“I’m a Christian Too!”
More than likely you’ve heard those words from your LDS friend. The question is, how do you respond to a that statement without sounding judgmental?
Here’s my suggestion. The next time you hear those words, hear your LDS friend saying, “Jesus is our common ground and I would love to discuss what Jesus taught together.” Ask your LDS friend if they would be willing to do just that. Plan to get together when it’s convenient for both of you, and open up the gospels together, go straight to the words of Jesus. As you read the following verses together, don’t tell your LDS friend what these verses mean or imply in regards to their doctrine, but rather ask questions, keeping in mind that there is a very good chance that they have never heard or seen these verses before.
Also, pray for patience, because the problem with dialoging with LDS is that they use the same terminology as Christians, but they have their own definitions for those terms. Be prepared to not only ask the initial, “What do you think that means?” but also several additional, “What did you mean when you said …?” questions.
Here’s what I’ve found every time I’ve done this. They’ll learn a lot, and so will you. Whatever may come, don’t give up. Don’t get angry. Don’t become argumentative. Let the Holy Spirit lead the discussion where He wants it to go. Don’t push too hard. Keep praying. In the end, God promises that His word will not return back to Him void.
Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. (Matthew 7:15)
And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. (Matthew 24:4-5)
Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here [is] Christ, or there; believe [it] not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, [he is] in the secret chambers; believe [it] not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. (Matthew 24:23-27)
So this begs the question. What is the standard by which a prophet is judged? How do we know we have the right Jesus?
The answer is given very plainly in Deuteronomy 13 & 18. If a prophet who claims to speak in the name of God does these two things, they are a false prophet: 1) Claim something is going to happen and then it doesn’t happen 2) Point you to worship a god other than the “Most High God” of the Bible 3) Jesus added if they point you to another Jesus
Judge for yourselves, is the LDS god the same as the God of the Bible? Is the LDS Jesus the same as the Jesus of the Bible? Did any prophets in the Book of Mormon or the LDS church prophesy anything that hasn’t come to pass?
The Family of God
While he yet talked to the people, behold, [his] mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother. (Matthew 12:46-50)
This is one of many biblical passages that speak about the criteria involved in being part of the “family of God.” In this passage, there is a clear distinction between biological family and God’s spiritual family. The criteria, according to Jesus, is that one must do the will of His Father in heaven.
In other passages of Scripture, we see a further revealing of this criteria, specifically in being called a “child of God.” – Matthew 5:9 – Peacemakers shall be called children of God – John 1:12 – Those who receive Jesus and believe on His name have been given the right to be called children of God. – Romans 8:15-16 – We have received the spirit of adoption and call God “daddy” as the Holy Spirit bears witness that we are children of God. – Galatians 3:26 – You are the children of God by faith in Jesus – 1 John 3:10 – Those who do righteousness are the children of God. Those who do not are the children of the devil.
These passages are in absolute contrast with the LDS teaching that we are “literal spirit children” of our Heavenly Father and that we all existed with God in a pre-mortal existence. These passages clearly distinguish between those who are children of God and those who are not. The distinguishing factor lies in whether one has placed their trust in Jesus alone for their salvation, and because of receiving that free gift of grace, the Holy Spirit has taken up residence within them, causing them to have the power and desire to do the will of God, not perfectly, but growing little by little, inch by inch, until we go to live with our Heavenly Father forever in heaven.
Forgiveness and Loving God
Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give. (Matthew 10:8)
And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat. And, behold, a woman in the city, which was a sinner, when she knew that [Jesus] sat at meat in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster box of ointment, And stood at his feet behind [him] weeping, and began to wash his feet with tears, and did wipe [them] with the hairs of her head, and kissed his feet, and anointed [them] with the ointment. Now when the Pharisee which had bidden him saw [it], he spake within himself, saying, This man, if he were a prophet, would have known who and what manner of woman [this is] that toucheth him: for she is a sinner. And Jesus answering said unto him, Simon, I have somewhat to say unto thee. And he saith, Master, say on. There was a certain creditor which had two debtors: the one owed five hundred pence, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing to pay, he frankly forgave them both. Tell me therefore, which of them will love him most? Simon answered and said, I suppose that [he], to whom he forgave most. And he said unto him, Thou hast rightly judged. And he turned to the woman, and said unto Simon, Seest thou this woman? I entered into thine house, thou gavest me no water for my feet: but she hath washed my feet with tears, and wiped [them] with the hairs of her head. Thou gavest me no kiss: but this woman since the time I came in hath not ceased to kiss my feet. My head with oil thou didst not anoint: but this woman hath anointed my feet with ointment. Wherefore I say unto thee, Her sins, which are many, are forgiven; for she loved much: but to whom little is forgiven, [the same] loveth little. And he said unto her, Thy sins are forgiven. And they that sat at meat with him began to say within themselves, Who is this that forgiveth sins also? And he said to the woman, Thy faith hath saved thee; go in peace. (Luke 7:36-50)
My LDS friends, did you know that it is impossible to keep the commandments unless you have already been forgiven?
