Acts 16-21 ~ Come Follow Me

Play

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.

Podcasts

Come Follow Me

Listen on Google Play Music

Talking to Mormons

Print

False Prophecies of Joseph Smith – Copyright©

Play
Play

If Joseph Smith’s revelations were proven false or fraudulent how can we possibly accept anything in the Book of Mormon or anything Smith ever said?

As a Christian, I trust the Bible to be the Word of God.  In ancient times, God spoke to His chosen people through His prophets.  God knew there would be other men pretending to be prophets but – who were no more than mere counterfeits.

 And God gave us a fool-proof test to know if someone is a true prophet of God.  It says, in Deuteronomy 18:22 “When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen, or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” 

And in Jeremiah 14:14 “Then the Lord said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.”

It seems that Joseph Smith fits those descriptions.  Didn’t he make prophecies that did not come to past?

Yes!  There is a classic example in LDS Church history called the Canadian Copyright Episode.  This event was recorded during the winter of 1829 and 1830 in a publication called “An Address to All Believers in Christ, pp. 30-31” by David Whitmer, one of the Three Witnesses of the Book of Mormon.

When Smith desperately needed more money to complete the printing of the Book of Mormon, his brother Hyrum Smith suggested to Joseph that some men could go to Canada and sell the copyright to the Book of Mormon.  Smith agreed to ask the Lord by looking into the hat in which he placed the seer stone.    

I guess a traditional prayer wasn’t reliable enough for an answer to this question?  

Joseph claimed he received a revelation that some of the brethren should go on a mission to Toronto Canada. There, they would be successful in selling the copyright.  So, Hiram Page and Oliver Cowdery traveled to Toronto, but they were unable to sell the copyright and returned without any money.  Smith was asked point blank, why God had forsaken them, having commanded them to go? 

Joseph didn’t know why the prophesy didn’t come to pass. So surprisingly – he enquired of the Lord by going back to the same seer stone in a hat to get an explanation from God. 

That seems bizarre.  So, what did the hat reveal this time?

He was told that the initial revelation was not from God after all.  He then supposedly received a NEW revelation. Smith said, “Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of men: and some revelations are of the devil.”

So, Smith admitted that he could not actually tell if his ideas came from God, from Satan or simply out of his own head – or in this case – the hat.  But then, how could Smith even be sure this second revelation was from God. How could he ever be sure of any revelation?

It did, however, give Smith a ‘Get out of jail free’ card to use in the future if anything else went wrong with his prophesying.  Revelations that succeed – come from God.  And, the ones that fail are either wishful thinking or, snuck in by Satan who can deceive the prophet. 

Smith couldn’t lose, whatever the outcome of his revelations.  Where then does that leave the reliability of any revelation coming from a supposed prophet?  Putting faith in something, with a such a small chance of it being from God is very risky.  Especially when it effects someone’s life. 

This also means about two thirds of Smith’s other revelations and scriptures are then completely false by the simple laws of probability. 

The fact that almost everything Smith taught and wrote has now been exposed as false, means that in reality nothing can be trusted as being from God, and that Smith made it up as he went along. 

How then, if he thought at the time it was a revelation, can we possibly accept anything written or said by Joseph Smith?

 

We can’t, since Smith himself didn’t even know if he could trust what he thought was revelation.  

Print

Why I Left Mormonism – Part 2

Play

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.”

 

Print

Why I Left Mormonism – Part 1

Play
Play

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

 

If you want to learn more about this conversation go to our website TalkingtoMormons.com and check out our Facebook page. Check out the links below and don’t forget to subscribe and share this post with your friends

Podcasts

Come Follow Me

Listen on Google Play Music

Talking to Mormons

Print

Kinderhook Plates – Part 2

Play
Play

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? 

 

Print

The Moroni Challenge

Play

Can we trust in our feelings when it comes to proving that the Book of Mormon is true?

Have you ever read and prayed to know if the Book of Mormon is true? This is a common phrase used by the Latter-day Saint.

The “Moroni Challenge.” Is recorded in the Book of Moroni 10:4-5. 

“And when ye shall receive theses things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.  And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”

How does God manifest the truth by the Holy Ghost?

“You will feel a burning in your bosom or, a peaceful feeling will come over you.”

So, to prove if anything is true we are to put all our trust in our feelings?  Don’t you think that’s a little dangerous?

Cause God doesn’t use feelings to testify of truth.  Feelings in Scripture are often spoken of as untrustworthy.  Let’s read Proverbs 28:26.

“He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered.” 

Is it proper to use feelings as a test for truth?  Our feelings can be influenced by many outside sources which may not be reliable. 

