Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

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.

What is a Morman (to those who don’t know us), or, what is a Mormon?

What is a Morman (to those who don’t know us), or, what is a Mormon?

What is a Morman or who are the Mormans?

In short, a Morman is a husband who overachieves at housework. 🙂

In reality, it’s a misspelling. When people hear the word Mormon, it may sound to them like Morman because they haven’t seen the word before. To my knowledge there isn’t anything about Mormans in history except an ancient king’s name and a battle in France.

What is a Mormon or who are the Mormons?

The Book of MormonA Mormon is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Members of the LDS church have been nicknamed “Mormons” since the beginning of the church in 1830 due to the publication and use by the church of The Book of Mormon as another book of scripture. Members of the church believe that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ and the dealings of prophets from the ancient Americas with God. We view several sections of the Bible as support for this belief.

Joseph is a fruitful bough

First, in Genesis 49 when Jacob (Israel) was blessing his sons before he died, he blessed his son Joseph with these promises:

22 Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall:
23 The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him:
24 But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:)
25 Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb:
26 The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.

Mormons view this promise to Joseph that he would be blessed to have his descendants (branches) go over the ocean (wall to a desert people) to a land of everlasting hills (the Americas have a chain of mountains that runs the height of the North and South Americas). In the Americas, his descendants would flourish and Joseph would be separated for a time from his brothers, the same way he was sold into Egypt but eventually reunited with them. Anciently, the reunion of the family provided a physical salvation during the time of great famine in the land. In the latter days, there is a famine as well, but a spiritual one.

Amos 8:11 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD:

Joseph provides salvation from spiritual famine | Two sticks are joined

In our day, we believe the parallel to this will be that Joseph’s descendants provide a spiritual salvation to the rest of the House of Israel just as Joseph provided a temporal salvation anciently. This happens through the record of Joseph which was prophesied by Ezekiel to come forth in the latter days.

Ezekiel 37
15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel his companions:
17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?
19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.

A few verses further, after Ezekiel declares that God will gather the children of Israel, he says,

24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.

Two things to note here.

First, the stick of Judah is the record of the Jews, or as we call it, the Bible. The record of the stick of Joseph is the Book of Mormon which contains the writings of the prophets who were among Joseph’s descendants who came to the America’s during the time of Jeremiah in the Old Testament (about 600 B.C.).

One fold and one shepherd

Second, the reference to Israel having one shepherd is something Jesus mentioned as well. In John 10 we read:

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Who were the other sheep Jesus mentioned? They were not the gentiles because Jesus clearly said to the gentile woman whom he initial refused to bless:

Matt 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

So who are the lost sheep who were not of the fold of Judah (the tribe inhabiting the land Jesus lived in)? They were the other of the 12 tribes. The Book of Mormon fully reveals this when Jesus visited the Americas after his resurrection. You can read the account here and what he told the people (Jesus tells the ancient Americans they were the other sheep he mentioned).

Mormon, not Morman
(Artist's depiction of Mormon inscribing the ancient record)

So to conclude, Mormons are a group of people who believe God had more to say to his children on earth than what some others presently believe. God didn’t quit speaking just because a group of men who got together around 300 A.D. decided God had quit. 🙂 The name Mormon comes because one of the ancient prophets in the Americas who lived around 400 A.D. compiled the history of his people onto a set of metal plates containing the most precious teachings and it was called The Book of Mormon just as one would refer to the Book of Isaiah or Books of Moses for those prophetic writings. Today, there are prophets on the earth again who receive revelation from God. Joseph Smith was the first of these who also translated the Book of Mormon into English as part of his divine calling.

What is the Mormon religion?

Following ALL of the teachings of Jesus Christ that have been given to prophets in any day and age and location of the world.

What do Mormons Believe?

What do Mormons Believe?

What do Mormons believe?When thinking about joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (The Mormons) I needed to know what they stood for and their belief in Jesus Christ.  I wanted to know what do Mormons believe in? It was very comforting to discover that they believed in a Heavenly Father who loves us unconditionally and His Son who saved us from death by overcoming it through the Resurrection.  They also believed we can return to live with God and Jesus by obeying God’s Commandments.

