Archive for July, 2010



    In the latest (August 2010) edition of the Ensign (the official magazine of the LDS Church) both the First Presidency message and the article on its beliefs focus on the Temple and especially the requirement to be worthy.  In just a few short pages various forms of the word worthy appear over 15 times.  If there is something the LDS Church emphasizes, it is that a person must be worthy to enter the temple.  (By the way, many Christians are surprised to learn that many Mormons don’t meet the requirements – that they are not temple worthy.)

     But, according to the LDS Church, they don’t have to be perfect.  “We are not expected to be perfect to enter the temple.  Rather, the purpose of the things we learn and the covenants we make in the temple is to help perfect us.  We must, however, be worthy to enter.”  (p.8) That same page states:  “The Lord has set the standards of worthiness to enter the temple, as expressed by the Psalmist: ‘Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord?  or who shall stand in his holy place? ‘He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart.’ Psalm 24:3-4)”

    I find the contrast between those two statements interesting.  Isn’t a person with a pure heart describing more than just a “worthy” person?  Isn’t that a description of a perfect person?  Doesn’t this Scripture, which the LDS itself cites, contradict its statement that “we are not expected to be perfect to enter the temple”? 

    The Bible consistently sets perfection as the requirement for people to be in the presence of the Lord.  For example, Hebrews 12:14 states:  ‘Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord.”  God doesn’t command us to be worthy – He commands us to be perfect.  “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”  (Matthew 5:48)  By teaching that people are to be worthy but don’t have to be perfect to “stand in the holy place” the LDS Church severely lowers the requirements and is setting people up for a rude awakening.  Remember Hebrews 12:14:  without holiness no man shall see the Lord.

     Only holy and perfect people will be with the Lord.  That’s a sobering fact. That should drive everybody to despair of their own shabby worthiness and trust totally and completely in the holiness and perfection that is theirs through Jesus.  “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”  (Hebrews 10:10)  “For by one offering he hath perfected for even them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)  Jesus’ perfection – and only Jesus’ perfection – enables us to be with the Lord.  It is my prayer that many Christians share this truth with their Mormon friends.  It further is my prayer that many Mormons abandon finding comfort in their worthiness and instead find joy in Jesus’ perfection for them.


Before and After Pictures

     There were two sets of before and after pictures.  They were pictures of two people’s mouths – before and after dental work.  The before picture in the first set showed some crooked teeth and a few others with cavities.  The after picture naturally showed the same mouth but now with perfectly straight teeth and not a cavity in sight.  This set touted the work of one dentist.

     The second set, touting the work of another dentist, showed a much more drastic change.  That before picture revealed a mouth with major problems.  As you looked at the picture, you wondered how the person could even close his mouth or eat anything.  The after picture amazingly resembled the after picture of the first set – perfectly aligned teeth with not a problem in sight.  It was obvious that a highly skilled dentist worked on it.

     Obviously, I don’t want to talk about dentists.  I want to talk about how wonderfully God has worked on me.  And one way that I can emphasize his incredible work is by showing people my before picture.  The Bible paints it vividly.  I was a lawless rebel.  (1 John 3:4).  I was totally corrupt and evil. (Genesis 8:21) I was spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) always doing sin’s biding. (John 8:34)  I did no good; I was worthless (Romans 3:10-12).  A viler picture could not be drawn. That was my picture – really, not figuratively.

     But then the Lord worked on me.  He washed me and cleansed me (1 John 1:7).  He made me spiritually alive (Eph. 2 5).  He created a new heart within me (2 Cor. 5:17).  He changed me from being a slave of sin to a slave of righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18).  He adopted me into his family (Gal. 4:5).  He sanctified me and made me holy (Heb. 10:10-14).  He did this all for me through Jesus Christ. 

     The tremendous contrast between my before and after pictures emphasizes the greatness of what God has done.  But when that contrast is lessened, when the before picture is of a basically good person who needs a little work, then God is robbed of his glory.  And robbing God of his glory is no small thing.



    On a plane trip awhile back, I got into a conversation about spiritual matters with the person sitting next to me.  Once he found out that I believed that I didn’t have to do anything to work myself back into God’s favor but that Jesus did everything for me, he responded with the well-worn argument:  “If you tell people they don’t have to do anything, then people will just run amuck in sin.”

     My response caught him off-guard.  Earlier I had noticed the wedding ring on his finger and from our previous small talk I had learned he was on a business trip.  So, in response, I asked him:  “Does that mean that tonight you are going to hire a prostitute to come to your motel room?  There’s no way that your wife will ever find out.”  Before he became too upset with me, I quickly continued:  “I don’t think you are going to do that.  But I was just applying your logic to your relationship between you and your wife.  Love is stronger than law.  I love Jesus for all that he has done for me.  The last thing I want to do is hurt the person who rescued me.  Love is stronger than law.”

     That man, at least, saw my point, albeit somewhat reluctantly.  And even though some might consider my illustration crude, I think it makes my point.  Just as offensive as it was to that man for me to even suggest that I could assume that he would be unfaithful to his wife because there was no “law” restraining him, so also it is offensive to Christians to suggest that because we don’t think that we have to do anything to be saved, that then we will feel no restraint in sinning.

     With minor variations, that is what many Mormons have told me.  Spencer W. Kimball made this point in his book, Miracle of Forgiveness.  After describing the teaching that man is saved alone by the grace of God and that belief alone in Jesus is all that is needed as “one of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan”, he goes on to say:  “It could give license for sin.” (p.207)

     But that is not what genuine faith produces.  Faith creates a tremendous love in people – a love that doesn’t want to go against God.  In fact, I would submit that people who believe that they are saved alone by the grace of God are more restrained.   They are more restrained because love is stronger than law.

July 2010

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