Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Today with Christianity, it's "About Me" and no longer about Him. A religious christian knows nothing about Theology (bible doctrine), but can sing you the latest praise song. Don't dare asked what the Scripture says or means, the only answer you will get, "Here's what it means to me." You won't hear "Thus Says the Lord", but only a philosophy.
Christianity is not a religion but a RELATIONSHIP with God. Our life service (worship) is to Present ourselves as a Living Sacrifice to God (Rom. 12:1). Our goal is to Know Christ and to become like Him (Philp. 3:7-11), to be Transformed (Rom. 12:2) and to be a Worker for God, who is not ashamed, through the diligent Study of God Word (II Tim. 2:15). In every way our life should be a reflection of Christ (Gal.5:22).
What Faith Is Not:
1. A mystical force.
2. Positive thinking.
3. Following a hunch.
4. A feeling of optimism.
5. Hoping for the best.
6. A mental conviction.
Webster defines faith as an unquestioning belief that does not require proof or evidence.
Faith from a biblical perspective is belief, confidence in the Person and or in the Word of God. It can refer to saving faith (at the moment of salvation), christian doctrine (The Faith) or to daily reliance, trust, and rest in the Lord.
A Description of Faith (Heb. 11:1-3):
1. Substance- Solid ground! "We are not walking on eggshells or pudding. We are standing upon the Solid Rock." (Adrain Rogers)
2. Evidence - Proof of unseen reality.
3. Understanding. "Faith goes beyond what we can perceive with our physical senses, so it does not work by the rules of science. Faith allows us to believe that the invisible God can do what is physically impossible." (Bible Study Guides.org)
Faith Is What We Don't See!
"The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It's our handle on what we can't see. The act of faith is what distinguished our ancestors, set them above the crowd. By faith, we see the world called into existence by God's word, what we see created by what we don't see." (Heb. 11:1-3, The Message by Eugene Peterson)
Faith Is Spiritual Sight
"We do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal....We walk by faith, and not by sight." (II Cor. 4:18; 5:7) It is not walking blindly in the dark, but a step into the light!!
Faith Is Pleasing To God
"Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Heb. 11:6)
Faith Is Action
Hebrews 11 is know as "The Hall of Faith." It reveals that faith, in order to be valid, must act. By faith Abel “offered” a sacrifice (v. 4), Noah “prepared” an ark (v. 7), and Abraham “obeyed” the Lord (v. 8). Faith, divorced from works (obedience), is dead (Jas. 2:26).
Faith Comes By Hearing
"Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." (Rom. 10:17) To grow our faith, we must read and study the Scriptures. Through them we gain knowledge and our faith increases.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
One thing is for sure, all of us have an appointment with death (Heb. 9:27). Our life is like a "vapor" that appears for a little while and poof it "vanishes away" (James 4:14). There's just no way to cheat it. Scripture states, death entered the world through one man's (disobedience) sin, Adam and because of him, death spreads to all men, because all of us, like Adam our father, are sinners (I Cor. 15:21; Rom. 5:12). The "grave" and "sting of death" are morbid thoughts....Our bodies will be separated from life and be buried in the ground. Death is an ending of life and then we must face God's judgement.
Paul begins with the gospel...The Good News!! "Christ died for our sins (on the cross) according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried and that He arose again (came back to life) the third day according to the Scriptures" (I Cor. 15:1-4). Then he states that Christ was "seen" alive by Peter, James , the Apostles, and over five hundred believers at one time. Last of all, Paul exclaims, "He was seen by me" (I Cor. 15: 5-8). This is what we believed and have placed our trust in, the gospel (I Cor. 15:11; Rom. 10:9).
Imagine all the preaching over the years and all those who have professed faith in Christ and have died with the hope of eternal life. If all the stories of Jesus and His resurrection are a total fabrication..."Our preaching (of the gospel) is vain and your faith is also vain (nothing to stand on). Those who have fallen asleep (with a false hope) in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have (this made up) hope in Christ (that He is alive), we are of all men the most miserable and pitable" (I Cor. 15: 14,18-19).
