Saturday, March 31, 2012

Prophets, prophecies, and future-telling


A friend asked me not too long ago if I knew of any prophecies of Joseph Smith that didn't come to fruition. As I taught people on the streets of Ukraine about the living prophet on the earth today, some would ask what prophecies this prophets has made and if any of them had come true. Sometimes, as in the case of my friend, people ask this question in sincerity, and sometimes, as in the case of a lot of the people on the streets of Ukraine, this question was asked with an air of, "oh yeah? Prove this guy is a prophet."

The question of prophecies of future events, whether fulfilled or yet to be, I think is interesting. The scriptures tell of times when prophets did foretell future events and more importantly, they tell of the consequences followed both those who heeded warning and those who did not. Noah foretold a worldwide flood, Joseph warned of seven years of plenty followed by seven years of famine, Moses warned Pharaoh of the consequences should he not let the children of Israel free, numerous prophets told of the destruction of Jerusalem, and, most importantly, every prophet from has Adam foretold of the birth of the Messiah, the Savior of the world.

In some instances prophets do tell of very specific, time-sensitive events such as flood, famine, or war. These events are all directly linked to the actions of people on the earth and the people are given plenty of warning to prepare and/or repent. But prophets are not fortune tellers placed on earth simply to see the future. Prophets are placed on earth by God to tell us, His children, of His great plan--a plan that helps us know how to lead happy and successful lives, lives that will lead us back to Him.

Prophets and apostles in our day have warned that we should get out of debt, not live beyond our means, and have plentiful food storage. Taught Elder L Tom Perry, an apostle of the Lord, "Avoid excessive debt. Necessary debt should be incurred only after careful, thoughtful prayer and after obtaining the best possible advice. We need the discipline to stay well within our ability to pay. Wisely we have been counseled to avoid debt as we would avoid the plague" ("If Ye Are Prepared Ye Shall Not Fear," Ensign, Nov. 1995, 36).

And from President J. Reuben Clark, also an apostle, "Live within your means. Get out of debt. Keep out of debt. Lay by for a rainy day which has always come and will come again. Practice and increase your habits of thrift, industry, economy, and frugality." (Conference Report, Oct. 1937, p. 107.) How many people would be so much better off during these past few years if they had been following this counsel from wise servants of the Lord?

Prophets and apostles also warn us about preserving the sacred nature of the family. The Lord teaches through His prophets that "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator’s plan for the eternal destiny of His children. . . . The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ." With this teaching comes the prophecy, "We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets." This is a reminder of prophesies made throughout history. As people continue to either fight for or remain silent during the attempt to redefine marriage, and continue in lifestyles that teach "whatever goes," they are disregarding this warning from God and his prophets have prophesied of the consequences that will come.

The prophet Nephi taught this of the role of prophets:

"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.
...
"And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins" (2 Nephi 25:23,26).

The role of prophets is not to tell the future and warn us of all the specific trials and events that may come our way, but rather to tell us the mind and will of God in relation to our eternal salvation. The most important thing we could know right now is that we are all children of God, who is our Heavenly Father and that Jesus Christ lives, that He lived on the earth and that through His Atonement all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel. Which laws, ordinances, and gospel are taught us by the prophets.

This weekend, (March 31-April 1), the current, latter-day prophet and each of the apostles will address the world in a general conference of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These holy men, men called and ordained of God to be His mouthpieces and run His church, will speak to us on matters that most concern us in our day. Although he could if God willed it, the prophet probably will not tell us the exact day of the Second Coming, the exact time and location the next earthquake will happen, nor will he tell who will win March Madness or Super Bowl L. The Lord does not concern Himself and His prophets with such things because we have much bigger worries and concerns in this life.

Instead, the prophet and the apostles will reiterate the importance of cultivating faith, remind us of the beautiful cleansing power of the Atonement and of proper repentance. They will teach of the importance of covenants, reminding us and instructing us how to better keep the covenants we made at baptism and in the temple. They will expound the scriptures and help us better understand the power of the Holy Ghost, how we can better invite the Spirit to guide our lives, and why the guidance of the Spirit is absolutely vital. They will explain how we may better endure to the end, deal with trials that will certainly come our way, and love and serve those around us. They will teach us what the Savior taught when He was on the earth and what the Savior would teach us if He were here today in person.

There are living prophets on the earth today. The Lord reveals His plan of happiness for us through them. Check it out.

Jeremy

Thursday, March 15, 2012

The Trinity or Godhead

Recently I told of an experience in which I went with one of my dear friends to one of her college Baptist organization evening events. The event started with music from a local band that is now trying to make it big in Nashville and then featured a guest pastor from the area. I really enjoyed the experience for a few reasons and you can read about it here.

Today I want to address the sermon given by the pastor that night on the Trinity. The goal of this post is to clarify the doctrine concerning the Godhead, or Trinity, for anyone and everyone who decides to read this blog.

As the guest pastor introduced his subject, he emphasized the importance of doctrine when understanding the Trinity. What was the very first thing he discussed? Mormons and their belief in the Godhead. At this point my friend put her hand on my arm, I’m sure worried about what I was thinking and a bit worried what the pastor was going to say next. He continued on, expounding on what Mormons believe, saying that we “will tell you that [we] believe in the Jesus taught in the Bible, the Jesus [the pastor and participants] believe in. But if you open up [our] Book of Mormon [we] do not believe in the same Jesus Christ preached in the Bible. [We] don’t even understand [our] own doctrine.” He went on and on about this that and the other, at one point expounding on his interpretation of the doctrine that we are all children of our Heavenly Father. My favorite quote: “They teach that the Father has a harem of heavenly wives and had celestial sex to create all of us. And guess who was number one? Jesus. And you,” he said, pointing to a random in the crowd, “are number 7,310,239,012,” at which point he got a laugh.

I’ll admit, I was a little tense during the whole ordeal and he got me a little riled up. I wasn’t angry or mad, just frustrated that he would stand up there and say a whole bunch of twisted or straight up wrong things about what I believe. For me personally, I didn’t care, I’m used to people telling me what I believe. But I found it unfortunate that the people there probably believed him, I mean, why wouldn’t they, he’s in a position of influence and trust. But one of the duties of a public speaker is to check your facts (unless you are intentionally trying to mislead your audience I suppose) and he was sorely confused. I really just wanted to stand up and let everyone know what Mormons actually believe but for obvious reasons that would have been inappropriate and hugely ineffective. I will admit that after the event was over I tried to find him to shake his hand and simply look him in the eye and tell him that I was a Mormon and that he should check his facts before he shared them with others. But I didn’t find him and it’s probably better, I’m not sure that would’ve done any good or gone over well anyways.

The very firm stance of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that, “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost,” (Articles of Faith 1:1). God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost or Holy Spirit are three separate and distinct beings with separate and defined roles who are one in perfect harmony of purpose and doctrine. They are perfectly united in bringing to pass our immortality and eternal life.1 

Importance of Doctrine

Concerning belief in God and Jesus Christ, I agree with the Baptist minister in this one thing: understanding the doctrine of the Godhead is very important in developing your relationship with Deity. If any of us want to develop faith in God, or become more like Jesus Christ, or deepen our relationship with our Father in Heaven we must understand who They are and what They do. Did not Jesus Christ Himself, in addressing His Father, teach that, “this is life eternal that [we] might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent” (John 17:3)?

Knowing who God is and also Jesus Christ whom He sent is important because how are we to sincerely address a being whom we do not know? What kind of relationship do we have with God if we do not know if He is Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, if He sent His Son or come Himself, if He is a spirit, a presence, a cloud, an idea, or if He possesses a body of flesh and bone? This principle is illustrated in our day-to-day lives; our relationships improve and progress according to how well we know someone and according to the effort we put forth to interact with them and get to know them, for how can we truly love and serve someone we do not know?

