Saturday, April 11, 2009

The Cross

                        A subject that has come up several times recently is the cross.  I find today (good Friday, the day Jesus was crucified((I typed this last night)) a fitting time to discuss the differences between Mormonism and Christianity in regards to the Cross.  

  Christians wear the cross to remember the great sacrifice made on a cross.  It was on the cross that the Lamb of God was sacrificed to fulfill the law.  The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) I never fully understood this passage of scripture until I better understood the Law of Moses.  For anyone who doesn't quite realize why it's so special that John recognized Jesus takes away the sins of the world, I'll elaborate a bit.  The Law of Moses requires that a sinner present an animal sacrifice a bull or goat.  There's a process that must be followed.  The problem with the sacrifice of bulls and goats is that they cannot take away sin, they only cover sin.  This had to be done anytime someone sinned, and once a year for the Nation of Israel.  The High priest would tie a rope around his ankle in the event he wasn't pure when he entered into the presence of God to give the sacrifice. If any impure person entered God's presence they would die instantly. He wore bells so that those on the other side of the veil could hear if he died and stopped moving, then they would pull him out by the rope. Hebrews 10 teaches us that the system under the Law of Moses was just a shadow of the things to come.  This had to be repeated over and over but could never provide perfect cleansing; they only covered the sins temporarily.  Jesus became the perfect sacrifice and his blood doesn't just cover sins up, it takes them away, they are forgotten.  The altar upon which the sins of the world were offered was the Cross.   
  As a young Mormon I was told the symbol of the Cross was to be shunned, Mormon's didn't wear one, and they aren't on any of the buildings.  A common answer to why Mormon's didn't wear Crosses was: "If your brother was killed with a gun, would you wear the symbol of a gun around your neck?"  Mormonism teaches that Jesus atoned for the sins of the world in the garden of Gethsemane when he sweat "great drops like blood"  Of the four gospels, only Luke records anything about blood in the garden of Gethsemane.   What was recorded was that his sweat was great like drops of blood.  This does not say that he bled, but that his sweat was LIKE great drops of blood.  Also recorded in Luke's account is that an angel was there comforting him or strengthening him.  If Jesus was paying for the price of sin in the Garden, he was receiving strength from an Angel to do it.  One thing to recognize here is the lack of information about the events in the garden and the plethora of information about the events on the cross.
  If the great price for sin was paid in the garden and the apostles originally taught this before the great apostasy as Mormonism teaches, why is there only one account for it?  The account that is given BTW is by Luke, who wasn’t there, but interviewed people who were when he wrote his gospel. Luke was very thorough in his research.  Those who were close to Jesus during his ministry didn’t include every little detail, only what they felt or the spirit told them was relevant to the mission and message of Christ.  John who was the disciple closest to Jesus barley mentions the garden at all, only to show where Jesus was when he was arrested.  John’s account in his gospel however is very informative about what happened on the Cross. 

                         Mormons claim that Jesus bled from every pore. This claim comes from Joseph Smith in a revelation recorded in Doctrine and Covenants chapter 19: 18, Which suffering caused myself, even God, the greatest of all, to tremble because of pain, and to bleed at every pore, and to suffer both body and spirit – and would that I might not drink the bitter cup, and Shrink-. 
           While researching this a little, I came across a blog where a girl wanted to know where in the Bible it mentions that Jesus bled from every pore, she and her friends looked all night and couldn't find anything.  I had to laugh a little, but in all honesty I'm sad for her.  I would hope that as she was searching and searching something would have clicked in her head and told her "it's not in here because it didn't happen that way"  
    I posted up about the foundation for Christian studies website earlier, and I have to admit, I check it out often.  Even the church's main website isn't as bold as Mr. Schuster.  Under the topic of Christ's Atonement, Mr. Schuster enlightens us with this:

Crucifixion was Historically Common
We can read biblical accounts of crucifixion dating back to the time of the Egyptians (Genesis 40:19) and the time of Esther. Historical records document that crucifixion was practiced among the Assyrians, Scythians, Indians, Germans, Greeks and Romans. Alexander the Great was said to have had two thousand Tyrians crucified as a consequence of their resistance following the conquest of Tyre. The physical pain of being crucified is thought to have been horrific, where often the crucified suffer death by suffocation.
While thousands have experienced the brutality of physical crucifixion, only one man has ever taken upon himself the sins of the world as Jesus Christ did in the Garden of Gethsemane. The agony of this ultimate act of selfless love is described in Luke 22:42-44, where Christ's sweat is described " great drops of blood." The anguish of Christ before taking upon him the sins of the world, and the resultant pain and suffering, are clearly described in scripture. 

