Righteous Living in Perilous Times: Christ Paid the Price for Peace With His Righteousness!

Have you managed to pay the price for peace and happiness with your righteousness? That’s what President Smith claims the Lord requires in this months Relief Society Lesson:

“When the gospel was restored to earth in this dispensation, the Lord repeated what he has said so many times in the Old and New Testaments, that the price of peace and happiness is righteousness.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 24: Righteous Living in Perilous Times, p. 259)

Even though LDS prophets testify that a person can attain righteousness through their own effort, “the Old and New Testaments” reveal differently:

“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.” (Romans 3:10-12 quoting Psalm 14:2-3)

Jesus declared His testimony of this truth revealed by the Psalmist: “…there is none good but one, that is, God…”. (Matthew 19:16-17)

You can never pay the price God demands for peace and happiness because that price is too high. No one can meet God’s demands for righteousness—even though LDS prophets claim you can:

The Lord has not required something that is impossible. On the contrary, he has given us commandments and advice and counsel that it is possible for all of us to follow in this day and age in which we live. … … All that we need is to repent of our sins, turn from the error of our ways, cleanse our lives of impurity, and then to go about doing good.” (p. 263)

Only someone who doesn’t know Christ as Lord would claim that it is possible to “cleanse our lives of impurity” by keeping God’s commandments. God has required us to be as perfect as He is (Matthew 5:48)—something that is truly impossible. You can search the entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation, and you will not find one passage that backs up the false teaching that God will accept anything less. The Apostle Paul revealed that no unclean person can dwell in God’s presence (Ephesians 5:5). The sobering truth is that there is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right (Ecclesiastes 7:20).

This is why Jesus had to come to save us! He kept God’s commandments for us because we were doomed to failure without Him. Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s laws for us—in our place. He came to be our substitute for the righteousness demanded by Heavenly Father. It is through faith in Him that we are made righteous.

The day I found the peace of God was when the Holy Spirit opened my heart to faith. I learned that the only path to peace through righteousness is the one that trusts solely in the Savior for righteousness. Christ is our righteousness—as the Prophet Jeremiah revealed: “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS”! (23:6) It was His righteousness that paid the price of peace; and Christ’s blood that makes us holy:

“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Colossians 1:19-23)

The Prophet Isaiah knew that our own righteousness is nothing in God’s eyes:

“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)

That’s why Isaiah revealed that our righteousness comes from the Lord:

“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)

Believing that you must pay for your peace and happiness with your own righteousness shows you don’t know “the God of hope” who “fill[s] you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Romans 15:13)

The Prophet Abraham had faith in God’s promise of righteousness:

“For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.” (Romans 4:2-8)

President Smith reveals to you why he thinks you should do good works:

“I want to plead with you, … be as anchors in the community in which you live that others may be drawn to you and feel secure. Let your light so shine that others seeing your good works will have a desire in their hearts to be like you.” (p. 263)

Today, I bear testimony that nothing brings more peace and happiness than following the Words of my Lord Jesus:

“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) 61:10

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Stay on the Lord’s Side of the Line: By Knowing That You Cannot Earn The Celestial Kingdom

This months Relief Society Lesson teaches that “Staying on the Lord’s side of the line requires strict obedience to the commandments.” (p 192) President Smith claims the reason this is so important is because that’s the only way you can “earn the celestial kingdom“:

“How careful we as Latter-day Saints ought to be to live every day of our lives that we may be influenced by the power of the Lord, and that we may be able to turn aside from those things that have a tendency to break down our power to earn the celestial kingdom.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 18: Stay on the Lord’s Side of the Line (p 198)

LDS Prophets testify that God gave us His law as the means to become righteous and gain eternal life:

“The laws of God given to mankind are embodied in the gospel plan, and the Church of Jesus Christ is made responsible for teaching these laws to the world. They are given by our Heavenly Father for only one purpose, that you who are governed by law might also be preserved by law and perfected and sanctified, or made holy by the same” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church-Harold Lee, page 27).

