Posts Tagged ‘doctrine’

Warning! This may be offensive to some.

John Hyde, Willam Booth, John Knox, Sam Shoemaker, Leonard Ravenhill, David Wilkerson, Keith Green. These were all men of God who were concerned with people’s souls and the sins within the Church. They all preached boldly on the subject of repentance and revival in the Church. 

They were drastic, radical and at times offensive. They shocked some and frightened and alienated others. Many considered them too extreme or legalistic and at times even heretical. But each one of them knew what God had called them to do. 

John Hyde prayed more than 400 people into God’s kingdom. One of his biographers spoke of the holy power generated in Hyde’s prayer closet. He said that to be near Hyde when he prayed was to hear the sighing and the groaning, and to see tears coursing down his dear face, to see his frame weakened by food-less days and sleepless nights, shaken by sobs as he pleaded, “O God give me souls or I die.”

John Knox is known for his prayer “Give me Scotland, or I die.” Knox’s prayer was not an arrogant demand, but the passionate plea of a man willing to die for the sake of the pure preaching of the gospel and the salvation of his countrymen. 

The apostle Paul wrote: “I have deep sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my own flesh and blood, the people of Israel…” (Romans 9: 3-4) 

William Booth was a remarkable man, who was given the title “The Prophet of the Poor.” He had a passion to save men’s souls. He was a man born into poverty and who worked in the midst of poverty his whole life. His life could be summed up in his own statement, “Some men’s passion is for gold. Some men’s passion is for art. Some men’s passion is for fame. My passion is for souls.” 

What is to become of us now that their voices have been silenced in the grave and there is no one willing to take up their mantle? We owe it to these men to seek the truth from God’s Word—not the preacher’s truth, not the evangelist’s truth, nor the truth of the best selling Christian author, but God’s truth found in the Bible! 

Where are the bold men of God today? Why is there no real spiritual growth in the Church today? Why is there no true revival in the Church today? Because most Christians today don’t want it! There is no travailing over the lost. No crying out to God to send revival. 

What kind of salvation do you have when you go out dancing, drinking and sinning like the people of the world on Friday and Saturday night and then go to a church service on Sunday morning, holding up hands and singing praises to God?  As believers and followers of Christ we are to be set apart from the world and its activities. If we act and speak the same way the world does, how will they know that we are different?  

What do the Scriptures say? “As obedient children, do not conform to the passions of your former ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do…” (1 Peter 1:14-15) We are not to conform to the world, (Romans 12:2) but we are to encourage the world to conform to God’s will. But how can we teach them what we don’t know ourselves?

Christian, you have been deceived into believing the lies told to you from the pulpit, from Christian radio, and from your favorite televangelist—What the apostle Paul calls teachers who will tell you whatever your itching ears want to hear. (2 Timothy 4:3)

The Bible makes clear what is true and what God requires of His followers. Here are just a few things that the Church has mistakenly (or purposely) taught as Bible truth and what the Bible actually teaches. Please note that these have nothing to do with salvation. Only what the Bible teaches is our obligation to God’s truths.

Natural immortality

The belief that the moment a person dies their souls are immediately ushered into heaven to live in eternity with Jesus and God, or immediately ushered into a burning hell to be tortured for all eternity.

Every mention of the word ‘hell’ in Scripture refers to “the ground’ or “the grave’. The only exception is when the Bible refers to the “Lake of Fire”. This is not to be confused with “Gehenna”, which is an actual valley in the city of Jerusalem. In Israel’s past, it was used as a place of child sacrifice to pagan gods. From the reign of Josiah onward, it was used only as a garbage dump where the fires burned the refuse continuously. Jesus used it only as an illustration of the final judgment of the wicked.  

There is no one in a burning hell. There is no Lake of fire burning…yet. And the only ones living in heaven right now is God, Jesus, the angels, and possibly Elijah and Enoch. In apostle Peter’s dissertation in Acts 2 he said, “Brothers, I can tell you with confidence that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” Now king David was a prophet who was a “man after God’s own heart.” So if he didn’t go to heaven when he died, where did he go? Nowhere! He’s still in his grave. Along with everyone else who has died since. 

