First of all, I have never shut the door in the face of a Mormon. You and any of your friends who want to discuss what the Bible says about saving faith are welome to come and seeme any time.
The experience I have had is that when I put forth questions about Mormonism which make missionaries uncomfortable or which are outside of their training in how and what to answer, they usually have to go really quickly, where before they seemed to have all the time in the world.
I know sometimes the Mormon missionaries get upset with me because I will not simply agree with them, but as a Christian I have an obligation to search out the absolute truth concering Christ and to share it with those around me … including Mormon missionaries who come to my door.
There are many fallacies with the Mormon doctrine, a few of which I will be glad to share with you here. Please understand that I am sahring this out of love, not out of any desire to degrade you, your family or your friends.
First, several former Mormons with whom I have become acquainted in my ministry, tell me that they used to pray to their dead Mormon ancestor whom they believed to have become gods and that they believed that they too would oneday become gods. This is in direct violation of Exodus 20: 2-3 which says, “I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
Some of these people tell me they were taught to interpret this to mean that we can have other gods, so long as we put the God of Israel first. However, in the Hebrew we find that it literally means we are forbidden to bring other gods in front of Him, in His presence, i.e. to worship them while claiming to serve Him.
Further more, Exodus 23:13 states “And in all things that I have said unto you be circumspect: and make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth.” The God of Israel, whose Son died to provide the perfect sin offering and thereby purchase us unto salvation, told us that in all things we are to make no mention of the names of other gods … which would include deceased relatives.
Below I am including a chapter from my upcoming book “The Three Questions Everyone Must Ask” and a copy of “Here I Am, Send Me” by Utah Partnership For Christ director Russ East which I pray will shed greater light on the matters we are discussing.
Yours in Him,
Philip A. Payne, Pastor
THE THREE QUESTIONS EVERYONE MUST ASK
These Three Are One
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” – John 1: 1-14
The above text will be the primary source for this chapter, but we are actually only going to look at three verses from this text and then compare them to various other references throughout scripture. We will be looking at verses 1, 3 and 14 and taking a hard look at what they really mean.
As you may have already determined from the title of the chapter, we will be examining the doctrine of the Trinity.
I want to begin b saying that if you are ever discussing what you learn here with someone and they tell you that the word “Trinity” does not appear in the Bible, they are right. However, “Trinity” is a name that we as human beings use to describe one of the many mysteries of the nature of God.
It is very much biblical. In fact, the very word “Trinity” tells us a great deal about who God is.
I pray that before you finish reading this chapter you will understand something about God that you never grasped before. I also pray that before you finish reading this book, you might have given your life completely to Him through a saving relationship with His Son.
Now let’s look at that first verse. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Already we have come into something that many people have a hard time understanding. How is it that the Word can both be with God and be God?
A lot of churches try to explain this away. Some will tell you that the verse does not really mean that the Word was God, but that it translates more clearly as “the Word was like God.”
If you go back and study this text in the Greek, you will find that the literal translation is in fact “the Word was God.” We must ask ourselves then, “what do we mean and what are we referring to when we say ‘the Word?’”
“Word” in Greek is Logos and the only time it is used in Scripture is to refer to Jesus Christ. So when John tells us that “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” he is actually saying that Jesus Christ is God.
People argue with me about this all the time saying, “He is not really God, He is the Son of God.” What John is telling us here is that He is both.
Now let me explain to you why He has to be both, according to Scripture. First I will address the argument of the churches which say He is only like God.
Let us look at Isaiah 46: 5, in which God says,” ‘To whom will you liken Me, and make Me equal And compare Me, that we should be alike?’ ” You may read on there and notice that there is never given an answer.
No one is like God. No one can be compared to God as an equal.
No one can rightfully make that claim. So when John says, “The Word was God,” he cannot be saying that Jesus is like God, which means that he must be saying Jesus is God.
Now I want you to look again at John 1: 3, which says ” All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” This is important, because if you come back to the argument the Jesus is not God, some people will claim this verse means He only helped God make everything.
Now let us look again at Isaiah 43: 10-12, which says, ” ‘You are My witnesses,’ says the Lord, ‘And My servant whom I have chosen, That you may know and believe Me, And understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, Nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, And besides Me there is no savior. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, And there was no foreign god among you; Therefore you are My witnesses,’ Says the Lord, ‘that I am God.’ We see here that there is One God, not two gods or God and someone else, just God alone.
Consider also, that God the Father says here “besides Me there is no Savior.” Will those who claim that Jesus is not God now claim that He is also not our savior, or will they claim that the prophet was wrong?
Sadly, but not surprisingly there are an abundance of “Christians” sitting it both of these heretical camps.
Now let us look at Isaiah 44: 24, which tells us, “Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, And He who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who makes all things, Who stretches out the heavens all alone, Who spreads abroad the earth by Myself;” Now anyone who is truly saved by the Grace of God will tell you that to be cleansed, forgiven and redeemed is to have received Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, but here God the Father says that He is our redeemer.
