Follow the logic:
Mormonism is a relevant topic these days, mostly due to the Republican presidential candidate. Here is a good, short refresher course on Mormonism vs. Christianity, courtesy of Justin Taylor:
What do Mormons believe about apostasy and restoration?
Mormons claim that “total” apostasy overcame the church following apostolic times, and that the Mormon Church (founded in 1830) is the “restored church.”
What’s the problem with this understanding?
If the Mormon Church were truly a “restored church,” one would expect to find first-century historical evidence for Mormon doctrines like the plurality of gods and God the Father having once been a man. Such evidence is completely lacking. Besides, the Bible disallows a total apostasy of the church (e.g., Matt. 16:18; 28:20; Eph. 3:21; 4:11-16), warning instead of partial apostasy (1 Tim. 4:1).
What do Mormons believe about God?
Mormons claim that God the Father was once a man and that he then progressed to godhood (that is, he is a now-exalted, immortal man with a flesh-and-bone body).
What does the Bible teach about the nature of God?
Based on the Bible, God is not and has never been a man (Num. 23:19; Hos. 11:9). He is a spirit (John 4:24), and a spirit does not have flesh and bones (Luke 24:39). Furthermore, God is eternal (Ps. 90:2; 102:27; Isa. 57:15; 1 Tim. 1:17) and immutable (or unchangeable in his being and perfections; see Ps. 102:25-27; Mal. 3:6). He did not “progress” toward godhood, but has always been God.
What do Mormons believe about the Trinity and polytheism?
Mormons believe that the Trinity consists not of three persons in one God but rather of three distinct gods. According to Mormonism, there are potentially many thousands of gods besides these.
What does the Bible teach about the Triune God?
Trusting in or worshiping more than one god is explicitly condemned throughout the Bible (e.g., Ex. 20:3). There is only one true God (Deut. 4:35, 39; 6:4; Isa. 43:10; 44:6, 8; 45:18; 46:9; 1 Cor. 8:4; James 2:19), who exists eternally in three persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14).
What do Mormons believe about human exaltation?
Mormons believe that humans, like God the Father, can go through a process of exaltation to godhood.
What does the Bible teach about humanity?
The Bible teaches that the yearning to be godlike led to the fall of mankind (Gen. 3:4ff.). God does not look kindly on humans who pretend to attain to deity (Acts 12:21-23; contrastActs 14:11-15). God desires humans to humbly recognize that they are his creatures (Gen. 2:7; 5:2; Ps. 95:6-7; 100:3). The state of the redeemed in eternity will be one of glorious immortality, but they will forever remain God’s creatures, adopted as his children (Rom. 8:14-30; 1 Cor. 15:42-57; Rev. 21:3-7). Believers will never become gods.
What do Mormons believe about Jesus?
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was the firstborn spirit-child of the heavenly Father and a heavenly Mother. Jesus then progressed to deity in the spirit world. He was later physically conceived in Mary’s womb, as the literal “only begotten” Son of God the Father in the flesh (though many present-day Mormons remain somewhat vague as to how this occurred).
What does the Bible teach about Jesus?
Biblically, the description of Jesus as the “only begotten” refers to his being the Father’sunique, one-of-a-kind Son for all eternity, with the same divine nature as the Father (see note on John 1:14; cf. John 1:18; 3:16, 18; see also John 5:18; 10:30). Moreover, he is eternal deity (John 1:1; 8:58) and is immutable (Heb. 1:10-12; 13:8), meaning he did notprogress to deity but has always been God. And Mary’s conception of Jesus in his humanity was through a miracle of the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:20).
What do Mormons believe about our eternal destiny?
Mormons believe that most people will end up in one of three kingdoms of glory, depending on one’s level of faithfulness. Belief in Christ, or even in God, is not necessary to obtain immortality in one of these three kingdoms, and therefore only the most spiritually perverse will go to hell.
What does the Bible teach about our eternal destiny ?
The Bible teaches that people have just two possibilities for their eternal futures: the saved will enjoy eternal life with God in the new heavens and new earth (Phil. 3:20; Rev. 21:1-4; 22:1-5), while the unsaved will spend eternity in hell (Matt. 25:41, 46; Rev. 20:13-15).
