All posts by Oak Norton

Do Mormons Celebrate Christmas?

Do Mormons Celebrate Christmas?

Do Mormons celebrate ChristmasAs a child, I loved waking up on Christmas morning and coming out to see the presents Santa had brought that special night. It always amazed me how they magically appeared. As I got older, I started to think differently about Christmas but I don’t think I had the maturity to truly appreciate the holiday until I was an adult with children of my own. I’ve learned that Christmas as an adult is better than Christmas as a child. There’s more meaning to it, but also more magic in watching my own children’s delight. The challenge is helping them understand the true reason for the season.

As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, I love the story of Jesus’s birth as portrayed in the Bible. The church just started releasing New Testament videos they’ve produced which also help tell the story of the Savior’s life.

As members of the LDS church, we also have the account of the Savior’s birth as it was recorded in the Book of Mormon by ancient prophets who prophesied of signs to come at his birth, and recorded their fulfillment. Here is part of the account. The non-believers had chosen a day that if the signs that had been given were not fulfilled, they would put all the believers in Christ to death. The prophet Nephi at that time went and prayed to the Lord asking him what to do. Continue reading Do Mormons Celebrate Christmas?

Do Mormons Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Do Mormons Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Do Mormons celebrate Thanksgiving?As a child, I remember looking forward to Thanksgiving each year because it meant Mom would be making pumpkin pie (or at least buying one from the store). I remember wonderful meals and time spent afterwards collapsed on the couch watching a football game or something on TV. Thanksgiving as an adult is an entirely different experience. Rather than a focus on what we’re eating, it’s a time to ponder the blessings I’ve received from God in my life and express gratitude for them, beginning with thanks to God for the sacrifice of His Son. One of the other significant blessings I’ve received in my life is that of my family. I couldn’t ask for a more supportive and understanding family to spend my time with. Having loving relationships in life is certainly a tremendous blessing.

Thanksgiving as a holiday is wonderful, however, it is only a holiday to remind us of a higher way of living. In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma shared this insight into thanksgiving.

Alma 34:38 That ye contend no more against the Holy Ghost, but that ye receive it, and take upon you the name of Christ; that ye humble yourselves even to the dust, and worship God, in whatsoever place ye may be in, in spirit and in truth; and that ye live in thanksgiving daily, for the many mercies and blessings which he doth bestow upon you.

Thanksgiving is not just an annual holiday to celebrate, it’s a way of life, to reflect each day on the blessings we’ve received from God. One way to do this is to keep a journal and record each night something that took place during the day where your life was blessed. God is mindful of each of His children on earth and if we watch for His hand in our lives I know he will help us to see how he is blessing us.

So Mormons do celebrate Thanksgiving, but in reality, we ought to be doing it every day (minus the pie).

Susie Schnell Conversion Story

Susie Schnell LDS Conversion Story

Susie Schnell familyMy oldest sister was a member of the Church when I was young, being introduced to the church by her college roommate. She is 20 years older so we never lived together, but we knew of this new religion through how she raised her family. My Ukrainian mother, having the tradition of always feeding strangers in need, invited the missionaries over for dinner many times to help them out and to feel a special spirit in our home, so for years we had missionaries over, but nothing ever came from it except for good company at mealtimes. I attended Catholic church and Catholic schools all my life. As I began 8th grade and started studying extra religion classes for Catholic ceremonies, I began to question the things that I was learning. I suppose you could call me somewhat of a trouble-maker since I bothered the nuns (respectfully) with so many questions. The things they were teaching me about the Trinity and the nature of the Godhead did not make sense and I could not logically accept them. Every time I would ask for a deeper understanding, I was told to sit down, be quiet and to just have faith that these things were a mystery. After all, no one knew the mysteries of God. I was never encouraged by any of my Catholic teachers or priests to read from the Bible myself or to pray about the answers by asking God. We did not have a Bible at home; we were to learn directly from the nuns, priests and from Catholic booklets.

