Old Things Are Done Away, and All Things Have Become New: It’s Through Christ’s Atonement You Have Been Perfected Forever!

The sentence I most remember my Father saying was: “All blessings are predicated upon obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.”

These words are from a revelation given by Joseph Smith and recorded in Doctrine and Covenants 130. Today, it’s important to look at how this principle affects qualifying for the grace of God so Mormons can be perfected in Christ.

We read in this weeks Gospel Doctrine Lesson:

“After teaching the Nephites that they should love their enemies, Jesus said, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect” (3 Nephi 12:48). “Why do we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to be perfected? (See… Moroni 10:32–33. (Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Lesson 38: Old Things Are Done Away, and All Things Have Become New, p 171)

Next, lets look at a simple illustration of earning a blessing through obedience:

(Condition): If she cleans her room. . .

(Blessing): then, she can go outside and play with her friends.

Now lets apply the words from the Lesson to this same illustration. In the Lesson, the question is asked: “Why do we need the Atonement of Jesus Christ in order to be perfected?” You are told to see Moroni 10:32–33 teaching us the condition for qualifying for God’s grace so as to be perfected in Christ:

“Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.”

(Condition): If you deny yourself of all ungodliness, and if you love God with all your might, mind and strength…

(Blessing): then, you can qualify for God’s grace and be perfected in Christ.

But what does “deny yourself of all ungodliness” mean, according to LDS doctrine? Since I prefer to let LDS Prophets explain their own scripture, I went searching and found the LDS definition in the Sunday School Teachers Manual for 12 & 13 year olds:

“Have class members find and read Moroni 10:32. According to this verse, what must we do to “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him”? (“Deny [ourselves] of all ungodliness, and love God with all [our] might, mind and strength.”) Explain that “deny yourselves of all ungodliness” means “give up your sins.” (Preparing for Exaltation, page 123)

I also learned from the LDS Apostle Neal Maxwell that this includes both large and small sins:

“Moroni declared the need for us to deny ourselves of “all ungodliness” (Moro. 10:32), thus including both large and small sins.” (Neal A. Maxwell, April 1995 General Conference, Ensign, May 1995, p. 66)

Can any person actually do this? Can you “give up” all of your sins? What about all the sins of omission: visiting those in prison, praying constantly or not worrying? Could you stop sinning for even one day? If you truly could give up all of your sins wouldn’t that mean you were already perfect in yourself?

The sobering truth is that no one can meet these requirements! Even though we are commanded to do so, no one can deny themselves of all ungodliness and love God with all their might, mind and strength! Not even for one hour.

Jesus testified to the rich young ruler that no one is good but God (Luke 18:18). Similarly, no one is Godly but God. Even one little white lie makes a person “ungodly”. No one (except Jesus) even comes close to denying themselves of all ungodliness.

So how does a person qualify for God’s grace? Instead of qualifying for it like you would a scholarship, it’s more similar to a need-based grant. You have to be poor and needy—you have to be sinful. A righteous person doesn’t need Christ’s Atonement. But guess what—the truth is that no one is righteous. We all need Christ! Jesus said: “They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth…” (Matthew 9: 12-13). It means that all of us are sick (ungodly) and need our Great Physician who came to heal us!

Christ’s mission for coming to earth was to die for the ungodly. “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6). If you believe this and know that you are among the ungodly—a miracle will happen! In an instant, you will be made godly through faith in Jesus! You will be perfected forever in God’s sight:

“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 10:10-18)

Don’t place your faith in the words of LDS prophets who claim that you must deny yourself of all ungodliness to be found perfect. If you do, you will die in your sins and spend eternity with Satan. Why? Because you rejected the Savior who denied Himself of all ungodliness for you—in your place.

