13 September 2007

"Test Every Spirit"--Mormonism (part 5)

Part 1 here.
Part 2 here.
Part 3 here.
Part 4 here.

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My purpose for presenting this series is not so much that if we meet up with someone from the LDS church that we can win an argument, or make them feel bad and send them away. These people are lost. They don’t know GOD for who He really is. But what makes it so sad is, unlike people who KNOW they’re lost, who obviously don’t know the LORD, and have no desire to, these people think they are saved, and they think they know GOD, because they have been told by men who call themselves “prophets” that only THEY know the true GOD. And it is so hard to unweave what has been taught by these people, and it can be one of the most frustrating things you’ll ever do.

If you know someone who is involved with the LDS church, the best thing you can do for that person is to pray for them. Pray that the GOD of truth will open their eyes, so that they may see when you turn on the light for them. One of the books I’m reading makes this analogy. That if you are in a room blindfolded, and somebody were to turn on a light, you wouldn’t know it. But, if you take off the blindfold, and THEN they turn on the light, then you can see. Likewise, our attempts to bring Mormons to the truth will be useless unless we remember who it is that is the only one who can open their eyes, and call upon Him to do so. Only after GOD has opened their eyes to accept light into their body will they be able to see the truth.
2nd Corinthians 4:3-4—But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.
Acts 26:18Paul, recounting his conversion, says that Christ told him that he was sending him to the Gentiles, “…to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God…”
Luke 11:34 (ESV)
“Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness.”

Can any of us say that before we came to know Christ, we would have read the Bible, and been affected, or changed by it? I started to read the Bible several times, many years ago. I was telling a friend of mine that for about three or four years in a row, I got saved every Easter. Charlton Heston led me to Christ many times. (I say this sarcastically. One does not get saved over and over again. Once we are truly sealed to God, we cannot be lost again.) I had the light right in front of me, but my eyes were darkened. I believed that GOD existed. I believed that Jesus Christ was the Son of GOD, and that He died on the cross for my sins, and that He rose again three days later. I knew all those facts. But guess what? Satan knows those facts as well, and it doesn’t do him any good. Unless GOD opens the eyes of the blind, they can not see. Unless we pray for those who are involved with the Mormon church, then all of our efforts to show them the truth will be in vain.

Well, we saw last week what they believe about GOD, about Christ, the Trinity, creation, the fall and the virgin birth of Christ. Today, we are going to look at what they consider to be “Scripture.” Mormons really have four sources of “Scripture.” The Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Bible, “…so far as it is correctly translated.” This is their 8th “Article of Faith.” When Mormon missionaries show up at your door, they will only be carrying a Bible, so that you get the impression that what they are telling you is in there. Next time, we will look at the many places where their works don’t match the truth.

First, let’s start by looking at the Book of Mormon. Just to refresh your memory, Joseph Smith claims that an angel named Moroni told him there were some gold plates buried in a hill called “Cumorah”, just outside his hometown of Palmyra, NY. And that this “angel” told him that these plates contained “the fullness of the everlasting gospel.” So, after leading Joseph by the nose for four years, the angel told him that he could go ahead and start translating the plates. Now, one thing to keep in mind here: the Book of Mormon is supposed to contain a record of a family of Jews that sailed from Israel to the Americas about 600 BC. That after many years, there were two brothers, Nephi and Laman, who had split the loyalties of the family, which led to a great war, with the complete destruction of every descendant of Nephi, with one exception. A man named…Moroni. And it was supposedly this same Moroni that buried these gold plates.

And in the year 1827, Joseph Smith began translating these plates. We have seen that he used a “seer stone”, a type of crystal used in the occult, put in a hat, and that a parchment would appear with the translated word on it. But he would never translate directly from the plates. They would either be in a box covered with a cloth, or they would be buried somewhere out in the woods. No one, other than Joseph himself, has ever actually seen the PHYSICAL plates. And they were supposedly written in a language called “Reformed Egyptian”—a language that no expert in the field of Egyptology or linguistics has ever heard of, or seen evidence of.

So, how does the Book of Mormon contain the “fullness of the everlasting gospel?” Because, apparently, some things had been removed from the Bible. The Book of Mormon calls them “plain and precious truths.” But how reliable is the Book of Mormon? Is it a divinely inspired record of an ancient people? Or is it a hoax invented by Satan, and given to the world through a teenager involved in the occult? Well, there was one incident that took place that gives us a pretty good indication that this is a work of fiction.

In 1827, when Joseph had completed about 116 pages, one of his scribes, a man named Martin Harris, asked if he could take the manuscript home with him. After asking “God” several times if he should let him, Joseph finally agreed. Three weeks later, Mr. Harris walked to Joseph’s house and told him the manuscript had been lost. The following story was told by Luck Mack Smith, Joseph's mother, and is found in a book titled Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet:
Martin Harris, having written some one hundred and sixteen pages for Joseph, asked permission of my son to carry the manuscript home with him, in order to let his wife read it...Joseph...inquired of the Lord to know if he might do as Martin Harris had requested, but was refused...