            Crucifixion was historically common?  I don't understand if Mr. Schuster is trying to suggest that Christians believe Jesus was the first and only to be crucified or not, but Mr. Schuster needs to read his Bible.  Genesis 40:19 says nothing about Crucifixion, it specifically mentions impalement though.  Impalement and Crucifixion are two different things, consider their definitions.  
Impale:  to pierce with a sharpened stake thrust up through the body, as for torture or punishment.
Crucify:   to put to death by nailing or binding the hands and feet to a cross.
            Crucifixion was the cruelest means by which to die.  The manner in which one would hang would cause him to suffocate, they would try and pull themselves up against the nails in the hands and feet to be able to breathe.  The Cross was a slow and painful death. That Christ took on the sins of the world upon the cross is no secret. Paul taught the Colossians that through Jesus God reconciled everything to himself by means of Christ's blood ON THE CROSS. (Col 1:20) Peter also taught that Christ paid our debt for sin ON THE CROSS in 1Pet 2:24 He personally carried our sins in his body ON THE CROSS. 
            What does the Cross mean to us? What Jesus said last on the cross: "it is finished". The debt has been paid, the work has been done and Jesus did it all. I am forever indebted to Him for what he did. I couldn't do it for myself and nothing I do in this life will make up for my sins, only the blood of Jesus. And because he did this we can be confident of our future with Him. Boldly enter into the throne of Grace as the author of the book of Hebrews puts it (Boldly! A far cry from having to tie a rope around your ankle incase you fall dead in the presence of God). We can enter boldly because the sacrifice made by Jesus, His blood on the Cross takes away our sin from the sight of God. Paul taught that we could look confidently forward to sharing God's Glory because of Faith in Jesus Christ. 
            If you were to die right now what would happen to you? Where would you go? To Heaven? Or Hell? Most people answer this question with "I don't know". The "good news" is that we can know, we can be confident of our future. The gospel is that Jesus paid our debt and made us right before God. We need to believe in him to have his Grace. As Paul puts it in Romans 10:9, we must confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. We can have the confidence Paul talked about. If your answer to the question is "I don't know" or, "I think I've done more good that bad, so I don't think I should go to hell" You need to really search your heart and find out if you really know Jesus, do you really believe that he is Lord? Do you believe that he paid your debt for sin and that he rose from the dead? If you don't confidently know the answer to that question you need to do something about it. 
            Jesus is Lord! He is my King! He took my punishment for sin and made me right before God so I can boldly enter into the throne of Grace! He rose from the dead and conquered sin, death and the devil! I will go straight to the feet of Jesus when I leave this world, no question about it! Not because of anything I did or will do, but because of JESUS! His grace is all I need. 


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Salvation by Grace or Grace + Works?

Salvation By Grace or Grace + Works?

One of the most important differences between Mormonism and Christianity is Salvation. That is what our hope is for. In Mormonism there is a different definition of salvation than in Christianity. Christians believe that salvation is redemption from sin, being found blameless before God, without spot so that we may live in his presence in heaven. Mormonism teaches that salvation is bodily resurrection from the grave to await judgment and exaltation is living in the presence of God in the highest kingdom of heaven. So to eliminate any confusion my use of the word salvation will mean the equivalent of the Mormon definition of living in God’s presence. Again, that is our hope.

There’s much more that could be spoken of first, but I’m not a writer and I happened to have studied this topic more than others. This was a big factor in my decision to leave the church and come to Jesus. The Bible teaches that we are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and that it is a free gift that we cannot earn (Eph 2:8-10) Jesus taught that the only work God wants of us is to Believe in His Son. (John 6:28) The New living Translation puts this very clearly and further in vs 63 we learn that human effort accomplishes nothing.This is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God came to earth as a man, lived a perfect life, suffered and died taking our punishment and was raised up to a glorified resurrected body that all who believe in him could receive salvation through him.

