False Prophecies – Moon Men

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Didn’t the Mormon Prophet, Joseph Smith predict there were inhabitants on the moon?

Where did he get his information?  Was it revealed to him? 

The idea that men were living on the moon goes even farther back than the times of Joseph Smith.  But the 19th century was filled with such speculation, coming from the imaginations of men.  Books like Jules Vernes’ classic “The First Men in The Moon” was published in 1801.  And, there was the “Great Moon Hoax” which refers to a series of six articles that were published in “The Sun,” a New York newspaper in 1835, about the supposed discovery of civilization on the Moon by a best-known astronomer at that time.  It wasn’t true, but many people thought it was real at first. 

Mormons back then probably didn’t think the idea of men on the moon was that odd since they were also taught by their leaders that God had created other planets and worlds with people on them.  So, why not the Moon?

There is no evidence linking Joseph Smith to the Moon-Men statement firsthand.  But his brother Hyrum Smith and later the Prophet Brigham Young both believed the moon was inhabited – as well as the Sun.  Human speculation is one thing, but when those who call themselves prophets jump into the argument, their statements are usually taken with a little more gravity – especially when some of them preach such things from the pulpit.

There were patriarchal blessings given in the 19th century that told of men who were going to preach the gospel on the Moon. 

Can you imagine receiving that kind of promise in your patriarchal blessing?

In 1892 an article appeared in the “Young Women’s Journal” (an official church magazine) Vol. 3 pp. 263, 264.  It’s author, Oliver B. Huntington wrote: “Nearly all the great discoveries of men in the last half century have, in one way or another, either directly or indirectly, contributed to prove Joseph Smith to be a Prophet.  As far back as 1837, I know that he said the moon was inhabited by men and women the same as the earth, and that they lived to a greater age than we do – that they lived generally to near the age of one-thousand years.  He described the men as averaging near six feet in height and dressing quite uniformly in something near the Quaker style.” 

Oliver goes on to say, “In my Patriarchal blessing, given by the father of Joseph the Prophet, in Kirtland, 1837, I was told that I would preach the gospel to the inhabitants upon the islands of the sea, and – to the inhabitants of the moon, even the planet you can now behold with your eyes.”   

Here is an excerpt from the Patriarchal Blessing of Lorenzo Snow (future Prophet of the Church), from the blessing book of Joseph Smith, Sr. on December 15, 1836: “Thou shalt have power to translate thyself from one planet to another – power to go to the moon if thou shalt desire it.” 

Then we have this statement by Brigham Young that he preached over the pulpit as a prophet of God: “Who can tell us of the inhabitants of this little planet that shines of an evening, called the moon?  When we view its face, we may see what is termed ‘the man in the moon,’ and what some philosophers declare are the shadows of mountains.  But these sayings are very vague, amount to nothing; and when you inquire about the inhabitants of that sphere you find that most learned are as ignorant in regard to them as the most ignorant of their fellows.  So, it is with regard to the inhabitants of the sun.  Do you think it is inhabited?  I rather think it is.  Do you think there is life there?  No question of it; it was not made in vain.” 

Mormons will say, well, these are only opinions.  But if you read those quotes in full context, you can see they are not just opinions.  Brigham and others used it to teach principles of the Mormon gospel. 

Also, according to Brigham Young in Journal of Discourses, vol. 13 p. 95, he said: “I have never yet preached a sermon and sent it out to the children of men, that they may not call Scripture.”

But of course, none of these predictions ever happened.  There were no Moon Quakers.  But it is obvious that this teaching originated from none other than Joseph Smith the Mormon prophet.  The story of the Moon-men is just another example of how Joseph gave his followers information that appeared to be revelatory but could not be proven at the time – which many bought into and took to heart as true. 

But even though science began replacing speculation regarding an inhabited moon, Mormons refused to give up on their belief, which they believed was rooted in revelation. 

But over a hundred years later, we have another Mormon prophet Joseph Fielding Smith on May 14, 1961 making this statement: “We will never get a man into space.  This earth is man’s sphere and it was never intended that he should get away from it.”  Then he adds: “The moon is a superior planet to the earth, and it was never intended that man should go there.  You can write it down in your book that this will never happen.” 

Eight years later, in 1969, we watched our televisions as Astronauts walked on the moon.  

Lesson to be learned here by the LDS – don’t risk your salvation on men who make statements and predictions like these.  The Bible specifically warns in the Old and New Testaments about the dangers of listening to false prophets.  

We should only entrust our lives into the hands of Jesus Christ, who said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”  

 

Jesus is the only living Prophet we can put our trust in.  

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Who was Zelph?

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Let me tell you what I’ve read in LDS church history about this Zelph character. 

Joseph Smith and about 200 men, along with women and children calling themselves Zion’s Camp were marching from Kirtland, Ohio to Jackson County Missouri to redeem Zion. During their travels, on June 3, 1834, they came upon an earthen mound near the bank of the Illinois River.  

“The brethren procured a shovel and a hoe, and removing the earth to the depth of about one foot, discovered the skeleton of a man, almost entire, and between his ribs the stone point of a Lamanitish arrow, which evidently produced his death.  Elder Burr Riggs retained the arrow.  The contemplation of the scenery around us produced peculiar sensations in our bosoms; and subsequently the visions of the past being opened to my understanding by the Spirit of the Almighty, I discovered that the person whose skeleton was before us was a WHITE Lamanite, a large, thickset man, and a man of God.”

