“Will the Real Christians Please Stand?”
Many sectarians oppose the Book of Mormon, as the fulfillment of the prophecy of a sealed book, which Jehovah promised, in Isaiah 29, that he would send forth out of the ground, containing the words of a people “which have slumbered,” which were “distressed” and acquainted with “heaviness and sorrow,” because they had been utterly destroyed, having been “visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.”Yet, clearly, the Lord declared, through his prophet, that a people would be brought down like this, and that, consequently, their “speech [would] be low out of the dust, and [their] voice [would] be, as of one that hath a familiar spirit, out of the ground, and [their] speech [would] whisper out of the dust,” as a warning to modern man, who, more and more, is staggering in the darkness of sin, drunken with iniquity.
Clearly, we are in the last days. Both Jew and Gentile are upon all the lands and nations of the earth, “drunken with iniquity and all manner of abominations,” just when the Book of Mormon is flooding the earth, declaring that it is the promised record, quietly but solemnly warning the nations of the earth that they must repent before they too are “visited of the Lord of hosts with thunder, and with earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire.”
The Book of Mormon is a remarkable fulfillment of the prophecy of Isaiah, which should give pause to skeptics, but, of course, many times it does not, because in too many cases it turns out that “this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but they have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.”It’s not the atheists and unbelievers that give lip service to the Lord, but those who profess his name and those who honor him with their mouths, rather than with their hearts and their discipleship. Indeed, there are sectarian fundamentalists, together with LDS apostates, who attack the LDS Church and its doctrine most stridently, who believe that they are serving God’s purposes.
They seek to denigrate the work, in the eyes of the people, and to persuade them to regard the Lord’s act, which he himself called “a marvellous work and a wonder,” as something of little worth, esteeming it as “the potter’s clay,” as it were, all in the name of serving the traditional Christian view of Jesus the Christ, revealed in the Bible. Essentially, these critics view the Lord’s work as a threat, seeing his “act,” his “strange act,” in which he promises to turn “things upside down,” by literally overturning modern civilization in these latter days, as undermining their militant defense of Biblical inerrancy. “Beware,” they caution, “Mormons are not Christians like us; Mormonism is a cult, believing in (worshiping?) many false gods, but certainly not the ‘One God’ of Israel, revealed in the Holy Bible.”
As Jesus said of the unbelieving religionists of his day: “…woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.”
While the Lord’s servants seek to gather in the elect of God, these virulent opponents of his work, as modern scribes and pharisees, strive to gather intellectual evidence of every kind to persuade LDS members and investigators alike that the Latter-day gathering is not of God, but of man and the devil, they proclaim that it is a work of deception from beginning to end.
They seek to convince the public that they possess a vast array of historic, linguistic, and scientific evidence of every kind to discredit the work, and prove that it is not of God, while the servants of God simply testify that, despite any such evidence to the contrary, which the enemies of the work ballyhoo, they have received a witness of God that it his work, and they promise that anyone, who sincerely wants the same witness, can obtain it in the same way they did, through faith in following the example of the Son of God.
This message is not theirs, but his that sent them. If those to whom they are sent would know if the doctrine is of God, or, if the messengers speak for themselves, then, in the words of Christ himself, let them keep the commandments of God, and ask God, if it is of God. The promise is, the doctrine they preach is, that if sincere investigators of the truth ask, with faith in Jesus Christ, nothing doubting, it shall be given them; If they knock, the LDS teach, it shall be opened unto them.
The admonition and divine promise, to all who lack wisdom, is that they should look to God for the truth, and not put their trust in the arm of flesh, as recorded in the book of James in the New Testament, so many ages ago. This apostle of Christ wrote way back then:
James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations;
Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.
But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed.
For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.
A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.
This divine guidance is confirmed and repeated by the prophetic voice of one crying out from the dust, by the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus Christ; The substance of the advice given is the same as that given by James, but it is recorded in the Book of Mormon, which, as one having a familiar spirit, proffers messages from the dead; One of the many important messages it proffers whispers to us from the grave, as follows:
And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
Nevertheless, just as Satan came among the children of Adam before the flood, saying “believe it not,” and many believed it not, he persuades today’s enemies of this work to disbelieve this advice from the dust. They have convinced themselves that God does not work after this manner in modern times, and, therefore, they deny the power of God to reveal, or confirm anything that they do not already know, striving against their maker, even incensed against him, because he has set his hand again the second time to gather in his elect. And this is because their fear toward him is taught by the precept of men.
