Kinderhook Plates – Part 1

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The Kinderhook Plates are a very important part of LDS church history.

In 1843 six brass plates – bell shaped – were found in a dug-up mound in Kinderhook, Illinois witnessed by nine individuals.

That could support the evidence for the Brass Plates of the Book of Mormon.

That is what those men thought when they saw the plates.   The plates had an ancient appearance with writing on them that looked like hieroglyphics. 

In fact, when the plates were taken and shown to Joseph Smith, he remarked that the figures or writing on them was similar to what was on the Book of Mormon brass plates. 

Smith claimed, that by the help of revelation he would be able to translate those plates.

The story of finding the Kinderhook Plates and drawings of the six plates was published in the Times and Seasons, which was the Church’s official newspaper.  Joseph was an editor and surely would not have allowed the story to be printed if it wasn’t true.

In time, Joseph Smith claimed that he actually did translated a portion of the plates.

How do we know for a fact that he translated the plates?

It comes from William Clayton’s diary, who was Joseph Smith’s private secretary. 

In the LDS History of the Church, vol. 5, page 372, Joseph Smith is documented as saying, “I insert fac-similes of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook.  I have translated a portion of them and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found.  He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and that he received his kingdom from the Ruler of heaven and earth.”

Thirteen years later, on April 25, 1856, W. P. Harris, who was one of the nine witnesses to the discovery of the plates, wrote a letter in which he admits the plates were forgeries.  He states that “I was present with a number at or near Kinderhook and helped to dig at the time the plates were found.  I made an honest affidavit to the same.  Since that time, Bridge Whitten said to me that he cut and prepared the plates and he and R. Wiley engraved them themselves.  Wilbourn Fugate appeared to be the chief, with R. Wiley and B. Whitten (The Book of Mormon? by James D. Bales, pp. 95-96).

How do we know that W. P. Harris who wrote that letter was telling the truth about the plates being a forgery?

Because on June 30, 1879, Wilbourne Fugate, who was mentioned as chief of the nine witnesses, wrote a letter in which he admitted his part in the hoax.  That letter can be found in the LDS September 1962 Improvement Era magazine entitled, “Letter of W. Fugate, as cited in The Kinderhook Plates” by Welby W. Ricks. 

Mr. Fugate states, “I received your letter in regard to those plates and will say in answer that they are a humbug, gotten up by Robert Wiley, Bridge Whitten and myself.  We read in Pratt’s prophecy that ‘Truth is yet to spring out of the earth.’  We concluded to prove the prophecy by way of a joke.”

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Book of Abraham – Part 4

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Gospel Topics Essays on LDS.org

There is an important one released in 2014 titled: “Translation and Historicity of the Book of Abraham”. 

It starts off by stating, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints embraces the book of Abraham as scripture.”

I’m surprised Church leaders embrace the Book of Abraham after all the problems I pointed out in our previous conversations.  The Book of Abraham is perhaps the biggest reason church members are leaving Mormonism. 

The reason is because there is plenty of evidence to show this LDS Scripture is fraudulent.

Honestly Elders, I believe the Book of Abraham is an embarrassment to the LDS Church.

The Book of Abraham is supposed to be evidence of the inspired calling of the Prophet Joseph Smith.  But it turns out, Smith never translated the ancient writings of Abraham like he claimed he did.  That has been proven beyond a doubt. 

But haven’t LDS scholars proposed a number, of theories to support the reliability of the Book of Abraham?

Yes, but none of these theories has been able to hold up when all the evidence is considered.

It would be worth your time to read “By His Own Hand Upon Papyrus” by Charles Larson for explanations of those theories.  He  shows that there is absolutely no support for Smith’s translation.

Egyptologists all agree that Smith’s translation was inaccurate and that his papyrus source was, in fact, of pagan origin, having nothing to do with father Abraham.

To put it another way – Not a single word, thought, or concept, including his explanations of his three facsimiles, is in any way related to the subject matter of the Egyptian texts from which they were supposedly translated.

It says in the essay, “The book of Abraham’s status as scripture ultimately rests on faith in the saving truths found within the book itself as witnessed by the Holy Ghost.”

So, the greatest evidence of the truthfulness of the book of Abraham is not found in an analysis of the physical evidence nor historical background, but it is primarily a matter of faith. 

The Bible is very clear that we must “prove all things” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).  We are supposed to “try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the word” (1 John 4:1).  The Bereans were considered nobler than the Thessalonians because they tested the truth of everything against scripture (Acts 17:11).  

It is completely unbiblical for the essay to say that facts ought to take a back seat to faith.

Here’s another thing to consider – There is no evidence a Jew like Abraham ever wrote in the Egyptian language. 

But one might notice that Abraham traveled to Egypt and stayed for a while.

But ask yourself – Why would Abraham have written in Egyptian hieroglyphics belonging to foreign pagans who worshiped other gods?   It is simply illogical!

The essay says, “Much like the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith’s translation of the book of Abraham was recorded in the language of the King James Bible.  This was the idiom of scripture familiar to early Latter-day Saints, and its use was consistent with the Lord’s pattern of revealing His truths.”

It is clear, that Joseph Smith plagiarized the Book of Abraham from the Book of Genesis to make it sound biblical.

It is obvious why the Mormon Church needs to maintain the Book of Abraham as authentic.  As an intellectual leader and historian of the LDS Church, B.H. Roberts noted: “If Joseph Smith’s translation of Egyptian parchment could be discredited, and proven false, then doubt would be thrown also upon the genuineness of his translation of the Book of Mormon, and thus all pretensions as a translator would be exposed and come to naught.” (Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Vol. 2 p. 138)

The essay concludes: “The veracity and value of the book of Abraham cannot be settled by scholarly debate concerning the book’s translation and historicity.  The book’s status as scripture lies in the eternal truths it teaches and the powerful spirit it conveys.” 

