08
Jan
09

God’s Wonderful Unilateral Covenant

 

     A premise underlying Mormonism is that all covenants are bi-lateral, namely, that both parties have to meet the conditions of the covenant.  But that’s not true.  The greatest covenant of all, the new covenant God has established, is unilateral.  This is something that the book of Hebrews brings out wonderfully in chapters 8-10.

     The writer of Hebrews begins by talking about the old covenant.  What is striking is how he describes its defect.  “For if the first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.  For finding fault with them. . .” (Hebrews 10:7-8)  Notice the “them”.  God didn’t find fault with the covenant, but with the people.  The problem was that they didn’t keep the covenant.

     He then proceeds to describe the new covenant by quoting Jeremiah 31:31-34.  What is so striking is that the entire description of the new covenant deals with what God will do.  There are no conditions, no ifs.  It’s all about God’s activity.  It is a unilateral covenant.

     This was something that God had already emphasized to Abraham hundreds of years before.  Genesis 15 records what, to us, is quite a strange scene.  But it wasn’t strange to Abraham.  The Hebrew idiom for “making a covenant” is literally to cut a covenant.  That phrase reflected the custom of the day.  When a covenant was agreed upon, an animal was killed, cut in two and the two parties passed through it.  That was equivalent to our going to a notary public.  But in Genesis 15, only God, symbolized by the burning lamp, passed through.  In this striking way, God emphasized to Abraham the unilateral nature of the covenant.

     The writer to the Hebrews also emphasizes this unilateral nature.  He does that especially in 9: 15-17 where he compares the new covenant to a person’s last will and testament.  (In the Greek, the same word is translated first as covenant and then as testament.)  A last will and testament is primarily a unilateral covenant.  Sometimes people don’t even learn that they are in a person’s will until it is put into effect.

     God’s covenant of the gospel is wonderfully one-sided.  The writer to the Hebrews ends his discussion about it by returning to the quote from Jeremiah.  “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 were remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”  (Hebrews 10:16-18)  No ifs, ands, or buts about it.  Nothing but pure grace.

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28 Responses to “God’s Wonderful Unilateral Covenant”


  1. 1 vinnie rodriguez
    January 10, 2009 at 2:18 am

    Hello Pastor Cares, I just caught the tail end of today’s radio spot 1/9/09. can you give me the title so I can go to the website and listen to the entire spot? Thank You sir and Happy New Year.

  2. 2 Berean
    January 10, 2009 at 3:41 am

    Hebrews 9:15-17 is a great text in that it shows us that there are two testaments in scripture. For the Mormons, the word “testament” is a buzz word in recent years after the LDS Church decided to put a phrase on the front cover of the Book of Mormon. It reads:

    Book of Mormon
    Another Testament of Jesus Christ

    That bottom phrase “another testament of Jesus Christ” has always made me wonder how this squares up with Hebrews 9:15-17? Fact is, it doesn’t and I’ll explain why. Who died for the Book of Mormon? Who died for this book? Let’s look at Hebrews 9:15-17:

    Hebrews 9:15-17 – “And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions [that were] under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament [is], there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament [is] of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.”

    Most Mormons are not familiar with this. This text tells us that there are two testaments. What is a testament? It’s a covenant. There are two kinds of testaments (covenants) in scripture. First, there is the conditional covenant. The best example of this is Exodus 19:5 where it says:

    “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth [is] mine”

    The conditional covenant is always marked with two distinct words and they are “IF” and “THEN”. If we do something, then God does something too. What we receive from God is conditional based on what we do. The New Testament is unconditional – the opposite of the conditional covenant/testament of the Old Testament. The New Testament covenant is described in Hebrews 10:16-18 as Mark alluded to at the end of his blog subject. That leads us to the next question: What kind of testament is the Book of Mormon? Is it a conditional or unconditional testament?

    If the Book of Mormon is in fact “another testament” between God and mankind like the Bible’s Old and New Testaments, then it has to be one or the other (conditional or unconditional). Which kind of covenant is the Book of Mormon? The Old testament was validated with the death and blood of animals. The New Testament covenant was validated with Christ’s death and blood. Who or what died and bled to validate the Book of Mormon? If the Mormon testament really is different from the New Testament, does that mean Christ’s death and blood validated the two covenants? What does the Mormon testament gain the believer since forgiveness and eternal life came with the New Testament?

    Much of what I have read in the LDS scriptures is a conditional covenant. It’s what they have to do first or what is placed on them as a contigency to what the Mormon god will do. It’s always marked with “if” and “then”. The best example that comes to mind is Moroni 10:32 where it says:

    “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and IF ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, THEN is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ”

    The Mormons really have their man-made work cut out for them in what they have to do before they can receive grace. Verse 33 of the same book and chapter have an “if” and “then” in it too. The Book of Mormon isn’t offering anything new and there aren’t three testaments. Christ died once for the sins of man (Hebrews 9:28). The new covenant has already been validated and is in effect. The Mormon covenant being conditional is going backwards by trying to bring people back into law and bondage. This is what Christ has set us free from (Romans 10:4; Galatians 3:10-13).

