Monday, October 02, 2006

Deceived, not Saved

We just began a contest called “The AWANA Tract Races” in my church’s AWANA club. This contest is set up so that every kid (called a “clubber”) receives one gospel tract, and they have to give that out to someone who they are pretty sure is not a Christian. The children don’t have to get into a long conversation with the other person, they just need to politely ask if the other person would accept something from them, then give them the tract (if they’re willing to take it), say thank you, and walk away. If they do this and then want more tracts, they just come on back to the next meeting and get some more. In this way, the clubbers “get their feet wet” in evangelism and now we can talk about witnessing in a new and more real way because they have all tried it.

About one hour after I had given out these tracts and encouraged the 3rd – 6th graders that it is easy to share your faith, I was sitting in my livingroom talking with my three year-old son about his memory verses when there was a knock at the door. My wife and I walked to the front door and were greeted by two young gentlemen who were dressed in shirts and ties and wearing backpacks. Before any words left their mouths, I knew what was happening…I was going to be witnessed to by two Mormon missionaries.

I was tired, hungry, and I just wanted to relax, so before the Mormons could get into their presentation, I shut them down by saying something to the effect of this, “Hey guys, I’m a Christian, not a Mormon, and I really don’t want to get into a theological wrangle tonight.” I didn’t say it in that exact way (there were a few comments back and forth between us), but that was basically what was said. After that, they asked if they could do anything for us, I declined and I wished them saftey on their travels.

It had not been more than 2 minutes when I looked at my wife and the reality of what I just said and done had slammed into my conscience. Not more than 1 hour earlier I had encouraged children to witness to people, and now two people came to my door and wanted to engage me in a spiritual conversation! I felt so ashamed of my selfish and thoughtless actions. Why oh why did I send them away instead of giving them the good news? I said as much to my wife and she looked at me and she surprised me by saying, “Why don’t you go out and find them? They’re probably not that far down the street.” It surprised me, not because she was encouraging me to go witness (which I am so thankful that she did), but because it was such a “duh” resolution to the problem that I had created by my inaction.

I threw my shoes on, said goodnight to my son, and went out the door. I quickly saw the two Mormons one door down and across the street. As God would have it, they were just leaving the front step and making their way further, and so I called to them to see if I could speak with them.

I began our conversation by apologizing for not interacting with them before and I restated my desire not to get into a super deep theological wrangle, but I wanted to ask them one question. “Ok guys, let’s pretend that I have a knife in my back, I’m dying and I only have about 45 seconds to live. I come up to you, and I have no knowledge of Jesus or anything, and ask you ‘Help me, I’m dying. I don’t want to go to hell. What do I need to do?’” I expected to hear some half-sentences come out and then abruptly stop, or some stuttering and stammering, but that is not what happened. They both looked a little shocked, but then the shorter of the two (standing to my left) looked me in the eyes and said, “You can’t be saved in 45 seconds.” I knew that this is the truth of their doctrine, but to hear it so plainly, so simply from the mouths of these two young guys (late teens, early twenties) shocked me to the core. This statement made me even sadder because of the hopelessness of their works righteous system. Here is a representation of our interaction that followed:

EJ: You are saying that [you can’t be saved in 45 seconds] because you believe that I must be baptized, right?
Mormon: Yes.

EJ: The theif on the cross was not baptized, and Christ saved Him.
Mormon: (rhetorically) But that was Jesus who did that, right?

EJ: Yes, of course. And it is Jesus who saves us today. It doesn’t change because He isn’t here in the flesh.

EJ: Let me ask you a quesiton. (to both of them) Would you consider yourself to be a good person?
Mormon: I try to be.

EJ: Have you ever told a lie?
Mormon: Yes.

EJ: What would that make you?
Mormon: A Liar.

EJ: Have you ever stolen anything regardless of it’s value?
Mormon: Yes

EJ: What would that make you?
Mormon: A theif.