“His name was Zelph.  He was a warrior and chieftain under the great prophet Onandagus, who was known from the Hill Cumorah, or eastern sea to the Rocky Mountains.  The curse was taken from Zelph, or at least, in part – one of his thigh bones was broken by a stone flung from a sling, while in battle, years before his death.  He was killed in battle by the arrow found among his ribs, during the last great struggle of the Lamanites and Nephites.”

History of the Church, by Joseph Smith, volume 2, pages 79 and 80

And it’s supported by primary source material from the diaries kept by members of Zion’s Camp, including three future Presidents of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints – Wilford Woodruff, Heber C. Kimball, and George A. Smith.  There is remarkable harmony between all the accounts. 

And, who else but the prophet Joseph Smith would know that some ordinary-looking Indian bones belonged to a ‘white Lamanite named Zelph’?

That would prove that the Book of Mormon took place in North America and not in Central America – as other scholars have argued.

If Zelph, a righteous man, was fighting under a great prophet-general in the last battles between the Nephites and Lamanites, and if that great prophet-general was known from the Rocky Mountains to the Hill Cumorah or eastern area, then some of those battles, and evidently the final battles took place within the borders of what is now the United States.  

It is logical to assume that the Hill Cumorah located in New York, where Joseph dug up the plates that Moroni buried, must be the same Hill Cumorah that was the location of the two massive battles described in the Book of Mormon.

That’s right.  The hill where supposedly a total of 2.2 million Lamanite, Nephite, and Jaredite warriors battled to their deaths using steel swords and other weapons of war. 

If that is the case, then since no evidence of these massive battles has never been found in Cumorah, New York – no evidence of bones or weapons – those stories might be mere fiction.  If those two key stories are fiction – then it stands to reason the entire Book of Mormon may not be real history either. 

But Joseph was a prophet and he would never have fabricated the Book of Mormon. Right?

 

You know what I think?   The story of Zelph – even though it’s outside the narrative of the Book of Mormon – comes from a tendency of Joseph Smith to make up revelation on the fly to suit his purposes and to bolster faith in his followers.  

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False Prophecies of Joseph Smith – Temple in Independence, MO.

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Ava

Chris, we have already discussed a couple of prophecies given by Joseph Smith that failed.  How many more of these prophecies are there?

Chris

There are quite a few, actually.   But all prophecies can be put into certain categories. 

There are 4 categories of prophecies:

  1. There are open-dated prophecies:  These are easy because they are given without a specific time frame for their fulfillment.
  2. There are self-fulfilling prophecies:  These can be fulfilled on one’s own and require no outside action or event.
  3. There are conditional prophecies:  These only come true if a certain condition exists.  If a situation changes, the prophesy may also change.
  4. There are close-dated and unconditional prophesies:  These are specific and must come true within a particular time frame – without any mitigating conditions. 

Source: https://coldcasechristianity.com/writings/can-we-trust-the-prophecies-of-joseph-smith/

J. Warner


Ava

What about the prophesy of the Temple that was supposed to be built in Independence, Missouri? 

Chris

That one fits perfectly into the last category of prophecies – which are close-dated and unconditional prophesies:  These are specific and must come true within a particular time frame – without any mitigating conditions. 

Ava

The temple revelation was given on September 22nd and 23rd in the year 1832.  Joseph Smith foretold of an LDS temple that was to be built in Independence Missouri.  That prophesy can be found in Doctrine and Covenants Section 84, verses 2-5, 31.  I’ll read it: “Yea, the word of the Lord concerning his church, established in the last days for the restoration of his people, as he has spoken by the mouth of his prophets, and for the gathering of his saints to stand upon Mount Zion, which shall be the city of New Jerusalem.  Which city shall be built, beginning at the temple lot, which is appointed by the finger of the Lord, in the western boundaries of the State of Missouri, and dedicated by the hand of Joseph Smith, Jun., and others with whom the Lord was well pleased.  Verily this is the word of the Lord, that the city of New Jerusalem shall be built by the gathering of the saints, beginning at this place, even the place of the temple, which temple shall be reared IN THIS GENERATION.  For verily THIS GENERATION SHALL NOT ALL PASS AWAY until an house shall be built unto the Lord, and a cloud rest upon it, which cloud shall be even the glory of the Lord, which shall fill the house.  …which house shall be built unto the Lord IN THIS GENERATION, upon the consecrated spot as I have appointed.”  

That’s definitely an example of a close-dated, unconditional prophesy.   

Chris

Over 185 years later, there is still no temple on the “temple lot” specified in this prophecy.  Yet, early Mormon leaders made it quite clear the word “generation” meant those who were alive when the revelation was given in 1832. 

President Heber C. Kimball
“They are holy places, and they will be held sacred even as Jackson County..” “and I shall yet see the day that I will go back there, with brother Brigham and with thousands and millions of others, and we will go precisely according to the dedication of the Prophet of the living God.”
Elder George A. Smith
“And let me remind you that it is predicted that this generation shall pass away till a temple shall be built, and the glory of the Lord rest upon it, according to the promises.”
Elder Orson Hyde
“We believe in these promises as much as we believe in any promise ever uttered by the mouth of Jehovah. The Latter-day Saints just as much expect to receive a fulfillment of that promise during the generation that was in existence in 1832 as they expect that the sun will rise and set tomorrow. Why? Because God cannot lie. He will fulfill all His promises. He has spoken, it must come to pass. This is our faith.”
Joseph Fielding Smith
“I firmly believe that there will be some of that generation who were living when this revelation was given who shall be living when this temple is reared. And I do not believe that the Lord has bound himself to accomplish the matter within 100 years from 1832.”
1857
1861
1870
1935

 

Finally, after 140 years the Mormon church itself admitted this was a false prophesy.  Joseph Fielding Smith admitted there was no expectation this prophesy would ever come to pass.