But in truth, God actually gave you His commandments to show you that you could never become righteous by obedience! It is through God’s law that you become aware of your sins. The Apostle Paul claimed that God’s law is like a mirror. When you read His law and see what He demands from you, you then see how far off from the mark you are. When you look into the mirror of God’s law; you will see an utterly sinful person!

From this months lesson we read of only a few of God’s commands:

“If you attend to your secret prayers and your family prayers… If you are grateful for food and express that gratitude to God… If you love your neighbor as yourself… If you are honest in your dealing with your fellow men… If you observe the Word of Wisdom… And so I might go on through the Ten Commandments and the other commandments that God has given… Finding fault with the things that God has given to us for our guidance…

[The Lord has said]: “I cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;” not with the least degree of allowance [D&C 1:31]…. The Lord himself has said that we must keep his commandments: “There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated.” (p 192)

The uncompromising commands in God’s law prove we can’t meet God’s demands. In fact, we don’t even come close! Jesus knew that the commandments were given so we could see our sinfulness. Think about when He commanded us to “be as perfect as our Father in Heaven” (Matthew 5:48). Did He truly believe that anyone besides Himself could fulfill this command?

Jesus knew that God’s law was given to unbelievers so that sin would increase (Romans 5:20). Can you believe that? God actually gave His commandments so that people would sin more!

Why would He do this? Because, it is only when you despair of saving yourself that you will see your complete need for a Savior. Only then will you give up on your impossible efforts to become righteous by obedience. Only then will you know that Jesus couldn’t just “help you” return to your Heavenly Father–He had to do it for you!

Only then will you turn solely to Jesus for rescue. And when you do, a miracle happens. Through faith in your Savior you are credited with His righteousness, His perfect obedience! At that moment, you are righteous in God’s sight and receive the gift of eternal life! You have been saved by Jesus’ obedience to God’s laws, not your own! Isn’t that amazing?

When I was a Mormon I misunderstood Christians who claimed they didn’t have to keep the commandments in order to be saved. I thought this meant they didn’t want to keep the commandments and I assumed they must be living a life of blatant sinfulness. Now I understand this isn’t true. Christians don’t have to obey God to be saved, because they have already been given eternal life. But, they are privileged to obey God simply because they love Him. What a blessing it is to stay on the Lord’s side of the line–through faith! In thankfulness to Jesus my whole life is devoted to Him!

While LDS leaders teach that you can “earn the celestial kingdom” by keeping God’s laws, God’s Prophets and Christ’s Apostles testify that no one can earn eternal life through their own obedience:

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:21-24)

Truly the Lord has already delivered us! “I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21)

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“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”

“Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.”

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.” (Romans 3:19-20, 5:20, 7:7-8).

The Strengthening Power of Faith: Through Faith We are Credited With Righteousness!

This weeks Relief Society Lesson claims:

God grants faith as a gift to the righteous… We know that faith is a gift of God; it is the fruitage of righteous living. It does not come to us by our command, but is the result of doing the will of our Heavenly Father.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 17: The Strengthening Power of Faith, p 188)

This isn’t true. In fact it’s completely backwards. It’s not possible for someone to be righteous before the Holy Spirit brings them to faith! The Lesson acknowledges: “We are informed that without faith we cannot please God [see Hebrews 11:6]” (p 182)

The only way to become righteous is through faith in Christ:

“For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.” (Romans 4:3-8)

The basic message taught by the prophets and apostles of the Bible is that without faith, every human is evil and doesn’t even come close to meeting God’s demands for perfection. The first time I recognized this was when I read a Sermon about prayer. The Preacher boldly claimed that all the fathers listening to Him were “evil”!

Hearing that made me feel 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”. A little later in His Sermon He even commanded us to be as perfect as our Heavenly Father!

Jesus is the Preacher 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?” When I read His Sermon in context there was no indication that those listening to His Sermon were worse than anyone else. Jesus also told the rich young ruler “there is none good but one, that is, God”.

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?”

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 don’t tend to think that anything we do ourselves is actually “evil”.

It isn’t surprising that God consideres murder and adultery evil, but Nehemiah preached that not keeping the Sabbath day holy was evil. He also testified that marrying outside the faith was a “great evil” (13:27). 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 that Jesus had taught: “for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.