It is time for the LDS Church to de-canonize the Book of Abraham.  But, the Book of Abraham is so full of distinct LDS doctrines that it can never be discounted as inauthentic without throwing Joseph Smith’s reputation out the window. 

The Gospel Topic Essay regarding the translation of the Book of Abraham does not provide the answers necessary to stem the tide of defection among Latter-day Saints. 

I realize many members won’t care how Joseph did it.  All they know is that it was done.  If members begin to question, they are regarded as weak in their faith, so most never allow themselves to do so. 

As a, result they fall for another JosephSmyth.

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John 7-10 – Come Follow Me

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If Jesus alone was from above – where did, we come from?  The answer may surprise you.

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This review from the LDS, Come Follow Me manuals for Sunday School, Families, and Individuals covers the lesson plan for John 7 through 10.
The manual begins with an overview of today’s lesson: “Although Jesus Christ came to bring ‘peace and good will toward me’ (Luke 2:14), there was a ‘division among the people because of him’ (John 7:43).  People who witnessed the same events came to very different conclusions about who Jesus was.  Some concluded, ‘He is a good man,’ while others said, ‘He decieveth the people.’ (John 7:12).  When He healed a blind man on the Sabbath, some insisted, ‘This man is not of God, because he keepeth not the sabbath day,’ while others asked, ‘How can a man that is a sinner do such miracles?’ (John 9:16).  Yet despite all the confusion, those who searched for truth recognized the power in His words, for ‘never man spake like this man’ (John 7:46).  When the Jews asked Jesus to ‘tell us plainly’ whether he was the Christ, He revealed a principle that can help us distinguish truth from error.  ‘My sheep hear my voice.’  He said, ‘and I know them, and they follow me (John 10:27).’”
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I believe it was C.S. Lewis who said something like “There are really only three options we are dealing with here: 1. If He claims to be the Son of God and He is not, then He is a liar.  2. Maybe He thought He was the Son of God, but He’s not, then He’s a lunatic.  Or, 3. He IS who He said He was, the Son of God.”
Okay, it is the Fall season now, and Jesus will be crucified and resurrected in the spring.  He is traveling and teaching in Galilee but will go to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Tabernacles.  As John begins in chapter 7, he informs us that many of the Savior’s own close relatives do not believe He is the Messiah until after the resurrection.  His brother, James became the leader in Jerusalem and wrote the Book of James.  Judas – not Iscariot – changed his name to Jude and wrote the book of Jude. 
In Jerusalem, Jesus went into the temple and taught.  Verse 15 “And the Jews marveled, saying How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?”  They were looking for His credentials.  He never attended Rabbinical theological school.  How does He know so much?  Of course, this was Jesus – the Word of God – made flesh.  So, if anyone would know what was truly taught in the Law and the Prophets by the mouth of God it would have been Jesus.    Verse 16 “Jesus answered them, and said, My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me.”  In other words, “my teachings are coming from God, who is in heaven, and that makes everything I say, divinely inspired.” 
Then, He adds a passage rich in meaning.  Verse 17 “If any man will do his will, he shall know the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.”  We must ask here – “What is God’s will?”  For those who do not know Him His will is singular in nature – to believe, to have faith upon His Son.  Back in John 6:29 Jesus said, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”  And in 1 John 3:23 “And this is his commandment, ‘That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.’”  So, to “do his will” – God’s will – is to believe and to love.  Take note here, that Jesus was working to bring men to God’s doctrine – not a man’s doctrine.  The invisible God was not known to us, so His Word became flesh, and dwelled among us, and revealed to us the will, and ways, and words of the invisible God.  Jesus is saying, “I’m not here to teach you heavenly things from my flesh, from my humanity – but as I receive them from God.”
Verse 28 “Then cried Jesus in the temple as he taught, saying, Ye both know me, and ye know whence I am: and I am not come of myself, but he that sent me is true, whom ye know not” You know me as the carpenter’s son.  But I came not to represent myself or my ideas.  Verse 29 “But I know him: for I am from him, and he hath sent me.”  You know me as a man, but the one who sent me – God – you don’t know.  But I know Him for I am from Him, and He hath sent me.  That meant Jesus came from the presence of God.  The Jews didn’t believe anyone came from God’s presence.  How did they respond to this?  Verse 30 “Then they sought to take him: but no man laid hands on him, because his hour was not yet come.” 
One of the most distinguishing characteristics of Jesus as compared to other human beings is His heavenly origin.  Because of His origins – that He came from God literally out of God Himself – He is the only human being who could ever claim from birth to literally know Him.  No other human being knows God, but Jesus knows God because He came from Him.  I would suggest that prior to the incarnation of Christ there was God – Theos – period.  There was no Father, no Son.  Just God.  John tells us in John 1:1 that His Word was with Him from the beginning, but they were and are the Words of God.  When His Word was made flesh, and God issued forth a Son, He became the Father – as Jesus, the Word of God – became the Son.  So, here in John 7:28-29 Jesus clearly teaches who He is and where His outer person is from and then from whence His inner being originated.  And in verse 30 they wanted to kill Him because He was making Himself equal to God.
Now, we begin the 8th chapter of John.  Jesus is teaching at the temple again.  The scribes and Pharisees are frustrated in their attempts to discredit Jesus and get Him arrested.  Here we read of another attempt to trap Him in His words, as these Jewish leaders drag a woman taken in adultery to Jesus, in front of the crowd, and ask what He recommends be done to her.  Their hope is that they can get Him to say something in opposition to the Law of Moses concerning punishment for adultery, in order that they can have Him arrested.  They claimed that she was caught while she was doing the very act – there was no question as to guilt.  Don’t we wonder why these Jewish leaders didn’t also bring the man who was involved with the with woman to the Savior?  Perhaps he was one of their own.  Such hypocrisy! 
They remind Jesus of what the Law of Moses said regarding the matter, and then ask a question.  Verse 5 “Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?”  Imagine how quiet it was as the crowd hushed in, an attempt to hear the, Master’s response.  Imagine how frightened the woman was.  Then John gives us some insight into what they were trying to do – trip Jesus up.  Verse 6 “This they said, tempting him (trying to lure Him into a trap), that they might have to accuse him (build a legal case against Him)But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.”  Don’t you just love the Lord?  He was so calm under this tense circumstance.  This wasn’t so much about the woman’s culpability as it was about Jesus.  These Jewish leaders knew that Jesus hung out with publicans and sinners.  They charged that His disciples were unclean because they didn’t wash before eating, etc.  They already claimed Jesus was a “glutton” and “a wine-bibber,” and a Sabbath-breaker.  Maybe they expected Him to publicly renounce all of their laws of morality – and then they’d have Him trapped.  Pretty well thought out strategy.  But He was silent.  Then He simply stooped down and wrote with His finger on the ground.  They might have wondered at first, if he was doodling in the dirt as it were, wondering how to respond?  