I learned that The Bible testifies of Jesus and so does the  Book of Mormon. I believe that these books are the Word of God.  We can know of their truths by relying on the Holy Ghost to help us recognize them.

I  also found out  that  the gospel of Jesus  Christ was restored to the earth through a prophet of God after a falling away. Prophets are how God reveals His will to men today as He did anciently.

It was very comforting to get answers to questions such as: where did I come from?  Why am I here? Where am I going after this life?

I also learned that families can be together forever.  As we try to be more like Jesus we can become closer to Our Heavenly Father.

These are some of the reasons I joined this church over 33 years ago and have never regretted doing so.  I know this gospel is true because it makes me and my family happy. These are a few things Mormons believe.

Do Mormons Celebrate Birthdays?

Do Mormons Celebrate Birthdays?

Mormons celebrate life. We have a unique perspective on the purpose of life and how it started before we were born into this mortal world, and how it will continue after we die. We love life and feel a sense of gratefulness to God for allowing us the opportunity to be born and experience life in a mortal body with the knowledge that someday we will have a perfect immortal, resurrected body which is free from the pain and suffering of this life.

So do Mormons celebrate birthdays is a yes. Sometimes with green Jello salad (well, not always just at birthdays :)).  One of my daughters is a huge fan of the TV show Cake Boss. She loves to watch all the unique things the Cake Boss creates and she has sort of taken it upon herself to do all of the birthday cakes in our house. Here are a few snapshots of some of the cakes she has created.

do mormons celebrate birthdays
The leaning tower of cake
mormon birthday celebrations
Thomas the rice krispie train on top of a cake
colorful mormon birthday cakes
Double decker tie-dye cake

Birthdays are a wonderful time to celebrate life and enjoy some of the good things in life (like chocolate cake). We give presents and have parties and in general do all the same things normal people do throughout the world.

Of course Mormons also celebrate the most important birthday of them all, the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. To read the account of his birth in the record that prophets in the Americas kept as it happened in Bethlehem, here’s a link to the Book of Mormon account of Christ’s birth. Hopefully this answers the question do Mormons celebrate birthdays with an emphatic yes!

What Mormons Believe In

What Mormons Believe In

In 1842, the editor of the Chicago Democrat newspaper, John Wentworth, wrote a letter to Joseph Smith, founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and asked concerning the history of the church and what Mormons believe in.  Joseph replied with a letter known in the church as the “Wentworth Letter”. The reason this letter is so well known is that part of it contained a list of statements which the church later canonized and put into the printed scriptures as core tenets of our beliefs. Today we call these the Articles of Faith and starting in Primary our children work on memorizing them.

The Articles of Faith

1 We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost.

2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

3 We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.

4 We believe that the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel are: first, Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ; second, Repentance; third, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; fourth, Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.

5 We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof.

6 We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.

7 We believe in the gift of tongues, prophecy, revelation, visions, healing, interpretation of tongues, and so forth.

8 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.

9 We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.

10 We believe in the literal gathering of Israel and in the restoration of the Ten Tribes; that Zion (the New Jerusalem) will be built upon the American continent; that Christ will reign personally upon the earth; and, that the earth will be renewed and receive its paradisiacal glory.

11 We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

12 We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law.

13 We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.

What Mormons Believe In: Jesus Christ

One of the things that always surprises me in conversations with people is how our nickname, “Mormons,” has prevented people from understanding our deep belief in Jesus Christ. The actual name of the church is “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints,” so written as to distinguish the church from that in former-days when Christ Himself organized the church when he walked the earth.

As shown above in the Articles of Faith (AOF), we believe in Jesus Christ (AOF 1) and that it is only through the atonement of Jesus Christ that anyone can be saved (AOF 3) and that the first principle of the gospel is faith in Jesus Christ (AOF 4). We also believe he is coming again to reign personally on the earth as Lord of Lords and King of Kings (AOF 10). These points are fundamental to what Mormons believe in.