But the fact is, Paul says, "Christ is risen from the dead and has become the firstfruits" of those who have died believing in this Hope of Resurrection. This is our hope, all who have placed their trust "in Christ" shall be made to live again (I Cor. 15:22). Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep (die), but we shall all be changed (transformed)—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory" (I Cor. 15: 51-54).
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Sunday, February 21, 2010
Read it slowly, frequently, prayerfully. It is a mine of wealth, a paradise of glory, and a river of pleasure. It is given you in life, will be opened at the Judgment, and be remembered forever. It involves the highest responsibility, will reward faithful labor, and condemn all who trifle with its sacred contents.
Friday, February 12, 2010
All of us think we know what love is. We all desire it. We long and search of it. Our songs sing about it. “Is this love that I'm feeling? Is this love that I've been searching for? Is this love or am I dreaming?” Another song says, “I want to know what love is. I want you to show me. I want to feel what love is.”
Where can we find the meaning of true love? The answer is found in the Scriptures....
THE EXAMPLE OF LOVE
The writer of First John states what real love is - It's “God!" (I John 4:8) He doesn't stop there, but gives his readers an example of Real Love being shown through the sacrificial gift of His Son, “God has sent his only begotten Son!”(I John 4:9,10) In his gospel account, the Apostle John, again, shows us that “God So Loved, He gave His only begotten Son.” (John 3:16) In the Letter to the Romans, Paul proclaims, “God Demonstrated (proved) His Own Love toward us...Christ (sacrificially) died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Jesus said there is “no Greater Love than is this, that someone lays down his own life for his friends.” (John 15: 13) Real love can be seen by giving.
THE ACTION OF LOVE
Many people think love is just a feeling, it's more than that. Love is not something you say, but it's something that you do by choice. Love is an action word. Next to Psalm 23, John 3:16 is the most quoted verse in the Bible. It has been called “The Greatest Sentence Ever Written.” It is know as the “Miniature Gospel” The best interpreter of the love of God is His love for man. From this wonderful verse we see God's love in action:
1.) The Vastness of His Love. God “so” loved. How much did God love....He love us soooo much!! The magnitude of his love is beyond describing or comprehension.
2.) The Object of His Love. Who did God love? The “world” - all of mankind.
3.) The Expression of His Love. How did God say I love you? He didn't just say it, but He showed it through the giving of His “Son,” Jesus, on the cross at Calvary.
4.) The Recipients of His Love. Who can receive God's love? John simply states, “Whoever Believes” - Anyone!! To receive God's love (salvation), we must accept it by faith (Eph. 2:8), simply to trust and obey. Scripture says, “But as many as received Him (accepted His sacrificial love), to them He the right to become the children of God, to those who believe ( place their trust) in His name.” (John 1:12)
5.) The Benefit of His Love. All love stories end wth a “happy ever after.” What else can be said? “Whoever believes in Him....(not someday, but now) has Everlasting Life!” How long is everlasting...It's fovever! Romans 8:35-36, 38 - “Can anything separate us from Christ's love? Does it mean He no longer loves us if we have trouble or calamity, or are persecuted, or hungry or cold or in danger or threatened with death? Nothing can ever separate us from His love! Death can't and life can't. The angels can't and the demons can't. Our fears for today, our worries about tomorrow, and even the powers of hell can't keep God's love away!” (NLT)
THE BEHAVIOR OF LOVE
I Corinthians 13 is one of the famous chapters in all the Scriptures, and is considered by many Christians as their favorite. It has come to be know as the “Love Chapter.” The writer, the apostle Paul, mentions several facts about love. Without love, we are just a loud noise with no meaning. Even if we have all knowledge, understanding, power, faith and even to the point of martyrdom...Without love – We are nothing!! Verses 4 through 7, Paul gives us the behavior of love:
1.) Love is Patient - Suffers long.
2.) Love is Kind.
3.) Love is not Envious nor Jealous.
4.) Love is not Boastful nor Brags - “Does not parade itself.”
5.) Love is not Arrogant nor Conceited – “Puffed up.”
6.) Love is not Rude - “Behave rudely.”
7.) Love is not Selfish - “Does not seek it's own.”
8.) Love is not Irritable or easily Angered – “Is not provoked.”
