This is the finished work on answering the LDS "17 points of the true church." I have answered each and every question straight from the Word of God with very little outside commentary.
I wanted to convey my message in truth and in love, just as Jesus would do. An example of this comes from a "Just Thinking" essay written by well-known Christian apologist Ravi Zacherias from the Fall of 1995:
How can preachers critique alternative beliefs to Christianity so that people will listen?
If you can make any religion look idiotic, chances are, you haven't understood that religion. You can't take treasured beliefs from the past and mock them.
After I spoke at Brigham Young University, a well-groomed student came to me and said, "Dr. Zacharias, you didn't directly attack Mormonism. Was there a reason?"
"Of course," I said. "I was assigned a subject on which to speak, and the subject was getting to the truth: Who is Jesus? I lectured on that.
"If I had been asked to deal with the differences between Mormonism and orthodox Christianity, I would have done so. But I still would have done so graciously."
"I just want to thank you for that approach," he said. "Two weeks ago there was a man on campus who came on his own invitation and started crying down hellfire and brimstone. He was escorted off campus."
The old Indian proverb holds true: Once you've cut off a person's nose, there's no point giving him a rose to smell. We tend to think being kind and listening to the opposition implies we have sacrificed the message. But we need to learn how to handle critique, how to address an antagonist. Even while you wrestle with the ideas of an opponent, you must keep the dignity of the opponent intact.
Copyright (p)(c) 2000 Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM)
17 Points of the True Church -- Examined
1. Christ organized the church. True, Christ did organize the church. However, the church would exist if even one single solitary person on earth amongst the entire population were the only Christian. To say church of God is the same as saying assembly of the LORD. The church is made up of people, God s people, brought together in one family, one kingdom, through faith in His Son, Jesus Christ.
2. The true church must bear the name of Jesus Christ. See answer #1. It is important to remember that acceptance into God s kingdom is only through the Son (John 1:13; 14:6) and must be done on God s terms, not ours. Therefore, anyone born again into the kingdom of God is part of the church of Jesus Christ, from A.D. 30 to the year 1000 to the year 2002.
3. The true church must have a foundation of apostles and prophets. Ephesians 2:19-20 is cited for this, saying: Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.
Let s see what Paul is saying here. In the context of the letter, he s writing to the Christians in Ephesus. In verses 11-18, Paul is telling the Gentile believers that because of Jesus death on the cross, they have been reconciled with God as well as with Jewish believers. The wall of separation between Jew and Gentile has been bridged: But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ (v. 13).
Therefore, Paul gets to verse 19 telling the Gentile Christians that they are no longer strangers and foreigners but are members of God s household along with him and other Jewish Christians. You must continue verse 20 that says, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone. Without Him, the apostles and prophets come to nothing. But you must still continue:
in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit" (v. 21-22). Paul is telling the Ephesian Christians that God is growing them into a holy temple in the Lord Jesus so that they can be a proper place for His Spirit to reside. Eventually, the apostles and prophets died out. But they were a foundation built upon Jesus Himself. Jesus says, I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore (Revelation 1:18).
Even though the apostles eventually died out, Jesus still lives, because He rose from the dead. He said, Surely I am with you always even unto the end of the world (Matthew 28:20). Therefore, since He is with His people no matter where they are, by His Spirit He can be with them and therefore wherever His people are, the church is. Jesus said even the gates of hell would not prevail over His church (Matthew 16:18). He always preserves a remnant who is faithful to His name. No universal apostasy. See last sentence of answer #2.
4. The true church must have the same organization as Christ s church. The only organization required are souls who are ready to accept the gospel of God, which is that, Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures (1 Cor. 15:3-4) & "that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:9-10).
Ephesians 4:11-14 is talking about spiritual gifts, which God gives to each person as He sees fit. Some are strong in some gifts and weak in others and it varies from person to person. The purpose is the building up of the body of Christ (that is, His people) till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ (v. 13). How does one become a member of the Body of Christ? See Romans 10:9-10; John 3:16.
5. The true church must claim divine authority. That divine authority only comes from the One who bought people with His blood. Hebrews 5:4-10 says that Jesus is a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek. This is possible because of His resurrection from the dead, and now He can hold that position for all eternity, interceding for all believers. He can justify this position because He was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead (Romans 1:4).
Since Christ has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep He is the only one who qualifies for priesthood in the order of Melchizedek because only He is the only begotten Son of God. The true church will have members who represent the true gospel of Jesus Christ. What is this true gospel? See 1 Cor. 15:3-4.