EJ: Have you ever taken the name of the Lord in vain?
Mormon: No.1

EJ: Have you ever looked at a girl with lust?
Mormon: Yes (restrained, nervous chuckling).

EJ: Have you ever been angry with or hated someone?
Mormon: Yes.

EJ: Then by your own admition, you’re lying theives, and adulterous murderors in your heart. And God will not be pleased by any good works that you do.

Before I could continue with this process of walking them through the law, they interupted and said that they agreed with that – that people are guilty before God and that is why they strive to be better people. I then told them that if the situation were reversed and they came up to me with 45 seconds to live that I would say, “If you’ve ever lied, stolen, or looked at someone with lust, God sees you as a lying adulterous theif. These things deserve the just punishment of eternal damnation. However, Jesus Christ, who is God Himself – not the brother of the devil2 – came to earth, suffered and died to pay for sins. All that He requires of you is to see yourself in light of His law (as a wretched sinner worthy of condemnation), and throw yourself at His feet to save you completely. And then, those good works that you’re trying to do will not be in an effort to make yourself more presentable toward God, but they will be the natural outflowing of the new life that He has given you. You will then see and hate sin, desire to not sin, and be able to resist sin.”

After I presented the biblical gospel, we began speaking of different things, but of all of the tangents that we briefly went down on (modern day prophets, the book of Mormon, the scroll of Abraham, etc), I kept on bringing us back to one simple point. If they are right, and the Mormon doctrine is true, then when we die, I will go to one of the three levels of heaven (Terrestrial, Cellestial, or Telestial) and so will they. If, however, I am right about Christ and His gospel and we die – I will be in heaven with Christ, and they will be in everlasting torment for their sins. I made these “if you’re right” and “if I’m right” statements not because I am wavering on the truth of the gospel in the Bible, but I did it in order to show them that we have very different gospels.

The only rabbit trail that we went on that I would like to briefly go into here is dealing with their Christology (doctrine of Christ). I have had a few encounters with Mormons as well as I have seen or heard various programs where current Mormons or former Mormons (now true, born-again believers) have discussed this very issue. Two things have been very clearly articulated in all of those encounters:

  1. Mormons believe that Jesus is a created being, the first natural child of “heavenly father”

  2. The statement “As man is, God once was; as God is, man can become” is an accurate way to communicate the transition that can occur from man to God.

Other than the initial statement that one couldn’t be saved in 45 seconds, I was very shocked to find out that these two Mormon missionaries had never heard the Mormon teaching that Christ is a created being. I don’t believe that they were lying to me about this, they truly seemed like they had never heard of this before. I told them that they needed to search their teachings, ask the elder (or whoever) who is over them and find out truly if the Mormon church teaches this. The taller of the two kept that Jesus is “from everlasting to everlasting” (which is a phrase used throughout the Old Testament in reference to God and His eternality) when refering to Chirst’s “age”. I tried to explain that the doctrine of the Mormons has not been what they were espousing. I asked that if they found out that thir church taught that, if they would run from that church. I received a pseudo-hesitational-non-commital answer that was something to the effect of, “If we find that it is not true.” I closed our conversation by saying, “When you find out that your church teaches that Christ is not eternal and that He was created, you run from that place. If you can think of nowhere else to turn for some Spiritual help (turning and pointing to my house) you can come right back here.”

I left them, shaking their hands, wishing them safety on their travels. I hope that one day there will either be a confused and convicted soon-to-be ex-mormon on my doorstep or a former Mormon who found His salvation in the Christ of the Bible, not the false Mormon Jesus and false gospel.



1 We went back and forth on this question for a while, but they both insisted that they had never (a) used God’s name in vain, or (b) said or done anything that caused God’s name to be cursed or brought down by others.

2 Mormon doctrine is that Jesus is the first spirit child of “heavenly father” and that Lucifer was another one. Consequently we are of the same lineage in that we are spirit children of “heavenly father”. This is totally contrary to the Christ of the Bible who is eternal, with no beginning or ending.