I have heard many people—even evangelists that I respect, misquote 2 Corinthians 5:8 in order to prove their belief in natural immortality. They misquote it as: “To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord.” What the apostle actually said was: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” Some version read, “prefer to be with the Lord.” I too would prefer to be with the Lord. Unfortunately that will not happen until the resurrection. 

I understand that it’s a romantic notion that our loved ones who have passed away are looking down from heaven and watching over us. But how could they be able to enjoy their eternity if they have to constantly witness their loved ones being beaten, murdered, robbed or raped? The Bible clearly teaches that we who have died will remain in our graves until God resurrects us on the Last Day. (Daniel 12:1-2)

We no longer have to obey Old Testament Law

I have heard so many Christians tell me that Jesus’ sacrifice did away with God’s Laws and we are no longer under the Law but under grace. Matthew 5:17 is the scripture that most Christians quote in order to show that Jesus did away with the Law. “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” They say, “See? Jesus fulfilled the Law when he died on the cross.”

But does this make any sense? Why would Jesus destroy the Law and still command the apostles to keep them? We need to read verse 18 where Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” 

Was everything accomplished? Does heaven and earth still exist? Yes! Has everything in God’s plan been accomplished? No! That won’t happen until Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom on the new earth. So then is the Law of God still in effect? Yes! Jesus says it is. Jesus continues to explain God’s laws and commandments in verse 19: “Anyone who breaks one of  the  least of these commandments and  teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” 

What Jesus fulfilled by sacrificing himself on the execution stake was to make a way for humanity to be saved by grace. God took His judgment against us and placed it onto His son. That’s why Jesus is called the Sacrificial Lamb of God. The only Laws that Jesus did away with was the Ceremonial and Sacrificial Laws. And he did this before the destruction of the Temple.

Think about it; if Jesus did away with all of God’s Laws, was the apostles and the early Church wrong to continue to observe them? (Acts 18:21; Acts 20:16) Many Christians today use Colossians 2:16-17 to support their belief that we should not observe the “Jewish” Holy Days: “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” Paul was not saying not to observe these things. He was saying don’t let others pass judgement on you when you do them. 

Christians also mistakingly believe that in Galatians 4:10 Paul was referring to God’s Feast Days. No! He referring to pagan practices and astrological superstitions, which are also condemned in Deuteronomy 18:10-14.

Many Christians today believe and teach that the Sabbaths and Feast Days are for only the Jews. But several times in Leviticus 23 God told Moses that they are God’s Sabbaths and God’s Feast Days. In fact, God went so far as to say that the same law for the Hebrews applied to the foreigner who resided with them. God was referring to the mixed multitude that traveled with them from Egypt. 

God gave us His Laws because He loves us and wants us to be set apart for Him. And we can show Him how much we love Him by obeying His commandments. “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the Father also loves those born of Him. By this we know that we love the children of God: when we love God and keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome, because everyone born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world: our faith.” (1 John 5: 1-4) “By this we can be sure that we have come to know Him: if we keep His commandments. If anyone says, “I know Him,” but does not keep His commandments, he is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But if anyone keeps His word, the love of God has been truly perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him: Whoever claims to abide in Him must walk as Jesus walked.” (1 John 2: 3-6) God gave us 613 commandments but sadly, most refuse to obey even 10, or 5 or 2!

The Rapture

This is another belief that is taught that could have detrimental consequences for uninformed Christians who don’t study God’s Word. The apostle Paul wrote: “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in an instant, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For the perishable must be clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15: 51-53)  

This will not occur until the last trumpet sounds. So then what happens during the first six trumpets? The answer is in Revelation 8 through 11. And during this time all believers are still on earth! We will not be changed or resurrected until the last trumpet is sounded. 

So when will the end come? “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition…” (2 Thessalonians 2:3 NKG) Some versions read; “…until the apostasy shall have come first…” or “the great rebellion”. 

We need to ask ourselves, “What would make so many believers turn from the faith?” Is it possible it’s because many Christians used the “Rapture” as one of the cornerstones of their faith? And when it didn’t happen they turned against God? In Matthew 24 Jesus warns us ahead of time that in the last days false prophets and false Messiahs will arise and deceive even the elect. And if those days were not shortened no one would be saved. But for our sake those days will be shortened.

