Archive for September, 2011


Winning the person or winning the battle?

That is a question I often have to ask myself when talking with a Mormon.  That is a question I often ask other Christians who are dialoguing with Mormons.

It’s an important question because it deals with attitudes.  And the answer will often be seen in how I talk, won’t it?  Not so much in what I say, but especially in how I say it.  Won’t my tone be dramatically different when I’m focusing on winning the person?

That was the case with the prophet Isaiah.  The 15th and 16th chapters of his book record the Lord’s judgment on the country of Moab, one of Israel’s long-standing enemies.  Therefore you would expect to hear Isaiah speaking with a little glee.  After so long, Moab is finally going to be punished!  But that is not what you see.  Instead of glee, we see sadness. Just a couple of examples:  “My heart shall cry out for Moab” (15:5).   “Therefore I will bewail with the weeping of Jazer.” (16:9). Isaiah announced the Lord’s judgment with a tear in his eye and with agony in his voice.  It is obvious that he was concerned for them – even though they were enemies.

Whenever I talk with a Mormon I pray that the Lord allows me to do two things.  The first is to speak his truth to them.  Never do I want to compromise that truth or even soft pedal it.  It’s way too important.  Especially do I want to unceasingly proclaim the amazing truth that it was entirely Jesus’ work, and not one ounce of my work, that has brought me into a wonderful relationship with Heavenly Father now and gives me the unshakeable confidence that I will live with him for all eternity.  Jesus didn’t just open the door for me and now it’s up to me to enter and proceed to the Father, as one Mormon told me last week.  No, he did it all.  It’s especially that truth that I want to always proclaim.

But I also pray that I do that in love.  That my goal is not to win the battle, but to win the person.  That I do that, not with a sense of satisfaction that I’m right and they are wrong; but rather with sadness when the person doesn’t accept that and great joy when they do.  Especially do I pray that I reflect that in how I talk – in my tone, even when that tone is misunderstood.

I decided to share this today for two reasons.  One is because I think it’s an important reminder for us all.  But the other reason is because I just received an email from a concerned reader of this blog.  He was concerned about the tone of many of the comments.  He was wondering how all this could be God-pleasing.

Therefore it is my plea that all who comment do so respectfully.  There is nothing wrong with taking strong stands on an issue.  But let’s try to do this respectfully – always working on really understanding what the other person meant before commenting ourselves – always addressing the issue rather than the person.  I thank you in advance for doing that.





It sure seems like some sins aren’t very serious; at the most being on the level of minor crimes, misdemeanors.  But that isn’t how the Bible portrays them.  Sin, all sin, is extremely serious because of the person whom we are sinning against.

For example, if I took a swing at my friend, there would be consequences but we wouldn’t even make the news.  Taking that same swing at a police officer, however, might get me into the papers – and into jail.  Same swing – different consequences -because of whom I swung at.  Take it a step further.  Say I took that same swing at the President of theUnited States.  That would get me national attention – and serious jail time.  Same swing – different consequences – because of whom I swung at.

Sin is serious because we are sinning against God.  For example, after committing adultery, David cried out to the Lord:  “Against thee, thee only, have I sinned.”  (Psalm 51:4)  All sin is against God because all sin breaks God’s law.  That means all sin is serious. That’s why James wrote, “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”  (James 2:10)  Sin, all sin, is serious.  There are no misdemeanors when it comes to sin.  In fact, sin is more than a felony – sin, all sin, is a capital crime.  “The wages of sin is death.”  (Romans 6:23)  It’s not just the blatant sinners who have a big problem.

The only solution to that problem is Jesus.  How wonderful it is that this verse continues:  “but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”  Eternal life is more than immortality.  Eternal life is living eternally with Heavenly Father.  (The LDS Bible’s Topical Guide recognizes this by referencing exaltation and eternal family under the heading, eternal life.)  Jesus died for our capital crimes.  He paid the penalty for all our sins.  His blood washes away all sin.  So much so that God gives eternal life as his gift to us – with no strings attached.  To Jesus be all praise!




When you ask people what Jesus did for them, many will respond by saying he died to pay for their sins.  That’s true but is that the whole story?

It’s not.  Jesus not only died for us; he also lived for us!  Throughout his life he kept the commandments perfectly.  “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.”  (Hebrews 4:15)   But that’s just the beginning.  God credits all that commandment- keeping, all that perfect living, all that righteousness, to believers.  “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:  That according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”  (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)  Jesus has become my righteousness.  I have been saved by works – Jesus’ works which he worked for me.

This is what Isaiah was talking about when he said:  “I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful to my God; for he hath clothed me with garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (61:10). Note that Isaiah said the Lord clothed him – the Lord covered him with the robe of righteousness.  Isaiah’s robe of righteousness was given him by the Lord.

That’s the same thing Jesus was talking about in the parable of marriage of the king’s son in Matthew 21.  There the man without the wedding garment was cast into outer darkness.  What is so instructive about that parable is that the custom at royal weddings was that the king would supply a wedding garment for the guests.  It would be his gift to them.  We don’t know, but the man who was cast out might have been well-dressed.  But he wasn’t dressed in the wedding garment that the king had supplied.  By not wearing that garment, he dishonored and angered the king.  He was thrown out into outer darkness.  The thought that these wedding garments were gifts of the king also fits into the context of the parable because the king’s servants went out into the highways and byways to get guests – guests who would not have had the time or probably even the means to get a wedding garment of their own.

Jesus perfectly wove my robe of righteousness for me with his perfect life.  Every good work he did was another thread of that robe.  God has now given it to me as a gift to me.  With Isaiah and Paul I give all glory to the Lord.

September 2011

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