When I was 16, I started attending the LDS church dances with my sister’s daughter on Saturday nights just for fun. I’d stay overnight and go to church with them the next day. For the first time, the lessons and explanations they taught me in class made sense. I asked my parents if the missionaries could teach me in our home. They agreed. All of my many questions were answered in a way that made sense. If the missionaries didn’t know something, they would look it up and come back the next day. My parents enjoyed the spirit they brought and had them over quite often. To make sure it wasn’t just a passing interest, I was not allowed to be baptized until I was 18, so on my 18th birthday, I had a huge baptism. I invited my new LDS friends, my non-member family, and of course the girls, teachers and even nuns from my Catholic all-girl high school. There were over 100 people there since I had waited so long and met so many friends by that time. When my girlfriends at school raised questions in our religion class about my Mormon faith, I got permission to have missionaries come to the school and teach our class for the entire period and answer whatever questions the girls had for them. They were able to find out for themselves that I was not joining a cult and they were especially glad to see that I could still wear makeup, jewelry, dance, sing and believe in Jesus Christ.

Early in my conversion, I made the mistake of not doing personal scripture study to strengthen my new testimony, so when questions arose that confused me, I started falling away from the church. I missed the gospel and what it brought into my life, but I was a stubborn college girl with a new boyfriend and thought it might have been a phase. More and more, I missed it though, and felt I needed to return as I visited other churches looking for that same feeling again.

Strange things kept pulling me towards the gospel. One day, as I came home from college, out of the blue I had an odd but strong urge to read the obituaries. This was certainly a first for me! I used to help a little LDS girl living in my neighborhood who had many disabilities. She had just died and the funeral was announced to occur in just a few minutes from that time. I hurried to get dressed and went to that funeral. For the first time in a long time, I felt the Spirit very strongly and realized all that I had been missing. Some very important questions were answered for me that day, but I still did not attend church. Still, it planted a seed.

Then the same week I was invited to a wedding reception from one of my LDS friends whom I hadn’t seen for a couple of years. I attended by myself, congratulated her briefly and then awkwardly walked across the hall to leave, for I had been inactive for a couple years and didn’t know anyone there. Suddenly, it was as if the whole room went dark and a light shone over a very old grey-haired man sitting completely across the large room at a round table by himself. I saw nothing else in the room and felt a strong urge to walk all the way across the hall and speak to this stranger. He kindly invited me to sit down as if he expected me and then immediately began to tell me about my life. There was no small talk, only serious spiritual things. I never told him who I was or anything about my life, but he could “see” my life very clearly and that I was headed in a direction that would bring me pain. But then he smiled and said that he could, at the same time, see another future for me if I would come back to the church. He saw a loving husband and children and much joy in my life for the future. He gave details as if he could see everything in a crystal ball. I was astounded; it was as if all this were a surreal movie. I found out later he was the Patriarch of that Stake and must have felt inspired to talk to me as much as I felt inspired to seek him out. I never saw him again but will remember that special incident forever. I still didn’t go to church that week, but planned to soon. It was hard to break the habit of not going to church, even though it was in my heart to do so.

Amazingly enough, only a week or two later, I was working as a temp for only one day in a grocery store when I witnessed a gruesome murder in the parking lot. I was just 10 feet away from this horrifying event. When this madman saw me witnessing the whole scene, he put his knife away, grabbed a gun from under the seat of his car and chased me down in his car, bent on eliminating this witness. He saw me hide behind a tall bread truck on the side of the store so he stopped his car, got out with his gun, and began circling around the truck looking for me, gun cocked and aimed. The two of us circled around this truck for several minutes, neither knowing exactly where the other was. Just as he was inches from my face around the corner of the truck and I was sure to be killed, something stopped him, he got back into his car and sped away, never to be caught by police. I will never forget how many spectators nearby expressed their prayers for me and told me it was truly a miracle that he left just as the gun was inches from my face, behind the corner of the truck.