Mormonism teaches something different. Many of the details remain the same but the Twistianity comes in the form of works. The Book of Mormon teaches that we are saved by grace AFTER all we can DO. (2Ne 25:23) teaches us the Mormon version of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s almost the same until they teach that we are still responsible to keep the commandments and first principals and ordinances of the gospel. Now, here is where the big faith vs. works argument comes in and James chapter 2 gets quoted. And here is the difference between Christians and Mormons. Mormons keep the commandments to earn grace. They DO all they can so that they might please God by their obedience and receive salvation based on their good works coupled with the atonement of Christ for the times they fell short (diluted grace). Christians keep God’s commandments because they love him, they know and accept that they can do nothing for their salvation and that God has done it all and the fruits of their faith or their works are out of gratitude and love for God and the purpose of the fruit is to bring God glory. After all the very faith that saved them was a gift from God.

Now, Mormonism also teaches that some ordinances have to be done. There’s a ladder to climb. (This is how I was taught to teach it on my mission) After accepting Jesus as your savior, Joseph and the current church president as prophets, the Book of Mormon and others as scripture and agreeing to keep the commandments including the word of wisdom and tithing you need to be baptized. (Yes there will be a topic t about baptism, let’s stay on topic though)After baptism comes the receiving of the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands by a Melchezidek Priesthood holder. Then males need to receive the two priesthoods, make their way to the office of Elder, receive their temple endowments and marry a worthy female for time and eternity in the temple.After all that is completed it’s a matter of enduring to the end.

This is highly contradictory the Gospel taught in the Bible. Paul warned the Galatians that any gospel other that the one he preached was no gospel at all, or in layman’s terms: Any good news that was different than the good news he taught wasn’t good news, it was bad news. It seems from the New Testament specifically the epistles; that the battle of faith vs. works for salvation started up almost at the beginning of the church. In most cases the culprits were Jewish Christians who believed that they should follow the law and also believe in Christ and tried to convince the gentile believers of following the law. This idea isn’t new; it was hatched by the devil himself. It is a religious and exclusive thought to claim that only the righteous or "good people" deserve to go to heaven. Man cannot comprehend how a sinner can be accepted into heaven; it’s not fair he didn’t play by the rules, so man changes it to fit his own understanding or fairness. The Bible is full of stories of undeserving people who found favor with God not because of their actions, but their faith. The story of Jacob, Esau and the birthright is a perfect example of the undeserving receiving the reward.

We are a corrupted creature, without Faith there is nothing we can do to please God. Works that are done with the intention to justify ourselves before God will only piss him off and bring his wrath upon you. Imagine it’s your birthday and your spouse/children/parents come to you with a pretty box saying “you’re going to love this! I got you just what you wanted.” You open the box and inside you find a pile of steamy stinky disgusting poo. That’s what Paul described our works for self justification is in the eyes of God. Isaiah used the term filthy menstrual rags. Gross huh? If you expect to live a “righteous life” with the intent of saying to God “look what I did!” your going to be judged according to what you did and it isn't going to turn out the way you planned.Your works will never be good enough. Faith in Jesus is what saves us and the faith that saves us bears fruit, this fruit doesn’t earn our ticket into heaven, the ticket was paid for and given to us when we believed. The fruit isn’t even ours to claim, it is of the Spirit of God living in us.

So, to sum this up: Mormonism teaches that you’re saved by a combination of grace and works. Christianity teaches that you’re saved by grace alone. So ask yourselves, if you were to die tomorrow would you be going to heaven or hell? Have you repented of every single sin you ever committed? Did you really do all you could do? should you have done more? Or did Jesus do it all for you?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Twistianity or the new Christians

