The Restoration Video: Joseph Didn’t Believe Jesus

Have you seen the Church DVD called The Restoration? I watched it back in 2004 when I received it with my October Ensign. Page 54 explains the short movie as “a beautiful new dramatization of the First Vision”. It’s very well done and at times is so realistic it’s as if you’re right there with Joseph Smith.

Throughout the movie we see Joseph seeking answers to spiritual questions. Two questions that run throughout the movie are “How will we know if we are saved?” and “How can we know which doctrine is right?” As I watched, I found myself wanting to reach out to Joseph—to help him recognize that even from the very beginning of his search, God was already answering his questions. If this movie is an honest depiction of what happened, then God answered Joseph’s questions before he went to the grove to pray. By going to the grove to pray he confirms that either he believes his questions weren’t answered; or, that he has rejected God’s answers.

So what are God’s answers? God provides the answer to Joseph’s first question “How will we know if we are saved?” before he even asks it. Barely one minute into the movie Joseph’s family gathers to listen as his father reads from the Bible. From the book of John, he reads the words of Jesus Christ our Savior, words which clearly tell us how to be saved:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

This passage from God’s Word is probably the most popular verse in the Bible for Christians. At almost every football game shown on TV you will see someone sitting in the stands holding a sign that reads “John 3:16”. The reason this verse is so precious to believers is precisely because it does tell every human how they are saved! But Joseph misses it! The very Son of God promises that all who believe in Him have everlasting and eternal life!!!

It’s as though Joseph Smith does not hear these words! Just four minutes after we hear Joseph’s father read this promise from God, Joseph asks him “How will we know if we are saved?” As I watched the movie, I wanted to reach out and shake him and say “Jesus already told you! If you believe in Him you are saved. Why can’t you trust him? Why do you deny Him?”

Joseph Smith’s testimony of how to be saved is seen in the third article of faith: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” This ordinance stands in direct opposition to the very words of the Son of God. Because Joseph choose not to believe Jesus, he has taught millions of Mormons the wrong way to gain eternal life.

God also answers Joseph’s second question “How can we know which doctrine is right?” About seven minutes into the movie Joseph reads from Psalm 119:

“Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.”

Again the answer is so clear. God’s Word lights the path—revealing the way. But Joseph again denies the clear instruction of God and seeks his own understanding. He finds his own way to discern truth. He denies the truth that God has already revealed in the Bible and decides to pray for wisdom. The wisdom that he needed was that it is unwise to reject God’s Words. By placing his own way above God’s already revealed way he is easily misled by false spirits. God’s way is to use His Word to light the path—to show the way.

God’s Word is so sweet to me!! It has shown me which doctrine is right. I bear witness to you on the basis of God’s Word that eternal life is a free gift, given to all who believe in Jesus. Believe His Words of John 3:16 and you have eternal life. You are saved. You will have found the way of truth that sadly eluded Joseph—to his eternal torment!

Allow me to share just one more of many clear “lamps” found in God’s Word. Again, these words were written down by John the Beloved. God’s Word bears witness of the truth. Referring to the fact that we can know we have eternal life through belief in Christ, John testified:

“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son. And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:9-13)

Believe it and receive it!!!

Link to LDS video The Restoration:

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How Long Will Eternity Last?

How long is a long time? My grandson Bryson thinks thirty minutes is a long time. For two years I drove him back and forth to a Pre-school in Nampa, which is a 30 – 45 minute drive from where we live in Boise. We would try to make the time go faster by singing songs or playing “I spy” games. But 3 and 4 year olds just don’t like sitting still for that long. The reason I drove this distance is because I wanted him to attend a Pre-school run by our Church. Here I knew he would be taught not only his ABC’s but also the truth that he has full forgiveness through Christ’s blood.

Bryson’s Mom and Dad split up when he was just one, so my husband and I get to spend more time with him than the average grandparents. It has been a blessing to have him stay with us every Saturday evening and Sunday. Even though his mom and dad don’t attend Church, he has always gone with us. I absolutely love this little boy and am so thankful to have the opportunity to share my Savior with him. I love my own kids as much as I love my grandchildren. My hearts desire is to spend eternity with them—to be an eternal family. I pray every day that those I love will embrace their Savior so that they can be with me for eternity.

