Tuesday, November 15, 2011

LDS Theology

In this post I am going to try and briefly summerize LDS Theology:

When God called Moses up into the mountain, God desired all the Elders of Israel to first purify and sanctify themselves and then ascend the mountain with Moses (Ex 19:10,22). God didn't just want one chief and a nation of indians. God wanted a royal priesthood, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Ex 19:6)(Num 11:29). God wanted every man to be a King and Queen, Priest and Priestess in their own homes. God wants to be the King of kings and the Lord of lords (Rev 19:16). However, the Elders of Israel refused, they told Moses that they were scared and that Moses should go alone and come back and tell them what God said (Ex 20:19).

As Israel approached the Mountain of the Lord, the top of the mountain was burning with fire, the sky was dark, and the gound shook beneath thier feet. The Elders of Israel refused to ascend the mountain because they feared what would happen if they put their life into the hands of the LORD. Similarily, many today refuse to sanctify themselves and ascent the mountain also. Many still fear what would happen if they fully give their lives into the hands of God. (ie He will ask me to do things I may not want to do)

In addition to being very afraid, the Elders of Israel didn't want to repent and change and keep the commandments. They didn't want to do what was required to have a close relationship with God and see His face as Moses had. So, while Moses was away, the people said Moses delayeth his return, they then gave all their gold/money to Aaron (anti-Christ type) who fashioned the golden calf and began worshipping it through lude and immoral behavior (type of the Last Days, false relgion, and sexual permissivness). When Moses came down from the mountain (type of Second Comming), and caught the people in their sins, he drew a line in the sand and only the Levites stood with Moses and the LORD (Moses 32:26).

Today, God again wants all believers to purify and sanctify themselves and ascend the mountain so that they can have a personal relationship with Him. But just as in Moses' time, we still must sanctify ourselves, and many of us just as the Elders of Israel choose to worship false religion that makes no such expectation of us. Many religions let us go through the motions of being Christian without giving us any of the of expectations and requirements that go along with enjoying a personal relationship with the LORD.

So, in the next sections, I will explain how God has revealed what we must do to ascend the mountain and enjoy a personal relationship with Him. This process involves 2 steps: Justification and Sanctification. (1Cor6 :11) Thankfully, God makes the first move and empowers every part of the process thereafter. We can do nothing good without Him. Joseph Smith taught that through the ordinaces of the Gospel the power of God is manifest. (D&C 84:20). So, nothing in the LDS Church is being done without the LORD.

#1 Justification: acquital, posponement of judgement, initial rescue/salvation

God makes the first move. Christ stand at our door and knocks (Rev 3:20). If we accept Christ, we become Justified and Christ's righteousness is imputed to us. We are innocent until proven guilty, thus since judgement is posponed, we can have access to the Holy Ghost through Christ's rightousenss and not our own. Justification and this innitial salvation and rescue is by grace and is a free gift from God. That said, the Bible teaches that we accept Christ by 1. Confession of Faith (Rom 10:9-10), , 2. Repentance (1Cor5:11), 3. Baptism by Immersion, 4. Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands (1Tim 4:14)(Acts 2:38).

The Lords Supper/Sacrament is the way the Bible teaches that we renew our acceptance of Christ and our Justification. The need to examine ourselves and continually renew this convenant points us to Christ and the need of Christ's atonment and the power of the Holy Ghost to Sanctify and further change us. We promise promise to accept Christ, remember Him, and He promises to give us His Spirit.

#2 Sanctification: becoming perfected in Christ through the sanctifying presence of the Holy Ghost such that we lose all desire for sin but desire to do good continually.

Justification is only the first part of the Atonement of Christ. But not only does the Atonement of Christ have the grace and mercy to rescue us in our sins, but Christ's atonement also has the power to overcome our flesh and save us from our sins (Matt 1:21). The next step involves the Spirit-empowered process of Sanctification. Santification is so important a life-long process, Christian believers in the NT were called SANCTS or SAINTS.

Christ told the rich young ruler "If thou wilt be perfect, sell all that thou hast, give to the poor and thou shalt have treasure in heaven, and come and follow me." (Matt 19:21) Paul in Hebrews teaches that the Levitical priesthood had not the power to pefect but the higher covenant and priesthood of Melchezidek did through Christ. (Heb 7:11,19) Latter-day SANCTS or Latter-day Saints make the covenant of Consecration in the New Testament/Latter-day Temple. (Acts 2:46).

