50 Questions: 41 through 50

41.  Since Jesus’ statement, “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew 5:48) is in the Sermon Mount Jesus Mormonpresent tense, are you perfect right now?  Do you expect to be perfect soon?  According to Hebrews 10:14, how are we made perfect?

The explanation is found in the following scripture, expressing that we may become perfect only through the grace of Christ: “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot (Book of Mormon, Moroni 10:32-33).

The word “perfect” in Hebrew refers to “wholeness” or “completeness.”  No man or woman on this earth is sinless, and all have need of Christ’s healing power and grace to be truly whole.  Heaven is populated by “just (as in “honest”) men (and women) made perfect” through the atonement.  Attaining this wholeness mandates repentance and belief in Jesus Christ.  However, a person who is born again and living a righteous life, and who partakes of the ordinances of the gospel, can live constantly in a saved state.  If that person were to die at any instant, he or she would know that he or she would be accepted by the Lord.  This state of rightness before the Lord was called by Brigham Young, “the land of the living.”

42.  Why do Mormons say the sticks in Ezekiel 37 represent the Bible and the Book of Mormon, when Ezekiel 37:20-22 tells us that the sticks represent two nations, not two books?

Ezekiel said, “The word of the Lord came…unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, for Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.”  In ancient Israel records were written upon tablets of wood or scrolls rolled upon sticks (FairLDS.org).

Christ said in Doctrine and Covenants 27:5, “…the hour cometh that I will drink of the fruit of the vine with you on the earth, and with Moroni, whom I have sent unto you to reveal the Book of Mormon, containing the fulness of my everlasting gospel, to whom I have committed the keys of the record of the stick of Ephraim.  (Read more.)

In 2 Nephi 29:8, 9 it says, “Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word? Know ye not that the testimony of two nations is a witness unto you that I am God, that I remember one nation like unto another? Wherefore, I speak the same words unto one nation like unto another. And when the two nations shall run together the testimony of the two nations shall run together also. And I do this that I may prove unto many that I am the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that I speak forth my words according to mine own pleasure. And because that I have spoken one word ye need not suppose that I cannot speak another; for my work is not yet finished; neither shall it be until the end of man, neither from that time henceforth and forever.

43.  Why does the LDS Church teach that Jesus and Lucifer are spirit brothers when both the first chapter of John and Colossians teach that Jesus is the Creator of all things, including Lucifer?

In Colossians 1: 3 it says, “We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.”  God the Father is the Father of Jesus Christ, His only Begotten in the flesh, and His first begotten in the spirit.  Therefore, Christ was created by God the Father.  In turn, all things in the universe, including this earth, were created by God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ, called The Word.

All things were created spiritually before they were created physically:

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground (Genesis 2:5).

And every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew. For I, the Lord God, created all things, of which I have spoken, spiritually, before they were naturally upon the face of the earth. For I, the Lord God, had not caused it to rain upon the face of the earth. And I, the Lord God, had created all the children of men; and not yet a man to till the ground; for in heaven created I them; and there was not yet flesh upon the earth, neither in the water, neither in the air (Moses 3:5).

Isaiah and other prophets speak of a war in heaven that Lucifer lost.  We were all present there, just as Jeremiah, whom God knew before he was born.  We were all God’s children there, so we are brothers and sisters in the eternal sense.  Christ was the Lord’s Firstborn there and had already created worlds without number, as explained in the Pearl of Great Price.  Lucifer was a “son of the morning,” an intelligent, charismatic spirit.  He rebelled against God and was cast out of heaven to become Satan.  In the eternal sense, Lucifer is Christ’s brother and ours.  His goal is to make all men miserable like himself.  Thus, even though Christ and Lucifer are spirit-brothers, they are opposites in character and purpose.

Section 76 of the Doctrine and Covenants records a vision of Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon in which they were shown a vision of Christ, and then of the kingdoms of heaven.

For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father—  That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God. And this we saw also, and bear record, that an angel of God who was in authority in the presence of God, who rebelled against the Only Begotten Son whom the Father loved and who was in the bosom of the Father, was thrust down from the presence of God and the Son, And was called Perdition, for the heavens wept over him—he was Lucifer, a son of the morning.  And we beheld, and lo, he is fallen! is fallen, even a son of the morning (v. 23-27)!