Eternity is a long, long time compared to how short our time is on this earth. When we read the words “eternal” or “everlasting” in the KJV New Testament, these words are most often translated from the Greek words “Aion, aionios, and aidios”. Whenever we read about the amazing blessings of eternal life with our Heavenly Father, we don’t question that “eternal” means forever. But did you realize that this same word is used to describe the length of time that someone will spend in hell? Those who go to hell and live eternally with Satan and his demons will be there as long as those who spend eternity with Heavenly Father—forever!

Eternity is a long, long time and that is one of the reasons I have this blog. I know that you have been misled into believing that there is no way you could possibly spend an eternity in Hell. You have been taught that even if you were bad enough to be sent to hell, you will only be there until Judgment Day. But this teaching is false!! If you don’t believe me, then trust the words of John, the Apostle whom Jesus loved! He described the lake of fire as a place where those who go “shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever” (Revelation 20:10-15).

Forever is a long, long time. The Apostles Paul and Jude, along with Jesus, claimed that Hell will be a place of everlasting destruction, fire, punishment and chains (2 Thessalonians 1:8/Jude 7/Matthew 18:8, 25:41). Jude testified that those from Sodom and Gomorrh would suffer the vengeance of eternal fire. Jesus quoted the prophet Isaiah when he said that it is a place where “their worm dieth not and the fire is not quenched” (Mark 9:43-48).

Doing this thorough Bible study about Hell has reinforced my desire to share God’s truth with you. I can’t bear the thought that so many deceived people will spend “eternity” in Hell. My last post declared God’s truth that sin, any sin, is the reason someone will be cast into Hell. But why will someone gain eternal life? Human logic tells us that since disobedience disqualifies us, obedience must be the way to qualify. Mormon prophets tell us that if we just try hard enough—if we can just be obedient enough, we can qualify for eternal life with our best effort.

But God has told us differently. Jesus himself testified that our best effort is not good enough–we must be perfect (Matthew 5:48). No one can meet God’s requirements to gain eternal life by their own obedience. Because of this truth God lovingly provided a way—a different plan. He sent His son Jesus to be obedient and fulfill His law for us.

Jesus came to be our substitute for the perfection required to dwell in God’s presence. His shed blood washes away all your sins. The truth—God’s truth, is that only through faith in His Son can you be declared perfect. The only way to gain eternal life is through faith in the fact that Jesus has already gained it for you!!!

The Bible is very clear that faith in Jesus is how to receive eternal and everlasting life. No one describes this truth more beautifully than the Apostle John. His testimony is that it is through belief in Jesus that a person escapes the fires of everlasting hell and gains eternal life. When we read his words describing eternal or everlasting life, he always uses the present or the past tense.

John wrote down the very words of his Savior when he declared boldly that for those with faith, gaining eternal life is a done deal! “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47)

I beg of you to listen to my words. The next time you think time is moving slowly, think about how long eternity will be. Re-read the story Jesus told us in Luke chapter sixteen about the rich man who was stuck in hell for eternity. “Forever” is a long, long time to spend in an everlasting fire, in the same domain as Satan.

But praise the Lord, you don’t have to be afraid! Jesus came to save you from this fate and He has cleansed you from all sin. Heavenly Father desires to spend eternity with you. It is His will that you believe and receive everlasting life: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

Eternal life is guaranteed as long as you believe in the true Christ. If you don’t believe my words, believe the Apostle whom Jesus loved. The following passages are words the Holy Spirit inspired him to write, declaring that the way to gain eternal life is by belief in the Savior who earned it for you:

“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.” (John 5:24)

“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” (John 3:36)

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

“If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he hath testified of his Son. He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:9-13)

Can You Be Saved by Faith and Works?

The Epistle to the Romans is my very favorite book in the Bible. The essence of the book of Romans is this: by God’s grace, eternal life is granted through faith in Christ, and only through faith in Christ.

A commenter recently asked the question “Why is it that if I believe in works I cannot believe in faith, or the grace of God? Why must these things remain separate?” I responded by taking him to the eleventh chapter of Romans where the Apostle Paul boldly testifies: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

In response, the commenter has written: “IF you care to examine the entire chapter of Roman’s 11 you will notice that Paul is not talking about salvation or eternal life. He is talking about being born into the covenant line of Israel, or the church. This is a blessing given by the grace of God that we have done nothing in this life to earn. It is by grace, and not by works.

