📜Ephesians 3-6 – Part 3

Play

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!

Podcasts

Come Follow Me

Listen on Google Play Music

Talking to Mormons

Print

Atonement – Part 4

Play
Play

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

Print

Atonement – Part 3

Play
Play

In a recent General Conference address, LDS Church President, Russell M. Nelson made a comment about the location of where Christ atoned for the sins of the world. 

LDS.org under the talk titled: The Correct Name of the Church.  “In the Garden of Gethsemane, our Savior took upon Himself every pain, every sin, and all of the anguish and suffering ever experienced by me and by everyone who has ever lived or will ever live.  Under the weight of that excruciating burden, He bled from every pore.  All of this suffering was intensified as He was cruelly crucified on Calvary’s cross.”

In light of that statement, I have to mention that neither the Bible nor any Mormon Scripture specifically state that the atonement occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Because to have the atonement occur in the garden would be contrary to the narrative of the entire Word of God.

In Old Testament times, redemption was demonstrated through the ceremonial sacrifice of an animal.  God made it clear that forgiveness would be provided only through the DEATH of an innocent substitute that represented the payment for the penalty of sin. 

But never did an animal sit somewhere alone in a pasture and suffer as a substitute sacrifice for sin.  The LDS focus on the Garden of Gethsemane has absolutely no biblical connection to the animal sacrifices of the Old Testament, which was a picture of the shedding of the Lord’s blood which occurred where?  On the cross. 

But the New Testament does say that He suffered great agony in the garden. 

The garden is where He suffered great agony in His humanity over the impending pain and suffering that would culminate with His death on the cross.  His will was to do the Father’s will, but His flesh was shrinking at the thought of being beaten and crucified.  Can you imagine how scared any of us would be if we were put in the same situation?

But it say’s here in Luke 22:44 that “his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling to the ground.”  Isn’t that considered “shedding blood?”

The way it is written suggests that His sweat was so profuse that the drops of sweat were heavy like what great drops of blood would look like.  The fact that only Dr. Luke, the physician, records this account makes it more likely that he was using a figure of speech. 

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus prays in the garden three times to the Father that if it be possible, “this cup” – meaning His taking on our sin – would pass from Him, but that God’s will be done. 

Once Jesus was outside the garden facing the temple soldiers, Peter acts rashly by cutting off Malchus’ ear.  Jesus then says to Peter as recorded in John 18:11, “Put up thy sword unto the sheath; THE CUP which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?”

Jesus is implying to Peter, “I just overcame the temptation to follow My own will.  And now you are stepping in to impede what I was sent to do, which is to take away the sins of the world by drinking THE CUP.  Put away your sword and let me precede to the cross, that I may do my Father’s will.”

Print

Atonement – Part 1

Play
Play

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

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

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

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

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

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

Acts 10:43

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

Paul validates that message in two of his epistles. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Print

Whats in a Name?

Play

The Lds church is trying to get away from the nicknames it’s been called for the past 170 years – “Mormons” and “LDS.”

Latter-Day Saints want to be called by the proper name given by the Lord to Joseph Smith – “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

In a recent Church General Conference, President Russell M. Nelson said, “the name of the Church is not negotiable.  When the Savior clearly states what the name of His Church should be and even precedes His declaration with, ‘Thus shall my church be called,’ He is serious.”  Then President Nelson warned, “And if we allow nicknames to be used or adopt or even sponsor those nicknames ourselves, He (meaning God) is offended.”   

But every Church President since Joseph Smith has freely used “Mormonism” when describing the religion.  The Church founder Joseph Smith said,

“One of the grand fundamental principles of ‘Mormonism’ is to receive truth, let it come from whence it may.” (History of the Church 5:499)

Now, suddenly God has revealed to Russell Nelson that He is offended by the reference to “Mormons” and “Mormonism?” 

President Nelson went on to state, “What’s in a name or, in this case, a nickname?  When it comes to nicknames of the Church, such as the ‘LDS Church,’ the ‘Mormon Church,’ or the ‘Church of the Latter-day Saints,’ the most important thing in those names is the absence of the Savior’s name.  To remove the Savior’s name from the Lord’s Church is a major victory for Satan.  When we discard the Savior’s name, we are subtly disregarding all that Jesus Christ did for us – even His Atonement.”

I’m quite surprised by that remark!  Because in 2010, the LDS Church launched a public campaign, “I’m a Mormon,” featuring biographical sketches of Church members throughout the world.  In 2014, the LDS Church released a full-length film, “Meet the Mormons.” 

Thomas Monson was the Prophet and President of the Church during that era.  He had been a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles for a half century. and was involved in the public affairs department of the Church.  It seems that if anyone would have known the will of God concerning the offensive term “Mormon” or “LDS” it would have been him. 

But once Russell M Nelson replaced Thomas S. Monson as President of the Church, he confessed, “I realize with profound regret that we have unwittingly acquiesced in the Lord’s restored Church being called by other names, each of which expunges the sacred name of Jesus Christ.”

It seems that President Nelson is condemning every LDS leader from Joseph Smith on for the past 180 years for using “Mormons” in their speeches and writings.  As prophets and apostles, shouldn’t they have known they were being offensive to God? 

How could they not know that it was such a big deal to the God of Mormonism?  And why did God wait so long to make this “correction?” 

According to Nelson for a century and a half, past church leaders were giving victory to Satan and offending Jesus. 

Even, disregarding Christ’s atonement.

Nelson is admitting that Church leadership was wrong in allowing the Church’s choir to be known as “The Mormon Tabernacle Choir.”  For allowing the words “Mormons” and “Mormonism” to appear on official LDS websites, in periodicals, and in correlated manuals.

You see Elders, all this confusion should cause a member of your church to wonder – which of all these current and former church apostles was truly a prophet?

 

Key Words:  Mormon, Mormons, Mormonism, lds.org, The Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, atonement, M. Russell Nelson, changing the name of the Church, I’m a Mormon, Meet the Mormons, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints

Print