“This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen. (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

Additional Testimony of the Bold Truth:
Believe in the God that justifies the ungodly:
– Romans 4: 4-8
Jesus is the Deliverer:
– Romans 11: 26-27
Christ died for sinners – the ungodly:
– Romans 5: 6-8
– Matthew 9: 12-13
– Luke 19:10
– 1 Timothy 1:15
Godly blessed / Ungodly shall perish
– Psalm 1: 1-6
Wrath of God against ungodly:
– Romans 1: 18
– 2 Peter 2:6
– 2 Peter 3:7
God’s law is not for righteous, but for ungodly:
– 1 Timothy 1: 8-9
Links to LDS Words:
LDS Definition of “Denying ourselves of all ungodliness”
– May 1995 Ensign
– Preparing for Exaltation
– Preparing for Exaltation
– JST Mathew 16:25-26
Mormons believe in a god who “justifieth NOT the ungodly”
– JST Romans 4:2-5

After “all” the Bishop Could Do, it Wasn’t Enough

Reading the Book of Mormon Gospel Doctrine Lesson 9 reminded me of a talk I gave back when I was in high school. I served on the Seminary Council and one of my assignments was to speak in Sacrament Meeting. I decided to talk about Christ’s Atonement, specifically what we had to do to receive the “conditional gifts” associated with it. (You have to understand a little about my personality before I explain what I did to the Bishop during my talk. I grew up with three brothers and a Dad who incessantly teased me. Just to survive, I learned how to stand up for myself, but usually in a joking manner.)

In giving my talk, I wanted to teach about the Atonement, but the illustration I used was also done in a way meant to tease the Bishop. For my talk I brought some props from home. On the podium I set a large scale like the one you see for the “Scales of Justice”. On one side I piled about thirty large onions. The other side was empty. I set this up as an attention getter before I started talking. Then, I proceeded to talk about Christ’s Atonement. I spoke about our unconditional gift of bodily resurrection and what a blessing that was. Then I moved on to what we had to do to receive Heavenly Father’s conditional “gifts. Next I brought up Nephi’s passage testifying that we are saved only “after” all we can do.

This is the moment I called the Bishop to the stand. Without any prior warning, I told him he had to eat ALL the onions sitting on the Scales of Justice. Obviously, he couldn’t do it. Then I moved three onions to the other side and asked the Bishop if he could eat that many? Once again, the answer was no. In the end, the Bishop was only able to eat one small bite out of an onion! I remember making the comment that “all” that the Bishop could do wasn’t very much! I loved how my illustration generated lots of laughter from the Ward members. But, despite the humor involved, I was making a very important point. If we want to balance the Scales of Justice we must first do all we can. And then, Christ’s Atonement will cover the rest.

Thinking back to this Sacrament Meeting talk given over thirty years ago I am so thankful that the Holy Ghost has opened my eyes to the truth. I never knew that combining my works with my faith as a way to gain eternal life was false. I certainly never realized that attempting to do so would result in spending eternity with Satan. I fully trusted that Nephi and other Mormon prophets were truly God’s prophets. That was why I taught this message in Sacrament Meeting: “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23)

But Nephi taught us a way to be saved that is in direct opposition to what God’s Prophets and Christ’s Apostles taught: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-10)

Here, the Apostle Paul testified it is faith, and not works that saves us. Nowhere in the Bible will you find the belief that we can gain eternal life by trying as hard as we can. Using the illustration of eating all the onions, taking even one bite means you believe Christ’s work was insufficient to pay your entire debt!

You are either saved because all of your works are perfect, or because you have a Savior who was perfect for you–in your place. There isn’t a “third” way that combines your works with Christ’s works to balance the Scales of Justice. If you take even one bite this means you would have to eat the entire basket of onions. No one will be saved by adding their own imperfect works to their faith.

Lesson 9 of the Gospel Doctrine Class is titled: “My Soul Delighteth in the Words of Isaiah“. Does your soul delight in these words from the Prophet Isaiah, about our own 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.” (Isaiah 64:6)

I praise the Lord that Isaiah also testified that Jesus covers us with His robe of righteousness:

I will greatly rejoice in the LORD, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” (Isaiah 61:10)

All my Bishop could do was eat one bite of an onion–it wasn’t enough. Similarly, all you can do, isn’t enough! You will only be saved by faith alone or by being one hundred percent perfect your entire life (as Jesus was)!

In one way, I do believe in faith and works. My faith in Christ’s works. I have faith that Christ’s works were sufficient to pay my entire debt! It was at Christ’s Atonement that He exchanged my sins for His righteousness!

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)

In thankfulness, I devote my entire life to “him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen”! (Revelation 1:5)

Did God Really Give You a “Plan” of Salvation?

I didn’t realize how easy it was to get lost until after I got my drivers license. Driving to unfamiliar places without easy to follow directions often resulted in confusion and anxiety. When I lived in Germany for a few years my tendency to lose my way was exacerbated by the fact I couldn’t speak the language. I quickly learned to take a map with me whenever I was unsure of where I was going.