Three times the charm! How many more signs did God have to give me in one month for me to come back to His fold? I knew I was being spared for a higher purpose and that I better start listening immediately. I called my sister and had a long talk about life and death with her and her husband. What would happen to me if I was killed? What would happen to the murderer or the sweet old woman he stabbed to death? I was on the phone for hours asking every question that was all of a sudden real and important for me at that time. I DID go to church the next week, intending to stay for good. It was at that meeting where I found out about a Young Single Adult activity the very next Friday. It was there that I met my future husband and we were married in the temple 5 months later. We now have 5 children, the oldest having served in Kyiv, Ukraine, the place of my mother’s birth. Many miracles have happened in my life because of my conversion and I thank Heavenly Father daily for this life in the Church that I almost gave up. I’m so glad He didn’t give up on me and knew how to make this stubborn girl listen. I have a rock-solid testimony because I continue to read, pray, study, attend the temple and don’t take my membership for granted.

Since my baptism, another sister and my dad were baptized, both miracles in their own right. My mother knew it was truly a miracle that my son was called to Ukraine, the land of her heritage, to the area where most of her relatives were still living and where she was born. In fact, that small town had just opened up 6 months before he was called and the Kyiv Temple was opened during his time there so the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. She promised him with tears in her eyes that if he could do make that sacrifice for two years, she could read the Book of Mormon. This was quite a commitment since she is legally blind, having very little vision. Before he left, he gave her an extra large print copy to make it easier for her. The night before my son returned home at Thanksgiving, I received a phone call from my mother. She announced she was ready to get baptized and wanted my son to baptize her while the family was all together that Thanksgiving.

Because I was brought into the church, my son was able to baptize my mother and many of my relatives in Ukraine have now been introduced to the gospel through his service. He was able to teach them in their own tongue and receive the blessings of the Kyiv temple being opened while he was serving on his mission. He was able to find lost family records, collect many ancestor names and do the work for our kindred dead in their own language in their own temple. My son was told in a special blessing 2 years prior when he was set apart as a missionary, that he had made a covenant with these relatives in the pre-existence that he would come find them and introduce them to the gospel. That certainly couldn’t have happened if I wasn’t baptized. As I read my 4 children’s patriarchal blessings, it is evident to me that I had to be in the church and bring them here under the covenant because they have tremendous responsibilities as leaders in this generation.

Many missionaries and members came into my life through these years and made a huge difference in my life. Most of these people will never know how they impacted my life because I have no way of contacting them now. I have a firm testimony that Heavenly Father knows and loves each one of his children and wants us to come back to Him. His church is true. I’m thankful that he found me a second time, a little lost stubborn sheep who needed several prods before coming back to the fold. It continues to be worth it.

History of the King James Bible

I just saw this trailer to the new documentary/reenactment of the coming forth of the King James Bible and it looks really interesting, unlike many documentaries that talk about the Bible. BYUtv has produced this mini-series which starts tomorrow (10/16/11) at 6 PM MST, and looks to air live the next 2 Sundays at 6 PM as well. If you can’t access it on TV, you can possibly view it on BYUtv’s website at one of these links:

http://byutv.byu.edu/Show/123d4a82-3d47-488e-beda-2496a5a1ff2c
http://byutv.org/watch/e24ba932-19b9-4d6a-97da-60a9e4d99c26

Here’s a link to more about the production.
http://lds.org/church/events/documentary-on-making-of-king-james-bible-to-air?lang=eng

 

Do Mormons Believe in Baptism?

Do Mormons Believe in Baptism?

Do Mormons believe in baptism?

Mormons take the commandment of baptism so seriously that we believe no one can inherit the kingdom of heaven without it. So what about all those people who died without being baptized?