Can this be if Jesus is not God? What are we to believe?
Galatians 3: 13-14 helps us to understand this better, saying “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Also, Titus 2:11-14 says, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.”
Notice also that in Isaiah 44 the Father says that He stretches out the Heavens all alone and spreads abroad the Earth by Himself. Again, how can this be true in light of John 1: 3, if Jesus is not God?
So the churches who say that Jesus is not God need to go back and look at these verses in the context of the whole Bible. Did God lie?
Certainly not! Titus 1:2 says, “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.”
As I recently explained to a young man I met on a mission trip, if God says you are saved, you are saved. That cannot be a lie, because whatever God says becomes truth, because He is God, and the same is true wit respect to the deity of Christ.
Finally let us recognize here that when the Father says He spread out the heavens alone, that means there was no one else there helping Him. Therefore, if Jesus was with Him and all things were made through Jesus, then Jesus is God!
Finally we come to John 1: 14 which says, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Logos became flesh!
I have had some people try to tell me that this is not talking about Jesus as God. They say this is merely referring to the Son of God becoming flesh and they say that this is a totally separate thing.
For the benefit of those who may be caught up in a church which teaches just such a lie, let us look at I Timothy 3: 16 which reads, “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” When the Apostle Paul wrote the words “without controversy” to the young preacher Timothy, he was attempting to reaffirm to him that the faith he had was true and his words leave no doubt that the statement he is about to make cannot be argued against, it is as solid as stone, it is defined.
Notice he says, “great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh.” God was manifested in the flesh, not a part of God and not someone who was like God. God Himself!
Then Paul goes on to say that the man he is describing was, “Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.” I would challenge anyone reading this to show me someone else in Scripture besides Jesus, who meets all of these qualifications.
Just in case you are still wondering if Jesus is God, take a look at something else Paul wrote. In Colossians 2: 8-10 he said, “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ. For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.”
So Paul was emphatic about the need to be on guard, that no one should deceive us by means of worldly logic and reasoning. He was concerned then and I believe we must be equally wary of those who would preach a false christ and a false gospel today.
Paul said that if you let other people tell you that the Holy Word of God is not true, you are a fool. That means that we must cling to every word of every verse and never be distracted by Satan’s lies, from the Truth that is in Christ.
Then he continues saying of Christ, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power.” If you take the word “god-head” and you go back to the Greek what you find is a word which very literally means “the nature of God.”
So Paul is saying that all the fullness of the nature of God dwelled within Christ bodily when He walked on the earth and you are complete in Him, if you have received Him as your Lord and Savior. A lot of churches want to tell us that it is a long list of good works too, but Ephesians 2: 8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
If you are saved, you are saved by the grace of God manifested in the flesh, and through His atoning sacrifice on the cross. Not Him and your church and your works.
Now we come to what is for some people the stickiest part of the Trinity doctrine: The Holy Spirit.
Today, even most churches which will recognize that Jesus is God will say that the Holy Spirit is merely a force or a presence and not really God. We have already established without doubt, I believe, that Jesus Christ is both God and the Son of God, but now we need to look at exactly how Christ was manifested in the flesh.
I want us to look at Luke 1:35, where the angel Gabriel is speaking to Mary, who cannot comprehend how she is going to give birth to a son, since she is a virgin. Gabriel said, “And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’ ”
Now we need to consider very carefully that it says that Jesus would be called the Son of God, because the power of the Highest would over shadow her. The Highest can only mean God.
Then we must consider that we are told this will happen because the Holy Spirit will come upon her. This only makes sense if the Holy Spirit is Himself the Highest and as we have already said, the Highest is God.
Then we must also consider that if the Holy Spirit is not God, then the verse could not end with the prophetic statement that Jesus would be called the Son of God. It would have to read “that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of the Holy Spirit.”
Also of note is the use of the term “Holy One” in reference to Christ. In the entire Old Testament there is only one use for the term “Holy One” and it is used abundantly to refer to the God of Israel.
Again, Jesus is God!
Now let us look at John 16: 7-13, which reads, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.”
Please pay close attention to the following details.
First, the Holy Spirit is referred to by Jesus Christ as a person. The reference is “He,” not “it.”
Second, we learn that the Holy Spirit has a purpose in the life of the unsaved. In later chapter we will discuss His ministry to the saved, but to the unsaved the Holy Spirit has a single ministry which is tertiary in nature.
His work in your life if you have not received Christ as Savior, is to teach you about righteousness, sin and judgment
A mindless force, an it, a presence cannot have a purpose. A cognitive thinking being has a purpose.
Next, I want you to think about this. Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will guide us into all truth.
If you read that in the Greek, the word that translates to “guide” describes the sort of action that I would use to take you by the hand and pull you into another room, not simply saying “come this way.”
