Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bible Teaching from the LDS Perspective

1. God is all-powerful, all-knowing, merciful, kind, and just. God is also holy (incorruptible, pure).
2. He has a perfected body and spirit, and righteous passions
(Most Christians subscribe to the Nicean Creed created by a council of catholic scholars, which says that God is a spirit entity with no body, parts, or passions). This is based on one scripture that says “God is spirit.” And another scripture, which says “God is love.” However, the Bible talks about Moses talking to God face to face and writing the 10 commandments on stone tablets with his finger. Also, other Bible passages talk about God feeling anger, compassion, mercy, love, ect. Differences in doctrine depend on which scriptures you interpret literally and which you interpret figuratively.)
3. God is our Heavenly Father. The Bible talks about us being the spirit offspring of God and entitled to an eternal inheritance in the next life. This special relationship differs from the relationship between God and animals and plants.
4. In spite of our skin color, race, and ethnicities, all humans are spiritual brothers and sisters.
5. Because God is all knowing, he looks down on us from heaven and sees all our actions and knows all of our thoughts and feelings. We can communicate with God through prayer and meditation. Mormons refer to God as Our Heavenly Father. The Bible tells us to be grateful so we give thanks for our blessings in prayer. The Bible tells us to “ask and ye shall receive” so we ask for divine assistance for what we need.
6. God communicated back to us through his Holy Spirit. This permeates all things and is how God can be omnipresent or in all things. This is how God is in our hearts. Through God’s Holy Spirit, He can direct us to do his will and manifest his approval of our actions by entering into our hearts. The Bible calls this communication the “still small voice” and says that it will cause “our hearts will burn within us.” This is the spirit of revelation and means that all people can speak with God.
7. Because God is perfectly kind, He not only knows the trials, adversity and pain we experience from moment to moment, but he cares and is waiting to help us. In our greatest trials Gods spirits can enter into our heart and give us comfort and ease our physical, emotional, and spiritual pain. God’s Holy Spirit is also called “The Comforter”
8. Proof of God’s existence. Some people look at nature and see God in the wonder of creation. To some, the order of the universe, the beauty of the earth, how the physical constants are calibrated perfectly for life to exist testify that there is a great creator and architect of the heavens and the earth. Others believe the accounts of God appearing to certain men written in Holy Scripture like the Bible. And others believe because they have had a personal experience with God, felt his Holy Spirit in their heart, experienced a miracle, or an answer to prayer.

Pre-mortal existence:
1. There is no beginning and there is no end to existence
2. At some point God took our raw intelligence and organized our spirit and the spirits of every person, animal, plant, and rock.
3. Our innocent spirits lived in heaven with God and received our first lessons about God and his plan for us.
4. Although we are considered children of God we were not like God because we did not have a body that we could use to act and to create life.

The Great Plan of Happiness and Salvation:
1. It is God’s work to help us grow and develop to obtain “eternal life” or life with God and life like God lives. The Bible says Eternal life is to “know God.” We can only really know God if we can “walk in his footsteps” so-to-speak, and do a little of what he does.
2. God creates life and it is his plan to share his power to create life. This is why marriage and raising a happy family is so important. No matter what a person achieves or accomplishes in the world in terms of service, praise, or material gain, it is a universal truth that we experience our greatest joys and learn our greatest lessons in the context of our own family relationships. God is a parent so we learn about God by being parents. Despite world population, this is why the Bible tells Adam and Eve and everyone to have children and be parents.
3. So, God presented a plan whereby we would be tested. We would come to Earth, get a body in which we could act, do, create life and be parents. A vale was placed over our memory so we cannot remember living with God before our birth and how great it was. We are placed in a situation where we are given the freedom to act and where we are influenced by our own natural appetites, the devil, our innate sense of right and wrong (conscience) and by God’s Holy Spirit. So, we are tested to see whom we will listen too and what we will do.
4. Consequently, by following our conscience and God’s Holy Spirit as well as controlling our natural appetites and ignoring the devil we will live a life that God approves of and feel much happiness and joy and go back after this life and live with God in heaven and receive our heavenly inheritance.