What Mormons Believe In: Scriptures

Aside from these core principles of belief, there are many other things that members of the church believe in. We have 4 different books of scripture that we use:

Bible: Old and New Testaments provide God’s word as delivered to the ancient people of the Bible through Christ’s ministry around Israel.

Book of Mormon: Contains records of two groups of people that were:

  1. led away from the Tower of Babel (around 2600 BC) to the America’s and were known as the Jaredites
  2. led away from Jerusalem to the America’s around 600 BC and were known as the Nephites and Lamanites

The book contains the writings of the prophets that were among these people and includes the visit of Christ to the ancient America’s. The book ends in 421 AD with the prophet Moroni (son of the prophet Mormon who compiled the record) burying the plates until they were revealed to Joseph Smith in 1827. He then translated the plates by use of an ancient holy device called the Urim and Thummim (translated as “lights” and “perfections” respectively and was worn as an emblem of complete truth. See Exodus 28:30, Ezra 2:63, 1 Sam. 28:6).

Doctrine and Covenants: This book contains modern day scripture as revealed to Joseph Smith and other prophets just as we regard the writings of ancient prophets as scripture such as Moses, Isaiah, Peter, etc…

Pearl of Great Price: The smallest book of the 4 which contains a prophetic inspired translation and revelation of the books of Moses and Abraham, an inspired revision of Matthew 24, Joseph Smith’s history, and the Articles of Faith as listed above.

Click this link if you would like to better understand why we use the Book of Mormon and not just the Bible.

If you would like a free copy of the Book of Mormon to see what it says for yourself, you can read it online for free (Book of Mormon online) or request a paperback book to be sent to you for free. You can also read the other scriptures online at the LDS church’s website. This website contains a number of questions and answers, but this post just addresses some of the core things people wonder about when they ask what Mormons believe in.

Do Mormons Believe God was Once a Man?

Do Mormons Believe God was Once a Man?

Among the questions that have rarely been addressed by the professors of religion, but which we hunger for answers, are these:

  • Where did God come from?
  • If God has always existed, but we only just came into existence a few thousand years ago as a race, what did He do before creating us?
  • What will God do after His work with us on earth is complete?
  • What does He do today?
  • Does he just create beings to worship him? Or is there a loftier purpose?

Many people in the Christian faith’s reject the idea that God was once a man because they largely believe in a trinity concept wherein Jesus and the Father are the same being. Yet they believe Jesus was born into this world so obviously He was a man. All of Christianity believes God was once a man! The difference with the LDS faith is we do not believe the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be the same being, but separate beings who are one in purpose. That is what the Bible teaches. This article will explain our beliefs about the origin of God the Father. Follow this link for more information on the Godhead being separate beings.

God’s Purpose

To begin, we first need to understand God’s purpose in what his work is all about. What motivates Him? Among the scriptures that members of the LDS faith quote most is this passage in the book of Moses. Specifically verse 39. In this experience as Moses converses with the Lord, the Lord has just told him about the vastness of creation and Moses asks to see it all. The Lord answers with a declaration of why he does what he does.

Moses 1:36-39

36 And it came to pass that Moses spake unto the Lord, saying: Be merciful unto thy servant, O God, and tell me concerning this earth, and the inhabitants thereof, and also the heavens, and then thy servant will be content.
37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
39 For behold, this is my work and my glory-to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.

It is God’s purpose to create and exalt his creations. He wants them to have immortal bodies and enjoy the blessings of eternal life in His presence. He created us for this purpose and he labors to achieve this objective, within the bounds of eternal law.

Premortal Life

In order to better understand why we are here on earth, we need to understand that we were created by God prior to life in this mortal realm, and there existed as his spirit children. There are a number of scriptures which illustrate this.

God is the father of our spirits.

Heb 12:9
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?

In Job 38:1-7 the Lord asks Job where he was when the foundations of the earth were laid “and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” We were there. We are the children of God as Paul explained in Romans 8:16-17.

The disciples understood the doctrine of a pre-mortal life and here asked Jesus if one individual had done something there to warrant being born blind. The Savior doesn’t correct any false understanding of the notion of living before mortal birth, but instead declares the man innocent of sin before being born.

