It was another wonderful, humbling, inspiring outreach trip to Manti Utah for the 169th annual Mormon Miracle Pageant. At the Pageant, my friends Mark and Terry, Doug and I passed out about 550 business size tracts, 110 of my new “Why Don’t Mormons Follow Jesus’ teachings?” tracts and at Temple Square in Salt Lake City, we passed out over 100 Jesus Christ/Joseph Smith DVDs.
I am always amazed at seeing so many Christian Missionaries on the street in front of the Manti Temple each pageant night and how God uses us to be His witnesses to the LDS people. I enjoy watching the expressions on the faces of LDS as they watch while we sing praises to our God. The pageant gates open at 6:00pm and the pageant starts at 9:30pm. So at 6:00pm we, Christians, gather on the pageant street and sing a few praise songs and pray before the evening starts.
One night as I was handing out tracts before our worship time started, I noticed a young lady watching us and reading our ministry shirts and when worship started, she was glued to what she saw. I asked a young Christian lady next to me if she was interested in witnessing to this young LDS lady and she jumped at the invitation, walked right up to this LDS gal and had great conversation for over an hour.
I turns out that this young LDS lady was getting ready to go on her LDS mission and was interested in what we Christians believe. It always amazes me to see how God is working on the streets of Manti. I heard many stories this year of Christians witnessing to LDS that where preparing to go on LDS missions. These Christians were planting seeds that could very well grow while these LDS are on their missions.
Another night, I had 2 LDS teenagers approach me about the shirt I was wearing “Why Don’t Mormons Follow Jesus’ Teachings?” One of the points that the tract I was handing out makes is that Jesus taught that man did not pre-exist with Him in heaven before we came to earth which is contrary to what the LDS Church claims.
We read over John 8:23 where Jesus said, “And he [Jesus] said unto them [religious leaders], Ye are from beneath;…I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.” I explained that Jesus was telling them that they were from earth and He was from Heaven, therefore stating that man did not come from heaven. Jesus also said in John 12:46-50 to those in His own home town, “…and who are my brethren? For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” I explained that Jesus was stating that ONLY those who did the will of “His” Father where his “brothers.” By referring to His Father as “my” Father instead of saying “our” or “their” Father, He showed that He is not our older “brother” in heaven.
The funny thing was that one of the boys had a smart phone with a LDS Gospel Library app on it, so he was looking up all the verses for me and reading them to all of us, instead of me having to look them up myself. We were having a great conversation until the LDS Manti Stake president came up and got into our conversation stating that I was an apostate of the LDS church and that they should not be talking to me and then he ran the boys off. Scott, the LDS stake president has a great dislike for ex-LDS people and lets every ex-LDS person on the street know that he does not approve of us.
Most pageant nights, I wear a shirt that reads, “Why Don’t Mormons Believe The Book of Mormon?” and have a tract that points out some of the Book of Mormon passages that have Biblical concepts yet official Mormon Doctrine contradicts.
Once passage is Alma 34:32-35 that states that if a person dies with un-repented sin then they will be sealed to Satan for eternity! The Bible at Hebrews 9:27 also agrees with this concept in that it says that once you die, you face judgment immediately. Yet, the LDS Church teaches you can repent of sin after death and practices “baptism for the dead” so they wrongfully teach that the dead can repent of their sins committed while on earth.
One night I was having a great conversation with 6 LDS teens (who said they believe everything the Book of Mormon taught) about getting saved, salvation and sin. One teen was saying that the idea of “just” believing in Jesus for repentance of …all our sins was too easy. He asked: “If all it takes is just believing in Jesus for repentance of all our sins then we could just go on sinning and it wouldn’t matter?”
I explained that “no” the reason belief in Jesus is enough for salvation is because our spirit is what lives on for eternity, not our mortal body. I told him that our mortal body is what causes us to sin. I explained that when we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus, it is our spirit in us that is saved and changed so that we want to follow Christ and that later when our mortal body dies, we will receive a new glorified sinless body at the resurrection, but only if we have accepted Jesus through faith without adding our own works. So that is why belief in Jesus is enough for salvation.