9.) Love doesn't Keep Record or wrongdoing.
10.) Love is not Sin-Loving - “Does not rejoice in sin.”
11.) Love is Truthful -”Rejoices in the Truth.”
12.) Love Bears all things – Protects and Supports.
13.) Love is Trusting nor Suspicious -”Believes all things.”
14.) Love is Hopeful.
15.) Love is Enduring.
Paul concludes by urging us to pursue (the behavior of) love above all. (I Cor. 14:1)
The opposite of love is hate. Both are natural emotions. One is positive and the other, negative. One can bring about good and joy, while the other brings sadness and destruction. All the Ten Commandments are hinged on what is know as “The Two Great Commandments” 1.) To love God with all our heart, and 2.) To your love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:28-34) From the Parable of the Good Samaritan, “Who is my neighbor” - Illustrates that love is expressed in actions, dedicated for the good of of others regardless of who they are. (Luke 10: 25-37) Jesus commanded us to “love one another” and by doing this all people will know we are his followers. (John 13:34,35; 15:12,17) I John 3:18. “Let us stop saying we love love each other: let us really show it by our actions.” (NLT)
THE COMMAND TO LOVE
Conclusion: What is love? Love is an Action. Love is Sacrifice. Love is a Lifestyle and Love is a Choice. Without it, we are nothing!!
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Mormonism says many of the same things that other churches say, a more detailed discussion usually reveals that the ideas behind many of the words are totally different than orthodox Christianity. Even though Mormons often display admirable traits in personal and family life, the doctrinal positions when Mormon missionaries come to our door, even though they sometimes make the point that the Mormon church is different than all other churches that claim to be Christian. Even the LDS church itself cannot be harmonized with the teaching of the Bible.
*True Mormons live very carefully according to a high moral code.
*They give a tenth of their income to the church.
*They fast once a month. They will only eat meat only in moderation.
*They will not smoke, nor drink alcohol, or coffee, or tea, even though the artificial stimulant in *these are minimal.
*Families have a special study evenings where they sing, pray, play games and discuss family problems.
*They support youth and recreational programs to draw in young people to the faith.
*Missions is a key part of Mormons' activity. Many young people people spend two years as unpaid missionaries, working long hours in systematic door-to-door visiting.
Five Main Sources of Mormon Belief
*The Book of Mormon - Given to Joseph Smith in three golden plates by an angel, named Moroni. It contains what purports to be the record of the Jews and Jesus Christ in North and South America between 600 BC to 400 AD.
*The Doctrine and Covenants – A collection of revelations from Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. From this, LDS get their teaching on polygamy and the plurality of gods.
*The Pearl of Great Price - Contains the history of the church and Joseph Smith's “Book of Abraham.”
*The King James Bible
*The Mormon apostles, prophets and church president - Mormons are instructed to accept the words of their living prophets. Because of their belief of continuing revelation, they do not view their scriptures as being “closed”, meaning that some doctrines/teachings may be changed or added in the future.
Snap-Shot of Key Beliefs
*Only Mormons will go to heaven.
*Joseph Smith is the true Messiah – Jesus was his forerunner.
*The Book of Mormon is God's latest revelation. It has equal authority with the Bible.
*God is an exalted man. He has a physical body and is the same person as Adam.
*God had sexual relations with Mary to conceive Jesus.
*Jesus, who did not exist before his birth on earth, was polygamously married to Mary, Martha and Mary Magdalene.
*A person can earn his own salvation by good works.
*The Mormon priesthood is the Kingdom of God. To disobey them is to disobey God.
*Only by total immersion in baptism can sins be forgiven. If a loved one has died, a Mormon can be baptized in his place to get him to heaven.
*A man will retain his wives in heaven and have children there. Although polygamy was introduced by divine revelation to Joseph Smith, it was abandoned after government pressure. *Today, Mormons have a celestial marriage, a wedding service to last for all eternity.
*In the past many leaders have said that Negroes/blacks were inferior to white men and were under God's curse. Black people were not allowed to become priest. But this ruling was changed.
*Before Jesus returns to the earth to reign for 1000 years Mormons will gathered together and the Jews will return to Jerusalem.