Ava

The facts are:  History records that the area of Independence Missouri was built up, but not by the Mormons.  And, the Mormon church no longer owns the lot.  The Church of Christ-Temple Lot (another Mormon sect) owns it and plans to build their own temple on it. 

Chris

Unfortunately for the LDS, Joseph Smith fails to measure up to his status as a prophet of God. 

Ava

Thankfully, 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 things which the Lord has not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously; thou shalt not be afraid of him” 

Joseph Smith has a big problem, because even one failed prophesy disqualified a Biblical prophet. 

Chris

Latter-day Saints have to remember the promise of the Lord as recorded in their own scripture.  Written on November 1, 1831 as an introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 1 verse 37 says: “Search these commandments, for they are true and faithful, and the PROPHECIES and promises which are in them (Section 84 included) shall all be fulfilled.” 

 

Well guess what?  This is one of many prophecies that were not fulfilled.  Joseph Smith’s status as a prophet of God must be removed and with it, the foundation of Mormonism.  

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📜Ephesians 3-6 – Part 3

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Mormonism claims to have the same organization that existed in the early Christian church, which was necessary to bring all believers into a unity of the faith.  But a close examination of the LDS church structure reveals that it is not the same organization as in Biblical times.  

 Here beginning in Chapter three, Paul is continuing to speak about the unity of the believers of God.  He will refer especially to the great “mystery” that was revealed in that dispensation.  Paul’s words are so beautifully and eloquently written. 

Chapter 3:1-4 “For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles.  If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:  How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery (that both Jews and Gentiles are brought together in one body in Christ); (as I wrote afore in few words, Where by when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ).” 

Verses 5-7  “Which in other ages (ages past) was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit (none of the Old Testament prophets knew the meaning of this mystery, until it was revealed to Paul and the other apostles);  That the Gentiles should be fellow heirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:  Whereof I was made a minister (by God Himself), according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power (which caused the gospel to work effectively in me).” 

Verses 8-11 “Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints (the least deserving Christian there is), is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ (the infinite blessings of Christ).  And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:  To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places (Angels and the entire realm of spiritual beings) might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,  According to the eternal purpose which he (the Father) proposed in Christ Jesus our Lord:” 

Verses 16-21 “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man (the Holy Spirit will energize the committed believer);  That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded (solidly based) in love,  May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth (width), and length (extending into the eternities), and depth (His deep love), and height (suggests the vastness and completeness of His love);  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge (exceeds our ability to understand), that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.  Now unto him (the Father) that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power (of God) that worketh in us, Unto him (the Father) be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end.  Amen.”

Chapter 4 is very important in Mormonism because it contains – what the LDS believe – is strong Biblical evidence that there is one true (brick and mortar) church – one true organization.  Paul writes, Verse 4 “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;”   The LDS believe theirs is the one true church – and that they are the only ones who have the one Spirit – they call the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Verse 5 “One Lord, one faith, one baptism,” Mormonism claims that the LDS Church is the “one faith” and that all other churches are corrupt.  At least that’s what Joseph Smith claims he learned in the First Vision.  Yet there are 83 different church groups which point to Joseph Smith as their founder.  Each group charges that the other groups are improperly structured or completely apostate.  However, what Paul is talking about here is that – the body of Christ is composed of all true believers who are sealed His by the one Spirit.  They have been baptized with the Holy Spirit when they accepted Christ into their lives.  Verses 6-7 “One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.  But unto every one of us is given grace (unmerited, unearned, undeserved grace) according to the measure of the gift of Christ” 

As a young LDS missionary, I quoted the next passage often due to the fact, that it was part of the First Discussion we taught investigators.  It was used to prove that the Mormon church is the only true church.  Verses 11-12 “And he gave some apostles; and some, prophets; and some evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”  Similar to the 6th Article of Faith also states “We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.”   The LDS church claims it has all of these – BUT it uses different names for them.   Why don’t they use the names given in the Bible?   The LDS church claims it has “evangelists” which in Mormonism are called “patriarchs.”  But, biblical “evangelists” were simply gospel preachers or traveling ministers – not Stake Patriarchs.  The LDS church claims it has “pastors” which in Mormonism are called “bishops.”  Biblical “pastors” tended to the needs and affairs of the believers.  The LDS church claims it has “teachers” which in Mormonism are ordained 14-15, year-old male priesthood holders.  But, biblical “teachers” were local gospel instructors.   The LDS church claims it has “apostles” and “prophets.”  But the biblical term “apostles” meant, those “sent ones.”  Anyone God sends to declare the Good News are “apostles.”  In this verse, Paul is not speaking of the Apostleship of the Twelve men Christ called as His eyewitnesses.  And the biblical term for “prophets” in this verse is not talking about “prophets, seers, and revelators” in the manner the LDS church refers to them.  Paul is talking about specially commissioned men and women – called prophets and prophetess in the early church who spoke practical direct revelation and inspiration for the church from God. 

