In 1967 the LDS Church started the Mormon Miracle Pageant on their Manti temple grounds in Manti Utah. This pageant is held for eight nights in the latter part on June and has gone one for the last 53 years. This year (2019) was the last year for the pageant due to orders from the new prophet Russell M. Nelson. The rumor around Manti is that the pageant is being shut down due to the rise in terrorism but we Christian think the reason is due to the evangelism efforts from Christian missionaries sharing the true gospel of Jesus Christ and the increase of people leaving the Mormon faith. Record numbers of Mormons attended this year’s pageant along with a record number of Christian missionaries.
The first night of the pageant was very busy, starting with thousands of Mormons lining up at the pageant gates to make sure they get a seat when the gates open at 6:00pm. The pageant doesn’t start until 9:30pm so this gives us Christian missionaries 3 and a half hours to converse with the LDS that wonder the streets around the temple or are coming and going to the food vendors whom are stationed on the main street and at a food court 2 blocks away.
I was wearing my shirt, “Why Don’t Mormons Believe the Book of Mormon?” when a guy named Matt approached me asking what I thought the verse on the bottom of my shirt meant. The verse is 2 Nephi 31:21 which states:
“…And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen.”
I replied that it is speaking of the Trinity, that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are one God, not 3 gods in the godhead like the LDS Church teaches. He said that he had been watching me and already looked up the verse and agreed that this verse seem to be talking about the Trinity. He said that he had a Baptist friend that had tried to explain the Trinity so he understood that Evangelicals believed 3 persons made one God but could not grasp how they could be 3 separate persons yet one God.
I started at creation in Genesis 1:26 & 27 by saying that when God was talking about creating man in “our” image, God was showing His plurality yet in verse 27 God spoke in a singular manor showing that there is one plural God. I explained to Matt that we were made in the image of God in that God made us a triune being also.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 states, “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
I explained to Matt that when he looks at me you only see my body but not my soul or spirit because they are invisible. According to Colossians 1:15, Jesus is the image of the invisible Triune God just like our body is the image of our invisible soul and spirit. This is why when Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus answered by telling Philip that when you see me you see the Father also.
Matt said that it sounded like modalism so I handed Matt a triangle Trinity diagram tract and showed him that the Father is God but is not the Son, and the Son is God but is not the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost is God but is not the Father. I went on to explain that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are 3 distinct persons that make one God not 3 separate gods in the godhead; that John 1:1 says that in the beginning was the Word (Jesus) and the Word was with God and the Word was God, show that Jesus was there with God before creation began showing the Jesus was not a created being but is God the Creator of all things in heaven and in earth as Colossian 1:16 states.
Matt said he sees what scripture is saying but still could not grasp how 3 could be one. I told Matt that Jesus prayed to the Father, the second person of the Trinity praying to the first person of the Trinity, in John 17:3 for His disciples to know the only true God and Jesus Christ whom He sent because they could not have eternal life by worshipping the wrong God.
I switched gears at this point and explained that eternal life was a gift given to those who know the true God. I quoted Romans 6:23, For the wages of sin is death; but the GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
I stated that the God of Mormonism says you have to earn eternal life but the God of the Bible says that eternal life is a gift, not earned. I went on to quote Ephesians 2:8-9, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is a GIFT of God: not of works, lest any man should boast.
I explained to Matt that eternal life and God’s grace are synonymous with one another and are a gift from God through faith in Jesus Christ who is God. I told him if he continued to believe in the false god of Mormonism, then he would never receive God’s gift of grace and eternal life. Matt looked rattled at this point and thanked me for the conversation. Matt and I have continued our conversation through email so please pray for Matt!!
Doug had a lengthy conversation with a guy claiming to be an apologist for a Mormon splinter group that follows Joseph Smith’s D&C 132 doctrine of polygamy. This guy was pointing out in D&C 132 states that David and Salomon had many wives and concubines which were appointed unto them by God. Doug took him to Jacob 2:23-32 in the Book of Mormon that states that God commands no man to have more than one wife and no concubines. It goes on to say that David and Solomon had many wives and concubines which was an abomination to God. Doug pointed out that Joseph Smith was the one that wrote the Book of Mormon and D&C 132 yet they contradict one another. This apologist said he had no problem that they had the same author and that it was only Doug’s interpretation and not his that created the problem. I missed the rest of the conversation because I got into my own conversation with another Mormon. But a good way to handle a Mormon, or in this case a polygamous splinter-group Mormon, who claims our “interpretation” of the passage is what is making the contradiction, is to press the person to explain what the passage means in their own understanding. Often when they try to explain the meaning of the passage in question, they stumble to find words to show how it’s not a contradiction.
And when it comes to the subject of polygamy, there are many ways one can take the conversation. One way is to point to the fact that biblical narratives do not necessary indicate God’s endorsement of particular acts done. In this case, polygamy, while practiced by some of the patriarchs, was not endorsed by God. Not only does the Book of Mormon condemn polygamy in Jacob 2, but God specifically says that His leaders should not “multiply wives to himself” at Deuteronomy 17:17. Likewise, in the New Testament, elders and deacons are required to have only “one” wife (Titus 1:6 and 1 Timothy 3:2, 12).
