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Monthly Archives: January 2015

Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible – How inspired is it?

Joseph Smith’s Translation of the Bible – How inspired is it?

I am not familiar with the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible. I don’t really know how many Mormons are, to be honest. We never used it when I was attending church and, according to this article that I was reading today, “A Greater Portrayal of the Master”, from March of 1983, it hadn’t gotten as much attention from members as, maybe, it should. I don’t know if that is still the case today, however. But after reading this article, I have an even harder time understanding how anyone sees this man as a prophet or these corrections to the Bible as inspired by God.

(1) The first example offered was clarification on Mat 2:2-6 where Bethlehem is referred to as “not the least among the princes of Juda”. Joseph’s correction to say that “it is not Bethlehem, but Jesus who is the prince.”

I find this unbelievable!! The word in this verse translated “prince” is “hēgemōn” and it means “a leader”. It is derived from the same words (“hēgeomai”) translated “Governor” later in the same verse (which, also mean to lead or command). And the point is that Bethlehem is not the least among the cities in the land of Judah (though she may very well have been seen as such!), for out of her was going to come Him who would lead/rule/govern the nation of Israel. It is about the one who is the greatest coming out of one who might seem to be the least among the nations of Israel. That is what is being contrasted! His greatness to her (seeming) insignificance.

(2) The second example offered is where Joseph Smith added to verses to Matthew to fill in the missing gap between Jesus’ childhood and the time in which John the Baptist began his ministry.

I’m not sure why anyone would feel the need to fill in that gap. These types of sudden transitions are not unusual in the bible. In fact, very little is written here about the time between Jesus’ birth and the time they left Egypt. And who has ever read these passages and thought the John the Baptist began preaching when he and Jesus were just children? No one!! It’s clear that there is a gap. The point is simply that Jesus was in Galilee at the time that John began his ministry. There are no additional clarifications required to understand that there are years not accounted for and for which we know very little to nothing. I believe that’s by design.

(3) The third example offered was about Jesus’ conversation with the teachers in the temple at the age of 12. Joseph seemed to believe that some might have gotten the impression , from the KJV, that Jesus was just sitting and listening and not speaking – asking and answering questions. The argument is: “This clarification is necessary in order to make the event newsworthy. There is nothing essentially divine for a twelve-year-old boy to listen to his elders.”

Since when it is “necessary” to state the obvious? It’s quite obvious from the text that we have that Jesus was not just sitting in the background listening. The text says that he was asking questions (so obviously a conversation was taking place) and those who were listening were “astonished at his understanding and answers”. Would even a single person read this passage and walk away believing that Jesus “was only sitting with the learned doctors,” rather than speaking with them?

(4) The forth example offered was that which took place at Jesus baptism. The claim, concerning Mt 3:16-17, is: “As here reported, it was Jesus only who saw the Holy Ghost and heard the Father’s voice.” The JST, apparently, supplements this passage by making it clear that: “And John saw,…”

Maybe Joseph Smith believed the “him” and the “he” in the verse refers to Jesus, instead of John. But those who do not make that mistake know that it is John to whom the heavens were opened and to whom the sign was given. It was the very sign that John said, elsewhere, he was told would let him know who the Messiah was.

Joh 1:33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.

So let’s read the verse again, with a proper understanding:

Mat 3:15-17 And Jesus answering said unto him [JOHN], Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he [JOHN] suffered him [JESUS]. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him [JOHN], and he [JOHN] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him [JESUS]: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

It is NOT being reported that “it was Jesus only who saw the Holy Ghost and heard the Father’s voice”; that’s Joseph Smith’s erroneous/false interpretation of the passage. Who believes that Matthew is claiming that Jesus is the only who saw and heard these things when it was not Jesus who needed to see or hear them?

(5) The firth example offered changes Jesus being tempted by the devil in the wilderness for 40 days to Jesus communing with God for 40 days in the wilderness. After which he was tempted by the devil.

Wow!! I don’t even know what to say here, except that Joseph Smith obviously did not understand how Jesus’ 40 DAYS in the wilderness correlated to Israel’s 40-YEAR journey through the wilderness. In those YEARS Israel was TRIED/TESTED. And in those DAYS so was Jesus. Israel FAILED! Jesus did not! And to claim that Jesus went into the wilderness to commune with God completely disregards the fact that Jesus was fulfilling the type established by Israel’s journey through the wildness (just as He did their going into and being called out of Egypt, earlier in His life).

