The Bible and the Book of Mormon

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Christ taught: "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets” ( Matthew 7:12). This is known as “The Golden Rule”

When speaking to His disciples, Jesus taught them, “love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (John 13:35). Jesus didn’t mean that Christians are only to show love to other Christians. He also taught “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you. For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?” (Matt 5:44,45).

An "enemy" is somebody who persecute you or tries to hurt you, not someone who just has a difference of opinion with you. Although many "Christians" say they know this, yet they often act as though “love” is the least important aspect of the gospel Everybody has the right to believe in the gospel anyway they choose, but attacking someone’s beliefs simply because they are not the same as yours is not what the Bible teaches us to do. The gospel is a message of love, not a doctrine of arguing and contention.

The reason I say this is because a few days ago I received an e mail from a good "Christian" asking me to visit his web site where he had done a “deep” study of my religious ideas. I did as he asked and read what he had written, but, instead of being uplifted and edified, I was deeply offended by it’s very antagonistic tone. I wrote him back expressing the need for him to show tolerance. He replied that he didn’t need to be tolerant because that word isn’t found in the Bible. He then further stated the he couldn’t tolerate sin. What he was really doing was trying to
justify himself for being rude, obnoxious and spiteful. It’s true that sometimes when you explain your viewpoint you are forced to debate and defend your ideas, but we should always allow the other person the right to their own ideas, whether we agree with them or not.

I will admit that I have found many good pages on the internet about the subject of religion, both by Christians and non-Christians. However, it seems that the majority of those who show respect for the beliefs of others are more often non-Christians. Among those who do consider themselves Christians, I have to say in all honesty that the Catholics are about the only ones who don't attack what others believe. I have found that usually it’s the Protestants – those who love to label themselves as being "Christians" - who most often attack those who disagree with their understanding of the Bible. Therefore, it might be wise to more clearly define what it means to be a "Christian" and who can use properly lay claim to this noble name.

Smith's Bible dictionary defines a Christian this way: “Followers of the highest and best known divine laws as TAUGHT by Jesus Christ” According to this definition a Christian is, not just a believer in Jesus as the divine Son of God, but someone who follows, or lives by the things which Jesus taught. According to this definition, it’s extremely hard to justify that someone is not a Christian simply because they have a different view than someone else of what they think Jesus taught. To understand what makes someone a Christian, let's look at what the Bible tells us.

In the days of Jesus, even many of His disciples had a hard time understanding His sayings. For example, in Matthew 16:13-23 we read, “When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ. From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offense unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those
that be of men.”

Notice that after Peter had received a revelation from God Himself regarding the calling of Jesus, he still didn’t understand what Jesus had to go through. It’s true that Jesus called Peter Satan, but still He loved him. Peter wasn’t cast out of Christ’s presence or even His confidence because Jesus knew that Peter’s only fault was that he didn't fully understand.

In Matthew 17:17-20 we read, “Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me. And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour. Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out? And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Here is another example of the disciples not understanding the correct doctrine of Christ, yet Jesus showed them tolerance, patience and love rather than condemnation.

Even after the resurrection sometimes they made mistakes about doctrines. In Galatians 2:3-4 we read, “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage.”

In the same chapter the apostle Paul wrote in verses 11-14 “But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews?”

Here we see that there were some differences of opinion concerning the doctrine of Christ, even among the leaders of the church. Peter likewise admonished the saints on this subject when he wrote “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the long-suffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction” (II Peter 3:14-16).

It is clear from what the scriptures tell us that having a perfect knowledge of the doctrines of Christ is not what will bring us salvation, for the simple reason that no one has a perfect understanding of everything Jesus taught. Then what is essential to be considered as a Christian?

In John 13:7-17 we read, “Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter. Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me. Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head. Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all. For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean. So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you? Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.”

From what Christ Himself said, service to others seems to be the key to being a perfect Christian. Jesus further explained it this way: “Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock” (Matthew 7:20-24) “For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.” (Matthew 12:50) “But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:23).

The scriptures also tell us in Matthew 25:32-46: “And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: And he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one
of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.” This is the standard by which Jesus will judge His followers.

