Are You Living the Celestial Law? FeaturedWritten by David Lister
by David E. Lister
A Doctrinal Study of Mormon Theology Concerning The Ability to Spend Eternity Living In Heavenly Father's Presence For The Truth Seeking Mormon or Christian Witness To The Mormon
Having just returned from 10 days in the heart of Mormon culture, the Great Basin nestled within the confines of the Wasatch Mountain range in the state of Utah, United States of America, my heart is broken for the Mormon people. My heart is broken over their being trapped in a religion that heaps on them the penalty of God's Law, death, and eternal separation from God. Mormonism teaches as their gospel that in order to inherit eternal life (spending eternity in the Heavenly Father's presence) one must keep all of God's commandments. :"(Doctrines and Covenants 25:15)":
Historical Christianity teaches the opposite that spending eternity with God is his free gift :"(Ephesians 2:8-10)": and if we try to live under the Law and we violate one point of the Law, we are guilty of breaking the whole Law. :"(James 2:10)": The penalty for transgression of the Law is death or separation from God for all of eternity :"(Romans 3:23)": in historical Christianity. Mormon doctrine states that Mormons have to keep the whole Law, "But, notwithstanding all this, he (Jesus) kept the whole law of God, and remained without sin, showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin." :"(Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine p. 320)": Mormonism also heaps on its people the burden that man must reach a point in their lives where they actually quit sinning, :"(Conference Report, October 1899, p. 42)": or even have the desire or urge to sin :"(Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, copyright 1969, p. 355)": or in other words reach a point of perfection in their lives. The perfection spoken of here is not the perfection of Jesus' since He never sinned, but a point of not returning to sin, "perfection is an achievable goal," :"(Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, copyright 1969, p. 2099)": within Mormonism.
Is this possible, to reach a point of even the desire to sin is gone from the heart of a person? No! Does Mormonism teach this doctrine? Yes, without a doubt Mormonism does! Are there any Mormons that are able to keep the whole of the Law, to obey all the commandments? No! In fact, I have never met a Mormon yet that can tell me how many commandments there are, much less what they are. As Leviticus 5:17 states that ignorance of the law is not an excuse for breaking God's law and one is guilty just the same. Then what are the consequences within Mormonism and historical Christianity for these Mormons? Death, eternal death, that second death that is the Lake of Fire within historical Christianity and damnation :"(Alma 12:10-18)": (anything less than Celestial kingdom) in Mormonism.
It is my hope that in the next few pages that if the Truth seeking Mormon or the Christian that reviews these facts with a Mormon will come to an understanding that Mormonism espouses a different gospel :"(2 Corinthians 11:4)": from historical Christianity. If a Mormon comes to terms with the facts of their own religion he or she should become hungry and thirsty for the real good news, the living water offered by the true Christ of Christianity where one will never thirst again. :"(John 4, The story of the Woman at the Well and John 6:35)":
The Mormon doctrine that deals with keeping the whole Law, termed, Celestial Law is defined this way; in order to inherit Celestial Glory, (spending eternity in God's presence), one must abide in the Celestial law. The Doctrines and Covenants (Mormon Scripture) in section 88:22 states this very clearly. "For he who is not able to abide (live) the law of a celestial kingdom cannot abide a celestial glory." What is the celestial law of Mormonism? It is keeping or living all the Commandments of God. This includes all the Laws and Commandments of the New Testament, The Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, Pearl of Great Price and any Commandments that are issued from General Conference, which bears the authority of Scripture. To get salvation we must not only do some things, but everything which God has commanded." :"(Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as cited by Search These Commandments, Melchizedek Priesthood Personal Study Guide, MPPSG, copyright 1984, p. 202)": states Joseph Smith. While most Mormons are familiar with this law they are lackadaisical in applying it to themselves. Many, as my experience has shown me, just walk through their faith believing they are right with God and have a hope that one day that God will be merciful to them because they are in the one True church. :"(Joseph Smith-History, History of the Church, Vol. 1, Chapter 1: 18-20)":