(6) The sixth example offered was Joseph’s correction to what Jesus said to his mother at the marriage that took place in Cana. Apparently Jesus’ words to his mother seemed “a little brusque,” so Joseph changed them to: “…, Woman what wilt thou have me to do for thee? that will I do; …” (JST, John 2:4.)

This is not the only place that Jesus addressed his mother as “Woman,” and there is significance to that – none that Joseph Smith seems to have been familiar with, however. I wonder if Joseph also thought it “a little brusque” for Jesus to ask “Who is my mother? Or my brethren?” when he was told his mother and his brothers were seeking him?

(7) The seventh example offered was about Jesus being Lord of the Sabbath. Apparently, Joseph Smith believed that the point was: “since he made the Sabbath, he is the Lord of it.”

It seems to me that Joseph Smith’s translation completely missed the point. The point was that not even David sinned by eating on the Sabbath (nor those who were with him)! It is lawful to do good on the Sabbath!

(8) The eighth example offered was about new wine in old bottles. I’m not even sure I understand this one. Joseph Smith adds baptism to a conversation about fasting.

First of all, why in the world would the Pharisees jump from “Why do we and the Pharisees fast oft, but thy disciples fast not?” to “Why will ye not receive us with our baptism?” Secondly, isn’t it perfectly clear that Jesus is not talking about the same type of fasting/food that the Pharisees are? And what does being dunked in water have to do with wine and wine skins?

(9) The ninth example offered is where Joseph Smith corrects John in order to make it clear that Jesus did perform baptism.

Yes, in chapter 3, it sounds as if John is saying that Jesus did baptize. But John clarifies, just a few verses down, at the beginning of chapter 4, that it was not Jesus doing the baptizing but his disciples. So it’s not like we have one person saying that Jesus was baptizing and another person saying that he was not. We have the same person saying that Jesus and his disciples stayed there and were baptizing, but that it was not Jesus himself, but the disciples (and John the Baptist), who were doing the baptizing. To have Jesus baptizing men in water is to completely miss the point that Jesus is the one who (coming after John and “John’s baptism” – in water, unto repentance) baptizes us with the Holy Spirit and fire!

(10) The tenth example offered was one of Jesus reading the thought of his disciples in Mat 19:26.

Do I really need to point out that Jesus was not reading their thoughts? The passage clearly states that the disciples SAID: “Who then can be saved?” When it says: Jesus “beheld them”, it is simply saying that Jesus “looked at them”. The Greek word “emblepō” means “to look on”. The CLV translation renders the verse: “Now, looking at them, Jesus said to them, “With men this is impossible, yet with God all is possible.”” Another literal translation (Rotherham) says: “And, looking intently, Jesus said unto them—With men, this is, impossible, but, with God, all things are possible.”

(11) The eleventh example offered was about Jesus entering into a house to try and get away from the crowd, but he couldn’t get away from them. Apparently, Joseph Smith thought it inappropriate or impossible for Jesus not to be able to hide himself if he really wanted to, so he changed the verse to say that Jesus chose not to remain hidden because of his compassion for the people.

I don’t even understand the point of this clarification. Is the point that Jesus would never seek seclusion? That if he really wanted to hide that no one would be able to find him?

(12) The twelfth example offered was when the children were coming to Jesus and the disciples turned them away, but Jesus told them to suffer the little children. The claim is that Jesus preached the salvation of all children without the need for repentance and the disciple knew this truth. So they were not turning away the children because they did not want them to bother Jesus or because they thought he was too busy for them or even because they themselves were annoyed by them but because they knew this, saying: “There is no need, for Jesus hath said, Such shall be saved.” (JST, Matt. 19:13.)

I don’t believe the disciples understood any such thing. I believe Jesus used this opportunity to teach them that we must all “become as little children” if we are to enter into the kingdom of God. And do we not “become as little children” when we are “born again”? (Concerning which, Jesus said: “Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.” – John 3:7)

(13) The thirteenth example offered was Jesus’ words on the cross: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Joseph Smith’s clarification is to add the words: “(Meaning the soldiers who crucified him).” (JST, Luke 23:35.)

