Posts Tagged ‘witnessing to Mormons



22
Jul
13

Who talks about Jesus more?

Mormons often point to the fact that Jesus Christ is part of their church’s name as proof that they are Christians.  But what struck me again last month as I was going door to door in Salt Lake City and talking with many LDS members is how much they didn’t want to talk about Jesus.  We came to the door with the message of the great things Jesus has done for us; namely, that we were assured that we were worthy in God’s sight because of what he has done and that we knew we were forgiven through him.  Almost invariably the person at the door would respond by saying that a person had a responsibility to obey the commandments and do good works.  We wanted to talk about what Jesus had done and they wanted to talk about what they had to do.

I have only attended a few sacrament meetings, but I have noticed the same thing there.  In all the meetings I attended there was much more talk about what they had to do than what Jesus did for them.  All my friends who at one time were LDS verify that.  To a person they say that in their individual wards the emphasis was always on what they had to do.

I see the same thing in the LDS manuals.  For example, Jesus’ atonement is frequently mentioned but hardly ever emphasized.  Most often it is used as a launching pad to lay out in great detail what works people need to add to the Atonement.

The bottom line is that it’s not just what is in a church’s name.  It’s what a church teaches.  It’s what a church emphasizes.  And every contact I have with Mormonism, whether it is talking with its members or reading its manuals or attending its services, demonstrates that it puts the spotlight not on the great things Jesus has done for us but on the things people have to do.

I am so thankful that the Lord has said that I can be assured that I am worthy and forgiven right now because of Jesus.  I am so thankful that the Lord has reassured me that I will be living with him for all eternity because Jesus has already done everything necessary for me to enter his presence.  This free gift of worthiness and forgiveness now impels me all the more to do all I can to glorify him in my life and with my lips.  To him be all praise and glory.

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03
Jul
13

Impressions on going door to door

I haven’t posted in a couple of weeks because I was busy with a large outreach campaign in Salt Lake City.  We began the campaign with quite a bit of media:  TV and newspaper ads, ads on bus shelters, and a tri-fold mailed into thousands of homes.  All of the media directed people to our website: www.beyeperfect.org.  Then we had over 50 people follow up for two weeks going door to door asking if people had seen our ads and what they thought of them.  This proved effective as we got into hundreds of prolonged discussions centering on the crucial issue of how people are worthy in God’s sight and how they are forgiven.  We even attracted media attention in that we were interviewed by a couple of newspapers and a TV station.

What was especially interesting was the initial reactions we encountered at people’s doors.  The vast majority of people we met were LDS and most were quite courteous.  But what was so interesting was the two radically different ways they reacted to our message. Some initially responded that they agreed with our message that we are freely and completely forgiven in Christ.  As we explored that with them and asked them if that meant they had to do nothing to be saved – because that is what we meant – they withdrew their agreement.  But others, when we approached their door with the same message, would immediately say that our message was anti-Mormon.  It was mind-boggling to go from one door to the next and get such totally different reactions from LDS members.

I really shouldn’t have been surprised by such differing reactions.  These differing reactions illustrate the confusion many LDS members are experiencing.  With the LDS Church’s push to be seen as Christian (I remember when I began my ministry how LDS members didn’t want to be identified as Christians like us!) many of its members are confused on how to react to Christians. But they also know our emphasis on being worthy before God based entirely on Christ’s work and not on our work is not what the LDS Church teaches.  Thus the confusion.

But by far the strongest impression I received these past two weeks is that Mormons still need to hear the message that Jesus has done it all for them.  Regardless of how they initially responded, they all eventually got to the point of saying that they had to do something to be right with God.  But what is so encouraging is that many listened with interest (and some with tears in their eyes) as we shared with them the wonderful news of God’s free forgiveness in Christ.  There is no better feeling than having somebody thank you, with great emotion, for sharing that message with them.  To God be the glory.

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.