The Adversary, Devil, Lucifer, or Satan
1. Satan was known as Lucifer in the pre-mortal existence. He is also a spiritual child of God and one of our spiritual brothers who rebelled against God and the plan of Salvation.
2. The Bible says that Lucifer wanted to take God’s place. He argued that God’s plan was no good and the risks were too great. Many of us would come down to earth, get bodies, give into our animal appetites, forget God and go to hell. He used fear as his weapon.
3. Lucifer proposed an alternate plan to have us come to earth, get bodies, not be given free agency to choose between good and evil but be forced to do Lucifer’s will and then return back to live in heaven again in the same state as we were before. This is the nothing-ventured nothing-gained plan.
4. For his rebellion Satan could no longer be in the presence of God and “Fell from heaven”.
5. The Bible calls this conflict “the war in heaven.” The Bible says that a “third-part” of the spirits in heaven were led away and followed Satan’s plan and were cast out of heaven to the earth without bodies.
6. If you have a body then you accepted God’s plan and rejected Satan’s plan and choose to come to earth.
7. The war in heaven continues on earth as Satan tries to disrupt God’s plan. Satan wants people to sin as much as possible so he can say the plan was never a fare plan.
8. Just as God allows us to choose, make mistakes that sometimes negatively impact others, he also allows Satan to entice us and tempt certain people do terrible things. Although not his intent, Satan becomes part of God’s plan to provide part of the test to see whom we love and will follow in this life. God doesn’t cause bad things to happen, but he does allow them to happen to teach us. In this way you can rightly believe there is a purpose for everything that happens to us without believing that God caused it.

The Need for a Savior:
1. God is perfect; therefore only perfect people can be in his presence. The Bible says “no unclean thing can enter into the presence of God.” Therefore, if we are unclean at all we cannot return to heaven.
2. God is Just, and has set up the rules and commandments we must follow in order to return to heaven. The reward for perfect obedience is Eternal Life while the punishment for disobedience is damnation.
3. Unfortunately, the Bible says that all man has sinned and has fallen from perfection and therefore cannot return into the presence of God. As is stands, the plan of happiness seems pretty hopeless.
4. However, God is also a merciful God as well as a just God. Now, mercy cannot violate justice. God is not going to say, “well, I know I gave you the rules, and you broke a bunch of them, but ahhhhhhhh, yer so cute, I guess we can overlook a little sin, come on in.” The Bible says that this would make God a liar. The only way to rectify this is to appoint someone to accept our punishment for us. This is not such a radical idea. If I had a debt with the bank, the bank would allow a 3rd-party to pay my debt on my behalf. As long as they get their money the demand of justice have been satisfied. This person who has volunteered to pay our debt with God is Jesus of Nazareth.
5. Jesus Christ lived in heaven with us in the pre-mortal existence. He is the first spirit child of Heavenly Father and therefore our eldest spirit brother.
6. In the same way God has a body (and therefore in one place at a time) but is omnipresent (everywhere at once) through his Holy Spirit, God can be both all-powerful and benevolent at the same time through Jesus Christ. In this way God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit make up the Trinity or Godhead, which the Bible says are “one in purpose.”
7. Jesus Christ was the only physically begotten of God through the Virgin Mary. In this way Jesus Christ was part-God and part-man. He was able to live a sin-free life, and willingly take upon himself our sins and pay our debt with God. Christ’s atonement is much more than dying on the Cross. The night before, Christ secluded himself in the Garden of Gethsemane. I don’t profess to understand how this works exactly, but during his prayer he took upon himself the guilt and pain of all our sins which caused him such pain and suffering that he sweat blood from every pore of his body. This experience in the garden is much more than guessing he was going to die the next day and being scared to go through with it. Because Jesus Christ is part-God and part- man he could give his life on the cross and die and he had power over death and come back to life 3 days later.