As the prophet Isaiah points out, they “make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought.” Unfortunately, in the end, it is they who shall be ashamed, not the redeemed children of Israel, for, “…thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob:”
Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale.
But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel.
They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.
As Jesus said to Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.” The LDS witness, which their critics reject, is this: that the God of Israel is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the Only Begotten Son of God, the Redeemer of Israel, the Lamb of God, who, prepared from before the world was to be the Savior of all mankind, is the God of the whole earth. It is their witness that Righteousness has been poured down out of heaven and that truth has been sent forth out of the ground, testifying of him and his gospel, as he himself explains:
Behold I have given unto you my gospel, and this is the gospel which I have given unto you—that I came into the world to do the will of my Father, because my Father sent me. And my Father sent me that I might be lifted up upon the cross; and after that I had been lifted up upon the cross, that I might draw all men unto me, that as I have been lifted up by men even so should men be lifted up by the Father, to stand before me, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil—
And for this cause have I been lifted up; therefore, according to the power of the Father I will draw all men unto me, that they may be judged according to their works.
And it shall come to pass, that whoso repenteth and is baptized in my name shall be filled; and if he endureth to the end, behold, him will I hold guiltless before my Father at that day when I shall stand to judge the world.
And he that endureth not unto the end, the same is he that is also hewn down and cast into the fire, from whence they can no more return, because of the justice of the Father.
However, the typical modern man of the West doesn’t think so. Wise in their own conceit, they think the cross is foolishness, and have no idea that, as Isaiah prophesied, the God of Israel would turn the world order upside down insomuch that the Gentiles, who have been first, who have been brought to this land, set up as a free people, and blessed of the Almighty above all other nations on earth, because of the faith of their fathers, in the Holy One of Israel, are now threatened with the loss of these mighty blessings and with the great judgments of a just God, which shall fall upon them, because of their iniquity and abominations, if they do not repent and turn unto him.
They, the Gentiles who are rejecting the Christ of the Bible in this land, which “is a land choice above all other lands,” are now ripening in iniquity, and it is their nation that has scattered and smitten the remnant of the nation of Israel, the former inhabitants of this land, because of the Lord’s judgments upon his people, but the Gentiles shall find the tables turned on them, if they repent not and choose to reject the God of Israel, as did the former inhabitants of the land, who were destroyed by the judgments of God upon them, by the hand of the Gentiles.The voices from the dust have declared that the Lord promised them that he will not suffer the Gentiles, unless they repent, to continue to possess this land of America, which is choice above all other lands, but he shall bring judgement upon them for all their iniquity, blasphemy, and abominations.
He has decreed that they shall be last who were first, and the Lord’s ancient covenant people, who long ago lost the blessing that was theirs in the lands of their inheritances, because of sin and iniquity, shall be redeemed by his power, and they shall come in remembrance before the Lord, because of the covenant he made with their fathers that he would remember them in the latter days, unto restoring them to the knowledge of Christ that was had by their fathers.
Thus, the last shall be first, and the first shall be last, before the Lord, in these latter days, just as the first became the last, before the Lord, in the former days, and hence he will prove to all that he is the same yesterday, today, and forever, that he promised the fathers of the remnant of scattered Israel that he would remember them in the latter days, unto restoring them that are escaped of the nations to the knowledge of Christ that was had by their fathers, unto loosing the bands of their captivity, by pouring out righteousness down from heaven, and sending forth truth out of the earth. Yea, by the prophet Isaiah, he declares:
Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have holden, to subdue nations before him; and I will loose the loins of kings, to open before him the two leaved gates; and the gates shall not be shut; I will go before thee, and make the crooked places straight: I will break in pieces the gates of brass, and cut in sunder the bars of iron:
And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel. For Jacob my servant’s sake, and Israel mine elect, I have even called thee by thy name: I have surnamed thee, though thou hast not known me. I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the arising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness: let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together; I the LORD have created it. Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Let the potsherd strive with the potsherds of the earth. Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, What makest thou? or thy work, He hath no hands? Woe unto him that saith unto his father, What begettest thou? or to the woman, What hast thou brought forth? Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me. I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded. I have raised him up in righteousness, and I will direct all his ways: he shall build my city, and he shall let go my captives, not for price nor reward, saith the LORD of hosts. Thus saith the LORD, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God. Verily thou art a God that hidest thyself, O God of Israel, the Saviour. They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to confusion together that are makers of idols. But Israel shall be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation: ye shall not be ashamed nor confounded world without end. For thus saith the LORD that created the heavens; God himself that formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD; and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I the LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right. Assemble yourselves and come; draw near together, ye that are escaped of the nations: they have no knowledge that set up the wood of their graven image, and pray unto a god that cannot save. Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.