John 9:1-3

1 And as Jesus passed by, he saw a man which was blind from his birth.

2 And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?

3 Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.

This one very clearly illustrates that Jeremiah lived prior to this life and was in God’s presence.

Jeremiah 1:4-5

4 Then the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.

Purpose of Life

If you will look back up at verses 24 and 25, you will see that the purpose of this life is to be tested to see if we will keep the commandments. In our pre-mortal state, we did not have a physical body, but our Heavenly Father did (Jesus did not until he came to earth to be born and then resurrected). We wanted to be like our Heavenly Father and enjoy the blessings that a perfect immortal body would afford us. We, as children of God, wanted to be like our loving Father (and naturally a Mother as well though she is not discussed openly in scripture).

Paul taught in Hebrews 9:23 that things on Earth are created after the pattern of heavenly things. We also know that the word “God” as used in Genesis 1:1 is the Hebrew word Elohim and the -im on the end makes it a plural word. There are a couple ways to comprehend what this means, but one is that we don’t just have a Father in Heaven. Whenever did a child exist who had a father but not a mother? God has declared us His children and we are. In Genesis 1:26-27 we see this borne out when the Lord declares, “let US make man in OUR image…after our likeness…male and female created he them.” Who is the “us” and “our” if not a Heavenly Mother to pattern Eve after?

Our purpose in coming to earth was two-fold.

First to gain a body so that it would someday be resurrected and glorified and we would physically become like our Heavenly Parents.

Second, to be tested to see if we would obey the Lord’s commandments and be able to return to His presence.

Successfully passing the test of life does not mean one is saved by works. The prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon said it best when he declared:

2 Nephi 25:23 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.

We know that it is only through the grace and mercy of God, wrought by the blood of Christ through his atonement, that we can have hope to be saved in the kingdom of God. We also know that declaring a belief in God without actually keeping the commandments, will not be sufficient to bring us into heaven. As Jesus declared,

Matt 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Post-Mortal Life

There is much that could be said here about the spirit world and preparation for judgment. To save space in this post, I will direct the reader to another article I recently posted which explains our beliefs in the kingdoms of glory that await us (Do Mormons believe everyone else is going to hell?). As Jesus said,

John 14:2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.

If you will read the article just referenced, you will see the scriptural case for what we term “degrees of glory.” In short, Paul makes the case that in the resurrection there are varying degrees of resurrected bodies, some as glorious as the sun, some likened to the moon, and others like the stars “for one star differeth from another star in glory” (1 Cor. 15:40-42). He also speaks of being caught up to the third heaven in 2 Cor. 12:2. We believe these kingdoms of glory are what Jesus referred to as the “many mansions,” or places where we would be comfortable living for eternity, according to the light and truth we were willing to follow in this life.  The highest degree of glory is termed the Celestial kingdom and it is the place where God dwells.

Are we God’s Children?

So now to get to the heart of the matter. Does the reader accept that we are God’s children and that we have Heavenly Parents? If not, why do we call God our Heavenly Father? How can we have a Father without a Mother? What do children do but learn and grow and move toward becoming parents? What greater joy is there for a parent in seeing their children succeed in life, marry, and produce grandchildren for them to love and nurture as part of their family. Does it diminish the parent or grandparent to see the child or grandchild attain the title of “adult”? No. Parents build an inheritance for their children and try to prepare a better world for them to inhabit. This was taught by Paul in Romans 8:16-17.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

What does it mean to be an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ? What does it mean that glory will be revealed in us? Again Paul responds in Philippians 3:13-14.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

What is Paul saying? Put the past behind you and push on toward our final objective. The prize to which we seek is to become perfect through Christ and arrive at the stature of a spiritual adult and attain the calling of God. To be an heir of God and inherit all things. To acquire the power of creation. This does not diminish God, it exalts Him. Recall that his work and his glory is “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man.” Immortality is living forever with a resurrected body. Eternal life is God’s life. It is to become “like” God, but never replace Him. He experiences joy in watching his children create, just as kindly parents experience joy watching their children create. He wants us to have what he has. This is what John the Revelator taught when he said in Revelation 1:5-6:

5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

What does it mean to be a king and priest unto God through Christ? It means to have our sins washed away through the atoning sacrifice of Christ, grow from grace to grace, line upon line, in this life and the next, until we become as perfect in our attributes as God himself, and he is then comfortable bestowing upon us powers and kingdoms to rule over in the same way He Himself would, with love and perfection.

