Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Also known as Mormons or LDS)

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I’m going to touch on some of the aspects of the LDS plan of salvation. This is their gospel, or their plan of happiness, or their plan of salvation. Their gospel starts with god, as does ours, but their god has not always been God. Their god was once a man on another planet, just like we were, and through obedience to the LDS church and gospel, this same plan of salvation, and submission to another god, he has earned his way up to being god of this planet.

The LDS church teaches that god has a wife. At least one wife. Probably more. He and his goddess wives have produced spirit children. And those spirit children are you and me, and everyone else who has ever lived.

In fact, the firstborn spirit child was Jesus. And Jesus had another brother named Lucifer. Jesus and Lucifer, before the council of the gods, presented two conflicting plans of salvation, and Jesus’ gospel got chosen. He got chosen to be the Savior of our world. And because he got chosen, Lucifer got upset and started a war against our heavenly father Elohim. A third of us as spirit children joined on his side. A third sided with Jesus. A third stayed neutral.

The third that sided with Lucifer got cast out of heaven without bodies. This is important because a body, and coming to this earth, is essential to become a god, or become exalted. So those third automatically have their exaltation stunted. They will never progress beyond that point.

The third that were righteous were born into good, noble, white families.

Those of us who stayed in heaven wait our turn to come to this earth, and to be born with a human body. We go to this earth. The purpose of this life is that it is a time of testing. It’s a time in which we are either going to overcome this world, overcome temptation, overcome our sinful bent toward things, or we’re gong to side again with Lucifer.

After this earth, after this time, we’ve either become perfect, or we’ve accepted the LDS gospel, or we never received the LDS gospel. Then we go to the spirit wold. Everyone goes to one of two places. We either go to Paradise, or we go to Spirit Prison. Missionaries are sent down from Paradise to Spirit Prison.

The reason why the LDS church has temples is because they do some very important things in them, at least from their point of view. In those temples, they get baptized by proxy on behalf of a dead relative. So they can get baptized in the name of Grandpa Joe, and then Grandpa Joe, in Spirit Prison, has a chance to accept the LDS gospel, and make his way into Paradise, and then start progressing on toward exaltation.

The other thing they do in their temples is they get sealed as families, as husbands and wives, along with their children, for all time and eternity. They do not believe that marriage is just until death, but for all time and eternity.

The LDS believe that everyone is going to come to a final judgment. Here is a key difference in LDS theology. They believe that Jesus died to overcome physical death for all of us, but his death only makes it possible for us to achieve exaltation. So they will say we’ve all been saved by grace, but exaltation is a totally different matter.

And when they say exaltation, they are talking about their belief in three levels of heaven. They believe that everyone is going to go to heaven because Jesus died. It’s just a matter of where they are going to spend that eternity.

The highest level is the Celestial Kingdom. That’s for those who have completely repented of all of their sins, they have done all of their covenants that they have made here on earth in the temple and the LDS church. They have progressed to the point in which they are ready to become gods themselves. They will then have their sprit wives and they will give birth to their spirit children, and they will send a Savior to a world, and the whole thing will play over again.

Those who didn’t quite make it go to the Terrestrial Kingdom. This includes not just LDS people, but all faithful people who are generally good, moral people. They just have not become perfect, they have not completely repented of their sins. Or they have never been a part of the LDS church.

The Telestial Kingdom is for those who we culturally believe “should” go to hell. These are the horrible people of the world. The people who live without law. The people who were murderers or thieves, spent a lot of time in prison, etc… Those are the types of people who go to the Telestial Kingdom.

Outer Darkness is a completely separate category. The people who go to Outer Darkness are those who have received the full knowledge of the truth, and then walked away from it. What that translates to is those who were a member of the LDS church and left. They are called apostates and they have been taught that they are on their way to Outer Darkness, that god is through with them.

The Mormons believe that Jesus came to this earth and established his church. When he established his church, his church was based upon priesthood, which is the authority to act on god’s behalf. Priesthood is actually bigger than god from the Mormon viewpoint. God used to be a man, and became a god, and we’re following in that same pattern, so god has to operate according to the laws of priesthood and other laws that were set in motion far before him.

