Special Witnesses of Christ 2 - Who is the Way? Joseph or Jesus?
Last time we looked at the questionable apostolic claims of Mormon leaders and the way Mormonism demotes Jesus to the status of “a God” in a pantheon. This time we test the Mormon way of salvation and compare it with what the Bible teaches and discover the true focus of the Mormon message.
Jesus declared "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6). The Biblical Apostle Peter said, "Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which they must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
The Biblical Apostle Paul stated,
"Just as the result of one trespass was condemnation for all men, so also the result of one act of righteousness was justification that brings life for all men. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. The law was added so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
It is a constant in Christian teaching that salvation and justification, the putting right of men and women before God, is found in Christ alone, whose righteousness brings life and justifies all who believe in Him. Simply put, through the sin of one man, Adam, all stand condemned before God. Through the obedience of one man, Christ the new Adam, all who look to Christ in faith are justified and made righteous before God. Thus He is "the way and the truth and the life".
The Mormon Apostle Joseph B Wirthlin testified, "Jesus the Christ taught the words of life. He showed the way to truth, the way to peace, the way to happiness". (p.9 emphasis added) The Mormon Apostle Dallin H Oaks said, "I testify that as the Light and Life of the World, He has provided the way for us to return to our heavenly home…" (p.13 emphasis added) Already Jesus is not the way but simply shows the way. He is not the truth but only teaches the truth.
The Mormon Apostle Richard G Scott spoke of "the plan of happiness that would guide our life", and declared, "Only those who make and keep the covenant of baptism, diligently obey His commandments, and receive all the other necessary ordinances will have a fulness of joy on earth and will live eternally in the celestial kingdom." (p.10) Finally, then, Jesus is not the life. The life is found in obedience to "the plan of happiness" (Mormonism).
Christ and the Law
Biblical Apostles clearly teach that righteousness comes to everyone who puts faith in Christ. It is clear also that Biblical Apostles teach that the righteousness we seek comes "apart from the law…through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe." (Romans 3:21-22). They further teach that "the law was added so that the trespass might increase", i.e. so that the full extent of sin in our lives could be fully and finally revealed. But "where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord."
The more comprehensive the law, the more apparent the depth of sin, the more extensive the reach of grace to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. The law, by making us conscious of sin, draws us to Christ. Biblical Apostle Paul tells us that "the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith" (Galatians 3:24).
The Mormon Apostle Neal A Maxwell declares "Having purchased us (1 Cor.7: 23) with His atoning blood (Acts 20:28) in the great and marvellous Atonement, Jesus became our Law-giver (Isaiah 33:22). It is by obedience to His laws and His commandments that we may return one day to His presence and that of our Heavenly Father." (p.6) This is the gospel message turned entirely on its head!
Where Biblical Apostles have the law leading us to Christ, Mormon Apostles have Christ leading us to the law.
Where Biblical Apostles have men and women justified by faith in Christ who fulfilled the law, Mormon Apostles have us justified "by obedience to His laws and His commandments", laws that we ourselves must fulfil.
The Last Days
Just as the focus of scripture is Jesus so the time of His coming is the centre of that focus. John the Baptist's message clearly demonstrates this, "The time has come. The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" (Mark 1:15). Jesus said of John the Baptist "all the Prophets and Law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come" (Matthew 11:13-14), a reference to Malachi 4:5.
The writer to the Hebrews declared,
"But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26) and wrote, "In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days (latter days) he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe" (Hebrews 1:1-2).
The Biblical Apostle Peter said of this time "He was chosen before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake" (1 Peter 1:20).
In contrast with the message of prophets who had prophesied until John a new and unique category of revelation is experienced in the Son. Jesus is God's loudest and clearest expression of Himself and His coming brings the kingdom of God to the people, ushering in the Messianic age known as "the last days", the era of God's mercy and salvation. This was the time prophesied by Malachi and ushered in by John, who, Jesus said, is "Elijah who was to come" (Matthew 11:13-14); when the promise to our first parents would begin to be fulfilled (Genesis 3:15; Rom.16: 20; 13:12); when the promises to Abraham would begin to see fruition in the lives of all who have the faith of Abraham.
The Biblical Apostle Peter told his Jewish hearers,
“Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days. And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, "Through your offspring all the peoples on earth will be blessed." When God raised up his servant (Jesus), he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
The Biblical Apostle Paul told his Gentile converts,
“The scripture foresaw that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, and announced the gospel in advance to Abraham: "All nations will be blessed through you." So those who have faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith…For if the inheritance depends on the law, then it no longer depends on a promise; but God in his grace gave it to Abraham through a promise. What, then, was the purpose of the law?…the law was put in charge to lead us to Christ that we might be justified by faith. Now that faith has come, we are no longer under the supervision of the law.”
Mormon Apostle Boyd K Packer spoke of the day in 1836 when Malachi 4:5-6 was fulfilled in the presence of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdrey as reported in D&C 110:14 "Behold, the time has fully come, which was spoken of by the mouth of Malachi - testifying that he [Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come." (p.17)
The Mormon Apostle Russell M Nelson, speaking of the covenant God made with Abraham, said, "From scriptures we learn that this covenant 'should be fulfilled in the latter days' (1 Nephi 15:18). Then the fulness (sic) of His gospel would be preached and many would truly believe…" He went on to declare, "Brothers and sisters, you may also claim the supernal blessings promised to the faithful lineage of Abraham. The Lord explained that blessings and responsibilities of His priesthood are yours because of your faith, works, and lineage - the lineage declared in your patriarchal blessings…The ultimate blessings of the Abrahamic covenant are conferred in holy temples." (p.7)
Thus the focus of these prophecies, so clearly centred around the Saviour and the Messianic age ushered in by Him, shifts from the first century to the nineteenth; from the founding of a church comprising people of faith, to the inception of Mormonism, a religion based on works; from an Abrahamic covenant fulfilled in all who are of the faith lineage of Abraham, to its fulfilment in those who are, through a mystical (patriarchal) blessing, declared to be of his literal lineage; from simple and life-giving faith in the finished work of the cross to esoteric temple ceremonies centred on the dead; from Jesus to Joseph.
Enemies of the Cross