10 comments:

St. Michael the Archangel said...

Nice evangelism, even better, instead of coming to your door, they will come to Christs, and become full Christians as Catholics.

EJ said...

It's funny that you say that. Do know that Mormon soteriology and Catholic soteriology are not that different. They believe that you have to be baptized to go to heaven, so do you. They believe that their good works are necessary for salvation, so do you (after all, baptism and penance are "works"). They believe that a "good" person will go to some sort of heaven, and obviously you do too (by your comments to my previous blog).

They believe that they are saved by God's "grace" after all that man can do. You believe that you are saved by Good's "grace" along with your good works. Sounds like the same ol' devilish lie.

You can't find any reason to believe that Jesus was created in the Bible, and you can't find any coherent Biblical reason to believe that baptism - the act of one being sprinkled with, splashed with, or dipped into water - saves. It is by Christ and grace alone through faith, not of works (Eph 2:8-10) or of deeds done in righteousness (Titus 3:5).

St. Michael the Archangel said...

EJ,

Your a prideful heretic. Step off of your throne and take a look around. The world isn't flat it is round.

Funny thing is, you and I have some similarities too. The mormons just broke at an earlier time than you did. The churches or evangelical gatherings that you claim to follow and fall in between didn't really start until the early to late 1970's. Its of course called Evangelical Protestantism. Your still protesting the faith handed down be Christ to the apostles. You take what you want and reject the rest.

You say the bible is to be interpreted literally, but when I pointed out a passage earlier about cutting off ones hands if they cause us to sin, or plucking out ones eye if it causes us to sin... you said that wasn't meant to be literal. You contradicted yourself. So that just goes to show that you twist scripture to conform to your sick teaching.

Now mormons, and Catholics are not close to each other. Mormons theology is based on witchcraft and divining. They don't believe that Jesus is God, they think that Jesus and the devil are brothers, they think that Jesus was supposed to be the devil and the devil was supposed to be the savior, but it was in fact a last minute decision by God to split the feuding brothers and have Jesus be the redeemer. .... NO, mormons and Catholics do NOT have much in common. They have more to you, becuase like you, they split from the church of Christ, and like you, they have their own sick theology that needs a doctor. Like your faith, they lack the fullness of the truth.

They would do better to die as they are than to be misled by an over zealous missionary fundamentalist Evangelical Protestant that doesn't know up from down in Christianity and is convinced that all those that are not of his fold are going to hell.

J-M-J

Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus. Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae.

DOC said...

Michael,

You sound just like my dad. And, the sad thing about that is that he is much older than you and more hard-hearted and set in his ways. How much more will you be if you do not surrender your life to the LORD.

EJ said...

Here is a play by play description of how I read Michael’s last comment…

Michael said, “Your a prideful heretic. Step off of your throne and take a look around. The world isn't flat it is round.”

EJ said, (confused) “What?”


Michael said,“The churches or evangelical gatherings that you claim to follow and fall in between didn't really start until the early to late 1970's.”

EJ said, “What are you talking about? And Catholics accuse Protestants of not knowing their history.”


Michael said, “Your still protesting the faith handed down be Christ to the apostles.”

EJ said, “No, we’re protesting the abuses of a false system that, in the words of Christ, ‘you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in’”(Matt 23:13)


Michael said, “You take what you want and reject the rest.”

EJ said, “Yes. I take the Bible and reject the traditions of men.”


Michael said, “You say the bible is to be interpreted literally, but when I pointed out a passage (reference to Matthew 5:29-30)... you said that wasn't meant to be literal. You contradicted yourself.”

EJ said, “Christ is making the connection between deeds and thoughts in relation to sin. Also, He is also making it known that we should flee from sin and not treet it trivially because it has a dire consequence.” (I already explained this, but you obviously didn’t read it or you don’t get it)

Michael said, “So that just goes to show that you twist scripture to conform to your sick teaching.”