Mormonism teaches that when God removed the foundation of the apostles and prophets, the edifice collapsed, and its debris was used to build the many churches now dotting the Christian landscape.  But put Verse 11-12 in context with the following Verses 13-14 “ Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the statue of the fulness of Christ:  That we henceforth be no more children (immature in the faith), tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of (conflicting) doctrine, by the sleight (deception) of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.”   This means a unity of belief in Christ Himself, and this belief relates intrinsically to our knowledge of Him.  With that mature faith we aren’t easily susceptible to false teachings. 

Now let’s skip over to the last chapter of Ephesians and examine one of the most recognizable and oft quoted passages in Scripture – Verses 11 through 17.  Paul begins in Chapter 6:10 “Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord (not in our own flesh), and in the power of his might (God’s mighty power).”  Paul has been explaining the need for unity throughout this epistle and now – he tells the church and individuals to be ready to stand and fight against the evil forces of this world and the invisible world.  To withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor.  The whole body of believers needs to be armed and protected.  Verse 11 “Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles (deceits, temptations, and strategies) of the devil.”  Paul uses the common armor of Roman soldiers in this analogy.  Then Paul adds these immortal words Verse 12 “For we wrestle (hand to hand combat) not against flesh and blood (evil people), but against principalities, against powers (cosmic powers), against the rulers of the darkness of this world (fallen angels), against spiritual wickedness (spiritual darkness) in high places (the entire spiritual realm of an evil empire).”  

Paul continues Verse 13 “Wherefore take unto you (put on) the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand (come out the victor) in the evil day, and having done all, to stand (to remain standing – not wavering or falling – as a soldier who survives in battle does when the battle is over).”  What imagery!  When a person or a soldier loses courage in a physical fight – one of the first things he does is drop to the ground – often in fear and resignation.  We therefore seek to stand firm in our ideas of what it really means to be a Christian or follower of Christ. 

Verse 14 “Stand (ready oneself) therefore, having your loins (hips and thighs) girt about with truth (be prepared for action with truth), and having on the breastplate (protecting the torso and vital organs, especially the heart) of righteousness (referring to the righteousness of Christ, made available through our faith);” Paul is borrowing from the Old Testament in this imagery.  Isaiah 59:17 “For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke.”  So, this was a very common literary devise used by Jews when writing about preparing oneself for warfare in Spiritual matters.  “Loins” represent virtue and chastity.  

Verse 15 “And your feet shod (wearing foot gear) with the preparation of the gospel of peace;”  Here Paul taps into a well-known phrase from Isaiah 52:7 “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth!”  Paul’s message is that the message of the Good News is bore on feet of peacemakers.  It is a message of peacemaking.  Always remember you are an emissary of peace, which is tied to the Good News.

Of all the things – Paul has said and will say – he writes Verse 16 “Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherein ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts (temptations) of the wicked.”  Everything is based on faith.  The shield of faith.  The importance of faith cannot be overemphasized.  It is “above all.” 

Verse 17 “And take the helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” We wonder why salvation is tied to the helmet – which is connected to the head?  I would suggest that “our knowing” that we are saved – that we are His, is a matter of our mind, will and emotion – our understanding or comprehending the facts or promises of God relative to what we have learned by the Spirit and the Word of God.  Paul says to put on the that helmet of your assurance of salvation – to protect you against doubt and discouragement.  Then Paul says, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”  He is saying that the Spirit is the word of God.  This is important dear brothers and sisters.  Paul is saying that as we study and hear the Word of God, we are better armed with the sword of the Spirit.  The Sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, is used upon ourselves – upon our minds and hearts – in the internal warfare that is going on in our souls.  The writer of Hebrews made this plain Chapter 4:12 “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  There is the warfare, friends.  THERE is the battleground – it’s personal, individual, and aimed internally. 

We end with Ephesians 6:18 “Praying always with all prayer and supplication (requests to God) in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for the saints.”

And this concludes our study of this amazing epistle of Paul to the Ephesians.  Don’t forget, we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast, and check out our website at Talking to Mormons.com.

Learn more in the links below.  Included are the lesson notes.

Until next time, God Bless!

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Ephesians 2 – Part 2 – Obedience to the Laws and Ordinances or Grace?

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The Apostle Paul taught that we are saved by grace – it is the gift of God not of works.  Nephi taught that we are saved AFTER all we can do.  Joseph Smith taught that we are saved by obedience to laws and ordinances.  Either Paul was right, or Nephi and Joseph were right.  Only the Bible makes the truth clear for us.

 Paul starts out in Chapter 2:1-3 reminding the believers in Ephesus that they were once spiritually dead in their sins before they met Christ.  They were worldly, carnal, sinful, and alienated from God.  “And were BY NATURE the children of disobedience.”  Not born an innocent child of God – but born with a sin nature – day one.   These first three verses present a hopeless humanity – trapped in sin, unable to save itself.  Then Paul wrote the small but glorious words – Verse 4 “But God” Behind those two words lies a cosmic plan so huge in scope and so vast in love that the human mind cannot fully comprehend it – all we can do is humbly receive it.  Let’s read Verses 4-7 “But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great (agape self-less) love wherewith he loved us,  Even when were dead (spiritually) in sin, hath quickened us (has given us new spiritual life) together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved);  And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:  That in the ages to come (throughout the eternities) he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”  Christ defeated sin and death through His atonement – thus offering spiritual life to those dead in sins.   The verb form “have been saved” refers to a past event with present and ongoing results.  As believers, we have already passed from death to life.  Salvation is not something to be waited for – but something that has already been delivered.  This passage teaches that we are seated with Christ now “in heavenly places.”  Meaning that we now belong to the heavenly kingdom of God and are one with Him.  We now – while on earth – have an intimate relationship with God. 