We do not read that Jesus ever wrote anything anywhere after this event.  But Moses who introduced the Nation of Israel to the law received the law written in stone.  Exodus 31:18 says “And he (God) gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God.”  There is no give in such laws written in stone.  Thus, the leaders wanted to challenge Jesus – “What say you, Jesus of Nazareth, of this woman who is guilty of breaking the seventh commandment etched in stone by the finger of God – ‘thou shalt not commit adultery’?”  And Jesus – God in the flesh – in response takes the finger of God (now in flesh) and writes in the same material as the Law written in stone…only now it is ground to dust.  In other words, under the law ALL are permanently guilty, but in Jesus, sin is about as lasting as writing them in sand. They are in Him – quickly erased and swept away.  It is thought that perhaps Jesus was writing these men’s names, along with their sins on the ground.  He didn’t blurt them out so the crowd could hear them.  He lovingly reproved these accusers of their own guilt before God. 
Verse 7 “So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, ‘He that is without sin among you let him first cast a stone at her.’”  Here Jesus introduces a new way to view the failures of others – to first look in the mirror.  He was echoing what He said back in Matthew 7 “Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.”  Notice He doesn’t say “he that has never committed the same sin of adultery among you cast the first stone.  But “He that is without SIN among you, let Him cast the first stone.”  So, while refusing to comment on the legal nature of the matter and fall into their trap, He turns it on each of the men.  Ingenious!  Verse 8-9 “And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.  And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.”  And when these men left – there was only the woman – alone with Jesus.  As with us today, there shouldn’t be anyone with “authority” over us – not a pastor, a priest, or a bishop – to judge our standing with God.  Jesus alone is our judge and jury – no other.  He was the one who paid for our sins, and He is the only one we confess them to. 
So, there she is facing the Lord, and what does He say to her?  Verses 10-11 “When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?  She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go and sin no more.”  And in wrapping up this story we have a living illustration of mercy triumphing over justice.  If we want to help bring the sinner into a full repentant relationship with the Savior – we need to show them the goodness of God living in and through us.  Like Christ – be loving and longsuffering and patience to them in the face of their sins.  That is what the Lord expects of us. 
John 8:18-19 “I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.  Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father?  Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.”  This whole concept was new to the Jews, who did not read the word “Father” assigned to God throughout the entire Old Testament.  The major exception is Isaiah 9:6 where the title “Father” is assigned to the Son.  So, to the faithful Jews, calling God – Father – was unheard of.  To them He was Jehovah, the Lord God.  For Jesus to refer to His Father – was totally foreign to their minds.  What was the Jews response?  They ask Him “where is thy Father?”  They were mocking Him.  The Latter-day Saint would reply, “if you’ve seen me you’ve seen my dad, cause we look so much alike.”  But that is very humanistic.  When Jesus says that to know Him – to discern Him – is to know and discern the Father.  That is why God was able to send His Son as the one to represent Him.  And, those who seek truth – see truth. 
John 8:23 “And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.”  If there had been a pre-existence, Jesus would have said “I am from above, and you are too!  You are literal spirit children of Heavenly Father as well, we are spirit siblings – I am you’re elder spirit brother.  We all come form the same place, we all have the same spiritual DNA.”  Instead, He is saying they are not even from above.  He is establishing His credentials.  Neither those Jews, nor we, had a pre-existence but were created at birth.  He is the ONLY one who is from above.   
Verse 30-32 “As he spake these words, many believed on him.  Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”  Free from what?  Free from the law of sin, and death and ignorance (Romans 6:22; Romans 8:2; James 1:25).
Verse 42 “Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.”  God becomes our Father when we receive His Son.  John 1:12-13 “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.  Where were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.”  We have to be born again to become a son and daughter of God.
The stage is set – John’s gospel was to plainly show the divinity of Jesus Christ. The conversation had led to one of the greatest quotes during Jesus’ earthly life.  Verse 58 “Jesus said unto them, ‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am’.”  What is the meaning of this line “Before Abraham lived, I lived”?  That referenced what God said of Himself in Exodus 3:14 which is the most holy name for God found in the Old Testament – I AM. Jesus’ is saying that, as eternal God, I am without beginning or end, uncreated, from the beginning – from everlasting to everlasting – God.  On this all Christians can agree.  Others listening or watching this, may not.  If they don’t then they don’t understand the truth of the Word.  And how did the Jews responsd to His incomprehensible claim?  Verse 59 “Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them and so passed by.”  Because the Jews finally understood clearly who Jesus is claiming to be – equal to God – they are angry with Him.  But He miraculously escapes them. 
Beginning in John chapter 9 verse 1, we read “And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from birth.”  People in those days believed the false notion that physical illness or defect in general was caused by sin.  Verse 2 “And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  It seems the blind man was completely unaware of Jesus.  Of course, this is a picture of spiritual blindness – the result of sin and having the light obscured from the realization of their need for the Messiah – and waiting for the light and salvation of the world to be made known to them.  In general, this man is a picture of all human beings – we are all born blinded by our fallen nature and needing a Redeemer.  Now, this passage in Mormonism is frequently used to defend their teaching of a pre-mortal existence.  As an LDS missionary, I would use this verse to defend the idea of a pre-existence.  I would say, “How else would this man – who was born blind – sin unless it was in the pre-mortal life?”  In fact, the manual makes a comment “It is also interesting to note that the disciples’ question in John 9:2 revealed that they believed in the premortal existence, a doctrine that was lost to Christianity during the Great Apostasy but restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith (see D&C 93:29; Moses 4:14; Abraham 3:22-26).”  I find it interesting that not only is the doctrine of pre-existence not found anywhere in the Old or New Testaments, but neither is it mentioned in the Book of Mormon.  That’s because – as we have taught in a previous lesson – only Jesus, the Son of God, came from above – from the presence of the Father.  Jesus Himself declared it.  Mormonism is the only religion that believes in a pre-earth life.  It all came from the evolved theology in the mind of Joseph Smith.    