One day I went to visit a friend who lived in a nearby town. I had written down her address and had brought my trusty map along. But I soon discovered that even with the map, I was terribly lost. I knew what street I needed to get to, but could not find it. I saw a man walking down the street and even though I spoke very little German, I pulled over to ask him for help. I showed him my map and pointed to the street I was searching for. In my broken German I tried asking him for directions. Looking at both me and my map, he responded in English “Lady, you’re using the wrong map. That map is for a town twenty miles from here.”

This experience happened over 25 years ago but it came to mind when reading the Sunday School Teacher’s Manual for 12 & 13 year olds. The lesson explains the “Plan” of Salvation according to LDS prophets and scripture. An Enrichment Activity directs the teacher to display a road map and ask the questions:

“What is this? Why would someone use this?” The teacher is then told: “Explain that life is like a journey. Heavenly Father knew that we would need directions to help us find our way back to him, so he provided the plan of salvation as a kind of map for us to follow. How can we ‘read’ this map and know what we must do to reach our destination of living with Heavenly Father again? (Answers may include by studying the scriptures, following the prophets, and listening to our teachers and parents as they teach us about the gospel.)” (Preparing for Exaltation: Teacher’s Manual, Lesson 1: A Loving Father—An Eternal Plan, pp 1–7)

The lesson explains what must be done to live eternally with Heavenly Father: “Point out that the scripture names two things as God’s work–to bring to pass immortality and eternal life. Explain that these two words do not refer to the same thing. Immortality is a state of being resurrected, of being free from physical death. This blessing will come to all people. Eternal life is living with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the celestial kingdom. This blessing—which is also called exaltation—comes only to those who keep the commandments and make the necessary covenants.”

The Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson “maps” out the same requirements. It explains that even though eternal life is the “greatest of all the gifts of God” you obtain it through your own works and effort: “We obtain this great gift, according to the Lord, ‘if you keep my commandments and endure to the end.” (Old Testament: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual Lesson 1: “This Is My Work and My Glory” p. 4)

I remember when I once believed these words. Reading them today makes my heart cry out for all who are trying to obtain eternal life by following these directions. Today, I write these words to warn you that you are using the wrong map! The LDS Plan of Salvation does not come from God—it was created by LDS prophets. All who follow this “Plan” of Salvation will never gain eternal life!

In both these Lessons, the belief that God gave us a “Plan” comes from the book of Moses, which is part of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament. We can know that this “Plan” is false by testing its words against already revealed scripture. Doing so shows it is in direct conflict with the testimony of our Savior Jesus, as well as God’s prophets and apostles. While LDS scriptures have nearly 60 passages discussing this “Plan” of Salvation, the word “plan” isn’t even found in the KJV Bible. As well, the two Lessons I reference today don’t give a single Bible passage supporting the LDS “Plan” for gaining eternal life.

God’s prophets and apostles left us a “map” that truly leads to eternal life—the Bible. Here they testify that the work of Salvation is finished! It was by our Savior’s obedience that eternal life was obtained for us. God provides “Salvation” as an undeserved gift to all who believe in His Son. Jesus testified that eternal life truly is a free gift, gained the very moment you are brought to faith!

“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).

This gift came because of Heavenly Father’s great love for you: “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.” (John 3:16) Believe it and receive it! “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47).

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

“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)

Hearken to the Truth and Give Heed unto It

I was 28 years old when I realized that Mormonism was false. I spent a few years searching for the “true church” amongst the protestant religions. After I decided that Christianity didn’t “feel” right, I went from one form of spirituality to another. Finally, I gave up searching for the truth. But I could never stop believing that there was some kind of God. Merely looking around at the marvelous universe was enough to convince me that there had to be a God who had created everything. I finally determined that God had simply left us humans to ourselves.