  3. 3 markcares
    January 10, 2009 at 4:12 pm

    Berean:
    Excellent thoughts. The book of Hebrews makes another important point in chapter 8, namely the making of a new covenant annuls the older covenant. Verse 13: “In that he saith, ‘A new covenant, he hat made the firs old. Not what which decayeth and waxeth old is read to vanish away.”
    A new covenant makes obsolete the previous one. (Obsolete is how some translations translate “old” in this verse.) It is like a will. If a person rewrites his will, the first rendition loes all validity. Therefore if the book of Mormon is another covenant, that implies that it made the new covenant of the Bible obsolete!

  4. January 10, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    A gift is never of any effect if it is not accepted. In this sense, all gifts are conditional – no matter how freely given.

  5. 5 Berean
    January 10, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    Mark,

    Hebrews 8:13 really “seals the deal” on this subject. Incredible! I wonder if our Mormon friends would be willing or want to admit that the covenant of the Bible is obsolete? They have little regard for the Bible in light of Articles of Faith #8, 1 Nephi 13:26,28,32&34; 2 Nephi 28:29; 29:3,4,6&10. I think the LDS Church knows that if they ever ditched the Bible that would be the “kiss of death” on their hopes of one day being considered a Christian church. If the Book of Mormon is another testament, by definition of the Bible what a testament/covenant is, then the Bible has been replaced with a new covenant.

  6. 6 Berean
    January 10, 2009 at 4:41 pm

    Seth,

    Please demonstrate from the New Testament in the Bible the “if” and “then” conditional covenant/testament when it comes to grace, salvation and eternal life (which are gifts) when compared to Moroni 10:32.

  7. January 10, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    A “covenant” is, by definition, a two-way arrangement.

    Merriam Webster’s entry on “covenant”
    Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French, from present participle of covenir to be fitting, from Latin convenire
    Date: 14th century
    1: a usually formal, solemn, and binding agreement : compact 2: a: written agreement or promise usually under seal between two or more parties especially for the performance of some action b: the common-law action to recover damages for breach of such a contract.

    Be interesting to know what Greek/Hebrew word was being replaced by the English word “covenant.”

  8. 8 InCognitus
    January 10, 2009 at 10:05 pm

    The premise put forth here is that the new covenant is unilateral, and that in the agreement between God and man there is no obligation by the second party (man) to participate in the covenant. It is said to be all based on the promises of God and nothing more. I find this interesting given that we know that there is at least one requirement for the second party to participate in the covenant, which is that we must believe in God and Jesus Christ. And it appears that not only must we believe God, but we must believe God in a certain specified way (which would not be the “Mormon” way, apparently). So it would seem that the new covenant is not unilateral at all.

    Furthermore, the book of Hebrews in many places carries with it specific language indicating a conditional aspect to the agreement. For example, in addressing the “holy brethren” who are “partakers of the heavenly calling”, the author warns of the dangers of falling back into sin and says that “we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end” (Heb 3:1,12-14)

    Likewise in Hebrews 10, we are warned that those who sin willfully after receiving a knowledge of the truth have no more sacrifice for their sins (verse 26), and ultimately we are told, “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Heb 10:36)

    “No ifs, ands, or buts about it”? It would seem not.

  9. January 10, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    Mark, what I think you are really trying to do here is find a way to reverse engineer Calvin’s “unconditional election” into the text of the Bible. The only way all of this can be “one-way” is if you destroy human agency. In a universe where everything is predestined to fall out the way it falls out, yeah… I guess this whole one-way stuff works out logically.

    But it makes for an utterly twisted and ultimately pointless universe that I just am never going to warm up to. Especially not when I have little scriptural reason to think that the T.U.L.I.P. is anything more than a piece of pious-sounding hogwash.

    Nice try Calvin, but nothing doing.

    And as Incognitus already stated, I’m not convinced that either you or Berean think this is truly one-way to begin with. Otherwise, there is absolutely zero point in your trying to persuade any readers of this blog of anything – one way or the other. If things are truly “one-way” as you put it, what is left for me to do, but sit home playing World of Warcraft and eating ice cream, waiting for the moment God works His “magic” on me?

  10. 10 Berean
    January 11, 2009 at 3:16 am

    Incognitus,

    You’re right…belief is required for the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ (John 3:16,18&36; 6:47). Your works won’t earn you that gift (Ephesians 2:8-10). Eternal life is a gift – not a reward. The works done by the believer are done out of gratitude for what the Savior has already done for him/her – not in anticipation of something they are trying to obtain later through their own merits. Right again, the Mormon way of viewing this is the flawed way of looking at it because they believe that it is through their own merits they can obtain this gift.