*During Christ's 1000 year reign on earth, Mormons will build temples to remain on earth and be worthy of a second chance.
*During this time everyone will live to the age of 100 – then suddenly be made immortal.
*At the end of the 1000 years there will be a second resurrection and all will be judged. Those worthy of the highest grade of salvation will live on the new earth, the others being elsewhere. *The third of the spirit world who rebelled before creation and a small number of humans guilty of the worst sins will spend eternity in hell.
Latter-Day Confusion: Mormonism(M) -VS- The Bible(B)
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test (verify) the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (1 John 4:1-2)
“See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, I am the Christ...” (Matt. 24: 4-5)
Doctrine Of God
(Doctrine and Covenants22)
(M) God the Father is simply a man who achieved godhood (History of the Church, V.6, p. 305)
(B) God the Father has always been. (Ps. 90:2)
(M) God Himself is ever progressing upward in knowledge, wisdom and power (Journal of Discourses, V. 1, p. 93; V.6, p. 120)
(B) God already possesses eternal wisdom, power, knowledge, and so never changes (Mal. 3:6; Heb. 13:8)
(M) The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three distinct gods (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370, 372)
(B) There is one God, but three distinct Persons in the Godhead (Deut. 6:4; Isa. 48: 12-13, 16; Matt. 3:16-17)
(M) God the Father has Eternal Wives through whom spirit children have been and continue to be born (Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 516; The Seer, Orson Pratt, p. 37, 158)
(B) God has no wives and stands alone as God
(M) Christ, before his earthly ministry, was the first spirit child born to the Heavenly Father and mother (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 278, 589)
(B) Christ is Eternal God, not the product of a conception (John 1:1-2)
(M) Satan (Lucifer) was originally the spirit brother of Christ (The gospel Through The Ages, p. 15)
(B) Satan was originally a created angel who led a rebellion against God in heaven. Christ is Creator, Satan a created being (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16; Ezek. 28:11-19)
(M) God the Father in his glorified physical body had sexual intercourse with the virgin Mary that resulted in the conception of the physical Christ (Mormon Doctrine, p. 547: Journal Of Discourses, p.51; V.4, p. 218)
(B) The physical Christ was conceived supernaturally by the Holy Spirit in the body of the virgin Mary (Matt. 1:18-25)
(M) Jesus was man's spiritual brother (the result of the Father's intercourse with His Eternal Wife before the earth was formed) but became a god, equal to the Father, after his death, ascension and exaltation (The Gospel Through The Ages, 1958, p. 21)
(B) Jesus Christ presented Himself to men a Eternal God during His earthly ministry (John 5:18; 10:30-33)
Mormon doctrine means that ultimately we are not dependent upon God for our existence. And since we can make ourselves as godly as the Father, we don’t feel any jealousy toward him.--BYU Professor James E. Ford, Newsweek, "What Mormons Believe," September 1, 1980, p. 68
Doctrine of Man
(M) Each person's essence, his intelligence, has always existed and and so was never created. Man is as eternal as God Himself (Journal of Discourses, X, p. 5; VI, p. 6; The Plan of Salvation (booklet), p. 3; Doctrine and Covenants, 93.29)
(B) All men are a creation of God and had no prior existence before their earthly life (Gen. 2:18-25; Job 38:1-7)
(M) Each person's spiritual body (which looks like his earthly body) that clothed his intelligence in the pre-existent state was formed by sexual union of the Father and one of His spirit wives ( The Seer, Orson Pratt, p. 37)
(B) Man did not pre-exist and the Father had no wife (Isa. 46:9)
(M) Adam's fall in the Garden of Eden was a “fall upward” that was not sinful, but rather necessary for the propagation of the human race (Journal of Discourses, V. 13, p. 154; V. 10, p. 312; Pearl of great Price, Moses 5:10-12; Doctrines of Salvation, V. 1 pp. 114-115)
(B) Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden caused spiritual and physical death for all persons (Gen. 3:16-24; Rom. 5:12-21)
(M) Adam's fall in the Garden of Eden “became necessary, honorable act in carry out the plan of of the Almighty” (Joseph Smith -Seeker After Truth, p. 160)
(B) Man's sin is not the result of the plan of God (James 1:13-17)