1. God organized the universe. Mormons do not believe that God created the universe “ex nilo” or from nothing. Rather, God organized everything spiritually and physically from materials and raw intelligence that already existed.
2. There are creative periods described in which light and dark were created, land was separated from the waters, plants and animals were placed in the earth, and man and women were created. There has always been considerable conflict between evolutionist and creationists about the details. Mormon’s feel that the creative periods could have been millions or even billions of years long, and the God can use the processes of nature in the creation process. God is not confined by time and everything is present to him. Mormons believe that science and religion can harmonize together.
3. However, the evolutionist theory has been used to support the Social Darwin Philosophy that man evolved from pond scum and therefore is no better than pond scum, which leads people to adopt an “eat or be eaten attitude.” Mormons believe that every person is a child of God and that we should therefore treat everyone like we would want to be treated.

The Fall of Adam:
1. God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden. They were in a state of innocence. The Bible says the woman was made of a rib out of the side of Adam. This means that she was not made out of his head to rule over him, nor out of his feet to be trampled upon by him; but out of his side to be equal with him, under his arm to be protected, and near his heart to be beloved." This sets the example for the traditional family and the proper relationship between husband and wife.
2. Adam and Eve were given a commandment to not eat the fruit of a certain tree and if they did they would both eventually suffer physical death as well as immediate spiritual death and be forced to leave the presence of God in the Garden. Satan tempted Adam and Eve, they ate the fruit and were thrown out of the garden and eventually died. Their sin was not only eating the fruit but also eating it after listening to Satan. They again followed Satan by feeling embarrassed after eating the fruit and covering their loins with fig leaves after he mocked them for being naked. Evil is doing the will of Satan while Good is following God, whatever it is.
3. Adam and Eve where taught the plan of salvation and about Jesus Christ who would come at some future point to overcome the consequences sin or physical and spiritual death (separation from your body and from God) Adam and Eve accepted Christ, were the first Christians, and taught these things to their children.

Accepting Jesus Christ:
1. There is some difference among Christians about what is necessary to do this. All are agreed that the first thing required is to have faith. Faith is believing in something that you think is true such that your belief causes you to act in a certain ways. Faith assumes that belief is based on imperfect knowledge such as circumstantial evidence and not “iron clad” proof. This is like using a seat belt. You use it because you believe it can save your life even if you have never been in a car accident before. However, talking about seatbelt safety is not really faith if you don’t actually put it on every time you get into a car. In the same way, saying you belief in Jesus and going to church is not really faith unless you try to live a Christ-like life.
2. The second step is repentance. This means changing your actions to follow God’s commandments and follow the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. Repentance requires acknowledging your mistakes, feeling true sorrow for sin (and not just for getting caught), confessing and making restitution if possible, and then not doing the sin again.
3. Why do you need to change if Jesus is going to pay for your debt in the end? The sacrifice of Jesus Christ, although infinite, is not to be considered a blank check or credit card with an unlimited balance. We shouldn’t have a “heck, lets max out the account” attitude especially when you realize that you would be maliciously adding to the pain and suffering Christ experienced in the Garden. Faith in Christ means, love for Christ, and a desire to never sin again.
4. Why is repentance important? Eternal Life is like becoming a concert pianist. We have all been given the gift or talent to gain Salvation. But we need to work at it to develop that talent. The piano isn’t much fun if all we learn to do is tap out “chop sticks.” With Christ as our master teacher we are given time in this life to practice and refine our skills until we can play and enjoy the beautiful heavenly music. Repentance is a process of recognizing our weaknesses and overcoming them with Christ’s help, step by step, “grace to grace” and “line upon line, precept upon precept.”
5. Baptism. Christianity has a pattern of requiring outward expressions, which represent an inward commitment. Baptism by immersion as Christ himself was by John the Baptist in the New Testament signifies Christ’s death and resurrection as well as your own rebirth and a newness of life as a follower of Jesus Christ. The Bible talks about being baptized by water and of the spirit. The baptism of the spirit represents the personal change a person feels when they accept Christ, which is more than just going through the motions of being dunked under water. Believers who have felt this baptism of the spirit, baptism by fire, or baptism by the Holy Spirit consider themselves “Born Again Christians.”
6. Baby’s have no need for baptism. Jesus Christ taught that men must “become like little children” and that “of such is the Kingdom of Heaven” If a baby dies before the age of understanding and accountability, then through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ all debts are paid and that child is guaranteed Eternal Life. The Bible teaches that children are incapable of sin. Also, the Bible teaches that men are judged according to their understanding. This means if someone lived the best they knew how, and never accepted Christ because they never were taught about him, then they would be covered because by their actions they accepted Christ through their faith in God and striving to do right. However, they will at some point need, in the next life and before judgment, to be taught about Christ and accept him. The Bible says that one-day “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus is the Christ.”