We are commanded to love, give and forgive, but we are commanded to perform these acts in the same way that we have received them from God. The apostle John tells us very clearly that we cannot love if we have fear of punishment. (1 John 4:18-19) Paul tells us that we cannot obtain righteousness if we are trying to work for it, but only if we receive it as a gift. (Romans 4:4-5)
Jesus said it very clearly in this parable. He who has been forgiven much loves much. If you have not been forgiven, you cannot love, and therefore cannot keep the commandment to love.
Forgiveness Not a Process
And, behold, they brought to him a man sick of the palsy, lying on a bed: and Jesus seeing their faith said unto the sick of the palsy; Son, be of good cheer; thy sins be forgiven thee. And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This [man] blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts? For whether is easier, to say, [Thy] sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house. And he arose, and departed to his house. But when the multitudes saw [it], they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men. (Matthew 9:2-8)
This story brings out all sorts of issues. First of all, sins are forgiven on the spot, not after a lengthy process of proven repentance granted by the church leadership. Second, the scribes had it right. If Jesus was claiming to forgive sins, then He was claiming to be God, the one true God, who alone has the ability to forgive sins. (2 Chronicles 6:30) Jesus’ statement leaves us with only 3 options: 1) He claimed to forgive sins, but can’t and knows He can’t, which makes Him a liar; 2) He claimed to forgive sins, but can’t, but really thinks He can, which makes Him extremely prideful and possibly a megalomaniac; 3) He claimed to forgive sins and really can because He is the one true God that we have sinned against, knows that He is the one that will provide the means by which sins will be forgiven, and is also willing to forgive sins based on faith in Him and Him alone.
Forgiveness of All Sins
Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy [against] the [Holy] Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (Matthew 12:31)
I will admit that this is not an easy verse and that there are good Christians that have varying interpretations about what this verse means.
Taken in the context of the whole counsel of God, I believe that Jesus is referring here to the denial and rejection of God’s offer of forgiveness. This is the primary role of the Holy Spirit in the life of the unbeliever, to convict them of their sin and testify to the truth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior of the world. (John 16:8)
I believe that Jesus was pointing to 2 realities in this verse: 1) That those that continue to reject God’s gift of forgiveness until the point of death will not receive another opportunity after death. (Hebrews 9:27) 2) We are not free to accept God’s gift on our schedule. When the Holy Spirit is drawing us to repentance and to believe, we must respond. When we harden our hearts to the gospel, our conscience and heart become hard. Paul refers to those who have had their conscience seared as with a hot iron. (1 Timothy 4:2)
All of the truths I have just discussed are in contrast to LDS doctrine. 1) The LDS Scriptures clearly testify that one can only have forgiveness after they have completely repented of all sin and kept all of the commands and covenants (Moroni 10:32) 2) LDS Scriptures teach that there are some sins that are unforgivable by the blood of Jesus, and that one’s own blood must be poured out to atone for these sins. (D&C 132:19) 3) LDS doctrine teaches that those who have not received the LDS gospel can have a chance to receive it in the spirit world while those on earth perform rituals on their behalf. (D&C 138:54) 4) LDS doctrine teaches that humans are inherently good, not guilty for Adam’s sin, and can begin the process of repentance at any time. (Article of Faith 2)
God is Spirit
And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed [it] unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17)
Jesus calls his disciples together and asks them a very critical question, “Who do you say that I am?” The bold Peter steps forward and proclaims, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” It was a proud moment for Peter who was used to putting his foot in his mouth. Jesus commends Peter by saying, “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you … but my Father … which is in heaven.”
Reflect on that statement for a moment because we usually miss these deep theological statements made by Jesus. Jesus just made a powerful statement about the nature of His Father in heaven. That statement is that God does not have a body of flesh and bones.
