(Continued from page 387)
Tests for a 'prophet'
v8-9: (King James Version) But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth. The moralist who the Mormons believe can reach heaven is likened to 'those who are of contention.' This formula is similar to other such expressions as 'those who are of the circumcision' (4:12; Titus 1:10); 'they which are of faith' (Galatians 3:7); 'they which are of the law' (4:14). Those who create a spirit of rivalry or factionalism have promised to them, indignation (Greek: orge:), wrath (Greek: thymos, a sudden outburst of anger), tribulation (Greek: thlipsis, affliction), and anguish (Greek: stenocho:ria, distress). As the gospel was promised to the Jew first and also to the Greek, so likewise these fruits of unrighteousness are of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile.
v10: (King James Version) But glory, honor, and peace to every man that worketh good. Opposed, to the reward of the unrighteous, Paul now indicates that the reward of the righteous is glory, honor, and, instead of immortality named in verse 7, peace. The formula of impartiality is then the same, to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.
v11: (King James Version) For there is no respect of persons with God. An eternal truth is that as God deals in condemnation without favoritism, likewise He deals in salvation without favoritism. Respect of persons (Greek: proso:pole:mpsia, literally, 'lifting the face') simply means partiality (cf. Deuteronomy 10:17; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Acts 10:34; Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 3:25; I Peter 1:17). God is impartial because He does not change His pattern 'to the Jew first,' whether righteousness or unrighteousness is involved. No one will earn their way into heaven by their own righteousness.
v12-13: Unchecked and unatoned sin leads to perdition whether we are in the law or without the law. If the moralist is to live by the law then (King James Version) not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified. The antithesis between merely hearing the law and doing has been elaborated in James 1:22-25. The doers of the law is an expression also found in the literature of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The moralist (now identified with the Jews, v9) is no better off than the heathen if the moralist has the law but does not keep it. The reason follows in the next verses.
v14-16: (King James Version) For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these … are a law unto themselves. Although the Gentiles do not possess the Old Testament law, nevertheless they do those things which are contained in the law. This is because of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness. The Gentiles manifested a moral principle at work in their hearts, because when they broke their own ethical code, their conscience (Greek: syneide:sis) would prick them and cause them to feel guilt. God has made us with a conscience that knows when we are doing wrong and feel guilty; but the result of this guilt is that the majority of the world, instead of seeking God's way of atonement in Christ Jesus, will always excuse themselves by making a defense for their actions. Thus every man is without excuse and has no reason to merit a second chance after death! And Jew and Gentile alike must face a day of judgment with God when the secrets of men (Greek: ta krypta) are judged by the Lord Jesus Christ according to the truth of the gospel preached by Paul.
Those who raise questions regarding the chance for salvation after death are really showing a lack of faith that God has the power to judge righteously. The Bible declares that He will judge with truth:
Let the field be joyful, and all that is therein: then shall all the trees of the forest rejoice before the Lord: for he cometh, he corneth to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with His truth. (Psalm 96:12-13; italics added)
The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. (Psalm 19:9)
As a just and Holy God, the Lord will not allow anyone to go to Hell who should not be there, nor will He deny entrance into His kingdom to anyone who should be there.
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9)
The Lord will clearly make a way for the desiring heart to hear the Gospel, regardless of geographical barriers.
Mormon 'testimony' vs (Biblical & Historical) Facts
You write: Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I have prayed about him and the Book of Mormon and the gospel and I know it is true. I am no Bible scholar, but this I know because flesh and blood has not revealed it to me but God Himself. The Book of Mormon bears beautiful testimony of Jesus as the Christ the Saviour of the world. It draws people closer to the Saviour. It has brought me closer to my Saviour. I also know Heavenly Father loves each of us as His children and that Jesus is the Christ and is my personal Saviour. I feel the spirit now as I bear this testimony to you, but I understand that what I say will scare you. Questioning beliefs is scary. I have been there. I have studied with many protestant bible studies - Max Lucado, Beth Moore, Navigators, Elizabeth George, etc, but I did not find all the answers. I did feel portions were true and helped me in my life, but the Church of Jesus Christ is the most logical answer and the spirit confirms the truth of it.
TCE: Of all the tests that can be applied to Mormonism in an effort to prove whether it is from God or not, the test to determine the authority of its founder is the most obviously flawed. As Joseph Fielding Smith stated of Joseph Smith:
He was either a prophet of God, divinely called, properly appointed and commissioned, or he was one of the biggest frauds the world has ever seen, there is no middle ground. (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:188)
The Bible presents several tests for prophets. Deuteronomy 18:21 asks how one can know 'the word which the Lord hath not spoken.' The answer is given in verse 22:
When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken It presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
Deuteronomy 18:20 gives the penalty for a prophet who presumes to speak in the name of the Lord, or who speaks in the name of other gods: death. Other scriptures that warn of false prophets and show God*s judgment of them are Deuteronomy 13:1-5 and Jeremiah 23 :3 1-32.