But, say the angry Christian fundamentalists, and those LDS apostates who, with them, “are incensed against him,” the Mormons are a dangerous cult; They are not Christians, because, they contend, the LDS doctrine is a strange, non-Biblical doctrine, even though they ostensibly teach that the Good News, or Gospel, of Christ is that all men must come unto Christ and be saved.
This is dissembling on the part of Latter-day Saints, cry these critics, because they insist on teaching the doctrine that sinners must exercise faith in Christ, unto repentance of their sins, and that they must be baptized by water, by one having authority to perform this ordinance, and that they must receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, by the laying on of hands, by those having authority from God to bestow this gift, in the name of Jesus Christ, and that they must endure to the end, in order to be saved in the kingdom of God. In effect, they are saying to the Father: “What begettest thou?” and to the Church (the woman who fled into the wilderness with her man-child), “What hast thou brought forth?”
How ironic. The LDS doctrine is that people of all nations, by thus being baptized keep God’s commandment to be baptized in water, in the name of his Only Begotten Son, who is full of grace and truth, which is Jesus Christ, the only name that shall be given under Heaven, whereby salvation shall come unto the children of men; And the promise of God is that, if they do this, they shall then receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, asking all things in his name, that whatsoever they shall ask, shall be given them. Moreover, the Latter-day Saints teach that the duty of man is not even complete in these works of righteousness, because, and here is the crucial sticking point, as far as their enemies are concerned, they teach that, while faith, repentance and obedience to the ordinances of baptism by water and the Spirit are the door by which we must enter “into the way of life and salvation,” and that such obedience constitutes the act of faith, appointed by the Father, which leads us in the way of salvation, all is not done, at that point.
To be saved in the kingdom of God, one must continue in the narrow way, continue a life-long journey along the narrow path that leads to eternal life, feasting on the words of Christ all the days of his, or her, life, in order to be saved. Thus, the Latter-day Saints teach that accepting Christ, as our God and Redeemer, is but the beginning of the journey, which leads to salvation, to eternal life, but this is true only if we continue in it; Acceptance and obedience is the means by which we enter the path that has been prepared, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, which leads to eternal life, but we must follow it with faith in Christ, all the days of our lives, in order to gain the reward of salvation and eternal life, through our faithfulness to Christ.
In other words, as Christ declared in the Bible, “…he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” It is such a sure path that there is no doubt of the outcome, if we enter in by the way and continue faithful, but salvation is not a sure thing until we reach the destination; That is, contrary to the doctrine of traditional Christianity, we are not saved, if we do not endure to the end, in following the example of Christ in all things.
Hence, the LDS doctrine is that by the water, we keep the commandment; by the Spirit, we are justified; and by the blood of Christ we are sanctified, which is a process likened unto a rebirth, because we were also born into immortality through water, spirit and blood, when we were born of our mothers. God sends the Holy Ghost unto all the obedient, who have entered into the way, as he has appointed. As they receive it, as they are filled, doing the things they have seen that the Savior did, they are regenerated, or born again, born of the Spirit, the water, and the blood of Christ, becoming sanctified in the inner man, putting off the carnal and sensual desires of the natural man, until they become the seed of Christ and heirs of salvation.