14
Mar
13

Be or Become?

This coming Sunday LDS members will be studying chapter six of the Teachings of President Lorenzo Snow.  This chapter is entitled:  “Becoming Perfect before the Lord: ‘A Little Better Day by Day’”.  In the first part of the chapter two biblical verses are quoted.

“And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me and be thou perfect.” [Genesis 17:1.]

“Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” [Matthew 5:48.]

It then goes on to state:  “We learn that the Lord appeared to Abraham and made him very great promises, and that before he was prepared to receive them a certain requirement was made of him, that he [Abraham] should become perfect before the Lord. And the same requirement was made by the Savior of his Disciples, that they should become perfect, even as He and His Father in Heaven were perfect.” (p.95)

Did you notice the subtle change made from the verses to President Snow’s explanations?  Both verses use the word “be”.  But they are both explained with the phrase, “should become perfect”.  That is a subtle but huge change.  There’s a big difference between being and becoming.  Who would you go to if you were sick?  A person who is a doctor or who someday might become a doctor?  The idea of becoming inserts a degree of uncertainty – there’s no guarantee that the goal will be ever reached.  It also introduces the reality that the person isn’t yet there – and we don’t know when they will be there.  There’s a huge difference between being and becoming.

God commands perfection now – not sometime in the future.  A perfection that is equal to the perfection of our Father in heaven.  Who can meet such a requirement?

People who are trusting completely in Jesus’ works can!  That’s what the Bible says.  “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrew 10:14).  When a person despairs of his own efforts and places all their trust in Jesus’ efforts, they are covered with his righteousness (perfection).  “But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:” (1 Cor. 1:31)

But they are the only ones who can.  Everybody else is not perfect and thus won’t be able to enter God’s presence – for God cannot abide any imperfection.  And that is why Mormonism is such a deadly religion.  As this chapter amply illustrates, it doesn’t point people to Jesus’ perfection for them, instead it incessantly urges people to become perfect themselves.  Even when it does talk about Jesus, it does so in a way that puts the burden back on the person.  “Our hearts should be set on things above; to strive after that perfection which was in Christ Jesus, who was perfectly obedient in all things unto the Father, and so obtained His great exaltation and became a pattern unto His brethren.” (p. 102, my emphasis) Urging people to become perfect is nothing less than a recipe for disaster.

It is not about becoming perfect.  It’s all about being perfect right now in Christ.  That is the only way anybody will ever come into God’s presence.  It is my prayer that more and more people see that – and believe that.

28
Feb
13

A LITTLE WORK – A LOT OF PRESSURE

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.  To God be all the glory.

07
Feb
13

LDS Missionaries

At the last General Conference, Elder Russell M. Nelson, a LDS apostle, gave a talk entitled, “Ask the Missionaries!  They Can Help You!”  In it he talks about how the missionaries can help people in a number of ways.  Some of the things he mentions are family history, conquering an addiction, having no sense of purpose in life, family problems, and gaining greater knowledge.  And with each topic he has this refrain:  “Ask the missionaries.  They can help you.”

I thought of that talk recently because some good friends have had a number of talks with some LDS missionaries.  (Two sisters made the initial appointment but when they came they were accompanied by an older man – a pattern that continued over the visits.)  My friends were upfront about not wanting to convert to Mormonism but wanted to talk to them to hear about Mormonism from official representatives. (This is something that Mormons often encourage people to do.)  They remained pleasant with them – a fact appreciated by the missionaries.

But a couple of weeks ago one of the sisters was suddenly transferred to another city.  About the same time, the man arrived earlier than the sisters and told my friends that the missionaries couldn’t answer my friends’ questions and that he would be answering them.  What was so striking about this is that the questions they were asking were not that difficult.  They weren’t asking about obscure LDS doctrines or unfamiliar Bible passages.  Many of their questions were in response to things that the missionaries had asked them to read before the next meeting – questions like exactly what does this passage or this statement mean.  It soon became obvious that they had not really thought through the very passages they themselves were referencing.  Their experience was in striking contrast to what Elder Nelson had stated in General Conference.