EJ said, “Exegesis (Interpreting Scripture in it’s propper context) is not twisting. Icegesis (reading what you want into the passage from tradition) is.”

Michael said, “They would do better to die as they are than to be misled by an over zealous missionary fundamentalist Evangelical Protestant that doesn't know up from down in Christianity and is convinced that all those that are not of his fold are going to hell.”

EJ said, “Some specifics aside, the tangible hatred that you attack me with is self-condemning for you. I, like Jesus, articulate a narrow path and a narrow gate. Your problem is with the Bible, not me.”

Nate J. said...

Eric (and others),
I think Romans 10 speaks to the situation our Catholic friends are in today. Listen to what the apostle Paul says regarding the Judaism of his day and see if you can catch the similarities.

"1 Brethren, my heart's desire and my supplication to God is for them, that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For being ignorant of God's righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law unto righteousness to every one that believeth."

Like the Jews of Paul's day, there is no doubt that that many Catholics have a "zeal for God." The problem is, they are "ignorant of righteousness" and would rather seek to establish their OWN righteousness in addition to the perfect righteousness only Christ can provide them. They Jews of Paul's day sought to establish the traditions of men (such as circumcision and obedience to the various laws and traditions) as requirements for true salvation. They failed to realize that Christ ALONE is the END and only he brings true righteousness. He alone can make us righteous before God and He alone can cause us to have righteous deeds - not to cause or help our salvation along, but as a result of it.
I'm not trying to just pick on Catholics. When you think about it, every major world religion rejects the perfect and complete righteousness of Christ in favor of their own good works. For some reason, the best news in the world comes as an offense to people because they don't like to be told they are nothing and can do nothing to please a Holy God. True Christianity is not a religion - it is submission to Christ alone. Realizing that I can do NOTHING to present myself holy and without blame before Him (Romans 3), but throwing myself at His feet in repentance and true brokenness and trusting Him alone to deliver me from the penalty and power of sin - Simply relying on Him alone to have mercy on me (Titus 3:5). He then grants me all I need for life and Godliness (2 Pt. 1:3). In fact, even the ability to have this faith does not come from me, but from Him because He is the author and finisher of our faith (Heb. 12:2).

My prayer is that God will use His Holy Spirit to convict all those who are placing their faith in even a portion of their own righteousness (Catholic, Hindu, Mormon, Humanist, or even Protestant), and help them realize their own "righteousnesses" are seen by God as filthy rags (Is. 64:6).

God Bless, Nate

St. Michael the Archangel said...

EJ,

News for you, the bible is the tradition of man. It was not written by Christ, it is tradition passed down from leader to leader and eventually written down. It is not to be read all literally. But you can;t get over that bump, and until you do, you will think that the bible is all you have to follow. Your impossible to talk to, one of the most hard headed people I have ever run into. J-M-J

EJ said...

The Bible is not the tradition of men. It is writing that was inspired by the Holy Ghost. The stories of Adam and Eve through the time of the Exodus were passed down orally, but then God inspired Moses to write the Torah, thus giving the final word on that part of history and doctrine.

I cannot imagine how you see me as hard hearted. Unless, you use as your only criterea, that I do not adhere to the false gospel of Rome. If that is the determining factor of "hard heartedness", then sure...you can say that. But God has given me a heart of flesh instead of a heart of stone. I pray that you will one day experience that.

Mike said...

Good post. I have had a few long converstions with Mormans when they hit my door. I usually try and combat the wilder points of their doctrine, but perhaps I should focus more on telling them about salvation.

Nate J. said...

Apparently, someone is confused as to how often figures of speech are used in the Bible and how figures of speech do NOT mean we cannot take the Bible literally. We all use figures of speech every day, and people know exactly what we mean by them. People know what it means to "run around like a chicken with your head cut off" etc. It does not mean people should not take us literally in other areas or can pick and chose what else should be taken leterally and what should not. For a helpful study about figures of speech go to http://www.bible.org/page.php?page_id=2794.

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