I write all of these things not to frighten you or upset you. But simply to warn you and encourage you—No, challenge you; to seek God now with all your heart, soul, mind and strength while you still can. Search diligently through the Scriptures, asking God to reveal His truths by His spirit so that you may “present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)

Most importantly pray. Pray that God will send true revival to His Church. We are living in dark times. And our only hope for our country and this world is if God sends us a great awakening—A true spirit sent revival. We must pray and fast, and weep and mourn for the Church to repent of its wickedness. Only then can God hear from heaven and heal our land.

Whenever we enter into communion with God, we should have a sense of the infinite distance between us and the holy God. How shall we, that are but dust and ashes, speak to the Lord of glory? Nothing is more likely, nothing more effectual to revive the drooping spirits of the saints, than to be assured of God’s love to them. From the very first day we begin to look to God, He is ready to meet us in the way of mercy. Thus God is ready and willing to hear our prayers. While Satan and his angels, and his evil counsellors, excite princes in high places to do mischief against the Church, we can rejoice and trust that God will answer our prayer from the moment we pray—but just like the prophet Daniel, all of God’s mighty angels battle against our enemies from the first day we pray. 

Lord God, teach us to pray and be faithful to your word. And send us revival now! 

Amen!

I want to make it clear that this is not an article designed to bash the LGBT community. Neither is it my intention to draw attention to any particular type of sin. My intention is to bring awareness of how important is to study God’s Word ourselves so that we won’t be deceived by unsound doctrines.

For too long people have been spoon fed a watered down gospel by false teachers and pastors that use their positions more as a platform for social and political rhetoric than for speaking the truth from Scripture.

The Bible has traditionally been interpreted as the source of all truth authored and inspired by God. Although most Christians condemn the actions associated with homosexuality based on their understanding on the Bible, some anonymous editors have set out to reinterpret scriptures to create a new translation — “The Queen James Bible” — that is favorable to gays and lesbians. http://www.theblaze.com/stories/queen-james-bible-now-theres-a-gay-friendly-version-of-scripture/

The editors claim that their new version is a purer take on the scriptures. Through their website they have said, “We wanted to make a book filled with the word of God that nobody could use to incorrectly condemn God’s LGBT children, and we succeeded.” The editors also stated, “We edited the Bible to prevent homophobic interpretations.

Among the verses that they changed was Genesis 19:5. Originally reading: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, “Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, “I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly.” Genesis 19:5-7 (KJV)

They amended it to, “And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may rape and humiliate them. Genesis 19:5 (QJV) (Page 21)

The editors explain that they understand the story of Sodom and Gomorra to be about bullying strangers. It as if they believe that Lot asked the men of Sodom not to “wickedly bully” the angel visitors. They also point out that Leviticus forbids one to have sex with a beast, and since angels are not human, Lot was merely preventing the bullies in the town from having sex with non-humans. Plus, they rationalize that because rapes such as this one are common between men in prison, they aren’t sexual acts; they are power-dominating acts. In other words, they believe that a power-dominating rape is wrong, but consensual sex is not.

First, I feel I should point out that the Hebrew word used for angel here is ‘mal’ak’ and is best translated, messenger. Contrary to popular belief, angel / messengers mentioned in scripture did not have wings. (Although often depicted that way in art) Therefore, the men of Sodom had no idea that the visitors were anything other than human.  Just because someone is raped, it does not diminish the fact that the act of sex is involved; either homosexual or heterosexual.

Another scripture the editors changed is Leviticus 18:22: Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is an abomination. (KJV) And Leviticus 20:13: If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (KJV)

The editors believe that Leviticus is outdated as a moral code, but still picked it as their most important book to address in their edits, because they believe most anti-LGBT religious activists cite Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13 as proof-positive that homosexuality is a sin, and even worse, a sin punishable by death.