    “Each of us has been sent to earth by our Heavenly Father to merit eternal life.” (Elder Robert D. Hales, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, Ensign, p. 87, November 2007)

    “And because of the Atonement, eternal life – which is living forever in God’s presence, the ‘greatest of all the gifts of God’ – became a possibility. To qualify for eternal life, we must make an eternal and everlasting covenant with our Heavenly Father. This means that a temple marriage is not only between husband and wife; it embraces a partnership with God…Members of this Church invite all people to learn and to qualify for eternal life.” (178th General Conference, Ensign, 11/2008, page 93)

    “This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life after they have expended their own best efforts.” (“grace”, Bible dictionary, p.697)

    “Temple ordinances, covenants, endowments, and sealings enable individuals to be reconciled with the Lord and families to be sealed beyond the veil of death. Obedience to temple covenants qualifies us for eternal life, the greatest gift of God to man [see D&C 14:7]. Eternal life is more than immortality. Eternal life is exaltation in the highest heaven-the kind of life that God lives” (in Conference Report, Mar.–Apr. 2001, 40; or Ensign, May 2001, 33).

    So you see, in Mormonism the conditional covenant goes beyond faith. It’s indicative of baptism, the gift of the Holy Ghost, keeping the Word of Wisdom, home storage, Sabbath keeping, temple ordinances, personal worthiness, etc., etc. Jesus Christ has already given me the GIFT of eternal life – now! It’s based on my faith and because of that faith I willingly serve Him and do the good works. It’s a natural flow and progression.

    For those that willfully sin and are “wolves in sheep clothing” they were never really part of the family of God. That is why John said what he did in 1 John 2:19 – “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us; but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

    You can argue that the New Testament is a conditional covenant. The problem is the Bible doesn’t agree with you when it says that there are two testaments in Hebrews 9:15-17. If the New Testament were the same as the Old, then we wouldn’t need to have the words “new” and “old”. It’s simple. Are the practices and Mosaic law described in the Old Testament taking place in the New Testament after the resurrection of Christ? Romans 10:4 says that Christ is the end of the law. Therefore, we are need of a new covenant. Sure, this covenant is based on something – belief – that’s it. The good works will follow. Mormonism has created its own form of law for its members to keep that is different from the Mosaic, but it’s still a form of law. The Jews couldn’t eat pork or shellfish. Mormons can’t drink green tea and are encouraged to eat meat sparingly and the list could go and on.

    What I am looking and asking for is the “if” and “then” in the New Testament as it is laid out in the Old Testament and in the LDS scriptures especially in Moroni 10:32. Ephesians 4:30 says that the believer in Christ is “sealed unto the day of redemption”. I don’t see any conditional agreement/covenant there nor in John 6:47. The LDS quotes above especially don’t square with these verses.

  11. 11 Berean
    January 11, 2009 at 3:44 am

    Mormonism has its own form of Calvinism when it comes to “choice spirits” and their outcomes here on earth from the first estate. Apparently, the Mormon god had his favorites in the first estate and that all plays a part in where the Mormon is born, his skin color, the family he/she is born into, etc,. (Let me know if you want the references). I don’t think Mark is pusing Calvinism and I know I am not. You mistake Calvin undertones here for what we call rock-solid faith that grants us eternal life and the result of that produces good works. The T.U.L.I.P. is a thought provoking concept and doctrine among many Christians, but whether you hold to all the points or not has no bearing on where you spend eternal life. A “five-pointer” and a “three-pointer” can have different views on these matters, but they are both secure in the Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life despite their in-house debate on the subject. Many Christians over hundreds of years wonder if Calvin has it right, or the Armenians or neither. One day we will find out and it won’t matter then because the beliers will be in the same place.

    I think there are many Mormons sitting at “home playing World of Warcraft and eating ice cream” because they have done their temple ordinances, pay tithes, observe the Word of Wisdom, go to Sabbath, etc., currently or in the past and are just enjoying the “ride” at the ward because their children are sealed to them, they have a temple marriage and they have done baptism for the dead ordinances for all their lost relatives. I know elderly Mormons that fit in this category and they have recently shocked me with their behavior and language. I can only think that they are abusing Mormon “grace” for the reasons mentioned. Why is two-thirds of the Mormon membership inactive? They are camped out playing video games and eating ice cream because they know they have many chances to get in one of the Mormon kingdoms after they die. They know their relatives will do temple ordinances for them by proxy and then they have the Millennium to finish up the rest (plural marriage – D&C 132) to further seal the deal.

    No, I wasnt walking down the street or sitting around and God dis “his magic” on me and I became a believer. No, it was much different. It was realizing that I was completely helpless spiritually, I was a sinner, I owed a sin debt that I could not pay, I needed a Savior who was perfect to redeem me and give me that gift of eternal life based on me putting my faith and trust in Him and nothing else especiall on anything that I could do now or ever. As long as Mormons think that they play any part in meriting or obtaining anything spiritually on their own in addition to what Christ has already done is bad news and that will cost the Mormon from obtaining that gift.