To examine the eleventh chapter of Romans we must first examine the tenth chapter, and all those before it. When someone writes a letter it is expected that whoever reads it will start at the beginning and read it through to the end. By the time Paul gets to chapter eleven, he has already stated multiple times that salvation is a freely offered gift granted ONLY to those who believe. In fact, through the entire Epistle, Paul has never stopped talking about salvation and eternal life. He hasn’t changed his message or theme: by God’s grace, eternal life is granted through faith in Christ, and only through faith in Christ. Because Paul is so sure of this grace, he tells his readers not to give up on the unbelieving Israelite’s. He gives the example of the remnant saved by grace during Elijah’s time, as it was also true for Christian Jews during Paul’s time. All people are saved the same way–only through God’s grace and not through works.

Paul begins his testimony in chapter one: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (verse 16). The salvation he speaks of is eternal life: “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (6:23).

The reason salvation is granted solely through faith is because that is the only way a person can meet God’s requirement to be righteous!! One must be perfect to enter into God’s presence. Jesus came to earth and was perfect for us, in our place. It is only through faith in Him, as our substitute, that we are declared righteous!! This was true for Abraham and as well as for us: “And therefore it [faith] was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead;” (4:21-24).

It is impossible to gain eternal life by being obedient to God’s law, or by trying to add your works to your faith. Paul explains, using Old Testament scripture: “There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one ” (3:11-12). no one will be declared righteous by trying to follow God’s law: “Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (verse 20). Notice the important words “in his sight”. Heavenly Father has demanded we be as perfect as Him (Matthew 5:48). In HIS sight, “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (verse 23).

The unbelieving Jews were sincere, but they were sincerely wrong! They earnestly sought righteousness, but they tried to acquire it in the wrong way. They thought they had to gain eternal life through obedience. They believed they could be righteous through their own works. They had a zeal for God, but they were ignorant of the truth! (9:30-10:4)

What is God’s truth? Eternal life is purely a gift of God, received by faith, without any works!!! In fact, if you bring works into the picture you ruin God’s free gift and you loose His favor!! That’s what Paul meant when he wrote: “And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Turn to your Savior who grants you His righteousness through faith: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (10:9-10).

If You Believe–Eternal Life is Guaranteed!

I subscribe to a service from lds.org called LDS Gems. According to the LDS Website, these Gems “offer inspiration and increased gospel knowledge for both members and nonmembers with quotes from Church leaders on a variety of subjects.” I was emailed a Gem a few months ago with a quote from General Conference about how to gain eternal life. I would like to reference this Gem today because of some comments to this blog stating that most Mormons don’t think they are saved by their obedience:

The scriptures teach us that once we have received the ordinances of baptism and confirmation, our task then is to ‘endure to the end’ (2 Nephi 31:20). . . .
“Enduring to the end, or remaining faithful to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout our life, is a fundamental requirement for salvation in the kingdom of God. This belief distinguishes Latter day Saints from many other Christian denominations that teach that salvation is given to all who simply believe and confess that Jesus is the Christ. The Lord clearly declared, ‘If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God’ (D&C 14:7).

These words are from a member of the First Presidency and clearly state the main difference between LDS and Christian beliefs. Mormon prophets and apostles testify that you must keep the commandments to be given the “gift” of eternal life. True to the Faith states: “If we use the word salvation to mean eternal life, none of us can say that we have been saved in mortality. That glorious gift can come only after the Final Judgment.

These words may distinguish LDS from Christians but they are none the less false! LDS leaders claim that “none of us can say” we have eternal life while in mortality and yet, John the Beloved did many times! His testimony is that all who believe in Jesus have eternal life! He wrote “These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:13)

The Apostle John’s message is that the moment you come to faith in Jesus you cross over from spiritual death to eternal life “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life” (John 5:24). John states “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life: but the wrath of God abideth on him” (3:36). Notice that John always uses the “past” tense. Believers already have everlasting and eternal life with God!

The Bible clearly testifies that eternal life is a freely offered “gift” given to those with faith in Jesus. Eternal life isn’t something we earn through obedience. We can’t even qualify for it. It is given only to those who “simply believe and confess that Jesus is the Christ.” If you think you have to qualify for it through obedience, then you don’t have it. But, if you have faith that Jesus is all you need, then eternal life is guaranteed! Not because of anything that you have done or could ever do, but because of what Jesus has already done for you!

Link to LDS Gem: