Posts Tagged ‘mormon

15
Jul
09

Is Sin Only a Willful Act?

 

     One of the things I have noticed in my reading of the Ensign and the LDS Church Manuals is that they use often words like mistakes, bad choices, etc. for things the Bible labels sinful.  In True to the Faith, a manual recommended by the First Presidency of the LDS Church as a companion to scripture study, under the heading sin it reads:  “When we willfully disobey God’s commandments, we commit sin.  We also commit sin when we fail to act righteously despite our knowledge of the truth (see James 4:17).”

     Is sin really only a willful disobedience of God’s commandments?  In the majority of the world’s society, morality has been on the decline with the result that more and more people have a weakened sense of right and wrong.  Does this mean that Islamic suicide bombers aren’t sinning especially if they see their actions as following God’s will?  Does this mean that if a person doesn’t know that God commands us to lead chaste lives that he or she isn’t sinning by being unchaste?  

     The Bible doesn’t limit sin just to willful disobedience.  Take Jesus’ prayer as he was being nailed to the cross:  “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.”  (Luke 23:34)  He would not have had to pray that if sin was limited to willfully disobeying God’s commandments.  Especially sobering is this passage:  “whatsoever is not of faith is sin.” (Romans 14:23).

     Neither does the Bible limit sin only to our actions.  In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus repeatedly talked about the sinfulness of thoughts.  One example:  “But I say unto you, That whsoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in her heart.”  (Matthew 5:28)  And we see this not just in the Sermon on the Mount.  The Bible repeatedly talks about evil thoughts, about sinful lusts, etc.

     But True to the Faith. mentions none of this under the heading sin.  In that, it is quite representative of LDS teaching.  Mormonism drastically diminishes sin.

     It is vitally important for people to see the extent of their sinfulness.  The more limited and restricted people’s view of sin is, the less desperation they will feel for a Savior.  On the other hand, the more accurate their knowledge is of how of how much they do sin, the more they will be inclined to despair of their works and trust solely in Jesus’ work for them.  That is what I am doing.

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08
Apr
09

Paradise

 

     During this week which we observe our Lord’s crucifixion and celebrate his resurrection, countless are the people who have found comfort in the words that Jesus spoke to the thief on the cross:  “Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”  (Luke 23:43)  Jesus said this in response to his request:  “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.”  I, along with countless millions of Christians, have understood his request as a simple statement of faith and Jesus’ response as reassuring him that he would be in heaven with him that day.  “Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

     Mormonism, however, rejects that interpretation.  “To the thief on the cross who asked to be remembered after death, the Savior responded to give him what hope he could:  ‘Today shalt thou be with me in paradise, ‘ That is to say, today you shall be with me in the world of spirits, where you will be taught the gospel and your inquires will be answered. (See Smith, Teachings, p.309)  Jesus did not lend any credence to a death-bed repentance or (sic) the malefactor.  What Jesus did do was give recognition to the seeds of faith and repentance which were evidenced by a penitent man.  As always, the Lord’s efforts were directed toward offering as much hope as possible to one who would turn from darkness unto that everlasting light.”  (Life and Teachings. . .p. 186, emphasis added)

     The LDS Bible Dictionary says this:  “For example, when Jesus purportedly said to the thief on the cross, ‘Today shalt thou be with me in paradise’, the Bible rendering is incorrect.  The statement would more accurately read, ‘Today shalt thou be with me in the word of spirits’ since the thief was not ready for paradise.”

     The two different interpretations of this statement is another in a long list of examples illustrating the great difference between Mormonism and Christianity on the most fundamental of all doctrines, namely, how a person will live eternally with Jesus.  Again this Holy Week I will be praising my Savior for the incredible love and acceptance he showed the thief – and he has shown me.

16
Aug
08

Judging a Prophet’s Words

      This is a continuation of my last post.  There I talked about how the fruit of a prophet – the fruit by which we recognize whether a prophet is true or false – is not his character or even his success, but his words.  But how do we go about looking at his words?

     The LDS church cites James 1:5 and tells people to pray about it.  But nowhere in the context does James apply this to judging a prophet’s words.  No, when the subject is judging whether or not a prophet is true the Bible is consistent in its approach.  You judge his words by comparing them with the Bible. 

      Isaiah 8:19-20: “And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead?  20To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.”  The law and the testimony were terms for Old Testament Scripture.  That was the standard to be used.  They were not told to pray about it.

     We see the same thing in the New Testament.  In Acts 16 Paul comes to the Greek city of Berea.  In regard to his visit we read:  “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether these things were so.” (v.11)  They examined Paul’s word in light of scripture to determine the truthfulness of them.  Searching the Scriptures rather than praying about it was their method of discerning truth.  For a fuller discussion of this see http://www.thecityofzion.com/postoffice/DiscerningTruth/GodsWay/359p3.htm

     When one compares Joseph Smith’s teachings and subsequent LDS teaching to the Bible, there are major conflicts.  The Bible says we are saved without works, the Book of Mormon says we are saved by grace after all we can do.  Mormonism teaches that God was once a man – the Bible teaches that God has always been God.  The Bible says that there is only one God – Mormonism teaches that there are countless gods.  On and on it goes.

     One can’t help but think that Joseph Smith saw these conflicts and that is why he taught that many plain and precious things were taken from the Bible.  Or why Mormonism teaches that “we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly.” 

     When his teachings are compared with the teachings of the Bible, Joseph Smith is revealed as a false prophet.

