Exaltation: As man now is, God once was; as God now is, man may be

After the Holy Ghost brought me to faith, I had a burning desire to share my Savior with my Father. He was dying of cancer in Idaho and I lived in Virginia. I was attending the College of William and Mary as an older student. During the summer before my senior year I grabbed an opportunity to take a few classes at Boise State. My daughters and I stayed with my folks and I took every opportunity I could to share my new-found faith with my Dad.

I felt that the Lord was leading me to stay in Idaho to witness to my father, so I gave up my last year at William and Mary and stayed with my parents. The Lord gave me a full year with my Dad before he died and I cherished every moment. We had different faiths, but the Bible was our common ground and while he lay in bed I read it to him often. I must have read the book of Romans to him a hundred times. The message of free and full forgiveness seemed so clear to me and I couldn’t understand how my family couldn’t see the truth.

My father’s health deteriorated as the months went by. I believe that through his physical limitations, God was giving him the opportunity to be humbled; to see his need for a Savior who had already done everything for him. One day about three months before he died, I heard him ask my uncle this question:

“Bob, how is it possible that we can become gods?” My uncle Bob replied “It’s possible, just believe it.” My dad said: “But we are so far from it!”

My heart sang when I heard his words! My father had taught the false LDS doctrine that man could become a god for many years. Now his words were those of someone who was truly seeing himself as the sinful man that he really was. He was being humbled by God.

That was over fifteen years ago. Since that time, I have discovered a simple truth: Those who believe in Jesus are fully aware that they sin all the time–even though they try not to. Because of their own struggles with sin, they believe and understand the Words of Christ; that “there is none good but one, that is, God” (Mark 10:18). Believers in Christ know that only God is good. That is one reason they are so thankful that it is through faith alone that they are credited with Christ’s righteousness, just as Abraham was (Romans 4:20-5:1)

Humility is one characteristic of every person who has a living faith in Jesus. Humble sinners know how often they sin. They know that if their eternal destination depended upon anything they had to do, they would be doomed to spend eternity with Satan. They know that God loves them so much He sent a Savior to rescue them from their depraved life of sinfulness.

The Apostle Paul described the criteria God uses to choose His followers and why:

“Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.” (1 Corinthians 1:25-31)

The very essence of LDS doctrine leads a person away from humility and towards pride. There is no better example of this than the belief that man is good enough to one day be a god himself! Gospel Principles Chapter 47 explains some of the blessings that will be given to those who obtain Exaltation through their obedience:

They will become gods (see D&C 132:20–23)…
They will have everything that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have—all power, glory, dominion, and knowledge (see D&C 132:19–20). President Joseph Fielding Smith wrote: “The Father has promised through the Son that all that he has shall be given to those who are obedient to His commandments.” (p.277)

Can you see how blasphemous this is in God’s eyes? To Him it would be the epitome of arrogance! The Prophet Isaiah testified that even our righteousness is like filthy rags: “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).

When you believe that you can really become a God, it shows two things: (1) that you have no clue as to how amazing God really is, and (2) you have no idea how utterly sinful you are. As my father had come to know, you are so far from God’s holiness that you could NEVER become a god!

The Apostle Paul knew how sinful he was:
“For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 7:18-25)

The Apostle Paul did not despair because of how sinful he was. Instead, he spent his whole life thanking Jesus with a life dedicated to serving God! He knew that Jesus had already delivered him!

Jesus Has Delivered You From Your Sins!

After I came to faith, I had a burning desire to share my faith with my Father. He was dying of cancer and I lived 3000 miles away. I had gone back to college as an older student at the College of William and Mary. During the summer before my senior year I grabbed an opportunity to take a few classes at Boise State. My daughters and I stayed with my folks and I took every opportunity I could to share my new-found faith with my Dad. I felt that the Lord was leading me to stay in Idaho to witness to my father, so I gave up my last year at William and Mary and stayed with my parents. The Lord gave me a full year with my father before he died and I cherished every moment with him. We had different faiths, but the Bible was our common ground and I read it to him often as he lay in bed. I must have read the book of Romans to him a hundred times. The message of free and full forgiveness seemed so clear to me and I couldn’t understand how my family couldn’t see the truth.

My father’s health deteriorated as the months went by. I believe that through his physical limitations, God was giving him the opportunity to become humble and see his need for a Savior who did everything for him. One day, about three months before he died, I heard him ask my uncle this question: “Bob, how is it possible that we can become gods?” My uncle replied “It’s possible, just believe it.” My dad said: “But we are so far from it!” My heart sang when I heard his words! My father had taught the false LDS doctrine that man could become a god for many years. His words were the words of someone who was truly seeing himself as the sinful man that he was. He was being humbled by God.