The next couple of verses were conveniently skipped over in the Sunday School and Individual/family manuals.  As we cover them, I think you’ll understand why the Curriculum department of the LDS Church wouldn’t want to discuss them.  These are powerful words written by Paul to emphasize God’s great love and special favor towards those who put their trust in Him alone.  (Read Twice)  Verses 8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith (in Christ); and that not of yourselves (you can’t earn salvation): it is the gift of God:  Not of works (our works can’t save us), lest any man should boast (taking pride in thinking they are achieving salvation).”  Paul is firm that absolutely nothing is of our own doing – not salvation, not grace – everything is the gift of God.  It is a gift to be thankfully accepted.  When you receive a gift at Christmas or on your birthday – you don’t offer to pay back or contribute towards that thoughtful gift – you simply receive and accept the gift with gratitude.  It would be offensive and insulting to the giver of the gift for you to try and pay for it.  In that respect – we can’t take credit for our salvation.   It is not a reward for the good things we have done.  People find it difficult to accept something so free – so willingly given – so available to anyone.  We want to feel as though we did something – that we somehow earned our salvation by our merit.  We think or – are told by false teachers – that there has to be a certain amount of law keeping, ordinance keeping, covenant keeping – in order for us to receive salvation.  But Paul’s words are unmistakable – if salvation is by God’s grace and is accepted through faith – then it is not a reward.  If salvation could be earned by good works, then by nature we would be boastful or prideful.  The fact is – no one could ever be good enough to please a holy God.  If righteousness was something men earn, then salvation would be something God owed them.  But we can never put God in our debt.  Salvation is a gift – not a debt.

In Mormonism, it is taught that you must do as much as you can – in order to qualify for God’s grace.  In the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23 it says in part “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, AFTER ALL we can do.”   The Third Article of Faith states “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind MAY be saved, by OBEDIENCE to the LAWS and ORDINANCES of the Gospel.” This is in total opposition to everything Paul has written about the grace of God.  “We are saved, after all we can do” means there is no way of ever knowing if you have done enough until after you die and go before God to be judged – then grace might kick in to save you.  Establishing “obedience to the laws and ordinances” is not the Good News message of the New Testament Gospel.  Mormons will ask – “then what part does good works play in our salvation.”  Let’s read (Read twice) Verse 10 “For we are his (the Father’s) WORKMANSHIP, created in Christ Jesus (becoming a new person, born again and made spiritually alive through Jesus Christ) unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them (which the Father planned in advance for us to do).”   We are God’s “workmanship” – His masterpiece.  People become Christians through God’s undeserved favor – His grace – not as the result of any good works or acts of service on our part.  Out of gratitude for this free gift however, believers will seek to do good things – to help and serve others with kindness and love.  We are saved not merely for our own benefit but – to serve Christ and to love others.  We are saved FOR good works but not BY our good works.  Works do not produce salvation – but are the evidence of salvation.  (see James 2:14-26)  

 

Verse 13 “But now in (through) Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off (away from God) are made nigh (brought near to Him) by the blood of Christ.”  Verse 14 “For he (Christ) is our peace, who hath made both one (Jews and Gentiles into one people), and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us.”   The “middle wall of partition” in the temple – portioned off the court of the Gentiles from the areas accessible only to Jews.  It was symbolic of the social and religious separation that kept Jews and Gentiles apart.  The “middle wall” also refers to the heavy thick curtain or veil that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies inside the temple.  At the time of Christ’s crucifixion (see Matthew 27:51), the veil was rent or torn in two from top to bottom.  Symbolizing that all Israel could now approach God – not just the high priest who would enter the holy sanctuary on Israel’s behalf.  In Jesus Christ all spiritual privileges were now extended to every believer – Jew and Gentile.  

Verses 15-19 “Having abolished in his flesh (by dying on the cross) the enmity (the opposition and hatred), even the law of commandments contained in ordinances (like temple ordinances); for to make in himself of twain one new man (two peoples – Jews and Gentiles – into one people), so making peace (between the Jews and Gentiles);  And that he (Christ) might reconcile both unto God in one body (uniting them together) by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:  And came and preached peace to you which were afar off (you the Gentiles), and to them that were nigh (the Jews).  For through him (Christ) we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access by one Spirit (the Holy Spirit) unto the Father.  Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens (equal partners) with the saints, and of the household of God.”     