If you have ever had the experience of being completely filled with the Spirit of God and being propelled into His service then you will understand this. If not, you need to be asking God for it, because it is one awesome experience.
Now lets look at one last reference which tends to open a lot of eyes on this matter. I John 5:7 says, ” For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.”
Most churches do not even want to talk about this verse. The New International Version of the Bible, which I personally call the Non Inspired Version, omits nearly all of it.
We have to remember though that the New King James, being translated directly from the oldest known copies of the biblical texts, retains this verse in its entirety.
If you are wondering how it is possible for the Father, Word and Holy Spirit to be one, I will attempt to explain this in the next chapter. However, for the time being consider that God is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent.
Consider then, that if God knows everything, has all power and can be everywhere at one time, how hard it is to comprehend that He knows how to use His power to be in three places and in three manifestations from eternity past to eternity to come? I can comprehend it and I am just a dumb old country boy who studies the Word.
Here I Am, Send Me
by Russ East, director UPFC
I grew up in a fourth generation Mormon family. When I turned eight, I was baptized and confirmed into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I was soon encouraged to save money for my mission when I turned eighteen. I can vividly remember tithing ten percent of my one dollar a week allowance, and how good that made me feel. I remember singing songs like, “Book of Mormon Stories”, and “The Golden Plates”.
I also remember the fear that swept my heart because my Mom and Dad were not married in the Mormon Temple. If they had been I was taught our family would be sealed together in heaven, and never apart when we died. I remember competition rather than Christ’s love. I remember pressure to be perfect rather than the plan of true salvation.
After six years of frustrated devotion to Mormonism, I felt spiritually empty. I questioned God similar to the example of the founder of the LDS church, Joseph Smith. I went out to the woods behind our house and next to a quiet creek and sunlight glistening through the trees, I knelt and prayed for God to show himself. I sincerely believed I would experience the same thing Joseph Smith claimed when he was fourteen and seeking for truth. This method seemed the most logical since it worked for the boy Smith.
God answered my prayer not in the woods that day, but through Pastor Robert Graves. Our family was invited to visit the Santa Rosa Bible Church in Santa Rosa, California and so we went. After hearing an enthusiastic sermon based on the Bible, Pastor Graves gave a most unique invitation. I had never heard such things in a church and basically considered the idea of salvation through grace by faith plus nothing as ridiculous.
This plan was too simple and gave too much joy for what it required. How could simple child like faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross assure me of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven with my Heavenly Father? I was taught there were three levels of heaven and there was no way of even knowing if one would ever even reach the lowest kingdom. I left that church unsaved, I thought the idea of Biblical salvation was too easy. Little did I understand that true salvation is free but not cheap.
Two weeks later our family returned to the Santa Rosa Bible Church. Once again at the end of the sermon I heard the same unique invitation. Now I knew the following; Pastor Graves was not changing the salvation message due to an error in his explanation two weeks ago. This salvation was something the Pastor really believed in and I could see there was no mistake on his understanding of the issue. I never heard the words “Joseph Smith, LDS, the golden plates, or working your way to the Celestial Kingdom of heaven. What I heard was that Jesus was God and that only He can give me the right to enter Heaven. Only by believing that I was a sinner and that He took the punishment for all my sins could I have a relationship with Him.
I sat in the pew that morning facing a decision. Do I raise my hand indicating to the Pastor I wanted to receive Christ for my forgiveness? Well, I could not stand it, I could not pass this offer up any longer. This salvation was so fantastic I had to have it. As my younger brother sitting next to me saw that I was slowly raising my hand, he said, “What are you doing. I replied, “Leave me alone”. The next thing I knew, Pastor Graves was handing me a little book entitled, “Now That I Believe”. He told me he would like to get together soon and talk about the decision I had made.
When I got home, I went upstairs to my room. I knew accepting Christ was what I needed, but could I still attend the Mormon Church? This was puzzling to me, so I opened the Bible my grandmother had given me. I prayed God would tell me whether or not I should keep going to the Mormon Church. I literally flipped the pages through until I happened to open to Galatians chapter one. My eyes were filled with tears when I read,
“I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you, and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.”
Well after reading that, I knew I had the truth and that it had nothing to do with Mormonism. The day I accepted Christ, I began the most abundant and fulfilling life offered to mankind. I was born into a family that gave life meaning. Both on earth as well as when my life on earth passes away will my relationship with Christ be that much more meaningful.
Presently, I direct a ministry that helps to bring short-term mission teams to Utah. We also provide workshops on how to reach Mormons for Christ and conduct internships for those interested in being a part of our ministry in a supportive role.
I would love to talk with you more about my testimony and what the Lord has done in my life. I encourage you to go through the first seven chapters of the book of Romans in the Bible, and see for yourself how amazing true salvation really is.
Russ East, Director UPFC
You can reach me at (801) 737-1708 or at firstname.lastname@example.org