Baptism is Essential

When Jesus came to John the Baptist, John shrank from baptizing Jesus saying that he was not worthy to do so but Jesus replied “Suffer it to be so now … to fulfil all righteousness” (Matt. 3:15). The Savior led by example and taught that baptism was an essential component of salvation. Here are just a couple verses indicating the weight put upon the ordinance of baptism by the Savior.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved” (Mark 16:16)

“Except a man be born of water … he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:5)

Baptism by Immersion

Paul taught:

“Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. (Romans 6:4)

In the LDS faith, we baptize by immersion, meaning, one is lowered completely under the water, symbolic of Christ’s death and burial, and then washed clean and brought forth out of the water symbolic of Christ’s resurrection. We are then clean and have a fresh start as a follower of Jesus Christ.

Baptism for the Dead

The LDS church differs from all other churches on this point. We literally believe baptism is a requirement for heaven just as Jesus taught. What then of the many billions of God’s children who died without baptism? Are they condemned to hell for all eternity? NO! A loving God has made provision for them.

Preaching the gospel to those who have died

Among those billions who never heard the gospel, we believe that when they die they go to a place we term “spirit prison.” Peter taught that Jesus initiated the work in this place after his death.

1 Peter 3:18-20

18 For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

20 Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

Who got taught? Specifically mentioned here are the disobedient from the days of Noah who perished in the flood. In modern revelation we know that Jesus organized a missionary effort in the heavens such that the righteous could go and teach the gospel to all these souls throughout history who never heard the gospel message and accepted it. What is the purpose of this teaching? To bring these souls to the point of repentance to accept baptism when it is performed for them on earth.

Baptizing by proxy

The apostle Paul taught the Corinthians that there was in fact a resurrection with varying degrees of glory of resurrected bodies (for more on this concept see this article entitled Do Mormons Believe Everyone else is going to Hell?). They were confused in some way as to the reality of the resurrection and so Paul used this logic to show them that resurrection was in fact a true principle. He said:

“Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?” (1 Cor. 15:29)

In other words, “look, we have this practice of baptizing each other for those that cannot be baptized for themselves BECAUSE we anticipate that they will be resurrected and want to inherit the kingdom of God.” Jesus taught it as a commandment and never said it was fine for some to inherit the kingdom of heaven without it regardless of the fact that billions hadn’t been baptized.

The principle is the same principle by which Christ performs the atonement. As mortals, we are not perfect and we need the Savior to do something for us that we cannot do for ourselves. He is our “proxy,” or someone that stands in for us. Similarly, we are proxies for those who have died without having baptism. This is why the LDS church is so involved in genealogy. It’s not just a fun hobby, it’s to help our dead ancestors have the opportunity to accept the ordinance and move on to being judged by God on the basis of their life as if they had received baptism in this life.

Where are baptisms performed?

Salt Lake City templeBaptisms for the living can take place anywhere there is water. Typically, this is in a baptismal font in a chapel, but there have been baptisms performed in the ocean, pools, and anywhere convenient for it. However, baptisms for the dead only take place in baptismal fonts inside a temple dedicated for such a special purpose.

Who can baptize?

Anyone performing an ordinance of salvation such as baptism must hold the holy priesthood. This priesthood is the authority to act in God’s name on the earth. Young men receive this authority when they are 16 years old and ordained a priest in the Aaronic priesthood.

When is someone baptized?

In the LDS faith we do not believe in infant baptism but wait until a child is 8 years old at which point we believe they generally become accountable to God for their actions. People who are converting to the church after this age can be baptized when they have a testimony that this church is the church of Jesus Christ on the earth today.

What Bible do Mormons Use?

What Bible do Mormons Use?

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints revere and love the Holy Bible as a record of scripture inspired by God and written by his prophets on earth. This short video set to the recent words of one of the members of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles on earth today, tells a short story about William Tyndale and his efforts to bring the Bible to the world.

What is a Bible?

The word bible derives from the Greek word “biblia” which translates as “books.” Literally, the Bible is a collection of books, individually written by inspired men of God, and brought together into a collection of writings.

Why do Mormons use the King James Version of the Bible?