Everything I’ve mentioned so far is only a small part of what God’s Word names 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 about himself:

“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.”

James 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 in God’s eyes, anyone without faith is evil! It is amazing 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.” Every person the Holy Spirit brings to faith is equally evil. 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 “Good News” taught in God’s Word is this:

Jesus not only died for us, He also lived for us. He obeyed every command perfectly, meeting God’s demands for perfection for us–in our place. He is our righteousness!

Heavenly Father credits Christ’s perfect works to all who trust solely in their Savior for righteousness. In God’s sight, all believers wear Christ’s protective robe of righteousness. That’s why eternal life is a free gift given to those who have faith in Christ.

The very same Jesus that proclaimed the dire consequences of evil, shares our only means of escape—it’s through faith alone that we 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.” (John 3:14-15)

Advancing the Work of the Lord: If You Shirk Your Part, Will You Forfeit God’s Blessings?

For most of my childhood my father held callings within the Church, including Bishop, Stake President and Stake Patriarch. The sentence I most remember my father saying was taken from a revelation given to Joseph Smith: “All blessings are predicated upon obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.” (From Doctrine and Covenants 130) I’m sure my Dad taught this to me as often as he did because he loved me; and he wanted me to learn what he believed to be the only way to gain eternal life. I’m so thankful my eyes and heart have been opened to the truth in spite of what I was taught. As much as I love my Father, I place the words of my Savior above his:

“That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.” And also of John the Baptist: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:15, 36).

Along with many other LDS leaders, George Albert Smith must not have read the words of Christ. In spite of what Jesus Christ taught, he claimed that if you shirk in promoting the Lord’s work, you will forfeit God’s blessings. This week’s Relief Society Lesson:

“I must carry that part of the load that the Lord places upon me, and if I shirk, then I realize that I forfeit the blessing that would come to me by obedience to the commandments of our Father.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 15: Advancing the Work of the Lord, p. 160)

Reading this lesson made me wonder how LDS women react to these words of their prophet. Do you really believe that you can “live by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of our Father in heaven”? (p. 161) Have you even had the time to read His “every word”?

Do you fear for your boys and girls who are not “walking in obedience to the commandments of the Lord”? (p. 164)

How does it feel, knowing that the Lord’s promise of protection and safeguarding depends upon your ability to “honor him and keep his commandments”? (p. 162)

Do you really believe that “Mormonism… is the power of God unto salvation to those who will keep the commandments of our Father”? (p. 165) Then my question to you, is “Which commandments do you have to keep?” Cause there’s no way anyone can even come close to keeping all of God’s commands. Anyone that believes they can do this, doesn’t really know everything that God has commanded of you in His law. Heavenly Father has given to us many laws that must be obeyed before we can dwell in His presence. By far the most daunting command given was when Jesus claimed we must be as perfect as Heavenly Father Himself! (Matthew 5:48 ) The Apostle Paul revealed that no unclean person can dwell in God’s presence (Ephesians 5:5).

The sobering truth is that there is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right (Ecclesiastes 7:20). That’s why Jesus had to come to earth and save us! He kept all of God’s commandments for us, because we were doomed to failure without Him. Jesus perfectly obeyed God’s will in our place. It was His Mission to be our substitute for the righteousness demanded by Heavenly Father. Christ’s very purpose was to do what we were unable to do for ourselves—fulfill God’s law. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that he may establish the second” (Hebrews 10:9). “For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:3-4).

The blessing of eternal life can only be gained as a gift. In fact, the most amazing blessings are unconditional gifts given by our loving Father in Heaven! Jesus testified that this unconditional blessing is actually God’s will for all who believe in Him: “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:40)

If you don’t believe my words, then I beg you to honestly follow the words of your prophet—100%! Only then will you come to realize that you cannot do what your prophet demands of you.

“Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:19-20)

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.”

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:21-22, 24)

Doing Our Part to Share the Gospel: Which Gospel–the False Gospel Taught by Your Prophets; or the Gospel of Christ?