Joseph Smith is responsible for a long list of false prophecies. We will discuss a few of them briefly.
Smith earned the title of false prophet very early in his career. In the beginning of his new movement, he gave a false prophecy concerning the sale of the copyright of the Book of Mormon in Canada. Though Smith claimed God had said it would be sold, the two men sent to perform the task came back having failed to do so (David Whitmer, An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 31). Richard Lloyd Anderson, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, claims Whitmer was in error concerning this revelation and quotes Hyrum Page, one of the eight witness to the Book of Mormon, as saying that Smith ordered them to go to Kingston, not Toronto (A Sure Foundation, p. 42) as stated by Whitmer. Because of this apparent discrepancy, Anderson attempts to discount the entire record. Nevertheless, Mormon historian B. H. Roberts, who is much more honest than the average Mormon apologist, admits Whitmer*s representation of some of the facts could be flawed, writes, 'his testimony may not be set aside' (Comprehensive History of the Church, 1:165). Today*s LDS apologists hold to Hyrum Page*s account because it contains a condition for the sale of the copyright. According to Page they were to sell the copyright to purchasers 'if they would not harden their hearts.' They Mormon excuse then hinged on the claim that it was because of the Canadians* hard hearts that the copyright did not sell, and not because of Joseph Smith*s lack of spiritual insight. However, this excuse does not account for Smith*s reply when confronted by his contemporaries and asked to give an explanation for the failure. If this condition were indeed true, why was Smith puzzled by the situation, asking the Lord concerning the matter, and then responding by saying:
Some revelations are of God: some revelations are of man: and some revelations are of the devil. (An Address to All Believers in Christ, p. 31)
If there were indeed a condition for the sale, there would be no need for Smith to apologize or to attribute this revelation to the devil or the heart of man!
Smith also claimed the American Civil War 'would be poured out upon all nations' (Doctrine and Covenants, 87:2). History shows this was not the case.
In 1832 Smith prophesied that a temple would be built in Independence, Missouri, 'which temple shall be reared in this generation. For verily this generation shall not all pass away until an house shall be built unto the Lord' (Doctrine and Covenants, 84:4-5). To this day there is no such temple!
In 1835 Smith stated:
It was the will of God that those who went to Zion, with the determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh - even fifty-six years should wind up the scene. (History of the Church, 2:182)
This would place the second coming of Christ In 1891. As we all know, Smith*s prophecy was again proven false.
Brigham Young fared no better with his false prophecies when he declared that by 1882 the Elders of the Mormon church would be thought of as kings on their thrones (Journal of Discourses, 4:40). He also said the Civil War would not free the slaves (Journal of Discourses, 10:250).
In 1886 Heber C. Kimball prophesied that Brigham Young would become the President of the United States (Journal of Discourses, 5:219). Another false prophet!
Paul warns of false prophets In 2 Corinthians 11:13:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
Desperate attempts to find one so-called prophecy that Smith might have made that did come to pass cannot excuse the clear evidence that he sent men after a 'God' not known to the Bible (Deuteronomy 13) and prophesied falsely in the name of the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). But even the discovery of a prophecy that occurred - and we have not seen one bona fide example yet - cannot prove he was a true prophet, for the Bible says even a false prophet can be right sometimes:
If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee saying, let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet. . .' (Deuteronomy 13:1- 3; italics added)
It is as if the writer of this passage had Joseph Smith in mind when he penned the words. The fourth chapter of the Book of Abraham reveals that Smith did indeed introduce 'other gods'. One need only compare the characteristics of Joseph Smith*s 'god' with those describing the God of the Bible to know that he spoke of other gods.
Jeremiah 23:30-32 and 39-40 show what God thinks of people who prophesy falsely:
Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that steal my words every one from his neighbor. Behold, I am against the prophets, saith the Lord, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I am against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the Lord, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness: yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore, they shall not profit this people at all, saith the Lord.... Therefore, behold, I, even I, will utterly forget you, and I will forsake you, and the city that I gave you and your fathers, and cast you out of my presence: And I will bring an everlasting reproach upon you, and a perpetual shame, which shall not be forgotten.
Every prophecy of God will come to pass. All those who have been deceived by the words of Joseph Smith and other false prophets will eternally regret having heard their names, and will hold them in reproach for the damnation that has come upon their souls for accepting a false gospel rather than that of the true and living God.