Wow! And this might be the biggest wow of all!! This is a prophet of God?? I don’t know if I can even express just how far away from the truth this is!! But it clearly shows, to me, that Joseph Smith was not inspired by God to make this claim. It’s absolutely false! Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, for the sins of every man!! It was every man’s sin that put him on that cross and He was asking God to forgive ALL MEN! And anyone who understands even a little bit about OT typology should be able to see and understand that these words are given in answer to God’s question TO CAIN in Genesis, when God asked Cain (who is the figure of the first/natural/carnal man – our “old man”): “WHAT HAST THOU DONE?” (after killing Abel, who was a figure of Christ). Cain gives no answer! But Jesus, acting as mediator between God and men “intercedes” on Cain’s – (mankind’s) behalf, saying; “Father forgiven them, for THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO!” And I believe Paul understood this. As I believe that this is why Paul wrote: “And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” (Heb 12:24). Notice that he speaks of Jesus as a mediator here. What did the blood of Abel speak? We aren’t told, but we are told: “…the voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto me from the ground.” Maybe it said something like this: “How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?” (Rev 6:10)

(14) The fourteenth example has to do with the difference between the way Jesus’ robe is described in the various gospels. Matthew says it was scarlet. Mark and John say purple. Luke just says “gorgeous”. Apparently, Joseph Smith thought it important that we know for certain that the robe was purple.

Not sure I see the huge distinction between purple and scarlet. But it might be worth noting that the four gospels each present a very different aspect of who Jesus is, so these differences in description may very well be significant to those differences. This might not be something that we want to correct and make agree, but something that we need to understand better, as it relates to the lion, the ox, the man and the eagle. It may also be worth noting that the words used in Mark and John or Latin in origin. And the word translated “gorgeous” in Luke means “radiant”. It’s derived from the word “lampas” which means “a lamp”. Maybe there is more that we need to understand about this robe than just it’s “color”, huh?

(15) The last example offered is about the number of angels at the tomb after Jesus’ resurrection – one or two? The claim is that Luke and John say two, while Mathew and Mark indicate there was “but one”.

I’d just like to point out that mentioning only one in no way says or proves that there was only one. And the text does not say that there was “only one”. Besides that, there are other differences. In John, Mary Magdalene seems to go to the tomb alone to find it empty. And she doesn’t see anyone until she is left alone again after she has already gone to tell the disciples that the tomb is empty and they go to the tomb to verify her story. The other accounts tell the story differently and the differences go beyond just the number of angels present.

And very uninspired JST of the Bible is another place where Mormon Doctrine falls apart.

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The LORD our God is one LORD

1st vision two personages 2

I don’t really want to comment very much on LDS Doctrine concerning the nature of the Godhead because I think it has changed over the years. At the very least certain teachings have been so insufficiently defined that plenty of room has been left for speculation and it is unclear, to me, what the LDS Church holds as it’s official position when it comes to whether or not God has always been God or if he is exalted man who became God. And beliefs seem to vary somewhat among the members of the church when it comes to answering this question.

Suffice it to say that LDS Doctrine is that the Godhead consists of three independent and separate persons, who are each a God and part of the one Godhead spoken of in scripture. They consist of the Father and the Son, both of whom have bodies of flesh and bone, and the Holy Ghost, who is a personage of spirit.

But rather than comment on what the LDS Church believes or doesn’t believe, I simply want to ask: What do the scriptures say?

First and foremost, the scriptures make it very clear that there is ONE GOD! Not one Godhead made up of three Gods, but ONE GOD. And that one God is THE FATHER! He is the one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all and in all. (Eph 4:6) And He is not only our God and Father, but the God and Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ! (Rom 15:6, John 20:17, Eph 1:3) His is spirit (John 4:24) and invisible (1Ti 1:17, Heb 11:27). He is the one true and living God spoken of throughout both the Old and New Testaments.

So who is Jesus?

Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Mat 16:16, John 6:69) He is the one in whom the fullness of the Godhead (divinity, THE FATHER) dwelled, bodily. (John 14:19, Col 2:9). He is “the image of the invisible God.” (Col 1:15) He is “Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” (Mat 1:23) He is “the Word” and John tells us: “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (John 1:1) and “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14)

Jesus is the manifestation of God in the flesh! The one through whom the Father (who is spirit and invisible) is revealed to men.

