It seems like Christianity and Jesus are increasingly under attack. What's going on? What we'll be looking at is what happens when Christians use human wisdom to interpret the Bible, twisting scripture away from its intended message. This blog is dedicated to using Scripture itself to interpret and help us understand Scripture. You are welcome to add your comments and thoughts. Other viewpoints are welcome. Disagreements are welcome.
Saturday, August 01, 2009
New MTA Video Available Online
We have just released our third DVD. It is called "Diablo Mountain." It isdesigned to be a DVD gospel track that investigates the truth of the saying that all paths lead to the top of the mountain.
What people mean by "all paths lead to the top ofthe mountain" is that all beliefs, and all religions, take you to the same place... heaven, nirvana, paradise, to God, to become a Buddah, or nowhere (for atheists). You can believe whatever you want, and that will be fine.
You can what all of the videos on this DVD online by going to:
I was reading Colossians this morning and 2:20-23 really caught my attention. I've been studying Hinduism in preparation for a mission trip to India later this year. Hinduism is filled with rituals and other things you must do in order to please god (the gods). It is a religion with many requirements. Here is what Colossians says about the requirements religions impose on people:
"Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belong to it, do you submit to its rules: Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch! These are all destined to perish with us, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence."
Paul is not saying we should ignore the civil law. He is talking about religious "laws" that people create as requirements for salvation or pleasing god. These "laws" are usually justified as having "come from god" but in reality they are a creation of men. Paul is talking about Jewish laws in this case, but this equally applies to Hindus, Mormons, Muslims and Jehovah's Witnesses. They all impose "must do" laws on people.
As Christians we know there is nothing we can do to save ourselves. No matter how good we are at following religious laws our most righteous deeds are like filthy rags to God. And as Christians we are not obligated to follow any of the laws God has given us. We are not obligated, but instead out of love we desire to live in obedience to God. Live in obedience to God not because of what we'll get in return, but because we recognize what God has done for us (He first loved us) and out of our love for God we desire to follow the example Jesus gave us and his obedience and love.
There is a big difference. Striving to live in obedience because of what you'll get in return (all religions except Christianity). This is self-centered. Or striving to live in obedience to God simply because you love God... you get nothing in return. This puts the focus on others.
This is one of the fundamental differences between Christianity and all other religions. Many of their activities (laws, requirements, etc.) are self-centered. They are about getting something for yourself from god.
In Christianity everything is done freely. Nothing is received in return from God other than what He has already given and is willing to freely give to us. God has already given us the greatest possible gift, salvation from the consequences of our sin. It is given as a free gift. There is nothing we can do to earn it. There is nothing we can do improve on it.
"Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath. But, because of His great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in our transgressions--it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us us up with Christ and seated us with Him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incompatible riches of His grace, expressed in His kindness to us in Christ Jesus." - Ephesians 2:3b-7
Notice some of human characteristics...
- We are, by nature, objects of [God's] wrath.
- We are dead in our transgressions.
This means that every person was born as an object of God's wrath. Keep in mind that God is just [justice]. He never does anything that is not just. That means that from birth there is something that naturally makes us objects of God's justice... His wrath.
The other characteristic of humanity gives us the reason. Transgressions. Transgressions so serious that as a result we are dead. The Greek word "paratoma" is being translated as "transgressions." It means "a false step".
We transgress God's law. We disobey God's law. And those many wrong steps mean our death and that we face God's wrath. False steps that are so serious that they deserve an eternity in hell.
To understand this we need to go back to Genesis chapter one. That will be the next post.
Research Examines the Faith of Mormons and Jehovah's Witnesses
The Barna Group has done a survey of Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons that has some interesting results.
The Barna Group is a Christian research organization that regularly conducts polls. In their most recent poll they asked Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormons about their faith and what they believe. They then compare the results with answers from born again Christians. Most of the questions had to do with actions... how people live out their faith. They were not doctrinal questions.
So, if you observe these three groups, based on their actions which group appears to be the stronger Christian?
The Jehovah's Witnesses by far. Then the Mormons and they were followed somewhat closely by born again Christians. That is sad! That is distressing!
By the way, I am not saying that either Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons are Christians. However, this survey shows their behavior is more Christian-like than born again Christians.
So what's the problem? The Bible says that one way we can know a Christian is by their fruit. This is telling me that most born again Christians may not truly be born again. They may have invited Jesus into their heart, but they have never recognized they are sinners in need of a savior, and that Jesus Christ is the only way they can be saved. Jesus said that if we are saved we will love him. And if we love him we will desire to obey his commands. The word used for love is "agape," meaning a love that results in action. Agape love is not a love of feeling good about a person. If you call yourself a Christian, are you showing your love for Jesus, through your actions, at least as well as those who are in cults? Are you making sacrifices for Jesus? If not, you need to visit 911 Christ.