Desrae, we have heard the Mormon 'testimony' countless times - and it never scares us! When I compare a Mormon 'testimony' with my Biblical testimony I find there is no comparison. The Biblical testimony was achieved by the Bereans (Acts 17:11: These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few) who simply checked out the facts that had been presented to them by the apostles. This is something that no one accepting the Mormon 'testimony' can ever have done properly, because the facts of the Bible and history prove beyond a shadow of doubt that Joseph Smith and his church are a total deception. I have no doubt that you 'feel the spirit' as you 'bear this testimony'. But which spirit? The Holy Spirit will never bear testimony to a gospel that insults the Son of God by, for example, calling Satan the 'spirit brother' of Jesus. Only the same necromantic, occultic, demonic spirit that inspired Smith will give confirmation of 'the truth' of Smith's work.
You write: Have you ever been to one of our services? Have you read the Book of Mormon? I am no authority in our church, so I can make mistakes, but your research would be helped by doing these two things.
Personally, I have been to many Mormon services over a long period of time while investigating the claims of the church. I was astonished at the songs offered in praise of Joseph Smith and the testimonial meetings where emotion held sway over the obvious facts which spoke of another gospel and another Saviour. I have read the Book of Mormon many times - enough to have the errors in it highlighted thoroughly. As stated at http://www.thechristianexpositor.org/page57.html - I even ensured the truth concerning the gross errors of the book by purchasing a copy of the 1830 original where the appalling grammar and spelling of the men involved in the 'translation' is thoroughly exposed.
One of the biggest deceptions that the Mormon church causes men and women to fall for, concerns the instruction to pray to determine whether or not the message contained in the Book of Mormon is true. In fact, the Book of Mormon does not even contain much of the doctrine peculiar to the Mormon faith! If Mormons really read it closely, as we have, they would find many points that, in fact, contradict Mormon theology.
No doubt, the Mormon hierarchy is aware that some people have had some upbringing in the Bible. Though verses of Scripture may never have been memorized, the main concept of who God is, the coming of Jesus Christ to earth, and of the message He brought forth are still in the back of the person*s mind. In giving the prospective convert the Book of Mormon to read, the Mormon church knows he will read things that are quite familiar to him. Instead of receiving the testimony that the doctrines of Mormonism are true, he will in reality be reading doctrine he has learned from the Bible, possibly years ago. Unknowingly, he will relate the Mormon church with the doctrines he has come to know, and accept the Mormon church as true without even realizing it does not accept many things written in the Book of Mormon and the Bible.
For example, the Book of Mormon declares that God is a spirit (Alma 18:24-28), while Mormonism insists God has a body of flesh and bones (Doctrine and Covenants, sec. 130:22).
The Book of Mormon teaches there is only one God (2 Nephi 31:21), while Mormonism teaches there are many Gods (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370).
If the Mormon church is as honest as it claims to be (see Article 13 in Articles of Faith), it should instruct potential converts to read Doctrine and Covenants or The Book of Abraham, before joining the church, for in these books we find Mormon doctrine in the form which it gradually mutated into!
Of course, the Bible gives advice which prevents any knowledgeable Christian from falling for Smith's deceptive test. Scripturally, the practice of praying about truth is not Biblical. The apostle John warns us:
... believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out Into the world (1 John 4:1).
The word for try used by the apostle is the Greek word dokimazo, which means literally 'to test, examine, or prove.' We are to test or examine what we hear with the standard for truth: the Bible.
Praying over the Book of Mormon makes about as much sense as praying whether or not it is all right to steal. We know stealing is wrong because the Bible clearly says it is wrong. Likewise, praying over religious books such as the Book of Mormon is wrong.
We do not say one should not be in prayer during a testing process, but prayer is not to be the test. Pray rather for guidance as to what to look for and where to look concerning what is being said. If your conclusions show contradictions between what is said and what the Bible says, be assured it is not the Bible that is wrong (we supply evidence for this fact at http://www.thechristianexpositor.org/page52.html
There are millions of lost souls within religions around the world who will testify that their belief is true because they prayed and felt it was right. Sincerity, however, does not determine truth. Scripture declares:
'There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death' (Proverbs 14:12).
Have you prayed concerning the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon? This question is probably the most common of all questions Mormons ask. And it is frequently asked even after the Mormon testimony has already been refuted by the Bible! The Mormon missionary is, in essence, saying: 'Forget the facts and just pray about it.* But should we pray whether or not it is right to commit murder or adultery? Should we pray about whether it is okay to hate our brother? Of course not. The Bible speaks clearly concerning these subjects. Prayer is not necessary to know God*s will in these areas. It has already been revealed. And God has already spoken concerning the Book of Mormon. The Christian has no reason to pray about its authenticity, for Galatians 1:8-9 declares:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
The Mormon argument that the Book of Mormon is not another gospel, but another testament of Christ, cannot overturn the fact that you obviously worship a god so entirely different than that of the Bible!
(Continued on page 389)