However, according to the theological critics, this LDS doctrine of Christ is false, and is not in accord with the doctrine of the Bible, as they understand it; that is, they claim that the Bible teaches that, to become true Christians, people only need to profess, or to accept, Jesus, in their hearts, as their personal Savior, resolving within themselves to turn their life over to him. When they do this, surrendering their wills to Jesus, with all their hearts, Jesus, they teach, immediately saves them, and they instantly become new born creatures, or born again Christians, from that point on, even though no priesthood authority has sanctioned the event. They then walk in the light, following Jesus, because they are thus reborn, and their good works are not of themselves, “lest any man should boast,” but are the fruits of the Spirit, glorifying God.
While this doctrine is similar to that taught by Latter-day Saints, in that it teaches that Jesus saves, it differs in several important respects. The main difference is that it doesn’t teach that baptism, by one having authority to baptize, is necessary, nor that the gift of the Holy Ghost is to be bestowed on the newly baptized, through the laying on of hands, by those holding the authority of the priesthood of God, nor that one must endure to the end.
These differences are crucial, because, claim the critics, no one Christian church is sent by command of God, possessing any special authority, or priesthood authority, to act in the name of God. Instead, priesthood authority is something shared by all believers, or the “body of Christ,” as something that the apostle Peter calls the “royal priesthood” of believers in the New Testament:
But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Furthermore, the critics insist, salvation comes by the grace of God only, not “AFTER all we can do,” as Latter-day Saints teach, who follow the voices from the dust. They insist that there is no requirement to enter in by the way, by baptism, or to endure to the end in following the example of Christ, but, rather, all that is required of the sinner is explained by the apostle Paul in the New Testament: “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Which doctrine is true? The testimony of the Latter-day Saints is that it is the hand of God himself who has sent them with their message, as he has set his hand again the second time to gather his covenant people, baring the arm of his strength, in the eyes of all the nations, in the process, and if any man would know of the doctrine whether it is of God, or if the Latter-day Saints speak of themselves, let him keep the commandments of God, and he will know the truth, by the power of God. Millions, from every nation are now asking God, concerning these things, and those who have erred in spirit, have come to understanding, and many that murmured have learned the true doctrine of Christ, by humbling themselves, getting down on their knees and asking God, if these things are not true.
This is because, as Jesus taught, “He that speaketh of himself seeketh his own glory, but he that seeketh his glory that sent him, the same is true, and no unrighteousness is in him.”
Meanwhile, the critics ask the Latter-day Saints the traditional fundamentalists’ question, “Are you saved?” insisting that one transforming experience, a strictly personal encounter, is all that is needed for salvation, that the official, binding, ordinances of baptism, and the bestowal of the gift of the Holy Ghost of the one thus baptized, and the requirement of enduring to the end in faith, are not only not necessary, but actually irrelevant. Indeed, they insist that without this transforming experience, wherein the believer accepts Jesus as his personal Savior, and is thus “born again” in one, defining instance of enlightenment, obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel, as the LDS doctrine requires, is nothing but dead works, leaving people who depend upon them, in an unsaved, unregenerate, condition.
Unlike the opposition of the secular opponents, who deny the existence of God in general, or that of the sectarian opponents, who deny the need for a restored church, the opposition of the theological opponents, who deny the doctrine of Christ, taught by the LDS Church, enables these critics to mount a subtle attack against the Latter-day Saints, as individuals.
This approach has proven especially effective in the case of those raised in the LDS faith, who have struggled with its teachings of obedience and faithfulness “in following the example of Christ,” but, for whatever reason, have not yet been “filled,” according to the promise, and reborn of the Spirit in the process, as otherwise happens, when the powerful witness of the Holy Ghost penetrates a Latter-day Saint’s heart, they having had the gift of the Holy Ghost bestowed upon them since their baptism, usually at the age of eight.
Unlike adult converts to the LDS faith, sometimes those raised in the faith from childhood fail to confront their fallen natures directy. They, like all of us, are tempted in many ways, and their sins, which so easily beset them, continually conceive in their hearts, troubling them, and many times they go through the process of repentance, seeking forgiveness through confession and prayer, but they grow weary of the constant battle against their fallen natures and resent the guilt they often feel. They fail to find in this process the joy that others of their faith seem to bask in, and sometimes they become discontented, unsatisfied, and filled with longing for relief.