Midway through the 8 day pageant outreach, the weather turned cold and rainy so a jacket was needed later on in the evenings, which would then cover up my shirt so I would then hand out Jesus tracts instead of Book of Mormon tracts. These Jesus tracts “Is the Mormon Jesus the same Jesus of the Bible?” went like hotcakes. It wasn’t long when a guy named Brian stopped to ask about the tract. I explained that the LDS Jesus was different than the Jesus of the Bible.
He was confused as I showed him some of the differences on the back of the tract. As I explained that the Mormon Jesus was created by God the Father and one of His wives, that the Mormon Church says we are Jesus’ brothers and sisters and that Lucifer is also Jesus’ brother. Brian was still confused thinking the Bible taught the same thing about Jesus that the LDS church taught.
So, I explained that Jesus Is God and that Jesus is not a created being from God the Father but is our Creator instead. I quoted Colossians 1:15-16, “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominion, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.”
I told Brian that the Bible tells us that Jesus created all things in heaven and in earth so Jesus isn’t our brother but our Creator. Brian admitted that he had not read much of the Bible, but he just assumed that the Bible taught what the LDS Church taught. Brian said that he was in the military and had been exposed to other religions so he was not a firm believer in the LDS church like his wife who was quite devout.
I told Brian that Jesus said in John 17:3, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” I explained to Brian that Jesus was saying that if you have the wrong God and the wrong Jesus you will not have eternal life. I went on by telling him that Philippians chapter 2 states that Jesus being in the form of God, took on the form of man so He could die the perfect sacrifice for sin; that Matthew 1:23 states that Jesus is “God with us.”
Brian was listening intently and wanted to hear more about what the Bible said. I went on telling Brian that in the Old Testament the shedding of animal blood was offered to cover a person’s sins yet did not take them completely away because animals were not a perfect sacrifice for sin. The New Testament was the shedding of Jesus’ blood who was the perfect sacrifice to completely remove sin because only God himself could live a sinless life.
I noticed that Brian was starting to tear up so I explained that by faith in Jesus’ finished work on the cross he could receive eternal life. Just then his phone rang and it was his wife telling him to get back to his seat. Brian wanted to hear more so I started down the Romans road. Again his wife called and I could hear that she was mad and wanted him in his seat. Brian thanked me and went on his way.
Another night I was handing out Jesus tracts on a cross walk on main street when a guy named John approached me, asking what I was handing out. I showed him the tract which has a quote from their late prophet Gordon B Hinckley saying Latter day Saints do not believe in the same Jesus of traditional Christianity. John said he remember when Hinckley said this and wondered what Hinckley meant by it.
I showed John the back side of the card which shows some of the differences between the Mormon Jesus and biblical Jesus. We went over the differences and John found them interesting and mentioned that he has some issues with the LDS church himself. I told John that the God of the Book of Mormon lined up more with the Bible than with the LDS Church’s teachings about God.
I explained that Jesus is our Creator, not our elder brother, that God was God from all eternity to all eternity and was never a man. I told John that Jesus said in John 17:3 that if you have the wrong God and wrong Jesus then you will not have eternal life. I told John that Jesus died for the sins of mankind not for everyone’s sins. I told John that we all sin and asked him if he had repented of his sins and was capable of refraining from sin.
John replied he knew he was a sinner but surprised me by saying that 1 Nephi 3:7 states that God won’t give you a commandment you cannot keep. I told John that the Bible had a similar verse which applied to believers which God won’t give you more than you can handle. I said that the Book of Mormon also says in 2 Nephi 25:23, “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, AFTER all we can do.” So I asked John if he has done all he can do, like keeping all the commandments like the LDS Church requires. I reminded him of 1 Nephi 3:7 and asked him again if he has done all that he can do.
John responded by saying that he didn’t think he could keep all the commandments. So I explained that he could not receive grace according to 2 Nephi 25:23 and I continued by saying that it gets much worse in Moroni 10:32. In this verse it says you must deny yourself of ALL ungodliness and then grace will be sufficient for you. I asked John if he was capable of maintaining a sinless lifestyle to receive grace. He answered, no. So I explained that before Jesus died on the cross, Jesus said, It is finished!! Jesus did all the work by purchasing the sins of mankind through his shed blood on the cross.
I shared Ephesians 2:8-9 with John and told him that grace is received through faith alone and not by anything we can do. John asked why Jesus asks us to keep the commandments. I explained that the law was to show us that we can’t keep the whole law and was to lead us to Jesus. Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commandments.” Jesus did not say, keep my commandments to prove you love me. I explained that it is all about faith in God not your ability to keep commandments or become sinless. Abraham believed God and it was accounted unto him as righteousness 400 years before the law was given to Moses. Through faith in Jesus, we can receive Jesus’ righteousness, not our own righteousness. John was moved by our discussion and told me to keep preaching what I was preaching because the Mormon people need to hear it. He shook my hand and left.
These are just a few of the many conversations that Doug and I had during the pageant. Some conversations were long like these and others were short and a few were quite contentious. Yet, we trust the power of God’s Word to convict and reveal truth.
We will surely miss the Mormon Miracle Pageant that gave us such a great opportunity to share the truth with thousands of LDS over the years.
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