A typical sign of religious pluralism is the belief that everyone is on his way to heaven – wherever that is; that all religions are equally sincere; that there are different paths, but they all lead to God–whoever He is. And,everyone picks his own brand of religion; everyone concocts his own belief system.
You can pick a verse from the Bible, a verse from the Book of Mormon, a verse from the Bagavad Gita, a verse from the Koran, and simply create whatever God in whom you are the most comfortable believing. And, by no means is anyone allowed to question anyone else’s belief as right or wrong, since everyone is right. Whatever you think is right is right, because it is right for you.
How are Christians to respond?
“Saving Latter Day Saints”
We conclude this morning our series of studies related to the false teaching of the Mormon church.
I recently watched some video material where the Southern Baptist Convention was interviewing people on the street. Over and over again, people said as one man did, “I think the Mormons must be Christians, since Jesus Christ’s name is a part of the church title (which is “The Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”).
One woman said, “Yes, I think they are a part of the Christian denomination since they try to live right and they believe in God.”
Another said, “I believe the Mormons are another denomination of the Christian church.”
Still another said, “The Mormon’s encourage people to help others, by learning more about Christ – you not only get a good feeling through the commercials, but you’re also encouraged to learn more about their religion.”
Yet another individual concluded, “Sure they’re Christians, they say so in the commercial.”
The reality of Mormonism is far different.
Mormonism in the last 15 to 20 years has made incredible advancement in the American culture. From the devout Mormon author, Stephen Covey and his best selling book, Seven Habits of Highly Effective People – to Senator Orin Hatch – to Congressman Steve Largent – to the Marriott Hotel chain – to the largest privately owned university in America – Brigham Young. All these individuals and businesses have added up a tremendous amount of credibility and influence to the average American. Mormonism is no longer viewed as a cult, but as another branch of Christianity.
In fact, today Mormonism has been accepted into the ecumenical religious scene. Mormons will cooperate with any other religion if it will serve there image shaping purpose. One newscast I watched recently opened with the story that a Mormon Christmas eve service was actually going to include a Catholic Mass – the news showed clips of the Catholics and the Mormons taking Mass together. The news anchor said, “This is a sign that there is indeed cooperation between religions.”
It’s a sign alright! A typical sign of religious pluralism – everybody is on their way to heaven – wherever that is. All religions are equally sincere. And there are all different paths that all eventually lead to God – whoever He is.
How convenient! Everybody gets to pick their own brand of religion – everybody concocts their own belief system – a verse from the Bible – a verse from the Book of Mormon – a verse from the Koran; you simply create whatever God you’re most comfortable with believing in. And by no means is anybody allowed to question anybody else’s belief as right or wrong, since everybody is right.
The absolute doctrine of our day says, “Whatever you think is right is right, because it’s right for you. And anybody who challenges you is being judgmental and unChristian.”
Yet, the Bible actually teaches something vastly different.
In fact, the Bible commands us to test what we hear – to condemn the false teacher – to remove from our midst those who believe false doctrine.
Listen to Peter as he writes in 2 Peter 2:1-9 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3. and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. 4. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; 5. and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6. and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; (skip to verse 9) Then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment.
Did you hear the words, condemned, heresy, judgement, punishment, hell, destruction?
Sounds rather intolerant of Peter, don’t you think?!
No wonder our ‘tolerant society’ does not like the Biblical description of this kind of God. NO wonder they’ve created one that’s more open and more accepting.
The Book of Jude warns the church in verse 3. Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints
The word “contend” is an athletic word that could be translated “wrestle, compete” in order to win the contest. It’s interesting to me that while the truth originates with God, it seems to be our responsibility to earnestly keep the faith pure and free from error.
By the way, whenever you see the word faith preceded by the article “the” or “the faith” that is referring to the body of doctrinal truth. This is also a wonderful verse to show your Mormon co-workers and friends – did you notice that the truth – “the faith” has already been delivered to the church. The saints didn’t have to wait 1900 years to get the real truth from Joseph Smith – this verse tells us the saints already got the truth and it was delivered, “once for all”. We’ve got the truth – the church has the faith.
Now notice verse 4. For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.
One of the deceptions of Mormonism that make it more devious than other religions of the world is the fact that they crept in almost unnoticed and have taken the terminology of the Bible and attached false, heretical definitions to those terms.
They use our vocabulary but they use a different dictionary.
You’d never recognize it at first glance, but the God they say they believe in is a glorified man with flesh and blood and who, with his many wives, procreates spirit babies.
You’d never know that Jesus Christ is one of his millions of spirit babies and that he should not be prayed to nor worshipped.
You’d never know that the Mormon heaven is really three heavens, and that you get into one of the three based upon your good works and faithfulness to the Mormon church.
Yet, in spite of that, Mormonism has successfully passed itself off to a gullible, Biblically illiterate society as Christian.
By the way, cults always flourish in cultures where a little of the Bible is known, but where much of the Bible is ignored.
So they use familiar terms, with different definitions and undiscerning people, non-critically thinking people gullibly gobble it up.
As we wrap up this study, we need to ask and answer the question, “So, what is our response to be?”
Fist of all, let’s remember the mission.
Turn to Matthew 28:19. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20. teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
That’s our mission. Go and make disciples.
