Posts Tagged ‘religion


Radiation Suit


     One way that I like to picture God’s holiness is as strong radiation.  His holiness constantly is radiating out from him.  By its very nature, it destroys anything imperfect with which it comes into contact. 

     That is why, in order to enter God’s presence, we can’t have the slightest imperfection.  Otherwise we will be destroyed.  But how can we do that?  By being clothed in Christ’s righteousness.  “he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness.”  (Isaiah 61:10)  Or, in keeping with the illustration, by wearing the radiation suit made by and given by Jesus.

     But just suppose that Jesus has given me that radiation suit but I had been working hard on making my own.  I realize that Jesus’ suit is vastly superior so I put it on.  But I have worked so hard on my own suit that I decide to use just one glove from it.  So I substitute the glove I made for the one Jesus supplied.  I walk into God’s presence only to be destroyed by his holiness.  My glove couldn’t protect me from the radiation of his holiness because it wasn’t perfect – it was flawed.  “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.”  (James 2:10)

     The point is that no matter how little we are relying on ourselves – maybe I just replace one finger on one glove – that little bit of reliance on self becomes a fatal flaw.  Even the tiniest flaw in a radiation suit spells disaster.  Neither does it matter what my motivation is for slightly relying on myself.  It could be prideful reluctance to give up what we worked so hard doing – it could be the thought that this is what God wants.  It doesn’t matter – if we are relying even, very slightly, on what we have to do in order to stand in God’s presence, we have a flawed radiation suit – and we will be destroyed.

     That is why Mormonism is so dangerous.  It points people not only to Jesus but also to themselves.  For example, its 3rd Article of Faith states:  “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”  The only thing our obedience does is make our suit flawed.




     One of the most important things for both Mormons and Christians to remember when talking with each other is that Mormonism and Christianity defines many terms differently.  But this is also one of the hardest things to remember during the actual discussion.  It is so easy to unconsciously think only of the definition that I am familiar with.  I then end up talking past the other person.

     Not only is this important to remember so that we don’t talk past each other, but it also often lies at the root of why we believe so differently.  A classic example of that is the definition of the word faith.  Christianity defines faith as trust and confidence while Mormonism makes action a vital component of faith.  As the LDS Bible Dictionary states, “Faith in Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel and is more than belief, since true faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action”.  Because of these differing definitions, Mormons and Christians hear something drastically different when the Bible talks about salvation through faith.

     Therefore it is important to determine who has the proper definition and thus the proper interpretation of these vital verses.  Obviously I can’t check every dictionary, but none of the ones I checked mentioned anything about action in their definitions of faith.  I also did an Internet search on the definition of faith.  Besides discovering that there were a lot of record albums entitled “Faith”, I did not find any definition from a non-LDS source that included the idea of action.  In addition, most say that faith and belief are synonymous while many Mormons make a distinction between the two.

     More importantly I also refreshed my memory by again looking up the definitions for the Hebrew and Greek words that the Bible uses for faith.  The root idea of those words is assurance and certainty.  For example, this is what the Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says about the Hebrew word “aman”.   “At the heart of the meaning of the root is the idea of certainty.”  This is just what the Bible says in Hebrews 11:1 “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

     On what basis then does Mormonism define faith so differently from everybody else?  This is a very important question as a huge difference about how people are saved hangs in the balance. 

     I also want to make clear that the Bible also teaches that faith will spur people to action.  But that action is a result of faith, and thus is different from faith.  (I elaborated on this in my post of August 8th “Don’t Make the Fruit the Root”.) 


Is Faith a Work?


     A couple of months ago (August 8th), I talked about the relationship of faith and works.  There I made the point that the Bible says good works are fruits of faith – that they result from faith.   Faith alone saves, but faith is never alone.  Some Mormons feel that this is a distinction without any meaning – that it doesn’t really matter if we see works as part of faith itself or as a result of faith.  To Christians, however, there is a huge difference between the two – the difference between works being part of the cause of salvation compared to them being the effect of salvation.  It’s important to keep clear the difference between causes and effects.