In the face of the question, “who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind?”  Verse 3 “Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” Jesus dispels any question related to blame.  Then, verse 4 and 5 “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  Again, this healing is but a physical picture of the spiritual light He shines into the blind hearts of all people.   We have to take note in this situation, that Jesus never asks the man born blind if he believes before taking action.  Jesus was the one who chose him to heal.  Verse 6 “When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.”  Jesus then instructs the man to wash in the pool of Siloam, which he did.  And at that moment he could see.  This is symbolic of us washing our spiritual eyes in the living water from Christ. 
This was a BIG miracle since it was firmly established, by the proof of years and years, that this man was certainly blind – from birth.  But the neighbors questioned, if this was the same guy.  He assured them he was.  He said a man named Jesus healed him.  But he didn’t know where Jesus went.   Next, the neighbors brought him to the Pharisees of the Sanhedrim.  Probably because this healing took place on the Sabbath.  When questioned by them, he recounted the whole experience.  The Pharisees reacted by saying this man Jesus was not of God.  How could He do miracles if He was violating the Sabbath?  The miracle must have been done through trickery or from an evil source.  The healed blind man was asked in his opinion who was this Jesus?  And the man, not aware of the Lord and His divinity plainly tells them, He is a prophet – meaning He is from God.  Now, the man has gone too far by saying Jesus was a prophet – from God.  So, the Jews called in the man’s parents and wanted verification from them that their son had been born blind.  They confirmed that fact but said they didn’t know how or by whom he received his sight.  They really didn’t want anything to do with this matter for fear that the religious leaders would excommunicate them for mentioning the Christ.  They rather differed to their son to answer all the questions. 
The religious rulers were in a predicament.  A miracle had occurred at the hands of man who they either saw as a sinner, or knew He was the Messiah but sought to destroy Him anyway.  So, they told the healed blind man once again that the Healer was a sinner.   And what does the healed man say?  Verse 25 “He answered and said, Whether he be a sinner or no, I know not: one thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see.”    But the lawyers kept pushing the man about how he was healed.  Then comes a great verse to show how emboldened he had become in such a short time from being a blind beggar to now putting this counsel in their place.  Verse 27 “I have told you already, and ye did not hear: wherefore would ye hear it again?  Will ye also be his disciples?”  Having been healed this man, after all that he has been through in his life – he was fearless.  Well, his response was not received too well.  Angered, the Pharisees reviled him.  How dare he teach THEM!  It says in verse 34 “And they cast him out.”   This means not only did they remove him from their presence – from the synagogue – it meant excommunication – to silence him.  There are many today, who publicly confess that Jesus is enough – and they are dragged into a church disciplinary courts.  And like the man, many today lose their community of friends and family because they chose Jesus.  Strong parallels here in Scripture.  The people who are blind in this story are the people who think they can see.
The man had been cast out.  He had sought the light, was blessed and refused to turn on the source that healed him.  And yet he remained unaware of who the healer really was.  But look what happens next – another act of unsolicited grace.  Just as we are cast out of religion – God finds us.  Verse 35 “Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when he had found him, he said unto him, Dost thou believe on the Son of God?”  Jesus was offering the free gift of eternal life – if the man was ready to accept it.  “Do you believe on the Son of God?”  Verse 36 “He answered and said, Who is he, Lord, that I might believe on him?”  Remember, the man had not yet even laid eyes on Jesus at this point.  Verse 37 “And Jesus said unto him, Thou hast both seen him, and it is he that talketh with thee.”  Verse 38 “And he said, Lord, I believe.  And he worshipped him.”  This man could not only see with his physical eyes – God incarnate – who he worshipped, but he perceived and understood with his spiritual eyes who the Son of God is.  As a result, he was born of the Spirit – born again.  And, my favorite statement, “One thing I know – I was blind – now I see”
Next in John chapter 10, the Master uses the imagery of a shepherd leading his sheep to illustrate that He is the Good Shepherd, and other unauthorized shepherds try to sneak in and lead the sheep astray.  In the days of Jesus, it was a common practice for several shepherds to keep their sheep overnight in the same enclosure, so that only one guard would have to be on duty through the night.  The next morning, each shepherd would come to the enclosure, identify himself to the guard, and the literally call his own sheep to come out of the herd to him, often calling each of his sheep by its own name.  His sheep recognized his voice and came out of the herd and followed him throughout the day as he led them to pasture and water.  Jesus explains in verse 7 “I am the door of the sheep.”  He is the gatekeeper.  We remember that when Christ died on the cross the temple veil was torn from top to the bottom signifying that no longer was God accessible through other men – high priests – but was open to all mankind in and through faith on His Son.  He is the portal, the entry, the way, the door.  John 14:6 “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  Jesus says the same thing in John 10:9 by saying, “I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”  With Him there is safety in and out of the sheepfold.  Verse 14-15 “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.  As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  And He did that for us on the cross. 
At last, we come to a very familiar verse to the Latter-day Saints.  John 10:16 “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”   I can’t tell you how many times on my LDS mission, I quoted that scripture in reference to the Book of Mormon.  As missionaries, we taught that Jesus was speaking of the Nephites on the American continent.  We would turn to 3 Nephi 15:21 and read the same words that are in John 10:16.  Supposedly, Jesus while visiting the Nephites following his resurrection also said in 3 Nephi 16:1 that there were other sheep which were not of those in America OR Jerusalem, but as it says in 3 Nephi 17:4, those other – OTHER sheep – Jesus was referring to were the Lost Ten Tribes. 
Of course, this is laughable – being that when Jesus says, in John 10:16 “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:” He was speaking specifically of the Jews or Nation of Israel as “this fold” and the “other sheep” were those non-Jews or gentiles – whom Jesus did NOT come for initially.  So, the “other sheep” told about in the Book of Mormon would be impossible, since the Nephites themselves, were supposed to be descendants of Hebrew Jews – not gentiles. 
With that we will conclude our review of John chapters 7 through 10.
Thanks for watching our weekly Come Follow Me podcast.  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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Matthew 6-7 – Come Follow Me