He disagreed and said that we had to repent every time we sinned, and for every sin. I stopped him and asked if he currently had un-repented sin, and the color drained from his face. He confessed that he had sinned but that when he got back home to Vegas he would confess his sin to his Bishop. I asked him, what if you die before you get a chance to confess to your Bishop? He stated that he believed he would not die before he could confess his sin to his Bishop. I stated that everyone believes they will live through tomorrow yet many still die. He continued to say he wouldn’t die, but I reminded him of the Alma 34:32-35 passage that if he did indeed die before he repented he would be sealed to Satan for eternity, as the Book of Mormon stated. By the look on his face he was troubled by his predicament and walked off upset and the other teens left silently also.
But at one point of my explanation of the free gift of eternal life, an LDS teen interrupted me by saying, if you truly believe that eternal life is a free gift by just believing in Jesus, then why are you not going out telling people about this free gift. I was a little puzzled but encouraged that she got the drift of what I was explaining. I responded by saying that this is why I am here in Manti because I love you guys and want you to accept Jesus’ free gift of eternal life instead of trusting the LDS gospel of works.
Tuesday night I was talking to an LDS returned Missionary named Brian, who was also a pageant worker, and he totally agreed with my shirt “Why Don’t Mormons Believe the Book of Mormon?” He stated that the LDS Church has ignored the teachings of the nature of God and Jesus taught in the Book of Mormon and has adopted the teachings of the LDS prophets, even though they go against the Book of Mormon. He seemed to reject much of the LDS Church’s teachings that didn’t line up with the Book of Mormon, holding to the Book of Mormon as scripture over the prophets teachings.
I explained to Brian that Joseph Smith did the same thing even though he stated that the Book of Mormon was the MOST correct book on the face of the earth, the keystone to their religion and man could get closer to God by abiding it it’s precepts that ANY OTHER book. The fact that Joseph Smith changed his teaching about the nature of God from what the Book of Mormon taught of God being a Spirit, unchangeable, and has been God from “all eternity.” I explained that 3 months before Joseph Smith died, he changed his teaching of God saying that God was once a man like us of “flesh and bones” before becoming “God.”
I pointed out that Joseph Smith was not conforming to the teachings of the Book of Mormon either and that according to Deuteronomy 13 and 18, Joseph Smith was a false prophet that taught others to follow after “false gods.” I said that if Joseph Smith was a false prophet, then the Book of Mormon would also be false.
This seemed to shake Brian and bring more questions but at that point the pageant was about to begin and he needed to go help with the pageant. He did let me pray for him and thanked me for my prayer and answers before he left. I looked for Brian every night after that, but never saw him again. I am sure that other pageant workers saw him talking to me and receiving prayer and that could have got him in some trouble. Please be in prayer for Brian!
The last Friday night of the pageant, I talked to Dan, an LDS friend that Doug and I have been talking to every year for the last 6 years. Doug had left the night before to witness at a Jehovah’s Witness convention in Ogden Utah, so I was left alone to talk to Dan and discuss whatever subject was on Dan’s mind.
We jumped around a little bit on LDS subjects until he asked me if I thought that Joseph Smith was a prophet. I jumped in the middle of why Joseph Smith showed in his own works, that he was a false prophet and not to be trusted. I pointed out that Smith changed his original teaching that there was only one true eternal God, to God being a man before becoming God and that we all can become Gods too. I pointed to Joseph Smith’s adultery with 33 wives and 11 of them still married to living husbands. I asked Dan how he could trust someone like Smith and follow his teachings.
Dan had nothing to say and was speechless for a few seconds. Then he tried to change the subject to politics but I wouldn’t let it go. Normally Dan has a come-back or some excuse for any subject that backs him in a corner, except this time.
Dan said he would appreciate it if I would pray for him before he left, which I did. We pray for Dan every year before he leaves our discussion, and last year, when we met up with him, he stated that particular year was the best he had and he contributed it to our prayers for him. Dan is one of those tuff nuts, but we pray that one day God will crack his shell.
The unofficial count, is that 7 people made professions of faith at the Pageant this year and thousands of seeds were planted. As Chip Thompson always says, God is good all the time!