Spirit World After Death:
1. Death is the separation of the spirit from the body. Body + Spirit = Soul. The body without the spirit is like a glove on a hand. It is inanimate and turns “back to dust from whence it came.” The spirit is still thinking, aware, remains on earth, but enters into a different dimension. There is countless accounts of near-death experiences were people during a code situation were floating above their bodies, could see and hear things going on in the room and then pass through a tunnel of light into another world. These people are usually greeted by someone they know and told that it is not their time and escorted back to their bodies.
2. The Bible talks about 2 places in the World of Spirits, called paradise and prison. The vale over our memory is still not taken from off our minds. We are the same people we were before. But in the spirit world all people will be taught about Jesus Christ and the plan of salvation. The wicked will suffer severe punishment for their sins at this time depending on the severity of the sins. Good people will have to opportunity to teach about or learn about and accept Jesus Christ while waiting for the resurrection and final judgment. This is a busy period with much work to be done. There is no sitting on a cloud and strumming a harp here. This is the heaven and hell that most churches talk about. However, Mormon’s believe the Bible teaches that this period does not last forever.

1. The Bible teaches that everyone (all those who came to earth), good and bad, righteous and wicked will be resurrected at some point after the Spirit World. This means, that just like Jesus Christ rose from the dead, all people will receive a perfect body again in the prime of life. The scriptures say, “Not a hair of the head shall be lost.” Can you imagine the joy a developmentally handicapped person will feel to finally have a perfect body and to be able to run, jump and do everything that other people could do but could only watch. This is a free gift for our faith in coming to earth. Satan and his angels refused this reward.

Judgment Day:
1. This is a belief that everyone will one day sometime after death and being resurrection that we will all be brought to stand before God to be judged of our actions, thoughts, and desires. The Bible teaches that we will judge ourselves. The vale over our memory will be lifted and we will then have a “bright recollection of all our guilt” on the one hand or “of our righteousness” and faith in Christ on the other. People will no longer be able to rationalize and excuse their sins while standing before God. Just imaging how different we could behave if we remembered that we would one day have whatever bad we were doing replayed to us in vivid detail while standing before God. I still don’t feel ready for this final exam. If we accept Christ then God says he will “remember our sins no more.”
2. The Bible teaches, “God is love” and that in heaven “all things (gifts, talents) pass away, but charity (the pure love of Christ), never faileth.” So, the most important thing we can develop to be ready to stand before God is to develop love for others through selfless service. The Bible teaches to “lift the hands that hang down and strengthen the feeble knees” and to “clothe the naked, feed the hungry, and visit the sick.” Then when we stand before God we will feel the love, peace, and joy of his Holy Spirit with in us instead of feeling fear and unworthiness.