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This lesson is a continuation of The Sermon on the Mount that began in chapter 5.  The manual reminds us that “the Sermon on the Mount is one of the best-known discourses in Christianity.”

The text starts out by addressing the proper motives for giving.  In the Lord’s time, begging was commonplace.  The Pharisees were willing to give but because of their hearts and the way they had interpreted godliness, their giving was very ostentatious.   In a faith where everything ought to be done from the heart and unto the Lord, everything would be done without a care for what others see.  In order to assess the, actions we take, we might ask ourselves WHY am I doing this?  For what purpose and to what end?  As it says in Matthew 6:1 “to be seen of them” – in other words, “to be seen of men”? Or, to completely honor God?  The praise of men – their noticing us – the recognition they bestow goes a long way in feeding our pride.  Jesus makes it clear that He wants His disciples to get motivated and enthused by other means.  In the end, the only way to follow His directives is to ensure that the reason we give alms, or pray, or whatever it is we do – is because we love the Lord above all other things. 

What are our motives for giving?  Jesus warns about being a hypocrite in doing something right for the wrong reason.  Matthew 6:3-4 “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and they Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.”  It is really, difficult to not tell somebody when you do a good deed.  It’s hard to keep it a complete secret.  Our pride seeks some acknowledgement.  Instead, all recognition and praise for the opportunity to serve someone else should go to God. 

Jesus continues on to a new subject with the very same message.  Matthew 6:5 “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.  Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”  Jews, Muslims, and some Catholics today will suspend whatever they were doing to pay their devotions and offer prayers.  There is no problem with that as, long as it is not just to be seen of men. 

Matthew 6:6 “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to they Father which is in secret; and they Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”  A place where no ear will hear you but His ear, and no eye can see you but His eye.  Maybe it’s your car, backyard, bathroom, or bedroom, you might get the urge at, the moment regardless of where you are, to just to close your eyes and pray.  It says in, Ephesians 5:20 “Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Psalm 34:1 “I will bless the LORD at all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Rejoice evermore.  Pray without ceasing.  In every, thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.”  And remember, praying for someone is just as effective and powerful as anything we can do for them. 

Matthew 6:7 “But when you pray, do not use vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”  The manual states “People often understand ‘vain repetitions’ to mean repeating the same words over and, over again.  However, the word ‘vain’ can describe something that has no value.  Using ‘vain repetition’ in prayer can mean prayer without sincere, heartfelt feeling.”  Jesus here was referring to any type of religious communication that was delivered for reasons other than humble conversation with the Lord.  Christ does not fix the length of our prayers.  When we pray be sincere, speak from the heart, and don’t think that certain formulas or special phrases are necessary.  Matthew 6:8Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” 

The LDS Church has three set-prayers that must be recited perfectly without variation – The baptismal prayer, and the two sacrament prayers by which baptismal covenants are renewed.   The baptismal prayer found in Doctrine and Covenants 20:73, typically happens once in a Mormon’s life-time.  Sacrament prayers found in Doctrine and Covenants 20:77–79 – one for the bread and the other for the wine (today water) – are repeated each Sunday throughout tens of thousands of Wards and Branches around the world.  Again, those prayers have, to be repeated verbatim.  Any mistakes in giving those prayers, and they have, to start over from the beginning and given perfectly – which can create some awkward moments in church.  Could those weekly prayers be considered vain repetition?  I guess if members are partaking of the sacramental emblems without much thought as to the what they are doing – that could be considered vain repetitions.   

Growing up in my home, we were taught to say the blessing on the evening meal.  This is the exact prayer we always said “Our Father in Heaven, we’re grateful for this food; bless the hands that prepared it; bless the food that it will give strength and nourishment to our bodies. Amen.”  We would say it as fast as we could so we could get to the food.  Even then, I thought as a child how boring it must be for Heavenly Father to hear those prayers day after day.  Especially, when they lacked sincerity. 