What do Mormons believe about sin and atonement?
Mormons believe that Adam’s transgression was a noble act that made it possible for humans to become mortal, a necessary step on the path to exaltation to godhood. They think that Christ’s atonement secures immortality for virtually all people, whether they repent and believe or not.
What does the Bible teach about sin and atonement?
Biblically, there was nothing noble about Adam’s sin, which was not a stepping-stone to godhood but rather brought nothing but sin, misery, and death to mankind (Gen. 3:16-19;Rom. 5:12-14). Jesus atoned for the sins of all who would trust him for salvation (Isa. 53:6;John 1:29; 2 Cor. 5:21; 1 Pet. 2:24; 3:18; 1 John 2:2; 4:10).
What do Mormons believe about salvation?
Mormons believe that God gives to (virtually) everyone a general salvation to immortal life in one of the heavenly kingdoms, which is how they understand salvation by grace. Belief in Christ is necessary only to obtain passage to the highest, celestial kingdom—for which not only faith but participation in Mormon temple rituals and obedience to its “laws of the gospel” are also prerequisites.
What does the Bible teach about salvation?
Biblically, salvation by grace must be received through faith in Christ (John 3:15-16; 11:25; 12:46; Acts 16:31; Rom. 3:22-24; Eph. 2:8-9), and all true believers are promised eternal life in God’s presence (Matt. 5:3-8; John 14:1-3; Rev. 21:3-7).
Great post from our own Reagan Rose:
So the President has come out and said he supports gay marriage, and in an election year! At the same time North Carolina has voted to legally define marriage as between a man and a woman, thus excluding same-sex couples from the equation. What do we do with this news?
Now, I realize I speak to two audiences here, and I hope that this can be helpful to both. First, to the Christian who doesn’t know how to respond to the issue of homosexual marriage, I hope that this will give you some clarity on that. Second, to those that don’t accept the Bible’s authority to say what is right and what is wrong. To you I hope this will help you to at least understand where (most) Christians are coming from and why we just can’t seem to agree on some things!
There are two issues at work here.
Let’s make a few things clear. Sin is sin because God says it is, not because it doesn’t hurt anyone else. That is the difference between Christian morality and secular morality. Christian morality makes the arbiter of right and wrong the transcendent God as revealed in the Bible. Secular morality (and this too may come in Christian packaging at times) makes man the authority of right and wrong. The secularist will nod in approval to the golden rule. Of course, how can a society function unless laws enforce the doing unto others as they would do unto you? (I don’t want to have my stuff stolen, so the law should punish me if I steal other people’s stuff. Makes sense!) However, secular society has no category for when a Christian comes in and says, “actually what you do at home in your bedroom is wrong.” From the secular standpoint they conclude, “Mind your own business, you weirdo!” Thus we come to an impasse and all conversation ceases to be fruitful until we acknowledge these presuppositions.
Now most Christians (I would hope) would agree that homosexual acts are a sin (See 1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:24-32). You have to do some serious self-deception to make the Bible “unclear on these things”. Homosexuality is an abomination against God because it defies His natural order and His clear commands in Scripture.
Does this mean I hate gay people? Nope. And by the way, calling everyone that disagrees with you a hater, is pretty rude. Stop it. I don’t hate liars or adulterers either. If I hated people that sin I’d hate all of mankind and myself. I’d keep my lips zipped about God’s righteous judgement on sin and the glorious provision of Jesus Christ as the only answer! If I didn’t care I wouldn’t say a word, and everyone would like me!
Now let’s make a quick distinction:
There is a difference between feelings of homosexual attraction, which is a symptom of a sin-sick world (akin to how some people have a predisposition to drink to excess), and the indulging in those feelings to the point of homosexual lust or homosexual relations. Let’s think in terms of Jesus’ teaching on adultery here (Matt. 5). Let me be clear, I don’t think anyone chooses to have weird feelings (temptations), but they do (like the whole world!) choose to indulge in sin.
