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  • Writer's pictureShelli Owen

Biblical Apologetics

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

“Now this is eternal life:

that they know you, the only true God,

and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”

(John 17:3)



In the last “Encountering God...” blog that I posted, I ended with the above quote from the Book of John in the New Testament (17:3). I was reminded of this verse again yesterday when I was watching a YouTube video. The video presented a conversation between a Christian apologist, Pastor Jeff Durbin, and two young men who had both recently returned home after serving as missionaries for the LDS Church.[1] I could understand the perspectives of each person in turn as each was defining his view of God and Jesus Christ.


I’ve been in each of their shoes. I was an active, devoted member of the LDS or Mormon Church for most of my life and served a mission for the LDS Church in my early twenties. Over twenty-four years ago, I left LDS instruction to sit under Christ-centered Biblical teaching. I now consider myself a nondenominational, born-again Christ follower.


Throughout the conversation between Durbin and the two Mormon elders, Durbin was trying to show what the Bible teaches about God and Jesus Christ compared to what Joseph Smith claimed and taught. The LDS elders were sure their belief was in the same God, but that they have a greater revelation of Him through Joseph Smith.


If one’s eternal life depends on knowing “...the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom [He has] sent” (John 17:3), this truly is the most important subject on which any of us might inform ourselves.


One of the first things I began to study after leaving LDS Church precepts was apologetics. For any unfamiliar with the term, apologetics is a branch of theology—the study of God—dedicated to the defense of the Christian faith, based on the theme of 1 Peter 3:15: “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,...


Though I try, I can’t claim to always be good at the last part. Nor can I claim (though I might like to) to always be in the state of the verse after this one (v. 16), which admonishes: “...keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”


The only thing I can claim is that what I have learned about God, Jesus Christ, God’s Holy Spirit, the Bible, and the Church (the believing, Spirit-led body of Christ) is real, sound, precious, and irreplaceable to me. It’s something I desire to share with everyone I meet.


I know many LDS people feel similarly about the “restored gospel of Jesus Christ” as they have it through Joseph Smith. They believe their church is the only true church on the earth, and that Jesus had to restore His church through Joseph Smith because Christianity has been in apostasy (lacking His authority and authorization) ever since the death of the last of the twelve apostles.


Many people say we should "co-exist," "agree to disagree," or just focus on our similarities and not our differences. But Jesus Himself said a very contrary thing:

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn

“a man against his father,

a daughter against her mother,

a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—

a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”

Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. (Matt. 10:34–38; Jesus is referring to Micah 7:6)


During His ministry, Jesus was at odds with His own family. His own brothers did not believe in Him or understand His purpose (John 7:5). Jesus also did not agree with the ruling religious leaders of His day about God’s heart, will, or purposes, nor about what He was meant to do, was doing, and would do. Even after all the signs Jesus gave showing Himself to be Jesus (Savior), Christ (Anointed One—the promised Prophet, Priest, and King), and God in the flesh (Emmanuel), they did not believe what He had to say about God or Himself. They had Him crucified over it. Jesus warned His followers that some of them would also lose their lives over this issue. Why? We don’t lightly give up things close to our hearts. Our beliefs and traditions are at the center of our lives and practices. We guard them zealously.


If it was difficult for the Jews in Jesus’ time—those who believed they were God’s chosen people—to let God be God, could this happen again? Do humans mistakenly, sometimes even intentionally, substitute man-made systems and programs for God’s? Sometimes, even Jesus’ own disciples could not see or understand Jesus’ meaning or what He was doing. And still, today, sometimes it’s difficult for God’s own Holy Spirit-filled followers to see or understand Him and what He is doing. But if we would draw near to God, we must let Him define Himself, His will, and His purposes and not try to impose our own on Him.


God does define what is absolutely or objectively right and wrong, just and unjust, good and evil by His very existence. Every human’s spirit or soul has a consciousness of God’s existence, and this “conscience” initially confirms in us what is good or evil in relation to God.[2] But that doesn’t mean we agree with Him or even want to. By nature, people turn away from God to tenaciously and independently adhere to their own way—or their own image of God (idol or false god). Humanly we tend to hold onto our own definitions of good and evil so we can justify doing and imposing on others (through power or influence) whatever it is we want or think is best.[3]


This doesn’t change the fact that there is still only one eternal God with the power to create, give, and restore life—forever. Nor does it change that He wants us all to believe it and to seek to know Him and believe in Him[4]—though He knows that not all will. He has left us free to choose.[5]


Who God is, is the truth people everywhere in the world are in debate over. We are all in this debate whether we choose to take sides or not, or whether we want to be in this debate or not. All that’s at stake is the eternal life of the soul. That’s all.