     Now, however, I want to address the question posed in the title of this post, namely, is faith itself a work?  More than once it has been stated by Mormons that just by our saying that we have to believe, we are saying that we have to do something to be saved.

     But that’s not what the Bible says.  It describes faith, not as something that we ourselves produce but rather something God creates within us.  For example, 1 Corinthians 12:3 says:  “no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.”  A little bit earlier in that same letter, Paul says, “But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.”  (1 Cor. 2: 14)  From the context, it is evident that the spiritual things Paul is talking about is nothing less than the fact that Jesus died for our sins.  Without the Holy Ghost we cannot know that – or believe that.

     Another way that the Bible shows that faith itself is not a work is by making works and faith mutually exclusive.  “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”  (Ephesians 2:8-9)  The rule of grammar is that the “it” refers back to the complete concept of “grace are ye saved through faith”.  Included in the gift of God is faith.  Salvation and faith is not of ourselves. 

     Or look at how Romans 11:6 makes grace and works exclusive of each other.  “And if by grace, then is it no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.  But if it be of works, then it is no more grace, otherwise work is no more work.”  If faith was a work then we are not saved by grace because works and grace don’t mix.

     Faith in Jesus’ saving work is not a work we must do in order to be saved.  Faith that Jesus saved us is something God creates in us.


Becoming gods


     I have just returned from a five-day trip to the Midwest where I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of people about witnessing to Mormons.  (By the way, that’s why I haven’t been on the blog for the last five days.)  More than once people expressed confusion whether or not Mormonism teaches that people can become gods. 

     That confusion is understandable.  Many Mormons have told their Christian friends that Mormonism doesn’t teach that.   I have had many LDS members say that very thing to me.  And maybe they honestly don’t know that is what Mormonism teaches.  I have also had the experience that when I pointed that teaching out in D&C 132 and other sources some who denied that Mormonism taught that, reluctantly admitted that it did.

     There is no question that Mormonism teaches that people can become gods.  D&C 132: 20  “Then shall they be gods, because they have no end; therefore shall they be from everlasting to everlasting, because they continue; then shall they be above all, because all things are subject to them.  Then shall they be gods, because they have all power, and the angels are subject unto them.”

     Presently Mormons are studying the manual about Joseph Smith in their series,  Teachings of the Presidents of the Church.  On p. 221-22 of this manual which was copyrighted in 2007 it quotes Joseph Smith:  “you have got to learn to be gods yourselves. . .To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a god, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before.”

     Even though it is not as prominent as it once was, the old Mormon couplet coined by President Snow is still official LDS teaching.

              “As man now is, God once was

               As God now is, man may be.”

    That this is still good solid Mormonism is seen in the fact that it is quoted in the official manual, The Life and Teachings of Jesus & His Apostles. 

    With these and numerous other proofs why do so many Mormons not know or deny that Mormonism teaches that people can become gods? 




     Five seconds are left in the basketball game.  It’s not any game either – it’s the championship.  Your team is down by one point.  Your coach calls time out, looks down the bench to where you are sitting and motions you to check into the game.  As you pass him, he pulls you aside and tells you to take the last shot.  “We are counting on you.  It’s all up to you.”

     Talk about pressure.  Especially if you have sat on the bench the entire game to that point.  Few people would enjoy being in that situation.  Few people would succeed in that situation.

     But that is the position a lot of Mormons feel that they are in.  It is inaccurate to say that Mormonism teaches that people are saved by their works alone.  No, it talks about God’s grace.  But it doesn’t teach that people are saved by grace alone.  “However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient.”  (LDS Bible Dictionary)

     Pause for a moment and think of the tremendous pressure that exerts on many Mormons.  Imagine trying to live under that.  Even if we think that we have to contribute only 1% to our salvation – that opens the door to a whole lot of worry.  It’s like the sub coming off the bench being told that he has to make only one basket, the winning basket.  But with one big difference.  The pressure Mormonism places on many of its adherents doesn’t last just for a few moments – it’s there for an entire lifetime.