What Bible do Mormons use?What Bible do Mormons use? The church views the King James version of the Bible as doctrinally more accurate than other more recent versions of the Bible. It also uses a powerful prose, which in some cases can make it harder to read, but because of its doctrinal strength, this version of the Bible is used by the LDS church.

Do Mormons regard the Bible as the Word of God?

When Joseph Smith, founder of the LDS church, penned the Articles of Faith, the eighth article reads, “we believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God.”

Why did he write this? From the History of the Church (vol 1:245; 6:57), Joseph Smith taught that “many important points touching the salvation of men, had been taken from the Bible, or lost before it was compiled.” He also said that the Bible was correct as “it came from the pen of the original writers,” but that “ignorant translators, careless transcribers, or designing and corrupt priests have committed many errors.”

For example, there are many lost books of the Bible as show in this post (What about Jesus?). There are also mistakes within the text such as this clear example from Acts on the experience of Saul on the road to Damascus. In the first instance we read:

Acts 9:7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

Then later when recounting his experience he said this:

Acts 22:9 And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard not the voice of him that spake to me.

Which is it? Did the men with Saul/Paul see the light or hear the voice? Joseph Smith authoritatively declared that Acts 22:9 was correct and that the first instance was incorrect.

The use of extra-Biblical records

Two questions often arise about the LDS use of other records and calling them scripture. The first deals with the scripture in the book of Revelation that says one can’t take from or add to this record. As noted above, the Bible is a collection of books and this verse was written hundreds of years before the Bible came together. If you want more of an explanation, see this other post entitled “Why do Mormons use the Book of Mormon instead of just the Bible?

The second question that arises is what evidence within the Bible is there that there are other authoritative records such as the Book of Mormon? I linked above to an article pointing out the records of prophets recorded within the Bible, but that we do not have. In this article “what is a Morman?” I discuss some specific scriptures that link the Bible and the Book of Mormon together.

In the LDS church we also believe in modern day prophets who receive revelation and record inspired writings. We have canonized many revelations Joseph Smith received in a book called the “Doctrine and Covenants” (D&C). Twice a year we have a general conference of the church which we also regard as scripture per this verse from the D&C.

D&C 68:4 “And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.”

We also have a small book entitled “The Pearl of Great Price” which is a short collection of inspired writings including the book of Moses, Abraham, the Joseph Smith history, an inspired version of Matthew 24, and the 13 Articles of Faith.

Learning More than What Bible do Mormons use

Would you like to learn more than just what Bible do Mormons use? You can request a free copy of the Book of Mormon or have the missionaries stop by if you’d like by following the links above and to the right. My testimony of the Bible has grown so much by coupling it with the Book of Mormon and modern day scripture. All of these records testify of the mission of Jesus Christ and help us draw near to him.

Who is God?

Who is God?

Who is God?In 1820 an event took place that forever changed the modern-day understanding of who God is. The darkness and confusion of centuries of unenlightened thinking in the absence of a prophet of God dissolved when God again chose a prophet on earth to begin a latter-day restoration of His gospel.

A young boy of 14 by the name of Joseph Smith was confused at the many religions who were vying for converts. Living in Palmyra, New York, he had attended many meetings and wondered which of all the churches was true. His family was religious and regularly read from the Bible so he knew that “…God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Cor 14:33).

In his history he records one day reading in the book of James and having a powerful experience that these words were true. “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him” (James 1:5).

He went into a nearby wooded area where he could be alone and prayed to God seeking an answer as to which church he should join. His question wasn’t how to create a new church, it was just to get an answer as to which of the existing churches was true so that he could join the right one. He knew from the Bible that there was “One Lord, one faith, one baptism” (Eph 4:5), so he knew that all the churches couldn’t be true, especially with core conflicting doctrines.

In answer to his prayer, God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appeared to him and called him to be a prophet in these last days so that God again could do a work on earth the same as he had done in ages past. We read in Amos 3:7, “Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” From this event and later revelation, Joseph learned the true nature of the Godhead just as prophets in ages past who saw heavenly visions and spoke with God face to face. God Himself answered the question “who is God?” by appearing to young Joseph and calling him to a great work.