P.S. By the way, most of the Christian-like actions of Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormon are not coming from a love for Jesus. They are coming from a love of self. They are doing the things they have been told they need to do in order to have the highest possible level of salvation/glorification. #1 on the list of things they need to do is to obey the church.
In a comment to a previous post about Are Mormons Christians, a Mormon had this to say about being "good enough" to be acceptable to God.
"Oh, and yes I am good enough. I am not perfect, but I am working on it, and that is what my Heavenly Father wants for me."
"With that last comment, I now realize why you are so quick to disprove the doctrine of the LDS church. If in fact someone made you feel as though you were not good enough, they were wrong, and clearly did not understand LDS doctrine. The doctrine is perfect, the people are not."
I had asked this anonymous Mormon whether or not they were a good person. Then asked some questions based on the Ten Commandments. Have you ever told a lie? Have you ever taken something that does not belong to you (that includes downloading music from the internet and fudging a little on your taxes)? Have you always honored your parents? Have you ever looked with lust? Jesus said that if you look with lust that is adultery in your heart.
The Ten Commandments are like a mirror showing us how God sees us. What He sees are law breakers... people who disobey Him.
What happens if you break a law, get caught and are standing in court before a judge? Can you say, 'Yes I'm not perfect. I've broken the law. But I'm basically a good person, judge. So you should let me go." Will the judge let you go? Not if he is a good judge. You've broken the law and must pay the penalty.
God, is a much better judge than any human judge. He is just, and He will always see that justice is done. You've broken the law, you must pay the penalty. The penalty for breaking God's law is death hell).
What can you do to avoid the death penalty? Nothing.
Let's say you are in a human court. You are guilty. The penalty is $1,000,000 or prison for life. You don't have $1,000,000. But then someone you don't know walks into the courtroom, opens a briefcase, and it has $1,000,000 in cash! They offer to pay your fine. What happens to you now? Your penalty is paid you go free!!
That is what Jesus has done for you. He has died in your place, paying your fine so you can go free.
Let's say you a month later you walk into the same courtroom and say to the judge, "Let me tell you about all the good things I've been doing." Does that do you any good? No. What are you saying about the person who paid your fine for you? "I don't think what you did is good enough. I must add some of my "good works." What an insult to Jesus!
Besides, you can't do any works that are good compared with the goodness of God. Isaiah 64:6 says that the VERY BEST we can do, our most righteous deeds are like filthy rags to God. Ephesians 2:8,9 makes is clear that there is nothing we can do that is good enough to gain us credit. We will never be able to boast in heaven, saying "I did... " My dear Mormon, it's all about God and not a bit about you.
Ephesians 2:8,9 - "For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that NO ONE MAY BOAST."
What is one of the foundations of Christianity? It is truth.
"Jesus said, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6
"Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor..." - Ephesians 4:25
How can a church call itself Christian, if lies are regularly used as the best arguments to say this church is Christian?
I'm also reminded of 2 Timothy 2:25 which tells us to gently teach those who oppose the truth. So how do I gently tell Mormons they are believing in a lie? How do I tell Mormons to stop putting problems they see with the LDS church on a shelf, and recognize it is a lie? Plus when you point out something such as this, Mormons take it as persecution and they take it as further proof they are right. My question then is... what if the LDS church is wrong? What if God is trying to reach YOU? But you ignore Him, put the problem on a shelf, and call yourself persecuted?
What has got me started on this topic is the book 'The Mormon Faith." This book, as do many other Mormon apologetic books, supports the LDS belief that God's grace is not sufficient by quoting great Christian evangelists such as C.S. Lewis. I just happen to also be reading C.S. Lewis' Mere Christianity right now.
Here is what is going on...
The LDS church teaches that in addition to grace, human works (obedience) is also necessary for "salvation". This a quote from the book "The Mormon Faith" (page 74):
"The theological debate over whether we are saved by grace or by works has continued for centuries. In reality, it is a fruitless argument that generates more heat than light. It is in the words of C.S. Lewis, 'like asking which blade in a pair of scissors is most necessary.'" (the C.S. Lewis quote is from 'Mere Christianity').
It sounds like the C.S. Lewis believes, as the mormon church does, that both grace and works are necessary. So the Mormon church must be a Christian church since C.S. Lewis agrees with their doctrine!! But this is a lie in the great tradition of Michael Moore presenting real quote, but ripping it out of context so the quote says the opposite of its original meaning. Yes, C.S. Lewis did write those words. But here is the context...
