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September 16, 2008

Jesus warned us that in the last days false prophets would come and “deceive many” (Matthew 24:11).  Mormons believe this prophecy was fulfilled back in the 1st or 2nd century after the apostles were killed.  Rather than only “many” being deceived (Matt. 24:11) or “some” (I Timothy 4:1), they believe all Christians became deceived and that original Christianity went missing from the face of the earth until Joseph Smith restored the true gospel.  Since the basis of Mormonism is the belief that the true gospel has been restored to the earth, it is understood that orthodox Christians have “another gospel.” 

The question is, which of us (Mormons or orthodox Christians) has “another gospel” spoken of in Galatians 1? And did Christianity go missing in the 2nd century or is the prophecy about false prophets in the latter days being fulfilled now – in these latter days?

Jesus said, “Many will say to me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works?’ And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from me…” (Matthew 7:22-23).

This passage should be scary to ANYONE who claims to be a Christ-follower! Just because we claim to know Him and do good works in His name, how do we know whether we REALLY know HIM – the true Jesus of the Bible? Especially in the context of the passage where Jesus is warning that false prophets would come. How do we know whether someone is a false prophet? According to what Mormons have told me, we are to pray and ask Heavenly Father (who is, according to them, “the Father of all of our spirits”) who will show us whether or not Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God and whether or not the Book of Mormon/Mormon church is true. From the experiences I have had with Mormons, they place their confidence on the subjective experience of their “testimony” and that of others in the Mormon church.

Is this experience a Biblical “litmus test” for discerning what is of God?

The Biblical record opens (Genesis 3) with the story of how humans were first deceived by Satan. Throughout the pages of Scripture warnings are given to Christians about Satan, demons, and the nature of spiritual deception. Here are just some of the warnings given:

Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them (Deut. 11:16)

Jesus said, “Take heed that ye be not deceived” (Luke 21:7-9)

And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever (Rev. 20:10)

And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth, and his angels were cast out with him (Rev. 12:9)

It’s interesting to note what God has to say about the human heart and it’s capacity for being deceived:

God said “for the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21)

God said, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?” (Jeremiah 17:9)

Jesus said, “For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies” (Matthew 15:19)

Considering this, is a “burning in the bosom” necessarily a reliable source for discerning truth?

We are warned that “Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (II Cor. 11:14) and that we are to beware of “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1) and we are admonished to “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour…” (I Peter 5:7-9)

The Pharisees and Sadducees were the religious people in Jesus’ day. They were very concerned about keeping an external appearance of good works and they even added requirements to the law in their efforts to make themselves righteous before God. Was Jesus impressed with their efforts to “do their best” to follow the teachings of Heavenly Father? Not at all. He told them “Ye are of your father the devil” (John 8:44) Why? Jesus told them “because ye cannot hear my word” (John 8:43).

I wonder about this in the context of the Mormon religion because of the Mormon teaching on the Bible.  The LDS 8th article of faith states:

The Church…regards the Bible to be the word of God, “as far as it is translated correctly.” Accordingly, Church members believe that during the centuries-long process in which fallible human beings compiled, translated and transcribed the Bible, various errors entered the text.

It appears to me that Mormonism teaches that an experiential knowledge of God is superior to revealed truths in His written Word. Further, it appears that the founder(s) of the LDS church were attempting to undermine faith in God’s Word by this insinuation that the Bible has not been translated correctly and, subsequently, the implication is – it cannot be trusted. This mistrust in God’s Word is necessary since the Bible speaks against and refutes Mormonism’s claims. Joseph Smith’s book, on the other hand, translated with the use of a seer stone, is deemed more trustworthy. For a comparison of the Bible vs. the Book of Mormon, please see this link [1].

Final questions: If Jesus said the Pharisees were of their father the devil because they did not believe on Him and could not hear His words, why has it been told to me by Mormons that Heavenly Father is the father of all of our spirits? Where is this found in the Bible? I only see where He becomes our Father when we are born again (John 3, John 14:6, Eph. 5:8).

If, before we are born again, our father is the devil – is it very wise to pray to our “father” and ask whether the Book of Mormon is true?

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