Of course, the reason for this is that they are not bapized by fire and the Holy Ghost, even though they have received the ordinances of the Gospel, as young men and women, and may have matured in the Church, even holding positions of leadership, attending the temple, etc. However, if they have done all this in a pro forma manner, going through the motions of church activity, so-to-speak, without humbling themselves sufficiently, letting their sins trouble them before God, and calling upon God with all their heart, offering to him a sacrifice of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, they never can receive the peace that only the Lord can provide, which he describes as the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost. This spritual experience is a transforming event, which takes place any time the Holy Spirit of God fills our souls with a view of the truth.
When this happens, as it often does in the course of a Latter-day Saint’s daily life, the natural man, which is an enemy to God, is put off, and we experience the joy of the born again disciple of Christ, because we are new creatures in Christ, with no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually.
“Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” says the Lord. This invitation applies to those who have been baptized by water, as well as to those who have not, because baptism by water is the door, by which we enter the way, but after entering we must press forward with faith, feasting on the words of Christ, until we are filled with the Spirit of God, which is the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost spoken of. Thus, receiving the Spirit in our souls, we are born again. This is the path to life and salvation and there is none other.
This baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost comes only to the truly penitent, which means that it doesn’t come automatically to those who are baptized by water and who have received the gift of the Holy Ghost, at age eight, but only according to the dilengence and heed they give to the invitation to “come unto Christ” in their daily walk.
As we learn from the Bible, and as confirmed by the voices out of the dust, even the Lord Jesus himself was baptized by water, not because he needed salvation, but because he deigned to set the example of obedience to this commandment of the Father, and, if we obey the commandment to be baptized by water, then comes the baptism of fire and the Holy Ghost, just as surely as the Spirit decended upon the Savior, as signifed by the dove that descended upon him. To some, the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost comes easily, to others it may require more time and effort, but, the point is, it will come, as the Prophet Nephi, whose voice whispers low out of the dust, explains.
He taught his brethern, many years before Christ came in the flesh, that the Spirit will come to us, as it did to the Savior, as a fulfillment of righteousness, according to the diligence and heed that we give unto the word of God:
Wherefore, I would that ye should remember that I have spoken unto you concerning that prophet which the Lord showed unto me, that should baptize the Lamb of God, which should take away the sins of the world. And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water! And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water? Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments. Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove. And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them. And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father? And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son. And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I know that if ye shall follow the Son, with full purpose of heart, acting no hypocrisy and no deception before God, but with real intent, repenting of your sins, witnessing unto the Father that ye are willing to take upon you the name of Christ, by baptism—yea, by following your Lord and your Savior down into the water, according to his word, behold, then shall ye receive the Holy Ghost; yea, then cometh the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost; and then can ye speak with the tongue of angels, and shout praises unto the Holy One of Israel. But, behold, my beloved brethren, thus came the voice of the Son unto me, saying: After ye have repented of your sins, and witnessed unto the Father that ye are willing to keep my commandments, by the baptism of water, and have received the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost, and can speak with a new tongue, yea, even with the tongue of angels, and after this should deny me, it would have been better for you that ye had not known me. And I heard a voice from the Father, saying: Yea, the words of my Beloved are true and faithful. He that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved. And now, my beloved brethren, I know by this that unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of the living God, he cannot be saved. Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost. And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive. And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save. Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life. And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. 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.
Of course, the critics deny that Joseph Smith was called of God, that God gave him power to translate the Book of Mormon, to establish the Church and kingdom of God on earth, and to hold the keys and rights to administer the laws and ordinances, belonging to the Gospel of Christ.
To them, there are no voices crying faith, repentance, and baptism, from the dust. There is only the Bible, and the fundamentalist Christians, by definition, have separated themselves from the modernist, scholarly, retreat from literal interpretations of God’s word, by traditional Christianity. They militantly defend the doctrine of the inerrancy of their Bible interpretations, which defines, for them, true Christianity.