6. The true church must have no paid ministry. Obviously those who pastor a church do make a living doing so. How else would a man provide for his family or himself? How this is determined is through the pastor s church. Isaiah 45:13 is talking about Cyrus, the king of Persia who allowed exiles to return to rebuild the temple, according to 2 Chronicles 26:22-Ezra 1:8.
I have raised him up in righteousness,
And I will direct all his ways;
He shall build My city
And let My exiles go free,
Not for price nor reward,"
Says the LORD of hosts.
This has nothing to do with paid ministry within a church. It has everything to do with God, who knows everything from beginning to end, speaking through His prophet Isaiah (as well as Jeremiah and many others) about the Jewish exiles returning home to rebuild His temple.
1 Peter 5:2: Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly. Receiving finances for pastoring (or other church work) is not dishonest gain. This verse does not speak of whether or not pastors should receive monetary support. The point Peter was making is that a person must be willing to fulfill the position of overseer and be eager to be an example to the flock. There is no sin here. The word of God says, Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine. For the Scripture says, "You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain," and, "The laborer is worthy of his wages (1 Timothy 5:17-18).
7. The true church must baptize by immersion. While immersion is a biblical concept, it has nothing to do with a person s salvation as that is determined by how a person turns to God in faith (trust) and repentence. 1 John 1:9 says, If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. This is a matter of the heart. Matthew 3:13-16 is about the baptism of Jesus and His being an example for us. It is where the Father confirmed that Jesus was His only Begotten Son and where the Holy Spirit came upon Him, telling John the Baptist that this was the Messiah. Baptism by immersion is irrelevant unless belief (trust) in Jesus is sustained according to who He is (John 1:1).
8. The true church must bestow the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands. There were a few instances where some people had received only the baptism of John or as this says, They had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. However, Revelation 3:20 says, Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. If Jesus comes into someone s life, then the Holy Spirit will be with that person as well. Paul says those who are unsure of their salvation should examine themselves, Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified (2 Cor. 13:5).
9. The true church must practice divine healing. And He went up on the mountain and called to Him those He Himself wanted. And they came to Him. Then He appointed twelve, that they might be with Him and that He might send them out to preach, and to have power to heal sicknesses and to cast out demons (Mark 3:13-15). Many Christian churches do practice this and do get results, so that must mean that they are part of the true church, right? This can be a sign of the true church, but unless these signs and the teachings of a church align with the Word of God (the Bible), they amount to nothing. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
It is important to remember that miracles alone do not establish whether someone is in favor with God. Jesus said, "Not everyone who says to Me, "Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!' (Matthew 7:21-23). Part of doing the will of the Father is believing who He is, who His Son is, and believing the word the Son speaks. Jesus words in the Bible overrule any person s words today that claims to have direct revelation from God. More on that later.
10. The true church must teach that God and Jesus Christ are separate and distinct individuals. John 17:11 and 20:17 show that Jesus was praying to His Father and told people about ascending to His Father. John 1:1 also says they are separate: In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God... So we see that there is a distinction made by John that says the Word, Jesus, was with God. However, the word "with" (pros) in a context like this is used to indicate personal relationship, not mere proximity (IVP New Testament Commentaries). John goes on to say, and the Word was God.
Even though Jesus was with God, and thus, distinct from Him, Jesus, as the Word, was also God. John is refuting the notion that Jesus is God but holds three "offices" of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and can only do each one at a time. And Jesus is not some other God, because Deuteronomy 6:4 says, Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD. This is a firm declaration by Scripture that says that there is only one God. 1 Timothy 6:15-16 says, He who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see.
We must remember that Elohim is Hebrew for God . Actually, back that up, Eloha is another name for God and it is singular. Elohim is plural, which could be translated Gods but was always meant just as God. Very interesting to say the least. Does that mean that there is more than one God? Deuteronomy 6 seems to suggest not. Isaiah 43:10-11 similarly says,
Before Me there was no God formed,
Nor shall there be after Me.
I, even I, am the LORD,
And besides Me there is no savior.
Scripture is emphatic that there is only one God. That is what separated Israel from other nations is that point right there. It was the other nations that had their many gods but it was Israel whose Creator was One God, who spoke, and everything came to be. Isaiah continues in 44:6,
"Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel,
And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
"I am the First and I am the Last;
Besides Me there is no God.
And again in 45:5, I am the LORD, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me.
Before the mountains were brought forth,
Or ever You had formed the earth and the world,
Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God Psalm 90:2
Do you think God was trying to make a point? He s saying there is no one else besides Him! One God. Uno. Since there is only one God, as Scripture says, God can rightly declare:
Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD,
Or as His counselor has taught Him?
With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him,
And taught Him in the path of justice?
