Did Jesus Really Mean What He Said?

I really enjoyed teaching the 5th and 6th grade Sunday School class at my church. It was such a treat getting to know each child and sharing my faith with them. While I was surprised to discover how often these young kids talked to their LDS friends about spiritual matters, I wasn’t surprised that they were confused about the differences between beliefs. To help, I came up with a few illustrations to show the fundamental differences. These illustrations helped to contrast some of the Lessons being taught to their LDS friends with what the Bible teaches.

Today I share with you an exercise I used with my Sunday School Class that contrasts two very important and fundamental differences between Mormonism and Christianity. While both the Book of Mormon (Alma 11:37) and the Bible (Ephesians 5:5) agree that “no unclean thing” can enter the Kingdom of Heaven; the two differences are seen when we look at what God truly demands of us and at His eternal consequences if we fail.

According to LDS beliefs, our efforts at keeping God’s commands are more important to God than how well we keep them. Elder Bruce R. McConkie stated: “There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life], there would be only one saved person in eternity.” LDS leaders claim that the majority of people will spend eternity in one of the Kingdoms of Heaven. On Judgment Day, even those who never come to faith in Jesus, including those who hated God and were the world’s vilest sinners, will eventually go to a kingdom of glory.

These LDS beliefs are in direct disagreement with what the Bible teaches. When Jesus commanded us to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father, He really meant it. There is not one single Bible verse that lessens Jesus’ demands for perfection. There is not one passage that claims our best effort is sufficient to gain eternal life. Every Judgment Day scenario in the Bible shows the consequence for any sin is eternity in Hell with Satan.

For my Sunday School illustration I bring out two chairs. Each chair has a piece of paper taped to it, one with the word “God” written on it and the other with the word “Me”. These chairs are placed apart from each other, symbolizing the distance that separates man from God. The point of the exercise is to determine what God requires from man to reach Him and dwell with Him eternally. In this exercise I represent Jesus.

Illustrating LDS beliefs, I place the two chairs on opposite walls of a classroom. The distance between the two chairs is symbolic of the degree of righteousness required by God before man can be judged worthy to dwell in His presence. As I have just shown, this distance is something far short of perfection. Each child stands on the chair labeled “Me” and attempts to jump to the chair labeled “God”. How far they jump is symbolic of their “degree of righteousness” on earth and determines which Kingdom of Glory they will go to. Not one child has ever been able to jump all the way from one chair to the other—but they all tried as hard as they could. No matter how far each one made it, I go to them in my role as “Jesus” and help them walk to where the “God” chair is. This was symbolic of how LDS doctrine teaches Christ’s Atonement saves each person “after all they can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). The fact that they jumped indicated they believed they had to do their best before Jesus would help them. This also shows they did not believe Jesus had fully met God’s demands in their place.

Next we do our exercise with chairs according to what the Bible teaches. Since a classroom really isn’t large enough for this illustration, we pick up our chairs and go outside. We go to a side road next to the Church. I walk as far down the road as I can and put the chair labeled “God” on it. Then, I walk back to the other chair labeled “Me”. This distance is symbolic of the perfection required from God. Each child stands on the chair which is so far away from the “God” chair that it is hard to see. Then, I explain the rules according to the Bible. Symbolic of obeying Jesus’ command to be as perfect as Heavenly Father, they have to jump to where God is. If they don’t make it, in my role as Jesus, I will say to them: “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.

Guess what happens with every child I have ever done this exercise with? They look at how far away the chair labeled “God” is, and then, looking down at me they say “I can’t do it—it’s impossible!!” They won’t even try! In my role as Jesus, I smile and pick each one up and carry them down to the “God” chair. Carrying them is symbolic that Jesus does it for them—they do not and can not help. The fact that they did not attempt to jump indicated they believed Jesus (me) — that anything short of God’s stated requirements was insufficient. Symbolically, instead of attempting to do something that was impossible, they put their faith solely in their Savior and not in themselves.

