Posts Tagged ‘Lorenzo Snow

19
Apr
13

What will be your defense on Judgment Day?

The sub-title for Chapter 8 of the Teachings of President Lorenzo Snow is “Righteous Latter-day Saints strive to ‘establish a character before God that could be relied upon in the hour of trial.”  This sums up well the chapter’s thrust of encouraging people to develop a good character to win God’s approval.  For example, a title of one of the sections is “If we have established a proper character, we can confidently invite God to search our hearts.”  That section then continues with this quote from President Snow.

“I am under the strongest impression, that the most valuable consideration, and that which will be of the most service when we return to the spirit world, will be that of having established a proper and well defined character as faithful and consistent Latter-day Saints in this state of probation.” (p. 119)

This emphasis on the importance of a person’s character is summed up in the last paragraph of the chapter.  “Our character, as Latter-day Saints, should be preserved inviolate, at whatever cost or sacrifice.  Character, approved of God is worth securing, even at the expense of a life-time of constant self-denial.  While thus living we may look forward. . .with full assurance that. . .we shall be crowned with the sons and daughters of God, and possess the wealth and glory of a Celestial kingdom.” (The quote contains the omissions indicated with the . . .)

Much of this chapter is based on David’s prayer in Psalm 139: 23-24:  “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” I find this reference to David’s prayer interesting for a couple of reasons.  First, David is not held up as a model of virtue in the LDS Church.  The LDS Old Testament manual says of David:  “David is still paying for his sins.” (p. 291) And again, by having Uriah killed, “David thus moved from a serious but forgivable sin to an unpardonable one.”  It further states that David will spend eternity in the lowest kingdom of heaven taught in Mormonism, the telestial kingdom.  Therefore it is striking that President Snow holds David up as a model to follow.

But this use of David is also striking because the Bible points to him as a model – not of a man who trusted in his own righteousness – but one who trusted in God’s forgiveness!  “Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:6-8)

It’s in that light that we need to read his prayer in Psalm 139.  As one man commented on these verses: “David closes not with pride, but with humility.  He recognizes that without forgiveness he too would fall under the wrath of a holy God.  David circles back to the beginning of the psalm and asks that the Lord would use his knowledge of David to cleanse him from every evil way which would lead him away from God.”  David never thought he would be blessed because of his own righteousness.  He knew that he would be blessed only through the forgiveness won for him by the greatest Son of David, Jesus Christ.

So when you stand before God what will you point to in your defense?  Will you point to your righteous character or Christ’s righteousness?  When it comes to being worthy and acceptable to God, the only righteousness that stands is Christ’s righteousness.  “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.  But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.“ (Romans 3:20-24)

What will be your defense?  I pray that the only evidence you will present will be Jesus’ righteousness.  Everything else, especially pointing to your character, will ruin your defense and result not in praise but condemnation.  David placed all his hope in the coming Savior.  Because of that, in spite of all his sins, he now is living and will live for all eternity in Heavenly Father’s glorious presence.  Place all your hopes in Jesus and you too will spend eternity with God.

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08
Mar
13

Becoming a God

Even though I have recently addressed this topic, I am revisiting it because it is the centerpiece of Chapter 5 of the Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, a chapter that will be studied in the LDS Church this coming Sunday.  This chapter begins by quoting the famous couplet President Snow authored,

“As man now is, God once was:

As God now is, man may be.”

It then talks about how he made this the theme for his life.  It was his “constant light and guide”.  But what I found especially enlightening is that it then says that, “in this chapter, President Snow teaches the doctrine that we can become like our Heavenly Father.”  That struck me because that clearly shows, and as the rest of the chapter demonstrates, that when Mormonism talks about the possibility of becoming like God it means that they can become a god.  In other words, in the official writings of Mormonism, the two statements are synonymous.

That is important because many members of the LDS Church have given me the impression that becoming like God is less than becoming a god.  And I don’t doubt that they truly believe there is a distinction between the two.  But even a cursory reading of this chapter says differently.  Following are just some quotes I pulled from that chapter to demonstrate that.  These quotes are all an explanation of becoming like God.

