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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Atonement – Part 3

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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.”

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Atonement – Part 1

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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. 

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Whats in a Name?

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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

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