Lesson 3 - Pathway to the Highest Heaven
The world has always been confused, as God said they would be. In fact, in Romans, chapter 1, we are told that men suppress the truth and then exchange the truth for the lie. And the lie is always somehow related to devaluing the Creator and deifying the created. The lie began in the Garden of Eden when Satan said to Eve, in effect, “Eat this fruit and you will become a god.”
From that time until now, false religion makes God just another human, Christ just another exalted man, and, in the process, makes humans into gods. Confusion abounds.
Mormonism attempts to pass itself off as another Christian denomination. Yet, for those who care to study their doctrine, you discover instead, a far different God, a far different Christ, and as we will see today, a far different heaven and hell.
“Pathway to the Highest Heaven”
This has been a fascinating study to so many people – I’ve received more comments and questions about this series than any in recent memory.
I believe the most important reason for any body of believers to engage in a study like this, is not so much to discover what others, who are outside the orthodox faith, believe, but to re-discover what we believe.
The world has always been confused – God said they would be, in fact in Romans chapter 1 we’re told that men suppress the truth and then exchange the truth for the lie. And the lie is always somehow related to devaluing the Creator and deifying the created. The lie began in the garden of Eden when Satan said to Eve in effect, “Eat this fruit and you will become a god.”
From that time until this, false religion makes God just another human, Christ just another exalted man, and in the process they make humans gods.
We’ve been studying the way in which Mormonism attempts to pass itself off as another Christian denomination – and yet, for those who care to study their doctrine, as we’ve been doing, you discover instead, a far different God, a far different Christ, and as we’ll see this morning, a far different heaven and hell.
Let’s go back to the beginning premise of Mormonism: “God the Father is one of millions of Gods.”
God the Father is simply an exalted man who still has a body of flesh and bones. He inhabits a planet near the star Kolob, and produces with His celestial wives millions of spirit sons and daughters who are also gods in the making.
Are there really millions of gods?
Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the Lord . . . I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.
Isaiah 45:5 I am the Lord, and there is no other, besides Me there is no God.
So the Biblical God is either telling the truth, or, for starters, He isn’t all knowing (omniscient). He’s just not aware that there are other gods around Him . . . nobody wants to hurt His feelings by telling him.
Another tenet of Mormonism is that Jesus shouldn’t be worshipped in the same way as God the Father
Evidently Jesus didn’t know that either because He over and over again accepted the same worship (proskuneo) as God the Father was worshipped (proskuneo).
- wise men worshipped him (Matthew 2:11)
- a ruler bowed before Him in worship (Matthew 9:18)
- a leper worshipped Him (Matthew 8:2)
- a blind man worshiped Him (John 9:38)
- Mary Magdalene worshipped him (Matthew 28:9)
- Thomas worshipped Him (John 20:28)
- the disciples worshipped Him (Matthew 28:17)
All these verses contain the verb proskuneo, the same word used in reference to worshipping the Father. And in every instance, Jesus accepted the worship. When Thomas said, ‘My Lord and my God’ – Jesus should have stopped him and said, “Give that kind of worship only to the Father!”
In fact, in Revelation 4 you have the heavenly host worshipping God the Father and falling down before His throne. Then in chapter 5, you have the same scene played out before the Lamb of God who is Jesus Christ.
Notice Revelation 5:13. And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying, “To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.” 14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.” (that’s how we know Baptists will be in heaven). AMEN?! And the elders fell down and worshipped.
They are worshipping the Lamb – who is Jesus Christ.
Another key Mormon doctrine, then is that “All men and women are gods and goddesses, on their way to eternal godhood.”
And they will tell you that they began on this road by being saved. Yes, “I’ve accepted Jesus – and He has saved me.”
Yet you need to understand that when they use the word, “saved” they are thinking of two kinds of salvation.
1) General Salvation
“that which comes by grace alone without obedience to the law and consists in the mere fact of being resurrected. In this sense salvation is synonymous with immortality . . . this kind of salvation eventually will come to all mankind, except the sons of perdition.” (sons of perdition are Mormon apostates)
Bruce McConkie Mormon Doctrine p. 669.
General salvation simply means that you will be immortal.
2) Individual salvation:
“that which man merits through his own acts through life and by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel.
Joseph Fielding Smith Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City, UT: 1958) 1:134
“This full salvation is obtained in and through the continuation of the family unit in eternity, and those who obtain it are gods.”
Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine p.163
Now this introduces the concept of the eternal family. A Mormon slogan says, “Families are forever.” If you want to make it to the highest heaven, the celestial heaven; if you want to obtain this individual salvation - the faithful Mormon man must have a celestial marriage in the Mormon temple to a faithful Mormon woman – as they progress, they will eventually become Elohim and she will be one of his celestial wives.
They will then procreate their millions of spirit babies for all of eternity.
How does a Mormon reach that level? Well, at first glance, they sound like they need to accept Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world.
Yet, by inspecting more closely their writings, you discover that the Mormon has to faithfully keep the laws and commands of the church in order to reach full, individual salvation.
And by the way, Jesus Christ only plays a little part in that salvation. Ultimately, Joseph Smith plays the most critical role.
That’s the next premise of Mormonism: Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ are equally necessary in mankind’s redemption.
“There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith. If Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if he told the truth when he said that he stood in the presence of angels sent from the Lord, and obtained the keys of authority, and the commandment to organize the Church of Jesus Christ
once again up the earth, then this knowledge is of the most vital importance to the entire world. No man can reject that testimony without incurring the most dreadful consequences,
or he cannot enter the kingdom of God.”
Joseph Fielding Smith Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City, UT: 1958), Vol. 1 pp. 189-90
Is it any wonder that a popular hymn in the Mormon church today sings these lyrics honoring Joseph Smith?
Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah!
Honored and blest be his ever great name!
Great is his glory and endless his priesthood,
Earth must atone for the blood of that man.
Hail to the Prophet, ascended to heaven!
Mingling with Gods, he can plan for his brethren;
Death cannot conquer the hero again.
LDS Hymnal, no. 147
Who is the hero? Joseph Smith!
Whose name is great? Joseph Smith’s name!
Who is the eternal priest? Joseph Smith.
However, the Book of Hebrews makes it very clear that our great eternal High Priest is whom? Jesus Christ. Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. (Hebrews 4:14)
How does a person receive personal, individual, full salvation?
Well, according to Mormonism, salvation comes through the merits of a mans own acts and by obedience to the laws and ordinances.
What does the Biblical record state?
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – and if you didn’t catch it the first time - it is not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” (Ephesians 2;8-9)
Now, as I mentioned before, there is a Mormon temple being built in the city of Apex. One of the few that have been built in the world. The temple is critically important to the Mormon for several different rituals.
They are pagan rituals, yet are being passed off to Mormon initiates as one more step toward faithful Mormonism, which ultimately leads to personal godhood.
The first temple ritual is Baptism for the dead
This is based upon the Mormon doctrine that spirits can allegedly accept Mormonism in the spirit world, after death. This is another way of saying, you can be saved after death.
But there’s a problem; spirits don’t have physical bodies. And since water baptism is necessary for “salvation” – progression of the spirit toward Godhood – and since baptism requires a physical body, a living person is needed to act out the baptism on behalf of the dead spirit.
Joseph Fielding Smith explained it in Doctrines of Salvation: “Water is an element of this world, and how could spirits be baptized in it? The only way it can be done is vicariously, someone who is living acting as a substitute for the dead.”
Joseph Fielding Smith Doctrines of Salvation (Salt Lake City, UT: 1958), 2:141.
The belief, by the way, that living Mormons can vicariously save deceased individuals, has been the motive behind the creation of the most comprehensive genealogical research and recording system in the world – and it’s owned and operated within the Mormon church. Recently, the Mormon church created a web site for the public to log on and search their own family tree. The church released several million names so that the public could perform their own genealogical search. It was a wonderful advertising idea and whoever came up with it, probably retired early. In fact, when the Mormon church released the web site, that particular web site received 500 hits a second. Their IBM backup system was not even sufficient enough and the system had to shut down.
I logged on myself to confirm my suspicions. Sure enough, you were given an opportunity to request a visit from a Mormon missionary to come to your home and, “share a message about how the teachings of Jesus Christ have helped individuals and families find greater happiness.”
Well, just what does the Bible say about the issue of baptism for the dead?
The verse that Mormons have used to justify their false teaching of salvation after death and the entire industry of baptism for the dead is found in I Corinthians 15:29. Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
In this chapter, Paul is explaining the order of the resurrection. He is describing the literal resurrection of the body.
In this verse, he simply uses as an illustration, the fact that even pagan people believe in some form of an afterlife, otherwise, why would they baptize for the dead.