Looking back, I realize that through all my years of searching, I had always used the LDS method of determining whether or not something was true—trusting in my feelings. One example of this is found in the Book of Mormon: Gospel Doctrine Teacher’s Manual Lesson 5:

Elder Boyd K. Packer taught: “The Holy Ghost communicates with the spirit through the mind more than through the physical senses. This guidance comes as thoughts, as feelings, through impressions and promptings. It is not always easy to describe inspiration. The scriptures teach us that we may ‘feel’ the words of spiritual communication more than hear them, and see with spiritual rather than with mortal eyes (see 1 Nephi 17:45)” (pp 22-23)

True to the Faith explains how feelings from the Spirit should be used to determine if something is true:

Note the Lord’s final words in Doctrine and Covenants 9:8 [-9: “But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you;] therefore, you shall feel that it is right. [But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong…]” The burning described in this scripture passage signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity, not necessarily a sensation of heat.” (True to the Faith, page 144; D&C 9:8-9)

I spent three decades searching for truth using this LDS formula. Instead of finding the one and only “true God” I found many different people whose hearts gave them very different answers as to what truth was. There are millions of people from various different faiths who have trusted that their strong feelings were God’s answer to their prayers. I found those who sincerely believed in Shamanism, Mormonism, Buddhism, New Age thinking, Deists, Atheists and Agnostics. All truly had faith that what they believed in their heart was true. They based their faith on very strong feelings that what they were following was truth.

There are many different examples of those who have trusted in their feelings to determine truth. Take the crusades where millions were killed and persecuted in the name of God. These people who were murderers were zealots who truly believed they were doing what God wanted them to do. They believed this because they listened to their feelings and to their hearts. Take the men who bombed the World Trade Center Towers. These men believed so strongly that their feelings would never lie to them that they committed suicide doing what “felt right“.

In all my searching I realized that humans are just really messed up. There have been many horrible aspects which define “religion”. But none of these have anything to do with God—each one is simply man claiming to act on God’s behalf. I finally came to the conclusion that a person can’t determine what is true by trusting in their feelings. Feelings often lie to you and tell you what you want to hear. Many people from different religions feel that what they believe is truth, and yet there can only be one truth.

It wasn’t until I met the “God of love” that I learned that many “religions” are simply man-made attempts to define God. For years I had believed that all those horrible “religions” actually defined the Christian God. But I was wrong. The day I met the God of love, I found a God that I had never even dreamed of. This one true God loves me unconditionally and came to earth to give me a life of peace and love. Despite all the many horrible things that I have done in my life, this God actually chooses to dwell inside of me. His love fills my heart despite all the times I forget to trust fully in Him.

There is not one thing that I did to gain His love. Amazingly, Jesus came to earth to show me just how much He loves me. The Son of God lowered Himself and became a human because He unconditionally loves us. Our Savior gave His life so that we could grasp just how much He loves us.

I love the fact that Jesus told us how to determine truth! He testified, over and over again to search the scriptures!! That is where we can find God’s truth! Many times He chastised people who did not turn to scriptures for answers to their questions. After He was crucified He met two of His disciples on the road to Emmaus. He hid from them who He was and listened to them as they were trying to figure out why Jesus had been crucified. The reason they didn’t know is because they hadn’t turned to scripture to find the answers. Instead, they were studying it out in their minds. But Jesus revealed truth to them by taking them to scripture! Notice, He didn’t tell them to pray so that the Holy Ghost could reveal to them what was happening. Instead, Jesus pointed them to scripture as the place they could find the truth. (Prayer is how we speak to God–God speaks to us through His scripture (Matthew 22:29-32):

Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:25-27).

Even though they claimed later that their “bosoms” burned when Jesus spoke to them, their feelings were not what they used to determine whether Jesus spoke truth. They knew what was true because Jesus took them to the source of truth–God’s Holy scripture. If we want to know what is and isn’t true, we are to test everything with what the Holy Ghost has already revealed to us in scripture.

At times I can barely fathom God’s love for me. But I trust that He does because of all the promises He has left for me in scripture. Unfortunately, those who don’t really know Him often run and hide from Him.

I love these words about our God who loves us unconditionally–in spite of our sinfulness:

For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.” (Titus 3:3-7)

I pray that you will come to know of your Savior’s love for you. His love is so great that He gave His life–just so you could spend eternity with Him. Turn to Him and you will find the deepest love of your life. His greatest longing is to lavish His love on you. With the Apostle Paul, I pray this prayer for you:

For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

“Here chicky chicky”— Do you know your Savior’s voice?

In my neighborhood, I am often called the “chicken lady”. I love my chickens! Over the years I have raised many different varieties of chickens and have found that each one has a unique personality. It’s amazing that as each chick grows to maturity, we get to know each other and become good friends. I love it when they finally trust me enough to distinctly know my voice. All I have to do is call “here chicky chicky” and they all come a running. They know me and trust my words to mean that I will have something to give them. They have come to trust in the promise of my words, that I will have “tasty” treats for them.