Modern-day prophets have taught: “As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are his children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other” (Bible Dictionary--Prayer). When we understand the doctrine concerning the Godhead, our relationships with each of Them can improve and progress and we are on our way to eternal life.

The Trinity and the Godhead

The terminology used to describe the differences in beliefs in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit can be confusing. In trying to find the actual meaning of the word “trinity,” I could not find a concrete answer insofar as religion is concerned. Each definition I found talked about a group of three, and when applied to Christianity, talked about three persons united in one, etc. but further than I found about as many different definitions as I did references. Many definitions and explanations I found were completely vague and ambiguous in what three persons in one personality or God actually means. In this post I use Trinity and Godhead somewhat interchangeably, favoring the term “Godhead” because that’s the term I grew up using.

At this meeting, once the pastor finally stopped talking about and criticizing Mormon “doctrines” and got into teaching his own views on the Godhead, I learned that he was of the three-in-one belief, that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are all the same being and entity. He quoted a number of scriptures that appeared to support that belief, always emphasizing that the doctrine is important in understanding the Trinity. He also used the analogy, “I’m a father, I’m a husband, I’m a preacher. Three-in-one, easy to understand.”

This teaching, although widely believed among some if not many religions, is not correct. The teaching and belief that the Godhead is not three but one and that God is incomprehensible came from the Council of Nicaea. In 325 AD (and numerous times thereafter), many prominent religious and political leaders sought to consolidate the doctrine of God and Christianity that had become perverted as the plain and precious things taught by Jesus Christ and the prophets were lost or changed following the death of the apostles. But the doctrine of God is not for man to decide. There is one truth, uncompromisable and unchanging. Either God is or He is not, either He has a Son and operates through the Holy Ghost or He does not, either we are His heavenly creations or we are not. That is not for us to decide or dictate; ours is the responsibility to find out for ourselves what that truth is. And our Father in Heaven gives wisdom and knowledge to those who ask (see James 1:5-6; 2 Nephi 4:35).

What the Bible Teaches

Admittedly, some verses exist in the Bible that seemingly support the doctrine of the three-in-one trinity. The pastor that night used the words from John 14:9-10:

“Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

“Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.”

Using these verses and a few others the pastor built his argument that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all one being.

Yet for every Bible verse that may appear to teach that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one being, more teach that They are separate and distinct beings.

Can we not read in Acts that Stephen, “being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God. And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56)?

Or that Jesus, “when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matt 3:16-17)? Each member of the Godhead is spoken about in these verses, each playing a separate and distinct role.

Or when, on the Mount of Transfiguration, Peter, James, and John, while standing next to Jesus Christ, heard, “a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matt 17:5)?

Or Jesus, when in Gethsemane, about to suffer for the pains, afflictions, temptations, and afflictions of every kind, “fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” (Matt 26:39)?

Or a host of other verses in which Jesus Christ references and talks about His Father?

The verses in John 14 alone can be cleared up by simply reading the chapter in its entirety. Yes, Jesus tells Phillip that “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and . . . I am in the Father and the Father in me,” which is perhaps confusing if you stop there. But if you continue to read, Christ states in verse 12 that He shall, “go unto my Father,” in verse 16 that He will, “pray unto the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter,” in verses 23 and 24 that, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and that my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him . . . and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me” (italics added), in verse 26 that, “the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name,” and in verse 28 that, “I go unto the Father: for the Father is greater than I.” When Christ tells Phillip that if we have seen Him, we have seen the Father, He is teaching Phillip, His apostles, and us that He is exactly like His Father. They are the same in purpose and thought. If you know Jesus Christ, you know the Father.2

To me the doctrine of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost as separate beings with one united purpose is clear. Unfortunately to some the Bible may seem somewhat unclear and seemingly contradictory on this subject. I believe that a lot of confusion can be cleared up by reading verses together and not in isolation but even then some doubt may still exist concerning truth.

