Archive for May, 2013

24
May
13

JESUS MY CREDITOR?

One of Mormonism’s basic manuals is a book entitled “Gospel Principles”.  Starting on p. 75 it quotes a parable given by Elder Boyd K . Packer, an LDS apostle.   It’s quite lengthy so I will summarize much of it here.  Heavenly Father is the creditor.  We are the debtors.  After awhile we realize that we can’t pay back the debt. After a discussion about justice and mercy, Jesus, the mediator, steps in. He asks the creditor if he will free the debtor from the contract, if he, the mediator, pays the entire debt. The creditor agrees. Let me pick it up there by quoting a few sentences:

“The mediator turned then to the debtor. ‘If I pay your debt, will you accept me as your creditor?’

“‘Oh yes, yes,’ cried the debtor. ‘You saved me from prison and show mercy to me.’

“‘Then’ said the benefactor, ‘you will pay the debt to me and I will set the terms. It will not be easy, but it will be posssible. I will provide a way. You need not go to prison.’”

For many Christians, this illustrates quite sharply the difference between the teachings of Mormonism and biblical Christianity.  Many Christians are genuinely horrified to hear Jesus being described as a creditor.  This goes against every grain of their being.

This horror on the part of Christians is mystifying to many Mormons.  They don’t see the problem.  They wonder what the big deal is.  To them seeing Jesus as their creditor is no big deal – it’s even natural.

For me, not only the parable itself, but then also the two differing and drastic reactions to it clearly illustrate the differences between Mormonism and Christianity.  The parable illustrates the different teaching; the differing reactions illustrate the different mindsets. As Christians talk with their Mormon friends, they need to not only remember that many times words will be defined differently between the two, but also that their mindsets will be different from that of their LDS friends.

As for me, I am so thankful that Jesus doesn’t ask me if I will accept him as my creditor.  No, he is my Savior who has paid my debt fully and buried all my sins in the depths of the sea.

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17
May
13

A Sense of Urgency

The subject matter of chapter 10 of the Teachings of President Lorenzo Snow is LDS temples and the work that takes place within them.  There are many statements in this chapter that I could comment on.  But, as I read that chapter, the one thing that repeatedly troubled me was how Mormonism’s teaching about temple work contributes to its draining of much of the urgency for people to know the truth in this life.  One of this chapter’s main emphases was on performing temple ordinances for the dead.  That entire practice is based on the belief that people can accept the “truth” after this life.  They can accept the truth but they can’t perform the necessary ordinances.  Thus the need for performing these ordinances for them.

This idea that people can come to faith after they have died, an idea engrained in LDS members not only when they go to the temple but also when they do their family history work is not only wrong, it is deadly.  As Paul wrote to the Corinthians:  “We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain. (For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.) (2 Corinthians 6:1-2).  This lifetime, and only this lifetime, is when people can come to faith.

There is great urgency for people to believe – right now!  None of us knows when our lives here on earth will end.  There are no guarantees any of us will live to a ripe old age.  And once we die, then comes the judgment (Hebrews 9:27).  Now is the day of salvation.  And it doesn’t continue after we die.

It is my fervent prayer that we all live with this sense of urgency.  First, of all, for ourselves.  May each one of us regularly check that we are placing all our hopes of being accepted by God on what Jesus has done for us and not on our own works.  May we make it a high priority to regularly examine ourselves and root out any hint that we have done anything to be saved.

And then, moved by that sense of urgency, may we make use of every opportunity to tell others the wonderful news that eternal life is God’s gift to us through Jesus Christ.  May we view every opportunity to talk with somebody the last opportunity we might have to talk to them.  Only God knows, but it just might be.

08
May
13

Salvation

The following statement is made in the LDS student manual on the Pearl of Great Price:  The Prophet Joseph Smith said: ‘To get salvation we must not only do some things, but everything which God has commanded’” (p. 71). This is just another in an abundance of statements that demonstrate that Mormonism teaches a salvation that is based in large measure on works.  Especially note how Joseph Smith emphasizes that a person has do everything God has commanded.

That agrees with the following statement from the LDS manual, True to the Faith.  “Note that you cannot be saved in your sins; you cannot receive unconditional salvation simply by declaring your belief in Christ with the understanding that you will inevitably commit sins throughout the rest of your life (see Alma 11:36-37).  Through the grace of God, you can be saved from your sins (see Helaman 5:10-11). To receive this blessing, you must exercise faith in Jesus Christ, strive to keep the commandments, forsake sin, and renew your repentance and cleansing through the ordinance of the sacrament.” (p. 151-152)

Note how this quote emphasizes that salvation does not rest on faith alone.  In fact it flatly rejects that idea.  Instead it emphasizes that you can’t be saved and still sin – you can’t be saved in your sins; rather you have to forsake sin.  Taken together, these two quotes demonstrate that it is correct to say that the salvation Mormonism teaches is one that rests, to a large extent, on a person’s work.

I feel the need to stress that because LDS members frequently have objected when I have said that.  They respond by pointing to how Mormonism stresses the importance of Christ’s atonement.  Again quoting from True to the Faith: “Without the Atonement, spiritual and temporal death would place an impassable barrier between us and God” (p. 15).  Yes, Mormonism does say that without Christ’s atonement we would have no hope.  But it is also true, as the quotes above show, that Mormonism teaches that a biggest part of being saved rests squarely on our shoulders.

Talk about pressure!  Even making ourselves responsible for a little bit of our salvation can easily be unbearable.  It’s like the pressure of being placed into the basketball game to make the last game-winning basket.  All you have to do is make one basket.  But how many times haven’t we seen players fold under the pressure and clank the shot off the rim.  When it comes to salvation, however, the stakes are much higher – the stakes are nothing less than either spending eternity with Heavenly Father in heaven or with Lucifer in outer darkness.

But that’s only the half of it.  The Bible clearly states that we don’t have the capability to do anything to save ourselves.  That is why, when the subject is our eternal salvation, the only person’s works it points to are Jesus.  ‘But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. (Titus 3:4-7)

Salvation is entirely God’s work.  We contribute nothing to it.  He did it all.  Seeing and believing that not only brings tremendous relief and comfort to us, it also gives God the glory and honor he so richly deserves. Find relief.  Praise God.  Do that by believing that salvation is God’s gift to you.




May 2013
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