Again, many Mormons believe that if they try to live a good life and do the best they can God will forgive them because God knows the intent of their hearts. Yes, God knows our hearts and reminds us in Jeremiah 17:9 that the heart is deceitfully wicked above all things and desperately sick who can understand it, also that whoever trusts in his heart is a fool as He has further stated in Proverbs 28:26. Salvation is not based on the intentions of our hearts in historical Christianity, then is this true in Mormonism? No, this is a fatal error in Mormonism if one believes the prophets and teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints are true and hold it to be the way of salvation and the fullness of the gospel. The Book of Mormon clearly states in Alma that "he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he has said that no unclean can inherit the kingdom of heaven". :"(The Book of Mormon, Alma 11:37)": Often times the average Mormon tells a Christian who talks to him about these teachings that, "They are trying or striving to do his best." But is this enough? Not according to Spencer Kimball, (10th President and Prophet of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) in The Miracle of Forgiveness, he states on page 165, " 'To try is weak.' To 'do the best I can' is not strong. We must always do better than we can." Is the Mormon doing better than he can? Most honest Mormons will admit they are not doing better than they can. So where does this leave them? It leaves them with an angry god. The example would be by analogy, found on the page 164 of the same book of an ever increasingly angry officer berating a solider for not doing his simple task of following his simple command.
An Army Officer called a solider to him and ordered him to take a message to another officer. The solider saluted and said, "I'll try, sir! I'll try!" To this the officer responded: "I don't want you to try, I want you to deliver this message." The solider, somewhat embarrassed, now replied: "I'll do the best I can, sir." At this time the officer, now disgusted, rejoined with some vigor: "I don't want you to try and I don't want you to 'do the best you can.' I want you to deliver this message." Now the young solider, straightening to his full height, approached the matter magnificently, as he thought, when he saluted again and said: "I'll do it or die, sir." To this the now irate officer responded: I don't want you to die, and I don't want you to try. Now the request is a reasonable one; the message is important; the distance is not far; you are able-bodied; you can do what I have ordered. Now get out of here and accomplish your mission."
With the authority figure representing the god of Mormonism, the Mormon is commanded not to try but to do what he has been ordered to do. To live all the commandments, to "keep yourself blameless before God", "to be sufficiently humble," :"(The Book of Mormon, Alma 5:27)": is the daunting task, and if the task is not done it then brings the wrath of an angry god to bear, further teaching that if one is not prepared to meet God then one does not have eternal life. :"(The Book of Mormon, Alma 5:28 )":
Often the Mormon will bring up the point that he has repentance to help him when he falls short of the goal of perfection. But what is repentance in Mormonism? It is actually a five-fold process.
- Feel sorrow for sin
- Abandon sin or forsake sin
- Confession of sin to a bishop or other Church authority
- Restitution as far as possible that which was damaged and
- Live all the commandments of the Lord. :"(Spencer W. Kimball, unnumbered track, Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints)":
Is this real Christian repentance? Not at all, because of the unreal expectation that one can or will completely forsake sin in this life. A true Christian believes that a person inherits a fallen nature from Adam and will continue in his fallen nature till he has been brought into God's presence and been remade as a new creature without sin having been given the imputed righteousness of Christ. :"(Isaiah is a forerunner of this in typology where Isaiah has the coal touched to his lips and he has been made clean for past and present sin and he has been given robes of righteousness. :"(Isaiah 6 and 61:10 Also Paul explains this doctrinally in Romans Chapter 3 through 8. Romans 3:22; 4:3, 5:1,2)": Whereas Mormonism directs its adherents that if one does not forsake sin completely one does not get complete forgiveness. :"(Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, copyright 1969, p.164)": To the Mormon who sins and then repents and then sins again he is not forgiven, his sins returns to him, thus never escaping his sins. :"(Doctrine and Covenants, 82:7 )":
It should be pointed out that this revelation does not say same type of sin returns but sins (notice plural) returns to the transgressor. Also it should be noted that true repentance in Mormonism is a permanent forsaking of sin. :"(Spencer W. Kimball unnumbered track, Church of Jesus Christ Latter-day Saints)": Permanency is key to the retention of forgiveness and grace in Mormonism. This forsaking of sin must spread to all areas of the Mormon's life, involving a total surrender to the program of the Lord, which is to quit sinning. :"(Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, copyright 1969, p 203)": Unlike Christianity, where the Christian receives forgiveness of sins by asking with a repentant heart and having faith in Christ, God responds mercifully by putting the sin behind His back, at the bottom of the sea as far as the East is from the West never to be seen again and this is based on the one sacrifice for sin by Christ's atonement on the cross. :"(Psalm 103:12; Isaiah 38:17 , 1 John 3:1, Hebrews 10:10, 15)": The Mormon must be shown that in Mormonism if he thinks that the atonement of Christ covers or takes away his sin he would be misunderstanding the doctrine of his own prophets and apostles.