In the previous paragraph in his book C.S. Lewis writes about the need for us to "throw in the sponge". What this means is that we need to know that there is NOTHING we can do to save our selves. in that paragraph C.S. Lewis writes, 'The difficulty is to reach the point of recognizing that all we have done and can do is nothing." Throwing in the sponge means that we give up trying to attain salvation through works, and we trust in God's grace... trust in Jesus Christ alone. The works C.S. Lewis refers to in the quoted used in the Mormon book are our vain and useless efforts to be good enough. Until we stop trying, we can not be saved. It is through our failure to be good that we come to recognize our need for a savior. (See the Good Person Test, which is one way we use to show people they are not good and they need a savior.)
My dear Mormon apologist you are trying to trick people into believing the LDS church is a Christian church. And by doing that you prove the LDS church is not a Christian church.
"But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without repoach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind." - James 1;5 & 6
This verse seems very plain, if you ask God to give you wisdom, and you do so in faith that he will answer, God will give to you generously. But to understand a verse we must look at it in it's context. For example, is this a promise made to everyone? The answer is, no it is not.
Who is James writing to? Jewish Christians.
Verse 1: 1 says this letter is to "the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad". Those are Jews.
Verses 2 and 3 refers to them as "brethren" and how their faith has been tested. These are Jewish Christians who are living outside of Palestine, in Gentile communities.
That means verses 1:5 & 6 are telling Christians that they can pray for wisdom and God will answer their prayers. This is the same thing 1 John 5:14-15 says.
Proverbs 15:29 says: "The LORD is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous."
John 9:31 says, "We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone isd God-fearing and does His will, He hears him."
James 1:5 & 6 is a promise for believers.
We also know that it is possible for demons to live within non-believers. Demons can speak to non-believers and as Satan's servants they speak lies. So a non-believer who prays for wisdom, for example praying to know which "religion" is true, if they get an answer it will most likely be an answer from a demon that will be a lie.
This is how the Mormon religion got started. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormon religion, did not know which denomination to believe (he was a non-believer). Based on James 1:5 &6 he prayed asking God for wisdom so he would know which denomination was true. But as a non-believer he could not call on the promise of James 1:5 &6. So the answer he got was that none of them were true. An answer from a demon that has since lead millions away from the salvation that is in Jesus Christ our Lord.
LDS teaching makes two statements about the Bible.
The Mormon scripture says in The Pearl Of Great Price, The Articles of Faith 1:8 - "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly;"
That's a good statement. This is a christian doctrine also. God's word was given to us perfect and flawless. Translation is done by humans who are not perfect. That's why Bible translations are done by a group of scholars, and the translation work is checked and verified multiple times. Then once a translation is published it is subject to public examination and critique. The result is that we have a number of English translations that are accepted as accurate translations such as the King James (KJV), NASB and NIV.
But the LDS church does not stop there. The LDS scripture, includes three books plus the the Bible. These are: The Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Convenants (D&C), and Pearl of Great Price) . These three are considered to be the greater among four equals. Why? Because it appears what Joseph Smith* intended to convey with the word translated is more like what the word transmitted means, because how we got the Bible involved more than just translation.** The book "Teachings Of The Prophet Joseph Smith", by Joseph Field Smith (Deseret Book, 1976, page 56) quotes Joseph Smith as explaining: "I believe the Bible as it read when it came fom the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors."
A foundational part of Mormom belief is that Christianity was corrupted in the first century. The result being that the Christianity we have now is not the true Christianity. The LDS church believes they are the source of the "correct" doctrine that restores Christianity to what it was originally. In other words, the Bible we have now can not be trusted. For example, it is missing information that is supplied by Mormon scripture.
Yes, Mormons believe the Bible, but only after it has been filtered through Mormon scripture which:
Here is a thought: Joseph Smith is right when he expresses concern about the Bible being translated correctly. One aspect of correct translation is that it must be translated into the language the reader understands. Since the LDS church has created their own version of the English language, in which words mean something different than what they used to mean, when a Mormon reads the Bible they are not reading a book that has been correctly translated. It has been translated into standard English, when instead it needs to be translated into Mormon English.
Yes Mormons believe the Bible. But they don't understand it, because they are not reading the Bible in a language they understand. Believing something does not make what you believe true.
Ask a Mormon this question: If someone read only the Bible (no Mormon scripture), would that person have a correct understanding of God, our purpose in life, salvation and eternity? The answer will be "No". Mormons believe the Bible, but they believe the Bible is limited and is not sufficient on its own. That is not Christianity. Christians believe in a God who is strong enough to preserve His word accurately and completely for all generations.