Can you understand what my illustration exposes? The words from the LDS Lesson explain the true reason why Jesus had to come to rescue us: “There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life], there would be only one saved person in eternity…

Guess what? We do have to be perfect! That’s why Jesus came to do it for us—because we can’t do what God requires!

The LDS words expose why faithful Mormons will not gain eternal life. Believing that you don’t have to “be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life]” means that you don’t believe your Savior. It means you won’t say “I can’t do it” and turn to your Savior who did it for you. It means that you won’t give up trying to gain eternal life by your faith and obedience. It means that you will stand before God on Judgment Day in your own woefully imperfect works of righteousness: “But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.” (Is 64:6)

There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus Christ. If Jesus had not come to earth to be perfect for us, in our place, no one could be saved in eternity. Christ’s mission was to meet God’s requirements for us– to be perfect and live all God’s laws strictly, wholly, and completely. Christ accomplished His mission and met all God’s requirements for eternal life. He did this for you—in your place, as your substitute. It is through faith that He has met all the requirements for you, that you are credited with His righteousness. Only through faith in His atoning sacrifice will anyone meet God’s command to be as perfect as He is: “By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all… For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:10-14)

All who honestly believe they are credited with righteousness through faith respond to this gift with love, praise and thanksgiving. They will do “all they can do” voluntarily. Not because it is required to gain something for themselves, but simply out of love for their Savior who loved them so much He washed their sins away with His blood (Revelation 1:5).
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References for LDS beliefs, taken from two Lessons for 12 & 13 year olds:

Explain that we came to earth to show that we would do everything the Lord commanded us and serve him with all our might, mind, and strength…read Matthew 5:48: [Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.”] “What commandment is given here? Has any person other than Jesus lived a perfect life? (No.) What do you think the Savior meant when he told us to be perfect?”…Enoch knew that in responding to God the test is not our capability but our availability… “There was only one perfect being, the Lord Jesus. If men had to be perfect and live all of the laws strictly, wholly, and completely [to be eligible for eternal life], there would be only one saved person in eternity… Explain that none of us knows when the end of his mortal life will be, but if we are on the right path we will continue until we become as our Father in Heaven is, and we will be able to live with him forever…” (Aaronic Priesthood Teachers Manual 2, Lesson 1: “Who Am I?” pages 2-3)

The Truth about Heaven and Hell Quiz…Have class members mark each statement as “True” or “False.”
1. After we have been resurrected and judged, each of us will dwell in one of three kingdoms of glory. True. Just as there are different degrees of righteousness on the earth, there are kingdoms of differing glory in the next life… To reward many different levels of faithfulness, there will be “many mansions” (see John 14:2)…
5. Hell is a place of never-ending suffering where sinners go. Most of mankind will be there forever because of their wickedness. False. Hell, or spirit prison, is a place for people who have rejected the gospel and people who have died without a knowledge of the gospel. The gospel is preached to them there, and those who accept the gospel and repent of their sins will be released and allowed to enter paradise until the Resurrection and Judgment (see D&C 138:29–34). Most of those who do not accept the gospel there will have to suffer for their own sins but will eventually be resurrected and go to a kingdom of glory (see D&C 76:81–85, 98–106).
” Preparing for Exaltation, Teachers Manual, Lesson 8: “The Three Kingdoms of Glory”, pages 38-39.

References for Biblical beliefs:

Now, let’s look at the Bible and determine if Jesus really meant what he said in Matthew 5:48. Reading the passage in context we see that Jesus gave this command while preaching His Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5, 6, & 7). In His Sermon we discover that Jesus gave many difficult commands. We read that we commit sins of commission by swearing, getting angry, or judging others. Lusting after a woman is the very same sin as committing adultery. He also gave many commands that expose our sins of omission; such as loving our enemies, forgiving others and turning the other cheek. Amongst these and numerous others comes Jesus’ ultimate command: “Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.” Reading this passage in context it is quite evident that Jesus really did mean what He said.