Humility is one characteristic of every person who has a living faith in Jesus. Humble sinners know that they are nothing in comparison to God’s perfection. They know that if their eternal destination depended upon anything they had to do, they would be doomed to hell. They know that God loves them so much He sent a Savior to rescue them from their depravity. In Corinthians, the Apostle Paul described the criteria God uses to choose His followers and why: “But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

Today’s Gospel Doctrine Lesson talks about humility and pride. It asks: “What is pride?” President Benson gives the LDS answer: “Most of us think of pride as self-centeredness, conceit, boastfulness, arrogance, or haughtiness. All of these are elements of the sin, but the heart, or core, is still missing. “The central feature of pride is enmity—enmity toward God and enmity toward our fellowmen. Enmity means ‘hatred toward, hostility to, or a state of opposition.’”

While pride certainly has an element of enmity towards God, that is not the heart or core of it. The Tyndale Bible Dictionary explains: “The ten Hebrew and two Greek words generally used for pride refer to being high or exalted in attitude, the opposite of the virtue of humility, which is so often praised and rewarded by God. One other Greek word refers to a person’s being puffed up or inflated with pride or egotism. The idea is that one gives the impression of substance but is really filled only with air… Pride is basically a sin of attitude and of the heart and spirit.

The very essence of Mormon doctrine leads a person away from humility and towards pride by claiming that man is good enough to one day progress to godhood! In God’s eyes, this is blasphemous and the epitome of arrogance! He has claimed that even your righteousness is like filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6). When you believe that you can become a God, to be God’s equal; it shows that you are inflated with pride and egotism. As my father had come to know, you are so far from God’s holiness that you could NEVER become a god!

The Apostle Paul knew how sinful he was: “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Do you know how utterly sinful you are? If so, count yourself blessed!!! Turn to Jesus who has delivered you! Then, live your life in thankfulness to Him, as I do!

No One is Good but God!

Mormon prophets testify that to gain eternal life we must obey the commandments. Recently I received a comment pointing me to the story of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19 as proof that LDS prophets speak God’s truth. The commenter writes: “Christ is asked point blank: What must I do to gain eternal life? And Christ’s response? Keep the commandments.”

I absolutely love this story because when you read it carefully it actually shows that a person can’t gain eternal life with their works! This story gives Christians a great example of how we should share the gospel with someone who thinks they can be “good” enough at obeying God’s commands. This story shows that Jesus understood God’s intended purpose of His law. (Read my recent Post from February 11th titled: “Why did Heavenly Father Give Us Commandments?” for more information.)

This young man was someone who thought he didn’t sin very often. Here we read about an arrogant man who truly believed that he was “good”. We can see his arrogance in his response to what Jesus says to him. His first words to Jesus were “Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” Before he even begins his conversation with Jesus, he already believes that he must “do something good” to gain eternal life. Notice that he doesn’t ask Jesus how to gain eternal life, he already thinks he knows. Jesus responds to this by saying “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is, God” Jesus tells the rich man that only God is good! This gives the young man the opportunity to come to the realization that he (the rich man) is not good.

In response to his question Jesus tells the rich man “but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments.” He does this because Jesus knows the purpose of God’s law!! Jesus understands that this man has to recognize how sinful he is, before he will seek a Savior! Jesus gives this man God’s laws, and He comes down very hard on him. He first gives him the do not commandments:
1) Do not murder 2) Do not commit adultery 3) Do not steal 4) Do not bear false witness.
And then Jesus tells him the do commands:
5) Honour your Father and Mother 6) Love your neighbor as yourself.

And how does the rich man respond? He tells Jesus that he has kept all these commandments from his youth up. This man believed that he wasgood and possibly only lacked “one good thing”. But, do you think that Jesus believed him? In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus had already taught that we must be as perfect as our Heavenly Father! Jesus taught that looking on a woman and lusting after her is the same as committing adultery. Do you think Jesus believed the rich man’s claim that he had always loved his neighbor as himself?

At this point in his life this man sees no need for a Savior. Why would he? He truly believes that he is good enough to gain eternal life with his own works. He had already rejected the message Jesus first gave him—that “only God is good”, and boldly claimed that he was good. So, in response: “Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me. But when the young man heard that saying, he went away sorrowful: for he had great possessions.”

Think about the commandment that Jesus gave to the young man. This would be a very hard thing to do, to sell all you have and follow Jesus. But, Jesus lovingly told him the one thing that would cause this man to look into his heart and see that he was sinful–that he was not good. This is the purpose of the law. God’s law is a mirror for us to look into God’s Word and see that we are sinful and that only God is good! We do not hear anything more about this rich man, but possibly he came to faith later as a direct result of Jesus’ pointing out his sin to him.

God’s Law was given to you as a way to cause you to despair of saving yourself through you’re own works–and then to cling to the perfect works of Jesus! Through faith in Jesus you will be credited with His righteousness! All praise and glory to our Savior Jesus!