Doug and I attended the 185th LDS Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City, Utah at the LDS Temple Square on April 4th and 5th. This was our 17th General Conference sharing the Gospel and Biblical truth to the LDS people and exposing false LDS teachings. As the Gospel goes, it has bad news and good news. The bad news is about us and the good news is about Jesus.
Many Christians get frustrated when trying to share “just” the good news of the gospel with Mormons because Mormons have an apparent vocabulary that sounds Christian yet have a different meaning or understanding than a biblical meaning. Words like grace, salvation, atonement and even the understanding of who Jesus is and what He did for us is distorted yet on the surface sounds Christian.
This was just the case in our conversation with David, a Jewish convert to the LDS church. It started with who Jesus is, due to Doug’s sign (Is the Mormon Jesus the same Jesus of the Bible?), which led into the difference of our Biblical God and Joseph Smith’s description of the LDS god.
Doug read to David out of “The Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” book where Joseph Smith states that God is not an eternal God from everlasting to everlasting but was once a man like us. I explained to David that Joseph Smith started out teaching that there was only one God, as the Book of Mormon teaches, yet started teaching this new understanding of a progressive god, just 3 months before he died.
I explained that the only prophesy Joseph Smith fulfilled was Deuteronomy 13:1-5 that any prophet that leads people after other gods would be put to death. Then, Doug read out of Joseph Smith’s teachings:
“I have more to boast of than ever any man had…A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.”—Joseph Smith, May 26, 1844, History of the Church, vol. 6, pp. 408-409
I added that Joseph Smith stated this just 1 month before he died. Doug asked David why he would allow false prophets like Joseph Smith and Brigham Young to influence his life? David responded by saying he didn’t agree with everything Smith and Young taught but followed his understanding of Scripture.
He pointed to Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord,” and stated that in Hebrew, God in this verse was a plural meaning so that meant there were many Gods as the Mormon church teaches. I said that was interesting because this Hebrew word for God would explain the Triune teaching of one God in the Bible such as Isaiah 43:10:
“Ye [are] my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I [am] he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.”
I asked David, “Who raised Jesus from the dead? He answered, Jesus said He would raise Himself from the dead (John 2:19). I agreed and explained that God raised Him from the dead (Acts 2:24) and that the Holy Spirit raised Jesus from the dead (Romans 8:11) showing the one Triune God that raised Jesus from the dead. I showed him that even 2 Nephi 31:21 teaches that the true doctrine of Christ is that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one God without end Amen.
David quickly changed the subject by saying he believed he was “saved” because he believed in Jesus. Normally, we would not let someone change a subject, especially when we have them backed into a corner, but it is rare that you hear a Mormon say they are saved, so we were curious to see how David came to that conclusion.
I explained to David that we are all sinners and according to the LDS Church, a person must be free of sin to be saved. David explained that he knew he was a sinner, in that, at times he would do the wrong thing or have a bad thought about someone and even lusted when he saw a beautiful woman. He went on to say that because of his faith in Jesus alone and not by his works, this is why he believed he was saved BUT by committing sin he could lose his salvation and would have to be saved again.
Doug jumped right into this conversation explaining to David that he was not really saved because once a person has trusted Jesus for their salvation, that person can never lose his salvation. Doug told David that the result of thinking he could lose his salvation by his sinful works proves that he was actually relying on his own goodness and good works to obtain and keep his salvation, rather than trusting in Jesus’ finished work on the cross. I then explained to David that Doug and I are both sinners and that we sin every day, just like him, but the difference is that we know we are saved by faith in Jesus for our salvation and by nothing we have done to keep us saved.
At this point, David admitted that this “born again” concept had him confused because others that claimed to be “born again” Christians also claimed to be sinners. So he asked us to explain this concept to him.
To clear up David’s confusion, I turned to the example of the Apostle Paul who knew he was saved (1 Cor. 1:18: For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.), yet he knew that he was a sinner that continued to sin even when he knew better (Romans 7:14-25). David was soaking this all in until a “beautiful” woman stopped by and told him that she recognized him, which turned his interest to her.
He said he needed to go with her and promised to return to finish our conversation since he wanted to hear more, but he never did return. Please pray for David. He is so close, yet so far away from the Kingdom of God!
I wear a shirt that says, “Why Don’t Mormons Believe the Book of Mormon?” This question produces a variety of looks and reactions from Mormons. Some give me dirty looks. Some go to their smart phones to look up the Book of Mormon verse Alma 11:26-29 on my shirt and some just laugh, or say I do believe the Book of Mormon.
At times, this gives me an opportunity to hand out my, “Why Don’t Mormons Believe the Book of Mormon?” tracts or explain why I believe that Mormons don’t believe in the Book of Mormon.
On day, an LDS gal that was standing around trying to get tickets for the next conference session, kept looking at my shirt and chuckling to herself. So I asked her, are you laughing because you don’t believe my shirt and she said she did believe the Book of Mormon. I asked if she would like to know why I believe Mormons don’t believe the Book of Mormon and laughing she said “yes.” I introduced myself to Rachel and started with 2 Nephi 11:7, which states that Jesus is our Creator and God.
I explained that according to this verse, Jesus created us so he could not be our elder brother like the LDS church teaches. Rachel thought I was taking this verse too literal! So I moved onto 2 Nephi 31:21, which states a clear understanding of the biblical Trinity, that the only true doctrine of Christ, is that, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one God without end. Amen.
Rachel commented that this was talking about the Godhead but I reminded her that the LDS Church teaches that the godhead consist of three separate gods: God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost, who according to the Church are not one God as the Book of Mormon teaches. I explained that this was a biblical teaching of the Trinity, the one Triune God of the universe.
I told Rachel that I was just a knucklehead and not to believe me, but to check it out for herself. She said, so you take these verses literally for what they are saying? I said, “Of course I do. Wasn’t the Book of Mormon supposedly translated into English so it could be understood to those who read it?”
By her expression, it was obvious that she was realizing what I was saying. I quickly moved on to Alma 34:32-35, which states not to procrastinate your day of repentance until you die or you will be handed over to Satan for eternity. I explained that these verses taught that you needed to repent before you die because there is no second chances after death to repent. I went on to explain that this meant there was no need for baptism for the dead, because they would already be sealed to Satan for eternity. Rachel was speechless at this point!
Then two guys, who had been standing behind me listening to our conversation, interrupted me, saying I was bothering Rachel. I turned to them and told them I was explaining Alma 34:32-35 and continued through the whole explanation for them also.
I said, don’t believe me. Check it out for yourselves and handed them my tract. They left, and I thanked Rachel for her time and left her to think about our conversation. Please pray for Rachel!
In His Grace and Mercy,