Who taught Him knowledge,
And showed Him the way of understanding? -- Isaiah 40:13-14
In addition, for the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. 1 Cor. 2:10-11.
Yes, the Spirit. Another matter we ll get to. Now, back to Elohim. It not God s name per se, though in Scripture, God is simply addressed as God or Elohim , because that s what it means in Hebrew. It s as simple as that. The covenant name of God in Hebrew has four consonants, YHWH, which when vowels are added, can be pronounced Yahweh. This is the name that is used thousands of times to refer to the God of the Old Testament. It means 'He causes to be' and also 'He brings into existence'. As many times as that is used, God ( Elohim ) is also used thousands of times in the Old Testament as well as LORD God (YHWH Elohim). [There are also many instances of El Shaddai or God Almighty .]
Elohim is the God of the Old Testament and His covenant name is Yahweh. Now, from our first paragraph of this section, we saw that John associated Jesus as being with God and also God at the same time, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. We also see that Paul referred to God as the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords in 1 Tim. 6. Where have we seen this before? Here it is:
Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS. Revelation 19: 11-16
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. Titus 2:11-13
But Paul says that this King of kings dwells in unapproachable light and that no one has seen Him or can see Him. So who is this King? God is the King. Jesus is the King. Jesus said,
He who has seen Me has seen the Father Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? (John 14:9-10).
Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." (John 8:58).
And God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He said, "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you."' (Exodus 3:14).
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:14,18).
It has been declared that no one has ever seen God, yet now in the Son, Jesus, we have. The Father made it possible to see Him in the face of His Son, Jesus Christ! Look where Jesus is. He s not just at the Father s side, He s right near His heart, in the bosom of the Father. He who could not be seen, could now be seen. Before, one could only see God with the eyes of faith. Then, just as God said through the prophets, He made Himself fully visible:
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory. 1 Timothy 3:16
While Jesus is God, He is not the Father. Neither is He the Holy Spirit. He is God the Son. Yet, all Three are One in unity. How can this be? This is beyond comprehension and cannot possibly be true! The Virgin birth is beyond comprehension; the Incarnation is beyond comprehension; God Himself is beyond comprehension. Augustine said that if you can fully understand something, then it cannot be God. No one can fully know the Father. Only the Son fully knows the Father and as 1 Cor. 2:11 says, only the Spirit can fully know the Father. One God in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). All three being fully God at the same time in a Triune fashion.
An instance in Scripture of the Holy Spirit being addressed as God appears in Acts 5:1-4:
But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession. And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself? While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
The other instance is Romans 8:9-11 where the Holy Spirit, God, and Christ are used interchangeably. Paul does this, but does not explain why, moving on without telling his readers of the significance of how he is applying this theology. Here was a strict monotheist, who had to rethink that after meeting Christ on the road to Damascus, who was now using the Holy Spirit with attributes of deity. But Paul was still a monotheist (see 1 Tim 6:16). Let s look at the Romans passage:
But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin, but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you.
Make no mistake, this is how the God of the universe has revealed Himself. We can question it and wonder about it, ultimately leading to the purpose of praising Him. But let us not come up with any patronizing theories that bring God down to the level of man to fit our theology.
11. The true church must teach that God and Jesus Christ have bodies of flesh and bone. The very fact of the matter is that God never had a body such as that of a man until coming in the person of Jesus Christ. There were several theophanies or manifestations of God in the Old Testament (God appearing to Abraham, the angel of the LORD speaking in the first person with the LORD s authority, etc.) However, never did God appear as a man until the Son came to earth in a humble stable 2,000 years ago. Since we have already established that God is a single being representing Himself in Father, Son and Holy Spirit, we need to establish from Scripture whether God has flesh and bones.
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." -- John 4:23-24
This is an important verse in John s gospel that quotes Jesus, who isspeaking to the Samaritan woman. Jesus said God is Spirit. I think my answer to Statement #10 is adequate for the question of how God can be a Spirit in heaven and a man on earth at the same time. Nothing is impossible for God, Gabriel said to Mary in Luke s gospel.
Now as they said these things, Jesus Himself stood in the midst of them, and said to them, "Peace to you." But they were terrified and frightened, and supposed they had seen a spirit. And He said to them, "Why are you troubled? And why do doubts arise in your hearts? Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have." -- Luke 24:36-39
Look at this verse very carefully. Jesus was not confirming to His disciples that God is supposed to have a body of flesh and bones. He was confirming that He had really raised from the dead, in a solid, physical body. He was saying that the spirits of dead people do not have flesh and bones, which means he was saying that He was not a spirit. The nature of His body had changed so that it was a spiritual body and it seems He could appear anywhere He wished at the speed of thought, not subject to many of the laws of physics. At the same time, it was a physically solid body that could consume food, even though food is not needed for survival in such a body.
Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, "Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven." Acts 1:9-11
Again, look at the verses carefully. These words are more for the disciples who are watching Jesus ascend into heaven and for those who will be comforted at the reading of these words in the future. The reason? He will be coming back, as the Scriptures have foretold. Do not try to read something into the text that isn t there. The words and context can explain the passage quite nicely on its own.
Read these words carefully and prayerfully:
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:5-11
Even though Jesus was God manifested in the flesh (1 Tim. 3:16), He was willing to come to earth in the crude flesh of man to become an atonement for sin, so that mankind would not have to suffer the wrath he so deserves. Only accepting the free gift of salvation will save a person, not by works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).
12. The true church must be called by God. The true church that is called by God is any person who responds to His call of salvation and literally becomes a temple of the Holy Spirit. It is any person who is called by God to serve Him for all of his days. I see what is going on here with these verses. Hebrews 5:4, Exodus 26:1 and 40:13-16 all speak of Aaron being consecrated as a high priest.
These verses are being used to justify some sort of Aaronic priesthood within the Latter-day Saint church. Remember that anyone who accepts God s free gift of salvation becomes one of God s chosen people. Peter writes of these chosen people saying, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ (2 Peter 2:5). Peter mentions later, But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light (2 Peter 2:9).
Notice how Peter called all of God s people a holy and royal priesthood. But we are not like the priests of old, of the outdated Aaronic covenant that offered up the sacrifices of animals. Instead we are to, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service (Romans 12:1). I stated before in point #5 that there is only one High Priest, Jesus Christ, who alone is in the order of Melchizedek. He is the only one who qualifies because He is the only one who was the perfect atonement for sin. He did not have to atone for His own sins because He was sinless. However, thanks to the great mercy of God, Jesus became a sin offering for mankind so that whosoever would believe on Him may have eternal life (Romans 8:3, 2 Cor. 5:21, John 3:16). Why go back to a priesthood that is imperfect, when we had perfection incarnate take away the sins of the world?
13. The true church must claim revelation from God. Surely the Lord GOD does nothing, unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets (Amos 3:7). So this is the reasoning behind having prophets in the LDS church today? An obscure verse tucked away in an Old Testament book that, when read in context, speaks of witnesses summoned against Israel? Does this verse mean that God can do nothing without prophets? I would suppose not. God revealed his messages to prophets in order to put a human face with this message that the God of heaven was bringing. In fact, centuries earlier, the nation of Israel asked God to do so:
"The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the LORD your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, "Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.' Deuteronomy 18:15-16
It goes on further saying:
I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him (v. 18-19).
This has long been considered a Messianic prophecy. John the Baptist and Jesus were both asked if they were the Prophet (John 1:21, 25, 45; 5:46; 6:14; 7:40). Peter makes reference to this verse in one of his speeches to a crowd of onlookers:
For Moses truly said to the fathers, "The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.' Acts 3:22-23
The person Peter was talking about is Jesus Christ. The author of Hebrews offers this:
God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4
According to the Bible, God speaks to us by His Son, Jesus Christ, as well as through the Holy Spirit. Direct revelation from God no longer comes from a prophet to be given to a large group of people, but the ultimate revelation of God was found in Jesus Christ. From Genesis to Revelation, we now have the complete word of God, the writers moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21) to put down for all to read what God wants to say to man. Any other word that claims to be the word of God, but has not been inspired of the Holy Spirit, is not the word of God. With God s complete word and the Holy Spirit, anyone can learn about God: learn to worship Him, love Him, glorify Him and serve Him more fully.
A stern warning was also given by God to His people to determine who is a true prophet of God and is found in the same section that talks about the Prophet to come:
And if you say in your heart, "How shall we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?'-- when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:21-22
There is neither the time nor the space to delve into the subject of the false prophecies of Joseph Smith because the word of God already answers adequately the difference between truth and error when dealing with each of these 17 Points. Anyone who wants to research further on his or her own has the right to do so because everyone has a right to search for the truth (Truth).
14. The true church must be a missionary church. Just about every evangelical Christian church supports missionaries in the United States as well as all over the world. My church alone supports 18 full time missionaries and their families working in everything from Word of Life to Campus Crusade for Christ to Youth for Christ to Child Evangelism Fellowship. But that is credit to the Lord, not to the church s own power. This is a rather vague point (#14), but also rather dangerous because it is not impossible to be a missionary of false teaching. Consider the consequences.