The Day of Miracles

Fortunately we do not have to rely on man’s interpretation of the Bible in order to know truth. Indeed, the philosophies of man mingled with scripture will only lead us astray. The apostle Peter clearly taught, “No prophesy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

“For the prophesy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Peter 1:20-21).

The day of miracles has not ceased among the children of men, the heavens are open and God speaks to us as He spoke to His children in ancient times. In ancient times He “gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;

“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;” (Ephesians 4:11-14.)

In our day He once again calls prophets and apostles that we may know His truth, understand clearly His doctrines, and better know how we can come unto Him. He does not leave us to wander in darkness, to be tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine. All confusion that may exist in reading and arguing over the Bible can be and is made clear through modern revelation.

Because God continues to speak through His holy prophets, we have this modern-day verse that so beautifully clears up any misconception of the nature of God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost:

The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man's; the Son also but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us. (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22.)

The Testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith

For me, however, the clearest and strongest testimony that God the Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are separate and distinct beings yet with one purpose is the experience of the prophet Joseph Smith (1805-1844) in the spring of 1820.

In his efforts to discern truth and discover God’s will for him, Joseph Smith found a verse in the first chapter of James which reads: “If and of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all me liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (verse 5). Joseph did just that and did indeed gain wisdom. Of the miraculous answer to his sincere and humble prayer he recounted:

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me.

“When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Joseph Smith--History 1:16-17.)

God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and spoke to him. They called him to be a prophet and through him restored the fulness of the gospel and the Church of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

God is our Father in Heaven. He loves us. We are His spirit children and He desires not simply our temporal well-being but our eternal happiness. Jesus Christ is His Only Begotten Son who came to earth to show us the way back to our Father. He is our Elder Brother who atoned for our sins, trials, afflictions, and pains. And He blesses us with the Holy Spirit, whom He promised in the 14th chapter of John: “shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.

“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:26-27).

Of the risen Lord, the prophet Joseph Smith also said:

“And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!

“For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—

“That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22-24).

Doctrine is important in understanding God and our relationship with Him. And true doctrine is found in the words of the prophets, both ancient and modern, as dictated by the Holy Spirit.

I know that God is our Heavenly Father. I am forever grateful for the infinite virtue of the great atoning sacrifice of His Son Jesus Christ. I am grateful for the continual opportunity to communicate with my Father in Heaven through prayer and that He answers my prayers through the scriptures, the Holy Ghost, and other people. I know that He loves me because I feel His Spirit with which He blesses me when I strive to follow the example of the Savior. God speaks to us in our day through the Holy Ghost and through living prophets.

This is doctrine and it is true.

Jeremy

Notes

1. See John 17:21–23; 2 Ne. 31:21; 3 Ne. 11:27, 36.
2. Later the Apostle Paul described the Son as being “the express image of [God the Father’s] person” (Hebrews 1:3; see also 2 Corinthians 4:4).

For further reading:

President Gordon B. Hinckley, “The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,” Ensign, March 1998
God, Godhead,” Guide to the Scriptures
Godhead,” LDS.org study topic

Monday, March 12, 2012

Thurday Night Together: A Baptist Experience and Mormon Doctrine


Last month I was in Baton Rouge for the Mardi Gras jump rope work shop hosted by the Heart n’ Soul jump rope team. Louisiana is GREAT and I love visiting mostly because the people and the food are so great. Plus, I love that they decorate for Mardi Gras as intensely as the rest of the country decorates for Christmas.

Last year at this same workshop I had a discussion with a friend about whether or not Mormons are Christians, which I posted on this blog. It was a great discussion and hopefully cleared up a few questions about members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and what be believe about Jesus Christ. 