When the Psalmist wrote “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalms 82:6), the Lord later confirmed in John 10 when the Jews took up stones to kill him.

34 Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?

35 If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;

36 Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

In other words, “if the word of God calls you gods and children of the most High, why would you call me a blasphemer for saying I am the Son of God?”

To me, this is a comforting doctrine. It explains our grand purpose in life, the reason for which God created us, and gives us hope that by living by God’s word, we may in fact become like God, not to diminish Him, but to further exalt and honor Him. To reject this concept wholesale means that one would have to provide an alternate set of explanations to all the questions that could be asked. Where did God come from? What did he do before creating us? What will he do after the millennium? What did Paul mean by explaining there are 3 different types of bodies in the resurrection? How was Jeremiah ordained a prophet before he was born unless he lived prior to birth? And what does it really mean to be a child of God?

God the Father was Once a Man

With this foundation laid, the LDS doctrine is that God the Father was also once a spirit child of loving Heavenly parents who placed him in a mortal realm to be tested and tried and eventually exalted. He lived a mortal life on an earth just like this experience we are having. He was exalted to be a God and our Father is the only God whom we worship. It doesn’t take away from God that there are other Gods throughout the eternities. God the Father is the object of our adoration and love and we worship none other. We desire to be like Him. Jesus said:

John 5:19 “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.”

What did Jesus do? He came down to earth, took upon himself a body, experienced death, was resurrected, and has received eternal glory.”

Don’t take my word for it

In my life I have heard no compelling argument to explain these scriptures away in any logical fashion contrary to what I have expressed here. On the other hand, I have a witness by the Holy Ghost that these things are true and I know that anyone who opens their heart and asks God with sincerity and real intent, can come to know these things are true as well. The key is, asking God with sincerity and intent to act on the knowledge. Let God tell you if it’s true. You don’t need my testimony or someone trying to explain these things away. Joseph Smith received his call to be prophet simply because he followed the counsel given in James 1:4-5.

5 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.
6 But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.

I do know these things are true and that anyone who asks God with an open heart to know if these things are true, can in fact come to the same knowledge that you are a literal child of God, he loves you, he created you in his image, he created this world for you, he sent his Son to die for you, that you might return and live with him forever. I will love and praise my Heavenly Father and his Son forever for what they have done for me.


Miscellaneous Quotes from LDS Prophets

“We are destined and foreordained to become like God, and unless we do become like Him we will never be permitted to dwell with Him. When we become like Him you will find that we will be presented before Him in the form in which we were created, male and female.”
Joseph F. Smith, Gospel Doctrine, p. 276, June 12, 1898

“The fact that we receive the Holy Ghost is proof that the Spirit in warring with the flesh has overcome, and by continuing in this state of victory over our sinful bodies we become the sons and daughters of God, Christ having made us free, and whoever the Son makes free is free indeed. Having fought the good fight we then shall be prepared to lay our bodies down to rest to await the morning of the resurrection when they will come forth and be reunited with the spirits, the faithful, as it is said, receiving crowns, glory, immortality and eternal lives, even a fullness with the Father, when Jesus shall present His work to the Father, saying, “Father, here is the work thou gavest me to do.” Then will they become gods, even the sons of God; then will they become eternal fathers, eternal mothers, eternal sons and eternal daughters; being eternal in their organization, they go from glory to glory, from power to power; they will never cease to increase and to multiply, worlds without end. When they receive their crowns, their dominions, they then will be prepared to frame earths like unto ours and to people them in the same manner as we have been brought forth by our parents, by our Father and God.”
Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 18:259