Paul tells us: “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.” (1Co 8:5-6) All things were created BY THE FATHER (GOD) THROUGH JESUS CHRIST (the Word of God).

God planted A SEED (HIS WORD) into the womb of Mary by which she conceived THE SON OF GOD (the Word made flesh). And it was IN CHRIST that THE SPIRIT OF GOD (THE FATHER) dwelled, making Jesus “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” (Heb 1:3)

The Father (spirit) is in the Son (flesh) doing the work….

Joh 14:6-21 Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it. If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me: because I live, ye shall live also. At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you. He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

Jesus is not claiming to be the Father, but He is making it clear that we see the Father through the Son, for the Father is “in him”.

He is also telling us who the Holy Ghost (the Holy Spirit) is…

the spirit OF TRUTH [Jesus said; “I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life],

the spirit OF THE LORD [there is ONE LORD, Jesus Christ],

the spirit OF CHRIST [Jesus is THE CHRIST, the Son of the living God],

the spirit OF GOD [there is ONE GOD, THE FATHER].

When we are told that the Father and the Son are ONE, we need to understand that they are not just one “in purpose”, they are ONE!! The union of flesh (Man/Son) and spirit (God/Father).

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are not three different Gods, for there is only one “true and living God”, who is the God and Father OF ALL. And God is manifest in the flesh through His Son, through whom He is also glorified.

Jesus is THE PATTERN SON and He is bringing MANY SONS to glory. And we are made “sons of God” in the same manner – by receiving “the spirit of God”, that Christ might be formed “in us”, whereby we are “conformed into the image of His Son” (who is THE IMAGE OF GOD), having the spirit of his Son by which we cry Abba, Father. (Gal 4:6)

Truly, much more could be said on this topic. Dozens more pages could be filled with scripture on this subject (and I may still come back another day and do that), but right now I just wanted to ‘touch on’ what I think is probably one of the most, if not the most, significant doctrines of the LDS Church which distinguishes it from Orthodox Christianity.

That the LDS Church teaches that God, the Father, is a corporeal being (separate from the Son) is another reason I believe Mormon doctrine fails.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in Godhead

 

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The Law and the Prophets were until John

til john

The LDS Church claims that one of the things “restored” by Joseph Smith was the way in which the church was originally organized.

“You will find in His church the same officers ministering among men: namely, prophets, apostles, bishops, seventies, elders, priests, teachers, and deacons. The Church will be directed on earth by a prophet of God.” (Delbert L. Stapley, General Conference, 1977)

One of the passages of scripture most often quoted to support this organization of the church is found in Ephesians.

Eph 4:11-13 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

Another is found in 1 Corinthians:

1Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

The first thing that stands out to me is the fact that the apostles come first, not the prophets (which are plural, not singular). Another thing I find noteworthy is that here, as elsewhere, the “church” is equated with “the body of Christ.” (v27)

So while the LDS Church treats “the church” as an individual, easily identifiable “organization”, to which believers should be joined, that is not how the scriptures treat the subject. In the scriptures “the church” is “the body of Christ”. This means that “the body of Christ” is “the church”. And it is within this body that God has set “first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers” for “the edifying of the body”, as we see in Ephesians. And, clearly, not all are apostles or prophets or teachers of workers of miracles. (v29) Notice also, that Paul does not say that there already exists “a unity of the faith”, but that these are given “till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ.”

Let us look at what Jesus said of the prophets, as it relates to those whom God sent to be mediators between man and God until the time of reformation spoken of in Heb 9:10..

Mat 11:11-15 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

Here, Jesus says “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.” Recorded, again, by Luke.

Luk 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

The law and the prophets were until John and since that time the kingdom of God is preached. Preached by whom? Wasn’t the gospel given to the Apostles to preach, that they might make disciples of all men?

And didn’t Jesus say that the blood of the prophets would be required of that generation?

Luk 11:46-52 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers. Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them. Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres. Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute: That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation. Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

Notice that when Peter speaks of the prophets he is referring to those who came before.

2Pe 3:1-2 This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour:

It is to “the law and the prophets” that Jesus appealed when he preached the gospel of the kingdom of God. So did Paul. This is consistent throughout the New Testament. The Apostles consistently referred to that which was written, which carries the words of the Prophets who prophesies of Jesus Christ!