Jesus establishes this priesthood authority and he gives us the Scriptures. When he passes it on to his apostles, then persecution breaks out, the apostles die, and the priesthood authority was not transferred on. The priesthood authority was taken from the earth, which means the true church was taken from the earth. Along with that, they believe that plain and precious truths were taken out of the Scripture by malicious scribes who didn’t like certain things that Jesus taught. So they believe in a complete apostasy that happened on this earth. It happened shortly after the death of the apostles and got progressively worse over time.

That continued to be the case until the early 1800’s, when a 14 year old boy named Joseph Smith went out into the woods during a revival meeting that was happening in his neighborhood, and he was praying and asking God which church he should join. What he says happened is that God the Father and Jesus appeared to him and said, “All of the churches are an abomination. You shouldn’t join any of them. I’m going to restore the true church through you. One of the ways that I’m going to restore the church is through an angel named Moroni.”

The angel Moroni appears and shows Joseph over time where these golden plates were buried near his home in upstate New York. Joseph goes and uncovers the plates, and he’s given the supernatural ability to translate these plates. These plates were supposed to be the recorded history of the people that lived in the Americas prior to all of the history that we know about. The LDS church believes that the Native American Indians came from a group of Israelites who left during the captivity, and they came over to this new world and established this whole new empire.

The father of the family that left was named Lehi. His two prominent sons were Nephi and Laman. Laman was not a good son and Nephi was. Nephi’s descendants became known as the Nephites, and they fought for truth. The Lamanites were the bad seed. Eventually, these two tribes, which were huge kingdoms, fought against each other. The Lamanites completely wiped out the Nephites. The last standing soldier was a man named Moroni. This is the same Moroni who gave the plates to Joseph Smith.

Joseph Smith told everybody that where the Bible had been corrupted, the Book of Mormon restored all that was lost in the apostasy. He said a man would get closer to God through the teachings of the Book of Mormon than any other book. It was the most correct book on the face of the earth.

Their article of faith says, “We believe the Bible to be Word of God, as far as it is translated correctly.” That is followed up with “and we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.” And what that means is they believe the Book of Mormon is pure, untainted, the most accurate book. But they believe that the Bible is not to be trusted because it has been corrupted and tainted.

A correction that I need to note is that they don’t word that article of faith correctly. It’s not that they don’t believe that it has been translated correctly. It’s that they don’t believe it’s been transmitted correctly. They don’t believe that the original words of the Scriptures have been preserved for us today.

Joseph Smith claimed to be able to translate, and one of the things that he actually did is retranslate the Bible. The finished product is the Joseph Smith Translation, or the Inspired Version, as it’s known by Mormons. The interesting thing is that Mormons still use the King James Version, which gives reference to the Joseph Smith Translation.

One thing you need to understand is, even in pre-existence, our coming to earth, and our position in this earth, the geographical place, the time period in which we live, is all based off of works that we did in the pre-existence. We have already earned our place in the here and now. This life is a time of testing. It’s a time in which you are either going to join the LDS church, or you’re going to reject it. You’re either going to be an active Mormon, or you’re going to be an inactive Mormon. You’re either going to be able to go through the temple and be sealed together with your family for all time and eternity, or you’re not going to. You’re either going to completely repent of your sins, or you’re not going to. All of those decisions are going to have a basis in where you’re going to spend eternity.

The LDS church teaches that Jesus died so that everybody could go to heaven of some kind, and that’s what they mean by “saved by grace.” It is said that even the lowest level of heaven is so great that you would kill yourself to go there right now. Joseph Smith is the one who said that by the way.

In the final judgment, we are going to be judged by which law we have kept.

The LDS church, even with the godhead, which is the term they would use in place of Trinity, which they don’t believe, has multlple gods because they believe God the Father has become our God. Then they have Jesus, who is the Savior of this world, and through his efforts, he has earned his way up to godhood as well. And then you have this strange figure called the Holy Ghost, who doesn’t have a body yet, which is against Mormon theology because they believe is essential to become a god, and become exalted. He’s never gotten a body, but he somehow earned his right to become a god.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense to Christians because LDS talk about Elohim being the one god that we worship, but they also have Jesus and the Holy Ghost that they believe are actual gods. So what they believe in is called the Godhead. They believe in three gods that we have to do with, one of which we primarily worship because he is our actual father.

