeological Society, welcomed the discovery as a vindication of Joseph Smith’s work.  He wrote, “A recent rediscovery of one of the Kinderhook plates, which was examined by Joseph Smith, Jun., reaffirms his prophetic calling and reveals the false statements made by one of the finders.  The plates are now back in their original category of genuine.  Joseph Smith, Jun., stands as a true prophet and translator of ancient records by divine means and all the world is invited to investigate the truth which has sprung out of the earth not only of the Kinderhook plates, but of the Book of Mormon as well.” 

In 1980, LDS scholar Stanley P. Kimball was permitted to perform destructive tests on the #5 plate.  He described the results of the tests in the LDS Church publication, The Ensign, August 1981, pp. 66-70.  The article says, “A recent electronic and chemical analysis of a metal plate brought in 1843 to the prophet Joseph Smith appears to solve a previously unanswered question in Church history, helping to further evidence that the plate is what its producers later said it was – a nineteenth-century attempt to lure Joseph Smith into making a translation of ancient-looking characters that had been etched into the plates.  As a result of these tests, we conclude that the plate is not of ancient origin.  We conclude that the plate was made from a true brass alloy (copper and zinc) typical of the mid-nineteenth century; whereas the ‘brass’ of ancient times was actually bronze, and alloy of copper and tin.”

If Joseph Smith had not been shot and killed in June 1844, it is very possible he might have published a finished translation of all six of the counterfeit plates.  Wouldn’t that have been interesting?

What is the Church’s position on the Kinderhook plates, today?

The Church defended the authenticity of the plates and Joseph’s translations of them since their discovery in 1843 up to 1980 – 137 years!  Following the destructive testing, the Church backed off its claim that the plates were real.  Now the Church claims it was all a hoax.    

Smith made the claim that he could translate the ancient writings on the plates.  And in fact, did translate some of them.

It should be obvious that Smith’s work on these fraudulent plates casts serious doubt upon his credibility as a translator of other ancient records like, the Book of Mormon and the Book of Abraham.  We already know from the Church’s Gospel Topica Essay found on lds.org titled: “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham” that the Book of Abraham isn’t a true translation of ancient Egyptian papyri.  The Church now admits that. 

After disproving the Kinderhook plates and the Book of Abraham translation, am I now supposed to trust Joseph Smith when he claims to have translated the Book of Mormon written in an unknown language in Reformed Egyptian from a – rock in a hat? 

 

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Book of Abraham – Part 3

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The original claim that the Book of Abraham had been translated from ancient egyptian papyri scrolls has been proven false when it was clearly shown that the scrolls where funeral text.

The Church allowed photographs of the papyrus to be published in the February 1968 edition of the Improvement Era magazine, along with an article explaining them.  Now that over a hundred years had passed since the book’s translation, there were many educated people both in and out of the LDS faith who understood the Egyptian language.

During this time, many articles ran in the Improvement Era from 1968 through 1970 regarding the translation.  However, the LDS experts completed work revealed – that not only did the papyri NOT contain the Book of Abraham – there was not even the slightest connection between their contents and Abraham. 

What was on them?

They were simply ordinary Egyptian funeral texts – prayers to pagan Egyptian gods – that had been buried with the mummies.

Unsatisfied with the outcome, LDS leaders extended the opportunity to several other non-LDS Egyptologists to examine and comment on the papyri.  Each one of them arrived at the same conclusion: the papyri were common funeral texts, all clearly dating 1500 years later than Abraham’s time – having no connection whatever with the biblical patriarch Abraham. 

What Joseph Smith claimed to be the Book of Abraham, was actually the Book of Breathings.  And, what was supposed to be the Book of Joseph of Egypt, was the Book of the Dead.  

Paul warns us that when we die, we will be judged not only by our actions and words – He will judge the secrets of men and women.  Romans 2:16 “In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.”    He’s talking about the hidden desires, secret lusts, unspoken passions, thoughts, and motives of all people.  The thoughts of the hearts.  And, only God through Jesus Christ can determine the human heart. 

Then Paul declares the status of all men, women and children.  Romans 3:10-12 “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:  There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”  Wow!  How does that make you feel?  He is simply saying that man is universally evil.  Unprofitable – corrupt.  No one naturally seeks after God.  Our tendency is to seek our own interest.  We are born selfish.  The message is clear here – There has not been, nor will there ever be, anyone who is justified before God due to their good lives or their obedience to religious laws.  From Mother Teresa, to Ghandi, or the Dali Lama.  None!  Human corruption is universal.   Compared to the incomprehensible holiness of God who is eternal and unchangeable – how could any created human being ever be considered righteous for anything – especially when we consider the elements that hide within the human heart?  We are “unprofitable – there is none that doeth good – not one.”  This speaks of the failure of Man to DO good. 

