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.
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Until next time, God Bless!