In my neighborhood, I am often called the “chicken lady”. I love my chickens! 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 come running. They 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 Jesus’ 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 the promise He gave to His sheep: “And I give unto them eternal life”?

Or, do you hear the voice of a different Jesus—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. Did you hear the voice of your Savior in the Sermon on the Mount as He commanded 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 Jesus 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. Jesus’ sheep have given up of 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.” (John 3:15-16)

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 Jesus we are credited with Christ’s 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)

The Apostle Paul finally heard the voice of his Savior; and as His missionary shared the Gospel of Christ:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

LDS prophets have twisted the Gospel of Christ:

“…to teach them the gospel of our Lord, that it is the power of God unto salvation unto all those who believe and obey it.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 13: Doing Our Part to Share the Gospel, p. 140)

When my chickens hear my voice they come running because they know that I have gifts waiting for them. 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 realize what the true Gospel of Christ is, that it has the power to give salvation to all who believe. When you do, you will receive His amazing gifts of perfection and eternal life.

Believe it, and receive it. Then be Christs’ missionary and share the true Gospel of Christ with every person you meet:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth

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The True Gospel: How is the LDS Gospel Similar to White Bread?

My mother taught me that eating healthy grains was important; she made whole-grain bread every week. When I became a mother I did the same, and learned even more about the differences between white bread and whole grain. Over thirty very important nutrients are known to exist in the wheat kernel, but most of them are removed in the milling process. White bread has removed the life-giving qualities from the whole grain. This weeks Relief Society Lesson made me think about the similarities between white bread and the LDS gospel. Like white bread, the LDS gospel has removed all the life-giving qualities that are found in the true Gospel.

I grew up LDS and learned about the gospel, as defined in the LDS KJV Dictionary: “The word gospel means good news. The good news is that Jesus Christ has made a perfect atonement for mankind that will redeem all mankind from the grave and reward each individual according to his/her works.”

The gospel teaches us all we need to know to return to live with our Father in Heaven… According to Elder Bruce R. McConkie: “Eternal life is not a name that has reference only to the unending duration of a future life; immortality is to live forever in the resurrected state, and by the grace of God all men will gain this unending continuance of life. But only those who obey the fulness of the gospel law will inherit eternal life.” (The Gospel of Jesus Christ, Elder L. Tom Perry, Ensign, April 2008)

It wasn’t until after I left the church that I dug into the Bible to find out what God would reveal to me. It was a wonderful experience learning the truth. I learned that Jesus had already done everything needed for us “to return to live with our Father in Heaven.” I found out that no one will gain eternal life by obeying God’s law: “…for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:21b)

I discovered that the Gospel really is the Good News. But the Good News is so much more than what LDS leaders teach. The Good News is that Jesus Christ made a perfect atonement for mankind when He offered Himself as the final sacrifice for sin. At the cross, Jesus took upon Himself the sins of the world and in exchange, gave us His righteousness. He is our Substitute for the perfection that God requires. (Matthew 5:48) Now that we have been made perfect and righteous, we are reconciled to God and have eternal life through faith in Christ!

And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled. In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel,” (Colossians 1:20-23)

Jesus Himself taught that the Good News meant so much more than merely being resurrected from the grave. He revealed that because He was lifted up on the cross, all who believe in Him have 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)

The Apostle Paul recorded one of my favorite passages about the Gospel:

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)

Notice what the power of God is? The gospel of Christ! And, that power is strong enough to grant salvation to all who believe.

In this weeks Relief Society Lesson, we see where the Prophet used this passage but changed God’s Word to make it fit into the false gospel of Mormonism:

“…but it is that the sons and daughters of God, wherever they may be, may hear this Gospel, which is the power of God unto salvation to all those who believe and obey its precepts.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 12: An Enthusiastic Desire to Share the Gospel, p. 128)

If the Apostle Paul were around and read what President Smith wrote, he would have reprimanded him for adding works to the Gospel message. In Galatians the Apostle Paul reprimanded the Apostle Peter because he also was not walking according to the truth of the Gospel:

13 But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all…

14 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law:for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

21 I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:13-21) (Because of the length, I have only included passages pertinent to our discussion. It is all wonderful, so please read Galatians 2:11 through 3:26)

Even though LDS Prophets claim that Paul is speaking only of the law of Moses, this is not true. Paul is talking about any law from God. Simply read on into the next chapter in Galatians where Paul states:

Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe.” (Galatians 3:21-22)

Which Gospel do you believe in? The one that claims: “only those who obey the fulness of the gospel law will inherit eternal life“?