The Savior now gives us what is commonly known as “The Lord’s Prayer.”  It is a beautiful example of prayer.  But there are people who have made it a prayer in and of itself, which to me, makes it a vain repetition.  The Lord’s Prayer is in Matthew 6:9-13 and, also recorded by Luke 11:24. But there it reads differently.  I think the fact that the apostles never utter these exact prayers in scripture proves this is the model not the mandatory method for prayer. 

Jesus then emphasizes from that example-prayer that one of the most important principles is the matter of forgiving others. 

And then He talks about what our priorities in life should be about – are we laying up treasures upon earth or laying up treasures in heaven? 

The Savior in Matthew 6:25-34 now turns from the multitude and addresses specifically His Apostles and some disciples, telling them how they will be taken care of by the Father during their ministries.  Some people have misapplied these verses, thinking it was meant for everyone.  For instance, they quit their jobs and trusted that the Lord will take care of them.  The Lord was telling His Apostles that they will have enough daily troubles in preaching the gospel, without the distraction of worrying about their physical needs.  They had a special call on their lives and were about to learn first hand what it would mean to TOTALLY trust and rely upon the Lord.

Matthew chapter 7 has some great teachings but for the sake of time, I will focus on one important warning that has to do with false prophets.  Here the manual asks the Sunday School instructor “How can you help them understand how to discern false prophets and teachings from true ones?” Verse 15 warns us, “Beware of false prophets which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”  He is saying – they may seem harmless but are very dangerous to your spiritual well-being.  A true prophet is one who was regarded as a religious teacher.  A false prophet is a teacher of incorrect doctrine, or one who falsely lays claim to Divine inspiration or offers false information.  Notice how Jesus describes them – “which come to you in sheep’s clothing.”  Sheep are an emblem of innocence, sincerity, and harmlessness.  To come in sheep’s clothing then is to assume the appearance of sanctity and innocence, when the heart is actually evil.  Jesus is referring to false teachers who appear acceptable but are inwardly full of ravenous doctrine.  Ready to destroy a person’s life with their falsehoods. 

Today, we can see such wolves on religious television wanting money and riches in exchange for strange doctrine.  But Jesus tells us how to know them.  Matthew 7:16 “Ye shall know them by their fruits.”  In other words, we cannot know the value of a tree by the color or texture of its leaves, or bark, or the size of its trunk.  Neither can we look at the flowers in bloom or its buds.  The purpose and value of a tree is primarily its fruit.  So, it is with prophets or teachers of the Word of God.  Forget how they sound and appear – listen and look, taste the fruit they produce and compare it to the standard by which all truth is tested – the Word of God.  The fruit of the tree is the chief reason for its existence and the chief benefit to Man.  So, in the parallel, Jesus teaches that it is by the fruit which a person judges a fruit tree and, so also by the teachings do we determine the value of a prophet or teacher.  All the pretensions of religion mean nothing if the teachings are false. 

The manual asks, “What ‘fruit’s’ or outcomes, does following living prophet’s counsel produce?”  Adjacent to Temple Square in downtown Salt Lake City is the City Creek Shopping Center.  It is a beautifully decorated shopping mall with top of the line retail department stores.  I remember, in 2012, watching on television the grand opening.  Standing behind a giant red ribbon stood the First Presidency of the LDS Church, who helped cut the ribbon – opening the center for business.  President Thomas S. Monson shouted, “Let’s go shopping!”  I instantly thought – is that what a prophet declares to the world?   The cost of that mall was over 5 billion dollars.   I know I wasn’t alone in that moment feeling a little sick to my stomach and wondering – why would the LDS Church invest that much money of “sacred” funds into a shopping mall? 

City Creek with its beautiful leaves, and bark, and flowers, and shade were magnificent, but what about the fruit?  To what does the City Creek cater?  To what end does it exist?  Especially in, light of verses like 1 John 2:16 “For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.” 

Jesus then adds an interesting line to His point by asking in Matthew 7:16 “Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?”  In other words, every tree produces the kind of fruit it was created to produce.  An apple tree won’t produce a bunch of grapes.  A peach tree won’t produce a bunch of bananas.  Fruit trees produce the fruit they were intended to produce.  And both good prophets and bad prophets produce exactly the type of fruits that lie within them.  That is why Jesus says in the next verse, Matthew 7:17 “Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”  Adding to the point, Jesus says Matthew 7:18 “A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”

Now this is really, important when talking about prophets – false and true.  Likening them to trees, Jesus says a good tree cannot produce both good and bad fruit.  A good apple tree will always produce good apples and a peach tree will only produce good peaches.  And when we eat these apples and peaches, we can say, “What a good tree.”  However, a bad apple tree will produce bad apples.  There will be something wrong with them.  They’ll be sour, or hard, or deformed because the tree is bad at the core – at the root.  By likening this to false prophets we can say that a false prophet will always, and only, produce bad teachings.  And a true prophet will only produce good teachings.  A false prophet CANNOT produce good teachings.  And a true prophet CANNOT produce bad teachings – or he would cease to be a prophet. 

Now really think about this.  What Jesus is saying is that even if a false prophet produces fruit which appears to good, it cannot be deemed good, because in the end, it will lead to bad.  A good prophet cannot produce bad teachings and a false prophet cannot produce good teachings any more than a good tree can produce bad, fruit or a bad tree can produce good fruit.  Look at the end product.  Judge the fruit for it is by this end, product that you will know them. 