Now, these next verses are heavily relied upon by the Mormon Missionaries for proof that the LDS Church is the restored church of Jesus Christ.  Verse 20 “And are built (our lives are built) upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone (head of the church or body of believers).”  Mormonism claims that an earmark of the true church is its organization.  They use this verse to prove that living apostles and prophets must govern the church today.  Since the LDS church have twelve men – plus three – all of which are unqualified – who they call apostles, they claim that this helps identify them as the true church.  Yet, other churches also have apostles – including several who claim they are the true church restored by Joseph Smith.  So, claiming to have twelve apostles does not prove that they are really apostles to begin with or that their church is the true church.  Ephesians 2:20 does not say that the CHURCH is built upon apostles and prophets.  It says, Ye ”are built upon the FOUNDATION of the apostles and prophets.”  And, the FOUNDATION of the apostles and prophets has always been Jesus Christ.  Get it?  In 1 Corinthians 3:11 it says, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.”  Jesus is the foundation of the apostles and prophets which the believers are built upon.  Jesus is also referred to as the Chief Corner stone.  While the apostles and prophets did the initial preaching of the gospel which was written down – Christ is the theological foundation of His Church.  A foundation is laid only once and then the building is built upon it.  If men decide that a new foundation of apostles and prophets is needed in every generation – and that foundation is re-poured – then it must also teach that a new Christ is needed each time – because He is the Chief Corner Stone.  Did Jesus lay a faulty foundation?  No, He built upon the foundation – He Himself laid.  There is no need to restore it. 

Ephesians 2:21-22 “In whom all the building (the whole body of believers) fitly framed together (properly put together and guided by the Holy Spirit) growth unto an holy temple (not made with hands) in the Lord.  In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”  Every new believer is a new stone in Christ’s temple – the church – Christ’s body of believers.  His church is forever growing and will not be complete until every person who will believe in Him has done so.     

And this concludes our study of Ephesians chapter 2.  Don’t forget, we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast, and check out our website at Talking to Mormons.com.

Learn more in the links below.  Included are the lesson notes.

Until next time, God Bless!

 

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Women in the Bible vs the Book of Mormon – pt 2

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Chris

From the very first chapter in the Old Testament, we are taught that women – like men – were created in God’s own image.  Men and women are created equal.  And from that point forward, women played prominent roles in may key biblical narratives. 

As we study the Bible, we see at every turn – in the story of God’s people – that the gifts of women are necessary and vital.  God elevates the status of womanhood throughout the biblical record.

But, now let’s consider the women in the Book of Mormon.  The Book of Mormon has over 500 pages, covering a span of 1021 years of Nephite and Lamanite history.  Plus, another 2,000 years of Jaredite history.  Considering all that time and history – how many women in the Book of Mormon are actually mentioned by name?

Ava

Total?!  Six.

Chris

Only six.  It was very, noticeable to me when I read the Book of Mormon – the lack of personal names for women.   

Ava

And three of those women mentioned by name are taken directly from the Bible: Sarah – wife of Abraham; Eve – wife of Adam; and Mary – mother of Jesus. 

Chris

So, who are the remaining three women originating from the Book of Mormon? 

Ava

There’s Sariah – wife of Lehi; Abish – a Lamanite convert; and Isabel the harlot. 

There’s almost complete silence on women in the Book of Mormon.  They play basically, unimportant roles.  There are references to other females such as “wife,” “mothers,” “daughters,” “sisters,” “queen,” “her,“ “she” –  but none of them have proper names. 

While Nephi never mentions his wife’s name once, he uses his own name numerous times in the first two books of the Book of Mormon.  In fact, we find the phrase “I, Nephi” eighty-six times.  Unlike the Bible – there is virtually nothing mentioned about family life, children, romantic love, marriage ceremonies, or divorce. 

It seems that in the Book of Mormon, women were primarily accessories to men – dependent upon them, not only for survival – but also for identity.

All of this is strong evidence that the Book of Mormon was written by one man – who wasn’t interested in the matters or needs of women. 

Chris

You’re right.  If the Book of Mormon really was a collection of histories passed down from one writer to the next over thousands of years – like the Bible – there would have been numerous women named in the record.  But, there are not. 

The god of the Book of Mormon does not appear to be the God of the Bible.  Which is yet another proof that the Book of Mormon was a fabrication of one man’s misogynistic imagination. 

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Ephesians 1 – Part 1 ➡️Predestination⬅️

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Paul wrote this letter from prison in Rome about AD 62.  Ephesus was an important political, educational, and commercial center.  It is one of the seven churches Jesus addresses in the book of Revelation.  Paul pastored there for three years, and left Timothy to pastor for a year and a half.  It is written to spiritually more mature believers, but who like other congregations struggled with being unified. 

Chapter 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God (called of God), to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus.”  Verse 2 “Grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”  It is interesting that the Father and Jesus are mentioned, but not the Holy Spirit.  I believe that is because the Holy Spirit is Christ’s Spirit.  This next verse is used as a proof text by the LDS to support their doctrine of preexistence.  Verse 3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.”  Paul is describing blessings as being heaven-centered and not earthly based.  I don’t read into that verse a hint of there, having been a pre-mortality.  Paul is simply stating that our spiritual blessings come from heaven, where Christ lives.

Now we come to a passage of scripture that is heavily debated even within Christianity.  Verse 4 “According as he (the Father) hath chosen us in him (in Christ) before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy (sanctified) and without blame before him in love (because of the Father’s love for us):”  The LDS will again use this verse and those following to try and prove that “predestination” is referring to a premortal life where valiant and faithful spirit children were chosen to perform particular missions and service here on earth.  Verse 5 “Having predestinated (LDS call it foreordained) us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.”  Let me explain.