We even see the same in the OT with Jeremiah and Hananiah, both called prophets, both of whom spoke before the people. But Jeremiah, referring to the prophets that came before him to establish the validity of his words, proved Hananiah to be a false prophet, whose end was destruction or death.

So while it is true that God gave some apostles and some prophets and some evangelists and some pastors and teachers, the only Prophet leading the church today is Jesus Christ (Col 1:18), who is “the Apostle and High Priest of our profession.” (Heb 3:11)

When it comes to prophets and apostles today, Paul said: “Ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” (1Co 14:31) We are to let two or three speak and let the others judge. (1 Co 14:29)

And how are we to judge that which others speak?

2Ti 3:16-17 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

We are to do just as the Bereans did!! We are to “search the scriptures” to see whether or not what they say is true.

Act 17:10-11 And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

We are to study to show ourselves approved of God, workman that need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth!

2Ti 2:14-19 Of these things put them in remembrance, charging them before the Lord that they strive not about words to no profit, but to the subverting of the hearers. Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity.

The foundation has already been laid and there is NO OTHER FOUNDATION upon which man can build!!

1Co 3:9-11 For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

Paul did not come preaching some new revelation (nor did any of the other Apostles of Jesus Christ). They were not coming with some new word, but were sent to unveil that which had already been revealed through the prophets who came BEFORE them.

Just as Jesus opened up the scriptures to those two men walking on the road after His resurrection, so did Peter and Paul (and all of the apostles of Christ) open up the scriptures and reveal “the mysteries of God.”

Many of the things “restored” by Joseph Smith are things that have long since been fulfilled in Jesus Christ. And many of the things “revealed” by Joseph Smith are things for which there is no prior witness in the law and the prophets. Therefore, Joseph Smith is proven to be a false prophet.

Let us not forget that every word of God is pure!! And if we add to His words He shall reprove us and we shall be found “a liar”

Pro 30:5-6 Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.

The LORD says for those who have His word to speak His word faithfully!

Jer 23:28 The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD.

Jesus said that those who do not love him will not keep his sayings (which words are not His, but the Father’s). And just as we are told to prove all things, we are told how He proves us!!

Duet 13:3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

And He is, here, speaking even of those who come with signs and wonders!!

Recall that Paul speaks of “him whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” We are not to go after them!!

Speaking one’s own words and attaching “the Lord saith” to them is rebellion, which is “as the sin of divination” (or witchcraft), as we see in 1 Sam 15:23. Paul even speaks of those who have been “bewtiched” by those who lead them away from the truth and back under the law.

When it comes to those who preach the gospel, we are to PROVE THEM for God uses them TO PROVE US, to KNOW whether or not we love the LORD our God will all our heart and with all our soul!!

Let us not be deceived!! And let us not go to a prophet asking for confirmation of that which we have already set in our own hearts as an idol. For the scriptures say that God will answer us according to the idols of our own heart, even by sending us strong delusion that we might believe a lie, if we believed not the truth and take pleasure in unrighteousness.

If we reject the word of the LORD, he will reject us and we will be turned over to satan.

So, let us not put our trust in men or the words of men.

If we are to be justified in OUR SAYINGS the words that we speak must be HIS WORDS (Rom 3:4) because it is “by our words” that we will either be justified or condemned (Mat 12:37). Let us be justified! Let us stick to His words, for “the words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.” (Psa 12:6)

There is no need to add to His words, which is something the apostles and prophets of the LDS Church have done repeatedly and unapologetically.

This is another reason I believe Mormon Doctrine fails.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2015 in False Doctrine, Mormonism

 

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The Prophesy of Malachi Concerning Elijah

Elijah appearing to JS

The LDS Church teaches the prophesy made by Malachi in Mal 4 concerning the coming of Elijah was fulfilled in the days of Joseph Smith when Elijah appeared to Joseph Smith in the Kirtland Temple in 1836.

To examine the truthfulness of this claim, let’s first take a look at the prophesy in Mal 4:1-6:

For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

So what we know from this prophesy is that a day is coming that shall burn as an oven and before that day comes Elijah the prophet will come. We also know that this prophesy was given about 400 years before the coming of the Messiah. We also know that the Jews, who are still waiting on the coming of the promised Messiah are also still waiting on this coming of Elijah because the two were connected.

Yet, in the Book of Mormon, Third Nephi Chapters 24 and 25, we have Jesus quoting Malachi in about 34AD. And according to the chapter headings this is a prophesy to be fulfilled “at the Second Coming” of Jesus Christ.