When Jesus rose from the dead, He became the eternal victor in the debate with the Jewish leaders. But He did not come back to rub it in their faces. Instead, He commissioned His disciples to go tell all the world the truth about Him—the God who saves. He gave them His Spirit, His Presence to be with and in them always in a much more powerful way than His fleshly presence was able to be with them.


Having been both a devoted LDS Church member and a Christian apologist, I could clearly see the misunderstanding between the LDS elders and the Christian apologist. Each believed that they had a greater grasp of the truth about God.


How does one find the truth about God? Don’t you agree, no matter who you are, you’d better be learning about God from God Himself? Ultimately, in both Spirit and flesh, He’s revealed Himself to us through Jesus whom He promised and then sent. Does it not make sense that you should trust no other person or point of view, not even your own? That is unless you will be like the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ time who thought they had the right view of God. Or like the Jews or Gentiles who did not believe Jesus or the message Jesus’ disciples brought later.


Some of Jesus’ disciples, who believed that He was who He is and claimed to be, wrote down (or had someone else write) their witnesses of Him. They had been daily witnesses of His words and works. They were eyewitnesses not only of His three years of earthly ministry leading up to His death but also of Him after his resurrection and Pentecost. In their accounts, these disciples referred to the same Old Testament Tabernacle, prophets, examples, types or symbols, foreshadowings, and prophecies that God preserved and that we still have consistently preserved in the Bible now. They showed us through God and Christ’s Spirit and authority, how the Old Testament witnesses pointed to Him.[6] From the Old Testament (Tanakh) witnesses and their own, they communicated their testimonies of Jesus. Their accounts were compiled by the early church and were also faithfully preserved to become what is now called the New Testament.[7]


While I was still a member of the LDS Church, I met Jesus. His Spirit poured into me, surrounded me, and held me up as He appeared to me in a beyond-human-words-or-imagination glorious vision of pure love and light.[8] Afterward, the next time I read the Bible, His Spirit of love and light illuminated it entirely, bringing it to life for me. It became, literally, a living Word. Jesus, through His Spirit, was everywhere in it. The other scriptures, including The Book of Mormon, did not also come to life this way. I came up with my own explanation for this to satisfy myself for the time being. I didn’t know it then, but this would change everything for me.


In the friendly debate between Durbin and the two LDS elders, it soon became apparent to me that everything hinged on which they believed more:


EITHER:

1) The Bible is a true and reliable, God-inspired and preserved revelation and witness of God, His will, and His work through Jesus Christ by His Spirit. Ever since Pentecost until now, God has, by His grace, sent His Holy Spirit through the worthiness and work of Jesus Christ, to indwell and empower believers, so they can learn the truth of God and live out God’s righteousness (not their own version) in the world as His disciples. This work of God’s Spirit, being an invisible work in the hearts of humankind, is not always apparent to the world.9 In this way, by His Spirit and Word (Bible Testaments), Jesus has been growing His mostly invisible, but sometimes visible kingdom, family, or church, on the earth and in heaven—a kingdom that will eventually fill the whole earth as God has foretold and promised through His prophets and apostles.[9] God will finally judge (assign fitting punishment) and remove from among His people (kingdom, family, church) both those who have claimed to be God-followers, but who have in truth followed their own way, as well as those who have refused to believe in Him despite all He has done, is doing, and will do for them through Jesus Christ.[10]


OR

2) The Bible is not reliable as it stands, but “many plain and precious” truths about God and obtaining Eternal Life were removed from it by evil men as Joseph Smith claimed directly and indirectly through “the first vision,” the Book of Mormon, and other LDS scripture he said God gave him. God needed to give new revelation, bring forth the Book of Mormon, and re-translate the Bible through Joseph Smith to restore the truth.[11] God also had to restore Christ’s priesthood and authority to the earth through Joseph Smith, because they were lost after the twelve apostles died. For this reason, the church has been in apostasy ever since then. With the priesthood and proper authority restored to the earth through Joseph Smith, the required ordinances for Eternal Life and to establish God’s church or kingdom on earth and in heaven could be done. All this, under the direction of latter-day prophets and apostles and other worthy men holding the restored priesthood.[12] Those who accept this gospel and receive the ordinances as restored through Joseph Smith will inherit Eternal Life and the highest degree in the Celestial Kingdom of God,[13] where they will be Gods themselves (just as God was once a man and became a God).[14] Those who do not accept the “restored gospel” will be consigned by God to lesser kingdoms or “outer darkness.”[12]