Mormons would say that Paul here is endorsing the practice of baptism for the dead. A simple reading of the verse shows that Paul is referring to someone else. In fact, if you studied that entire paragraphs you would immediately notice the change from first person pronouns like “we and I” to “they”.
He didn’t say, “Why then are we baptized for the dead” but “Why then are they baptized for the dead.”
The historical record reveals that pagan religions during the time of Paul practiced baptism for the dead. In fact, one religion called Elusinianism, actually thrived during Paul’s day. These people baptized for the dead in sea water without which they believed “no one could hope to experience bliss in the life hereafter.”
Paul may have very well been thinking about them. In other words Paul is saying, “Listen, even he pagans believe in some sort of afterlife – otherwise why would they try to make sure that the deceased are eternally secure by baptizing the living on their behalf?”
What does the Bible reveal about baptism for the dead?
The short answer is absolutely nothing!
- nowhere does the Bible command baptism for the dead.
- nowhere does the Bible give guidelines for a baptism for the dead
- nowhere does the Bible teach that the living can perform saving acts for the dead.
- nowhere does the Bible indicate the deceased can be saved after death.
One very interesting point to make in dealing with Mormons is the fact that the Book of Mormon makes no reference to baptism for the dead. If the Book of Mormon is, as they believe it is, the fullness of the everlasting gospel, and if baptism for the dead is so important as it is in the Mormon plan of salvation for the deceased, why is it never mentioned?
Furthermore, if the baptism for the dead is, as Joseph Fielding Smith said, ‘The greatest commandment given us, on behalf of our dead,” then why is even the Book of Mormon silent? The answer? Because baptism for the dead became a critical part of Mormonism after the Book of Mormon had been written.
Baptism for the dead became, quite frankly, an effective ball and chain that the Mormon church wraps around it’s followers. Just as the Catholic church binds it’s followers with the mass and other sacraments such as the last rites that are necessary for the safest passage to eternity, so the Mormon church holds over the heads of its followers the eternal destiny of countless ancestors.
Why just think, if you follow the Mormon church, you can actually save the eternal destinies of men and women in your own family tree who never believed in Mormonism, by being baptized for them.
But . . . if you leave the church, all your family members from the past will be without an opportunity to achieve their state of godhood and bliss!
The Bible makes it very clear that the dead are unable to change their destiny. Luke 16 is one passage where the rich man who had died wished that he could have a drink of water to relieve his torment. He was refused. He then wished that his brothers could be warned of this terrible place – that wish was refused as well. For this man, everything was sealed for eternity. It was too late to change.
The Bible very clearly states, “It is appointed unto man once to die and after that the judgement.” (Hebrews 9:17)
A second temple ritual is one where the Mormon initiate successfully enacts the secret handshakes and names which allows them to go behind the veil to be with the Lord.
In fact, Mormonism makes special rituals, names, secret handshakes and the like, necessary to gain entrance “beyond the veil.”
Yet the Bible records for us that we have boldness to enter the very presence of God. Ephesians 3 describes our boldness before God by virtue of our faith in Jesus Christ. No secret handshakes, no special names, no incantations – but immediate access to God’s presence through Christ.
Another unbiblical belief of Mormonism is in regards to heaven. When a Mormon talks to you about heaven, what you need to realize is that a Mormon actually believes in three heavenly kingdoms.
But, you ask, doesn’t the Bible talk about different heaven’s? Yes.
In fact, The King James translation uses the word heaven over 500 times. The Hebrew word usually translated “heaven” is shamayim. It’s a plural noun form that literally means, “the heights.”
The New Testament Greek word translated heaven is ouranos.
Both the Hebrew and the Greek words are used to refer to three different places.
1) The first “heaven” is the atmospheric heaven.
Literally, the sky, the region of breathable atmosphere that blankets the earth.
In Genesis 7:11-12 we read, “The windows of heaven were opened and the rain was upon the
earth forty days and forty nights.
In Psalm 147:8 we read, ‘God covereth the heavens with clouds.”
2) The same Hebrew word is used to refer to the planetary, outer space beyond the atmosphere.
This is where the stars, the moon, and the planets are and Scripture uses the very same word for heaven to describe this region.
Genesis 1 says, “And God said, “Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night; let them be for lights in the expanse of the heavens…’ He made the stars also and placed them in the expanse of the heavens.”
3) The very same Hebrew word is used for the our atmosphere as is used here for the solar system.