(M) Man has the potential of becoming God, just as Christ did; man is king of kings and lord of lords in embryo (Times and Seasons, August 1, 1844; Journal of Discourses, V. 10, p. 223; History of the Church, V. 6, p. 306; Doctrine and Covenants, 132.20)
(B) God alone has been and always shall be God (Isa. 43:10; 43:8; 46:9) Man has been punished because he thought he could make himself God (Ezek. 28:1-10)
(M) A baptized Mormon convert has his Gentile blood purged and replaced by the blood of Abraham via the Holy Spirit. Thus he becomes heirs of the promises of Abraham (History of the Church, V.3 p. 380; Journal Of Discourses, V. 2, p. 269)
(B)True believers in Jesus Christ become Abraham's “offspring” in a sense that become heirs of the promises of God, as did Abraham (Gal. 3:26-29)
“I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than any other book” --Joseph Smith,”Documentary History of the Church” Vol IV, p461
Doctrine Of Salvation
(M) Christ's blood shed on the cross only provides for the universal resurrection of all people and does not pay for personal sin. (Third Article of Faith: Journal of Discourses, V. 3, p. 247: Mormon Doctrine, pp. 62, 699)
(B) The blood of Christ was shed on the cross for the cleansing and forgiveness of sin. (Heb. 9:14,22; I John 1:7)
(M) Christ's blood shed in the Garden of Gethsemane (Luke 22:24) atones for most personal sins. (Church News, Oct. 9, 1982, p. 19)
(B) Christ paid for sins in his body on the cross. (1 Pet. 2:24)
(M)The gospel includes “all of the laws, principles, rites, ordinances, acts, powers, authorities, and keys necessary to exalt men in the highest hereafter.” (Mormon Doctrine, p. 331)
(B)The biblical Gospel includes Christ dying for sins, His burial, and verified resurrection from the dead (1 Cor. 15:1-8) The gospel does not include laws (Rom. 3:19-24), or ordinances (Col. 2:16-17), or works. (Titus 3:5-7)
(M) The church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) restored the true gospel to the earth through Joseph Smith, and the true gospel is found only in it today. (Mormon Doctrine, p. 334; Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 119)
(B) Christ promised that the true church would never disappear from the earth (Matt. 16:18), and Paul warned that any gospel apart from the Gospel of faith in Jesus Christ which he preached was not true. (Gal. 1:6-9; 3:22-24)
(M) “Salvation” comes through a combination of faith, baptism in the church, and good works. (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 669-70; Ensign, Nov 1982, p. 61)
(B) Biblical salvation come through personal faith in Christ as Savior disregarding all works. (Eph. 2:8-9)
(M)Eternal life (the power to attain godhood and children in heaven) can only to be achieved through obedience to the Mormon church and having one's marriage sealed in a Temple ceremony by the Mormon priesthood. (Journal of Discourses, V. 11, p. 221, 269; Mormon Doctrine, p. 411)
(B) Eternal life is entering into an eternal knowledge of and fellowship with God and is achieved by personal faith in Christ as Savior. (John 17:3; Rom. 5:21. 6:23; 1 John 5:11-13)
"Here then is eternal life -- to know the only wise and true God; and you have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you..." (Teachings of the Prophet, Joseph Smith, p. 346).
Biblical Terms Redefined by Mormons
Mormons often use common terms that to them have completely different meanings than those used in the Bible or by orthodox Christian churches. Mormons may say they believe in "Jesus Christ," trust in the "scriptures," believe they are "saved by grace," and have been "born-again". They will talk about "eternal life" and things like "heaven," but they rarely explain what they mean when they use such terminology.
Holding back information is especially a problem with Mormons in the mission field. It is not uncommon for Mormon missionaries to purposely refrain from discussing doctrines which clearly separate Mormonism from the usual perception of Christianity. They are well aware that to do otherwise would risk any chance of a return visit. In many foreign countries the local population is at a severe disadvantage. Very few books are printed in their native language which critically examine LDS teachings. In many areas they do not even have a translated set of the standard works. At best they may have a copy of the Book of Mormon (or selections). Since the Book of Mormon does not reflect modern LDS teaching on many critical issues, this only adds to the deception.