Certainly, there is an extra element at work in the issue of homosexuality that I would be remiss to ignore. Paul seems to indicate that it’s homosexuality and societal approval of it and other sins is a symptom of God removing His restraining hand in judgement (Rom. 1:27,32). But on a basic, how-do-I-respond-as-a-Christian level, homosexuality is a sin that damns, like lying damns, like stealing damns, like how ALL HAVE SINNED AND FALL SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD damns us all (Rom. 3:23). So we must be careful not to get all high and mighty and say, “look at those unbelievers sinning!” Playas gonna play and sinners gonna sin. Our job is to show them that IT IS sin and that they, like us, and the whole world, need to repent and turn to Jesus Christ as Lord to save them from God’s righteous judgement (that’s why it’s called the Good News). Sinners saved by grace show grace to sinners.
Obviously the issue is compounded when you throw in a political element. If you agree that homosexuality is a sin in God’s eyes then the redefinition of marriage to include gay couples is rightly disturbing to you. Furthermore, as messed up as it is in America, the family really is the backbone of civilization. And YES marriage that God recognizes is between a feller and a lady (Gen. 2:20-25), so when a group of a people or a president of a nation, say “HEY, let’s change this thing”, that’s a big deal!
So how do we respond? What is the Christian’s responsibility politically? Let me make it simple (Look up these verses):
Pay your taxes (Luke 20:25), obey the government (Romans 13:1-7, 1 Peter 2:13-15), and pray for your leaders (1 Timothy 2:1-2). Now of course, if the law forces us to act in opposition to God’s commands we must be like Peter and obey God rather than men (Acts 4:19-20). So if at some point the government tries to force our churches to marry people of the same sex, we will politely say, “no, we have to obey God on this one, jail us if you want.” That’s it. Really, I would be happy to see a cogent Biblical argument for a Christian’s responsibility politically, because I just can’t find it. We are ambassadors for Christ and citizens of His Kingdom, all societal transformation that results from us is a byproduct of exemplary righteous living and the conversion of other lost people, not political activism, else our archeologists would have uncovered “Peter for Proconsul!” buttons by now.
Christian, you are rightly saddened by this symptom of sin further decaying our society, so respond in this way: pray, vote if you want, call people to repentance for sin, but outlawing sin doesn’t actually solve the problem, the gospel does. Yep, this extends to other political issues too.
And the gospel is this: Everyone who has lived has sinned and is therefore condemned before God. At the end of time all people will stand before Him and be judged by the righteous standard of His law, and everyone who has not forsaken their attempts at making themselves righteous and clung completely to Jesus Christ as the sacrifice and savior for sin, and the Lord of their lives, will face an eternity in hell.
You can say, “well I don’t believe in God or sin or any of that,” but it is true, and we’re all going to face him, and I think deep down you already know it. So quit lying to yourself. Forsake your sin, turn from your rebellion against God and believe on the King, Jesus who died and received God’s wrath, so that you don’t have to. Grab a Bible and start reading the book of John, see if this man Jesus does not compel you.
And Christian, just remember; Nations come and nations go. God is sovereign over all. He’s got this (Psalm 103:19, Daniel 2:21).
Interesting post from Kevin DeYoung:
The latest issue of Christianity Today is on effective ways to fight poverty. It’s an important topic and I’m glad CT is talking about it. I was especially intrigued by the article “Cost-Effective Compassion: The 10 Most Popular Strategies for Helping the Poor” by Bruce Wydick.
Christians can too easily settle for good intentions. We usually support programs that make us feelgood without considering whether they actually dogood. We need to be smarter about actually thinking through which poverty strategies are most effective. “To answer this question” Wydick writes, “I polled top development economists who specialize in analyzing development programs. I asked them to rate, from 0 to 10, some of the most common poverty interventions to which ordinary people donate their money, in terms of impact and cost-effectiveness per donated dollar.”