Consecration means to give all time, talents and everything to the work and kingdom of God. Allegorically, the temple symbolizes, "The MOUNTAIN OF THE LORD" (Isa 2:2) In the old testament the temple and the priesthood was only availible to one kingdom, nation, tongue and people and one tribe. But in the Last Days, John saw an angel fly with the everlasting gospel to give to all kingdoms, nations, tongues and people (Rev 14:6). In the OT God made His priesthood and covenants excluseive by limiting them to the oldest son, or only one tribe. This was done, not because God is a respecter of persons, but because He wanted man to appreciate the importance of these blessings. However, in the NT, God is promising these blessings to all people. This is what the angel on the top of LDS Temples is announcing and why LDS build temples among all nations and peoples.

While the blessings of the Temple are now inclusive and availible to all people now in the Last Days, to ascend to the Mountain of the Lord, the People of the LORD are still required to Sanctify themselves, or in other words to receive the Holy Ghost and allow the Holy Ghost to sanctify them. Paul in 1 Cor 5:11 gives us God's requirement for spiritual preparation and purification to be worthy to enter into the presence of the LORD.

1 Cor 5:11 "if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat".

This verse by Paul is the basis for worthiness to enter into an LDS Temple. LDS are interviewed by our Bishops who serve as the High Priest to determine ritual purity. However instead of external purity, Bishops who serve as Judges in Israel and who are not just "Preachers" verify our inward and spiritual purity. LDS demonstrate our compliance with 1 Cor 5:11 by confessing any sexual sin and living complete abstainance before marriage and fidelity within marriage. LDS demonstrate a Spirit-empowered love of God over money by paying tithing. Latter-day SANCTS are asked if they accept Christ as their Savior and are asked to confess any support or partipation with anti-Christian groups. LDS who are worthy of the temple and have the Holy Ghost would never abuse their wives or children (railer), Also, LDS would never take any chemical or substance for the purposes of getting "high" or drunk. God expects His SANCTS to turn to Him and not to drugs and alcohol when we are tired, bored, or stressed. And finally, God promises that though His Spirit, His SANCTS will be empowered to be honest in our dealings with our fellow man. God's temple-worthy people should never be found taking and offering bribes, kickbacks, or defauding our neighbors.

In the end the Temple is a beautiful allegory and symbol that teaches the follower of Christ who God is, who we are, and our relationship to God. The Temple teaches us about God's plan of happiness and Salvation and gives us an Eternal Perspective of what is really important. Through the temple, God's people come to receive the Holy Ghost more prefectly, and feel God's love and power. After receiving this Eternal Perspective about the purpose of life, God's' people are empowered and "endowed" and immunized against sin. Sin and being ruled by the passions and appetities of the flesh, just doesn't have the appeal that it used to have. The closer of a relationship a person has with God, the less he is subject to sin and temptation. Just as Christ promised the Rich young ruler, LDS make the covenant of consecration in the temple, and God in turn promises us greater sanctification.

So, why bother being sanctified? Well, in addition to being told that no unlcean thing can dwell in the presence of God (1Cor6:9). And this is more than just being "called clean". The issue is that despite being Justified, sin still has very real and very painful consequences. That is why I am grateful to Christ for His faithfullness, and the power of His Atonement that promises the power to overcome and escape my sins. (1 Cor 10:13)

However, Sanctification is not something that man can do on his own, or even part way. The Holy Ghost empowers the entire process. But when Nephi says "it is by grace we are save after all we can do" (2Ne25:23) or Moroni says "deny yourselves of all ungodliness and then is His grace sufficent for you" (Moro 10:32-33) LDS Scripture is not saying that we can meet God half-way or save oursleves by our works without Christ. What Nephi was saying was explainining why they observed the Law of Moses knowing that salvation was in Christ. What Nephi was saying was, becasue Christ gave the Law, they were going to receive the grace Christ had already given them before expecting to recieve more. So, in other words, Nephi and Moroni were saying we should "finish with the grace that Christ has already put on our plate, before asking for seconds".

Justification and Sanctification both occur at the time a believer truely accepts Christ and is Born again. The Temple is given to keep believers continuing in our Sanctification. Therefore, just like in the days of Moses, God is inviting us to receive His grace, and His Spirit and sanctify and purify ourselves and ascend into the mountain into His presence. So, for those who have accepted Christ and saved by His grace, will we allow the Holy Ghost to continue to sanctify us according to 1Cor 5:11 and ascend the mountain wth Moses, or will we stay behind and backslide into worshipping the golden calf? (2 Cor6:17)

Ezekiel 37:26-28 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God. and they will be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do ***sanctify*** Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

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