    I see you want to go with Webster – that’s fine. He has a great definition of covenant. Using that definition please show me in the New Testament the two-way arrangement of the “if” and “then” like it’s described in Moroni 10:32. I’d also like for you to answer the questions that I asked in my first post in regards to Hebrews 9:15-17.

    Who died for the Book of Mormon?
    What kind of testament is the Book of Mormon?
    Who or what died to validate the Book of Mormon?
    If the Mormon testament really is different from the New testmanent, does that mean Christ’s death and blood validated two covenants?
    What does the Mormon testament gain the believer since forgiveness and eternal life came with the New Testament?

  12. January 11, 2009 at 5:20 am

    I’m not sure what the point of your questioning is Berean, but I suspect you’re setting up a cute little word trap here, where you will pretty-much ignore about 70% of my answer and seize upon that juicy 30% to launch a series of canned and pre-prepared answers that you were planning on voicing all along, regardless of anything any Mormon here was actually saying. But I suppose I might as well indulge you…

    Who died for the Book of Mormon?

    Lots of people devoted their lives and deaths for it. Who died for the New Testament?

    And you don’t get to answer “Jesus Christ” – because he didn’t write it, and his death was for something much larger than merely what other people wrote about him.

    If you get to include Jesus Christ for the New Testament, then we get to include him for the Book of Mormon on the same logic.

    What kind of Testament?

    Not sure the answer even matters for our discussion here to begin with, but it’s an additional witness of the New Covenant introduced by Jesus Christ.

    Who died to validate the Book of Moron?

    Joseph Smith. Just like Paul died to validate his witness. Again – not Jesus.

    Finally,

    The Book of Mormon never claimed to be different than the New Testament – at least not in overall message. This is one of those stupid catch-22s our Evangelical critics keep trying to pull on us. If the Book of Mormon introduces anything new, they whine, rant, and moan about how “that’s not in the Bible!” If it repeats material from the New Testament, they call it pointless.

    Just admit it, you don’t want to hear anything new from God. You’ve got your precious little comfort zone, and you will do anything to maintain it – even essentially commanding God to shut up – because He’s obviously said everything to you that He could possibly ever have to say.

    Think about it Berean. By your own criteria here, it is literally impossible for God to ever say anything new to you in scripture format. Are those really the ground-rules you want to be promoting?

    What does the reader of the Book of Mormon gain?

    An assurance that this whole “Christian” thing is not a purely Palestinian affair. That God actually gave a flying leap about people besides a minuscule ethnic enclave on the banks of the eastern Mediterranean. A powerful example of how God’s covenant with Israel is a mechanism to bless the entire world and everyone who lives in it. And doctrines and clarifications missing from the Bible due to various human error or schemes – that’s in there too actually. Not to mention a promise that God can and will reveal more to us. That He is more than just an anachronism.

  13. 13 Berean
    January 11, 2009 at 7:02 am

    Seth, I sense the spirit of contention…great attitude. You’ve got Christianity all wrong when it comes to revelation. The Bible is full of revelation both in the Old and New Testament that hasn’t been fulfilled yet. Why do we need the Book of Mormon?

    I’m all about revelation. I’m not about to limit an all-powerful God in dictating to Him that He cannot speak. He can do whatever He wants when He wants. One thing He cannot do is lie (Hebrews 6:18) so He will not contradict anything He has said in the past. God reveals and talks to His people daily through His Holy Spirit in various ways. The god of Mormonism is an exalted man living on Kolob with his wives. The Holy Spirit of the Bible has revealed to me that this god is a false god. If that was who God is He would have revealed that to His people in the past through revelation and it would have been recorded in the Bible – God’s Word. He tells us the truth from the beginning. We have the ancient manuscripts of the Bible going back to A.D. 150. They can be checked. This Bible corruption conspiracy theory is drummed up by the Mormon Church to validate itself like all false religions. Where are the ancient Mormon manuscripts (plates) that one can view to check the original language of the Book of Mormon? We have thousands of manuscripts. What does the Mormon Church have?

    Hebrews 9:15-17 speaks for itself. No, there was no trap in asking those questions, Seth. I just wanted our Mormon readers to look at the text and think about what it says. You’ve got LDS agency so you can live under law if you want to. I choose not to because Christ said that I don’t have to. His grace and eternal life are a free gift for those that are willing to believe in Him and not the false jesus of Mormonism.

  14. January 11, 2009 at 7:42 am

    Berean, Berean, the place where God dwells is “near unto” Kolob. Nobody lives on Kolob – symbolically or otherwise.

    Someone who spends as much time with Mormonism as you do ought to keep these little details straight. As for whether God has one wife or several – very little in Mormon scripture on the subject, so I don’t really know.