Or the Gospel of Christ: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth

To God be the glory!

Chapter 11: Revelation From God to His Children: God Speaks to Me Daily!

I was amazed to learn that Christians believe God still speaks to them today! When I was LDS I had been told that only the LDS Church believed in personal revelation and that other Christians believed the heavens were closed. This weeks Relief Society/Priesthood Lesson teaches this:

“The thousands, yes, the millions, of our Father’s children who live in the earth are but repeating the history of the past when they deny that God has revealed again his will to the children of men, and say that they have no need of any further revelation. We do not believe that the heavens are sealed over our heads, but that the same Father who loved and cherished the children of Israel loves and cherishes us. We believe that we are as much in need of the assistance of our Heavenly Father in the directing of our lives as they were.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 11: Revelation from God to His Children, p.115)

Christians certainly don’t believe the heavens are closed! God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost all live inside the hearts of every person with a living faith in Jesus! “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.” (Eph 3:10-19) Having this kind of personal relationship with the God of love is worth more than life itself.

I have a very personal relationship with my Heavenly Father. I get to talk to Him through prayer and He speaks to me personally when I read His Words in scripture. We read of this truth when Jesus rebuked the Jews for not knowing scripture or the power of God. He told them that God literally spoke divine truths to them when they read scripture! “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living” (Mathew 22:31-32). God spoke to the Jews through scripture telling them the divine truth that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were living prophets, not dead ones.

When I was LDS I didn’t know this truth, that God speaks to us personally through scripture. That’s because I didn’t understand the important truth that God’s Word is alive–it’s living and active! Now, I know it is the “sword of the Spirit” and is so powerful it can literally pierce the soul and spirit of man. It also can discern the thoughts and intents of a person’s heart (Ephesians 6:17/Hebrews 4: 12). The Holy Spirit actively works through the hearing or reading of God’s Word; this is actually how He works the miracle of faith in an unbeliever. Jesus claimed His Word was so powerful that a person is immediately granted everlasting life through hearing it and believing: “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)

The Holy Ghost is actually the author of scripture; those who wrote scripture didn’t use their own words to write it. They were inspired about what to say when the Holy Ghost moved them to write Words given to them. In fact, the inspiration of scripture was the mission of the Holy Ghost. Scripture is “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Peter 1:20-21/2 Timothy 3: 15-17).

Because I believe and trust in God’s Word I do not stumble in darkness! I boldly proclaim that God’s “word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Psalm 119:105). One of my favorite Psalms tells the importance of meditating on God’s Word: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Psalm 1).

Scripture written several hundred years earlier still “spoke” to Jesus and His Apostles, and they were guided by it daily. We read one example in the book of Romans where Paul talks about the Prophet Abraham. Paul reminds his readers of the scripture from Genesis saying that Abraham was imputed with righteousness because of his faith. Paul then says “Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; But for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” (Romans 4: 20-25).

These scriptures were also written for you! If you “believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead” you also will be imputed with righteousness through faith!!! Just like Abraham was.  And yes, every other person whose trust is solely in Christ and all that has already done for them—-even me!

The Scriptures, the Most Valuable Library in the World: Follow Christ’s Example & Study

When I was LDS I never understood why so many “anti-Mormons” tried to prove the Book of Mormon was false. Now, as a Christian I still don’t understand the majority of arguments used as evidence against it. When asking the question “Is the Book of Mormon true?” one needs to clarify “in what way?” Is it a “true” historical account of peoples who lived in the Americas; or are the beliefs expressed in it “true” to God’s Word?

