Lesson 1 - Masquerade
It is not unlikely to hear a Mormon say that he has even accepted Jesus as his Savior. What you need to understand is that they, like all the religions of the world, use the names “God” and “Jesus,” and the words “salvation” and “atonement,” etc. However, while they use that terminology, they are, at the same time, believing different definitions. To put it another way, Mormonism, in its bid today, to be viewed as another Christian denomination, uses our vocabulary, but a different dictionary.
By way of introduction to this series of studies, let me read you a summary of Mormonism’s basic beliefs. I’ve compiled this summary from reading several books – all of them written either by former Mormons, or current practicing Mormons.
There are trillions of planets scattered about the universe which are ruled by gods and goddesses. The purpose of these gods and goddesses is to procreate millions of spirit babies who await their physical body through the birth of humans on planets below. In other words, the gods give birth to immortal spirits, humans give birth to physical beings who are then inhabited by those spirit beings. Many years ago, on one of these planets, a spirit child was born and his parent gods named him Elohim. Later this spirit child was born to human parents and given a physical body. The child grew and became obedient to the teachings of certain doctrines and after his death he was resurrected and elevated to Godhood as his father before Him. Thus Elohim now lives with his many celestial wives far off in the galaxy near a mysterious star base named Kolob. Here Elohim, the Father God of Mormonism lives, producing millions of spirit beings who await physical bodies on our planet earth. Now Elohim wanted to institute a plan to help his human creation find their way to Godhood. Elohim called his spirit sons to him to decide. One of those spirit sons named Lucifer wanted to force obedience from the humans. Another spirit son, named Jesus suggested that people be given a choice, and that he be allowed to become flesh and come to earth to show them the way. A vote was taken and Jesus’ plan won. Lucifer became so angry that he convinced 1/3 of the other spirit children to revolt - thus he became the devil and his followers the demons. They were banished to earth, denied the possibility of inhabiting human form. Elohim then came to planet earth and had relations with Mary, so that Jesus could be given a physical body and the plan of salvation begin. Jesus grew and married Martha, Mary and Mary Magdalene. After Jesus/ death and resurrection, He came to the Americas and preached to the Indians who were actually descendants of Israel’s lost tribes. He established a church in the Americas, yet that church failed to gain a foothold. The last living follower however was able to record Jesus’ plan of salvation by writing it on golden plates in ancient Egyptian symbols. A direct descendant of Jesus and his wives, named Joseph Smith, discovered those golden plates some 1400 years after they were buried. He also received visions and visits from the angel Moroni, Elohim and Jesus telling him to establish the pure church on earth. With the help of visions and his special seeing stone, Joseph Smith was able to translate the golden plates and give the world, through other revelations and visions, a complete gospel. A gospel entitled the Pearl of Great Price, The Book of Abraham and the Book of Mormon. This completed gospel teaches that those who have been faithful to the teaching of Mormonism will one day inhabit their own planet and live as polygamous gods – spawning their own millions of spirit babies for all of eternity.
This summary, ladies and gentlemen is the foundation for one of the worlds fastest growing religions.
A religion that is building 2 assembly buildings somewhere in the world, every single day. A religion that is doubling in size every 5 years. A religion that collects more than 4 million dollars a day from it’s following.
The God Makers, quoting The Detroit News Magazine, May 18, 1980, pp. 15, 31.
But did Joseph Smith actually descend from Jesus and His wives? Did he actually receive visions from God the Father? Did the angel Moroni instruct him? Did he succeed in building the restored true church? Or was he a man who concocted a religion to justify his adultery and polygamy. Was he a self deceived man who simply repackaged ancient Aryanism, Hinduism and Masonic rituals to produce another false gospel.
Over these next weeks my purpose will not be to answer every facet of Mormon religion, nor to attempt to convince Mormons that the scriptures are not complimented by the Book of Mormon, but that they contradict the Book of Mormon.
And I am certainly motivated to deliver this series of messages by the fact that a Mormon temple is being built in Apex which will draw thousands of Mormons here, as well as missionaries who will eventually end up on your doorstep.
My purpose, clearly defined in the New Testament is to equip the believer – and to follow the command of Christ through the Apostle Paul to be on the alert for false teachers who will come in masquerading as bearers of truth, but who are in fact, deceivers.
John MacArthur wrote in a recent publication, “The most dangerous false doctrines that have ever threatened the church have always been those doctrines that masquerade as orthodox, employing the familiar language of Scripture, but skewing the truth.”