    Although actually, the wife of Eloheim does seem to be in the Bible. If you know what you’re looking for… But that’s totally another topic.

    Now, you wrote:

    “Where are the ancient Mormon manuscripts (plates) that one can view to check the original language of the Book of Mormon? We have thousands of manuscripts.”

    Yes, you do have thousands of manuscripts. And a LOT of them are not friendly at all to your theological position. Yes, we know the archeological location of the Bible events. Which makes it all the more troublesome when that archeology reveals that things didn’t happen exactly the way the Bible says they did. For instance, the archeological record severely disputes whether Joshua’s conquest of Canaan even happened, has yet to verify that the Exodus ever happened, and posits that King David’s domain was not even a third the size the Bible claims it was.

    Archeologists today are saying that the Genesis of the Israelites was actually a faction of people already living in Canaanite society, throwing off oppression of other Canaanites, incorporating a narrative of liberation from Egypt, and then manufacturing a religion out of the surrounding Canaanite religion. It asserts that the religion of the early Israelites had a divine council of divine beings, under one supreme God, who were at the center of Israelite worship. It posits that the entirety of the Five Books of Moses was actually written by Jewish priests during the Babylonian exile who rewrote the history according to their own ideology and agenda.

    Of course we have no more evidence of ANYTHING in the Book of Genesis than we do for the Book of Mormon. Less actually.

    I’d actually argue that the existence of so much archeological record regarding the Bible makes it actually less believable than the Book of Mormon, not more. This is not something FARMS cooked-up. This is independent Bible scholarship. Not scholarship you’d agree with of course, but frankly I don’t find your opinion on the subject exactly unbiased.

    Careful about that historicity/archeology club you’re swinging around there Berean. You’re liable to hurt yourself.

  15. 15 Berean
    January 11, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    I’m well aware that Abraham 3:3 says that Kolob is “near unto me” on the residence of the Mormon god. The confusion is further added when Facsimile #2, figure #1 from the Book of Abraham says that Kolob is “the residence of God”. Further confusion is added when one studies the institute manual entitled “Pearl of Great Price Student Manual Religion 327” where we have Joseph Fielding Smith stating that Kolob is where the Mormon god resides (page 36).

    No, the true God is not married. He doesn’t have a wife and neither did Jesus despite what Mormon apostles and others have imagined up. You’re going to have to show me “chapter and verse” from the Bible on that one.

    I’m very comfortable with Biblical archaeology and what it shows. I can get on a plane and fly to the Middle East and look at many, many places and the events that took there as recorded in the Bible. I can’t do that with the Book of Mormon. I can go to certain places in the United States and look at Mormon events from the 1800’s. I can’t find any of the places as recorded in the Book of Mormon. On my last read-through of the Book of Mormon I came across 41 noted entries on geography and archaeology that are non-existent today. I’ll be happy to go through them with you if Mark creates a blog thread about it, but I doubt that will happen because that is not the focus of his blog and that is fine. I’m just as happy talking about these things with Mormons at the wards, institute classes or otherwise should it come up. I usually don’t with active Mormons because it’s a waste of time. For the majority of the LDS Church that is inactive (jack-Mormons) sometimes they are searching and want to know these things when they have doubts about who Joseph Smith said he is.

    The Fox News website even has a section on their website on archaeology of the Bible. These are Christian theologians and apologists. They just report the news. I don’t see a category on Mormon archaeology listed there. You can view it at:

    http://www.foxnews.com/scitech/archaeology/

    Ancient Biblical manuscripts is another great blog topic if Mark should care to create one. The LDS conspiracy theory and what they put out about the historicity of the Bible is laughable. The ancient manuscripts are out there. Many of them are right here in the United States. If you’d like to know where they are so you can check them out let me know. I’ll give you directions. You might also want to let the First Presidency know where they are too so they can examine them and translate them correctly since they have the title of “seer and translator”. My KJV Bible has the LDS stamp on the binder and the inside. If it’s corrupt and faulty, then why do they give it away for free on TV and include it as part of its standard works? The Mormon Church is really hurting itself with its criticism of the Bible all the while pushing it on its websites and otherwise – very confusing, but we know why they are doing it. I think the LDS Church should be bold enough like the Jehovah’s Witnesses were when they found that the KJV Bible that they printed for years didn’t square with their heretical teachings – they just made their own and changed the verses to make it say what they wanted. They call it the New World Translation and its ludicrous scholarship. Unlike the Mormon Church, they don’t care about trying to convince the world that they are a Christian church and beg for acceptance. What will the Mormon Church call its new “Bible”? When will they view P52, P90 and P104 which are the oldest manuscripts we have dating back to A.D. 150 and translate it correctly?

    We are way off topic I know. None of this changes what Hebrews 9:15-17 says which was the original topic. This is Mark’s blog so I’ll wait for him to respond next. Until then, as Bill O’Reilly says, “I’ll let you have the last word.”