Would you notice Jesus Christ did not command the church here to go a make monotheists.
Go and convince every Mormon that there aren’t millions of gods, there’s only one God. And if they’ll just admit to that fact they’ll be okay.
They’ll not be okay.
Maybe you’ve been sitting out there and you’ve been thinking, “Well, I certainly don’t believe there are millions of gods, like the Mormons – I only believe in one God, from all of eternity . . . so I’m alright.”
James has a message for you that should startle your very soul – “You believe that God is one – you do well, the demons also believe and shudder.”
The demons know there’s only one God - the demons don’t deny it – they believe it!
But a demon will never get into heaven for simply assenting to some truth. What’s the difference between you and a demon?
A demon will never surrender his will to Christ. A demon will never walk with Christ. A demon will never pray to Christ. A demon does not have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
Would you notice that our mission is not to go and make converts.
A convert is someone who places their faith in Jesus Christ. But that isn’t the end of our mission.
We’re to make disciples – those who learn of Christ. Those who walk with Christ.
Becoming a Christian takes a moment of time; becoming a disciple takes a lifetime.
Let’s remember the mission.
They’re building a temple nearby – wonderful. We’re gonna make disciples out of people who used to call themselves Mormons.
I got a phone call from a Mormon leader this past week inviting me to the dedication of their temple. Unfortunately I wasn’t in to take the call. I always miss the good stuff. I would have loved to have told him that according to the Bible, the temple no longer exists in the form of stone and wood. There is no such temple/building today. But if he’d really like to see a true temple of God he could come to my office and take a long look at me. I know that doesn’t sound as exciting, but Paul said, “Your body is the temple of the living God, in the person of the Holy Spirit.” (I Cor. 6:19)
Let’s remember the mission.
Second of all, let’s recover the message.
I John 1:1 What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life—2. and the life was manifested, and we have seen and testify and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—3. what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ. 4. These things we write, so that our joy may be made complete.
John is so excited he can hardly sit still. We, (verse 2) are proclaiming eternal life.
We’ve discovered the truth – and (v. 4) we can’t be satisfied and truly joyful unless we get it out of our mouths and into your hearts.
Ladies and Gentlemen, the challenge is not so much to deliver the message as it is for us to know the message.
Peter said, “Be ready to give an answer or a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you.” (I Peter 3:15)
Wow! I’m supposed to have an answer for that guy at work? For that Mormons who stands on my doorstep – I should know the reason for my faith?
How many of you have been asked a really tough question about Christianity and thought, “They need to call my pastor, he’d have the answer.” Let me see your hands? C’mon – humor me, you thought I’d have the answer. Everybody raise your hand.
I Peter 3:15 was not given to the pastors, the professors, the experts in religion. It was given to the church.
We need to recover the message – to know what we believe – and be prepared to proclaim eternal life.
Finally, let’s reclaim the model.
Does it bother you that the Mormon church has cornered the market on being the brand of religion that believes in the family?
The Mormon youth are poster children for morality. They don’t believe in sex outside of marriage.
The Mormons don’t drink, they don’t smoke, they’re committed to honesty and a high work ethic; they spend time together studying and playing.
Is it possible that Mormons live like Christians better than Christians do?
These should be our values – so stop being dishonest.
These are our moral standards – so stop having sexual relations with someone you’re not married to.
We are committed to the family – so stop divorcing and instead spend time with spouse and your children.
Do you see the problem?
What is it about your life that would appeal to a Mormon. What can you deliver that they don’t already have?
Let’s reclaim the model that we’re supposed to be to the world – we are the church of Jesus Christ – WE ARE THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST.
Three closing comments – as you encounter Mormons – three things to keep in mind.
- Identify with the Mormon as a person.
They are people who have needs, they have fears, they have frustrations, they have families, they worry about the same weather, stock market, and Y2K. Identify with those things first – don’t wack them over the head with your Bible – call them heretics and slam the door. They are people – and they are people who need the Lord.
2) Apply the Bible at every point
You don’t have to know the Book of Mormon. Remind the Mormon that since the Book of Mormon supposedly doesn’t contradict the Bible, you can stick with using the Bible. And remember Hebrews 4:12 – “The word of God is living and powerful and sharper than any two edged sword.”
The word powerful is the word energes – energy, active, productive. The word is used of activity which produces results and is often used for Divine activity which produces effective results.
Stay close to the Word.
- Depend upon the Holy Spirit’s power
When it’s all said and done, remember, you can’t convince anybody to trust Christ. You can’t bring about salvation in anybody. You don’t open their heart – you don’t dispense faith, even if you had brilliant answers.
When my children were little, I’d come home from meeting with people – and they’d ask me in the morning, “Daddy, did you save them?” And I’d explain – I can’t save anybody – that’s the work of Jesus Christ who said, “I have come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
That’s also the work of God’s spirit whom Jesus promised in John 16:8 would come and convince people of sin and of righteousness and of judgement.
That’s the work of God.
We are simply His instruments, used as His ambassadors, Paul said, ambassadors of Christ to a lost world that is in the name of religion deceived, cheated, defrauded, swindled, and ultimately destroyed.
May God so use us to win Mormons to Christ that we will become known as a place where Mormons discover the truth about God, and where they are ultimately rescued for all eternity!