While we would grant the belief and doctrine taught within Mormonism that the atonement (Jesus bleeding from every pore in the Garden of Gethsemane) will help one reach the goal of perfection (or try to reach the goal), it is not the grace that is needed that will be sufficient to cover past sins if he does not reach a state of sinlessness or perfection by the time of this mortal probation. :"(The Book of Mormon, Alma 34:21-34)": From past Presidents of the Church of Latter-day Saints to modern apostles this doctrine is taught that now is the day of repentance, that if one leaves this life without a complete repentance one will receive a damnation. :"(Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. , DoctrineÃ‚ and Covenants, 132:4)": The Miracle of Forgiveness is replete with examples and explanation on this topic specially pages 9 through 17. It should be stated here that anything less than a celestial glory or spending eternity in the presence of one's Heavenly Father in Mormonism is considered damnation. This would include the glories of the Telestial and Terrestrial (kingdoms or glories unique to Mormonism) inheritances. In these two glories the presence of the Father is not there but Jesus and the Holy Ghost can on occasion visit them. :"(Doctrine and Covenants 67 and 76:50-119, Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine 1966, p778 - 784)":
Within the Book of Mormon the doctrine of achieving perfectionism in this life is taught over and over again; one must "be perfected in him (Jesus), and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if you deny yourselves of all ungodliness and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then his grace is sufficient for you that by his grace ye may be prefect in Christ." :"(The Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:32)": If the Mormon understands this verse from context he would realize that in order to receive "grace" sufficient to merit salvation or eternal life one must do everything that is of God and that no ungodly thing can be permitted to exist in his life. Even the Mormon prophet says in the Book of Mormon "that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect." Often times the Mormon will say, "But no one can be perfect, only Jesus was perfect." But again the Mormon must be reminded that the perfection that he is striving for is not Jesus' perfection (a completely sinless life) but a denial within himself of all ungodliness and even the desire to sin. It would be at this point in his life (no sin or even the desire to sin) that he would receive the grace to enter the kingdom of God, for there no unclean thing can dwell. :"(Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 27:19)": Also, he has to remain in this state till the end of his life. :"(The Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 27:19; Doctrine and Covenants 58:43; Mosiah 15:26, D and C 53:7, and 6:13)": "But no one could do this," is the often heard response. Again, The Book of Mormon reminds the Mormon in 1 Nephi 3:7 "that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."