With great devotion, I firmly and gladly believed the latter until I learned to trust God and His Spirit more. The same Spirit that illuminated the Bible and brought it to life for me earlier in my life. I had to learn to trust God’s faithfulness and that the Bible Testaments are God’s revelation of Himself, His Word, and promises. I had to trust Him more than I trusted myself and my own “testimony” and feelings about the Book of Mormon or about Joseph Smith’s claims to have seen God and to be the restorer of “the only true church” on the earth.[15]


As I came to trust the truth of God that is in the Holy Spirit-inspired Bible, I found that the God of the Bible is so much more glorious and good, so much better than anything I ever imagined or hoped for. Each prayerful study still leaves me hungering and thirsting for even more. Through Christian Biblical apologetics, I’ve found that the God who revealed Himself through His Spirit, words, and deeds to people on earth in ancient times; the God who gave and preserved the witnesses and records contained in what we call the Bible; this God is a God far, far beyond my previous LDS understanding. He is the only true and faithful God. Only He has the will, authority, and power to save a human soul from spiritual, and ultimately physical, death. He is the source of love, goodness, and mercy. He alone is perfect in love and justice and can give His Spirit or Presence to be with or in a human being. He is the self-existing, eternal God— all-seeing, all-wise, able to create and re-create, save, and redeem. Only He is God. There is no other.


This understanding gives me a great desire to share this indescribable God with others, which of course I cannot do alone because God is inexpressible in human terms. And so, I must rely on the Holy Spirit to do the main part of this work in people’s hearts.


This has become the bottom line for me. Only God’s Holy Spirit can impart any real understanding or knowledge of God; “For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God” (1 Cor. 2:11). God’s Spirit only comes through Jesus Christ to those who repent of their sins against God, including from holding on to what is not of God; to those who believe God about who He says He is and what He has promised to do.


This leads me to what I saw as the crux of the matter in the respectful debate I saw on YouTube between the Christian apologist and the young men who were returned LDS missionaries. The LDS elders were parroting “testimonies” of things that I know very well they had learned through teachings in the LDS Church. They were defending a faith in their beliefs and feelings being right.


Since only the Holy Spirit can teach us differently, I pray the Holy Spirit will teach these young men and other LDS people who are sincere in their search for the truth about God. I pray that they might receive from God the eternal life they are hoping for in Him. I also pray that all those who call themselves Christians might be born-again or truly believe in Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit as the Bible teaches. That they would search the Word of God (the Bible) in the Spirit to learn more about God through Jesus, whom He sent to represent Himself to humankind.


The Lord longs to be gracious to you;

therefore he will rise up to show you compassion.

For the Lord is a God of justice.

Blessed are all who wait for him!


...How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” (Isaiah 30:18–22)


 

[1] Apologia Studios (represented by Pastor Jeff Durbin), “Powerful: Pastor Engages Returned Missionaries,” accessed 2/6/2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aBGZljY7smE. [2] Regarding the conscience, see: Gen. 20:5–6; Job 27:6; 1 Chr. 16:14; Ps. 9:7; 105:7; Acts 23:1; 24:16; Rom. 2:14–15; 9:1; 13:4–5; 1 Cor. 4:4; 2 Cor. 1:12; 4:2; 5:11; 1 Tim. 1:5, 18–19; 3:9; 4:1–2; Titus1:15; Heb. 9:14; 10:22; 1 Pet. 3:16, 21; 1 John 3:19–24. [3] Regarding human nature or the mind (thought life), desires, and flesh, see: Gen. 6:5; 1 Kings 8:46; 2 Chr. 6:36; Ezra 9:15; Ps. 10:4; 106:6; 143:2; Prov. 11:6; 16:2; 21:2; Eccl. 7:20; Isa. 55:6–9; 64:6; Jer. 4:14; Matt. 15:18–20; Luke 2:34–35; John 8:34; Rom. 3:9–12, 20–26; 5:12–13, 18–19; 6:6, 12, 16–22; 7:25; 12:2; 1 Cor. 3:18–20; Gal. 4:7; 5:13–26; Eph. 2:3; Col. 3:1–10; 2 Tim. 2:22; Heb. 4:12–13; James 1:13–15; 4:1–10; 1 Pet. 1:14, 4:2; 2 Pet. 1:4, 3:3; 1 John 1:5–10; Jude 1:16.

