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Presenting The Gospel To Your Mormon Friends

 

Presenting The Gospel To Your Mormon Friends

For Christians

  

   

Reaching out to Mormons (members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) needs a great deal of commitment on our part. Our goal is to help Mormon friends see Jesus as their substitute, who has done everything necessary for their salvation, not as their creditor, to whom they owe debts, and is their example, showing them what they need to do.1 Then we help them see that today they can be completely forgiven for time and eternity.

 

When witnessing to Mormons we often debate with them over negatives of Mormonism, but fail to present the gospel.2 We should stick to the essential teachings of the gospel, the Person and Work of Christ and salvation by grace.3 However, classic presentation of the gospel and popular usage of biblical passages may not convey what we mean when talking to Mormons.4   When Mormons say “Gospel,” salvation,” and “grace,” “atonement” etc., they don’t mean the same as we do.

 

In Mormonism Jesus being Saviour means that Jesus paid their debt to the Heavenly Father and conquered death for them.5 For Mormons Jesus is also a Creditor to whom Mormons have to pay back 6 Salvation in Mormonism is twofold. Unconditional salvation - which merely means resurrection, and the greater one, called Conditional or Individual salvation - that comes from grace and obedience.7 At the Final Judgement people will be sent to one of four places: the celestial, terrestrial or telestial kingdom or outer darkness. Eternal life is called “exaltation”, which means living as a god in the highest level of the “celestial kingdom.” 8

 

Therefore, becoming familiar with the Mormon language as well as the basic doctrines of Mormonism are essential for communication. It is more effective for us to use language like  “living with (the) Heavenly Father” instead of salvation, as “living with (the) Heavenly Father” is close to the biblical concept of heaven.  In Mormonism almost everyone goes to heaven, but those who go to the Celestial kingdom will live with the Heavenly Father.

 

 

The Gospel is the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection (1 Cor. 15:1-3).

 

When the subject of the Gospel pops up, we should demonstrate that the Gospel according to Mormonism is not the same as the biblical Gospel9

 

The 3rd Article of (Mormon) Faith says, “We believe that through the atonement of Christ all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.” (emphasis added)

 

We should ask a Mormon friend, “Do you know where the Bible defines the Gospel?”10   Then show 1 Cor.15:1-3. Tell your friend that the Gospel is the message of Jesus’ death and resurrection.  “Paul preached a gospel that centred on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, not on the person and works of the sinful man.”11

 

We are dead in sin and by nature objects of wrath.    (Ephesians 2:1-3)

 

The Mormon Church teaches a weak view of sin. Sin consists in wilful wrong deed, not man’s basic nature. By contrast, the Bible teaches that sin is an attitude of rebellion against God (Rom.3:10-12). We need to help them see we are dead in sin and by nature objects of wrath (Ehp.2:1-3) and a dead person cannot cry out for help.12 The plan of salvation originates totally and completely with God. Sin is sin regardless of a person’s awareness (Psalm 19:12).

 

The righteousness of God demands that sins’ penalty is paid. Death must follow sin, physical and spiritual death. Since no one is without sin, there is only one way we can receive legal pardon of all our sins forever. Jesus’ atonement answered man’s dire sin problem.  Beyond this is where Mormonism and Christianity disagree.  Mormonism’s weak view of sin leads to a weak view of what the atonement of Christ has achieved.

 

Jesus became our substitute to pay for our sins (Galatians3:13)

 

The Mormon Church teaches that Jesus has paid his part and we have our part.  Suppose a man in huge debt is about to be sent to prison and his possessions are taken and he asks for mercy.13 Then, a mediator intervenes and pays the debt.14 The debtor represents each one of us, the creditor is the law of justice and the debtor’s friend is Jesus.15   Jesus, Mediator, became Jesus, Creditor.  The friend intervened, not with a free gift of forgiveness, but a loan to be repaid.16

 

By contrast, the Bible tells us that justice was satisfied. Jesus became our substitute to pay for our sins (Galatians 3: 13). Our sins were laid on him. He has become sin and we have, in him, become righteous.  Jesus paid what we owe to God by dying on the cross. He took the full force of God’s judgement on himself, so that forgiveness and pardon might be available to you and me (Romans 3:24-26).

 

Being justified by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (KJV Romans 3:24-26)

 

The Mormon Church teaches that Christ’s atonement has not achieved full and complete salvation outside the works of men (GP,p.75). Ultimate salvation (exaltation) comes by obeying a number of particular LDS laws and ordinances.                          

 

By contrast, the Bible teaches the finished work of Christ on the cross.   We are justified freely by his grace. Justified means “acquitted”, “justice declared”, the opposite of condemned.  When God justifies sinners, it does not mean that we are not sinners or that we are inwardly righteous, but it means that we are legally righteous.17    We can become friends with God.  We should tell the parable in Luke 18:9-14.                                     