This year I have another story to tell and a few more doctrinal issues to hopefully make clear, this time over the course of a few blog posts. One night my friend Kaylee who is from Baton Rouge invited those of us staying at her house to go to “Thursday Night Together,” or “TNT,” a young adult activity hosted by the Baptist student organization on LSU campus. I was excited to go because I like experiencing different religions and seeing what they do. The atmosphere was really neat; a bunch of co-ed twenty-somethings of all varieties, colors, sizes, personalities, and backgrounds together on a Thursday night. I’ve done the college thing and I know there are other things to do on a Thursday night, yet they all fit TNT in their schedules because they like the atmosphere, company, and want to do something about their faith in God and Jesus Christ. 

Everyone was super nice, we were offered food (of course, it’s the south), and everyone we walked by on our way in to the meeting room said hi and welcomed us. Kaylee introduced us to a number of people who all were sincerely and genuinely excited to meet us and they made me feel so welcome and comfortable.

The evening started with a live performance from Mosaic, a Baton Rouge-native gospel band based out of Nashville. The band was really talented and reminded me of EFY and the whole crowd was really into them. I just enjoyed seeing all the college students excited about God and their faith in Jesus Christ. I was also looking forward to hearing the pastor speak because I’m always interested to hear what other preachers say and how it resembles and differs from what I believe. I was not, however, ready for what this pastor was going to talk about. 

The very first thing he talked about after introducing his topic? Mormons. He told us that he chose to speak on the Trinity and how much of a daunting task such a subject was, but he felt that the was subject important so he was going to teach us about it that night. And then he said, “doctrine is important when discussing the Trinity. Now the Mormons...” and he went off about what (he thinks) we believe. For at least fifteen minutes he talked about “Mormon doctrine” and how off base we are, starting with, “Mormons will tell you that they believe in the Jesus taught in the Bible, the Jesus you and I believe in. But if you open up their Book of Mormon they do not believe in the same Jesus Christ preached in the Bible. They don’t even understand their own doctrine.” He went on to tell the congregation about the “Mormon Jesus” and said a whole bunch of very twisted or outright wrong things that I don’t feel the necessity to repeat here.

I can only imagine what my friend Kaylee who invited us or the other jumpers that came were thinking. For one, I’m sure the whole thing was a bit awkward for them. Kaylee put her hand on my arm as he started into his criticism and said, “It’s okay,” which I just waved off letting her know that I wasn’t offended or anything. Really though, for one, being offended is a choice. And two, c’mon, I’m a Mormon and I served a mission for the Church for two years in Ukraine; I’m used to other people telling me what I believe; this is nothing new. I just was not expecting it that night.

Living in Boise I learned from numerous people that their churches or their parents’ churches actually have anti-Mormon classes and preach anti-Mormon propaganda in church. I understand that much anti-Mormon literature is available, especially online. Also, with Mitt Romney vying for presidential office, many blogs and columns today are discussing not his political platform, but what they think are the weird “doctrines” of the Mormons. Yes, I’m used to people telling me what I believe, being very very wrong about it or grossly twisting it, and not caring whether or not they are right.

To them I say, why not do simple homework and check your facts? (See also this post.) Why pull your information from sources, most of whom are antagonists, rather than the real source--The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints itself? The Church has ample information online, most people probably know a Mormon somewhere, either in their neighborhood or at work. And you can always ask Mormon missionaries; click on the link in the left sidebar or they can come right to your house, you don’t even have to do anything.

Finding correct information about anything is possible with today’s technological marvels. Find the source and start there. Then go ahead and read criticisms and see what feels right and what doesn’t. But why go with the first thing you hear, or with the strangest thing you hear?

I also find interesting that “Mormonism” was the only other religion discussed that night by the preacher. I’m not surprised, I feel that Mormonism is oftentimes the only religion discussed or brought up or pointed out. I’ve found that “Mormon” is used to describe people just like race or hair color, more so I feel than any other religion. Perhaps I just notice it more because I am a Mormon, but I don’t think so.