It’s apparent that some apologetics are merely trying to prove that the Book of Mormon is a false historical account. They claim the Book of Mormon can’t be true because horses or steel weren’t supposed to have yet arrived in the Americas during the time the Book of Mormon peoples lived. Or they claim that DNA testing of Native Americans is proof that the Book of Mormon is false. But even if one could prove that the Book of Mormon is a true historical account, this proof doesn’t verify that the beliefs expressed in it are God’s inspired Word.

In the Bible God promised that there would be false Christ’s, false prophets and apostles, and false spirits. We have been warned about such deceivers many times by the Prophets of the Old Testament as well as by Jesus and His Apostles. Thankfully, God told us how to determine if a prophet, spirit, or in this case a book; is truly from God. We are told to “test” their fruits. The “fruit” of anyone (or any book) claiming to speak for God is their words. The “test” is to compare their words with already revealed scripture. Do their teachings agree with it?

I was thrilled to read this same thought in the Relief Society Lesson:

“We talk about the philosophies of men and hold them up sometimes as a pretty picture, but when they conflict with the teachings of our Heavenly Father as contained in Holy Writ, they are valueless. They will never lead anybody into eternal happiness, nor help him to find a place in the kingdom of our Heavenly Father.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 10: The Scriptures, the Most Valuable Library in the World, p.105)

Anything a false prophet taught would be man-made philosophy and be in conflict with God’s Word. Even if an angel appears to us and preaches another gospel than the one taught by Christ’s Apostles, we are not to believe him:

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:6-9).

God wants us to use revealed scripture to test any new words. Jesus is a shining example of using scripture to test if words are true or false. Here are just a few examples:

In the dessert Satan tried to tempt Him by twisting scripture. Jesus used scripture to test Satan’s words by saying “It is written…”. He used the same words with the false money changers who bought and sold in the Temple. When the Pharisees accused His disciples of breaking the Sabbath, Jesus said “Have ye not read…” to prove them wrong. He also used these words with them when they tested Him about divorce. When the Sadducees asked him a doctrinal question about marriage in Heaven, Jesus said “Ye do err, not knowing the scriptures…”

There is another shining example of using scripture to test a person’s words in the book of Acts. Luke tells us that the Bereans used scripture to test if Paul and Silas’ words were true. He claims that they— “were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11)

I am sure that during the time following Christ’s death many Israelites would have “tested” the words of the Apostles to see if they were true. Today, every Christian should use this “test” on anyone claiming to speak God’s Word, even their church leaders.

Is the Book of Mormon truly God’s holy scripture inspried by the Holy Ghost? Using Christ’s method of testing, we find that it fails the test! One simple example can be found using the topic of Salvation. In the Book of Mormon we read:

“for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23b)

Compare this with already revealed scripture found in the New Testament:

“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 2:8-9)

Both books claim that a person is saved by grace. But the Book of Mormon declares a person is saved by grace, plus works. The Third Article of Faith summarizes this LDS doctrine: “We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”

Comparing this Book of Mormon verse with already revealed scripture, we find that it fails the test! God’s truth claims that a person is saved by grace, through faith, and not works. Scripture also explains that you can’t add your “works” to God’s “grace”:

“And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.” (Romans 11:6)

You won’t hear me say this very often, but I ask you to follow this advice given in your Relief Society Lesson:

“Now, I want to say, my brothers and sisters, that the advice of Jesus Christ, is still in force with us wherein he said, “Search the scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of me.” [John 5:39.] Do not neglect the old family Bible; do not put it away upon the shelf and forget it. Find out, if you do not already know, what it says, and if you have read it before, read it again often to your children and to your children’s children.” (p. 108)

Follow Jesus’ advice and His example! Test the Book of Mormon with God’s already revealed scripture—the Bible. When you do you will find that the Book of Mormon fails the test–it is not God’s inspired Word!

“How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way. Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” (Psalm 119:103-105)

Temple Blessings for Ourselves and Our Ancestors: Can Eternal Marriage Be Perfect?