“As man now is, God once was-even the babe of Bethlehem, advancing to childhood-thence to boyhood, manhood, then to the Godhead. This, then, is the “mark of the prize of mans high calling in Christ Jesus.” We are the offspring of God, begotten by Him in the spirit world, where we partook of His nature as children here partake of the likeness of their parents. Our trials and sufferings give us experience, and establish within us principles of godliness.”
-Lorenzo Snow, Journal of Discourses 26:368, January 10, 1886

“It is for the exaltation of man to a state of superior intelligence and Godhead that the mediation and atonement of Jesus Christ is instituted; and that noble being, man, made in the image of God, is rendered capable not only of being a son of man, but also a son of God, through adoption, and is rendered capable of becoming a God, possessing the power, the majesty, the exaltation and the position of a God.”
-John Taylor, The Mediation and the Atonement-John Taylor, p. 140-141

“If I improve upon what the Lord has given me, and continue to improve, I shall become like those who have gone before me; I shall be exalted in the celestial kingdom and be filled to overflowing with all the power I can wield; and all the keys of knowledge I can manage will be committed unto me. What do we want more? I shall be just like every other man-have all that I can, in my capacity, comprehend and manage.”
-Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses 6:276, August 28, 1852

“You have got to learn how to be Gods yourselves, and to be kings and priests to God, the same as all Gods have done before you, namely, by going from one small degree to another, and from a small capacity to a great one; from grace to grace, from exaltation to exaltation.”
Joseph Smith, Jr., Times and Seasons August 15, 1844

What is the Mormon concept of the Godhead?

One of the things that intrigued my parents into investigating the LDS church was when they heard that Mormons believed that God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, were 3 separate and distinct beings. The modern day belief of many Christian churches regarding the Godhead being one being in 3 separate forms came about at the council of Nicea.

In A.D. 325, a council of Christian bishops met to discuss a consensus on their belief in God. One problem with this council was the church of Christ had ceased to exist and had gone into apostasy, leaving a group of men to reach an uninspired consensus on the nature of God. If you will recall the letters of the disciples to the various churches throughout the New Testament region, they were always trying to correct doctrine and ensure there was a unity of the faith (Eph. 4:13) among the branches of the church. As the disciples were put to death, the church members and even leadership began to lose its bearings. There was nobody to give direction to the false doctrines that permeated a church full of converts with different backgrounds and beliefs. This apostasy, or as some term it a falling away, was well known to the disciples of Christ. When the Thessalonians were getting geared up for the second coming of Christ, Paul warned them in these words that there had to be a full apostasy first.

2 Thess 2:1-3

1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;

If there was to be a falling away, the only way to restore the church of Christ was by again calling a prophet and apostle to the earth. The prophet Amos said:

Amos 3:7

Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.

Peter taught this shortly after Christ’s resurrection that the people needed to focus on repentance and not the second coming. He specifically told the people that Christ would remain in the heavens until the time was right for God to again speak by the mouth of holy prophets.

Acts 3:19-21

19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

In the Spring of 1820, a young man named Joseph Smith prayed in faith to God asking which church he should join, because he was very confused about the different churches and their contradictory doctrines. Joseph’s prayer was answered by a glorious manifestation of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ appearing to Joseph. Forevermore, Joseph would know with a perfect knowledge that these two heavenly beings were in fact separate and distinct individuals who were one in purpose, not one in body. He was also given to know that the Holy Ghost was also a separate personage of spirit.

When the Bible says man was created in the image of God, it’s literally true. (Gen 1:26-27)

When Jesus was baptized and the people heard the voice of the Father from the heavens, it’s because the Father is a separate holy being whose magnificent son had just fulfilled a necessary covenant to show us the path home. (Matt 3:13-17)

When Stephen was being stoned and he looked up into the heavens and saw two separate beings standing together acknowledging that his work on earth was complete:

Acts 7:55-56

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.

When Jesus said, “The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise” (John 5:19), he was being literal.

