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

“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.

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 the Bible. 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 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…” He came to do it for us—because we can’t do it!

These 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. 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 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.
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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).

Are Fathers Evil?

The first time I attended a non-Mormon Church service was when I lived in Arkansas. A neighbor invited me to attend church with her and out of curiosity I decided to check it out. Talk about culture shock!!! This was my first experience of hearing a Preacher give a Sermon, and his preaching was that of a “fire and brimstone” Southern Baptist.

My neighbor must have warned him that a Mormon would be attending because he spent about five minutes attacking the Mormon Church and all who follow its teachings. From my Mormon ears, all I heard was that I was a horrible sinner and I had better repent or else I was going to hell. By the time the service was finished I had a horrible headache. I ran away from there as fast as I could, never to return.

Sermons are one thing many Mormons aren’t familiar with. Sacrament Meetings entail a few people who have been asked to give talks for that Sunday. These talks are nothing like a Sermon given by a Pastor. During my fifteen years as a Christian, thankfully I have heard many wonderful Sermons from many different Pastors. Each Pastor tends to have his own style of preaching, but I have discovered that his message testifies of a few simple truths:

1) Every human is evil and can never come even close to meeting God’s demands
2) Heavenly Father gives the gift of eternal life to those who believe that Jesus met God’s demands for them.

It took me awhile before I realized that these basic truths were being taught by every Preacher I heard. The first time I recognized this was when a Preacher I know was giving a Sermon about prayer. He boldly stated that all the fathers listening to Him were “evil”! When I heard that, I was a little uncomfortable. I know that our earthly fathers aren’t perfect, but calling them “evil” seemed to be a bit harsh. I wondered why the Preacher hadn’t chosen to use a softer word like “weak” or maybe even “sinful”. Then, I noticed a little later in His Sermon where He even commanded us to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father!

In reality, this Preacher was Jesus giving His Sermon on the Mount. His actual words were: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” Talk about being blunt!! When I read His Sermon in context there was no indication that those listening to His Sermon were particularly evil. I remembered that Jesus had told the rich young ruler “there is none good but one, that is, God”. But saying Fathers are “evil” seems so much worse than saying someone is “not good”.

I soon discovered that Jesus talked about man’s evil deeds several other times during His Ministry. In the book of Mark, Jesus tells us where evil comes from: “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts”. In the Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard, Jesus asked a question of those who thought that God wasn’t being fair: “Is thine eye evil, because I am good?”

Jesus proclaimed God’s eternal consequences for all who do evil: “for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5).

Reading Jesus’ words enticed me to dig deeper into scripture. By the time I finished my study there was no doubt in my mind: all humans are evil. I discovered that the reason it’s difficult for us to see ourselves as evil is because our definition of what “evil” is differs from God’s definition. We like to categorize our sins, claiming that some are worse than others. We certainly don’t think that anything we do ourselves is actually “evil”.

I wasn’t surprised when I read that God considered murder and adultery evil; but the prophet Nehemiah preached that not keeping the Sabbath day holy was evil. He also testified that Israelites who married outside the faith committed a “great evil” (13:27). The writer of the book of Hebrews testified that “unbelief” is evil. Moses wrote in Deuteronomy that it is evil to not give money to a poor man in need. In Genesis, he taught the same message about man as what Jesus had taught:
for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth”.

Everything I’ve mentioned so far is only part of what Biblical Preachers name as “evil”. (The word “evil” appears 624 times in the Bible.) The Apostle Paul understood that God sees all sin as evil when he lamented “but the evil which I would not, that I do” and “when I would do good, evil is present with me.” (Romans 7) In Timothy he wrote that the love of money is the root of all evil.

To the Galatians, he wrote God’s consequence for not following every single command: “Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.” James solidified Paul’s curse when he proclaimed: “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” He then gave examples of evil:

“the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison” and: “where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work”.

Studying God’s Words leaves no doubt that our holy God considers any sin as evil. The writer of Proverbs tells us that “The eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” On Judgment Day “God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:14)

The inescapable conclusion is that everyone who sins is evil! I am so amazed every time I read words from these same Preachers saying that God loves us in spite of our evil! It’s hard to believe, but His mercy is shown to evil sinners! In Galatians, Paul gives us the only reason why:

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

To the Ephesians Paul wrote: “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.” It’s through Christ’s Atonement that our evil hearts are “sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.” (Hebrews 10)

The very same Jesus that proclaimed the dire consequences of evil, shares our only means of escape—it’s through faith alone that we are saved and gain eternal life:

“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 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.” (John 3:14-16)

Are You on Earth to Prove Your Worthiness?

I’ve known for over a year that it was going to happen. Somehow, that didn’t make it any easier when the mobile butcher arrived and slaughtered our steer. When we bought this adorably cute miniature Angus I was fully aware that his purpose in life was to provide meat for our family. My husband, understanding how attached I get to all my critters, named him “Sir Tender Loin”. He did this so that every day I would have a reminder that one day Tender-Loin would be slaughtered and fulfill his purpose in life.