Let’s go to another conversation between Jesus and a Samaritan woman.
God [is] a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship [him] in spirit and in truth. (John 4:24)
In this conversation, Jesus not only reveals Himself to be the promised Messiah and a Prophet, but He makes another huge statement about the nature of God the Father. Not only does God not have a body of flesh and bones, but He is Spirit.
The later New Testament writers would amplify on these statements
(Jesus) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (Colossians 1:15)
Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, [be] honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:17)
By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. (Hebrews 11:27)
Be honest, my LDS friends. This challenges the very foundation upon which your church is based. Joseph Smith claimed to have seen God the Father and Jesus, both in bodies of flesh and bones, in the 1st vision account.
The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22)
Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke [is] easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent. (John 6:28-29)
Yep, that’s it … believe!
What happens when we believe? The God of the universe takes upon our sin and the righteousness of Jesus is credited to our account. The God of the universe takes up residence within you and empowers you with everything you need to obey His command to love, to bear fruit and to serve as His ambassador. In short, identity determines activity.
Contrast this with the following list taken from the Gospel Principles (p. 303-304) manual used in every LDS church: Be baptized Become a member Receive Holy Ghost Temple Endowment Temple Marriage Love & worship God Love our neighbor Complete repentance Law of chastity Tithe Complete Honesty Word of Wisdom Baptize the dead Keep the Sabbath Sacrament meetings Love family Family and Individual Prayer Honor parents Evangelize Study the Scriptures Obey the Prophet
I want you to notice something. The word believe does not even appear on this list. What I also want you to notice is that there is no rest or assurance to the one following this list. There is no end to the work and one does not know until they stand before the great white throne if they will live with Heavenly Father in the Celestial Kingdom or not.
Contrast that idea back to what the other New Testament writers said:
Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. (Romans 4:4-5)
And if by grace, then [is it] no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if [it be] of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. (Romans 11:6)
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. (1 John 5:13)
If you try to get forgiveness by working for it, you won’t get it. If you receive it as a gift, God will give it freely to you. If you believe, then you can know that you have eternal life.
My LDS friends, that is my prayer for you.
Is Jesus a False Prophet?
My LDS friends, do you believe that Jesus was a false prophet?
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, [and] one shepherd. (John 10:16)
According to Jesus there are 2 groups of people mentioned in this passage: The sheep He has been ministering to and the “other sheep” that He also “must” bring. Jesus goes on to say that these two flocks will become “one fold” with “one shepherd.” This is clearly prophetic, so did it come to pass?
From an evangelical perspective, this passage is referring to the Gentiles as the “other sheep” and the Jews and Gentiles being brought into “one flock” in the church. (Galatians 3:28)
The Book of Mormon complicates this verse in 3 Nephi 15 when Jesus tells the Nephites and Lamanites listening that they are the “other sheep” that He was referring to.
What complicates thing even worse is that Jesus clarifies that many believed He was referring to the gentiles, but the gentiles are not “His,” but would come to believe later.
This creates 3 groups of people, so let’s examine these 3 groups from an LDS worldview.
1) The Israelites – this group was the seed of Jesus’ church in Israel. According to 1 Nephi 13-14, this group failed to pass on the priesthood and corrupted the Bible, going completely apostate. Therefore, they no longer exist. All that remains is a corrupted New Testament recording their teaching and history. By the way, the belief in a complete apostasy in itself makes Jesus a false prophet according to Matthew 16:18 and Matthew 24:35.
2) The Nephites/Lamanites – According to the Book of Mormon, the Lamanites were rebellious and completely killed off the righteous Nephites. The Book of Mormon claims to be their history preserved by God to restore the true church. The Book of Mormon also used to claim that the Lamanites were the principal ancestors of the American Indians. Now due to DNA research, they have changed this to “among the ancestors of the American Indians.” In any case, the Nephites went extinct, only leaving behind the rebellious and cursed Lamanites and the Book of Mormon.
However, Joseph Smith claimed to be of the tribe of Ephraim. This would mean that this group still has a remnant. Unfortunately, the Book of Abraham chapter 1 tells us that this means that Joseph Smith was cursed and banned from holding the priesthood because Ephraim was the son of Joseph (Israelite) and an Egyptian. Egyptians came from the line of Ham through Canaan which was cursed with dark skin. This makes Joseph Smith and the tribe of Ephraim not eligible to restore Jesus’ church or to be Jesus’ “sheep.”