"But you don't understand that we can repent in the Spirit World, we have spirit prison," is the common escape route here for the average Mormon. But again Mormonism slams the door shut on this escape route. "No one can repent on the cross, nor in prison, nor in custody," states Spencer Kimball on page 167 in Miracle of Forgiveness. Mormons more than anyone should know that if they heard the gospel (Mormon gospel) here (in mortality) and don't perform their ordinances, put their lives in harmony, perfect themselves then they have had their day. :"(Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, copyright 1969, p 314)": Mormon Apostle Melvin Ballard states that "Do not let any of us imagine that we can go down to the grave not having overcome the corruptions of the flesh and then lose in the grave all our sins and evil tendencies." :"(Melvin J. Ballard, Three Degrees of Glory)": In Mormonism, spirit world repentance is many times harder and what could have been done in 70 years takes 1000 years. :"(Melvin J. Ballard, "Three Degrees of Glory.")": Yet even if one could repent in the spirit world it does not help him to inherit a celestial kingdom. Spirit world repentance cannot recompense for what could and should have been done here on earth. :"(Spencer W. Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, copyright 1969, p. 315)":
The Mormon doctrine that one can progress within the various Kingdoms but not from kingdom to kingdom is explained in Doctrines of Salvation. :"(Doctrines of Salvation, v2, p. 31)": So to inherit a kingdom less then celestial, in Mormonism, one inherits damnation and his soul will be in the possession and captivity of Satan. :"(The Book of Mormon, Alma 12:16-18)": Mormon Apostle Bruce McConkie states, "Thus the false and heretical doctrine that people who fail to live the law in this life (having had the opportunity to do so) will have a further chance of salvation in the life to come is a soul-destroying doctrine, a doctrine that lulls its adherents into carnal security and thereby denies them a hope of eternal salvation." :"(Bruce McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, 1966, p. 687)": No, second chances are possible for Mormons after this life. Stressed further in Doctrines of Salvation, "It is not possible, as some have supposed, for us to slip along easily through this life, keeping the commandments of the Lord indifferently-accepting some of the doctrines and not others, and indulging our appetites or desires, and because we consider them little things, failing to comprehend our duty to them and then expect to receive a fullness of glory in the kingdom of God." :"(Doctrines of Salvation v2, p. 14)": The Mormon "must continue to the end; we must obey the commandments." :"(Doctrines of Salvation v2, p. 15)": Spencer Kimball has stated that there is even a time limit within this life for the Mormon is given "70 years to prefect their lives," :"(Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, copyright 1969, p 314)": lest a day of judgment is looming. While we would grant Mr. Kimball the liberty that he is speaking of the term of a man's life, whether it is 50, 60, 70 or 80 years he still makes the point that the Mormon is limited to this life to reach the point of perfection. Opportunities for exaltation (godhood, families forever, progression and organizing one's own planet) are limited to this lifetime and Mormons scriptures are clear on this point. :"(Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, copyright 1969, p 315 )":
Mormonism declares that immortality has been accomplished by the Savior's sacrifice, yet eternal life hangs in the balance awaiting the works of men. :"(Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, copyright 1969, p 208)": Also it teaches, that "the most fallacious doctrine originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved by the grace of God, that the belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation." :"(Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, copyright 1969, p 206)": Nephi a prophet in The Book of Mormon stresses that it is only after "all we can do" does one receive the grace need for eternal life. :"(The Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23)": Mormonism denies the true grace, the unmerited favor of God of the Bible. Mormonism denies the sufficiency of the cross and atonement of the true Jesus :"(2 Corinthians 11:4)": for sin. Mormon doctrine holds the Mormon to working their way into God's presence, adding to grace thereby making it no grace. :"(Romans 3:27-28; 4:8; 11:6)":
While no true Christian would deny that works are not important and essential for a living faith, in other words, works ought to be evident in the life of a believer. Does this doctrine give us license to sin? "God forbid," Paul tells us in Romans 6:2,15. Also, would anyone respond to such a good gift as God's salvation and righteousness in such a way? No, and by example when my mom and dad gave me the bike I wanted for Christmas I responded by taking out the garbage for two weeks (I know only two weeks) without being asked. I did not pull out my wallet and say, "Let me pay you for this gift", which would have insulted them. I responded out of love to the giver of the gift. This is what Mormons are being taught and then in-kind are saying and doing to God with His free gift. "Yes, I know it is a free gift but I have to do these works to be exalted," the Mormon states without realizing what he is saying or doing. A dead faith (which is a false faith) is a faith separated from God, just as a spiritually dead person (not born again) is separated from God.