In a similar way, those who know and trust Jesus run to Him when they hear His voice. Jesus referred to these people as His “sheep”. His sheep trust His every word and believe in His promises. Those who don’t trust in Christ’s words, don’t believe Him and are not His sheep. When He was speaking to some unbelieving Jews, He said:

“But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (John 10:26-28)

Are you one of Jesus’ sheep? Do you trust His words? Do you believe this promise that He gave to His sheep: “And I give unto them eternal life”?

Or, do you hear the voice of a different Christ, one who claimed that eternal life must be gained “by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel”? (Articles of Faith 1:3)

The Savior of the world knows that no one can obtain eternal life “by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel”! No unclean person can dwell in God’s presence and God alone defines what “unclean” is. Just listen to Christ’s voice in the Sermon on the Mount. He taught that if a man even looks at a woman in lust he has already committed adultery with her in his heart. He revealed that someone who is angry with his brother has committed the same sin as murder. Do you truly love your enemies, bless those who curse you and do good to those who hate and persecute you? Do you hear the voice of your Savior as He commands you to “be as perfect as our Father in Heaven”? (Matthew 5:48) Jesus’ sheep know that when He gave this command, He really meant what He said.

Those who love and follow Christ trust His words; that on Judgment Day, the standard for perfection will be God Himself. Do you believe the voice of your Savior as He describes what will happen on Judgment Day to those who merely committed sins of omission? (Those who didn’t feed the hungry or clothe the naked; visit the sick or those in prison.) He testifies that He will send these people to the very same eternal domain as Satan:

“Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”. (Matthew 25:41-46)

All those who are Jesus’ sheep believe Him when He said “There is none good but one, that is, God:” (Matthew 19:17). Jesus knew that we were doomed unless He came to earth to save us. Christ’s sheep have given up trying to be worthy and gaining eternal life through their obedience. Instead, they cling to their Savior’s promise that eternal life is a free gift—given to all who have faith in Him:

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. 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 3:15-18)

How is it possible that a sinful person can be granted eternal life as a free gift? Because it is through faith and faith alone that one meets God’s requirement for perfection! Through faith in Christ we are credited with His perfection. The writer of Hebrews explains that through Christ’s Atonement, we have been perfected forever:

“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)

When my chickens hear my voice they come running because they know that I have gifts waiting for them. They don’t hold back wondering if they are worthy of my gifts. In this way, Jesus longs for you to truly know Him and trust His promises; to finally believe all that He has done for you. I pray that you will hear His voice and come running to Him, regardless of how worthy you feel. The very moment you do, you will receive His amazing gifts of perfection and eternal life. Believe it, and receive it. Then you will be free to live the life I live. Serving God with everything I do–simply because I love Him.

Gaining Forgiveness: Do You Believe Christ’s Apostles, or LDS prophets?

There is nothing that divides Mormonism from Christianity more clearly than looking at how one gains the forgiveness of sins. While both faiths believe that Jesus paid for the sins of the world, the difference is seen when we look at how each person obtains forgiveness for their sins.

Mormonism teaches that Christ’s Atonement merely gives people the opportunity to repent of their sins. All who have faith in Jesus receive forgiveness for each sin after they do all the necessary works required in the LDS Process of Repentance.

Christianity claims that Christ’s shed blood obtained the forgiveness for every sin ever committed. All who have faith in Jesus receive the forgiveness that Christ won for them over 2,000 years ago.

The fruit (words) of LDS Prophets:

The prophet Joseph Smith revealed in LDS scripture that forgiveness is granted to all who keep the commandments:

“For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance; Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven;” (D&C 1:31-32)

LDS prophet Spencer W. Kimball testified that forgiveness depends upon your works, not Christ’s:

“It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility, your sincerity, your works, your attitudes.” (The Miracle of Forgiveness, pages 324-325.)

The fruit (words) of Christ’s Apostles:

John the Beloved revealed that Christ’s blood has washed our sins away:

“And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Revelation 1:5)

The Apostle Peter testified that all who believe in Jesus receive forgiveness:

“To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43)

I pray that you will turn away from false prophets and place your trust in our Lord and Savior Jesus. The moment you do, you will receive the forgiveness that can never be obtained through your works.

Did God Allow “Same-Sex” Marriages in the Temple?

