Atonement – Part 4

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Luke 9:23;

Romans 5:6-11;

Romans 6:6;

1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 23;

1 Corinthians 2:2;

1 Corinthians 5:7;

1 Corinthians 15:3;

Galatians 3:13;

Galatians 6:14;

Ephesians 2:16;

Philippians 3:18;

Colossians 1:20-21;

Colossians 2:13-15;

Hebrews 2:14;

Hebrews 9:13-16;

Hebrews 12:2;

1 Peter 2:24;

Revelation 13:8

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Nephi Moroni ?

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Joseph Smith first claimed it was Nephi who visited him in his “First Vision,” NOT Moroni, as is now stated in the latter publishing of the Book of Mormon.

Here is a
quote from Joseph Smith himself, found in the Church-published newspaper:  Times and Seasons,
April 15, 1842  “When I first looked upon
him I was afraid, but the fear soon left me. 
He called me by name, and said unto me that he was a messenger sent from
the presence of God to me, and that his name was Nephi.  That God has work for me to do,… He said
there was a book deposited written upon gold plates, giving an account of the
former inhabitants of this continent, and the source from whence they sprang.”

Times and Seasons, April 15, 1842, vol. 3, pg. 753 Joseph Smith Papers .org

Joseph lived for two years after the name Nephi was printed in Times and Seasons, and being the editor he never published a retraction.  Two months later in 1842, the Millennial Star printed in England, also published Joseph Smith’s story stating that the angel’s name was Nephi. The newspaper quotes, “Again, we read the history of our beloved brother, Joseph Smith, and the glorious ministry and message of the angel Nephi, which has finally opened a new dispensation to man.”

Again, he never published a retraction or made any
alterations to his own writings. 

There has even been some confusion when it comes to LDS canonized Scriptures.

In modern printings of the History of the Church, Nephi has been changed to read Moroni.  But other than a couple of references where the name Moroni appeared in 1835 and 1838, the angel firmly became Nephi in Joseph Smith’s writings.

Mormon Apostle Orson Pratt changed it from Nephi to Moroni in the 1878 edition of the Pearl of Great Price.  It appears, as with the several First Vision accounts, the story of the angel’s visits evolved over many years.

Apparently, Nephi was the name he had settled upon and
intended to be used for his angel. 

Let’s not forget that Joseph Smith said the angel’s name was Nephi, not Moroni.  In the end, a statue of the angel Moroni now appears, covered in gold leaf atop LDS temples.  While the angel Nephi is consigned to the pages of the Book of Mormon.

Millennial Star, 1842, vol. 3, pg. 71

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Pearl of Great Price, 1851 edition, pg. 41

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