When Jesus prayed to the Father and asked if there was any way the bitter cup of the crucifixion might be taken from him, it was Him praying to his Father *in* Heaven. (Matt 26:42)

When Jesus said during his ministry, “And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him” (John 8:29), on the cross he said, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matt 27:26). Moments later he said, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.” (Luke 23:46)

We know these things to be true and the Bible to be understood in this context, because God spoke to a prophet in these latter days and restored that simple truth to the earth. For more specifics on our views of each member of the Godhead, please see this post “Who is God?

Do Mormons believe everyone else is going to hell?

I love this question because it gets to the heart of the unique LDS beliefs about the afterlife. One of the wonderful things about the restored gospel is the understanding of where we came from, why we’re here, and where we are going. The answers to those three questions constitute what Mormons refer to as “the plan of salvation.”  This plan of our Heavenly Father was designed to allow us to leave a pre-mortal world and journey to earth to receive a body and be tested to prove ourselves worthy of returning to Father and inheriting a glorified, resurrected body, and an eternity of possibilities for growth. For a short video explaining this in more depth, please visit this page (plan of salvation).

One of the most satisfying doctrines (to me at least) is the notion that when Christ said, “in my Father’s house there are many mansions” he literally meant it as “there’s a place for just about everyone.” That’s not to say that everyone gets the same reward no matter what they’ve done in life, because actions have consequences in the eternities. However, God’s great love for all of his children will allow them to have a place to dwell in which they will be comfortable.

The notion of “degrees of glory” was first expressed by the apostle Paul. In 1 Corinthians 15, he begins by talking about the resurrection of Christ and then discusses how God gave to every creation a body which will someday be “quickened” or resurrected (including the animals which have an eternal home with God as well for fulfilling the measure of their creation). Then Paul describes the human body and how there are differing degrees of glory that are as different as the sun is from the moon and the stars. He says it this way:

40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:

Later in 2 Corinthians 12, Paul says

2 I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven.

What does Paul mean by these things? Obviously he has something very specific in mind about at least 3 heavens and 3 types or classes of resurrected bodies.

If all we had to turn to were these few verses, we would dwell in confusion. Thankfully, in our day God called the Prophet Joseph Smith to restore the gospel and the understanding of these things. Joseph received a revelation now published in a book we refer to as the Doctrine and Covenants, which contains modern day revelation just as ancient revelation and teachings were written and recorded in the Bible and Book of Mormon.

This revelation explains that a loving God established 3 degrees of glorious heavens for his children to inhabit, contrasted by a place of outer darkness which is hell. Those who inhabit these kingdoms of glory and hell differ in the following meaningful ways.

Celestial kingdom: Likened to the glory of the sun. The Father dwells here in everlasting glory but straight is the gate and narrow the way which leads to this kingdom of glory (Matt 7:14). Only the humble followers of Christ may enter here after having made covenants (promise between God and man beginning with baptism) by the proper priesthood authority which God bestows on men he calls (Hebrews 5:4). The reward of the celestial kingdom is that of eternal life, or life as God lives (Philippians 3:14).

Terrestrial kingdom: Likened to the glory of the moon. This kingdom is a place for all the good and noble people of the world who loved the Lord and tried to do their very best to live according to the light they possessed. They failed to attain the celestial kingdom by rejecting the messengers of salvation who legally and lawfully administer God’s covenants. Throughout all eternity they will be damned, or stopped in their upward progression and never attain to the presence of the Father, but they may from time to time enjoy the presence of the Son, whom they loved in life, but not enough to take his name upon them through covenants. This kingdom will also accept of the “heathen” nations those who lived a good and moral life according to the amount of light and truth God saw fit to bestow upon them.

Telestial kingdom: Likened to the glory of the stars. This kingdom is a place where the wretched and wicked of this world will eventually dwell after they pay the price of their sins through torment and suffering and finally accept the atonement of Jesus Christ. This will still be a place of glory, but as Paul declares it differs in glory as the sun does from the stars, which is obviously an incredible difference, yet to those who inhabit this place, they will be grateful and filled with the joy they are able to obtain at this level of glory. These too are damned and may not progress to any higher kingdom. In this, they will not complain but with those in the Terrestrial kingdom, may feel a longing and sorrow over their separation from their Heavenly home and parents. They will never receive the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, but may from time to time receive the presence of the Holy Ghost to comfort them.