Remember James still calls dead faith, "faith" yet dead. A faith that is alive in Christ is one that produces works. No true Christian would base his eternal life on his own works. :"(Ephesians 2:8-10; Romans 3:20,28; 4:9-11; 5:1,2)": God calls our works as filthy rags in Isaiah :"(Isaiah 64:6)": and that we need to be to wash clean by the Savior. :"(Acts 15:9; 1 John 1:7; Revelation 7:14)": So then, true Christian believers are called unto good works and are profitable to men. :"(2 Timothy 3:16-17; Titus 2:7-8, 11-14; 3:8; Hebrews 10:23-31)":
The question has to be asked what comes first, faith or works? If there is no faith there will be no works. If there is true faith, works will be a result. A person does not do good works to get saved just as a dog doesn't bark to become a dog. The dog barks because he is a dog and Christian does good works because he has been saved. It must be stated that the works a Mormon does exalts (exaltation = godhood) themselves and not Jesus. They are the ones that benefit through their own exaltation. The Christian lifts up Jesus through works in order that Jesus might be glorified and to do what is required of a bondservant. A bondservant is someone who voluntarily takes on the tasks of his master not expecting a reward but just doing what is required of him. :"(While Paul states we are free in Christ in Galatians 4, 5 and Romans 8:2 he calls himself a bond-servant in Phil. 1:1; Titus 1:1 and does what God has lead him to do by the Spirit and not by the flesh or the law. He does these things voluntarilyÃ‚ in 1 Corinthians 9:16,17. As it is voluntarily there is reward as opposed to one who does because he is commanded. The one that does because he is commanded would have a stewardship and be responsible for the completion of the entire task. As to trying to keep the whole of God's commandments, as Mormonism commands, one would be under the punishment of the whole of the law if one violates any part of it as in James 2:10. The old testament also shows that at the end of a bond servants obligation - as a true Christian has been made free - he can voluntarily stay with his master by driving a gold spike through his ear into the doorpost. The scriptures point out that he stays and works because he loves the master. Deuteronomy 15:16-18 )":
Mormonism binds its own people with a gospel that is so unobtainable that no one could accomplish it. As true Christian believers we recognize our utter and total failure to live the whole law or to reach a point where we can stop sinning in this life. While Christians strive for righteousness and holiness, we have to rely and trust on God's mercy at Jesus' expense of His life to give us the righteousness of Christ in order to dwell with our Heavenly Father forever and forever. To the Truth seeking Mormon this is the good news that Jesus died for you and that by one offering he has perfected you for all time. :"(Hebrews 10:11-14)": That His grace is sufficient for you even in your weakness and transgressions, for righteousness (right standing with God) could not come by keeping God's commandments, if so Jesus died in vain. :"(2 Corinthians 12:9 and Galatians 2:16-21)":
To the Mormon, you can have the righteousness of Christ, that perfect righteousness and not of your own in order to be able to stand before God on the Day of Judgment. This righteousness that is pure and holy which is through faith in Jesus Christ that is imputed to you as taught in the Bible and not in Mormonism or the Book of Mormon. :"(Philippians 3:9)": I hope you realize the impossibility of obtaining eternal life by the standard set forth by Mormonism and understand the wickedness' of your rebellion against a Holy God if you think you can obtain a righteousness on your own, by your works. In coming to God in any other way except through the righteousness of Christ, Jesus would call you a thief and a robber. :"(John 10:1)": Accept God's free gift (Christ Righteousness and Sinlessness) and leave the bondage of this false religion behind you and come to a Peace that will pass all understanding when you let Jesus give you His righteousness as the free gift of God and not of your works. :"(Ephesians 2:8-10)":
While the last few statements where directed for Mormons, it is my hope that Christians can use this information to show Mormons how they are trapped in this false religion and lead them to being free in Christ.
David E Lister
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