In the end, Satan and his followers will be cast out to hell, which is called “outer darkness” in Mormon theology.  This awful place is without light, without learning, without progress, but full of suffering.  The Lord had this to say regarding outer darkness:

For they are vessels of wrath, doomed to suffer the wrath of God, with the devil and his angels in eternity… Having denied the Holy Spirit after having received it, and having denied the Only Begotten Son of the Father, having crucified him unto themselves and put him to an open shame.  These are they who shall go away into the lake of fire and brimstone, with the devil and his angels—  And the only ones on whom the second death shall have any power; they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment— And the end thereof, neither the place thereof, nor their torment, no man knows (Doctrine and Covenants 76).

John Baptist Aaronic Priesthood Mormon44.  Why do worthy Mormon males hold the Aaronic Priesthood since Hebrews 7:11-12 clearly teaches that it was changed and superseded by something better?

The idea that the Melchizedek Priesthood superseded the Aaronic Priesthood is a correct one. But this does not necessarily imply that there is no Aaronic Priesthood.  The Aaronic Priesthood is merely a limited form of the Melchizedek Priesthood, or (as LDS scriptures call it) an “appendage” to it (Doctrine and Covenants 107:13–14). Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles illustrated the doctrine clearly: “Since all priesthood is Melchizedek, the Aaronic Priesthood being a portion of it, one does not lose the Aaronic Priesthood when he is ordained to the Melchizedek Priesthood.”  The Aaronic priesthood serves as a ‘preparatory priesthood’ (see Doctrine and Covenants 84:26.) Just as the Levitical authority in ancient Israel acted as a “schoolmaster” to prepare Israel to receive Christ (see Galatians 3:24–25), in the modern Church the Aaronic priesthood serves to school young men for service in God’s kingdom on earth.  (Read more.)

45.  If your leaders are correct about the complete falling away of the true church on earth, was Jesus in error when he said the gates of hell would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18)?

From FairLDS.org: “The critics again make a mistake by misunderstanding the original Greek text. In this case, ‘hell’ is not a reference to the powers or evil, or Satan.

“The word translated as ‘hell’ in the KJV is actually Hades, the dwelling place of all departed spirits (or the Spirit World). For the gates of Hades to not prevail against the church could mean that the gates would not be able to stop the church from entering therein. (By comparison, in The Gospel of Nicodemus the “gates” mentioned in Psalm 24 refer to the gates of Hades and the attempt made there to keep out Jesus in the period between his death and resurrection. [See The Gospel of Nicodemus, Part II, 6 in ANF 8:436-437.]) In other words, Christ’s Church, his disciples, would preach the gospel not only among the living, but also among the dead—not even the gates of Hades could keep them out.

“Another interpretation is that ‘prevail’ has reference to keeping inhabitants inside. In this thought, gates could only prevail against something that is already inside of them and not external to them. This interpretation would be that Christ was saying that His Church would soon be inside the gates of the spirit world alone because of apostasy on earth, but that the Church would later come out from the world of the dead and back to earth—that His Church would shortly be confined to the spirit world, held back by its gates, but that later, members of Christ’s Ancient Church (such as Peter, James, and John) would come, by revelation, out from behind the gates of Hades to restore the gospel to the earth.  Both of the above readings are distinct possibilities. Both reconcile all the Biblical data.” (Read more.)

General Questions

46.  If having a physical body is necessary to become a god, how did Jesus become a god before he had a body?

Having a body is necessary for a fullness of joy (Doctrine and Covenants 93:33). It was necessary that at some point Jesus receive a body, but the timeframe in which He did so is not particularly important.  What is important is that Christ excelled in knowledge, power, wisdom, and glory to the point where He became co-creator with God the Father.  Having a body was not, therefore, a prerequisite for Him to become a god.  For us, however, the path is different.  We are trying to become co-heirs with Christ, and He has offered us all He has, which means that we can develop qualities like His.  Resurrection, the eternal joining of our spirits with immortal, incorruptible bodies, is necessary to receive all Christ has offered us.

47.  Do you think the LDS Church will reconsider its teachings that the American Indians are descendants of the Jewish race now that DNA evidence has proven that they are actually descendants of the Asian race?