I grew up dreaming about the day I would be married in the Temple. I think that dream is something instilled in the heart of every LDS girl. From a very young age we were taught that the only place to be married was in the Temple—for time and all eternity.

The Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Manual explains:

Why is it important that we marry in the covenant? (If necessary, explain that in our day, the phrases marriage in the covenant, eternal marriage, and temple marriage are often used interchangeably. How long has marriage in the covenant been a commandment of God? (It is an eternal ordinance that has been the Lord’s order in all ages when the fulness of the gospel has been on the earth. Adam and Eve were the first on this earth to enter into this ordinance.)” (page 41)

But if the eternal covenant of marriage were truly the Lord’s order in all ages since Adam and Eve, then wouldn’t Temple marriages have been practiced in Jewish Temples? Was the “fulness of the gospel” on the earth when Jesus and His Apostles lived? Were Temple marriages performed during Christ’s time?

The truth is, the only people allowed inside God’s Temples were men! Women were not even allowed inside! The Temple consisted of an outer Court for Gentiles, one for women, and one for men. Only the Priests were allowed to enter the Temple. The Holy of Holies, which is where God’s presence dwelt, could only be entered by the High Priest one day each year. He did this on the Day of Atonement, only after he purified himself with the shed blood of a perfect sacrifice.

If there were marriages taking place in God’s Holy Temple, then every single one would have been a “same-sex” marriage—men marrying men!! Since this is forbidden by God, we can be certain that there were no marriages taking place in God’s Temples!

When Jesus shed His blood on the Cross, His body was the ultimate sacrifice–paying the entire debt for the sins of the world! The very moment Jesus died, the veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. God does not dwell in Temples built by men anymore. Literally, He dwells inside of the hearts of men and women themselves. Every person with faith in Jesus is a Temple of God. This can only happen because believers have been “perfected forever” and are as pure as Jesus Himself!

My dream of a Temple marriage has been replaced with joy from the most intimate relationship I have ever known—one with my Lord and Savior Jesus!! He actually lives inside of me, and the life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (Galatians 2:20)

I so want to share with you this amazing love. Even though I don’t know you, I pray for you as the Apostle Paul prayed:

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:17-21)

Did Jesus Create Every Thing Out of Nothing?

I never really had an interest in art until I found a medium I fell in love with—glass. Once I began working with all the delectable colors and textures of glass I was hooked. My passion for creating glass art has been a part of my life for over twenty-three years now. It became such a passion that when I lived in Virginia I converted my bedroom into a work studio. It was the only space I had available so I got rid of my bed and slept on a mattress that could be moved into a closet during the day. My love for working with glass quickly evolved into a business and I began doing commissioned windows and teaching classes. I absolutely love making glass panels that are uniquely my own creations—using my own design as well as picking out which glass to use.

What is interesting is that once I am finished with the piece I have created, I have no more interest in it. In fact, I only have one panel on display in my house and that is one I made for my oldest daughter who doesn’t have any place to keep it.

Reading the Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson: “The Creation” caused me to think about the comparisons between how I “create” my glass art with how God “created” our world. I realized that as an artist, the way I “create” art is similar to Joseph Smith’s explanation of how God “created” the earth. When I “create” a piece of glass art I am really just “organizing” already existing materials into an original piece of art. I pick out specific glass, cutting it into the shapes I desire; and then use foil and solder it all together into its final form. According to LDS doctrine, this is exactly how God “created” the world we live on:

“Was the earth created out of nothing? (See Abraham 3:24; 4:1.) The Prophet Joseph Smith said: “The word create came from the [Hebrew] word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 350–51).”

When I was LDS I never questioned the LDS belief that God used already existing materials to organize the world—that He didn’t create “every thing” out of “nothing”. At the time, I certainly didn’t realize how this false teaching was merely one of many that diminish the amazing power of our God. Today, I am so thankful that my eyes have been opened to the truth. And, I am especially thrilled with some of the new passions God has given me. My love for creating glass art pales in comparison with my passion for studying God’s Word and sharing His truth with others. My God is the love of my life and every time I read scripture He speaks to me personally. If there is something that God wants me to understand, I trust that I will find the answer in His Word.

What did our loving God reveal to us in scripture about creation? Did Jesus merely “organize” already existing material when our world was created, or did He create “every thing” out of “nothing”? Digging into scripture to find the answer to these questions has thrilled me. Doing so has reminded me of just how amazing and powerful my Lord is.