15. The true church must be a restored church. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before (Acts 3:19-20). When reading this verse, it is difficult to see what this has to do with a restored church. This text is from the same speech Peter was making concerning the Prophet, which was addressed in Point #14. He is making an appeal to his hearers (mainly Jews) that since Jesus had been crucified as a result of their actions, they should repent and be saved, just as he was:
"And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all" (v. 16). That is all that verses 19 & 20 speak on, turning to God from sin so that salvation can be received. It has nothing to do with a restored church, unless it is referring to the church that consists all of those who are in Christ (see answers to points 1, 2, and 3).
16. The true church must practice baptism from the dead. This is absolutely no prerequisite to determine what is the true church and what is not the true church, especially with the text that is given (1 Corinthians 15). Let us take a look at it, shall we?
For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead? -- 1 Corinthians 15:16, 29.
We know verse 16 to be to true because prior to that Paul was writing to the church at Corinth about the importance of the resurrection and what it means to their faith. He was establishing that if there is no resurrection of the dead then Christ is not risen, their faith is useless, preaching is empty, they are false witnesses of God, they are still in their sins, and they are to the most pitied of all men. But verse 29 is empty of reasoning behind baptizing someone into faith who is already dead. Scripture can interpret other Scripture and a passage that speaks volumes is found in Hebrews 9:27:
And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment. A person is judged after they die. There is no second chance. The chance to receive salvation comes in this life. The Bible speaks clearly on this and there is enough evidence for everyone in the world to come to God:
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Romans 1:20
And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, so that they should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us. - Acts 17:26-27
For He says:
"In an acceptable time I have heard you,
And in the day of salvation I have helped you."
Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2
The point Paul was trying to make concerning baptism ties back into his argument for the resurrection. If the dead are not raised, then Christ is not raised. If Christ is not raised, why are people being baptized for the dead, i.e. Christ? Look at the last 8 words of verse 29, if the dead do not rise at all? If Christ has not been raised from the dead, why are people being baptized into the name of a dead man? That is no different than trying to pray someone into heaven after they have died, or even while they are living, for that matter, because the choice ultimately lies with the individual.
17. By their fruits you shall know them. So without a doubt we know that those who have been born again through a new birth into the kingdom of God through the power of the Holy Spirit should produce good fruit. And indeed they do. Point #17 makes reference to Matthew 7:20. But Jesus earlier said something that should make one stop and think, especially after reading these first 16 points:
"Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. -- Matthew 7:15 (See also Galatians 1:8-12).
See answer to Point #13 for a refresher on prophets. There are numerous Christians who produce good fruit in their lives through the works that they do. So what would separate them from non-Christians who appear to do good works as well? Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).
It is the grace that is accepted by man from God that separates the believer and the unbeliever. You can try all you want to get to heaven: tithe 10% of your money and beyond, go to every church service you can think of, pray to whomever you think to be God, perform good deeds, get married and have children, have someone baptize you into the faith when you die It is all meaningless.
But we are all like an unclean thing,
And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind,
Have taken us away. -- Isaiah 64:6
The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men,
To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.
They have all turned aside,
They have together become corrupt;
there is none who does good,
No, not one. - Psalm 14:2-3
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God Romans 3:23
What can be done then if all that man does to try to reach God or become gods ends up in futility and sin? (Genesis 3:4) It is only by coming to God on His own terms and accepting His free gift of salvation. It is only by the power of God that man can love, have faith, or do anything good. Apart from knowing God, everything is useless. A person can never become a god because that would be trying to take the place of the Almighty on the throne, and that is sin. You shall have no other gods before me (Exodus 20:3).
Yes, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8), demonstrating to the entire universe that God never changes and has always been as He is. The author continues in the next verse, saying, Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.
It should be noted that every single one of these 17 Points of the True Church were supposedly upheld with passages from the Bible, even the Bible is seen as incomplete and not translated accurately (even in the KJV) according to the LDS church. Why then even use the Bible as a backup for these 17 Points if it is true that the Bible has been corrupted beyond what is used to be?
It is fascinating that those in the New Age also believe that one can evolve to become a god or one with a Divine Mind or Godhead, as well as trying to use the Bible to justify their beliefs, and believing that the New Testament has been corrupted. Both the New Age and Mormonism also distort who Jesus Christ really is and what His purpose was for coming to earth, as do a host of other false religions. It is only by faith in the true Jesus Christ that one can be saved. As Jesus once asked Peter, Who do you say that I am?
"I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me. - John 14:6
"Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed." -- John 8:46
© Copyright 2002 Kedric Webster
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