As the preacher continued on and on about our “doctrine” I will admit that I got pretty frustrated. My heart rate accelerated and the thought even crossed my mind that I should defend my faith and stand up and tell him and everyone that what he was saying wasn’t true. I didn’t, which I feel was a good thing, and honestly how effective would that have been? It was not the time or the place and it would have been disrespectful to interrupt his sermon. I will admit that I did try and find him afterward; I wanted to shake his hand, look him in the eye, and simply tell him that I was a Mormon and that I did not believe hardly any of the things that he said I did. That also didn’t happen because I couldn’t find him. Which may have been better, who knows.

On the way out Kaylee apologized to me and to all of us for his sermon. Apparently his teachings on the Trinity don’t line up with her beliefs either and this particular sermon was not a typical sermon for their Thursday Nights Together. (As a side note, I've learned since then that he will not be invited back to TNT either.) I told her I didn’t care, that I’m used to people being wrong about what I believe and criticizing my faith. And I did take the opportunity then to let my friends know that most of what he said wasn’t true and the rest was pretty twisted. I’m grateful I had that opportunity to clear it up.

Really the evening was fun and the whole experience was interesting. As I said before, the evening started out great and I felt very welcome and comfortable. I was excited to see what the Baptist church college-age meeting was like. And it was encouraging to see that many college-age people making God and religion a priority in their busy lives. I’m not offended about the extremely negative and criticizing way the pastor chose to talk about my church, just sad that people believe that about me and that most people don’t know the truth.

Be mindful of the source when you hear things about other people and religions. A lot of animosity and criticism exists concerning races, nations, and religions and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is often the target in this war of words and tumult of opinions. In the end, no publicity is bad publicity and the Church is not threatened by man because the kingdom of God will prevail.1 Joseph Smith taught: 

The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done. (History of the Church 4:540.)

The angel Moroni told Joseph Smith that his name, “should be had for good and evil among all nations, kindreds, and tongues, or that is should be both good and evil spoken of among all people” (Joseph Smith--History 1:33). I know this to be true for I have seen it all over as I travel and specifically in this instance of which I have told today. 

The Jesus Christ in whom I believe is the Jesus Christ preached by all the prophets from the foundation of the world, who was in the beginning with God, and by whom all things were made.2 I believe in the Jesus Christ who is the Only Begotten of the Father, who is full of grace and truth.3 I believe in Jesus Christ who went about doing good,4 healing the sick, and raising the dead and the Jesus Christ who performed all manner of miracles according to the people’s faith. I believe in the Jesus Christ of whom the Old Testament prophet Isaiah prophesied would be, “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief,” who would, “[bear] our griefs, and our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:3-4). I believe in the Jesus Christ who suffered both body and spirit, who fell on His face in the Garden of Gethsemane and took upon Himself the sins of all mankind.5 I believe in the Jesus Christ who rose on the third day to become the firstfruits of them that slept, who gained victory over the grave that He might draw all men unto Him.6 

Yes, I believe in the Jesus of who Peter testified was, “the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matt 16:16). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or the “Mormons” as my pastor friend referred to us, preaches Christ crucified,7 having suffered in the garden and on the cross, completing His Atonement of our bodies and spirits with His resurrection on the Third Day; the very Christ who is found in all the scriptures. 

I leave you with the words of the Master Himself: “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 
... 
“For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
...
“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 6:35,38,40).

His way leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come. This is the Jesus Christ in whom I believe.

Jeremy


Notes
  1. Jesus Christ told Peter that His church is built upon Himself, “and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18). Daniel saw the dream of King Nebuchadnezzar and taught that, “the God of heaven [will] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever” (Dan. 2:44).
  2. John 1:2-3
  3. John 1:14
  4. Acts 10:38
  5. Doctrine and Covenants 19:18; Matthew 26:39; Mosiah 15:9
  6. Acts 10:40; 1 Corinthians 15:20; Mormon 7:5; 3 Nephi 27:14-15
  7. 1 Corinthians 1:23