These were the results:
1. Get clean water to rural villages (Rating: 8.3)
2. Fund de-worming treatments for children (Rating: 7.8)
3. Provide mosquito nets (Rating: 7.3)
4. Sponsor a child (Rating: 6.9)
5. Give wood-burning stoves (Rating: 6.0)
6. Give a micro-finance loan (Rating 4.2)
7. Fund reparative surgeries (Rating: 3.9)
8. Donate a farm animal (Rating 3.8)
9. Drink fair-trade coffee (Rating. 1.9)
10. Give a kid a laptop (1.8)
No doubt, some experts and donors will disagree with these rankings, but at least this gives a starting place for discussion and should encourage careful evaluation. Read the whole article and think through these issues for yourself. Sometimes helpinng the poor is not as simple as drinking a different coffee.
For more information onn effective mercy minstry check out When Helping Hurts by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert and Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton. Remember, more important than feeling good–as an individual, a church, or a government–is that we give in such a way as to do good.
This is a short story from Jonathan and Becky Schuster, Calvary missionaries in Ireland (let’s keep them in prayer, eh?):
Last night our neighbor Breda rushed over and told our son, Evan, to get my husband, Jonathan – there was an emergency with her husband Joe. When Jonathan heard Evan yelling, “Joe’s in trouble! EMERGENCY! EMERGENCY!” he thought for sure he’d be administering CPR and ran out the door in his slippers and house coat. As it turns out our neighbors had a radiator that wasn’t working, which often happens when air gets in the system, and Joe had been trying to loosen a screw that lets the water drip out until the air escapes.
Unfortunately the screw came completely out and black, rusty water was squirting everywhere while he tried to get the screw back in. After Jonathan fixed the problem and numerous towels had mopped up the water mess, Evan was given the three cans of 7UP he’d been eyeing for a while. Joe and Breda have treated our children like grandchildren since we met five years ago, and find joy in giving them 7UP cans on a regular basis. (While it’s rather odd, the kids certainly love getting them!)
Shortly later I rolled in to find Joe and Breda in their driveway. Joe was leaving to help his son Joseph set up his new pet shop, and I moved indoors with Breda to continue our conversation as it was freezing outside. Over the course of an hour I had the opportunity to share the gospel with Breda and pray for her health. She shared how when her youngest of six children turned four she spent every morning in the Catholic church and even did all night vigils. One of her sons became a priest. A rosary hangs on their wall. The Pope’s picture is in their kitchen. She prays to Mary and several saints regularly.
There wasn’t a medical emergency, it was a spiritual one.
From Jared Wilson:
“If I have rejected the cause of my manservant or my maidservant,
when they brought a complaint against me,
what then shall I do when God rises up?
When he makes inquiry, what shall I answer him?
Did not he who made me in the womb make him?
And did not one fashion us in the womb?”
This passage tells us at least three things about abortion:
1. The foundation of civil equality is traced to the womb.
Really, it is traced to God’s having made mankind in his image, but the well-to-do Job is asserting an equality of personhood with his servants based on their equal status as unborn children. Therefore, the unborn are persons with civil rights. This makes abortion a dehumanizing injustice.
2. The development of the unborn is a work of God.
Job says he and his servants were made in the womb, fashioned in the womb. Coupled with Psalm 139′s words on God’s creative work in the womb, we learn that abortion is therefore a tearing apart what God has joined together.
3. The treatment of persons as non-persons is something for which we will give an account.
“What shall I do when God rises up?” Job asks about unjust treatment of his servants. And what will we say? Injustice of this kind will be reckoned with. We will have to give an account to our holy God for the murder of millions of unborn persons he is forming in his image.
No law can be just if its justice for one is predicated on injustice to another.
From Jon Nielson at The Gospel Coalition:
“What do we do about our kids?” The group of parents sat together in my office, wiping their eyes. I’m a high school pastor, but for once, they weren’t talking about 16-year-olds drinking and partying. Each had a story to tell about a “good Christian” child, raised in their home and in our church, who had walked away from the faith during the college years. These children had come through our church’s youth program, gone on short-term mission trips, and served in several different ministries during their teenage years. Now they didn’t want anything to do with it anymore. And, somehow, these mothers’ ideas for our church to send college students “care packages” during their freshman year to help them feel connected to the church didn’t strike me as a solution with quite enough depth.