I’m sure glad my purpose in life isn’t that of Tender-Loin’s. Thinking about his purpose in life reminded me of when I was LDS. I used to believe that my purpose in life was to prove myself worthy. The reason I thought this was because that was what my church leaders had taught me. They claimed that Heavenly Father sent people to earth for the purpose of proving whether or not they would be obedient to His commandments:

“We lived in the presence of God our Holy Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, in a premortal existence. There we gained an understanding of the Father’s plan of salvation and the promise of help when we would be born as mortals on earth. The primary purpose of life was explained. We were told: “We will make an earth whereon these may dwell; “And we will prove them herewith, to see if they will do all things whatsoever the Lord their God shall command them; “And they who keep their first estate [that is to be obedient in the premortal existence] shall be added upon; … and they who keep their second estate [that is, to be obedient during mortal life] shall have glory added upon their heads for ever and ever.” Those words express the most fundamental purpose of your being on earth. That purpose is to prove yourself obedient to the commandments of the Lord and thereby grow in understanding, capacity, and every worthy trait.” Richard G. Scott, “Truth Restored,” Ensign, Nov 2005, 78.

Every time I looked inside my heart, I felt like a complete failure. I knew how unworthy I was. And, I thought I was the only person that was so sinful. When I looked at others in my Ward, I thought everyone else was worthy except me. Can you imagine the peace I found the day I learned that I wasn’t the only one who struggled with being obedient? It was actually the Holy Ghost that revealed this news to me, through God’s prophets and apostles. Their testimony declared His truth to me: No one can be worthy or righteous by their obedience. In fact, no one can even be “good”.

The LDS Apostle Scott taught that God sent us to earth to prove ourselves worthy. But in the book of Romans, Jesus’ Apostle Paul testified he had “proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin”. He then quotes Psalm 14 as evidence: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, 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.”

LDS scripture claims that men must prove themselves worthy through their obedience; but God’s Word testifies that “there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20). Jesus joined His testimony to this truth when He claimed “none is good, save one, that is, God.” (Luke 18:19). The Prophet Isaiah clearly told of the sad condition of all humans: “We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” (64:6). In one of Isaiah’s Messianic prophesies, he declares: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:4-12).

Notice that last verse in Isaiah “and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Here we see our Savior’s purpose for coming to earth. He came to take our sins upon Himself—as if He Himself had committed each and every one. Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be “brought, as a lamb to slaughter” and that He would give “his soul an offering for sin”. Jesus came to earth to be slaughtered! He fulfilled His purpose at the cross, when “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” We are healed through Christ’s sacrificial death, where every sin was paid for and forgiven. The Apostle Peter testified that all who believe it, receive it (Acts 10:43).

Do you still believe that the “fundamental purpose of… being on earth… is to prove yourself obedient to the commandments of the Lord”? On Judgment Day every person will stand before God. Many will be given the opportunity to prove whether they were obedient to God’s commands. All who point to their own works as proof they should be allowed entrance into God’s Kingdom will be turned away (Matthew 7:22-23).

My Angus steer was slaughtered to feed my family. My Savior Jesus was slaughtered to pay for my sins with His blood. I gave my life to Him the moment I believed in His free and full forgiveness. I now know that my purpose in life is to give all glory to my God, by all that I do. He alone is worthy!!!

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)

Standing Before God on Judgment Day

Today I was listening to a favorite song which stirred up some strong emotions regarding Judgment Day. It is a beautiful reminder of the before and after picture of my life. “Before” I knew I had been forgiven and “after” I received this forgiveness through faith.

Most of my life I dreaded Judgment Day. I believed there would be this huge movie screen which played scenes from each person’s life. It terrified me that every thought, emotion and action from my entire life would be displayed for all to see. I envisioned standing before God as Jesus called my name. As I stood before Him, Jesus would begin Judging my works as they were displayed on the screen. I knew that my eternal destination hung in the balance of my worthiness. I always imagined that Jesus would frown, shake His head and turn His back on me.

The following words from the song remind me of these years as a Mormon:
“I was dreaming about Heaven
Dreamed I was standing at the pearly gates
We were all there and I was so scared
Standing in the presence of One so great.
I felt so very unworthy I felt like running away.
I bowed my head and I turned to go.”

Year after year I felt impending doom whenever I thought of Judgment Day. I was tormented and racked with guilt and shame because I knew I was not worthy to spend eternity in Heavenly Father’s presence. What’s amazing is that these emotions are what finally forced me to seek a Savior. As soon as I sought Him I found He had been seeking me! The Holy Spirit brought me to faith! He bore witness to me that Jesus came to earth to bestow forgiveness on sinners just like me! Thus began my “after” years. On Judgment Day I will have no sins to be judged because all of my sins have been forgiven!

The ending words of the song so beautifully describe the “after” picture of my life:
“Dreamed I was standing at the pearly gates
When I heard someone say
“Father this one’s with me, part of the family.
One of the reasons I died on Calvary.
Father welcome him in, I paid the price for Him.
Father, oh Father this one’s with me.
When I looked up the gates were open wide
And in the distance I saw Jesus
Our eyes met and I began to cry”

Every time I hear this song I get teary—it is a powerful reminder of what Jesus did for me! Now, I can’t wait for Judgment Day because on that Day I get to run to Jesus and put my arms around Him in thankfulness! Do you know that Jesus did this for you too? Jesus died for every person who has ever lived. You are “one of the reasons” Jesus died on Calvary. He paid the entire price for you. The work of your forgiveness was completed over two thousand years ago. You have been forgiven for every sin you will ever commit! If you believe this, on Judgment Day you will hear Jesus say “this ones with me”!

But if you trust in false leaders who testify that the work of your forgiveness is not complete; that it hangs in the balance of your own works—you reject what Jesus did for you! On Judgment Day Jesus will say “I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matthew 7:23). Anyone who points to their own works as a reason they should be allowed to dwell with God will be sent to live eternally with Satan.