The editors assert that Leviticus 18:21 refers to “lying” with pagan male prostitutes as a form of pagan idolatry and therefore fits better with the story order of Leviticus 18, and with the other offenses punishable by death within it. That’s why they changed Leviticus 18:21 and 20:13 to read as follows:

Leviticus 18:22

Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind in the temple of Molech: it is an abomination. (QJV) (Page 75)

Leviticus 20:13

If a man also lie with mankind in the temple of Molech, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. (QJV) (Page 76)

The editors explain: “To address Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13, we need to look at the path of translation. The Hebrew word “to’evah” from which abomination is translated simply means something that is “ritually unclean,” or a “taboo.” Although the Hebrew word tow`ebah translated “abomination” in the KJV can refer to a ritual sin, (eating unclean animals or worship of idols) in the context of this chapter it should be obvious that “Thou shalt not lie” refers to having sexual relations with someone of the same sex and not practicing pagan rituals. The word used for abomination here means: a disgusting thing; Of course, the editors prefer to translate the word abomination as “taboo”; possibly because it doesn’t sound quite as harsh?

The editors also changed Romans 1:26 – For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against their nature… (KJV) to:

Their women did change their natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, left of the natural use of the woman, burned in ritual lust, one toward another; (QJV) (Page 545)

The editors state that they can’t be exactly sure what Paul meant by the natural use of a woman, but they are pretty sure he wasn’t talking about lesbian sex. They further state that unnatural uses of their bodies could even have meant pagan dancing! Really?! God gave them up to vile affections that resulted in the women began dancing?!

To be honest, I’m surprised it took this long to produce such a Bible. Many view the concept of sin as archaic and outdated; something that needs to be cast aside in light of current “modern thought”. But there are some things taught in God’s word which will never become outdated. Sin is one such topic that is just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago. But I believe the most important point that the editors of this Bible missed, and therefore deceive many; (including themselves) is that ALL unrighteousness is sin to God. (1John 5:17)

When trying to define sin, scripture provides all the information needed:

(1 John 3:4) Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.

(1Cor. 6:9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (By the way, effeminate does not just mean a male who practices homosexual forms of lewdness, but people in general who are guilty of addiction to sins of the flesh.)

(Prov. 6:16-19) These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Notice that homosexuality is not even mentioned among the seven things that God hates and yet that is the one sin that most Evangelical Christians view as the most heinous of all.

Perhaps the whole matter can be summed up in the words of James 4:17: Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin.

I do not believe that homosexuals are condemned just because they are homosexuals. We are ALL condemned under the penalty of sin. (Rom 3:23) Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done. The only way we are justified is by faith in the redemption that is in Jesus, our Messiah. And the only way we are condemned is by rejecting that redemption. Remember:

Once you were dead because of your disobedience and your many sins. You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.  All of us used to live that way, following the passionate desires and inclinations of our sinful nature. By our very nature we were subject to God’s anger, just like everyone else. But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when He raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) (Eph. 2:1-5) NLT

Recently I started a Bible study series on religious cults. We discovered that many Evangelical Christians are quick to point to many religious organizations as being cults without really trying to understand its beliefs.

I want to make myself perfectly clear; this is not an attempt to point out scriptural inconsistencies with doctrines within other religions, but to try to unite us on some common ground.

Many Evangelical Christians have been taught that the Mormon Church is actually a religious cult. But is it really? Very few Evangelical Christians I know have ever even researched themselves what the Mormons believe or teach, but rely solely on what they’ve heard from pastors or other “Bible scholars”.

The Mormon Church

The Mormon Church was founded in 1830 by Joseph Smith and his followers. It was claimed that it was a restoration of primitive Christianity as it had been lived in the time of the Apostles with the addition of more recent revelations.

Today, there are two major groups claiming allegiance to Joseph Smith. The differences between the two groups are summarized as follows:

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Brighamites) Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Josephites)
Followed Brigham Young on the death of Joseph Smith. Claimed that succession must be through the seed of Joseph Smith, therefore rejected Brigham Young and chose the son of Smith as head of the church.
Headquarters at Salt Lake City, Utah. Headquarters at Independence, Missouri.
Believe in the revelations regarding polygamy (but do not officially practice it). Reject polygamy and the Brighamite claim that Joseph Smith wrote “Revelation on Celestial Marriage”.
Reject the official use of Joseph Smith’s Inspired Translation of the Bible. The Inspired Translation is published and officially accepted.
Accept the Adam-god doctrine as taught in Doctrine and Covenants. Reject the Adam-god doctrine but retain the belief in gods with flesh and bones. Reject Section 132 of Doctrine and Covenants.
Practice secret rites in temples. No secret temple rites. In the Kirtland Temple all meetings are open to the public.