1. The Bible teaches that “in my father’s house there are many mansions” and that Heaven is divided into 3 degrees of glory “like the glory of the sun, the moon, and the stars.” After the resurrection, people will be resurrected to differing states of glory, power, and ability depending on their faith in Christ in this life. Those who are faithful will enter into the highest degree of heaven “third heaven’ and dwell with God the Father at obtain Eternal Life. Those who were good and honorable but not valiant in their faith in Christ will be able to dwell in the Terestial Kingdom with Jesus Christ and to be ministering angels forever. The liars and murders and wicked wicked will not be punished in spirit hell forever, but eventually will be resurrected to and obtain the Telestial Kingdom and will be accompanied by the Holy Spirit. Satan and his angels who refused to follow God’s plan and a select few mortals called sons of perdition will receive no glory and go to a place the Bible calls “Outer Darkness.”
2. While everyone is resurrected, and most everyone will receive some sort of salvation from Outer Darkness, only those in the Celestial Kingdom will have Eternal Progression and will be able to continue to develop into becoming more like our Heavenly Father. All others, though saved from hell, are still damned in that they cease in their development and ability to create and procreate.

Eternal Families:
1. When Christ was on the earth he gave authority to Peter, who was to lead the church after Christ left to baptize and to do marriages and to conduct the business of the church. This authority is called the Priesthood. Jesus said that this authority represented the “keys of the kingdom, and whatsoever ye shall bind on earth, shall be bound in heaven.” So, if Peter was to marry someone, that couple if they were righteous and faithful would be married for this life and into the next---Forever.
2. The Mormon church is the only church to marry a husband and wife “for time and all eternity” while all other churches and government officials marry a couple “until death do you part” or “for as long as you both shall live.” However, I find that most people who go to other churches believe that families can be forever despite what their church teaches.
3. The Bible teaches us to “lay up in store treasures in heaven where moth and rust doth not corrupt.” Mormons understand that our relationship with God, Jesus Christ, our family, and friends are the most precious treasures we can take with us into the next life.

The Bible Story:
OLD TESTAMENT: Law (5 Books of Moses), Writings, and Prophets
1. The creation
2. Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and the Fall
3. Tempted by Satan, Cain kills Abel
4. Adam’s children listen to Satan more than God
5. Noah builds the ark and the wicked killed by flood
6. People build tower of Babel (Iraq), and languages confounded
7. Abraham wants to worship the true God and leaves Ur (Syria) and settles in Caanan (Israel) and meets the High Priest Melchizedek, King of Salem, who teaches him and helps him become a high priest over his family.
8. Priesthood authority and birthright passed from Abraham to Isaac, then Jacob, and then Joseph.
9. Joseph on the 12 sons of Israel (Jacob) is sold as a slave into Egypt due to jealousy
10. Joseph saves his family during the drought and famine by giving them food when they come to Egypt for help many years later. Joseph is a friend to Pharaoh.
11. Pharaoh in Egypt fears the Israelites numbers and orders all Israelite children killed. Moses (an Israelite) is hidden in basket and raised by Pharaoh’s wife.
12. Moses finds out who he is and leaves Egypt to find the true God and finds Jethro, the High Priest of Midian who helps him become a high priest over his people.
13. Moses performs miracles in Egypt and frees the Israelites from bondage, parts the Red Sea.
14. The Israelites rebel against Moses and wonder in the desert for 40 years, 10 commandments given
15. Israelites enter Caanan, take over the land, and settle.
16. Israelites adopt false religious practices of neighbors, cursed with numerous wars, judges appointed
17. Reign of King Saul, David, and Solomon. David kills Goliath. David writes Psalms, Solomon writes Proverbs
18. Israel divided into Northern and Southern Kingdom due to jealousy of Tribe of Ephraim of Judah
19. Assyria (Syria) conquers and scatters northern Israel and northern 10 tribes of Israel.
20. Isaiah gets southern Israel to repent, pray for salvation, Assyrian army decimated overnight.
21. Jeremiah warns Israel (Judah and Benjamin) of Babylon, Babylon conquers southern Israel.
22. Daniel interprets King Nebuchadnezzar and Jews allowed to return to Israel
23. Jews rebuild Temple, Prophets tell of future coming of Messiah (Savior).
NEW TESTAMENT: 4 Gospels of Jesus Christ, Acts of Apostles, Pauline Letters, Revelations
24. John the Baptist, son of High Priest Zacharias, forms independent Jewish sect
25. John the Baptist baptizes Jesus of Nazareth
26. Jesus Begins his public ministry at age 30
27. Jesus teaches doctrine of “love your enemy” and “turn the other cheek.”
28. Jesus performs miracles: water to wine, healing sick, feeding 5000, and raising Lazareth from the dead
29. Jesus predicts own death and institutes bread and water in commemoration
30. Jesus prays in Garden of Gethsemane
31. Jesus is betrayed by Judas, tried, mocked, beaten, and crucified
32. Jesus resurrects and sends missionaries throughout the world
33. Peter and church receives gift of Holy Spirit on Day of Pentecost
34. Peter and other Apostles establish churches throughout Mediterranean
35. Saul sees vision of Jesus and is converted, changes name to Paul
36. Paul and other Apostles write letters to several churches to clarify doctrine
37. John writes cryptic letter while exiled to Island of Patmos to churches in Asia to encourage patience in persecutions, and foretells the gathering of the scattered tribes of Isreal, Jesus Christ’s return to earth, and millennial peace and joy of Eternal Life.