Have others seen God?

Yes. Stephen when being stoned to death declared this in Acts 7:

55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

How could Stephen see Jesus standing to the right of God unless they were two separate beings? We are created in their image after all. In fact, God specifically states in Genesis 1:26-27, “let US make man in OUR image.” Why the plural use? The word God in the Old Testament and specifically in Genesis 1 comes from the Hebrew word “Elohim” which is a plural word. Today’s current belief in the “Trinity” concept of 3 Gods in 1 being is both confusing and unfounded in scripture. God is not confusing but reveals Himself to prophets who then declare the truth about the nature of God.

Moses had a similar experience seeing God:

Exodus 33:11 And the LORD spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend.

Obviously the disciples all saw the resurrected Lord after his death as well as did others as the scriptures record, so it is odd that some argue no one can see God when the scriptures themselves bear witness of this fact.

So who is God and what is the true Trinity?

When the Psalmist posed the question “For who is God save the LORD?” (Psalms 18:31) what was he asking? Who is God and why is there so much confusion over this in the world?

Who is God the Father?

God the Father is called such because he is the father of our spirits that live within our bodies. He is an exalted being who possesses a glorified body of flesh and bones. He sent His Son Jesus Christ to earth to show us the way, the truth, and the life, that would allow us to return and live with Him again someday. He possesses an infinite love for each one of us and desires our true happiness and joy. He is the one God we worship in and through the name of His Son Jesus Christ.

Who is God the Son?

Jesus Christ is the Only Begotten Son of God in the flesh. As a premortal Son of God, he became the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8) when he took on the mission to perform an atoning sacrifice for all mankind and pay the price of sin. When he did this, we the spirit sons and daughters of God shouted for joy (Job 38:7). His sacrifice allows us to both repent of our sins that we may be clean before God, and to receive a resurrected body and thus return into God the Father’s presence when we accept Jesus as our Savior and keep the commandments.

When Adam and Eve partook of the forbidden fruit and fell from their celestial state in the garden of Eden, a separation from God occurred and Jesus became the mediator of all mankind between God the Father and His children on earth because as soon as we became sinful, we became unworthy to return to God the Father’s presence and needed someone to overcome this barrier for us. He is Jehovah of the Old Testament. Three days after his crucifixion, he rose again and obtained a resurrected immortal body of flesh and bones, the same as the Father.

Who is God the Holy Ghost?

The Holy Ghost is the third member of the Godhead. He is a personage of spirit which allows Him to dwell within us and touch our spirits to recognize truth when we are sincerely seeking to know it from God. When one prays with real intent, asking God to reveal the truth of a matter to us, and God knows we intend to believe the answer He gives us without denying the answer, the power of the Holy Ghost witnesses to us the truth of all things.

Why do the scriptures say there is one God?

Despite the fact that the scriptures talk about three separate beings and yet refer to just one God, there is much unneeded confusion over this point. Jesus prayed to the Father and told us to worship the Father. Paul also taught there was a difference between the two:

Ephesians 4:5-6
5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism,
6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

1 Timothy 1:2

2 Unto Timothy, my own son in the faith: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord.

There are many verses which make it clear these three members of the Godhead are separate and distinct individuals, but they are ONE IN PURPOSE. They are completely unified and would do exactly what another member of the Godhead would do in any given situation. Jesus came to do exactly what the Father would do if he were here. The Father couldn’t come down and be born among men because he already had an immortal perfect body. The Son had to come down because he was a spirit who had yet to obtain a body. The Holy Ghost we believe will someday receive a glorified body when the work of the Father is done and His role as the Holy Ghost during this mortal experience for God’s children is complete. These three beings function in total unity.