(from http://www.wrestedscriptures.com)

Mormon “Revelation”

Continuing revelation is held by Mormons to be an essential characteristic of their faith. The following are considered to be divine sources of revelation:

  1. The Bible – The official version is the Authorized “King James Version. It is authoritative insofar as it is translated accurately.
  2. The Book of Mormon– It purports to tell the histories of two nations which flourished in America as descendants of small colonies brought from the “eastern continent”. The first of these – the Jaredite nation followed Jared from the Tower of Babel (2,250 B.C.) By 590 B.C. internal warfare led to the destruction of these people. The colonists are alleged to have crossed the Atlantic in eight cigar-shaped barges and located in Central America. The second nation – the Nephites followed Nephi, the son of Lehi, who (it is said) left Jerusalem in the time of Zedekiah and migrated to the American continent arriving on the coast of Chile by 600 B.C. The golden plates on which this story was written were hidden by the last surviving Nephite, Moroni, (A.D. 421) in the Hill Cumorah in New York State. In A.D. 1827, this same Moroni, then a resurrected personage, delivered the engraved plates to Joseph Smith.
  1. The Doctrine and Covenants– All but two of the 136 sections are revelations allegedly given to Joseph Smith. A concluding “word and will of the Lord, given through President Brigham Young” is included. There is also an “official declaration” prohibiting polygamy, added by Church President Wilford Woodruff in 1890.
  2. The Pearl of Great Price– A small volume containing a “selection from the revelations, translations and narrations of Joseph Smith”. It is usually bound with the Doctrine and Covenants. The thirteen Articles of Faith are included.
  3. Pronouncements by the President – The Mormon church have twelve “spirit-guided apostles” and a president “like unto Moses”- a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church.The president is to Mormons what the pope is to Roman Catholics.

I don’t believe it is advisable to condemn Mormon books as many Evangelical Christians do, based on Rev. 22:18, “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book”. A more fruitful approach would be to utilize the small common ground that the Bible is the Word of God. The Bible can then be used to test the basic issues of Gospel doctrines rather than disputing Mormon beliefs. Christians who assert that the Mormon Church is a religious cult may be surprised to find out just how much they have in common with them.

Similarities between Mormon and Christian beliefs

Mormon:   

Man is an immortal soul living in a fleshly body – “the soul could never die” (Alma 42:9,p. 299)

Christian:

Man is mortal, and possesses an immortal soul – “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” (Matthew 10:28)  

Mormon:

Heaven promised to the righteous – “those that keep the commandments of God . . . if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness.” (Mosiah 2:41, p. 139)

Christian:

Heaven promised to the righteous – “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.” (John 14:2)

Mormon:

Eternal hell-fire torment –  “…which lake of fire and brimstone is endless torment” (Jacob 6:10, p. 122-2) “…his final doom is to endure a never-ending torment” (Mosiah 2:39, p. 139)

Christian:

Eternal hell-fire torment – “… And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:14-15)  “… for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched;.” (Isa. 66:24)

Mormon:

The devil is a fallen angel – “…an angel of God had fallen from heaven; wherefore, he became a devil.” (2 Nephi 2:17, p. 54) “…that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil” (2 Nephi 9:8, p. 67)

Christian:

The devil is a fallen angel – “..How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!  How art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! “(Isa. 14:12)  “And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years.” (Rev. 20:2)

Mormon:

Pre-human existence of Christ – “Is the Son of God the very Eternal Father? . . . Yea, he is the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth.”  (Alma 11:38, 39, p. 223)

Christian:

Pre-human existence of Christ – “Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58)

Just like many religions, Mormon teachings contradict many Bible truths:

Mormons     

God is a progressive being – “What sort of being was God in the beginning? God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man and sits enthroned in yonder heavens.” (Joseph Smith)

Bible

God, unchanging in nature – “…with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” (James 1:17) “For I am the LORD, I change not.” (Mal. 3:6)