However, their doctrines are “taught by the precept of men,” and while these result in “a form of Godliness,” they become a severe stumbling block unto them. This is because, in denying the power of God to reveal the truth by the Holy Ghost, they must rely on their own understanding, on their traditions, and on the collection of the records of Judah, the books of the Bible, which, according to the record of Joseph, the Book of Mormon, has not come down through the centuries unaltered, but has had many “plain and precious things” removed from it by the “whore of all the earth.” Nephi explains:
And I, Nephi, beheld that the Gentiles that had gone out of captivity were delivered by the power of God out of the hands of all other nations. And it came to pass that I, Nephi, beheld that they did prosper in the land; and I beheld a book, and it was carried forth among them. And the angel said unto me: Knowest thou the meaning of the book? And I said unto him: I know not. And he said: Behold it proceedeth out of the mouth of a Jew. And I, Nephi, beheld it; and he said unto me: The book that thou beholdest is a record of the Jews, which contains the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; and it also containeth many of the prophecies of the holy prophets; and it is a record like unto the engravings which are upon the plates of brass, save there are not so many; nevertheless, they contain the covenants of the Lord, which he hath made unto the house of Israel; wherefore, they are of great worth unto the Gentiles. And the angel of the Lord said unto me: Thou hast beheld that the book proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew; and when it proceeded forth from the mouth of a Jew it contained the fulness of the gospel of the Lord, of whom the twelve apostles bear record; and they bear record according to the truth which is in the Lamb of God. Wherefore, these things go forth from the Jews in purity unto the Gentiles, according to the truth which is in God. And after they go forth by the hand of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, from the Jews unto the Gentiles, thou seest the formation of that great and abominable church, which is most abominable above all other churches; for behold, they have taken away from the gospel of the Lamb many parts which are plain and most precious; and also many covenants of the Lord have they taken away. And all this have they done that they might pervert the right ways of the Lord, that they might blind the eyes and harden the hearts of the children of men. Wherefore, thou seest that after the book hath gone forth through the hands of the great and abominable church, that there are many plain and precious things taken away from the book, which is the book of the Lamb of God. And after these plain and precious things were taken away it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles; and after it goeth forth unto all the nations of the Gentiles, yea, even across the many waters which thou hast seen with the Gentiles which have gone forth out of captivity, thou seest—because of the many plain and precious things which have been taken out of the book, which were plain unto the understanding of the children of men, according to the plainness which is in the Lamb of God—because of these things which are taken away out of the gospel of the Lamb, an exceedingly great many do stumble, yea, insomuch that Satan hath great power over them. Nevertheless, thou beholdest that the Gentiles who have gone forth out of captivity, and have been lifted up by the power of God above all other nations, upon the face of the land which is choice above all other lands, which is the land that the Lord God hath covenanted with thy father that his seed should have for the land of their inheritance; wherefore, thou seest that the Lord God will not suffer that the Gentiles will utterly destroy the mixture of thy seed, which are among thy brethren. Neither will he suffer that the Gentiles shall destroy the seed of thy brethren. Neither will the Lord God suffer that the Gentiles shall forever remain in that awful state of blindness, which thou beholdest they are in, because of the plain and most precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, whose formation thou hast seen. Wherefore saith the Lamb of God: I will be merciful unto the Gentiles, unto the visiting of the remnant of the house of Israel in great judgment. And it came to pass that the angel of the Lord spake unto me, saying: Behold, saith the Lamb of God, after I have visited the remnant of the house of Israel—and this remnant of whom I speak is the seed of thy father—wherefore, after I have visited them in judgment, and smitten them by the hand of the Gentiles, and after the Gentiles do stumble exceedingly, because of the most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb which have been kept back by that abominable church, which is the mother of harlots, saith the Lamb—I will be merciful unto the Gentiles in that day, insomuch that I will bring forth unto them, in mine own power, much of my gospel, which shall be plain and precious, saith the Lamb. For, behold, saith the Lamb: I will manifest myself unto thy seed, that they shall write many things which I shall minister unto them, which shall be plain and precious; and after thy seed shall be destroyed, and dwindle in unbelief, and also the seed of thy brethren, behold, these things shall be hid up, to come forth unto the Gentiles, by the gift and power of the Lamb. And in them shall be written my gospel, saith the Lamb, and my rock and my salvation. And blessed are they who shall seek to bring forth my Zion at that day, for they shall have the gift and the power of the Holy Ghost; and if they endure unto the end they shall be lifted up at the last day, and shall be saved in the everlasting kingdom of the Lamb; and whoso shall publish peace, yea, tidings of great joy, how beautiful upon the mountains shall they be. And it came to pass that I beheld the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the book of the Lamb of God, which had proceeded forth from the mouth of the Jew, that it came forth from the Gentiles unto the remnant of the seed of my brethren. And after it had come forth unto them I beheld other books, which came forth by the power of the Lamb, from the Gentiles unto them, unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of my brethren, and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true. And the angel spake unto me, saying: These last records, which thou hast seen among the Gentiles, shall establish the truth of the first, which are of the twelve apostles of the Lamb, and shall make known the plain and precious things which have been taken away from them; and shall make known to all kindreds, tongues, and people, that the Lamb of God is the Son of the Eternal Father, and the Savior of the world; and that all men must come unto him, or they cannot be saved. And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth.