This is the state of every person who lives and dies by laws, ordinances, and covenants.  We are totally screwed by our attempt to please God by any external approach – especially through religion.  And this is why Jesus was born, which allows Paul to describe the only solution to such a hopeless state.  Romans 3:23-24 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:”   Paul tells us in Romans 3:19-20 “Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God.  There by the deeds (works) of the law there shall be no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  Paul is describing here the state of all men and women when they each stand before God and attempt to justify their lives by virtue of having done good.  There is no justification before Holy God through our works of righteousness and obedience to laws and ordinances.  That is why my friends, we need to completely understand that you can not have salvation by anything other than through grace.  Salvation comes only by and through God’s goodness, His righteousness, and His shed blood, and nothing from us.  We can’t go to the foot of the Cross and tell Jesus “Thank you for what you’ve done for me by paying for my sins – but it wasn’t enough.  I need to add my good works to the atonement.”  Try justifying yourselves before God on judgment day.  I repeat what he said in verse 20 “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall be no flesh be justified in his sight.”  God’s Law is good, is righteous, is perfect.  We cannot get angry at God’s Law – for it comes from Him.  But the Law was a way for us to examine our hearts and to understand that we can’t keep the law perfectly.  The last part of verse 20 “for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”  It should be reasonably understood by believers that we are not saved by obedience to Law.  Gravitating towards the law, limits our freedom in Christ and puts us back into bondage under the law. 

Paul continues in Romans 3:21 “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;”  It’s important to know that when Paul writes the sentence, “the righteousness of God” he is not speaking of an attribute of God – but instead how God makes Man righteous.  In other words we could read it this way, “But now, the way God makes man righteous without the law is made known.”  It was going to take a plan from God without including the law to save mankind.  That plan mentioned in John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosover believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  How does that happen?  Jesus came and both fulfilled the law through perfect adherence to it and then magnified it in the lives of those who trusted and believed on Him.  Romans 3:22 “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference.”  But faith is a matter of choice on our part.  Nobody can be saved by works; and all are dependent on the mercy of God found through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.  Why in this way only?  Romans 3:23 “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” 

Now Paul goes into greater detail saying, Romans 3:24-26 “Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”  That is the good news of the gospel – that we are “justified freely by his grace.”  It is an absolute, totally free, unconditional and underserved gift.  Free to us through believing.  But the cost and price, was the highest of anything to ever be purchased in eternity.  Christ redeemed us – He paid the ransom for us. 

Paul then adds, Romans 3:27 “Where is boasting then?  Is it excluded.  By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith.”   Where is the boasting? Jews? Mormons? Christians?  If it was by any works, at all, boasting would be in order.  But Paul adds “but by the law of faith” in the Son of God.  Then he concludes with this amazing statement in verse 28 “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”  There is no other way.  To trifle with this doctrine is to truly present another Gospel – contrary to the biblical Gospel Paul is talking about.  A false gospel teaches that “people ought to do good works then saving faith will come.”  Doing good works in order to bring about salvation or saving faith is a tool centered in the flesh, not in faith.   

Then Paul ends chapter three by bringing us all the way back around full circle by saying, Romans 3:31 “Do we make void the law through faith?  God forbid: yea, we establish the law.”  By what means does the justification of someone by faith establish the Law?  Here’s a great saying “Grace teaches us to say no to sin.”  Where the law reveals and exposes each of us to sin – grace teaches us to say no to it.  The moral law is embraced by those who are justified.  The Law is established in those who have been saved by grace through faith.  Romans 13:8 “Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.”  When Jesus was on earth he was approached by a lawyer, as recorded in Matthew 22:36-40 “Master, which is the greatest commandment in the law?  Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.  On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  To love – God and others – is the result of those who have come to faith.  It is by and through this action – love – that the Law is established in the lives of those who’ve experienced God’s mercy. 

There are Latter-day Saints who go to James chapter 2 to say, “faith without works is dead.”  But If we go to James chapter 2 beginning in verse 14, we can put it all into context.  I think we’ll find that James is talking about this very point that Paul makes here in Romans 3:31. James 2:14 “What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works?  Can faith save him?”  He is saying, “What good is it if a man SAYS he has faith, but has not the works of LOVE?”  Then James goes on and gives us some illustrations in Verses 15 and 16.  Love is a verb.  God so LOVED the world He gave us His Son.  Jesus so LOVED the world He gave us His very life.  Then in verse 17 “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.”  James is saying the same thing as Paul is saying.  James continues in chapter 2:18-20 “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?”  Just as love without action or application is dead – so is faith without works.  There is no difference.