Mormons

Revival of the Aaronic Priesthood – “Upon you, [Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery] my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I [John the Baptist] confer the Priesthood of Aaron . . . and this shall never be taken again from the earth . . . ” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 13. pp. 20, 21)

Bible

Priesthood of all believers – “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1Pet. 2:5)

Mormons

Sabbath Observance mandatory (Mormons believe Sunday is Sabbath)

“And the inhabitants of Zion shall also observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 68:29, p. 112)

Bible

Sabbath observance binding

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.” (Ex.20:8, 11)

Mormons

Restrictions on meats and drinks

“. . . flesh also of beasts and of the fowls of the air . . . should not be used, only in times of winter, or of cold, or of famine.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 89:12, 13, p. 155)

“That inasmuch as any man drinketh wine or strong drink among you, behold it is not good, neither meet in the sight of your Father . . . hot drinks are not for the body or belly.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 89:5,9, p. 154)

Bible

Kosher diet is commanded

“Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These [are] the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that [are] on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, [and] cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat.” (Lev. 11:2-3)

“And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after … for wine or for strong drink … and thou shalt eat there before the LORD …” (Deut. 14:26)

Mormons

Site of Zion to be Independence, Missouri

”  . . this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion . . . Behold the place which is now called Independence, is the centre place.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 57:2, 3, p. 89)

Bible

Site of Zion to be in Jerusalem

” …  Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King.” (Matt. 5:35)  “… the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Micah 4:2)

Mormons

Heathen take part in the First Resurrection

“And then shall the heathen nations be redeemed, and they that knew no law shall have part in the first resurrection.” (Doctrine and Covenants, Section 45:54, p.72)

Bible

Heathen will be resurrected unto damnation

“Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.” (Dan. 12:2)

 “Marvel not at this, for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” (John 5:28, 29)

These contradictions are not just between the Bible and the teachings of Mormonism. But also between the Bible and many mainline denominations. Many Evangelical Christians use the Book of Mormon as undisputed proof that the Mormon Church is a religious cult. But doesn’t the Christian Church have similar books that they use in the same way?

Today the Apocrypha is often used in some editions of the Bible in a separate section between the Old and New Testaments. It had been in use since the 5th century and was in Luther’s Bible of 1534.There was agreement among the Reformers that the Apocrypha contained “books proceeding from godly men” and therefore recommended reading.

The English-language King James Version of 1611 followed the lead of the Luther Bible in using an inter-testament section labeled “Books called Apocrypha”, or just “Apocrypha” at the running page header. Later, during the English Civil War, the Westminster Confession of 1647 excluded the Apocrypha from the canon and made no recommendation of the Apocrypha above other human writings and the name, “Apocrypha” soon came to have an unfavorable significance which still remains with some Protestants today. Because of this hostile attitude towards the Apocrypha, (considered Catholic by some Protestants) many newer translations of the Bible now omit the Apocrypha. Does this make the Catholic Church a religious cult?

I don’t believe reliance on a book other than the Bible confirms that one is involved in a religious cult. There are many books that were not included in the biblical canon that many rely on and are even mentioned in Scripture.

“The Book of Enoch” is referred to, and quoted, in Jude 14-15  “Enoch the Seventh from Adam” is attributed to 1 En 60:8. many Bible scholars believe that all the writers of the New Testament were familiar with it and were influenced by it.

“The Book of Jasher” (whose title fully translated means the Book of the Upright or the Book of the Just) is mentioned in Joshua 10:13 and 2 Samuel 1:18.

“The Book of the Wars of the Lord” is referenced in Numbers 21:14.

“The Chronicles of the Kings of Israel” is mentioned in 1 Kings 16:20 regarding King Zimri, and many other times throughout 1 and 2 Kings.