Joseph inquired again, but received a second refusal. Still, Martin Harris persisted as before, and Joseph applied again, but the last answer was not like the two former ones. In this the Lord permitted Martin Harris to take the manuscript home with him...

Mr. Harris had been absent nearly three weeks, and Joseph had received no intelligence whatever from him... we saw him [Harris] walking with a slow and measured tread towards the house... Harris pressed his hands upon his temples, and cried out, in a tone of deep anguish, "Oh, I have lost my soul! I have lost my soul!"

Joseph... sprang from the table, exclaiming, "Martin, have you lost that manuscript?..."

"Yes, it is gone," replied Martin, "and I know not where."

"Oh, my God!" said Joseph, clinching his hands. "All is lost! all is lost! What shall I do? I have sinned..." He wept and groaned, and walked the floor continually... what could I say to comfort him, when he saw all the family in the same situation of mind as himself, for sobs and groans, and the most bitter lamentations filled the house. However, Joseph was more distressed than the rest... he continued, pacing back and forth, meantime weeping and grieving, until about sunset...

The manuscript has never been found; and there is no doubt that Mrs. Harris took it from the drawer...
(1)

Can you see the dilemma facing the young prophet? If he was truly commanded to publish this work, he couldn’t leave out 116 pages. But, if he did try to reproduce it, and it wasn’t an exact copy, and those pages turned up later, he would be exposed as a fraud. But, you see, Satan’s pretty smart. Because you see, apparently, God had anticipated this happening, and had told Nephi to write on another set of plates to make up for the theft of the first set.

But, you see, this doesn’t make sense. If Joseph had translated from the plates, why would he need the manuscript? Couldn’t he just retranslate the plates? Nope. Apparently, “God” told Joseph to write this “revelation”—
And because you have delivered the writings into his hands, behold, wicked men have taken them from you...And, behold, Satan hath put it into their hearts to alter the words which you have caused to be written, or which you have translated, which have gone out of your hands. And behold, I say unto you, that because they have altered the words, they read contrary from that which you translated and caused to be written… (2)

So, these “evil men” had changed what Joseph wrote. Now, here’s a question for your Mormon friend: If GOD could have anticipated this “alteration” and “work of Satan” to discredit the Book of Mormon, you mean to say He couldn’t have anticipated the same thing about the Bible being “altered”?

Now, let’s contrast Joseph Smith’s reaction when he lost those 116 pages, to something similar that happened to the prophet Jeremiah—a TRUE prophet. In Jeremiah 36, the prophet dictates to his scribe Baruch. The scroll is read to the prophets in the house of the LORD. Then the scroll was read to king Jehoiakim, who doesn't cotton too well to what Jeremiah prophesied. So he cuts up the scroll and burns it. What does Jeremiah do? Does he panic? Of course not! Jeremiah 36:32—Then Jeremiah took another scroll and gave it to Baruch the scribe…who wrote on it at the instruction of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire. If someone claims to be a prophet, and they get a word from GOD, then they don’t need to worry about losing what they’ve written, because GOD will give the same message again!

So, would you like to see the “gold plates” this Book of Mormon was supposedly written on? Well, you can't. Because they're not here. You see, after Joseph got done translating, Moroni took them with him. And nobody knows where they are. So how are we supposed to believe that what is in the Book of Mormon is true? Well, you're supposed to pray about it, and if you get the right feeling, then you'll know it’s true. It is sometimes referred to as a “burning in the bosom.”
But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. (3)

May I say that if you read the Book of Mormon—and I wouldn’t recommend it without praying up really hard first—and after reading it, you pray about it—if you get a “burning in your bosom”, it is nothing but the fires of Hell burning in you. Knowing that it was Satan who invented the Book of Mormon, just who is it that you would be praying to?

See, another difference between the Book of Mormon and the Bible is GOD doesn’t mind if you question what you think you know. Acts 17:11—says that the Bereans “were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.” When Thomas doubted, Jesus said in John 20:27—“Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing.” GOD isn't afraid of you seeking out the truth. Because if you find the truth, you have found Him!! Besides, when the NT manuscripts were being copied, and distributed throughout the land, there were literally thousands of copies made available to people all over the place. Yet only one man has ever seen the “golden plates” that became the Book of Mormon. And GOD supposedly told him not to show anybody else.

Part 6 tomorrow

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References:

(1) Lucy Mack Smith, quoted in Biographical Sketches of Joseph Smith the Prophet. 1853. pp. 117,118,120-123. (Cited by Utah Lighthouse Ministries. Salt Lake Messenger. Issuse no. 72. July 1989.) link.

(2) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 10:8-11. link.

(3) The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Doctrine and Covenants 9:8. link.

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