God’s Word testifies that Jesus created “every thing” out of “nothing”—everything visible and invisible! Speaking of Jesus, the Apostle Paul wrote:

“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1).

The Apostle John’s testimony verifies Paul’s: “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)

Just look around you to see a glimpse of the world’s most amazing artist. It is a blessing to know how glorious Jesus is. When He created our world, He did so out of nothing—merely by speaking. When I “create’ a piece of art, I have to use materials that someone else has made; out of materials that were originally created by Jesus.

By far the most comforting aspect of our Savior is that unlike me, He didn’t loose interest in His creation once He was finished. The Apostle John revealed Jesus’ testimony:

“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.” Believe it, and receive it!

Did God Really Give You a “Plan” of Salvation?

I didn’t realize how easy it was to get lost until after I got my drivers license. Driving to unfamiliar places without easy to follow directions often resulted in confusion and anxiety. When I lived in Germany for a few years my tendency to lose my way was exacerbated by the fact I couldn’t speak the language. I quickly learned to take a map with me whenever I was unsure of where I was going.

One day I went to visit a friend who lived in a nearby town. I had written down her address and had brought my trusty map along. But I soon discovered that even with the map, I was terribly lost. I knew what street I needed to get to, but could not find it. I saw a man walking down the street and even though I spoke very little German, I pulled over to ask him for help. I showed him my map and pointed to the street I was searching for. In my broken German I tried asking him for directions. Looking at both me and my map, he responded in English “Lady, you’re using the wrong map. That map is for a town twenty miles from here.”

This experience happened over 25 years ago but it came to mind when reading the Sunday School Teacher’s Manual for 12 & 13 year old’s. The lesson explains the “Plan” of Salvation according to LDS prophets and scripture. An Enrichment Activity directs the teacher to display a road map and ask the questions: “What is this? Why would someone use this?” The teacher is then told: “Explain that life is like a journey. Heavenly Father knew that we would need directions to help us find our way back to him, so he provided the plan of salvation as a kind of map for us to follow. How can we ‘read’ this map and know what we must do to reach our destination of living with Heavenly Father again? (Answers may include by studying the scriptures, following the prophets, and listening to our teachers and parents as they teach us about the gospel.)”

The lesson explains what must be done to live eternally with Heavenly Father: “Point out that the scripture names two things as God’s work—to bring to pass immortality and eternal life. Explain that these two words do not refer to the same thing. Immortality is a state of being resurrected, of being free from physical death. This blessing will come to all people. Eternal life is living with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ in the celestial kingdom. This blessing—which is also called exaltation—comes only to those who keep the commandments and make the necessary covenants.”

This week’s Old Testament Gospel Doctrine Lesson “maps” out the same requirements. It explains that even though eternal life is the “greatest of all the gifts of God” you obtain it through your own works and effort: “We obtain this great gift, according to the Lord, ‘if you keep my commandments and endure to the end.”

I remember when I once believed these words. Reading them today makes my heart cry out for all who are trying to obtain eternal life by following these directions. Today, I write these words to warn you that you are using the wrong map! The LDS Plan of Salvation does not come from God—it was created by LDS prophets. All who follow this “Plan” of Salvation will never gain eternal life!

In both these Lessons, the belief that God gave us a “Plan” comes from the book of Moses, which is part of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament. We can know that this “Plan” is false by testing its words against already revealed scripture. Doing so shows it is in direct conflict with the testimony of our Savior Jesus, as well as God’s prophets and apostles. While LDS scriptures have nearly 60 passages discussing this “Plan” of Salvation, the word “plan” isn’t even found in the King James Bible. As well, the two Lessons I reference today don’t give a single Bible passage supporting the LDS “Plan” for gaining eternal life.

God’s prophets and apostles left us a “map” that truly leads to eternal life, and that’s the Bible. It is here that we read their testimonies claiming that the work of Salvation is finished! It was by our Savior’s obedience that eternal life was obtained for us. God provides “Salvation” as an undeserved gift to all who believe in His Son. Jesus testified that eternal life truly is a free gift, gained the very moment the Holy Spirit brought you to faith!

“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).

This gift came because of Heavenly Father’s great love for you: “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.” (John 3:16) Believe it and receive it! “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” (John 6:47).

“Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10)

“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)