It’s hard to sort through the various reports and find the real story. And there is no one easy solution for bringing all of those “lost” kids back into the church, other than continuing to pray for them and speaking the gospel into their lives. However, we can all look at the 20-somethings in our churches who are engaged and involved in ministry. What is it that sets apart the kids who stay in the church? Here are just a few observations I have made about such kids, with a few applications for those of us serving in youth ministry.
The apostle Paul, interestingly enough, doesn’t use phrases like “nominal Christian” or “pretty good kid.” The Bible doesn’t seem to mess around with platitudes like: “Yeah, it’s a shame he did that, but he’s got a good heart.” When we listen to the witness of Scripture, particularly on the topic of conversion, we find that there is very little wiggle room. Listen to these words: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Cor. 5:17). We youth pastors need to get back to understanding salvation as what it really is: a miracle that comes from the glorious power of God through the working of the Holy Spirit.
We need to stop talking about “good kids.” We need to stop being pleased with attendance at youth group and fun retreats. We need to start getting on our knees and praying that the Holy Spirit will do miraculous saving work in the hearts of our students as the Word of God speaks to them. In short, we need to get back to a focus on conversion. How many of us are preaching to “unconverted evangelicals”? Youth pastors, we need to preach, teach, and talk—all the while praying fervently for the miraculous work of regeneration to occur in the hearts and souls of our students by the power of the Holy Spirit! When that happens—when the “old goes” and the “new comes”—it will not be iffy. We will not be dealing with a group of “nominal Christians.” We will be ready to teach, disciple, and equip a generation of future church leaders—“new creations”!—who are hungry to know and speak God’s Word. It is converted students who go on to love Jesus and serve the church.
Recently we had “man day” with some of the guys in our youth group. We began with an hour of basketball at the local park, moved to an intense game of 16” (“Chicago Style”) softball, and finished the afternoon by gorging ourselves on meaty pizzas and 2-liters of soda. I am not against fun (or gross, depending on your opinion of the afternoon I just described) things in youth ministry. But youth pastors especially need to keep repeating the words of Ephesians 4:11-12 to themselves: “[Christ] gave . . . the teachers to equip the saints for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ.” Christ gives us—teachers—to the church, not for entertainment, encouragement, examples, or even friendship primarily. He gives us to the church to “equip” the saints to do gospel ministry, in order that the church of Christ may be built up.
If I have not equipped the students in my ministry to share the gospel, disciple a younger believer, and lead a Bible study, then I have not fulfilled my calling to them, no matter how good my sermons have been. We pray for conversion; that is all we can do, for it is entirely a gracious gift of God. But after conversion, it is our Christ-given duty to help fan into flame a faith that serves, leads, teaches, and grows. If our students leave high school without Bible-reading habits, Bible-study skills, and strong examples of discipleship and prayer, we have lost them. We have entertained, not equipped them . . . and it may indeed be time to panic!
Forget your youth programs for a second. Are we sending out from our ministries the kind of students who will show up to college in a different state, join a church, and begin doing the work of gospel ministry there without ever being asked? Are we equipping them to that end, or are we merely giving them a good time while they’re with us? We don’t need youth group junkies; we need to be growing churchmen and churchwomen who are equipped to teach, lead, and serve. Put your youth ministry strategies aside as you look at that 16-year-old young man and ask: “How can I spend four years with this kid, helping him become the best church deacon and sixth-grade Sunday school class teacher he can be, ten years down the road?”
As a youth pastor, I can’t do all this. All this equipping that I’m talking about is utterly beyond my limited capabilities. It is impossible for me to bring conversion, of course, but it is also impossible for me to have an equipping ministry that sends out vibrant churchmen and churchwomen if my ministry is not being reinforced tenfold in the students’ homes. The common thread that binds together almost every ministry-minded 20-something that I know is abundantly clear: a home where the gospel was not peripheral but absolutely central. The 20-somethings who are serving, leading, and driving the ministries at our church were kids whose parents made them go to church. They are kids whose parents punished them and held them accountable when they were rebellious. They are kids whose parents read the Bible around the dinner table every night. And they are kids whose parents were tough, but who ultimately operated from a framework of grace that held up the cross of Jesus as the basis for peace with God and forgiveness toward one another.