Those in a higher kingdom may visit those in a lower kingdom, but there is no way for those in a lower to attain to a higher kingdom.

Outer darkness: This torment is reserved for those miserable souls who were once fully enlightened by the gospel, embraced the covenants of salvation which would lead them to the celestial kingdom, and then so fully rejected the light, they become as Judas, willing to see their Lord crucified and turned to persecuting their Lord and His followers. Those for whom this terrible judgment is pronounced upon will be cast out into a realm devoid of light.

To me, there is no more tolerant concept of heaven available on earth than in the LDS faith. A loving Father in Heaven desired all of his children to return and live with him, yet in order to do so, they must prove themselves willing to make sacred promises and then fulfill them, in preparation for life in a Celestial world. No one in that realm can make a promise and not keep it or they would not be worthy of such a glory. Covenants such as baptism help prove us worthy of inheriting such a place as this. God maintains his status as God because his word is always good. For every law there is an associated blessing, and rejection of the law means there is a consequence of not receiving the blessing.

To read the actual revelation Joseph Smith received on these kingdoms of glory, please visit this link (kingdoms of heaven).

If you have questions, please feel free to ask us a question and we will try to answer it for you.

 

Joseph Smith’s Last Dream

Most people don’t know much about LDS church founder Joseph Smith. He had an incredible life of persecution from the time he was 14 and had what we call the “First Vision” to the time he was murdered by a mob in Carthadge, IL.

For the unfamiliar reader, the First Vision was the experience Joseph had during his time of religious confusion (you may read Joseph’s account here). There was a time when many religions were vying for converts and it created much confusion to young Joseph. He came across the scripture in James 1:5 which reads, “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.” Joseph was moved upon by this scripture and decided to take God up on his promise. He went into the woods near his home and while he prayed to inquire of God which of all the churches he should join, God the Father and his Son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph in a vision and instructed him that he should join none of the churches of that day saying “they draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.” Joseph was told he would do a great work on the earth to restore the true gospel of Jesus Christ in it’s purity. He was called to be God’s chosen prophet on earth just as Moses and other ancient prophets had been called and spoke with God “face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend” (Exo. 33:11).

Just weeks before Joseph’s death, the well respected Josiah Quincy traveled from Boston to pay him a visit in Nauvoo, IL. Of that trip, Mr. Quincy wrote this:

“It is by no means improbable that some future textbook, for the use of generations yet unborn, will contain a question something like this: What historical American of the nineteenth century has exerted the most powerful influence upon the destinies of his countrymen? And it is by no means impossible that the answer to that interrogatory may be thus written: Joseph Smith, the Mormon prophet. And the reply, absurd as it doubtless seems to most men now living, may be an obvious commonplace to their descendants. History deals in surprises and paradoxes quite as startling as this. The man who established a religion in this age of free debate, who was and is today accepted by hundreds of thousands as a direct emissary from the Most High,–such a rare human being is not to be disposed of by pelting his memory with unsavory epithets.”

In Joseph’s last days before the martyrdom, he evidently had this dream which I had never heard of till I saw this touching video someone produced. Joseph Smith was an amazing man, called of God to serve as his mouthpiece on earth. He sealed his testimony with his blood, living true to the end in that faith that God revealed to him.

What do Mormons believe about the purpose of life?

So what do Mormons believe is the purpose of life? This little video does a good job explaining our beliefs. The coolest thing (in my opinion) about LDS beliefs is the knowledge of having lived before coming to earth and agreeing to come here with a veil drawn over our minds so we could learn to walk by faith, tuning in to the light of God to experience growth through personal choices. It was there that Jesus Christ was fore-ordained (or specially chosen and set apart) for his role as Savior. With the knowledge that there would be a Savior to pay the price of our sins, we agreed to come to earth knowing that there was a path home to heaven.