Today, the Gentiles are in an “awful state of blindness,” as a result of the “most plain and precious parts of the gospel of the Lamb, which have been kept back by that abominable church,” and the “vision of all is become unto [modern man] as the words of a book that is sealed.”
To the unbelieving Jews of old, Christ, as the Lamb of God, crucified upon the cross, was a stumbling block, and he was foolishness to the Gentiles, who were not yet prepared to understand what was going on among the Jews at that time.
But now, in our day, to the unbelieving Gentiles, Christ, as the Lamb of God published upon the mountains, is a stumbling block, and he is foolishness to the Jews, who are not yet prepared to understand what is going on among the Gentiles.
However, what is happening among the Gentiles is that, by the power of the Lamb, books are coming forth out of the earth, testifying of his death and ressurection, “unto the convincing of the Gentiles and the remnant of the seed of [Joseph], and also the Jews who were scattered upon all the face of the earth, that the records of the prophets and of the twelve apostles of the Lamb are true.” These books contain the words of the Lamb, which he spoke unto his people in this land, living on the other side of the world from his people living in the land of Jerusalem, declaring that the word of the Lord came unto Joseph of old, who was sold into Egypt by his brethren, saying:
Wherefore, the fruit of thy loins shall write; and the fruit of the loins of Judah shall write; and that which shall be written by the fruit of thy loins, and also that which shall be written by the fruit of the loins of Judah, shall grow together, unto the confounding of false doctrines and laying down of contentions, and establishing peace among the fruit of thy loins, and bringing them to the knowledge of their fathers in the latter days, and also to the knowledge of my covenants, saith the Lord.
The false doctrines to be confounded are the doctrines taught by the precepts of men, who deny the power of God. They concern the nature of God and man, and God’s relation to man and the creation; They also have to do with the nature and purpose of Satan and the fall of man viz-a-viz the plan of salvation and exhaltation.
By defining Christians, not as those who follow Christ, but, rather, as those who adhere to the traditional doctrine of historical Christianity, the fundamentalist Christians and their LDS converts, who oppose the voices from the dust, teach that Latter-day Saints are not Christians. Indeed, they sometimes characterize Mormons as anti-Christians, in their customary militant fashion, moving from the historically defensive posture of the doctrine of Biblical “inerrancy,” to a new offensive posture that takes up a doctrine poised against “extra-Biblical revelation.”
This doctrine focuses on preserving the traditions of historical Christianity, including traditions of religious symbols, the virgin birth, degrees of glory, monogomy, and the “royal priesthood” of all believers.
Clearly, however, non-LDS Christians ought not to say to the Father, “What begettest thou?” or to those LDS Christians, who are laboring to redeem Zion, “What hast thou brought forth?” While it is unfortunate that those who consider themselves Christians have genuine differences over these issues, the fact is that they must hold these honest convictions, without exhibiting a spirit of animosity and anger towards those who differ with them, if they are to qualify as true Christians, and not as those who only “draw near unto me with their mouths and with their lips do honor me, but their hearts are far removed from me.”
That this can be done in a true spirit of Christian love has been amply demonstrated by a meeting of Evangelical Fundamentalists and Latter-day Saints in 2004 (see video here). In this same spirit, the page on this website, Helping Evangelicals Understand God’s Grace, addresses the specifics of the doctrinal differences, between traditional Christians and Latter-day Saints, mentioned above.