 

And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin”  (Hebrews 10:17-18)           

 

Mormons see “forgiveness” differently to the way the Bible sees forgiveness. When Mormons hear the word “forgiveness”, they “almost automatically think of something they have to do, rather than of a blessing they receive from God.”18 We should ask Mormons what they mean by “forgiveness”.19   Giving an illustration of forgiveness can be helpful.  Dedicated Mormons seem to struggle with forgiveness due to their Church’s unreasonable demands regarding forgiveness. The Mormon Church teaches that in order to obtain forgiveness one must forsake the sins permanently, not repeat the same mistakes and to begin to keep all the commandments perfectly.19

 

Many Mormons, however, may not be aware of the authoritative teachings of the Mormon Church. To both kinds of Mormons we need to remind them of the authoritative teachings of the Mormon Church. If they sustain the General Authorities of the Mormon Church, they must face the authoritative teachings and live by them.20

 

If the sinner neglects his tithing, misses his meetings, breaks the Sabbath, or fails in his prayers and other responsibilities, he is not completely repentant” 21 

 

So we should ask them, “Have you forsaken all your sins?” “Have you kept all the commandments of God? If not, how do you know that your sins are forgiven?”  “What do you think about James 2:10?” 22

 Then ask, “Would you like to know for sure how all your sins may be forgiven? Christ has made this possible for you by his death on the cross?” 23 We should show them Hebrews 10:10-18 which says Jesus’ sacrifice was sufficient for all people (v.10,12,14) We should stress Heb 10:17-18.

 

We should also tell Mormon friends the parable of the unforgiven Servant in Matthew 18:21-35. A king confronted his servant who owed an enormous debt. The servant, his wife, their children and all his possession were to be sold, to pay the debt. Every sin deserves this. The servant begged, “Be patient with me.” The king was merciful. Out of pure compassion, he forgave his servant. Our God is like that.  We have been piling up sins for years: like debts every day. Every hour adds to them.24   They can never be paid. And God says, “I release you from your debt.” Out of pure mercy, God is very ready to forgive those who acknowledge their helplessness to get right with Him by their own effort.

 

“For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

We should delay the use of Ephesians 2:8-9 until we have built a solid foundation on which we place it.25   Grace is terribly misunderstood in Mormon thinking. The Mormon Church charges Evangelical Christians that the Christian way is too easy when Paul says that we are saved by faith alone.

 

We should tell Mormon friends that the grace of God does not mean that we continue to live sinful lives.”  Paul says, “Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!  We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer” (Romans 6:1-2). Good works are vital part of our Christian walk after we receive eternal life as a gift (Eph. 2:10, Philippians 1:6,2:13).

 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life”    (John 6:47)        KJV LDS footnotes says everlasting life is Eternal Life and Exaltation (p.1336)

 

To believe is more than intellectual agreement with the Christian faith. It means to put our trust in Jesus that he alone can save us. Anyone who believes has (the present tense points to a present possession) eternal life in Christ.26 Eternal life is a present condition for believers.

 

We can point to our Mormon friend that the Mormon edition of The Kings James Bible has the footnotes in John 6:47, which says that everlasting life is “Eternal life” and exaltation.”

 

Conclusion: Mormons terribly misunderstood grace.  Mormons are likely to produce James 2:20,24 as a works-salvation proof text.  Be prepared.  We should demonstrate our willingness to talk about these verses in their context when Mormons produce them.  We should tell them why James was writing and to whom, as well as the context of the passage.  We should help Mormons see the difference between the “laws and ordinances of the Gospel” and the sweet and powerful gospel of our Lord Jesus.

 

 

Footnotes: 1.Mark Cares, Speaking the Truth in Love To Mormons (1993,p.187), 2.Ibid.p.162, 3. Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Mormon s (1995,p.44), 4.Mark Care, p.186, 5.Ibid.p.271, 6. Gospel Principles (1997,pp.75-78,,)7.Doctrines of Salvation Vol.1, p.134 8.GP.p.302, 9.James White,  “Verses Relevant to Sharing the Gospel with Mormons, Section VII Salvation” (article) (22/01/2000), 10.Ibid, 9.Ibid, 11.James White, “Letters To a Mormon Elder”(1993,p.263), 12.Gospel Principles, pp.75-77), 13. Ibid, 14.Preparing Exaltation  (1998,p.19), 15.”The Mormon Plan of Salvation (article)”(North American Mission Board), 16.John Stott, “The Cross of Christ” (1989,p111), 17.Mark Care, p 188, 18. Ibid, p.189, 19. Spencer Kimball, “Repentance Brings Forgiveness”(tract), 20.Mark Champneys, “The 3 most important questions in human existence”(article). 21. “Repentance Brings Forgiveness, 22.Ron Rhodes,p.340., 23.p.368, 24.Michael Green, The Message of Matthew (1998,p.198),  25.James White, “Verses Relevant to Sharing the Gospel with Mormons, Section Vii Salvation”, 26. Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (1995,p200)

 

Copyrightã2003 Mormon Outreach Ministries, Sydney