John MacArthur The Glory of Heaven p. 20
It is not unlikely any more to hear a Mormon say I believe in God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
It is not unlikely to hear a Mormon say that they have even accepted Jesus as their Savior.
What you need to understand is that they, like all the religions of the world, use the names God, Jesus, salvation, atonement, etc. But while they use that terminology, they are at the same time believing different definitions.
To put it another way, Mormonism in its bid today to be viewed as another Christian denomination, uses our vocabulary, but a different dictionary.
Now, let me say another thing before we begin comparing Mormon doctrine with the Biblical record; I’m not on a vendetta against Mormons. I’m not out to persecute Mormons. More than anything, I want to reach Mormons for Jesus Christ. They are our mission.
They need to know why the Bible declares “There is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) And why that contradicts what their president said, “There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. No man can reject [his] testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences, for he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation Vol. 1, pp 189-90
They need to understand that the Bible teaches a final judgement different from the one Mormonism teaches that that everyone will one day stand before Joseph Smith along with Jesus and Elohim and give an account.
Now, for our closer study this morning, what I want to do is simply compare Mormon doctrine, on two key issues with what the Bible teaches.
The first issue is the quest of Mormons and their belief in the eventual arrival at a state of personal Godhood.
They believe that the faithful Mormon man will one day serve his own galaxy as God the Father, and there with his many celestial wives, populate earth’s below.
One Mormon author who’s book may still be on the best seller list is entitled, Embraced by the Light.
This book by author Betty Eadie who had a near death experience and lived to write about it. The book basically combine her Mormon beliefs with New Age beliefs concocting her own sort of religion that sounds all too familiar. However she did go on record in the Utah Standard Examiner as saying, during her visit to heaven she learned the Church of Jesus Christ of latter-day Saints (The Mormon Church) is “the truest Church on the earth.” Quoted in The Glory of Heaven, John MacArthur p. 19 from The Ogden, Utah Standard-Examiner (6 March 1993).
One of the Mormon doctrines she seemingly attempts to validate is the belief in the pre-existence of human spirits.
In other words, every person had an existence in the pre-mortal world. This belief is taught nowhere in scripture, yet it is a foundation stone to Mormon belief that every person on earth was, before being born physically, a spirit child, living with his father God while awaiting a physical body to inhabit on planet earth.
Eadie writes about her own recovered pre-mortal memory as she went through this near death experience; “I remembered the creation of the earth. I actually experienced it as if it were being reenacted before my eyes. This was important. Jesus wanted me to internalize this knowledge. He wanted me to know how it felt when the creation occurred. And the only way to do that was for me to view it again and feel what I had felt before.
Betty J. Eadie, Embraced by the Light (New York: Bantam, 1992), 29. Quoted in The Glory of Heaven, p. 21
You see, Mormons believe that all people on earth as spirits were actually present at the creation of this earth by their Father God.
What does the Bible actually teach about the beginning of humanity. Turn to Genesis chapter 2 where you read the detailed account of the creation of Adam and Eve.
Genesis 2:7 “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living soul – being.”
You say, well that still leaves room for Adam having been a spirit on Kolob before he inhabited the earthly form of Adam. He could still have seen the creation, in a pre-mortal state, right?
One of the critical arguments for divine sovereignty appears in the Book of Job when God asks Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth (38:4) C’mon Job, he seems to taunt, “you were born then, you should know all about creation” (38:21).
And Job could not answer – he was not there.
Now, the Mormon belief that pre-mortal souls became human beings is followed by the belief that human souls must act independently of God so that they can ultimately become God.
Therefore, the fall of man in the garden – the seduction of the woman by the serpent is totally turned upside down so that the sin of Adam and Eve was actually the beginning of good things.
Brigham Young, in a message preached from the Mormon Tabernacle on June 8, 1873 said, “I do not blame Mother Eve; I would not have had her miss eating the forbidden fruit for anything in the world.”
Brigham Young in a message from the Mormon Tabernacle, June 8, 1873
Sterling Will, Assistant to the Council of the Twelve Apostles said these amazing words, “Adam fell, but he fell in the right direction . . . toward the goal . . . Adam fell upward.” Deseret News, Church Section, July 31, 1965, p.7
So Adam and Eve did the right thing? They made the right decision? Which was to act independently of God their creator which put into motion that which would ultimately make them gods?
That’s what Mormonism believes.
However, the Bible actually records that because Adam and Eve disobeyed God, they did not set the wheels of personal deity into motion, they set into motion the wheels of personal death.