There is a large segment of the Christian population here in the United States – who believe in Reformed Theology.   Another term for it is Calvinism – after John Calvin.  They insist that Ephesians 1:1-12 clearly establishes the idea that God is a God of TOTAL sovereignty.  That He unconditionally predestined His elect to salvation – meaning He chose who would be His before the foundation of the world.  And after so doing, set His will in motion – making it so that none would come to Him and be saved who are not on the list.  Admittedly these first twelve verses – taken out of the context of the rest of the Bible – could be readily interpreted to mean this.  And if this is true, the Sovereign God has also – by electing some to be saved – elected MOST to suffer in hell eternally.  In Reformed Theology there is no individual free will – no choice.  It is obvious that Ephesians 1 puts considerable emphasis on God’s purposed will.  The question remains – whether His will and purposes are directed at each individual He has elected – or is Paul talking about something else here?   I suggest he was talking about something entirely different. 

Predestination spoken of here by Paul is directed ONLY to the Jews as a Nation – whom God predestined to do what they would do for the salvation, reconciliation, and unity of the world with them into one.  Now we read Verses 4 through 12 and discover that the terms “we” and “us” and the terms “ye” and “you” refer respectively to – the Jews (the we, and us) and then to the Gentiles (whom Paul calls ye and you).  Here in this first chapter of Ephesians, Paul identifies himself with the Jews, who he calls “the first hope in Christ.”  He dwells on God’s purpose for the Jews as a nation – how God chose them (whom Paul calls “us”) before the foundation of the world – how he predestined them to adoption as sons – and how he offered them the gospel of grace – first.  And in this we realize that in context – all the references to predestination in Ephesians 1 are strictly speaking of the predestination of the Nation of Israel – by God – and not the predestination of individual believers.  

As I read Ephesians 1:1-12, I want you to listen for the “we and us” references -which is speaking of the members of the House of Israel.  “Blessed be the God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed US (Paul includes himself as a Jew) with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:  According as he hath chosen (selected) US in him before the foundation of the world (God had planned it), that WE should be holy and without blame before him in love:  Having predestinated US unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will.  To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made US accepted in the beloved.  In whom WE (that Jewish Nation) have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace,  Wherein he hath abounded toward US in all wisdom and prudence (was liberally manifested),  Having made known unto US the mystery of his will (what mystery?), according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:  That (in other words here is where Paul explains the reason God has done all of this in and through the Nation of Israel) That in the dispensation of the fulness of times (a time when all people will be offered the gospel) he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him:  In whom also WE have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:  That WE should be to the praise of his glory, who FIRST trust in Christ.”   Paul is speaking, here, of those Jews who ardently sought God and were devoted to Him.   

Now read with me the next verse where Paul deliberately shifts from talking about a – “we and us” group – to describing ANOTHER identified as the “ye or you” group.  Verse 13 “In whom YE also trusted, after that YE heard the word of truth, the gospel of YOUR salvation: in whom also after that YE believed, YE were sealed with that holy spirit of promise.”  Here, Paul has clearly shifted to another group – which are the Gentiles – who are outside of the first group – the Jews.  And this theme continues to develop in the chapters that follow.  Note that when Paul shifts to the Gentiles – who God did NOT predestine and who are not included in with the we/us group – that his description of them coming to the faith in Christ is absent of – talk about predestination.  Instead, it is pretty much a passage that speaks of free will.  Here in Ephesians, Paul is speaking of the elect from the house of Israel whom God predestined to do what they did and then – he speaks of the great “mystery” in which God will include all Gentiles who are true Israel – meaning those who are joined in the family of God that are genuinely His and therefore genuinely Israel.  That was the “mystery” that was revealed.  That is why we read in Hebrews 8:8-10 “For finding fault with them, he (God) saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah:  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.  For THIS is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel (both Jews and Gentiles) after those days (meaning from Paul’s day forward), saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts (we will be led – not by religion, but taught by the Holy Spirit): and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people:” 

Now, I want to go back and look at Ephesians 1:10 “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him:”  Mormonism teaches that it wasn’t until nearly two thousand years after Paul wrote this passage, that “the dispensation of the fulness of times” occurred with the restoration of the “Mormon gospel” through Joseph Smith.  But that is completely and totally miss- interpreting the meaning of this verse.   Paul is describing what God had intended to do all along – that “in the dispensation (that period of Jesus and Paul’s day) of the fulness of times (when the Law and the Prophets were fulfilled) he (God) might gather together in one all things (the Jews and the Gentile Nations) in Christ.”  This was the wrapping up of everything necessary to complete the heavenly family – the Bride – which is the Body of Christ.  And to launch it into the age to come – this age of the Spirit, this age of Grace, this age of faith, and this age of love – for those who are His. 

That dispensation then was when God – by and through the predestined Nation of Israel – through His Son – and through the Gospel going to all men and women – established the New Heaven and the New Earth – with a New Jerusalem on high – after wiping out everything that had to do with the former Kingdom.  It was the founding of His eternal Kingdom that would rule and reign over the hearts and minds of those who are truly His.  This was the “fulness of times” – the complete consummation of all that had happened and come before it.  And the “mystery” was unfolded to them then – that God was going to gather into one – all people of the earth into His Kingdom.   Christ is all in all.  God writes on the hearts who are His.  And His are everywhere.  We recognize them by their love which is the fruit of the Spirit.   