  16. January 11, 2009 at 3:29 pm

    Sure Berean,

    Maybe I’ll book a plane ticket to Israel this summer. Maybe if I can actually look at downtown Jerusalem, that will make me believe in the “true” Jesus.

    This is an utterly ridiculous approach to religious belief. Not a single FAITH claim in the Bible is validated by anything objective. We are off topic, so I don’t think it is the place to do a scripture search. I was only making a side point anyway with the aim of pointing out the drawbacks of relying on sciences to verify your faith.

    I’d like to emphasize though, I’m not here to refute the Bible. I believe in the story of Exodus for example. I just think its silly to claim that historical/archeological evidence that merely verifies the general SETTING of a religious narrative proves anything about the FAITH claims of that narrative.

    By your logic, I would be well served to start worshiping Zeus and Neptune because the Illiad and the Odyssey have “real historical characters” and are about “real historical places.”

    I can go visit Troy right now Berean. But that’s really beside the point.

    By the way, I never thought I’d hear someone pointing to Fox News’ as “proof” that their Church is true.

    Unusual argument, to say the least.

  17. 17 InCognitus
    January 12, 2009 at 1:04 am

    Berean writes:

    I’m well aware that Abraham 3:3 says that Kolob is “near unto me” on the residence of the Mormon god. The confusion is further added when Facsimile #2, figure #1 from the Book of Abraham says that Kolob is “the residence of God”. Further confusion is added when one studies the institute manual entitled “Pearl of Great Price Student Manual Religion 327″ where we have Joseph Fielding Smith stating that Kolob is where the Mormon god resides (page 36).

    Normally I would not want to comment on anything off topic, but sometimes the issue of “confusion” is conflated or contrived by the propagation of inaccurate statements, and I’d like to clear this up.

    Here is what the references mentioned above actually say. First, here is what is said about Kolob in the Book of Abraham, under the explanation for Facsimile 2, Figure 1:

    “Kolob, signifying the first creation, nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God.” (Emphasis added)

    This is further emphasized by the explanation to Facsimile 2, Figure 2:

    “Stands next to Kolob, called by the Egyptians Oliblish, which is the next grand governing creation near to the celestial or the place where God resides

    And now finally, the quote from Joseph Fielding Smith from the Pearl of Great Price Student Manual Religion 327, page 36:

    “President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: ‘The Lord made known to him the following facts: That Kolob is the first creation, and is nearest to the celestial, or the residence of God… Oliblish, so called by the Egyptians, stands next to Kolob in the grand governing creation near the celestial, or place where God resides.” (Man: His Origin and Destiny [1954], 461.)” (Emphasis added)

    From these references we learn that the “place where God resides” is the “celestial”, and not Kolob, although Kolob is the “nearest to the celestial”.

  18. 18 InCognitus
    January 12, 2009 at 1:07 am

    Now, back to sticking with the original post topic:

    Berean, above you agreed that belief is required for the gift of eternal life in Jesus Christ, and so the New Covenant must be a conditional covenant in that one must, at the very least, believe in Jesus Christ in order to qualify for the blessings of the covenant. So at least in that respect I think we agree that the premise of the first post is flawed.

    But I want to ask you about what you wrote in response to my reference to Hebrews 10:26. You wrote: “For those that willfully sin and are ‘wolves in sheep clothing’ they were never really part of the family of God. That is why John said what he did in 1 John 2:19”

    Let’s assume for the moment that your application of 1 John 2:19 is correct, and that those who sin willfully after receiving a knowledge of the truth are those who were never really part of the family of God to begin with. I think this would mean that a person who is sinning willfully after coming to a knowledge of the truth is not covered by the New Covenant at all, is this correct? If this is true, then would not this be another condition of the covenant? Something more than just belief? If a person believes in Christ and knows the truth and is not sinning willfully, then he or she is covered under the covenant, but if they are sinning willfully then they were never really in Christ to begin with, am I right?

    But I’m not sure I agree with your application of 1 John 2:19. The context of this verse (in verse 18) shows that this is referring to anti-Christs that came out of the church:

    “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”

    The other Biblical problem I see with the idea that the people mentioned in Hebrews 10:26 were never part of the family of God is the use of the word “we”. The word “we” is directly translated from the Greek text. So apparently the author is including himself in the statement:

    “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (emphasis added).

    The word “we” is also of note in the reference I gave from Hebrews 3:1, 12-14 (the one that is addressed to the “holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling”):

    “For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.”

  19. 19 Berean
    January 12, 2009 at 4:13 am

    Seth,

    I wasn’t pointing to Fox News to state that my church was true. I don’t know where you got that. I’m not talking about churches anyway. I’m talking about fundamental beliefs that affect where one spends eternity. Names of churches mean nothing to me – beliefs of the individual do. I was merely giving you a reference from secular sources that had news stories regarding Biblical archaeology.