Honestly, I’m convinced the Book of Mormon is not the Word of God.  And it’s not because of anything I felt or failed to feel.  It’s because of what is true and what is not true. 

What do you believe is not true about it?

Okay, “Author and Proprietor Joseph Smith.” is printed and stated in the original 1830 Book of Mormon.  He owned the copyright, and he intended to make money from that.  It is obvious that Joseph knew nothing about the ancient American world or ancient Jewish culture, because he makes some horrible errors and oversights in the Book of Mormon. 

Such as:

The complete lack of archaeological support for the Book of Mormon.
The numerous historical anachronisms in the Book of Mormon.
Racism taught and displayed in the Book of Mormon.
Plagiarism of the King James Version passages in the Book of Mormon. 

So, you see with a logical rational mind I can reason that the Book of Mormon is not what it claims to be.  Certainly not the Word of God.

Elder Young

We realize you have doubts and concerns, but only God can answer them for you.

 

Chris

Elders do you have a testimony of the Book of Mormon?

 

Elder Smith

Of course.  We believe it is inspired Scripture from God.

 

Chris

Do you believe everything the Book of Mormon teaches?

 

Elder Smith

Yes.

 

Chris

Is there anything in the Book of Mormon that you question?

 

Elder Smith

No.  What is there to question?

 

Chris

As I read the Book of Mormon I found that it reflects 19th century American Christianity more than it does current LDS doctrine and teaching. 

When I put the Book of Mormon down and I picked up the Bible and started devouring it.  I started to see God’s word change my life and testify to its truthfulness in ways incomprehensible to me.  I know beyond the shadow of a doubt the Bible is the Word of God, and it’s not because of anything I’ve felt.  It was knowledge and realization in my mind that it had to be the Word of God. 

Elder, please read Jeremiah 17:9

 

Elder Young

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?”   

 

Chris

That is what the Bible teaches about trusting the heart.  Our heart, our feelings, our emotions can fool us into believing things that aren’t true or good for us.

Instead of the Bible telling us to pray about it – It teaches us to “search the Scriptures.” 

In our next visit about the Book of Mormon, I’d like to take you to some passages that teach orthodox Christian doctrine.  These will be doctrines the LDS Church currently does not teach, and in some cases would label as false doctrine. 

Podcasts

Come Follow Me

Listen on Google Play Music

Talking to Mormons

Print

Joseph Smith Translation – Matthew 1; Matthew 25; Mark 12-13; Luke 21

Play

Will you and I be prepared someday to meet the Lord?

In Matthew chapter 24, many prophecies were given which were to be fulfilled as the time of the Second Coming approached.  Chapter 25 continues with instructions on how they were to prepare personally for the Second Coming.  The Savior uses the Parable of the Ten Virgins to teach them.  Verse 1 “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.”  When the Son of man returns in judgment, the church will be like ten virgins coming to a wedding ceremony.  The coming of Jesus the bridegroom – to receive his church, is often presented like a marriage – with the Church (body of believers) represented as His spouse or bride.  In the Greek the term “virgin” would imply clean vessels, purity by way of being covered by faith in Christ’s blood.  I need to point out in the story that these ten virgins – or maidens – were not brides – but part of the wedding procession.  Verses 2-4 “And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.  They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps.”  Now, throughout scripture oil is often pictured as the Holy Spirit, which is one reason in the Old Testament Levitical priesthood ordinations were accompanied by literally pouring olive oil over the head of the High Priest.  So, half of these virgins possessed oil to fortify their torches – lighting the procession way for the groom and His bride – and the other half did not.

Verses 5-6 “While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.  And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.”  This is a picture of the Second Coming of Christ.  Verses 7-9 “Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.  And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for the lamps are gone out.  But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.”  The five prepared virgins represent those who have accepted Jesus as their Savior.  The five unprepared virgins had not enough faith to believe on Jesus and to accept the gift of eternal life.  That was something the wise virgins could not do for the foolish virgins.  Verse 10 “And while they (the foolish virgins) went to buy, the bridegroom came (catching them unprepared); and they that were ready; went in with him to the marriage and the door was shut.” Locked out – like the shutting door of Noah’s Ark.  Verse 11 “Afterward came also the other virgins, saying Lord, Lord, open to us.”  I can’t help but notice that Jesus uses the very same words as He does back in Matthew 7:21, where He said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.”  Back to Verse 12 “But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.”  Finally, Verse 13 “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” 