3) Gentiles – according to Jesus, this group doesn’t count as Jesus’ sheep.
This means that all 3 groups mentioned by Jesus are now gone, meaning that Jesus gave a false prophecy and His church completely failed and has never been restored.
So, my LDS friends, do you believe that Jesus is a false prophet?
Keeping Your Covenants
Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil. (Matthew 5:33-37)
If Jesus said we are not supposed to take oaths, then why the baptism oath, the temple oaths and the renewal of those otahs every Sabbath during Sacrament?
“Whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.”
For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (Matthew 11:13)
The LDS church points to verses like Amos 3:7 and Ephesians 2:20 to show that the true church must have a living prophet.
My question to them is simple. Is Jesus alive or dead right now?
Jesus’ statement is extremely clear. The prophets prophesied until John, meaning that John was the last prophet and the close of the Old Covenant. The purpose of the prophets was to be a mediator for the people to declare the word of God. 1 Timothy 2:5 makes it clear that there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.
The writer of Hebrews makes this transition even more clear:
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; (Hebrews 1:1-2)
Did you hear that. God “used to” speak by the prophets, but “in these last days” speaks by His Son.
My LDS friends, let me introduce you to my living prophet. His name is Jesus.
The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas [is] here. (Matthew 12:41)
Jesus held up the people of Nineveh in Jonah’s day as an example of repentance. This begs the question, “what did the people of Nineveh do to repent?”
So the people of Nineveh believed God, and proclaimed a fast, and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them even to the least of them. For word came unto the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, and he laid his robe from him, and covered [him] with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he caused [it] to be proclaimed and published through Nineveh by the decree of the king and his nobles, saying, Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste any thing: let them not feed, nor drink water: But let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and cry mightily unto God: yea, let them turn every one from his evil way, and from the violence that [is] in their hands. Who can tell [if] God will turn and repent, and turn away from his fierce anger, that we perish not? And God saw their works, that they turned from their evil way; and God repented of the evil, that he had said that he would do unto them; and he did [it] not. (Jonah 3:5-10)
Put simply, the Ninevites did 3 things: 1) The believed God. They believed that there was a God that they were accountable to, that they had violated his law, and that they were pronounced guilty and facing judgment; 2) The showed godly sorrow. Godly sorrow is a sincere mourning over your sin and the pain it has caused God, you and others. It is different than worldly sorrow which is only sorry over the consequences of getting caught. (2 Corinthians 7:9-11) The Ninevites showed this through fasting, dressing in sackcloth and proclaiming a national change of behavior. 3) They cried out to God. I find it interesting that they did this in “hope” that God would hear and that God would care. We do this knowing that He does hear and He does care.
In response, God changed His course of action. He didn’t bring judgment.
I want to make something clear. The Ninevites didn’t go through a “process” of repenting. God didn’t wait a year or two before recognizing that the had actually changed. Nor did repentance mean that the Ninevites had become perfect or achieved a state of sinlessness. They simply started agreeing with God’s standard of sin and placed their faith in God, hoping that He would forgive them and give them a second chance.
Contrast that to these quotes from Mormon Scriptures:
Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. (Moroni 10:32)
For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven; And he that repents not, from him shall be taken even the light which he has received; for my Spirit shall not always strive with man, saith the Lord of Hosts. (Doctrine & Covenants 1:31-33)
And now, verily I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge; go your ways and sin no more; but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God. (Doctrine & Covenants 82:7)
For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach [them], the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed [the righteousness] of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:18-20)
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. (Matthew 5:48)
LDS people I talk to usually believe that they take these words of Jesus more seriously than evangelical Christians. The truth is actually the opposite. Evangelical Christians actually believe that we must become righteous, complete, perfect, in our standing before God in order to have our sin dealt with. We believe this comes through trusting in Jesus’ death and resurrection alone for our salvation. (Romans 4:4-5; 2 Corinthians 5:21)
LDS believe that they must fulfill this command by actually forsaking all of their sin before they can be forgiven. However, no LDS person I have ever talked to believes that they have done this, or that it is even possible in this life. They always point to the spirit world or the fact that God knows their heart, or that Jesus will make up the difference between what they have repented of and what they have not. This is not what their own Scriptures teach. (Moroni 10:32; Alma 34:32-35; D&C 1:31-32)