    You don’t have to fly to Israel to look at the ancient manuscripts of the Bible going all the way back. Many of them are right here in America. We can look at those in addition to the ones found at Qumran in checking the translation of the scriptures into English for our Bible.

  20. January 12, 2009 at 4:46 am

    “The Fox News website even has a section on their website on archaeology of the Bible. These are Christian theologians and apologists. They just report the news. I don’t see a category on Mormon archaeology listed there.”

    So what was that all about? Seemed pretty clear you were trying to point to the fact that Fox News has a category on your religion as legitimizing your faith above mine. Which was a rather silly argument to be making regardless. Since when was Fox News an arbiter of religious legitimacy?

    The stuff found in Qumran is not uniformly friendly to your theology or your take on the Bible.

    Fair warning.

  21. 21 Berean
    January 12, 2009 at 5:13 am

    Incognitus,

    “Nearest to” Kolob or Kolob being it lead to the same conclusion – the Mormon god is not omnipresent in his residence near Kolob (wherever that is). The God of the Bible is omnipresent (Psalm 139:7-10; Isaiah 66:1; Jeremiah 23:23-24). The LDS Church’s desire to be called Christian doesn’t stand a chance as long as it puts forth this Kolob theory. Why don’t you have investigators pray about the Pearl of Great Price to see if it’s true instead of the Book of Mormon? We know the answer to that one.

    Your problem with trying to make the New Testament a conditional covenant isn’t with me – it’s with Christ who made a new covenant and the old one went away. See Hebrews 8:13.

    A person who is sinning willfully after coming to a knowledge of the truth is not covered by the New Covenant because they never were a part of it. These people are described in Hebrews 10:29. It is a deliberate rejection of what Christ did on the cross. This group being addressed here are Jewish Christians who are planning to return back to the Mosaic law of Judaism. They never really had a personal relationship with Christ and have done an “about face” on Jesus and gone the other way. If Jesus’ sacrifice for sin is rejected, then what other sacrifice can be offered for atonement? Nothing!

    You asked: “If a person believes in Christ and knows the truth and is not sinning willfully, then he or she is covered under the covenant, but if they are sinning willfully then they were never really in Christ to begin with, am I right?”

    It depends and only God knows the heart of that individual person. All people that are believers in Christ are going to sin (1 John 1:8). We commit sins of omission or commision daily in one form or another. We ask forgiveness for those sins and even the ones we don’t know about (Psalm 19:12) and we know that He will forgive us when we repent (1 John 1:9) and those sins are gone forever (Hebrews 10:17). If a person is sinning willfully and deliberately, then there is doubt about that person truly being regenerated. However, only God really knows. There is an obscure passage in 1 John 5:16-17 that talks about a “sin unto death”. It is my understanding that this is in reference to a believer who is sinning deliberately and grieving the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30) and it eventually leads to that person being “taken out” by God. I only personally know of one time of this happening in which I was a member of a church in which the pastor recounted the events of this person and referenced this passage.

    The believer will not want to sin deliberately and grieve the Lord Jesus (Romans 6:1-2, 15). Many people will go through “dry spells” (backsliding) and God will discipline (Hebrews 12:6). He will bring that believer back to Him one way or another and the process can be painful if one has gone down the long road of sin (The Prodigal Son – Luke 15:11-32). Again, only God knows the situation of that person. Where the believer comes into play is what we see on the outside. This is what James 2 is all about when it comes to “faith without works is dead”. Christians can only judge what they see on the outside (works). God knows what is in the heart (faith) and He alone can judge that. Christians are “fruit inspectors”. If the fruit is there, then we see the outward result of an inward regeneration. Sometimes there will be fruit, but in reality that fruit was not the result of an inward regeneration and that perons leaves the family of God (1 John 2:19). They were frauds, fakes, anti-christ’s, etc., the whole time.

  22. 22 Berean
    January 12, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Seth,

    I see now what you are talking about with my previous statement regarding the Biblical archaeology website at Fox News. I did leave out a word (“not”) in my sentence. It should have read:

    “The Fox News website even has a section on their website on archaeology of the Bible. These are NOT Christian theologians and apologists. They just report the news. I don’t see a category on Mormon archaeology listed there.”

    I think it was obvious by my next sentence in the original posting that it didn’t match…sorry for the typo.

  23. January 12, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    Berean, whether the word “not” was in there or not, it doesn’t change the fact that you were using the inclusion of your religion on Fox News’ resources as evidence that your religion is somehow “better.” So it doesn’t really change my point at all.

    As for your statement:

    “the Mormon god is not omnipresent”

    Of course He is. Who says a material being cannot be omnipresent? You?

    What evidence do you have of that?

    In any event, the Biblical requirements are perfectly met is God’s influence is omnipresent – even if his body is only in one place at a time.