Here is an alphabetical list of some of the more important terms and their meanings to a Mormon:
AARONIC PRIESTHOOD: This is called the lesser priesthood, and is usually held by young men starting at the age of 12 to the age of about 18. It is also held for a short time by men who have just become members.
AFTERLIFE: The Mormon afterlife is divided up into four levels. From the lowest to the highest they are: hell, and then three levels of heaven: the telestial, the terrestrial, and the place where God dwells, the celestial (also called the kingdom of God). The celestial is also divided, the highest level being "exaltation," or becoming a God.
APOSTLES: The Mormon Church claims to have the same organization as the primitive church that Jesus set up. They also have twelve apostles and sometimes use this as a proof of their divine appointment as the one true church. But they actually have fifteen or more most of the time. The general practice has been for a new president, who is also an apostle, to appoint counselors from the Quorum of the Twelve; then the openings left by the president and his counselors are filled, resulting in a total of fifteen.
CELESTIAL KINGDOM: See Heaven.
ELOHIM: The name of God the Father.
EXALTATION: This is becoming a God in the highest level of the celestial kingdom.
ETERNAL PROGRESSION: The teaching that each of us has the potential to become a God just like God the Father did. He was once a man capable of physical death, was resurrected and progressed to become a God. We can take a similar path and get all the power, glory, dominion, and knowledge the Father and Jesus Christ has. We then will be able to procreate spirit children who will worship us as we do God the Father.
GOD: Usually means God the Father. He was once a man like us capable of physical death and he progressed until he became a God. He has a body of flesh and bones, but no blood. Within Mormonism, Gods, angels, people and devils all have the same nature or substance but are at different stages along the line of progression to Godhood.
GRACE: The Mormon concept of grace means making oneself worthy of the grace of God by doing good works in the church, temple, and community.
HEAVEN: The Mormon church teaches there are three levels of heaven (three "degrees of glory"): Telestial - where unbelievers go Terrestrial- for religious people who aren't Mormons and for Mormons who have not met the requirements of the
Celestial - for Mormons who have kept ALL of the laws and ordinances of their church. What will the celestial heaven (kingdom) supposedly be like for a good Mormon? He will be a god, he will rule over a planet with his wives and spirit children.
HELL: A place of torment from which the worst of sinners are resurrected (if they repent) into the Telestial kingdom; only a limited number remain in hell forever, - the devil and the demons and apostates who consciously reject and work against Mormonism.
HOLY GHOST: The third member of the Godhead, a personage of spirit, unlike the Father and Son who have bodies of flesh and bones.
JEHOVAH: The pre-incarnate name for Jesus Christ.
JESUS CHRIST: The spirit of Jesus Christ was the first spirit born to God the Father and his wife (Heavenly Mother). He progressed to become a God under the Father. (The Father is also the literal father of Jesus' body in the exact same way we were begotten by our earthly parents.) He now has a body of flesh and bones, but no blood. He is the spirit brother of Satan whose spirit was procreated in the same way as Jesus'. To Mormons, even the atonement of his shed blood is not enough to provide forgiveness of sin and bring eternal life. Stripped of his Deity and demoted to a partial Savior, the Jesus of Mormonism has been robbed of his power and authority. Not only is the Mormon Jesus one who had struggled to achieve his own salvation, he also failed to establish his church. Both in Jerusalem and in the America's where Jesus was supposed to have visited, he attempted to build a group of followers. But in each case, truth was overcome by the alleged early church apostasy into false teaching.
MARRIAGE: The Mormon Church teaches two types of marriage. One ends at death. The other is for "time and eternity." If the couple is married in a Mormon temple by someone with authority it is believed they will stay married in the next life. This kind of marriage is needed if they are to progress, not only as husband and wife, but as God and Goddess.
MELCHIZEDEK PRIESTHOOD: The higher of two categories of ministry in the LDS Church, assigned primarily to seasoned members over the age of 18, males only.