From Verse 13 on, Paul appeals to “ye’s, you’s and yours” and drops the use of “we and us,” proving that in the rest of this first chapter that he is addressing Gentiles who came to faith.  Then Paul will return to the “we’s” after this opening chapter and it seems that he will be speaking of the whole body – Jew and Gentile.  

Let’s wrap this lesson up by looking at Verses 15-17 where Paul speaking to the Gentile Ephesians said, “Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,  Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers,  That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit (Holy Spirit) of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him.”  We know when Jesus walked the earth, He said John 3:16 “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.”  Back to Ephesians and I’ll finish – by reading the rest of this amazing chapter.  Verses 18-23 Paul continues that “The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,  And what is the exceeding greatness of his power to us-ward who believe, according to the working of his mighty power,  Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places,  Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:  And hath put ALL things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over ALL things to the church,  Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth ALL in ALL.”  Praise God!

And this concludes our study of the first chapter of Paul’s epistle to the Ephesians.  Don’t’ forget, we are on YouTube, iTunes podcast, Spotify podcast.

Learn more in the links below.  Included are the lesson notes.

 

Until next time, God Bless!

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Women in the Bible vs the Book of Mormon – pt 1

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I’ve always been interested in how women in the Bible were viewed.  I know numerous women were mentioned in both the Old and New Testaments, but how many had speaking roles?

I was recently on an internet site called Word Counter and discovered that of the numerous women mentioned in the Bible – 93 had speaking roles.  The site said that in the Kings James Version there are a little over 783,000 total words, and those spoken by these 93 women add up to a little over 14,000 words – which was about 1.8 percent of the entire Bible. 

That isn’t a big percentage, but those words are like pearls or precious gems lying in a field – just waiting to be discovered.  And while 93 speaking women is a relatively small number – I don’t believe there are any other existing historical documents that quotes that many women. 

I know that some of the women in the Bible were healers, warriors, business leaders, diplomats, judges, musicians, and prophets.  There were even prostitutes and murders among the ranks.  Two of the books of the Old Testament were named after women – Esther and Ruth.  And those men who wrote the other books of the Bible, certainly felt free to mention women by name – and to write concerning their achievements.

The ten women who talk most in the Bible are primarily in the Old Testament.  But the New Testament is unique because against the backdrop of first-century – Middle-Eastern, patriarchal, Judaic culture – Jesus treats women with SO much respect and as equals to men. 

In fact, Jesus’s longest recorded conversation with anyone was with a woman – the woman at the well – recorded in John 4:4-42.  Remember, she had five husbands and was living with a sixth man.  Jesus initiates the conversation with this woman – a Samaritan – unheard of.  Her surprise is expressed in the narrative: “How can you, a Jew, ask me, a Samaritan woman, for a drink?” 

 

Jesus then enters, into a prolonged dialogue which honors her thirst for truth.  Ultimately, He reveals to her His identity as the Messiah.  And, because of her excitement in witnessing to the town folks – many believed in Jesus.  

Jesus refused to view women as unclean or deserving of punishment.  Women who were menstruating or persons who had any flow of blood were considered ritually unclean.  And, anything or anyone she touched was considered unclean.  We find in Luke 8:43-48, the account of a women who had been bleeding for 12 years.  She was considered an untouchable – a nobody.  Yet, she is healed instantly upon touching the border of His garment.  Jesus turns to her and addresses her affectionately, calling her “Daughter.”  He tells her that her faith had made her whole and to go in peace.  How tender!

Jesus recognized the dignity of women in situations that seem – by ritual law – to demand judgment.  As examples: the sinful woman who anoints Jesus in Luke 7:36-50, and the woman caught in adultery in John 8:3-11.  In both cases Jesus sees the women as someone deserving compassion. 

When Simon, the Pharisee, was upset that Jesus allowed a sinner to touch Him – not only does Jesus tell the woman her sins are forgiven, but asks Simon “Do you see this woman?”  The question urges Simon to look beyond the prejudice he always had for women of reputation – and to see her as a woman of humility and great love. 

Then there’s the woman caught in adultery who is brought before Jesus to be judged according to the Law.  Jesus says that none of the men who brought her themselves are without sin.  When her accusers departed, Jesus speaks compassionately to the woman.  He doesn’t gloss over her sin, but in his refusal to condemn her, He invites her to a new image of herself. 

I noticed how Jesus stepped over the boundaries between men and women by His acceptance of women as disciples.  The story in Luke 10:38-42 of Martha and Mary, highlights Jesus’s acceptance and blessing of Mary’s desire to learn.  In Mary we see what it means to be a lover of Christ, for she is seen three times in the Gospels – each time at the feet of Jesus.  This was the typical position of the male disciple.  But Jesus welcomes her desire to learn, and says “Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Jesus not only taught women, but some of them traveled with Him and ministered to Him – like Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Chuza, and Susanna. 

Then there is, the account of Martha who was grieving over the death of her brother, Lazarus.  While they stood at the tomb, Jesus reveals to her, in John 11:25 “I am the resurrection and the life.”  Then He calls Lazarus to come forth from the grave.    

Women were present at Jesus’s crucifixion.  And women were the first witnesses to the Resurrection.  In Acts 1:12-14, women joined in prayer between Jesus’s ascension and Pentecost.  Even the apostle Paul regularly ministered in the gospel alongside women.  He applauded their faithfulness and their giftedness. 

It is clear, that God elevates the status of womanhood throughout the biblical record.

 

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