[4] See John 3:15–21, 36; 6:29; Gen. 15:6; Num. 14:11; Mark 1:15; John 1:12; 2:23; 5:24; 7:38; 20:29; Acts 13:39; 16:31; Rom. 3:22; 10:9–10; 1 John 5:1, 5, 10. [5] See: Deut. 30:19; Josh. 24:15, 21; John 7:17; James 4:4 [6] See: Zech. 7:12 [God’s sent His law and words to the prophets through His Spirit]; John 1:45; Matthew 5:17; Luke 10:24; 24:27, 44; Acts 10:42–43; 26:22–23; Rom. 1:1–5; 3:21–22 (see Rom. 3:19–26 for context!); Eph. 2:19–21; 2 Tim. 3:14–17 [When Paul is speaking of Scripture, he’s speaking of the Old Testament; the New Testament hadn’t been compiled yet as we know it.]; Heb. 1:1–3; 1 Pet. 1:10–12; 2 Pet. 1:16–21. [7] Two excellent resources on the faithful preservation of especially the New Testament, see: Evidence That Demands a Verdict: Life-Changing Truth for a Skeptical World, by Josh and Sean McDowell, PhD, and Cold Case Christianity, by J. Warner Wallace. [8] I’m gradually sharing my background growing up in the LDS Church, which will include my conversion story (meeting Jesus) in my “Spiritual Journey...” blog also on this website: https://www.wordsintime.net/blogs . [9] See these references (and more) from the Bible on how the Lord has promised to call and grow His people, kingdom, family, or church on earth and in heaven through the work of His Spirit. All underlining is mine: · “In the time of those kings [of Rome], the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy” (Dan. 2:44–45) · “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by [human] might nor by [human] power, but by my Spirit,’ says the Lord Almighty” (Zech. 4:6, NIV). · “I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.” (Ezek. 11:19–20, NIV; see also Ezek. 36:26). · From Isaiah 30 (ESV): 19 For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. 20 And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your [spiritual] eyes shall see your Teacher. 21 And your [spiritual] ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way, walk in it,” when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. 22 Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, “Be gone!” · From Jer. 31 (NIV): 31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah. 32 It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,” declares the Lord. 33 “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the Lord. I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. 34 No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord,’ because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” · “I [John] baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one [Jesus] who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” (Matt. 3:11, NIV). · “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Jesus, Luke 11:13). · “When you are brought before synagogues, rulers and authorities, do not worry about how you will defend yourselves or what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12:11–12). · From John 14 (NIV): 6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. 12 Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. 13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. 15 “If you love me, keep my commands. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you... 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. · “When the Advocate [Comforter, Counselor, Helper, Companion, Paraclete, Friend] comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26–27. NIV [The names in brackets are translations from other Bible versions]). · “But very truly I tell you, it is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will prove the world to be in the wrong about sin and righteousness and judgment: about sin, because people do not believe in me; about righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and about judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned” (John 16:7–11). · “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you” (John 16:12–15). · “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt. 24:14). · “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age’” (Matt. 28:18–20, NIV). · Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you.” And with that he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:21–22). · From Acts 1: In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach 2 until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. 3 After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. 4 On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” 7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” · From Acts 2: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 14 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. 15 These people are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel [2:28–32]: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved...’ ...32 God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of it. 33 Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear... ...36 Let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Messiah.” 37 When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” · From Acts 10: 44 While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, 47 “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.” 