Before we end, I need to respond to a point made in the Come, Follow Me manual for Individuals and Families.  The manual references Mark 12:18-27 claiming this, “We learn from modern revelation that Jesus’s statement ‘When they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage’ refers to those who have not entered into the covenant of celestial marriage (referencing D&C 132:15-16).  A celestial marriage, in which ‘a man marries a wife…by the new and everlasting covenant,’ will last ‘through all eternity’ if the husband and wife are true to their covenants (referencing D&132:19).”  First, of all the ONLY marriage extolled or celebrated in the New Testament is the spiritual marriage of the believer to Christ.  See 2 Corinthians 11:2 and Revelation 21:2. Jesus didn’t view marriage as something that would extend into the next life.  When Jesus says, in Mark 12:25 “For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven,” Christ is making the argument that marriage will not exist in the resurrection.  All of us go to heaven to be judged on our own.  And there, we will be single like the angels.  The Joseph Smith Translation leaves this verse unmodified, so it stands as it’s read in the King James VersionDoctrine and Covenants 132:15-16 adds the provision that it is only those who are not married for all eternity by the proper priesthood authority that will become as angels and remain single.  All others become gods and their marriage continues.  But that is not supported in the Bible nor the Book of Mormon for that matter.  Let’s remember, that when the manual quotes from D&C 132, that the heading of this Section states this, “revelation given through Joseph Smith” is “relating to the new and everlasting covenant, including the eternity of the marriage covenant, as also plurality of wives.”  In the actual passages of Section 132 verses 58 through 66, it states that the “Laws governing the plurality of wives are set forth.”  So, this entire Section 132 was written by Joseph Smith to try and convince his wife Emma that he should live polygamy.  He had already married other women behind her back.  So, he was trying retroactively, to get her consent.  If you go to LDS.org which is the new ChurchofJesusChrist.org and read the Gospel Topic Essay titled “Plural Marriage in Kirtland and Nauvoo” written in 2016, you will find that Smith had at least 40 plural wives.  A third were already married to other men, and another third were teenagers as young as 14.  So, I’m quite surprised that the manual would want to open up that can of worms in this lesson.  

Print

Book of Abraham – Part 3

Play

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.

Podcasts

Come Follow Me

Listen on Google Play Music

Talking to Mormons

Print

Book of Abraham – Part 2

Play
Play

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. 

Podcasts

Come Follow Me

Listen on Google Play Music

Talking to Mormons

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?
Print

Book of Abraham – Part 1

Play

Have you ever prayed to know if the Book of Abraham is true?

Does the promise in the Book of Mormon – to pray and ask God if it is true – doesn’t apply to the Book of Abraham?

How can you trust that the Book of Abraham is the word of God?

Latter Day Saints believe they have to have faith that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that he had the gift to translate.

From ancient Egyptian into 16th-century Kings James English, no less. 

Are you aware that – what Joseph Smith claimed to be a correct translation of the Book of Abraham – has since been proven to be a fraud?

Let me begin, by sharing with you some of your own church history.

In 1835 a traveling showman – Michael Chandler – brought an exhibit of Egyptian artifacts to the Mormon town of Kirtland, Ohio.  Those artifacts consisted of four ancient Egyptian mummies and two papyrus scrolls.  Because the Latter-day Saints believed their prophet Joseph Smith had the gift to translate the Book of Mormon gold plates that were inscribed in “reformed Egyptian”, those same Mormons believed Joseph might want to see if the papyri were of any religious value. 

Joseph examined the hieroglyphics on the scrolls and declared them to be the writings of Abraham and the writings of Joseph, who was sold into Egypt. 

Despite the severe financial, problems the church was suffering at that time, the Mormons purchased the scrolls for $2,400 – a large sum of money in those days. 

Joseph immediately began the translation of the first scroll.  He stated, “I commenced the translation of some of the characters or hieroglyphics, and much to our joy found that one of the rolls contained the writings of Abraham.” (Joseph Smith, History of the Church, vol. 2:235-236)

Consequently, he never began the translation of the supposed writings of Joseph of Egypt. 

In the eyes of the church members, this translation of Abraham’s record validated Joseph as a “prophet, seer, and revelator.” 

Contained with in it were unique and distinct doctrines. 

the pre-existence of spirits

eternal progression, and

the plurality of gods. 

It also introduced the first and only scriptural basis for denying the priesthood to people with black skin.

You’ll find the “curse of Cain” referred to in Abraham 1:21-27.

The value and impact of the Book of Abraham was recognized at once by the faithful, and Joseph continued to expound upon its contents in lectures and sermons right up to the time of his death. 

When we meet again, I would like to tell you what became of the papyrus scrolls.  It’s an intriguing story that you’ll want to hear.

Print