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Book of Abraham – Part 2

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What became of the papyrus scrolls – that the Book of Abraham was translated from.

Once Joseph Smith was killed in 1844, the papyri collection remained in the possession of his widow, Emma.  Remember she refused to follow the leadership of Brigham Young, and remained in Nauvoo with her children while the Saints moved west to the Utah Territory.

In October of 1880, the Book of Abraham was included in The Pearl of Great Price which was officially canonized at the Church’s semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City. 

The Introduction to the Book of Abraham reads, “The writings of Abraham while he was in Egypt, called the Book of Abraham, written by his own hand, upon papyrus.”

Allow me to fill in a crucial time gap.  Nearly forty years passed from the time Joseph translated the Book of Abraham, until it was officially recognized as sacred Scripture of the LDS Church.  However, during that period something occurred which neither Joseph nor any of his contemporaries could have foreseen. 

After many years of dedicated work on the Rosetta Stone, scholars were able to decipher the ancient Egyptian language.  It was now possible for scholars to translate accurately Egyptian texts and to understand their contexts. 

Initially, it did not appear likely that this new development would impact the isolated Mormon Church in Utah. 

What happened to the papyrus scrolls that Emma had?

Those scrolls and mummies were eventually sold by Emma in 1856, making their way to the Museum of Chicago.  They were then presumed destroyed in the great Chicago fire of 1871.  But those papyri had not been destroyed.  Lost, yes – but not forever.  They were to one day reappear. 

One Spring day in 1966, a professor of Arabic Studies from the University of Utah entered one of the vault rooms of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, seeking material for a book he was writing.  Dr. Aziz Atiya came across a file that contained a forgotten collection of Egyptian papyri.  The papyri had been glued to stiff backing paper in the 19th-century in an, effort to preserve them.  The reverse sides of the paper contained such things as architectural drawings of a temple and maps of Kirtland, Ohio.

Was Dr. Atiya was nor a mormon, but he recognized the collection as having a connection with the history of the LDS Church.  Dr. Atiya arranged for the LDS Church to acquire this collection from the museum.     

On November 27, 1967 the Salt Lake Deseret Newspaper announced the discovery of the original papyri from which Joseph Smith translated the Book of Abraham. 

Questions quickly rose – Would the arguments of critics be overcome and silenced at last?  Would Joseph’s work finally be justified before the eyes of a skeptical world?  The Saints waited expectantly and held their breath.

We can only imagine the anticipation since the LDS Church had been criticized all those years for not having the Gold Plates to validate the Book of Mormon, and the ancient Egyptian papyri to validate the Book of Abraham. 

Finally there were highly educated Egyptologists who could translate the writings on the papyrus to let everyone know if it was truly what Joseph claimed it to be – the Book of Abraham.

Next time we meet, I will share with you how that turns out. 

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I Never Knew You – Part 1
– If you have a modern-day apostle telling its members in a world-wide General Conference that the Bible is wrong and the Joseph Smith Translation is inspired – in spite of contradictory statements in the Book of Mormon – as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, what do you do with that information?
Romans 9-16
This is not a simple acknowledging that He is God. This is a deep personal conviction that Jesus is our Lord. It includes repenting, trusting, and submitting to Him as Lord.
Romans 7-8 – Come Follow Me
Romans 4-6 – Come Follow Me
Romans 1-3 – Come Follow Me
Acts 22-28 ~ Come Follow Me
Is there any comparison between Paul’s vision of Christ on the road to Damascus and Joseph Smith’s vision in the woods in New York?
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Atonement – Part 4

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While Jesus was in the garden it says in Luke 22:43, God sent “an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.”  What do you make of that?

In the garden, Jesus was preparing to face the most extreme and ultimate suffering imaginable – being separated from His Father on high.  Satan was not about to leave our Lord alone when He was about to embark on the only act that would overcome the devil and its powers, once and for all. 

THIS was the trial of the garden – Jesus overcoming the very natural temptation to let this cup pass.  It says in Matthew 26:39, 42-44 that Jesus prayed to have the human strength to endure the brutal beatings and torture of the cross. 

So, the moment Jesus relinquished Himself into the hands of sinful men, the atonement began?

Precisely!  The binding, the slapping, the spitting, the mockery, and the scourging – all fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 53:5 “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities…with His stripes we are healed.”  Therefore, the beatings, the torture, the fatigue, and humiliation all culminated in His crucifixion and death on the cross, which were all part of His atonement for our sins.  Hebrews 12:2 tells us that for our sins Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame.”

before Jesus was put upon that cross, only the most vile and abhorrent men hated by society hung there.  Anyone who was crucified was, seen as the lowest of low.