Speaking of false prophets Jesus continues saying, Matthew 7:19-20 “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down and cast into the fire.  Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.”  What about those false prophets that claim to speak for the Lord?  Jesus says Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”  Here Jesus teaches us that not everyone who is using His name will be admitted to heaven but only those who do the will of the Father which is in heaven.  This teaching almost makes it sound like we have to earn our place in order to enter heaven.  The question becomes then, “How does a person do the will of the Father?”  “Is it by becoming perfect in our flesh?”  We’ll answer this in a minute. 

But in the next verse, Jesus takes a moment to give us an example.  Matthew 7:22 “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name done many wonderful works?”  In other words there will be people who will justify their place in heaven by claiming to have done all sorts of apparently good and noble things in the name of the Lord.  Specifically, He chose these things as examples: “have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?”  He could have used anything as examples, but He used these three.  They have actually – not pretended to, but actually did all those things. And Jesus will say to them Matthew 7:23 “And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.”   

In this response we find, in part, what the will of the Father is for all – to know His Son.  In the John 17:3 Jesus says, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”  So, if and, when a person knows Him – He too, will know them.  In other words, He knows us, and will confess us to the Father just as we know Him.  Doing works in His name without knowing Him – even if successful in carrying them out – does not mean the person doing the works knows Him or that He knows them.  Even if a church does MANY, MANY wonderful works but does not teach biblical truth, their works will amount to Jesus saying to them “I never knew you.  Depart from me you that WORK iniquity.”  The manual asks, “What are the fruits of the work Joseph Smith accomplished?”  I’ll let you decide that for yourself whether those fruits were all good or potentially rotten.

What does verse 21 “but he that doeth the will of my Father” mean?  We might automatically think it means to do, to work, to earn, etc.  Later in John 6:28 the disciples asked, “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God.”  John 6:29 says, “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him who he hath sent.”  The first premise of work for the true Christian is believing on Him, whom God has sent.  As a result, believing on Jesus Christ, we begin to manifest and produce fruits of love for Him and others.  John taught in 1 John 3:22-23 – one of my favorite passages because it sums up all that is expected of us to inherit eternal life – “And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.  And this is his commandment, That we should BELIEVE on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and LOVE one another, as he gave us commandment.” 

Well, that concludes our review of Matthew chapter 6 and 7.

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Now is the Time

The
Book of Mormon teaches clearly…’now is the time for men (and women) to prepare
to meet God’.  This teaching is more
strongly emphasized just two verses later in Alma 34: 35:

  “…if
ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye
have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you
his:  therefore, the Spirit of the Lord
hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power
over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.”

The
question, then, is why do temple work for the dead?   I suppose an argument could be made for doing
temple work for the living thus providing a reward system for faithful members,
for performing marriage ceremonies and in providing a ‘bonding experience’ for
members of the church.  However, doing
work for the dead contradicts the teachings of the Book of Mormon. 

One
of the busy activities of the temple is baptism for the dead.  1 Corinthians 15:29 contains the only
reference to a practice called ‘baptism for the dead’.  It isn’t even mentioned in the Book of Mormon.  However, it is clear Paul is asking why do ‘they’do
these baptisms, if ’these people’ don’t believe in the resurrection.  He certainly is not teaching baptisms for the
dead.  Again, it is never mentioned anywhere
else in the Bible or Book of Mormon.

Consider
the time, money, construction, maintenance, and resources used to support the 160
or so LDS temples. Consider further the vast resources and time spent in
gathering names for members to ‘do work’ for the dead. 

Documenting
family history can be a fascinating investigation, but members of the church
consider themselves ‘saviors on Mount Zion” because they are providing eternal,
life-saving ordinances for the dead.  The
pride and belief that these ordinances, washings, baptisms, anointings, and
sealings will save people is both unbelievable and unbiblical. Further, that
the living can be a ‘savior’ minimizes the sacrifice of Jesus and the work He
did on the cross.  When Jesus died, He said,
“It is finished” and 3 of the 4 gospels document the veil of the temple being rent
in twain at His death; symbolizing that we no longer need anything, especially
temple ordinances, to intercede between us and God. 

Finally,
let’s not forget Jesus’ discussion in John 6: 28,29: “Then said they unto Him,
what shall we do, that we might work the works of God?  Jesus answered and said unto them, this is
the work of God, that ye believe on Him who He hath sent.”  The gospel message is simple, hopeful and full
of love.  John 3:16: “For God so loved
the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him,
should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  
And, John 17:3: “And this is life eternal, that might know thee the only
true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hath sent.” 

Temple work for the dead (or living) to gain everlasting life is a
man-made idea.  It is not supported by
the Bible or the Book of Mormon.

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Sabbath Established

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Mormons believe that Sabbath-day observance was established during the days of Adam and Eve.

I noticed the increased emphasis church leaders are putting on Sabbath day observances. 

Latter-day saints believe that Sabbath-day behavior is a, reflection of their commitment to honor and worship God.  By keeping the Sabbath day holy, they show God their willingness to keep their covenants.                                                  

Is there more to keeping the Sabbath day holy that is expected of Latter-day Saints?  

Yes, Latter-day Saints believe that it is a commandment the Lord has given us for our benefit.  Obedience to this commandment brings them peace in this life and eternal life in the world to come. 

Latter-day Saints believe the Sabbath is a day to enjoy a rest from labor.  they should refrain from shopping on the Sabbath and participating in other commercial and sporting activities that now commonly desecrate the Sabbath.                            

Latter-day Saints set this holy day apart from activities of the world by entering, into a spirit of worship, thanksgiving, service, and family-centered activities appropriate for the Sabbath.

So, for Mormons, the Old Testament Covenant of Sabbath-keeping is carried forward into modern times?  Even though it was not included in the New Testament Covenant?

Let’s look at the context of the command in the Old Testament?  In, order to fully understand the Sabbath-day, first mentioned in Exodus 20, it must be seen in the context to whom it was given – The Children of Israel. 