48 So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked Peter to stay with them for a few days. · [Peter describes to the other apostles and believers the above incident:] “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ So if God gave them the same gift he gave us who believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I to think that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:15–17; See ch. 11:1–18). · From Acts 15: 5 Then some of the believers who belonged to the party of the Pharisees stood up and said, “The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses.” 6 The apostles and elders met to consider this question. 7 After much discussion, Peter got up and addressed them: “Brothers, you know that some time ago God made a choice among you that the Gentiles might hear from my lips the message of the gospel and believe. 8 God, who knows the heart, showed that he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. 9 He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. 10 Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the necks of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? 11 No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are.” · “I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, ‘Jesus be cursed,’ and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit” (1 Cor. 12:3). · From Gal. 1 (NASB): Paul, an apostle (not sent from men nor through human agency, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised Him from the dead), 2 and all the brothers who are with me, To the churches of Galatia: 3 Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 who gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, 5 to whom be the glory forevermore. Amen. 6 I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel, 7 which is not just another account; but there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! 9 As we have said before, even now I say again: if anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed! 10 For am I now seeking the favor of people, or of God? Or am I striving to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. 11 For I would have you know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel which was preached by me is not of human invention. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ. · From Galatians, chapter three (NASB): 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 6 Just as Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness [Gen. 15:1–6]. 7 Therefore, recognize that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer. · “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory” (Eph. 1:13–14). · “For we know, brothers and sisters loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and deep conviction” (1 Thes. 1:4–5). · “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:3–7). · “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things” (1 Pet. 1:10–12). · “As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ... ...But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Pet. 2:4–5, 9–10). · “Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:20–21). · “At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Don’t do that! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers and sisters who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For it is the Spirit of prophecy who bears testimony to Jesus” (Rev. 19:10). · “To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 1:24–25). · See also: Luke 2:25–35; John 1:31–34; 3:3–12; 17:3; Gal. 5:13–26; 1 John 3:24; etc. [10] On separation to avoid judgment, separation prior to judgment, earthly judgments, and the final judgment: Exo. 32:32; Num. 16:21; Deut. 1:17; Job 34:11, 21; 2 Chr. 6:22–23; Ps. 1:4–6; 56:8; 62:12; Eccl. 3:17; 12:13–14; Isa. 40:10; 59:2; 62:11; 66:15–16; Jer. 16:17; 17:10; 23:24; 25:31; 32:19; Ezek. 18:20; Dan. 7:9–14, 17–18, 21–22, 26–27; 12:1–3; Joel 2:31; Matt. 5:21–22; 10:14–15; 11:14, 20–24; 12:33–37, 41–42; 13:24–30, 36–43, 47–50; 16:24–27; 25:1–13, 31–46; John 5:19–30; Acts 2:20; 10:42; Rom. 2:1–11, 16; 6:23; 14:10; 1 Cor. 3:12–15; 2 Cor. 5:10; Gal. 6:7–8; Col. 3:25; Eph. 6:8; 2 Thes. 2:9–12; Heb. 6:1–3; 9:27–28; 10:26–27; 1 Pet. 4:17; 2 Pet. 2:1 – 3:13; 1 John 4:16–17; Jude 1:6–16; Rev. 14:6–7; 18:20; 19:2, 20; 20:10–15; 22:12. [11] See these links and references which contain LDS teaching on this subject: · https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-and-doctrine-of-the-book-of-mormon-teacher-manual/lesson-7-the-book-of-mormon-and-the-bible?lang=eng · https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/2008/03/plain-and-precious-truths?lang=eng · https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/doctrine-and-covenants-instructors-guide-religion-324-325/plain-and-precious-truths-restored-lesson-27-sections-74-77-86-91-113?lang=eng · https://www.thechurchnews.com/1994/1/1/23257592/many-plain-precious-truths-lost · https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/general-conference/2015/10/plain-and-precious-truths?lang=eng · The Articles of Faith: Overview: “The Articles of Faith outline 13 basic points of belief of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith first wrote them in a letter to John Wentworth, a newspaper editor, in response to Mr. Wentworth’s request to know what members of the Church believe. They were subsequently published in Church periodicals. They are now regarded as scripture and included in the Pearl of Great Price.” (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/articles-of-faith?lang=eng) [The 8th Article of Faith reads:] 8 We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. [Joseph Smith then proceeded to teach that the Bible wasn’t translated correctly and began his own “corrected” translation of the Bible. Part of his translation is included in LDS scripture, The Pearl of Great Price.] (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/pgp/a-of-f/1?lang=eng&id=1-13#p1) · From the LDS Teachings and Doctrine of the Book of Mormon Teacher Manual, for teaching on 1 Nephi 13 from the Book of Mormon: “Remind students that the Prophet Joseph Smith was commanded by the Lord to make an inspired revision of the King James Version of the Bible. This revision is known as the Joseph Smith Translation. Display and read the following statement by the Prophet Joseph Smith (1805–44): “I believe the Bible as it read when it came from the pen of the original writers. Ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith [2007], 207). (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-and-doctrine-of-the-book-of-mormon-teacher-manual/lesson-7-the-book-of-mormon-and-the-bible?lang=eng) · The Book of Mormon, which Joseph Smith brought forth, says in 1 Nephi 13: 24 And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God. 25 Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God. 26 And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. 27 And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. 28 Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. 29 And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them. · From 2 Nephi 29 in the Book of Mormon: 6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews? 7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth? · Joseph Smith, himself, is (conveniently) included in the Book of Mormon prophecies as is recognized in the following chapter heading of 2 Nephi 3, summarizing this chapter: Joseph in Egypt saw the Nephites in vision—He prophesied of Joseph Smith, the latter-day seer; of Moses, who would deliver Israel; and of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon. About 588–570 B.C. (https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/bofm/2-ne/3?lang=eng&id=11-12#p11) [12] LDS resources that teach about the LDS priesthood: · From LDS Gospel Principles, “Chapter 13: The Priesthood”: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-13-the-priesthood?lang=eng · From LDS Gospel Topics, “Priesthood”: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/priesthood?lang=eng · From LDS Guide to the Scriptures, “Priesthood” [and for an example of the selective (sometimes out-of-context) use of verses from the Bible that is predominant in the LDS Church]: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/gs/priesthood?lang=eng · From Understanding Mormonism, on “Mormon Priesthood: https://www.understandingmormonism.org/mormon_priesthood [13] LDS resources about the Celestial Kingdom and other lesser “degrees of glory”: · From LDS Gospel Topics, “Celestial Kingdom,” Overview, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/celestial-kingdom?lang=eng · From LDS Doctrine and Covenants (considered to be Scripture by the LDS Church), Section 76, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/76?lang=eng&id=50-70#p50 · From LDS Doctrine and Covenants (considered to be Scripture by the LDS Church), Section 137, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/137?lang=eng · From LDS Gospel Topics, “Kingdoms of Glory,” Overview, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/gospel-topics/kingdoms-of-glory?lang=eng [14] LDS resources on the teaching “God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens! That is the great secret,” taught by Joseph Smith; and “As man is God once was, as God is man may become,” taught by Mormon prophet Lorenzo Snow: · From LDS Ensign [official LDS Church magazine], April 1971, “The King Follet Sermon, by Joseph Smith Jr. (1805–1844), First President, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints,” Classics in Mormon Thought, https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/ensign/1971/04/the-king-follett-sermon?lang=eng · From LDS Church History Topics, “King Follet Discourse,” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/history/topics/king-follett-discourse?lang=eng; see also The Joseph Smith Papers, “Accounts of the ‘King Follett Sermon,” https://www.josephsmithpapers.org/site/accounts-of-the-king-follett-sermon · From Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Lorenzo Snow, “Chapter 5: The Grand Destiny of the Faithful,” https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/manual/teachings-of-presidents-of-the-church-lorenzo-snow/chapter-5-the-grand-destiny-of-the-faithful?lang=eng · From Mormon Handbook, “Man Can Become God (Exaltation), http://www.mormonhandbook.com/home/man-can-become-god-exaltation.html

[15] Christ and His prophets and apostles all warned of false prophets and messiahs would arise and would teach other gospels or ways to salvation and eternal life: Deut. 13:1–3; 18:14–22 [Joseph Smith claimed to be the prophet mentioned in Deuteronomy 18; the Jews up to the time of Jesus viewed Deuteronomy 18 as a Messianic prophecy; Jesus and His disciples taught this prophet was Jesus: Matt. 11:13; 21:11; Luke 7:16; 24:19; John 1:21, 25; 4:25–26; 5:19; 6:14; 7:16, 40; 8:28; 12:49–50; 14:10, 24, 31; Acts 3:19–26; 7:37.]; Jer. 6:13; 23:16, 21, 25–26, 30–32; Matt. 7:15–20; 24:4, 9–14, 23–27; Mark 13:5–6, 21–23; Luke 6:26; 1 Cor. 3:11; 2 Cor. 11:4, 13–15; Gal. 1:1–12; Eph. 6:10-18; 1 Tim. 4:1; 2 Pet. 2:1; 1 John 4:1; Jude 1:3–4.

1 Comment


kseifler
Mar 06, 2023

I enjoyed reading this. Definitely the former, not the latter!

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