25
Jul
08

Why Jesus’ last words “It is finished” is so important for Mormons

 

Right before Jesus died on the cross, he said: “It is finished”. In the Greek language for which the New Testament was written in, this short phrase is just one word. This same Greek word was sometimes written across bills of debt in the same way we stamp a bill today with the words, “Paid in Full”. When Jesus uttered these words from the cross, he was announcing that mankind’s debt of sin had been paid in full – by him.

 

On Easter morning, God the Father dramatically showed that he accepted this payment by raising Jesus triumphantly from the dead. Jesus’ empty tomb is our receipt from God Himself that Jesus paid for all our sins – that God used the indelible ink of Jesus’ blood to write across our debt of sin the wonderful words, PAID IN FULL.

 

This short message is something that not only do we need to remind ourselves of often, but it is also something your Mormon friends need to hear repeatedly. Mormonism teaches that they have to pay the vast majority of the debt back themselves. The Book of Mormon says, “For we know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23) That phrase, “after all you can do” not only contradicts what Jesus said, but can also serve as a tremendous burden to conscientious Mormons. Who can at the end of each day confidently proclaim that they had done all that they could do? Honest persons will quickly see instances where they hadn’t. In striking contrast are Jesus’ words: “It is finished – your debt has been paid in full.” Friends, that is the wonderful news your Mormon friends need to hear.

 

My encouragement for you today is to speak that wonderful truth in love to Mormons.

 

 

23
Jul
08

Don’t tell Mormons they believe in a different Jesus

 

One of the worst things you can tell a Mormon is that they believe in a different Jesus. Many ex-Mormons have told me that fewer things angered them more when they were Mormons than being confronted by well-meaning Christians with this statement. Mormons can’t understand why anybody would say that. They have a very high regard for Jesus. They are members of the Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints. Nothing seems more ridiculous to a Mormon than when a Christian tells them that they have a different Jesus. When Christians confront Mormons with that statement, than they typically will have cut off all lines of communication with them.

 It’s much more effective to get into a discussion with a Mormon not on who Jesus is, but what Jesus has accomplished for us. Instead of confronting them with what they believe about Jesus, ask them questions. Give them the opportunity to tell you what they believe. Focus especially on the question, “Did Jesus do everything for us to live with Heavenly Father or do we have to do something in order to live with Heavenly Father?” That’s a telling question because Mormonism says they have to do a lot to live with Heavenly Father. You then can share with them how differently you believe. You can tell them that you will be in heaven for all eternity with God the Father, not because of anything you have done, but only because of what Jesus has done for you. In this way, without saying it, you can effectively show them how differently you view Jesus.

 

So, my friends, may I encourage you today to speak the truth in love and respect to Mormons.

 

21
Jul
08

How a Christian can say “I’m Perfect!” to a Mormon

 

“Are you perfect?” I hope you can answer that question with a resounding “YES”! Claiming you are perfect is not being arrogant – it’s called having faith. It’s a statement of faith which reflects the truth that God considers as perfect all people who trusting in Jesus Christ for their salvation.

 

Stating that you are already perfect in Christ is one effective way to bring into sharp contrast the difference between Mormonism and Christianity. And that’s very important. But it is also very difficult. Showing the difference between Christianity and Mormonism is something many Christians struggle with in conversations with their Mormon friends. The reason why they struggle so much is because Mormonism sounds so Christian.

 

I don’t believe any professing Mormon would ever claim to be perfect. Their whole focus is on progressing towards perfection. Years ago, one Mormon man told me that it would take him ten thousand eternities to reach perfection! Wow! Talk about a depressing thought! This reveals to me just how desperately Mormons need to hear the good news of perfection in Jesus Christ.

 

Before we can tell Mormons that we can be perfect in Christ, we ourselves have to be confident of this important truth. The Bible is what gives us that confidence. It does so by describing believers as saints. The Bible tells us how Jesus’ righteousness, his perfection, becomes ours through faith. It points us to Jesus’ death and how, by that one offering, we, through faith, are perfected forever.

 

“So, Are you perfect?” Because of Jesus you can answer that with a resounding “YES!” Confidently tell your Mormon friend about your perfection in Jesus.

 

My name is Mark Cares, encouraging you to speak the truth in love to Mormons.

 

18
Jul
08

Share how to be completely worthy

 A number of years ago I read about Chinese water torture. A person is tied down and then water is slowly dripped on his forehead. It may sound completely harmless at first, but after hours and hours of incessant dripping, the localized pressure of the constant dripping creates great stress and agony for the person.

 

I have noticed in the Mormon church that there is an incessant urging to its members to be worthy or to become perfect. Hardly a week goes by without being told, in some way or another, to strive to be worthy. Matthew 5:48 is quoted often which reads, “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” All this emphasis on striving to be worthy or becoming perfect can be nothing less than torturous with great stress and anxiety for many in the LDS church. It can often lead them to despair.

 

In striking contrast, think of the tremendous comfort that Christians receive from passages like Hebrews 10:14 which says: “by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.” Christians don’t have to strive to become perfect or become worthy because we receive perfection through Jesus. Jesus came to keep God’s law perfectly for us because we could not do it alone. He came to pay for all our sins with his death on the cross. He became our substitute. By faith, God now considers all those who trust in Christ as their substitute to be perfect and worthy enough. That is the great message He wants us to hear and to accept.

 

That message of Jesus’ being perfect or worthy for us is the message Mormons desperately need to hear. That is the message you need to share with them.

 

My name is Mark Cares, encouraging you to speak the truth in love to Mormons.

 

 

 

 

 




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