When telling a friend about this blog I realized that i should perhaps explain the word Twistianity.  A friend of mine created it.  Shawn McCraney hosts a television show called Heart of the Matter.  You can see it on Channel 20 every Tuesday at 8:00 pm.  Shawn wrote a book that greatly helped me in finding Jesus.  I was a Born Again Mormon is a must read for anybody, especially Mormons.   The book really isn't what most Mormons probably would think it is - An anti-Mormon book that bash's the church and their beliefs.  The first part of the book is about Shawn's experiences and what it is to be born again and why we need to be born again.  This is the part that helped me to realize my sin and that I was and always had been separated from God.  By the time I had read this book I had already read a great deal of information about church and had already made my mind up about it.  I had taken on the false idea that many have, that I am basically a good person and don't do anything terribly bad.  This idea has got to be one of Satan's top 10 ways to get a person to hell.   Most people I talk to have this same idea.  Now that I got a little bit sidetracked, onto the Topic Twistianity.  
       This comes from Mormonism claiming to be Christian by Twisting their beliefs and changing from the early church to what it is today.  Of course I'll be going further in depth on the doctrines and beliefs of the church and comparing them to Christianity, but for this posting it'll just be the change from Mormonism to Christian.  Consider what some of the early leaders of the church had to say about Christianity starting of course with Joseph Smith.  Any Mormon knows the story of Joseph's first vision, He was confused about which church to join, that he read James 1:5, went to a grove of trees, prayed and had a vision in which he claims to have seen God the Father and Jesus Christ.  The goal of his prayer was to learn which church he should join.  Joseph was told that they were all wrong, that he should join none of them and that they were an abomination to Him.  (Joseph later joined the Methodist Church for a short time)   
  Brigham Young was quite out-spoken about the Christians and their beliefs:  While Brother Taylor was speaking of the sectarian world, it occurred to my mind that the wicked do knot know any more than the dumb brutes, comparatively speaking; but it is our business to hunt up and gather out all the honest portion of the nations of the earth, and give them salvation.  We may very properly say that the sectarian world do not know anything correctly, so far as pertains to salvation.  Ask them where heaven is? where are they going to when they die? where paradise is? and there is not a priest in the world that can answer your questions.  Ask them what kind of a being our Heavenly Father is, and they cannot tell you so much more as Balaam's ass told him.  They are more ignorant than children.  Journal of discourses 5:229

 With regard to true theology, a more ignorant people never lived than the present so-called Christian world.  Journal of Discourses 9:199

  How about Brigham's successor, John Taylor:  There is no nation now that acknowledges that hand of God; there not a king, potentate, nor ruler that acknowledges his jurisdiction.  We talk about Christianity, but it is a perfect pack of nonsense.  Men talk about civilization; but I do not want to say much about that, for I have seen enough of it.  Myself and hundreds of the Elders around me have seen it's pomp, parade, and glory; and what is it? It is a sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal; it is as corrupt as Hell; and the Devil could not invent a better engine to spread his work than the Christianity of the nineteenth century.   Journal of Discourses 6:167

  There's plenty more, but those were my favorites.  Even in our day it was taught that there was a separation between Mormonism and Christianity, as a young boy in primary I remember being taught to label myself as a Mormon if anybody were to ask me my faith.  I recall a primary lesson on the differences between different religions and why the others were wrong, I have always recalled this because at the time I decided that if I wasn't going to be Mormon, I'd be Catholic.  (the leaders taught that Mormonism and Catholicism both valued a line of authority)   So even in my own day there were teachings of Mormonism not being Christian, but now that's all you hear about.  Look at any Mormon's facebook or myspace page, they all list themselves as:  Christian-LDS.   I saw a book at Barnes and Noble titled "The Complete Christian" published by Deseret Book.  I read the jacket and it had Book of Mormon quotes all over it, I plan to read the book, i'm going to go out on a limb here and assume it talks much of following Christ's teachings, but also the teachings of Mormonism, and I'm really going to stick my neck out and assume that it teaches one can only be a "complete christian" by following the teachings of the church.  