Another aspect of studying scripture is to let the Bible interpret itself. That means that the rest of scripture must agree with our conclusion, and it does! There is not one Bible passage that disagrees with or lessens Jesus’ command to be as perfect as Heavenly Father. James’ testimony supports Jesus’ command: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all (2:10). The most compelling evidence that shows Jesus really meant what He said is seen when we read what God’s stated consequences for sin are: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” (Galatians 3:10b). Jesus taught what happens on Judgment Day to those who merely committed sins of omission: “Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink.” (Matthew 25:41-46).

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The Pre-Existence: How Could a “Loving” God Send One-Third of His Children to Outer Darkness for Eternity?

Today, I feel such an urgency to warn you of the grave danger you are in. Your prophets and apostles have told you that only a handful of people will spend eternity in hell—but they are deadly wrong!!! They declare that even an unbeliever as vile as Hitler will spend eternity in a glorious Kingdom of Heaven. This false teaching exposes that the LDS Church is led by false prophets who are not Christian. A Christian believes what Christ taught—and Jesus very clearly testified that all who die in their sins will dwell eternally in the very same domain as Satan.

Usually when I tell a Mormon about this teaching of Christ, they respond by saying:

Heavenly Father is a loving God—He would never send someone into eternal punishment.

This belief in a “loving” God is expressed by LDS Apostle Dallin Oaks, who recently spoke about the fundamental differences between Christian and LDS beliefs. In speaking of what happens after the Final Judgment, he explains this unique doctrine of Mormonism:

“Finally, our understanding of the purpose of mortal life includes some unique doctrines about what follows mortality. Like other Christians, we believe that when we leave this life, we go to a heaven (paradise) or a hell. But to us this two-part division of the righteous and the wicked is merely temporary while the spirits of the dead await their resurrection and Final Judgment (see Alma 40:11–14). The destinations that follow the Final Judgment are much more diverse, and they stand as evidence of the magnitude of God’s love for His children—all of them… The theology of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ is comprehensive, universal, merciful, and true. Following the necessary experience of mortal life, all sons and daughters of God will ultimately be resurrected and go to a kingdom of glory more wonderful than any mortal can comprehend. With only a few exceptions, even the very wicked will ultimately go to a marvelous—though lesser—kingdom of glory.

Notice how he claims that the various “destinations that follow the Final Judgment… stand as evidence of the magnitude of God’s love for His children—all of them”?

As I read his words—it hit me! The god of Mormonism did NOT show such “love” to ALL of his children. Literally one-third of all your spirit brothers and sisters were kicked out of the Pre-existence and became demon spirits on earth. Heavenly Father permanently punished his own children by throwing them out of his presence forever–never to return! Where do we see the “magnitude of God’s love for these children”? How could a “loving” God send one-third of all his children to an eternity in Hell? Given current estimates of the number of people to be born into this world, that amounts to at least ten billion of God’s children being permanently sentenced to Outer Darkness. Doesn’t this expose as false Elder Oaks statement: “With only a few exceptions, even the very wicked will ultimately go to a marvelous—though lesser—kingdom of glory”?

According to the false LDS teaching regarding the Pre-existence, an entire one-third of all your spirit brothers and sisters simply made one bad choice. They used their agency unwisely and chose to follow Lucifer’s plan instead of God’s. Because of this one mistake, they were doomed to spend eternity in Outer Darkness. Their Heavenly Father didn’t even give them an opportunity to repent:

Because our Heavenly Father chose Jesus Christ to be our Savior, Satan became angry and rebelled. There was war in heaven. Satan and his followers fought against Jesus Christ and His followers… In this great rebellion, Satan and all the spirits who followed him were sent away from the presence of God and cast down from heaven. A third part of the hosts of heaven were punished for following Satan (see D&C 29:36). They were denied the right to receive mortal bodies.” (Gospel Principles, pages 15-16)

I find it appalling that Elder Oaks claims the LDS belief that “even the very wicked will ultimately go to a marvelous—though lesser—kingdom of glory” to be “the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.” Jesus never once taught nor supported this horrendously false teaching. In fact, He declared the exact opposite! Every time Jesus spoke of what happens on the Final Day of Judgment, He clearly testified of a “two-part division of the righteous and the wicked.

