Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Christian Essentials - Are you a true Christian?

Could a Christian Pastor go up to a pulpit in a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints chapel and preach the Gospel?  Could a Bishop, Stake President or even a regular LDS church member go up to the pulpit at a Christian church and preach the Gospel?
 Let's ask this same question about a Jehovah's Witness, Muslim, Jew, Wiccan, Hindu, Taoist and other religions that believe in Jesus Christ.
Would it be the same gospel that is being taught? The answer is No. They would all be very different "Gospels".

 Why? They all have a belief of Jesus Christ. They all speak of him. We all know a John or a Jane. But is it the same John or Jane we are talking about? That question can be answered by asking a few simple questions about them. What they look like, where they are from.. etc.. You have to ask these same question about Jesus.

Jehovah's Witness believe Jesus is Michael, the Archangel. He was God's first creation and was used by God to create all things. 

Muslim's believe Jesus is a Prophet and the Messiah of the Israelite's.

Mormons believe Jesus is the spirit brother of Satan and all of those who live on the Earth. 

Wiccan's believe Jesus was a highly advanced spiritual person, a great sage and saint.

Hindu's believe  Jesus was an avatar and, more specifically, as the reincarnation of Krishna.

Taoist don't deny anyone else God's so although they believe in Jesus, Jesus is just the God of the Christians. They believe “God” is just a force that people need to harmonize themselves with. There is no personal relationship between you and the Tao. Taoist beliefs seems to be what most are drawn to today in the New-age teachings. Harmonizing ourselves with a force. They don't pray to any deity.

None of these are biblical (Meaning, they aren't in the bible)

For someone to say they are Christian, they would have to believe in the essential Christian teachings. Some of the religions above say they are also Christian while rejecting the Christan view of  essential teachings. To a true Christian (Someone who holds the Bible as the only writings needed without adding or removing other writings) that hears when one of these other religions state they are Christian, yet don't hold to all the essentials cause the Christian to question or reject their claim. This would be like a person in a Polygamy Group, who follow all the teachings of Joseph Smith INCLUDING Polygamy, saying they are a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. How would an LDS member take that? What about an LDS member saying they are a member of the RLDS? What about someone saying they were a "Tao-Jew" a "Muslim-Mormon" or even a "Wicca-Jehovah's Witness".

There have been and are many sects that follow the teachings of Joseph Smith. All have prayed and have received a confirmation from the Holy Spirit that their church is the "One and only true church on the face of the Earth". What truly distinguishes them from each other? If they aren't true then why have they all received a burning of the bosom testimony? Can truth always be confirmed by a strong emotional feeling?

The trouble with a Mormon saying they are a Christan is they don't hold to the essential teachings. They may use the same terms and wordage but have vastly different definitions. They may ask then how can a Catholic or a Protestant be Christian? Because they teach the Essentials, as do many other Christan denominations where Mormonism reject, add to or subtract from these essentials. 

What are the Essentials?

1. The Deity of Christ.
2. Salvation by Grace alone.
3.  The Resurrection of Christ
4. The gospel.
5. Monotheism.

As well as secondary essential doctrines.

1. Jesus is the only way to salvation
2. Jesus' Virgin Birth
3. Doctrine of the Trinity 

You and a Friend go out to play Golf. You both go out to the green, stick your tee's in the ground and place your golf ball on top of it. Step up to your ball and get ready to swing. You pull your club back and follow through, hitting the ball square on and watch it sail down the fairway and land near the 1st hole. Your friend then steps up to his ball. Pulls back his club and follows through hitting his ball down the fairway. Instead of watching his ball sail down the fairway till it lands, he proceeds to chase after it. When it hits the ground he then kicks the ball down the fairway till it lands on the green. While on the green, You step up with your putting club and in one soft tap you knock your ball in the hole. It's a Birdie! Your friend walks up to his ball. Takes out his putting club and  then goes onto his stomach on the green. Takes the putting club and holds it like a pool cue stick. He then hits the golf ball like a pool ball till it rolls near the hold. Your friend then stands up walks over to the ball, turns the club around and taps his ball into the hole. "BIRDIE!" Are you both playing golf?

He has his way of playing his version of golf and you have your way. Who's following the true directions for golf? If we could all play games and follow our own directions the games would be chaos. No direction or order. That's what the bible is. A rule book. A set of Scriptures for us to read daily and follow. We really can't pick and choose what it is we want to follow and still say we are Christian. We don't add to it or take parts away. We have to hold to the whole Word or not at all.

Since I have experience with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS or Mormonism) I'll be bringing up some examples concerning them.