Adam and Eve would now die.
And the earth was now cursed.
Let’s look at the record. Genesis 3:1 “Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made.” Evidently Satan took the form of the serpent. In the garden, the serpent was one of God’s beautiful creations. Now you’ve got to understand that we’re talking about before the fall. Adam’s garden was different than my garden. But in Adam’s garden there was no need to fear. You do need to understand that Satan is not running around town wearing a bright, red suit with a long tail and a pitchfork lookin’ for coal to shovel. He’s an angel of light. He will take whatever appearance necessary to disarm you and deceive you. With Eve it was the form of a serpent.
And notice his very first recorded words to a human being, “And he said to the woman, ‘Indeed has God said, you shall not eat from every tree of the garden?’” He casually suggests, “Eve, has God said this?” And, if a serpent could smile, he smiled. Satan is not coming across as some brash, rude character. He’s suave – he’s smooth. Shakespeare said it well when he wrote, “The prince of darkness is a gentleman.” The serpent came in to beguile her and asked a simple polite question, “Say, indeed, did God say that?”
Notice the response of woman in verse 2. “And the woman said to the serpent, ‘From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. But from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said you shall not eat from it or touch it.’” That’s not in there, God didn’t say that. He only said you couldn’t eat it. (2:17) Eve added the words, “But you shall not eat from it or touch it lest you die.”
Now that Satan has Eve stretching and exaggerating what God said, he moves her to the next phase where Satan blatantly denies the Word of God as true. Notice verse 4. “And the serpent said to the woman, ‘You surely shall not die.’” In other words, God said, “Eat it and die.” Satan now said, “Eat it and you won’t die.”
Satan’s not finished yet. He moves on to attribute to God evil motives – verse 5, “For God knows that in the day you eat from it, your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.” Now, it’s God who’s the real sinner. He’s a sniveling coward trying to protect His throne from you Eve,
and from Adam. He doesn’t want you to achieve your own divinity – He’s an insecure, selfish God.
Then notice in the last phrase of verse 5, “And you will be like God knowing good and evil.” Listen, he says, “Eat that fruit and it will pay off. Act independently of God and it’ll bring dividends.”
Now, follow this; the very thing that Mormonism explains as progression, the Bible describes as deception.
“Eat it,” Satan says, “And you will become another god.”
This deception is as new today in the lives of people as it was in the life of Eve.
I was watching one talk show and this woman was channeling. If you aren’t aware of what that is, perhaps some of you younger people, that is where some spirit from some other planet, some other universal life, inhabits the body and speaks through the body of a human. That human becomes the channel through which the spirit speaks. This isn’t something new. It’s as old as sin. I was watching this one particular talk show and this woman was channeling this spirit. Finally somebody from the audience raised the question, “Why did you come to planet Earth?” I mean, if you rule some planet out there, if you have your own kingdom, why take the time to come to Earth? I will never forget that woman’s answer. Without even a blink of the eye, she said in this strange accent, “I have come to let man know that he is divine.”
This is the lie of Satan. “Man, woman, you are God.”
Look at verse 6. “When the woman saw that the tree was good for food.” That’s the physical lure. “And that it was a delight to the eyes.” That’s the emotional lure. “And that the tree was desirable to make one wise.” That’s the intellectual lure. “ She took from its fruit and ate. And she gave also to her husband. And he ate.
Now the Mormon doctrine would say, this is wonderful. Adam and Eve fell upward – they began the progression toward personal divinity.
Mormon President, Joseph Fielding Smith, wrote in the Mormon doctrinal book called Doctrines of Salvation, “The fall of man came as a blessing in disguise. I never speak of the part Eve took in this as a sin, nor do I accuse Adam of sin, we can hardly look upon anything resulting in such benefits as being a sin.”
Mormon President Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation Vol. 1 1960 ed. pp. 113-15
Benefits? According to the Bible, just what were the benefits.
First, they discovered their nakedness because of their sin. Verse 7, the first part: “And the eyes of both of them were opened and they knew that they were naked.” The word knew here is the Hebrew word that could be translated: they had intellectual insight. All of a sudden, they knew something was wrong.
The second thing that they discovered was self effort. Look at the next part of verse 7: “And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin covers.” This, ladies and gentlemen, is the first religious act of history. This is the first act of self effort to somehow cover over sin. To somehow make myself better than I know I am. When Adam, knowing that there was something wrong, something amiss, took it into his own hands to remedy the situation. He made clothing out of fig leaves.