POLYGAMY: The practice of men having more than one wife was started by Joseph Smith in the early/mid 1830's and ostensibly ended in 1890. It is not now sanctioned by the LDS church headquartered in Salt Lake City. Members found practicing it are excommunicated. While the practice was ended, the revelation teaching it is still in Mormon scripture (Doctrine & Covenants 132). Some Mormon splinter groups believe the teaching was for eternity and still practice it. These modern-day polygamists (called fundamentalists) number in the 30,000-50,000 range.
PRE-EXISTENCE: The Mormon teaching that our spirits (Mormons and non-Mormons) were procreated in a premortal life by God the Father and our Mother in Heaven, that our spirits were born and raised to maturity before coming to earth to obtain physical bodies, and that the spirit of Jesus Christ was the first one born to our Heavenly parents.
PRIESTHOOD: A category of ministry in the LDS Church open to all worthy males 12 years of age or older, empowering them to act in God's name. Non-Mormons cannot hold the priesthood, hence they have no authority. Men of African descent have only recently (by special correction of the original revelations) been allowed to hold these offices.
PROPHET: The top leader of the Mormon Church is considered not only a prophet but is also a seer and revelator. He has the title "president." He is the only one who can speak for the whole church and receive new revelation for the whole church. When the current prophet dies, the most senior (time as an apostle, not age) of the twelve apostles, the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, becomes the new president. He can appoint counselors, who receive their authority from him.
SALVATION: A word that Mormons qualify in one of three ways: unconditional or general salvation is simply resurrection from the dead, granted to all through Christ's atonement; conditional or individual salvation involves entering the celestial kingdom through works of Mormonism; full salvation means exaltation to become a God as a result of temple ceremonies and other works. The word 'salvation' can have a two-fold meaning: a) forgiveness of sins and b) universal resurrection:
"There will be a General Salvation for all in the sense in which that term is generally used, but salvation, meaning resurrection, is not exaltation" (Stephen L. Richards, Contributions of Joseph Smith, LDS tract, p.5).
"All men are saved by grace alone without any act on their part, meaning they are resurrected" (Bruce McConkie, What Mormons Think of Christ", LDS tract, p.28).
The Mormons have several different levels of "salvation".
General salvation- in Mormon theology, the death of Christ ransoms men from the effects of the fall (Mormon Doctrine, p.62), except for a few sons of perdition who fell with Lucifer. Thus, all mankind will eventually receive general salvation because all men will be resurrected.
Individual salvation - to obtain individual salvation, the standards set forth by the Mormon church must be met. This comes by grace plus baptism plus works.
Exaltation - different degrees of exaltation
Eternal life on the other hand is reserved for the elite few who qualify and are found worthy of this "honor" or "reward" and who will move on to be "exalted." This salvation is in fact the personal "exaltation" or the fast track of the "eternal progression" process in attaining your own self-made status of godhood in order to people your own planet.
SATAN: One of the spirit children of God. As a consequence of their rebellion Satan and his angels cannot have mortal bodies - hence cannot progress.
SCRIPTURES: The Mormon Church has four documents it calls canonized scriptures: the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price, and the King James Version of the Holy Bible.
SON OF GOD: Along with Jesus Christ, all of us are viewed as the children of God, his literal spirit children. This makes us all - Mormons, non-Mormons, Jesus Christ and Satan - spirit brothers.
SPIRITS: Nonmaterial beings allegedly procreated in the pre-existence by God the Father and his wife. Jesus Christ, and even we ourselves, were supposedly born and raised to maturity as spirits before coming into bodies on this earth. The spirit of Satan was also procreated in this way. This makes Satan and Jesus Christ spirit brothers. Jesus selected a righteous path; Satan selected the opposite.
STANDARD WORKS: The four canonized scriptures (see Scripture above) used by the Mormon Church are called the Standard Works.
TEMPLE: One of about four dozen special (for LDS) buildings around the world in which sacred (to LDS) ceremonies are performed for the living and the dead; off limits to nonmembers and even to Mormons who lack a "temple recommend" from their leaders. Only about 20% of the Mormons qualify to go.