Mormonism seems to be a floating point. One prophet can contradict a former prophet. They claim to have Modern Day revelation and are given daily guidance by it even if it does go against what God's holy words says or even what previous prophets have stated. There are no set rules that are placed in concrete. Everything can be changed, moved or are up for each individuals interpretation. One example. Joseph Smith stated on November 28th 1841,  "I told the brethren,” he said, “that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book.” (Smith, History of the Church, 4:461; see also Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, comp. Joseph Fielding Smith (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1976), 194.)

I agree with a verse in the Book of Mormon that is explaining the Trinity. 2 Nephi 31:21 "...And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end. Amen."

Joseph refuted that Idea later in his life in 1843 when he stated. " “We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity. I will refute that idea, and take away the veil, so that you may see. These are incomprehensible ideas to some, but they are simple. It is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God, and to know that we may converse with him as one man converses with another, and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth, the same as Jesus Christ himself did, and I will show it from the Bible” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp.345-346. Italics in original).

Also stated in the year 1843:

"I have always declared God to be a distinct personage, Jesus Christ a separate and distinct personage from God the Father, and the Holy Ghost was a distinct personage and a Spirit: and these three constitute three distinct personages and three Gods," (Teachings of Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 370).

How could Joseph contradict the Book of Mormon with his teaching? Didn't he question 2 Nephi 31:21 when he was translating. According to the official accounts of his First vision, he saw God the Father and Jesus Christ, side by side, in the flesh before translating the Book of Mormon. (It's interesting that there are many accounts of the first vision and all are different. Joseph, personally, also didn't write it down till 1838, 18 years after it supposedly happened. Wouldn't such an important event have been written down sooner for clarity and historical purposes?)

Other Book of Mormon scriptures supporting the biblical view about the Trinity:
Alma 11:27-39, 44
Mormon 7:7
3 Nephi11:27
Testimony of Three Witnesses

In these examples, the book which Mormons hold to as the  "most correct of any book on earth" teaches about the trinity (A Christian View). Yet modern Mormonism choose to teach that God is three Persons, one in purpose. Even they are picking and choosing which of their own scripture to live and believe by what their leaders choose to teach.

No wounder there are so many different sects that follow Joseph Smith. Yet, unlike Christian Denominations, they all deny one another as sharing in the "One and only True church on the face of the Earth."

As a Christian, we believe all who believe in the true Biblical Jesus are "The Church". It's not a building you go to, or a certain sect or denomination you choose to follow. Those who Love Jesus and accept him as God, who came down in the flesh, to die for our sins and rose again on the 3rd day as well as believe that he, Jesus, is all we need for salvation to go and live with him in heaven, putting our full trust in him and him alone, are true Christians. If you are putting your focus on a building build by man, and ordinances that are not biblical, how can you call yourself Christian?

It is only recently that the Mormons wanted to be called "Christians," preferring not to be included with Christian denominations, which Joseph Smith Jr. said were, "all wrong ... all their creeds were an abomination in His sight, and that those professors (Christians) were all corrupt" (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith, 2:18-19); Mormons have preferred to be called "saints" in the past. In recent years, the LDS church has spent millions of dollars in an intense "PR" campaign aimed at moving the Mormon church into the mainstream of Christianity. The political and economic benefits of Mormons being included in the mainstream of Christianity are obvious. Further, for Mormons to be accepted as traditional Christians would greatly aid in proselytizing the members of Christian denominations into the LDS church. This is why the LDS church is trying so hard to present itself as Christian and is trying to overcome the stigma of it's past anti-Christian, un-biblical teachings.

What is the Gospel?
  1. "But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!  As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned!" (Gal. 1:8-9, NIV).
    1. Verses 8 and 9 here in Galatians are a self declarative statement that you must believe the gospel.  The gospel message which in its entirety is that Jesus is God in flesh, who died for sins, rose from the dead, and freely gives the gift of eternal life to those who believe.
    2. Furthermore, it would not be possible to present the gospel properly without declaring that Jesus is God in flesh per John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9; Phil. 2:5-8; Heb. 1:8.
  2. 1 Cor. 15:1-4 defines what the gospel is: "Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.  By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you.  Otherwise, you have believed in vain.  For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures," (NIV).
    1. Within these verses are the essentials: Christ is God in flesh (John 1:1,14; 10:30-33; 20:28; Col. 2:9); Salvation is received by faith (John 1:12; Rom. 10:9-10), therefore it is by grace; and the resurrection is mentioned in verse 4.  Therefore, this gospel message automatically includes the essentials. 

    The True Gospel message automatically includes the Essentials. Nothing added upon and nothing taken away. If your religion isn't in line with these and you are claiming to be Christian, you may want to take a second look keeping in mind Gal. 1:8-9.

    God Bless.

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