“The Book of Shemaiah the Prophet, and of Iddo the Seer” (also called Story of the Prophet Iddo or The Annals of the Prophet Iddo) is mentioned in II Chr. 9:29, 12:15, 13:22). Iddo was a seer who lived during the reigns of Solomon, Rehoboam, and Abijah. His deeds were recorded in this book, which has been completely lost to history, except for its title. However, it is interesting to note that Zechariah was the son of Iddo (Ezra 5:1, Zechariah 1:1)

At times some of these books will aid in better understanding Scripture. Without the knowledge of 1 & 2 Maccabees in the Apocrypha we would have very limited information about the Feast of Dedication, commonly known as Chanukah.  Another example of a non- canonical book aiding us in a better understanding of Scripture is the story of Esau selling his birthright for some stew:

“And Jacob sod pottage: and Esau came from the field, and he was faint: And Esau said to Jacob, Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage; for I am faint: therefore was his name called Edom. And Jacob said, Sell me this day thy birthright. And Esau said, Behold, I am at the point to die: and what profit shall this birthright do to me? And Jacob said, Swear to me this day; and he sware unto him: and he sold his birthright unto Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and pottage of lentiles; and he did eat and drink, and rose up, and went his way: thus Esau despised his birthright.” (Gen 25:29-34)

At the time, a person’s birthright was very important. Esau’s birthright made him heir to Isaac’s wealth. The oldest son inherited a “double portion” over his brother, and was viewed as the leader of the family. (Deut. 21:15-17) By its design, a birthright brought immediate honor, and in some cases, great personal wealth to a son. That would have been true in Esau’s case and he was first-in-line to inherit that all that wealth. So why would he forfeit all of that for a bowl of stew and some bread?

In the Book of Jasher chapter 27 we get the answer:

1. And Esau at that time, after the death of Abraham, frequently went in the field to hunt. 2. And Nimrod king of Babel, the same was Amraphel, also frequently went with his mighty men to hunt in the field, and to walk about with his men in the cool of the day. 3. And Nimrod was observing Esau all the days, for a jealousy was formed in the heart of Nimrod against Esau all the days. 4. And on a certain day Esau went in the field to hunt, and he found Nimrod walking in the wilderness with his two men. 5. And all his mighty men and his people were with him in the wilderness, but they removed at a distance from him, and they went from him in different directions to hunt, and Esau concealed himself for Nimrod, and he lurked for him in the wilderness. 6. And Nimrod and his men that were with him did not know him, and Nimrod and his men frequently walked about in the field at the cool of the day, and to know where his men were hunting in the field. 7. And Nimrod and two of his men that were with him came to the place where they were, when Esau started suddenly from his lurking place, and drew his sword, and hastened and ran to Nimrod and cut off his head. 8. And Esau fought a desperate fight with the two men that were with Nimrod, and when they called out to him, Esau turned to them and smote them to death with his sword. 9. And all the mighty men of Nimrod, who had left him to go to the wilderness, heard the cry at a distance, and they knew the voices of those two men, and they ran to know the cause of it, when they found their king and the two men that were with him lying dead in the wilderness.10. And when Esau saw the mighty men of Nimrod coming at a distance, he fled, and thereby escaped; and Esau took the valuable garments of Nimrod, which Nimrod’s father had bequeathed to Nimrod, and with which Nimrod prevailed over the whole land, and he ran and concealed them in his house.11. And Esau took those garments and ran into the city on account of Nimrod’s men, and he came unto his father’s house wearied and exhausted from fight, and he was ready to die through grief when he approached his brother Jacob and sat before him.12. And he said unto his brother Jacob, Behold I shall die this day, and wherefore then do I want the birthright? And Jacob acted wisely with Esau in this matter, and Esau sold his birthright to Jacob, for it was so brought about by the Lord.

Without the information written in the Book of Jasher the question of Esau’s birthright might never have been answered today. Even the Apostle John wrote, “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.” (John 21:25)

So connecting books alone is not a factor that a religious group is a cult. A better gauge to tell if one is involved in a religious cult is to examine the leadership and find out if it is abusive or controlling. (See my article “Warning Signs of an Unsafe Church”) If it is simply a matter of theological differences maybe we should try to concentrate more on our common ground that will build up rather than on the differences that divide us.

I have personally known several Mormon families over the years and found them to be honest, upright, and sincere to their beliefs.  And although I don’t agree with many of the Mormon doctrines I have found a great appreciation for their dedication to their faith and their love for people.

The Bible doesn’t teach us that people will know we are Jesus’ disciples by the correct doctrine we have but, “Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” (John 13:35 – NLT)