On the LDS Church’s website, this article, titled “Old Testament Prophets: Malachi”, also makes the same claim concerning this prophesy, saying it was a prophesy that would be fulfilled before the second coming.

In a study guide on the Church’s website, titled “3 Nephi 24-25: The Prophecies of Malachi”, we read how and when this prophesy was fulfilled:

“In fulfillment of this promise of the Lord through Malachi, Elijah returned to the earth in 1836 in the Kirtland Temple and committed keys of the priesthood making it possible to perform saving ordinances for those who have died (see D&C 110:13–16). He restored what is sometimes referred to as the sealing power of the priesthood. It is this power whereby families are sealed together for eternity.”

Further, this General Conference speech given in 1971 on “Elijah the Prophet”, tells us that the true meaning of turning the hearts of the children to their fathers and the hearts of the fathers to their children is genealogy and temple work or the redemption of the dead. And Mr. Hunter seems to imply that Malachi’s prophesy was always about the second coming of Christ. I find that interesting given Jesus himself tells us that this prophesy was fulfilled by John the Baptist.

Mat 17:10-13

And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.

Again we read in Mark’s account:

Mar 9:11-13

And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elias must first come? And he answered and told them, Elias verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at nought. But I say unto you, That Elias is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.

There is not a shred of ambiguity in either of these statements. Jesus clearly identified John as the fulfillment of the prophesy made by Malachi. But if you ask a Mormon about this they will point to the wording found in Matthew, with a bit of a twist, and claim that John would have been the fulfillment “if” they would have received him… but since they did not receive him, he was not the fulfillment.

They may quote Mat 11:14, which says: “And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come” and claim that Jesus is saying: “if they had received him” THEN John would have been the fulfillment. But that is not what Jesus is saying at all.

Let’s take a look:

Mat 11:13-14:

For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias, which was for to come.

Jesus does not say that if they would have received John he would have been the fulfillment. He is clearly saying that “all the prophets and the law prophesied UNTIL JOHN” and “if ye will receive it” [THE TRUTH ABOUT JOHN], “this is Elias, which was for to come”.

John was the one sent to prepare the way for the Lord!! He was this ELIJAH which was to come!! So what does that say about “the great and dreadful day of the Lord”?

In Luke, we see Jesus in the synagogue reading from Isaiah:

Luk 4:17-29

And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears. And all bare him witness, and wondered at the gracious words which proceeded out of his mouth. And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son? And he said unto them, Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country. And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. And all they in the synagogue, when they heard these things, were filled with wrath, And rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.

Sounds almost like what Jesus said when he said: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Doesn’t it?

Turning back to Isaiah, chapter 61 tells us that “the acceptable year of the Lord” is connected to “the day of vengeance of our God” and Jesus, reading from Isaiah 61 says: “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

So not only does the LDS Church deny that John was the fulfillment of this prophesy, as so stated by Jesus himself, they also deny “all the prophets and the law prophesied until John”, who was sent to prepare the way for the Lord, who is the one through whom God now speaks to mankind.

They tell us that God has “restored” to us living prophets and apostles, just as in the days of old, and ignore the fact that God no longer speaks to us through imperfect and fallible men. He no longer speaks to us through the law and the prophets, but now speaks to us “by His Son”. This is the very first thing we read in the book of Hebrews, a letter sent to those who were under the law and the prophets, those to whom the oracles of God were committed until the fulness of time was come – for God to send forth His Son.

Heb 1:1-4

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; Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

Paul speaks of Israel’s redemption from under the law in Galatians:

Gal 4:1-6

Now I say, That the heir, as long as he is a child, differeth nothing from a servant, though he be lord of all; But is under tutors and governors until the time appointed of the father. Even so we, when we were children, were in bondage under the elements of the world: But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law, To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.

Again, please note that the coming of Christ in the flesh also pertains to the coming of “the fulness of the time”, which is something else the LDS Church claims has to do with days of Joseph Smith and the “restoration” which, supposedly, took place less than 200 years ago through him – almost 2000 years after the coming of Elijah, the preaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and the ushering in of the Kingdom of God.