This is not a formula! Kids from wonderful gospel-centered homes leave the church; people from messed-up family backgrounds find eternal life in Jesus and have beautiful marriages and families. But it’s also not a crap-shoot. In general, children who are led in their faith during their growing-up years by parents who love Jesus vibrantly, serve their church actively, and saturate their home with the gospel completely, grow up to love Jesus and the church. The words of Proverbs 22:6 do not constitute a formula that is true 100 percent of the time, but they do provide us with a principle that comes from the gracious plan of God, the God who delights to see his gracious Word passed from generation to generation: “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.”
Youth pastors, pray with all your might for true conversion; that is God’s work. Equip the saints for the work of the ministry; that is your work. Parents, preach the gospel and live the gospel for your children; our work depends on you.
Here are some resources to use in order to learn more about Christian persecution worldwide. These are our brothers and sisters facing persecution and death for doing the things we do freely every day. As Hebrews 13:3 tells us, it’s our responsibility to pray for them and support them:
Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body.
CBC’s very own York Moore is a part of something God is doing to free people from bondage, both physical and spiritual. Here’s an update from the man himself. Whether or not you attend Calvary Baptist Church, we ask you sincerely to pray for York and his ministry, and also for the cause of setting captives free, worldwide.
In Tim Chester’s book, Closing the Window; Steps to Living Porn Free he offers ammunition for those struggling with porn addiction. Look at the stats. Don’t kid yourself. A very large chunk of the Christian population (read: Calvary Baptist Church) has a problem with porn. It’s an addiction as strong as any other.
Here Chester offers 12 reasons why one should give up porn. Don’t let the brevity of the statements mute the profundity of their meanings:
This video describes one of the most threatening trends in the US religious landscape today.
The US estimates that 29,000 Somali children under the age of 5 have died so far in the famine in Africa, and 640,000 are acutely malnourished. TAKE 10 SECONDS AND DO THIS: text FOOD to 864233 to donate $10 to UNICEF. It gets added to your phone bill. This $10 will feed a child for 10 days or provide 321 sachets of nutrient powder to help infants survive.These are babies and small kids just like mine and yours, and they’re starving to death. We can help. We just have to ACT.
The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.’
It’s that time of year again – time for some friendly conversations with Jehovah’s Witnesses as they knock on our doors to perform their religious duties. Have you ever engaged in a conversation with them? If not, maybe this is your year.
Let’s keep in mind a few things. If we engage in conversation with them, everything word must be spoken with love. We aren’t arguing with them to win a debate, we’re trying to get through to them with the truth of the Gospel because we love them and don’t want them to continue without Christ. Also remember that JWs have religion (boy do they ever), but they do *not* have God. They may seem confident, but they’re walking door to door because they’re trying to earn favor with God. They’re searching for the acceptance that we know only comes by faith in Jesus Christ. They’re confident because their religion has programmed automatic responses into their minds for popular questions you might raise with them. They’re prepared. But they lack the truth – and YOU have it.
Here’s a cheat sheet of some differences between false JW doctrine and true Biblical theology to keep in mind. This will give you confidence as you lovingly discuss truth with the Jehovah’s Witnesses you encounter this year. Sometimes a “doctrine tennis match” is just what they expect, but even so, the more you know about what they believe, the better prepared you are to frame a discussion.
(Click on “Read More”)
You may know of the story of TOMS shoes. For each pair of shoes purchased from them, they give a pair to a person in need of shoes. Why shoes? Funny you should ask.
All these people need is shoes. How many pairs do you have? I have a collection for all different occasions.
As the body of Christ, we can shine God’s light by bringing awareness to situations like this. You might not be able to fly to Africa tomorrow and personally hand out shoes to needy children. You can, however, go without shoes tomorrow to raise awareness for those same children.
Seems like it’s catching on, eh?
If you’re up for it, give it a shot. And next time you’re in the market for some new shoes, check out TOMS.