What you just described is a perfect picture of the state of our lives in sin.

It should disturb us when religious leaders, who call themselves prophets and apostles, distract our attention from Christ’s suffering atonement on the cross – causing people to focus on things that are not right or true. 

LDS Church leaders got their inspiration on this doctrine from two passages: Doctrine and Covenants 19:18 “Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit – and would that I might not drink the bitter cup and shrink.”  And in the Book of Mormon, Mosiah 3:7    

For one thing – both passages were written or translated by Joseph Smith in 1829 to 1830.  During that time, Joseph Smith was still a monotheist.  That is why it is God himself who is suffering in those verses.  But the point I want to make is that neither reference mentions the Garden of Gethsemane.  

President Nelson in his October 2018 conference address said it was “In the Garden of Gethsemane” where Jesus suffered for the sins of the world.  Statements like his cause people to miss the cross, to see another Jesus, to discount the meaning of His suffering, and revise the truth of Jesus’ atoning work. 

It is what I call a twisting of the Scripture.  Think of it like this – If Satan can get people to take their eyes off the truth of the gospel and redirect them to something that is a lie – he has won a victory. 

If the LDS Church is really a restoration, why does the Mormon prophet and apostles create a new narrative for the New Testament?  Neither Jesus nor any author of the New Testament claims Gethsemane had anything to do with the atonement of Christ.  Instead there is an abundant number of references to the cross where Christ suffered and died to pay the debt for our sin.                            

The Bible stands on its own, testifying of exactly what his suffering and death on the cross accomplished.  Here are some passages I would like you to read when you have the time: 

Psalm 22:1, 6-8, 15-16;

Luke 9:23;

Romans 5:6-11;

Romans 6:6;

1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 23;

1 Corinthians 2:2;

1 Corinthians 5:7;

1 Corinthians 15:3;

Galatians 3:13;

Galatians 6:14;

Ephesians 2:16;

Philippians 3:18;

Colossians 1:20-21;

Colossians 2:13-15;

Hebrews 2:14;

Hebrews 9:13-16;

Hebrews 12:2;

1 Peter 2:24;

Revelation 13:8

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Atonement – Part 1

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From the Missionary Guide – Preach My Gospel it says, “Our Father’s plan for us to be successful in this life and to return to live with Him is called the gospel of Jesus Christ, with Jesus’ Atonement at the center of that plan.  He satisfied the demands of justice when he stood in our place and suffered the penalty for our sins.  Through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can receive eternal life if we exercise faith in Jesus Christ, repent, are baptized by immersion for the remission of sins, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying of hands, and strive to keep His commandments to the end of our lives.”

I agree with some of what is said.  But, beyond exercising faith in Jesus Christ that He paid the penalty for our sins, nothing else is necessary or required of us to obtain eternal life. 

The Guide also says, “In paying the penalty for our sins, Jesus did not, however eliminate our personal responsibility.  We must show Him that we will follow His commandments.”

So, there is no assurance of having eternal life, unless you prove yourself worthy by working diligently to keep ALL, of His commandments? 

Mormons also believe that, through the Atonement of Christ they can qualify for exaltation through obedience to all the laws and ordinances and first principles of the gospel. (Preach My Gospel)

Mormonism says that a person’s salvation must be earned.  But this is not a biblical concept, in any way, shape, or form. 

Acts 10:43

“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”

Paul validates that message in two of his epistles. 

Colossians 2:13-15 and Ephesians 1:13-14

“And you, being dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”                                                                                                     

And then in Ephesians, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy spirit of promise.  Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

Paul is declaring that all sins – past, present, and future – are said to be forgiven, once for all. 

The author of Hebrews says in chapter 10 verse 10 that “we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”

Verse 14 adds, “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.”

Note the emphasis on these verses:  We are sanctified – made holy and perfect – through His atonement, when we accept Jesus as our Savior. 

Please continue reading verses 15-18 in Ephesians chapter 1.

“Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.  Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

But don’t you have to have good works in order to be saved?

Well, those good works come from the effects of the Atonement in our lives.  When we accept Christ’s payment for our sins, we become new creatures in Him. 

2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” 

Paul goes on in verses 18-21, “And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.  Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.  For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”


Are you trying to say  – the acts of our sinful nature are replaced with the fruit of the Spirit – which is love.

For a Christian, good works are done out of gratitude for the gift that has been received – the gift of eternal life. 

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