The Savior himself taught this while praying for the 12 disciples:

John 17
21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.
22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:
23 I in them, and thou in me, [block]11[/block]; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

How could the 12 separate disciples be “one” as the Father and the Son are one, unless it’s one in purpose and not physically one being? It wouldn’t make any sense as they would have to somehow morph into one physical being. This is the true nature of God that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost are three separate and distinct beings working together for a common purpose from a common framework such that they would each make the same decision in the same situation. This is our goal as well that we may become one with God and be his hands and feet on earth and perform the works he would do if he were here.

Learn more about who God is

If you would like to learn more about who God is and his dealings with modern and ancient prophets, click here to request a visit from the missionaries. Having served a mission myself, I know we’re not pushy people, we’re just looking for opportunities to share what we believe in the hope that you might consider these ideas and sincerely ask God if they are true. If you choose not to join us, we still love you and consider it time well spent sharing a conversation about God’s teachings with you. Knowing answers to the purpose of life and questions like “who is God?” can make a tremendous difference in our lives.

Here is what one modern day Apostle of Jesus Christ had to say about this doctrine.

Do Mormons Believe in Aliens?

Do Mormons Believe in Aliens?

Do Mormons believe in aliens like Spock

As a young man growing up in the 70’s and 80’s, I was fascinated by space and thoughts of “what’s really out there?” I became a fan of the Star Trek series (and others that followed such as my favorite–Babylon 5) imagining what it would be like “to boldly go where no man has gone before.” I wondered what was really out there. What would it be like to find another populated world and communicate with the inhabitants? Would they look like us or totally different? Is there any limit to God’s creations?

In the Bible we read “In the beginning, God created the heaven and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) What does that mean? The earth itself is a vast world with so much to explore. We still find new species of animals we haven’t been aware of, and yet we are just a tiny speck in the universe.

In the LDS faith, we use the Bible and other records of scripture that also record God’s dealings with his children on earth. There are a few passages which illustrate the vastness of space and God’s creations. I will share two of the most related to this topic. In these verses from the book of Moses, God tells Moses that we’re not the only children God has created and put upon an earth. In fact, he’s had a lot of experience doing what he’s doing. Continue reading Do Mormons Believe in Aliens?

What About Jesus?

What About Jesus?

John 21:25 “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.”

What about Jesus?Could it be true? Is it possible that if the works of Jesus were written that the books would fill the world? How could the life of a man who only lived to be 33 fill the world? If all we consider is the mortal life of Jesus, it may be difficult to fill the world with his works, but the disciple John knew more. These closing words provide a fitting summary of Jesus Christ. His works would truly fill the books of the world and we only have a tiny sampling about Jesus and what he has done.

While serving a mission to Houston, Texas, I was serving in College Station where Texas A&M is located. One of the people we were teaching was a student who participated in online bulletin board forums in the very early days of the internet. One particular individual on the forum was disparaging Mormon’s extra scriptural canon and this young man responded by saying, “what’s the big deal? Mormons just think God has more words in his mouth than you do.” We got a chuckle out of that when he shared it with us.

Are teachings about Jesus Limited?

It is hard for me to understand when people say the Biblical canon is closed and there can be no more word of God. Where did they arrive at that knowledge? Did God tell them? If so, then they should accept that God can and does speak to man today. God hasn’t cut off himself from mankind. Typically, people refer to this scripture in the book of Revelation as support for this theory which says:

“…if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” (Rev. 22:18-19)

The problems with this approach to these verses are:

1) The apostle John wrote this book (Revelation) while he was banished to the Isle of Patmos. There was no Bible in existence. It was written as a stand-alone testimony of latter-day prophecy.

2) Moses said essentially the same thing in Deuteronomy 4:2:

“Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.”

If we take John’s words as literal to the entire compiled Bible of 66 books which didn’t occur until 300 A.D., that means we would have to take Moses’ words as literal and discard the great majority of the entire Bible. It is obvious that what they are both referring to is their own writings and that no one had authority to add or diminish from what they wrote in those specific books. Else how would John’s statement above have any meaning that if the works of Jesus were all recorded they would fill the earth? If there is that much more about Jesus then we would be at a great loss to reject it.