TRINITY: This word is used by Christians to summarize the Biblical teaching that within the one true God is three persons: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. They share the same nature or substance so that there are not three Gods, but three persons in the one God. Mormons say they also believe in the Trinitarian concept of God. But really what they mean are that God the Father is a God, God the Son is another God, and God the Holy Ghost is a third God and they are "one God" because they are "one in purpose." Mormons often have an incorrect understanding of what Christians mean by the "Trinity." They say Christians believe that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one person (i.e., Monophysiteism) or that God shows himself as the Father or the Son or the Holy Ghost (i.e. Modalism).
VIRGIN BIRTH: A concept negated by the view that God, a resurrected man with flesh and bones according to Mormon teachings, literally fathered Jesus in the flesh in the same way in which earthly men father their children. Despite the documented position of previous Mormon prophets, presidents, and apostles about the nature of Christ's conception, modern LDS apologists maintain that "Christ was born of a virgin". How can they? By changing the definition of the word "virgin". The reasoning goes like this: since Mary had sexual relations with an immortal man, not a mortal man, the phrase "virgin birth" still applies.
WORD OF WISDOM: The name for the Mormon Church's teaching requiring abstinence from tobacco, alcohol, and hot drinks (tea and coffee).
Tips for Talking with Mormons
WHERE ARE YOU?In order to be equipped to witness to our Mormon friends we need to know what we believe. It is one thing to focus our attention on what Mormons believe, it is quite another to understand clearly what the Bible teaches. In light of this, it is important that you, as a Christian, are in a habit of studying Gods word, attending a strongly biblical church, and praying for God to grant you wisdom in your witnessing opportunities.
YOUR MESSAGE AND DELIVERY. It is easy for Christians to become overly defensive and negative toward Mormons and their claims. But this temptation must be avoided. Second Timothy 2:24-26 provides clear guidelines for us: "And the Lords bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will" (New American Standard Version; see also, Colossians 4:5-6.).
DEFINING YOUR TERMS. Mormonism, like other pseudo-Christian religions, uses Christian vocabulary but does not use a biblical dictionary. For this reason, confusion can arise while witnessing. Always be prepared to ask, "What do you mean by that?" Christian also need to be able to explain what they mean by what they say. It has been said, that if a Mormon continually agrees with you, either they do not know what their church teaches or you have not defined your terms. Clear definitions of terms are essential for good communication. (Look at the accompanying chart to see some of the definitional differences between Mormonism and Christianity.)
ASKING QUESTIONS. An important skill in witnessing is asking probing and insightful questions. By asking questions you can find out if an individual Mormon agrees strictly with the church's teaching or if he has a personal twist on Mormon doctrine. Also, because Mormons often feel persecuted, it is important to avoid blunt or direct statements as much as possible. These will only cause them to become more defensive. Finally, by asking questions you help Mormons arrive at their own conclusions, rather than forcing conclusions at which you have arrived. Well list some questions in the text below.
SEEKING TO UNDERSTAND THEM. Seek to understand Mormon culture: the importance of family, church authority, and personal perfection. It is important as you witness to Mormons that you seek to understand what they believe, why they believe it, and exactly how they believe it. It is best to simply ask individual Mormons about their beliefs. For example, find out how he or she became a Mormon, if their family members are Mormons, how they determine truth, and if they understand the differences between Christian doctrine and Mormon doctrine.
Basics In Witnessing To Cults
*Establish a common ground: the need to know the Father.
*Establish that the only way to the Father is through Jesus: the Jesus of the Bible.
*Show the need for having the correct Jesus, the one of historical (and Biblical) Christianity.
*Establish that the Jesus of the Bible is prayed to, worshiped, and called God.
*Ask the Cultist if he prays to, worships, and calls Jesus God.
*Ask the Cultist why he is right and you are wrong if you do what the scriptures teach and he doesn't.
*Present the gospel
The Mormon Mystique, American Tract Society, 1985
Martin Speaks Out On The Cults, Victor House, 1983
Cults and New Faiths, David C. Cook, 1981
10 Questions & Answers on Mormonism's, Rose Publishing, 2006
The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry (http://www.carm.org/)
Mormonism: A Survey and Biblical Critique, Kevin Bywater, http://www.christiananswers.net/
Leadership U (http://www.leaderu.com/)