When I was a young girl I dreamt of having an eternal marriage. One day I would be in the celestial room kneeling across the altar, looking at the love of my life. We would see each other in the reflection of the mirrors as we were sealed to each other for time and all eternity. This man would cherish me and love me unconditionally, as I would him. He would be my best friend—someone I could trust. We would share all our joys, our hurts and pains, and the desires of our hearts. Most importantly, he would be faithful and true to me forever.

As I said, this was my dream. But I really never thought it would come true. Before I was even old enough to know what it was, I had lost my most important possession—my virginity. For most of my childhood I had been sexually abused and I felt so much shame. I knew how unclean I was, how inadequate to be a man’s wife. Who could ever love me if they knew? I was a broken and unhealthy young woman.

I dated quite a bit. One young man was very special to me, but I never felt worthy enough for him. How could I ever tell him the truth? While he was on his mission, I made horrible choices that confirmed I was not worthy. Getting drunk one night led to getting pregnant by a man who was not LDS. My dream of an eternal marriage was shattered by my sin.

We married and my husband was baptized our first year of marriage. We both desired to be married in the Temple and worked to become worthy. Our second daughter died of SIDS and we desperately wanted to be sealed together as a family. After we obtained our much sought after Temple recommend we were married in the Salt Lake Temple. As the years passed, my husband started questioning his faith in Mormonism. Much to my dismay, he left the Church. Then I found out he had been unfaithful to me. We separated and my girls and I moved to a new State and a new Ward. The desire of my heart was to be forgiven and cleansed of my sins. I clung to the words of my prophet Spencer Kimball about how to gain this forgiveness. (If you would like to read about this, read my post titled “God Doesn’t Lie—You Have Been Forgiven”)

After I left the Church, my husband and I reconciled. He promised he would be faithful and true to me and I trusted him. Over the next several years, he often broke this promise. My heart ached every time he cheated on me, but I always took him back. Deep inside I felt that the reason he was intimate with other women was because there was something wrong with me–because I had been sexually abused. Finally, after a rocky 14 years together, he left me for good. I vowed never to trust another man. I turned to other things I loved—my daughters, my artwork, college classes and gardening. But no matter what I did, I was still alone with the guilt and shame of my sins. I knew I was unworthy, unlovable and unfit.

Amazingly when I was 36, I met the man of my dreams! He knew everything about me—all my life of shame and sinfulness. Despite how unworthy I was, He still loved and cherished me! Nothing I had ever done mattered to Him. His love was unconditional. Even though I had vowed never to marry again, I was so in love with Him that I couldn’t help myself! His name was Jesus and in 1994 I was sealed to Him for time and all eternity by Heavenly Father Himself (2 Corinthians 1:20-22). He had already proved His love for me by giving His life for me—washing me of my sin and guilt and making me the virgin I never really had the chance to be! Because of this, I knew I could trust Him and that He would be faithful to me forever.

When He chose me as His bride, He showered me with so many undeserved gifts. But the gift I have treasured most is the forgiveness won for me by His shed blood. His blood has made me clean! My life of shame was taken away the moment He chose me to be His bride. He even gave me my wedding garments! I sing with joy the words of the Prophet Isaiah: “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) This gift of His robe of righteousness cleansed me of all sin, so I can dwell in the very presence of God!!

Having been given this amazing gift has changed my life drastically. One of those changes has been my desire to study God’s Word. I pour over the pages of the Bible, discovering the things that God wants to teach me. LDS Prophets claim that marriages performed in LDS Temples will last into eternity: “Grateful should we be for a knowledge of the eternity of the marriage covenant.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 8: Temple Blessings for Ourselves and Our Ancestors)

But when I did a study on whether a marriage between a man and a woman will last into eternity, I found God’s truth. The only marriage relationship that will last beyond the grave is one with Jesus. Jesus Himself testified of this truth:

“For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as the angels which are in heaven.” (Mark 12:25).

This doesn’t mean that believing husbands and wives won’t be together for eternity. It just means that their relationship will not be as a man and wife. All believers will spend eternity together, in companionship with God the Father, Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost.

Another gift God gave me was the courage to marry again. Four years after I met Jesus, God brought into my life a wonderful Christian man of God who, amazingly, is also Christ’s bride. The Apostle John taught us in the book of Revelation that anyone who has been made righteous through Christ is His bride. And my husband and I will be together for eternity because we both have faith in Jesus.