  24. 24 Berean
    January 13, 2009 at 2:23 am

    Seth,

    I didn’t say or imply anything about any religion being “better”, “best”, “the best” or whatever. Mormonism is a false religion and a non-Christian cult and the reasons I say that are numerous. With that statement I offer no apologies to anyone. The stakes are high here. We’re talking about eternal life or outer darkness. If that kind of truthfulness is not wanted on this blog then I will not be a part of it. It’s up to Mark. It’s his blog.

    I was simply giving a resource outside of Christian circles that had news articles on Biblical archaeology that validate the accounts of the Bible and to point out to you that I didn’t see a category on the same resource giving evidence of Mormon archaeology. LDS archaeologists that I have read (Dr. Dee Green, Dr. David Johnson, Dr. John Clark, Dr. Thomas Ferguson and even one statement from Spencer Kimball) state that there isn’t anything out there to validate the claims for the Book of Mormon. You are free to take from whatever I said in giving the Fox News archaeology website plug that you want.

    You said, “Who says that the Mormon god is not omnipresent?” I’m so glad you asked. It was the General Authorities and LDS Church Distribution that said it to educate the young LDS minds at institue classes.

    “Though each God in the Godhead is a personage, separate and distinct from each of the others, yet they are one God. Each occupies space and is and can be but ONE PLACE AT ONE TIME…As a Spirit personage the Holy Ghost has size and dimensions. He DOES NOT fill immensity of space, and CANNOT BE EVERYWHERE PRESENT IN PERSON AT THE SAME TIME. The Holy Ghost as a personage of Spirit can NO MORE BE OMNIPRESENT IN PERSON THAN CAN THE FATHER OR THE SON.” (Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual, page 8 & 11).

    No, the Biblical requirements are not met because we are not talking about “influence” here. We are talking about the physical location of Deity. The Mormon god, who is an exalted man, can only be in one place at one time. The God of Christianity and the Bible is omnipresent in every respect and is not an exalted man and you have stated to me in the past that this doctrine (god is an exalted man) of the Mormon god cannot be shown from the Bible or the Book of Mormon. I’ve given you the Bible verses in my last post showing the omnipresence of God. You are free to reject them all you want. You won’t be the first or the last. Heretics have been doing this for almost two thousand years.

  25. January 13, 2009 at 2:49 am

    Interesting quote Berean. Thanks for digging that up.

    I disagree that the Bible strictly requires a physical presence everywhere. I don’t see the language as requiring that at all. But there you are.

  26. 26 InCognitus
    January 14, 2009 at 3:22 am

    Parts of the quotes from Doctrines of the Gospel Student Manual dealing with the omnipresence of God were cut out. In context they say:

    “Each occupies space and is and can be in but one place at one time, but each has power and influence that is everywhere present” (p. 8)

    “The Holy Ghost as a personage of Spirit can no more be omnipresent in person than can the Father or the Son, but by his intelligence, his knowledge, his power and influence, over and through the laws of nature, he is and can be omnipresent throughout all the works of God” (pp. 11-12)

  27. 27 Berean
    January 14, 2009 at 5:04 am

    What has changed that wasn’t said before? I addressed the issue of “influence”. We aren’t talking about influence here. We are talking about the location of Deity as a person as said before. The God of the Bible is omnipresent in location and every other aspect as well. The Mormon god is not. He is residing “near unto Kolob” because he is an exalted man that became a god through eternal progression. The Mormon gods (godhead) aren’t omnipresent in location IN PERSON. “Influence” is a neat word to use as a sidetrack item and further adds to the maze of Mormon terminology. By using the Mormon definition of omnipresence, since it means influence, I guess I can be omnipresent too since I have influence and forms of power on people that I know, help, mentor, support, instruct, counsel, guide, etc., around the world, right? My child that is not here physically with me at my home is influenced by me. Am I omnipresent with her too? No, because I am a human being with a physical body and can only be in one place at the same time as a person. The Mormon god has a body of flesh and bones and is with his wives in the celestial near Kolob. He can’t be there and here. The God of the Bible is a Spirit (John 4:24) and is omnipresent in person (Psalm 139:7-10). The Mormon god near Kolob is not omnipresent in person. It’s really that simple and that is just one reason that makes Mormonism a non-Christian cult and a false religion as I alluded to earlier. Getting the nature of God wrong has eternal consequences.

    Space here doesn’t allow me to quote all four pages in that section of the institute manual. That is where the individual Mormon should go and check. I’m glad you are checking the sources. I wish more Mormons would check things out. Most of them don’t bother and just repeat what they are told at the wards. The ones that do investigate and start checking usually end up leaving the Mormon Church.

  28. January 14, 2009 at 5:51 am

    The Mormon conception of God is sufficient for an all powerful being in whom we can have faith and entrust ourselves to. I really don’t care one way or the other if He’s physically present everywhere or not. Nothing you have said Berean, shows me why I should really care about this issue.


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