They also discovered, thirdly, fear. Verses 8: “And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day. And the man and the wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.” They discovered fear.
Imagine. “Adam, I hear God. He’s coming.”
“Eve, I hear Him too. Let’s run.”
So they run, and they hide behind some tree. And there they are cowering and trembling. In fear, where before eating the fruit, perfect openness and communion with God. Now they’re hiding behind some trees. Is this any way for gods in the making to act? Is this a picture of a benefit? Have Adam and Eve progressed? No! They had not fallen upward, they had fallen downward. And to this day, because of sin, you and I do not run to God. We run from Him.
There is something beautiful, though, in this expression. In the next verse, (9) “Then the Lord God called the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’” You may go running from Him; but God comes looking for you. God in the person of Jesus Christ declared in the Gospel of Luke, “I am come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
If it were left up to us, we would remain in hiding behind the trees, covered with our religious fig leaves; our personal self-effort to hide our nakedness.
And the tragedy of this whole situation is that Adam and Eve hiding over here behind this tree thought that they could get away from God. Thought that somehow God didn’t know.
Hebrews chapter 4 reads: “Before Him all things are naked and open.”
No, Adam didn’t fall upward. He fell downward and several things immediately began to disintegrate because of his sin.
1) The first thing to disintegrate was his fellowship with God. In verses 9 and 10: “And the Lord God called the man and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked.’” That’s a lie. Adam’s always been in the presence of God naked – never mattered before. What he should have said was, “I heard the sound of you in the garden and because I’d sinned I was afraid.” See, it’s been only a matter of hours, but Adam has already learned how to lie. He totally out of fellowship with His creator God.
2) Secondly, there is the immediate disintegration of marital harmony. Verse 11: I want you to note this carefully. “And God said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree which I commanded you not to eat?’” Didn’t God know? Of course He knew, but in His grace, He’s allowing Adam an opportunity to make the very first confession in human history. Remember, true confession admits to sin, right?
What did he do? v. 12. And the man said, “The woman whom Thou gavest to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.” “Lord, it’s all her fault.” Put on your imagination for just a moment. I really doubt Eve was happy about this. Here they are both in deep trouble – Adam has a chance to bail both of them out – but he instead, tries to distance himself from her and put the blame on her. I imagine the blood in Eve’s body turning cold, then hot - rising up in her neck. That little vein there is now ten times it’s normal size. I can imagine her saying, “What did you say Adam? What do you mean I made you do it, I can’t even make you take out the trash . . . much less eat the fruit.”
Here they are having the first division in marital history Why before the fall they had never argued, perfect harmony. Now they’re at each other’s throats. I’ll tell you why, because sin constantly hinders marital harmony.
3) Then, finally, there was the disintegration of physical immortality. verse 19. “‘By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground because from it you were taken. For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”
Satan was not totally lying when he said that Adam and Eve would become like God. He lied in implying that they in becoming like God would be sovereign over their lives – they would be independent – they would be physically immortal and never die.
And God delivers the crushing news to Adam and Eve, “You are going to die.”
But wait a second . . . if you look at verse 22 in Genesis 3 it seems to indicate Mormon doctrine. 22. Then the Lord
God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of Us.”
Would you notice that the triune God did not say, “Behold, he has become one of us.” Even Mormons don’t believe that Adam at this moment became a God. No, God said, “He has become like one of us.” How? Are Adam and Eve now omniscient? Omnipotent? Unchangeable? Sovereign? No! Just look at the next phrase – “knowing good and evil.” Before the fall, Adam and Eve lived in the state of innocence.
God knew the difference between good and evil – He had earlier dealt with the deceptive pride of Satan. Now, so does mankind know the difference between good and evil and the deceptive pride and power of Satan.
Mormon President Spencer W. Kimball said in October 7, 1974, “In each of us is the potentiality to become a God – pure, holy, true, influential, powerful, independent. . .we were in the beginning with God . . . man can transform himself . . . he has in him the seeds of Godhood that can grow. He can lift himself by his very bootstraps.”
Mormon President Spencer W. Kimball, Salt Lake City Tribune, Oct. 7, 1974;
The record of scripture shows us that the efforts of man are doomed to failure. Let me close this introductory message by simply reading what God’s word clearly warns us of, and challenges us to be alert to.
Paul, in writing to the Corinthian church refers back to the fall of Adam and Eve with these words, “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ. 4. For if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted . . . 13. For such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising themselves as Apostles of Christ. 14. And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. 15. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their deeds.” (2 Corinthians 11:1-15)
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