Asian DNA has been discovered among American Indian tribes.  However, DNA research has not proven that no Amerindians are descendants of Israelites.  Since the 1950’s LDS scholars have expounded on the probable small population of the Book of Mormon peoples, and that there were other races here when they arrived, and other races which immigrated after they were destroyed.  DNA research continues, especially in the northeastern United States.  The research is difficult, because 90% of Amerindians died of war or disease after European settlers arrived, and DNA has been diluted.  There is a lot of literature on this subject, however.  (Read more by clicking on the following three citations.) [19] [20] [21]

48.  If polygamy was officially re-instituted by the Mormon Church, how would your wife feel about you taking another woman?

It is assumed that this question refers to a hypothetical future event.  Every member of the LDS Church had to make this decision when polygamy was commanded by the Lord in the 1800’s, and it was difficult for all.  Brigham Young himself, when he first heard the doctrine, said he envied the dead.  Though 80% of the world’s population at the time lived in polygamous societies, the early Latter-day Saints were mostly Victorian Europeans, so the thought of polygamy was anathema to them.  If you would like to read about polygamy in the early days of the Restoration, and would like to read personal accounts of wives in polygamist families, go to www.mormon-polygamy.org.  The LDS Church, by the way, ended the practice of polygamy in 1890 (with the punishment of excommunication added in 1904) after the Lord revealed to Prophet Wilford Woodruff the destruction that would be wrought upon the Church by the U.S. government, should the practice continue.  The Lord absolved the Latter-day Saints of their responsibility to continue the practice as He first commanded it.

49.  Since the LDS Church teaches that there was a complete apostasy of the true church on earth, does that mean that the 3 living Nephites and the Apostle John went into apostasy also?

Paul predicted that there would be a falling away in the church.  He commented that it had already begun in his day.  Sometimes false doctrines were introduced on purpose by conniving men, and other times out of innocent ignorance.  Only a few hundred years after Christ, the apostles were dead, and there were none to replace them.  Nor were there any prophets to lead by direct revelation from God to the church.  Councils were called, wherein men sought to codify Christian beliefs.  They legislated on the nature of God, and the doctrines of the church. [22] St. Augustine, going into such a council, prayed for revelation, but never received it.  He used his best training, mostly in Greek philosophy, for his own contributions.  Later, Protestant reformers sought to correct those things wherein the church had gone astray, and to recapture the original doctrines and structure of Christ’s church.  With the Bible as the only scripture, and men’s opinions as the only guidance, hundreds of sects have emerged, all claiming the truth, and all having part of the truth, but not revelation or authority.  However, reformers through the ages have established the acceptance of freedom of thought and conscience, and have set the stage for a restoration of Christ’s Church.  This is the Church as it existed when the Savior walked the earth, with apostles and seventies, authority, and all the charismatic gifts.  It has been restored with the help of heavenly beings and direct revelation from Christ.

John the Beloved was given his heart’s desire by the Savior, to walk the earth, helping to build up the kingdom of God, until Christ should come again.  Three Nephite apostles, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, were also given that same blessing.  They have not gone into apostasy, but have continued to serve as they committed to do.

It should be noted concerning the “Great Apostasy,” that personal revelation has continued, with inspiration received from the Lord from time to time among all societies.  Also, there were Book of Mormon prophets until 400 A.D.  It is unknown whether prophets have led the Ten Lost Tribes uninterrupted since their disappearance, but perhaps they have.

Salt Lake Mormon Temple50.  Why are Mormon Temple ceremonies secret to the public when the Old Testament temple ceremonies were open to public knowledge?

1.  Many Old Testament temple rites were not open to the uninitiated.  Gentiles were never allowed into the three main temple areas (outer court, holy place, holy of holies) and the entrances throughout the temple complex were guarded by porters and shielded by veils. The vast majority of the Israelites were never allowed to view the ordinances that took place in the temple proper (holy place, holy of holies).

2. Mormon Temple ceremonies are not “secret” to the public.  Worthiness of temple patrons is necessary to protect the sacred nature of the temple, which is the House of the Lord.  The public is welcome to do those things necessary to become worthy to enter the temple. (For a tour of a temple interior and an explanation of what goes on inside, click here.)

3.  Christ taught his apostles in private, opened miraculous visions for them only, and taught cryptically in parables that the uninitiated could not understand.

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