While I hate all false teachings, the LDS doctrine that almost all people will go to a Kingdom of Heaven really makes me angry. Because of this false teaching I have numerous loved ones who have no sense of urgency. They are blissfully unaware of the danger they are in. I cringe every time my mother tells me that an LDS acquaintance has passed away and how happy she is that they are now in a much better place. She has no fear of death—she’s LDS and unfortunately believes what her church leaders have told her.

But Mormon prophets are false. By claiming that only a handful of people will spend eternity in Hell, Satan has successfully worked through these false prophets to deceive millions of people. By claiming that God will allow sinful human beings into His Kingdom, Mormons have been blinded to the truth. Many are left with complacency as a way to Heaven, where complacency is rewarded. LDS prophets have removed the ultimate consequence of sin–eternal death (Ezekiel 18:4). Because of this, the urgency to seek out a Savior who has removed every one of your sins has been taken away from you.

Christ clearly taught that having even one sin remaining at death means you will be cursed to spend eternity in Hell with Satan and his demons. There is no more vivid picture of this truth than Christ’s words, recorded in Matthew 25:31-46. He testifies that on the Final Day of Judgment all the nations of the world will be gathered before God. But even before the Judgment begins, God’s angels divide everyone into two groups—a “two-part division of the righteous and the wicked”:

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left… And these (the wicked) shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” (verses 31-33, 46)

According to Christ you are either righteous, or wicked. Those who are placed on Christ’s right are called righteous because they did “good” to others in need. Those on His left are declared “wicked” because they didn’t do “good” to those in need. Notice that those He calls “wicked” aren’t even charged with doing what we humans might call grievous sins like murder or adultery. They are simply accused of committing sins of omission.

Another important point that Christ makes is the length of time that these sinners will spend in Hell—the very same domain as Satan. He uses the word “everlasting” to describe how long they will be there:

Then shall he (Jesus) say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. (Matthew 25:41)

Jesus condemns them as “cursed” then sends them into everlasting fire to live eternally with Satan and his demons. Jesus clearly taught that the “two-part division of the righteous and the wicked” is NOT temporary. His Judgment and pronouncement happens on the final Day of Judgment. These very words of Christ certainly testify that Jesus does not believe that “even the very wicked will ultimately go to a marvelous—though lesser—kingdom of glory.

Amazingly, the truth is that Heavenly Father is a merciful and loving God. He does want every person to live eternally with Him. He loves us so much that He offered His Son as the final sacrifice for our sins. That’s why He punished Jesus instead of us. Christ’s shed blood truly covers over every one of your sins.

If you have faith in Jesus you are righteous in God’s sight right now—because every one of your sins have been forgiven and removed from you. When you die, you will have no sins to be judged! God’s angels will gather all who have faith in Christ to sit at His right hand—before He even begins judging anyone’s works. Every person who trusts in Christ as their Savior will spend eternity with God in His celestial glory.

Only those who reject this undeserved gift and deny this loving God will spend eternity in Outer Darkness. Unfortunately, that includes every Mormon whose hope for eternal life lies in their ability to qualify for this gift through worthiness.

Link to Dallin Oaks talk, Ensign, January 2011, pages 22-29:

Additional Testimony from Christ, His Apostles and God’s Prophets:

Jesus:

– Matthew 7:13-15; 21-23
– Matthew 13:37-43
– Matthew 22:11-14
– Mark 9:43-48
– Luke 16:19-31
– John 5:28-29
– John 8:24 (Without faith-die in sins)

John the Beloved:

– Revelation 20:10-15
– Revelation 21:7-8 (All liars go to hell)
– Revelation 21:27

The Apostle Peter:

– 1 Peter 4:17-18

The Apostle Paul:

– Romans 2:5-10
– 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10

The Prophet Isaiah:

– Isaiah 66:24

The Prophet Daniel:

– Daniel 12:2

The Psalmist:

– Psalm 1:1-6

The Prophet Ezekiel:

– Ezekiel 18:4

The Prophet Malachi:

– Malachi 3:16-4:2

Are You Afraid of Death?