* Joseph Smith is the founder of the Mormon religion, the translator of Mormon scripture, and according to the LDS church the first modern day prophet of God. ** This is stated exactly this way in the book "The Mormon Faith" by Robert L. Millet, page 17
I've was having a discussion with a Mormon in the comments section of a previous post titled Are Mormons Christians? I've decided that instead of continuing writing in the comments, I'd instead write new posts. As the discussion is covering several topics, this will make it easier to discuss each topic.
I will update this post to provide links to the addition posts related to this original post. If you are a Mormon reading any of these posts, please give us a correction if you notice anything that is not correct. All of my information comes from Mormon scripture, books the LDS church uses for teaching, and the writings and proclamations of Mormon prophets. I will identify my sources so they can be verified.
My main purpose in discussing this topic is so that those who are seeking God will know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is not a church in which they will find God. You will find many good people (based on earthly standards), you will find a god (small "g"), you will find obedience, you will find family... but you will not find the true Jesus Christ, the God who created the universe. And without Jesus Christ you have nothing.
In looking to learn more about the Mormon faith I was reading a book called "The Mormon Faith - A New Look At Christianity." From the title you can see that the writer considers Mormons to be Christians. But in the first paragraph of the book he reveals that Mormons do not believe what Christians believe. It states:
"They [Mormons] believe there is purpose in life, and that happiness is the object of our existence and the product of a well-lived life." (page 1, paragraph 1)
Notice the for Mormons the purpose of life is focused on themselves. It is all about people... people being happy. That is a sign of a cult*. Cults are focused on people. With Christianity the focus is ALWAYS on God.
What is our purpose in life? Why are we here? The gives us the answer. Our purpose is to glorify God. It is all about God, not about us. Here is why God created us:
"whom I created for my glory" - Isaiah 43:7
I wonder whether Christians who were physically tortured because of their faith would agree that their purpose was to be happy. On the contrary, when we are not happy and still praise God, that is when God is glorified. Read the Psalms. There are many times when David was not happy at all... but he still praised God.
In addition to glorifying God our purpose is to enjoy God and for God to rejoice in us. But, nowhere in the Bible does it say that our purpose is to be happy, as the LDS church teaches.
*Cults are generally focused on people. That is typically seen in doctrines that put the focus on people instead of God. An example is the LDS church saying that the purpose of life is for us to be happy. This focus on people is also seen in the need of works (good deeds) as a part of "salvation" or in order to reach the best heaven. The Bible teaches that it (everything) is all about God. God created us to glorify Himself. God saves us by His grace alone, and there is nothing we can do to earn any merit. It's about God, not us.
It has become very important for Mormons to think of themselves as Christian... as just another denomination of Christianity. They don't understand why the rest of Christianity considers the LDS church to be a cult. One of the tools they have created to use in the battle for recognition as Christians is a book by Stephen Robinson called "Are Mormons Christians."
I decided to read this book. It is not very long. Only 114 pages. It is written in simple language that is easy to understand. But I had a tough time getting through it. A part of the foundation of Christianity is truth. Jesus Christ said he was the truth (John 14:16). Not that he told the truth, but the he is truth. I had a tough time getting through this book because Robinson has little regard for the truth. He yanks quotes out of their context, twisting their meaning. He changes quotes. Or, in some cases, just makes them up. But what is really disturbing is that he entirely misses the definition of Christianity.
Over and over he questions why some parts of Christianity accept other parts as being Christian, even though they have differences of doctrine. For example, evangelicals for the most part accept Catholics as Christian. Why then, can not evangelicals accept Mormons as Christian? Sure there are some differences, but there are differences between Catholics and evangelicals.
He totally misses the point that to be a Christian you must believe in Jesus Christ. Using the name of Jesus Christ is not enough. An example I frequently use is a group of guys who are getting a basketball team together to play in a tournament. I'm on their team and that makes them real happy because I'm Michael Jordan. How can they lose? Yes, I'm tall. But I'm white. I'm slow. And I don't play basketball. They can call me Michael Jordon, but I'm not really Michael Jordon.
That is what the LDS church does. They believe in Jesus Christ, but it is a Jesus Christ they have created. A total fiction. Just like I am tall, some of the characteristics of the Mormon Jesus are true. But, just as I won't win the basketball game for you, neither will their Jesus save them. (See Mormon Jesus Christ.)
Evangelicals believe in the true Jesus Christ, Mormons do not. That is the difference.
Catholics believe in the true Jesus Christ, the LDS church does not. That is the difference.
Jesus asked his disciples, "But whom say ye that I am?" Who is the Jesus you believe in? Is he truly Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God (John 3:16), who has existed eternally, who is and always has been fully God?