“There is the nature of deity in the composition of our spiritual organization.”

“He has bestowed on us the capacity for infinite wisdom and knowledge.”  (my emphasis)

“We have divinity within ourselves.”

Heavenly Father says:  “walk ye up and come in possession of the same glory and happiness that I possess.” (my emphasis)

“becoming like unto Him in every particular”

But President Snow also states very clearly that all this is conditioned on a person’s obedience.  One quote will suffice:  “They are His children, made in His image, and destined through obedience to His laws to become like unto Him.”  Repeatedly he talks about how people can realize their divine potential IF they remain faithful and obedient.

What a contrast to biblical teaching! It speaks of a God that we can’t begin to fathom – a God that is so superior that even the angels cover their faces in his presence.  The God of the Bible is one whose both nature and works leave us speechless.  The God of the Bible stands unequalled from eternity to eternity.  Nowhere does the Bible state that we will possess the same glory as God.

But his greatest glory is his love.  The love that moved him, not to give us a plan of salvation, but salvation itself.  The love that he put into action by sending Jesus as our substitute, to do everything necessary for us to live eternally with him.  And that is what Jesus did!  He was perfectly obedient and then bestowed that righteousness on us through faith.  And then he died – not for any sins he committed – but for all the sins we have committed.  He paid the full price.  And because Jesus did it all there are now no conditions, no ifs, for us to fret over.  Instead of making eternal life with Heavenly Father conditional on our obedience, God offers it to us as his free gift.

O, what a blessing that is.  Because Jesus has already done everything for me, I am positive that right now that, in Christ, I am completely worthy and accepted to God.  Because of Jesus, I can’t wait for Judgment Day because there I know I will be lovingly accepted by God.  Because of Jesus, I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that I will be living with Heavenly Father forever.  There are no ifs, ands, or buts, about it.  To Him be all praise and glory!

 

09
Jan
13

Mormonism: A Self-Centered Religion

It’s a beginning of another year.  That means that members of the LDS Church will be studying the teachings of another one of their presidents.  In 2013 the spotlight is on Lorenzo Snow, who served as president of the LDS Church for three years from 1898 to 1901.  They will devote time the second and third Sundays of each month to study a compilation of his teachings which has been assembled in a brand new manual.

This coming Sunday they will be looking at chapter one entitled “Learning by Faith”. Towards the beginning of that chapter, President Snow says:  “The whole idea of Mormonism is improvement—mentally, physically, morally and spiritually. No half-way education suffices for the Latter-day Saint.”  Does that sound like something Jesus would say? Does that sound like something you would read in the Bible?  No, both would say that the whole idea is about what Jesus has done for us, not about how we are to improve ourselves.

Immediately following that quote, is this one: “It is profitable to live long upon the earth and to gain the experience and knowledge incident thereto: for the Lord has told us that whatever intelligence we attain to in this life will rise with us in the resurrection, and the more knowledge and intelligence a person gains in this life the greater advantage he will have in the world to come [see D&C 130:18–19].””

Again note the emphasis on what the person does.  The more knowledge they gain now, the greater advantage they will have in the world to come.

Again the question begs to be asked.  Did Jesus ever talk that way?  Is such an idea found in the Bible?  On the contrary, Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:12 said:   “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.”  The contrast is obvious:  now our knowledge is incomplete but in heaven it will be complete. And this statement applies to all believers.  In heaven, some will not have greater knowledge than others – because it doesn’t depend on our attainment but on God’s blessing.

These are just two examples of a major difference between Mormonism and the Bible.  Mormonism consistently centers people on themselves: on what they have to do, on what they have to attain, on what they have earned.  But the Bible puts God in the spotlight and centers on his works for us and his blessings to us – even in the face of our sinfulness and unworthiness.

As I begin a new year, I pray that I can concentrate even more on God and his incredible works for me – especially his absolute forgiveness of me because of Jesus’ complete sacrifice for me.  I pray that I think more and more of heaven and exude confidence that I will be there – not because of anything I have done but because Jesus has done everything for me.  And I pray that more and more LDS people see that and experience the great joy of being worthy before God clothed completely in Christ’s righteousness.




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