     How much better is the biblical message of Titus 3:4-7:  “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared,  5Not 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; 6Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour;  7That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”  There’s no work – and no pressure. 


“Faith and Works – A False Dichotomy”

     That is a title of an article in this week’s Meridian Magazine, a Mormon online magazine.  The premise of the article is that the controversy between Mormons and Christians about salvation by faith alone shouldn’t exist – it’s all one big misunderstanding. 

     This article caught my attention since the relationship between faith and works as been the subject of numerous posts and a lot of the discussion on this blog.  There have been more than enough quotations from Mormon sources (including one in my last post) that I could never accept as correct statements of biblical truth.  The difference between Mormonism and Christianity on “faith and works” is not just one big misunderstanding.

     Instead of citing more quotes to prove that, in this post I am going to mention something else that has dramatically demonstrated that difference to me.  And that is the reactions of Mormons I have spoken with.  My experiences have remained remarkably consistent over the last two decades.

     First, there is the reaction of total rejection of my position.  I’m not talking about when I am discussing Mormon teaching but rather when I am explaining my belief that I have to do absolutely nothing to be saved.  Years ago a member of the local stake presidency, after meeting with me for a couple of times, in all sincerity told me that my teaching about salvation was demonic.  Most Mormons have not reacted that strongly but he has not been alone in that reaction.  More than one Mormon has warned me about my being a pawn of Satan because of my belief about salvation.  The majority of Mormons have rejected, with varying degrees of intensity, what I believe.  I don’t think they are just misunderstanding me.

     Then there are the Mormons who rejoice to hear the wonderful news that Jesus has done it all for them – that they don’t have to do anything.  Over the years, I have gotten that reaction as well.  And often what accompanies that reaction is first the statement that they have never heard that before and secondly, anger at the LDS Church for not teaching that.  And these were not all inactive Mormons either.  Some were very active and from good hardy Mormon roots.  Did they just misunderstand what they have been taught all their lives by the LDS Church?  I don’t think so.

     Therefore when I saw that article in Meridian magazine, I found myself wondering if its author is being deliberately deceptive.  To me, the member of the stake presidency was being a whole lot more honest with me.  At least he was reflecting official Mormon teaching.  “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.”  Spencer W. Kimball quoted in Book of Mormon Student Manual, p. 36)


General Conference


     This past weekend the LDS Church held their semi-annual General Conference.  Every six months the leaders of the LDS Church (called General Authorities) give a number of talks over two days.  Thousands of Mormons attend these talks in Salt Lake City, while millions of others listen to them through satellite feeds, the Internet, etc.  General Conference weekend is a very big event in Mormonism.

      How big?  Elder Mark E. Petersen, said:  “A general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is far more significant than most people realize. . .

      . . .it is one of the most important events of the present day.  Many do not regard it, even among the Latter-day Saints.  But for those who appreciate its true significance, it is of transcending importance, for in it PROPHETS OF GOD SPEAK, living prophets.

      When God gives a message to mankind, it is not something to be lightly cast aside.  Whether He speaks personally, or through His prophets, He himself said, it is the same.

     And in this conference HIS PROPHETS SPEAK!”  (Teachings of the Living Prophets, p. 63.)

     These conference talks are published in the next month’s edition of the Ensign, the LDS magazine.  Many Mormons will faithfully study these issues.  As Ezra Taft Benson said, “The most important prophet, so far as we are concerned, is the one living in our day and age. . .Therefore, the most crucial reading and pondering which you should do is that of the latest inspired words from the Lord’s mouthpiece.  That is why it is essential that you have access to and carefully read his words in current Church publications.”

      It is important for those Christians who are witnessing to Mormons to realize the importance of General Conference.  In line with that, it is beneficial to get the Conference editions of the Ensign and read them.  That is what many of your LDS friends will be doing.

June 2023

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