Are Mormons Christians? Are Protestants Christians? That answer to those questions doesn’t depend so much on what we believe as it does on how we behave. To be considered a Christian is not based on adherence to one set of ridged rules of doctrine, but is based on the attitude of our heart. It’s based on our MODUS VIVENDI (i.e. our lifestyle).

Jesus explained it this way in Matthew 21:28-31: “But what think ye? A certain man had two sons; and he came to the first, and said, Son, go work to day in my vineyard. He answered and said, I will not: but afterward he repented, and went. And he came to the second, and said likewise. And he answered and said, I go, sir: and went not. Whether of them twain did the will of his father? They say unto him, The first. Jesus saith unto them,  Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” At another time Jesus told His disciples “For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

Let me give an illustration of what I mean. Before I became a Mormon, I was a Catholic. The fact that I changed to another denomination is clear evidence that I no longer believe that the Catholic faith is where God’s true church is found. Nevertheless, I can’t deny that Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a shining example of what it means to be a "Christian." To me, it doesn’t matter if she believes in a different Trinity than I do or reveres the Pope as the Vicar of Christ. In my opinion, she is still a “Christian,” not just because she believes in Christ, but because she lived her life in a way that showed her love for our Savior. To be a Christian is not dependent on which church you belong to, but is decided by the kind of life you live.

Paul expressed this idea in 1 Corinthians 13:2-8 when he wrote, “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity (i.e. Love), I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”

In the book of Mormon this concept is set forth in even clearer language. In Moroni 7:46-47 we read, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail-- But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.”

Notice that in the beatitudes Jesus taught that to become a follower of His depends on how a person lives their life rather than by what doctrines they believe in. He said, “Blessed are the meek,” not “blessed are they who are self-rightous.” He said, “Blessed are the merciful,” not “Blessed are those who condemn the unrighteous.” He said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” not “Blessed are those who contend with the ungodly.” He taught “Blessed are the pure in heart,” not “Blessed are those who have bitterness and anger in their hearts towards those who have different beliefs.” He said “Blessed are they which are persecuted, reviled and spoken evil of for my sake,” not “Blessed are those which persecute, revile and speak evil of others who don’t believe in me.”

Those “Christians” who feel that it is their duty to attack and criticize others for their beliefs should remember the words of Christ when he said, “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye” (Matthew 7:1-5).

According to the Bible, someone is not a true Christian just because they believe in certain doctrines. If this isn’t true, then how do we explain this incident in the life of Christ as found in Mark 9:38-41? “And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbade him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. For he that is not against us is on our part. For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.”

At another time, Jesus explained this principle thusly: “And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:9-14).

The Bible tells us that it is God who is our judge (Psalm 75:8) and that it is He who will judge each of us according to the way we behave (Ezekiel 7:8). The Bible tells us “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son” (John 5:22). Therefore, we have to be very careful when we seek to judge others, because when we do we are exalting ourselves to the position of God and presuming to do the job that only belongs to Him.

To those who seek to criticize and condemn us for what we believe, let me answer them with the words of the Bible. “Who made thee a ruler and a judge over us?” (Acts 7:27). “There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?” (James 4:12). “Therefore, thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things” (Romans 2:1).

There is only one fundamental premise in Christianity, if we accept the word of Jesus as Founder and Master Teacher of Christianity. That premise is love, Jesus gave only two commandaments not ten firts "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart........." and the second "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" Thse are positive commandments. The ten commandments of Moses are negative "thou shalt not steal, thou shalt not.......... I f one loves God and his neigbor, he cannot have any other gods, and he cannot harm his heighbor in any way. If these two commandments were obeyed by all who call themselves Christian, the world would soon change. Jesus said to love our enemies. It is only by love and understanding that we can change anyone and turn their fear and hostility into cooperation and friendship. Would the Christain method work? We do not know. Except as exceptional individuals we never tried Christianity. Gandhi, for example was not a Christian but more nearly practiced Christianity more than most of the pretending Christian of his time.

Last Updated on Monday, 28 February 2011 13:26  

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