But there are other infinite numbers of gods in the universe that we have no idea how many there are. We have no idea who the first God was. We have no concept of that. And there will be an infinite number of gods after us because we can potentially, if we make it to the Celestial Kingdom, become a god ourselves. The person sitting next to you on both sides and in front of you, and in back of you, could potentially become a god themselves.

So we are not dealing with a strict monotheistic religion when we talk about the LDS church. We’re talking about a very polytheistic scheme of things, and within our world, and what we have been told about through Scripture, there is a Father, Son and Holy Ghost who are three separate gods.

Some things that we have not covered yet from a historical basis:

in 1820, Joseph Smith claimed that he had his first vision experience. He was attending the revivals that were happening during the Second Great Awakening, and hearing all of the discussion amongst the sects, and the differences between them, and he went out into the woods and claims that he asked God which church should I join. And then God the Father, and Jesus, both in separate bodies, appear to Joseph, and answer his question by saying, “You should join none of them. All of their creeds are an abomination.” And that’s where you get the first inkling that Joseph Smith is supposed to be the vehicle to restore the true church of Jesus Christ to the face of the earth.

In 1823 is when he claimed to have been visited by an angel named Moroni. Moroni, as we’ve discussed, was the last soldier of the Nephites, and he’s the one who buried the golden plates. He is the last author or editor in the Book of Mormon. Then he becomes an angel, and appears to Joseph Smith, and tells him where these golden plates are buried near his home in upstate New York in one of the Native American burial grounds that everybody was so fascinated with.

It wasn’t until 1827 that Moroni gave Joseph Smith permission to access the plates, and in 1829, Joseph Smith claimed to have been visited by John the Baptist, restoring unto him the Aaronic Priesthood. Later on that year, claimed to have been visited by Peter, James and John, who restored unto him the Mechizedek Priesthood.

In 1830, he published the Book of Mormon and starts the Church of Christ, which is what the church was called at the beginning. In 1844, Joseph Smith was martyred according to the LDS. He was killed in Carthage Jail, and that’s when the leadership transferred over to Brigham Young for the mainline group. This is also where a lot of the splits came in.

That’s why you have the Fundamentalist Latter-Day Saints in various places. They are the more extreme groups that still practice polygamy. A lot of them live in compounds. A lot of them have their various prophets that they follow. Warren Jeffs might be a name you are more familiar with. He is the leader of one of those groups from prison.

You also have the Reorganized Church of Latter-Day Saints, which now has become the Church of Christ. They have become a lot more Christian. They have made a lot of changes in their doctrine, coming much closer to Christianity. This is because they rejected a lot of Joseph Smith’s later visions, and they didn’t follow Brigham Young. They still hold on, as far as I know, to the Book of Mormon as Scripture. But the Book of Mormon, as you’re going to see later in this book, is a lot more Christian than Mormon.

There are a lot more splinter groups that are out there. This is why you can’t necessarily label somebody just because they relate to the Book of Mormon or Joseph Smith as a prophet. You need to get to know the individual you are talking to and find out what they believe personally.

I also wanted to highlight something about the LDS view of God, because this is something that makes the LDS church so unique and so far removed from Christianity. The Bible, if you were to sum it up, the Bible says that God is Spirit, God is eternal, God is Trinity, God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient, and there is one God. Mormonism teaches that God has a body of flesh and bones, that God is not eternal. He was once a man, just like we are. He is not Trinity. They believe in the Godhead, that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost are three separate gods, and God the Father is the one we worship because we are literally his spirit children. Because he has progressed to become a god, and is still progressing, the LDS do not believe that God is omnipresent because he has a body of flesh and bones. They do not believe he is omnipotent because he is subject to priesthood authorities and his heavenly father, which is greater than him. He is not omniscient because he is still progressing in his knowledge. They do not believe there is one God. In fact, they believe there are countless numbers of gods who have gone before the god we worship, as well as the belief that we can potentially become gods ourselves, which means there could be countless numbers of gods after us.

LDS salvation