When we read the ten commandments in their context found in Exodus, Chapters 19-24, they are inseparably connected with the Old Covenant of the Law given to the Children of Israel.

The Israelites under the Mosaic Law were to perform no work on Saturday which was the seventh-day of the week.  And, the penalty for desecrating the Sabbath with work was death (Exodus 31:14; Numbers 15:32-36). 

Doesn’t the true Sabbath go back to what God did at the end of creation?  Genesis 2:2-3 says,“And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.  And God blessed the seventh day,and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.” 

Latter-day Church leaders have taught that Sabbath-day observance has been instituted since the says of Adam and Eve.

That’s not true!  The Sabbath “rest” was not instituted at the creation.  Adam and Eve didn’t observe the Sabbath-day.  Why would they?  They were in the Garden with God.  There was no labor to complete. 

The Genesis record was written by Moses as an explanation of why there was a Sabbath, not as evidence of there being a Sabbath at that time.  The Children of Israel did not practice the Law of the Sabbath before Sinai. 

So, what does it mean that God rested on the seventh day from all his work? 

It certainly doesn’t mean God was tired and needed a break. We know that God is all-powerful. He never tires. 

Then, what does it mean that God rested on the seventh day? 

Simply that He stopped what He was doing.  He ceased from His labors.  He stopped creating.  “It was finished!”.  Sound familiar?  The Hebrew word for Sabbath is sabat, which means “to rest or stop or cease from work.” 

God used the example of His resting on the seventh day of Creation to establish the principle of the Sabbath day rest for His people.  “Works” were not required.

Latter-day Saints believe the Sabbath is a perpetual covenant?  God told Israel in Exodus 31:13 “…My sabbaths ye shall keep: for it is a sign between me and you through-out your generations…”

However,believers today, being under the New Covenant, are not bound to keep the sign of the Old Covenant.

With the establishment of the Mosaic Law, the Jews were constantly laboring to make themselves acceptable to God.  As hard as they tried to obey a myriad of do’s and don’ts they couldn’t possibly keep all those laws.  So, God provided an array of sin offerings and sacrifices so they could come to Him for forgiveness and restore fellowship with Him. 

But this was only temporary.  Hebrews 10:1 tells us that the law “can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship.” 

Weren’t those sacrifices offered in anticipation of the ultimate sacrifice of Christ on the cross?

Yes!  Hebrews 10:12 says that Christ “…after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God.”  He ceased from His labor of the atonement because there was nothing more to be done.  It was finished?

We no longer need to observe the Sabbath?

Because of what Jesus did, we no longer have to labor in law-keeping in order to be justified in the sight of God.  Jesus was sent so that we might rest in God. 

In Christ we find complete rest from the labors of our self-effort, because He alone is holy and righteous. 

2 Corinthians 5:21

“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.” Now we can cease from our spiritual labors and rest in Him.  Not just one day a week, but always.

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Salvation

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What is the Mormon concept of salvation?

Bruce R.McConkie said in his book “Mormon Doctrine”,

“Unconditional or general salvation, that which comes by grace alone without obedience to gospel law, consists in the mere fact of being resurrected.”  And then a couple pages later says,“Immortalityis a free gift and comes without works or righteousness of any sort; all menwill come forth in the resurrection because of the atoning sacrifice ofChrist…In this sense, the mere fact of resurrection is called salvation by grace alone.” (p. 669, 671)

So “unconditional” salvation by grace comes through the resurrection for all mankind.  But you’re also taught, that “conditional” salvation comes through personal works of righteousness.

LDS Third Article of Faith declares: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

Meaning the laws and ordinances of Mormonism.

Latter-Day Saints believe in doing all one can do and then believing that the grace of God will make up for what we lack. 

I’m familiar with the passage in the Book of Mormon – 2 Nephi 25:23 that declares: “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”

This Book of Mormon teaching creates a sense of pride in a Mormon for doing their part to make themselves “worthy”, doesn’t it?

We try to avoid being prideful, but our efforts to keep the commandments is what helps us earn God’s grace.” – They say

However, the abundance of clear biblical scripture leaves no room for us to think our own works could save us in any degree.  I would like to lay a biblical foundation of God’s point of view. 

Isaiah 64:6

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags…”

The Apostle Paul has a lot to say about this.  Galatians 2:16 “Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.”

And, Galatians 5:4 “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.”

Romans 10:4

“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”

Romans 11:6

“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace.  But if it be of works, then it is no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.”

Titus 3:5  

“Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

You see, the emphasis is not on merit or works.  Rather on grace – God’s free, gift.

How then are we to understand what was said in James 2:20 “But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?”

James is not arguing for good works as a, means to salvation, but rather as a product of salvation.  It might be put like this: “Faith alone saves, but a saving faith is never alone.” 

We are justified before God on, the basis of faith alone and before men on the, basis of our works.  So, we can see that “works” are a result of a life lived out of love for God.  But if one claims to be saved and shows no “works”, he is not truly saved.

What about Philippians 2:12 where it says, ”Wherefore my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”

Notice, that it does not say “work FOR your salvation” but “work out your salvation” (that which you already possess).  The following verse 13 tells us, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”

If the Apostle Paul were telling us we had to do works to be saved, he would be contradicting himself in the very next chapter, Philippians 3:9 says, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith.”

The gospel is the “good news” that Christ purchased our salvation for us.  He redeemed us in full.  All that is left for us to do is believe in Him and receive His free, gift.  “His works” will be manifested in our lives.  

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Article Bible References

  • Isaiah 64:6

  • Galatians 5:4

  • Romans 10:4

  • Titus 3:5

  • James 2:20

  • Philippians 2:12-13

  • Philippians 3:9