What about Jesus’ teachings in other books of scripture?

Is it possible there are other scriptural records we don’t have? The Bible tells us that’s true. The following verses mention writings of prophets that have been lost to the ages.

Exo. 24:7 – book of the covenant

Num. 21:14 – book of the wars of the Lord

Josh. 10:13 – book of Jasher

1 Chron. 29:29 book of Gad the seer

2 Chron. 9:29 – book of Nathan the prophet

2 Chron. 12:15 – book of Shemaiah the prophet

2 Chron. 13:22 – story of the prophet Iddo

2 Chron. 20:34 – book of Jehu

2 Chron. 33:19 – the sayings of the seers

Imagine all the epistles of the disciples of Jesus that we don’t have. The list could go on. The doings of the Lord for his children have no bounds.

What about Jesus’ other sheep?

One other record mentioned in the Bible is the stick of Joseph (Ezek. 37:15-19). Mormons believe this record of the tribe of Joseph is the Book of Mormon which was prophesied to be joined with the Bible in the last days. I’ve already written a post about it so I’ll link to it here without reiterating the Biblical scriptures in support of the book. (What is a Mormon?)

In the Book of Mormon, one ancient prophet on the American continent where the Book of Mormon transpired said this of the Bible and the latter-day wrangling over the book.

6 Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible. Have ye obtained a Bible save it were by the Jews?

7 Know ye not that there are more nations than one? Know ye not that I, the Lord your God, have created all men, and that I remember those who are upon the isles of the sea; and that I rule in the heavens above and in the earth beneath; and I bring forth my word unto the children of men, yea, even upon all the nations of the earth?

8 Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also.

9 And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

10 Wherefore, because that ye have a Bible ye need not suppose that it contains all my words; neither need ye suppose that I have not caused more to be written.

11 For I command all men, both in the east and in the west, and in the north, and in the south, and in the islands of the sea, that they shall write the words which I speak unto them; for out of the books which shall be written I will judge the world, every man according to their works, according to that which is written.

(2 Nephi 29:6-11)

God’s word isn’t just for a small group of people in the Middle East. God has spoken to prophets in many places and they testify of the goodness and greatness of the Lord and his atoning sacrifice. This same prophet wrote this testimony of Jesus at the closing of his book (2 Nephi 33:10-11):

10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.

11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye-for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.

Please watch this short video introduction to the Book of Mormon by a modern day apostle of Jesus Christ.

What about Jesus’ other works?

So now I wouldn’t want to leave this post without addressing the first point, that the works about Jesus would fill the world if they were all written. Mormons not only believe in the Bible and Book of Mormon, but we also believe in latter-day prophets (see Amos 3:7 and Ephesians 4:11-13) who have recorded the word of God today. Joseph Smith was one such prophet who translated the Book of Mormon, but also received other revelations which include this inspiring passage from an experience that Enoch the prophet and seer had when the Lord showed him his works throughout the universe.

Moses 7:30 “And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;”

As members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we declare to the world that Jesus has more to tell us than solely what is recorded in the Bible. Indeed, the question “what about Jesus?” cannot be answered fully in this life. We have only a glimpse of the many wondrous creations the Lord has given us and the things he has done.

Get a free book about Jesus and his other sheep in ancient America

If you would like to learn more about Jesus and his teachings to his people in the ancient Americas, you can click here to obtain a free copy of the Book of Mormon. I have come to know more about Jesus by reading the Book of Mormon than what I have learned solely in the Bible, and like the Bible, I know it to be a true book. I know anyone in the world who reads the book and prays to God with real intent to know if it is true, will have their prayers answered and be satisfied that the book really is what it purports to be, another testament about Jesus Christ. Through this record, you can receive a much more complete answer to the question “what about Jesus” than you can by limiting yourself to only one compilation of scripture about Jesus.