I got a call recently from one of my dearest friends, telling me she has an aggressive and terminal cancer. It was amazing how calm and peaceful she was. In fact, she’s actually excited to die so she can finally be with her Savior Jesus. She teased me that she will get to be with Him before I do. My friend Linda and I are very similar in that we both love Jesus with all our hearts and souls. Our entire purpose in life is to praise our Savior and serve Him by bringing as many people to heaven with us as possible. Linda has worked for several years at a nursing home where her love for Jesus has shown brightly through her many acts of love. Many people, including some of her patients, have heard from her the wonderful message of free and full forgiveness through Jesus.

The only concern Linda has is for her daughter, whom she asked me to watch over for her after she dies. Speaking with her and hearing her concern for her daughter reminded me of a story found in Luke chapter sixteen. Here Jesus tells about a man who, like my friend Linda, was also concerned about the eternal destination of family members. The main difference between my friend Linda and the man in Jesus’ story is that this man did not believe in Jesus. He had died in his sins and was suffering the consequence of eternal torment in hell.

From hell he could actually see into heaven where he saw the beggar Lazarus who used to sit at his gates begging for crumbs from his table. He saw that while he was being tormented in hell; Lazarus was being comforted by the Prophet Abraham. In misery, he asked Abraham: “send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame”. Abraham told him that what he asked was impossible! His reason was because: “between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which could pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.

These words of God are in complete disagreement with LDS teachings! Mormon prophets claim that after death all people go to a temporary place, either spirit prison or spirit paradise. Those who were not righteous will be given more time to repent and meet God’s demands for perfection. These false prophets testify that righteous Mormons who have gone to paradise will travel to spirit prison to preach the LDS gospel to the unrighteous. They claim that once these wicked people have repented and been baptized in proxy by someone on earth, they will be allowed into paradise.

In defining hell, they claim:
First, it is another name for spirit prison, a place in the postmortal spirit world for those who have “died in their sins, without a knowledge of the truth, or in transgression, having rejected the prophets” (D&C 138:32). This is a temporary state in which spirits will be taught the gospel and have the opportunity to repent and accept ordinances of salvation that are performed for them in temples (see D & C 138:30–35)” (True to the Faith, page 81).

But from Jesus’ story we read the important truth that at the moment of death, your fate is sealed! Your “time of grace” ends. You don’t have a second chance to come to faith; or a longer period of time to meet God’s demands for righteousness. The Holy Spirit revealed in scripture that: “When a wicked man dieth, his expectation shall perish: and the hope of unjust men perisheth” (Proverbs 11:7). The moment we die our spirits come into the very presence of God: “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecclesiastes 12:7). No unclean person can dwell in the presence of God (Ephesians 5:5).

Talking about death and what happens to those who aren’t worthy to dwell in God’s presence is not easy, but it is necessary. My friend Linda is not the only one who will die soon. I warn you that you also have a terminal cancer. That cancer is sin. God is Merciful, but He is also Just. While He offers His mercy to all people, He extends His mercy ONLY to those who believe His Son’s blood covers their every sin. This Mercy is a full pardon, complete forgiveness, the bestowal of the perfect righteousness of His Son. And this Mercy is only offered to you during your time on earth. All who reject the Mercy God offers them through His Son will spend eternity in Hell with Satan.

You never know what day you will die, or when someone you love will die. I beg you to turn to these truths found in the Bible before it is too late. The man in hell was concerned for his brothers and asked Abraham to send Lazarus to warn them “that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment“. The Prophet Abraham’s reply shows how important scripture study is; if you don’t believe God’s Words found in the Bible, you will not “be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31).

If you are reading this you are alive and your hope has not yet perished! Trust that all your sins have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus! (Revelation 1:5) If you believe Jesus is the Christ that has removed your sin, you will no longer be in your sins (John 8:24). All who have faith in Christ’s Atonement for sins “have been perfected forever” (Hebrews 10:10-14).