History of Christianity:
0-30 AD John the Baptist foretells the coming of the Messiah
30-33 AD Jesus Christ ministries
33-60 AD Apostles establish churches in Jerusalem, Antioch, Rome, and Alexandria
60-90 AD Peter, Paul, James (brother of Jesus), Phillip, Barnabas Martyred
90-120 AD John exiled to Patmos, writes Book of Revelations
120-300 AD Pre-Nicene Christianity, Christianity spreads in Roman Empire, great persecution, no doctrinal unity. Seemingly no central control and regulation of the church.
313 AD Edict of Milan legalizes Christianity
325 AD Constantine calles 1st Ecumenical council of Nicaea in 325 to unify Christian Doctrine with regard to understanding of God and Jesus Christ.
300-476 AD Nicaean Christianity, 7 Ecumenical councils convened to decide doctrine. Rome Falls 476 AD
500-1000 AD Early Middle Ages
1054 East-West Schism split between Eastern (Orthodox Christianity) and Western (Roman Catholic) churches formalized
1000-1274 AD Renaissance
1252 May 15, Pope Innocent IV authorized use of torture in Inquisitions
1274-Present AD Protestant Churches split off from Catholic church due to different interpretations of the Bible and in response to religious intolerance of Catholic church. Protestant Churches include Luthern, Church of England (Presbyterian and Anglican), Methodist, Baptist ect.

Apostasy and Restoration:
1. Mormons believe that after the martyrdom of the Apostles that the Priesthood authority and true doctrines were lost from the Earth. This period is known as the Apostasy or Great Falling Away (from the truth). Evidence is the period of the Dark Ages where nearly all-secular as well as religious truth was taken from the Earth for a time.
2. In 1820 a young uneducated boy, Joseph Smith, kneels in prayer in a grove of trees to ask which of all the Christian churches is God’s church. He receives a vision of God the Father and Jesus Christ who speaks to him and tell him that all Christian churches have much good in them but none are His true church and that he should join none of them. Joseph Smith is called by God as a prophet like Moses in the Bible and until his martyrdom in 1844 he brought to light addition scripture “the Book of Mormon,” “Doctrine and Covenants,” and the “Pearl of Great Price.” He restored the Melchizedek priesthood authority; the organization of the Church of Christ as it was organized in the Bible with Prophets, 12 Apostles, lay clergy, and missionaries; as well as knowledge of true Christian doctrine and a clear understanding of the Bible.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Really liked the bible story 1-37.