They say we need modern-day prophets and apostles, for God does not speak to the church except through his prophets and apostles. They refuse to see the Truth! God is no longer sending SERVANTS. He has sent us HIS SON. Just as the parable of Jesus speaks in Mat 21. He is the stone that the builders rejected and “is become the head of the corner” and “whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.”

There is but ONE GOD and ONE MEDIATOR between God and man, the man Jesus Christ, who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time:

1Ti 2:1-7

I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.

As I stated in my previous blog entry, though the LDS Church does embrace a more liberal understanding of the Father’s plan of salvation with regard to its scope, they still do not preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ because they do not preach that Jesus Christ is the Saviour of ALL MEN, in the fullest sense.

1Ti 4:9-11

This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. These things command and teach.

Not only do they not preach Jesus Christ as the Savior of all men, they do not even have a proper understanding of just exactly who the Messiah, their Redeemer, is.

These are just a few more ways in which the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints fail.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Elijah, Mormonism

 

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Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children??

planofsalvation

The above is a depiction of the Plan of Salvation according to the LDS Church. To the far right it depicts three different kingdoms of heaven: the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, and the Telestial Kingdom. It is into one of these three kingdom that most will go after final judgment. Then, of course, there is Outer Darkness which awaits Satan and his angels… and the most vile of men.

I think this is actually the primary appeal of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which is addressed in this speech from 2009 which I was just listening to earlier this morning:

Our Father’s Plan—Big Enough for All His Children

To borrow the words of Elder Cook’s great-great-grandfather Phineas Wolcott Cook, the LDS Church teaches “a more liberal salvation for the family of man”. And in this respect, and this respect only, do I believe that the LDS Church approaches the true doctrine of Jesus Christ.

The problem is that Joseph Smith doesn’t even come close to being the person through whom this gospel truth has been restored in recent times. In fact, I believe that Joseph Smith borrowed a great deal from those men who lived in his day who were already believing in and preaching Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all men, some of whom joined the LDS Church, including Joseph Smith Sr.

For more on that you can read this article from BYU’s website:

Universalism and the Revelations of Joseph Smith

Where I believe the LDS Church fails in this regard is that while it embraces a more liberal view of salvation it still DENIES the salvation of ALL MEN. It also teaches DIVISION in the kingdom of God. And it teaches its members to cling to a very legalistic view of salvation very reminiscent of Old Covenant Law. This is not surprising since this is exactly what the Church claims needed to be “restored” – a very Old Covenant view of the gospel with all of it’s touch not, taste not laws.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints teaches a very high mixture of law and grace. And many of the things which they claim needed to be “restored” are the very things that Christ came to destroy in order that a New (or Renewed) Covenant might be established, one in which Jesus Christ is our one and only High Priest.

So despite their more liberal view of salvation, their view of salvation is not completely universal in scope. While they believe that the gospel will be preached to all men – to many after their death – giving all men the opportunity to accept the gospel and inherit all of the blessing associated with it, they are also quick to point out that there is a hell, a place of eternal torment to which some men will go and from which there is no escape. As one member put it recently: “It’s [that is, Hell is] described all through the Bible too.” This was said in response to someone else pointing out to them that the Book of Mormon cannot be used to support the doctrine of Universal Salvation because it speaks of “eternal torment” and does so in a way which speaks explicitly of the fact that such torment has “no end” to it, despite the claim made in D&C 19 that: “It is not written that there shall be no end to this torment.

Doctrine & Covenant 19 is clearly an attempt to borrow a Christian Universalist argument against the teachings of “eternal torment”, an argument that is absolutely true when applied to the Bible but which fails miserably when applied to the Book of Mormon. This is because the torment of the wicked is written exactly in this way in the Book of Mormon. In fact, the Book of Mormon speaks of those whose “final state” will be one of “endless misery”, from which there is “no redemption”.

So while the salvation of all men can be argued from a correct translation/interpretation of the Bible (which NOWHERE contains those types of assertions with regard to the lost), the same cannot be argued from the Book of Mormon. In fact, the same LDS person who said the above also said: “I don’t know what a “Universalist” is…, but there is plenty of hell in Mormon belief.” And while he does go on to point out that he sees hell not as a place but as a state or condition of the human soul, he clearly believes that such a state, for some, will never end.

So, on this count, I say the LDS Church comes close to the truth but it still falls short of the whole truth.

 
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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Eternal Torment, Hell, Mormonism

 

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