There is no earthly relationship that surpasses the love that Jesus has for you. He died for you and wants to shower you with His gift of righteousness. Please, join with the Apostle John as we shout: “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” (Revelation 19:7-9).

The Immortality of the Soul: As Man Is, God Once Was, and As God Is, Man May Become?

The Relief Society and Priesthood Lesson for this week states: “The Lord has blessed us with a knowledge that he lives, and has a body, and that we are created in his image. We do not believe that he is some kind of essence or that he is incomprehensible.”

Have you ever questioned the LDS belief that God’s “eternal spirit is housed in a tangible body of flesh and bones”? When I was LDS I never questioned this teaching — it seemed that the Bible clearly supported it. After the Holy Spirit brought me to faith in the true Christ, I discovered that this doctrine was unique to Mormonism. And I soon found out that the Christian churches I attended taught other things about the nature of God that didn’t make sense to me. So I decided to dig into scripture to find out the truth. With my new-found faith I had a strong resolve to be like the Berean’s — to search the scriptures and make sure that whatever I was told agreed with God’s truth. (Acts 17:11)

Underlying the LDS teaching that God has a body of flesh and bones is the belief that God was once a sinful man, subservient to an earlier created god: “…we believe that “As man is, God once was, and as God is, man may become.” [See Lorenzo Snow, “The Grand Destiny of Man,” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 7: The Immortality of the Soul, p 71)

Searching the scriptures I quickly discovered that the words of this LDS prophet are false. God’s Prophet, the Prophet Isaiah wrote: “Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me.” “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God.” (43:10, 44:6)

Learning that God could never have been a man still didn’t explain to me what God was. I wondered what He looked like. I had been taught that since I was created in God’s image, then God must look like me. I decided to read all the passages referenced in the LDS Topical Guide about the body of God to see if any had been miss-interpreted. To my surprise, they hadn’t. These passages clearly taught that God had the physical characteristics of a man. They attributed God as having a face, mouth, voice, fingers, hands and feet.

Wanting to learn more, I started doing word studies. When I found another passage saying that God had a hand as well as ears, I wondered why this passage hadn’t been listed in the LDS Topical Guide. Reading in context answered my question and led me to a surprising discovery! Not only did God have ears, He had wings and feathers:

“I have called upon thee, for thou wilt hear me, O God: incline thine ear unto me, and hear my speech. Shew thy marvellous lovingkindness, O thou that savest by thy right hand them which put their trust in thee from those that rise up against them. Keep me as the apple of the eye, hide me under the shadow of thy wings” (Ps 17:6-8).

“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. 3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. 4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” (Psalm 91:1-4)

From this study I learned that while scripture often attributes human characteristics to God, it also uses non-human characteristics to describe Him. (Not surprisingly, you won’t find any of these passages listed in the LDS Topical Guide.) Mormons can no more claim that God is a glorified man than someone could say He is an enormous bird.

Jesus told us the truth about what God is. He revealed:

“God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

God is so powerful that He can take on any form He chooses. We see at Christ’s baptism that the Holy Ghost took on the physical form of a dove. Scripture often uses word pictures to give us a glimpse of what God is like because He is so unlike humans:

“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (1 Timothy 3:16)

Scripture reveals that our Savior has always been God! He was not (as LDS prophets claim) “the first spirit born to our heavenly parents” — parents who began their lives as created spirit children:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14) Jesus took on human flesh and became a man “to make reconciliation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:14-18). Even though He was God, He “took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Philippians 2:5-8)

In the end, it is not the form of God that matters, it is what He did for us. Death is a consequence of sin but Jesus had no sins of His own! He died on the cross because He chose to die — for you. It was His mission — His very purpose for coming to earth was to take our sins upon Himself, as if they were His own; and give us His righteousness, as if it was our own:

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Your sins have been covered and forgiven by His blood. Believe it and receive it, and trust in Him:

“How excellent is thy loving kindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.” Psalms 36:7

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