  This next bit really disgusts me.  I learned about this website from Shawn The founder of the group also founded and runs a marketing research firm.  He's taken his marketing knowledge and applied it to selling Mormonism as Christianity.  Note the Symbol of the dove and icthus, but lack of the cross.  Those are two symbols you will not find on any Mormon's bumper.  They are purely christian symbols, the dove is in the logo for the Calvary Chapels, never have they tied to Mormonism or the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  Yet here you see them on the website for the foundation for christian studies, which studies are all of Mormon teachings. Read all about pre-existence and how it is a key element of christian theology.  I don't think that christian theologians like Luther, Calvin or Spurgeon would agree.  Every christian would disagree. 
  Read the bio for Eric Shuster's blog on the page, he's a very intelligent accomplished person.  He owns/runs a marketing company, this guy knows how to make people want something.  Reading through his website I can see that he's very good at what he does.  And this is where the Twistianity comes in.   Marketing.   The church started as a group of people who despised Christians, and now is twisting their doctrines, history and beliefs into the ultimate definition of Christianity.    While on my mission I lived on the top floor of an apartment building in Berlin.  I loved to look down on the city and watch people walking, the traffic and life of the city, it seemed peace full and elegant almost.  On the ground level though it was so much different.  Everyone was in a rush, it was hectic and hard to see the beauty of the city like I saw it from above.   From this I learned about perspective, and I want you to look at the Church from another perspective.  Not even a "could the church be wrong" perspective although if you do I won't stop you.  But look at the church from the beginning to where it is today as one picture and see how it has changed from what it was to what it is and what it's trying to become.  on the ground level or inside the church, you see everything as the way it always was.  Look at a broader perspective though and you'll see that it wasn't always that way.    Isn't it odd that Mormonism is now trying to become "christian"?  what's that old saying?  mimicking someone or something is the best form of flattery?

  Twistianity is what the LDS church is doing to become the new Christians.  They're putting on their sheep's clothing and luring people in.  Yes it looks good, they do good things and encourage their people to be good.  A real Christian however would know that it doesn't matter how good we are, we can never be good enough.  It's only by God's grace that we can be justified before him.   Faith and Works will be an upcoming topic BTW.  

I forgot to mention

  I'm really busy.  Between two jobs and being a family man, I have little free time.  So this won't be a very active blog, maybe one posting a month, perhaps two.  Another reason for the slow blogging will be research.  Although I have my beliefs and knowledge of mormonism, I don't want to simply give my opinion, I will try to have references for the information in my posts.  

In the beginning.......

This will be my first posting.  I wanted to give a little bit of my background and also my vision for this blog.  I am an ex-Mormon who was raised in the church, lives in Utah ( I add this not because Utahns are more faithful members, only to show that I had a sheltered life)  served a mission and married in the temple.   I came to know Jesus in Sept. of 2008 and have been on fire for Him since.  I spent approx. a year learning the truth about my former religion's true history before I came to Christ.  Ever since my re-birth, I have had a strong desire to share the truth with Mormons.  I originally intended to start a blog about revealing true or fundamentalist Mormonism to those who do not know about it.  After finding that there are a great amount of those kind of blogs out there already, I realized that I wasn't going to be sharing anything new.  As I searched through all these Mormon blogs I didn't find any that argued specifically why Mormons are not Christian.  There are plenty arguing why they are.  Many of the "anti-Mormon" blogs will cover this point, but I thought I would try to dedicate a blog to it.  
   Also, throughout my blog searching I found that many of the "anti-Mormon" blogs were not only critical to the church but also to it's members.  Many of these bloggers seemed very emotional through their writings.  I will do my best to keep my emotions out of this blog.  I will try not to attack individuals keeping my focus on the doctrines of the church.  This won't be easy because many of the doctrines are up for interpretation by the membership (for example the word of wisdom, many members feel it is wrong to drink caffeinated beverages while others think it is OK)  And because the church has sent out it's members to blog on the Internet about their beliefs, there may come a time or two where it may appear that I'm making a personal attack.  
  So let me first tell you how much I love the Mormons.  My entire family is still Mormon, most of my friends and co-workers are Mormon.  All of the people who played a role in my upbringing are Mormon.  I have a deep love for these people, they are who I would call the "very elect".  My deepest intent with this blog is to bring people out of Mormonism and to Christ.  Herein lies the reason for my topic.  Ask any Mormon if they are Christian and they will tell you yes.  The bold ones will tell you that Mormons are the most Christian people on this earth.  So this blogs topic will be about the differences between Mormonism and biblical Christianity.  The ultimate goal being to show Mormons that they do not belong to Christ, and that they need to come to Him.