I mention this as an encouragement to act kindly towards LDS missionaries and engage them in conversations – especially in conversations that dwell with the major question of what people have to do to live eternally with Heavenly Father.  It was obvious to my friends that the sisters were interested in what they had to say about Jesus doing it all for them.  In fact, we suspect that the one was suddenly transferred because she was starting to ask questions.  We suspect that because numerous returned missionaries have told us that that sometimes happened when they were on their mission.

More importantly, some returned missionaries have told us that it was conversations just like those that planted the seed that eventually blossomed into their believing that they were already worthy before God because of what Jesus had done for them.  God’s Word is powerful!  The more we make use of opportunities to plant that Word – even with LDS missionaries – the more the Lord is glorified and the more his kingdom will come to more people.

In order to help you do that, we have just produced a small brochure entitled, “Please Open the Door”.  If you would like a copy, just email me at mark@tilm.org and we will get it out to you.

18
Jan
13

Forsaking Sin

Chapter two of the Teachings of Lorenzo Snow deals with baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.  The following paragraph occurs towards the end of this chapter.

     “To obtain religion that will save us in the presence of God, we must obtain the Holy Ghost, and in order to obtain the Holy Ghost, we must believe on the Lord Jesus, then repent of our sins, that is, forsake them, then go forward and be immersed in water for the remission of sins, then receive the laying on of hands.” (emphasis mine)

In Mormonism, as is clearly stated in this paragraph, repentance involves the forsaking of sins.  In fact, as President Snow says above, it is the very essence of LDS repentance as he makes forsaking sin synonymous with repentance. Another word that is often used in Mormonism to express this idea is abandonment.  Repentance means abandoning sin.

Forsaking and abandon are two very strong words.  Most marriage vows include the idea of forsaking all others.  We talk about abandoning ships when they are sinking. Even more serious is the idea of people abandoning their children.  Whatever the context is that they are used in, forsake or abandon carry the idea of permanency.  Woe to the spouse who interprets “forsaking all others” as doing that just most of the time.

That is also how repentance was explained to me a number of years ago by a member of the local stake presidency.  He told me that if he repented of a sin, but then committed that sin a couple of years later – his repetition of the sin revealed that he wasn’t truly repentant the first time and thus was not forgiven for either sin.

Recently, however, some LDS members have weakened the meaning of abandon and forsake by saying that if they repeat the sin they just have to repent again.  Whenever they say something like that I ask them how that jives both with official LDS teaching and the meaning of the words abandon and forsake.

I totally understand why they are weakening the meaning of these words.  Abandoning sin is an impossible standard for anybody to keep.  (Although I have had some LDS members tell me that they believe some LDS people have already achieved that.)

That is why the message of the Bible is so comforting.  The Bible clearly acknowledges our inability to rid ourselves of sin.  St. Paul’s confession:  “For the good that I would I do not; but the evil which I would not, that I do” (Romans 7:19) is one I so identify with.  An honest evaluation of each day reveals many instances of sin on my part.  No matter how much I try, I can’t keep myself clean.

That in itself is not comforting.  But what is extremely comforting is the biblical message, that because we can’t do it, Jesus did it all for us.  He obeyed each and every commandment perfectly and he did that for us.  He paid the terrible price of each and every one of our sins.  He has washed all our sins away and has clothed us in his perfect righteousness.  The message that screams off the pages of Scripture is that it is not all about us – it’s all about Jesus.  And thank God for that.  Because of Jesus, I know beyond the shadow of any doubt that I will live forever with Heavenly Father.

Because of Jesus, you can have that same confidence.  Turn away from trusting in your works and turn to trusting in Jesus’ works for you.  That, my friends, is what true repentance is all about.




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