The third location if you will that the word heaven refers to is a heaven that is beyond all of creation. That’s the heaven Paul spoke of in 2 Corinthians 12 when he said, he was caught up to the third heaven.
This is the heaven where God is said to dwell along with the angels and those believers who have already died. There is a literal place created for the believer called heaven. It isn’t the atmosphere, and it’s beyond the solar system.
Matthew 12:50 “Whoever dose the will of my Father which is in heaven.
Colossians 1:5 “because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
So we believe, in a sense, in three heavens.
- solar system,
- the abode of God/eternal paradise.
The Mormon would say, “That’s great, we believe in three heaven’s also.”
However, if you ask them to describe them, you’ll discover that they believe in three different heavenly kingdoms.
- Celestial kingdom,
- Terrestrial kingdom,
- Telestial kingdom.
The Celestial Heaven or Kingdom is the highest kingdom of glory. It is inhabited by faithful Mormons who were married in the temple, gave their tithes and followed the law to the letter.
A Mormon leader explains, “An inheritance in this glorious kingdom is gained by complete obedience to the celestial laws . . . by entering the gate of repentance and baptism, candidates find themselves on the straight and narrow path leading to the celestial kingdom.”
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966), p. 116
The Terrestrial Kingdom is composed by, “Those who reject the gospel in this life but who accept it in the spirit world; lukewarm [Mormons] in their devotion to the church.”
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966), p. 174
Then, last and lowest “heaven” is The Telestial Kingdom. This is where “most of the adult people who have lived will go . . . these are they who have lived after the manner of the world.”
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft, 1966), p.778
This is the heaven for Mormons and non-Mormons alike.
Now, the Bible once again has to be tortured to back up their claim – and, once again, they have a text to torture.
It’s found in I Corinthians 15:40 “There are also heavenly (celestial) bodies and earthly (terrestrial) bodies.”
There you have it.
Well, not so fast! The first thing to note in this verse is that there is no mention of a telestial body – that middle heaven of Mormonism. Even the Mormon church admits that the purpose of the middle or the telestial heaven has not yet been revealed!
The second thing to notice is that the word celestial simply refers to our heavenly resurrected bodies, while terrestrial refers to our earthly bodies.
If we had time, all we’d need to do is read further, as Paul contrasts the earthly body (the terrestrial body) with the resurrected, glorified (celestial) body. There is no mention of kingdoms. There is no instruction on how to reach the first or second or third kingdom.
Maybe you’re asking, what happens if Mormonism is true after all and you didn’t make it into even the lowest heaven? Here’s Joseph Smith’s answer: “People who don’t make it into the first heaven (the lower heaven) can pay for their sins in a temporary hell (outer darkness) “These, after they have been punished for their sins and have been turned over to the torments of Satan, shall eventually come forth to receive the Telestial kingdom.”
Joseph Fielding Smith, Answers to Gospel Questions (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret, 1958), 2:209.
This fits perfectly with other religions, including Roman Catholicism’s belief in purgatory, where people are eventually able to atone for their sins and make it into heaven.
However, there is not one shred of Biblical evidence for any sort of purgatory, temporary Mormon hell or temporary punishment where a person can pay for their sins after death and then get into heaven.
But it’s a wonderful thing to believe, right? Why? Because you ultimately get everybody into heaven – at least one of those heavens.
As a religion, Mormonism is far more agreeable to the human nature than Christianity which teaches hell is forever and once you’ve died, there are no more chances to reach heaven. That’s it.
If you’re a true Christian, what’s your hope of heaven? Does it have anything to do with temporary atonement and torment for sins you’ve committed? Listen to the Bibles answer!
Ephesians 1:7, “In Him (Christ) we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us.”
Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation to them who are in Christ Jesus.”
But if you’re a Mormon, who is your hope of entering heavenly bliss?
“No man or woman will ever enter into the Celestial Kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith. Every man and woman must have the certificate of Joseph Smith as a passport to their entrance into the mansion above where God and Christ are. He [Joseph Smith] holds the keys to rule in the spirit world and He rules there triumphantly.”
Journal of Discourses, Vol. 7, p. 289
I shudder to consider the implications of Mormonism, the deception, and the coming judgement.
Revelation 20:10 (talks about the end of time) And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.”
Revelation 20:12-14 And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life . . . and if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
No second chance, no baptism, no purgatory or temporary hell where you can work your way out.
It’s over; no more chances.
Eternal punishment for those who deceived and were deceived into believing that God was nothing more than a man and that man was nothing less than god!
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