“The word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12 KJV). The ability to utilize the Word of God accurately and correctly in the witnessing situation is a great asset. When dealing with people who already have a faith structure, it is vital.
This booklet outlines 100 verses of Scripture that have proven effective in the witnessing situation with members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or, the Mormons. This listing of verses is the result of many hundreds of hours of one-on-one and sometimes one-on-twenty witnessing, ranging from people’s homes to street corners, Mormon pageants, and even the Temple in Salt Lake City during General Conference. They have been tested under fire, and, when properly used, have proven their worth.
Of course, any verse without a context is a pretext, and you will want to be thoroughly familiar with the context of each of these passages. Still, the ability to quote a verse from memory and skillfully utilize that text in debate is needful to the person who wishes to be truly equipped and prepared. Most conversations between a Christian and a Mormon will be moving far too fast for looking up verses in the concordance of a Bible, and I have found that being able to quote a verse quickly and accurately gives the Christian the advantage of keeping control of the conversation, an occurrence all too rare in most cases.
This booklet alone cannot provide you with all the information you need to be properly prepared to enter the battlefield. Study of Mormon doctrine is important, and even more important is the study of the basic Christian doctrines. Hopefully memorizing 100 verses will set you on a life-long course of Scripture memorization that will help you grow in the knowledge of God’s Word and in your relationship with Him. I openly acknowledge the great influence of one of the best missionaries to the Mormons, Wally Tope. Though not specifically involved in the production of this work, his book On the Frontlines Witnessing to Mormons provided me with my “basic training” years ago, and that influence can be seen in the Scripture selections found herein.
How Do I Memorize that Many Verses???
Different people memorize in different ways. Don’t believe the old excuse that you simply cannot memorize verses – I feel anyone is able to accomplish that task. When you think about it, you memorize a great deal of information every day. How many phone numbers do you know? How many addresses? Most of us, if we sat down and took the time to do it, could create a long list of names and phone numbers and combinations and codes and so on and so on. Hence, you are able to memorize Scripture if you really want to. That is the key – you must desire it with all your heart, and be willing to make the commitment that it takes to get the job done.
Repetition is important in learning. Somehow you must devise a system whereby you are able to review your verses on a daily basis. This is not something that will end after the 100th verse is memorized – it will go on for the rest of your life if you really want to keep the verses fresh in your mind. My system began by keeping a master list of all verses memorized, as well as those being worked on. Once a verse is memorized, it is placed on the list and reviewed each day for ten days, a place for a mark being available for each of the days. When the ten day review is over, it is placed in a category that is reviewed once every week or month.
But how do I memorize the verse? The most effective method I have found involves quotation and writing. Read over the verse three or four times, noting the natural breaks and rhythms. Begin trying to quote from memory, making sure to check your accuracy – you don’t want to start off memorizing it incorrectly! Once you can quote it ten times straight, take out a sheet of paper and begin to write it. Check the written verse for correct-ness. Write it again, and check it again. Write it at least 5 times. This seems to really ingrain the verse in the memory. Make sure to review it each day for at least 10 days.
Once you begin to have a fairly extensive list, you may want to upgrade your system. I eventually had to go to a 3 X 5 card system. This is especially handy in reviewing a long list of verses, as it cuts down on having to look up each verse in the Bible. It is also helpful to be able to categorize the verses in general category headings.
There are numerous variations on the above method, and you may not like any of them. No matter how you do it, make it a priority. Without a commitment to following through you will never get the verses down. Believe me, the thrill of being able to answer the attacks of a whole group of Mormon Elders while pushing forward the claims of Christ on their lives is well worth the effort of memorization.
But Which Version Do I Use??
That is a very good question. Most would immediately answer – “why, King James of course!” It is true that since the LDS Church accepts only the KJV, it is the one familiar to most Mormons. However, many Christians today perfer memorizing the Word in a translation that re-presents both modern language and modern textual inform-ation. As many of these verses will mean much to you in your personal life, the choice is up to you. I personally began with the King James Version and switched to the New American Standard at a later time, a situation which presents its own problems, to be sure. If you choose to go with a more modern version, realize that you will need to be able to give a good, quick, concise and accurate explanation of how we get the Bible, including textual history and translation. Most Mormons don’t know a thing about the subject whatsoever, and rarely does a Christian have to go very in-depth. But if you use another translation other than the KJV, you will have to give a good reason for it. For the sake of simplicity, I will follow the KJV in quoting the verses, and will point out translation difficulties when they arise.
The verses will be broken up into topical sections. It is vitally important that background information be included, not only to give you needed data, but you will find it extremely helpful to be able to explain the context and importance of a verse to a Mormon, who will 95% of the time be ignorant of solid rules of interpret-ation as well as Biblical backgrounds, both of which are necessary to understand the Bible and its message. If you don’t have a plan of attack or a goal you are working toward in the witnessing encounter, you will be lost. But if you have a goal, say, to deal with the Mormon testimony, you can organize your thoughts, marshal your verses, and present your case convincingly. Believe me, a person who has memorized these verses and is aware of his/her own faith as well as the errors of Mormonism will be well equipped for the task. With that, lets get started!
The Authority of God’s Word
1. Proverbs 30:5-6
2. Proverbs 13:13
3. Isaiah 40:8
4. Matthew 24:35
1. Proverbs 30:5-6: “Every word of God is pure: he is a shield unto them that put their trust in him. Add thou not unto his words, lest he reprove thee, and thou be found a liar.”
Comment: These verses, as is obvious, discuss the authority of God’s Word, its unchangeableness, and the foolishness of adding to it or slighting it. Many Mormons have trouble accepting the authority of the Bible in their lives. These verses may help.
2. Proverbs 13:13: “Whoso despiseth the word shall be destroyed: but he that feareth the commandment shall be rewarded.”
3. Isaiah 40:8: “The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.”
Comment: Peter’s use of this passage and his inter-pretation of it at 1 Peter 1:23-25 is interesting, as well.
4. Matthew 24:35: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.”
The Mormon Testimony
5. Proverbs 14:12
6. Jeremiah 17:9
7. Acts 17:11
8. 1 Thessalonians 5:21
9. James 1:5
5. Proverbs 14:12: “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”
6. Jeremiah 17:9: “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desparately wicked: who can know it?”
Comment: I have found these verses to be extremely effective in communicating to LDS the Bible’s position concerning what is and what is not truth. The Mormon’s “burning-bosom” experience is frequently used by them as their basis of truth. They need to realize that to trust their eternal welfare to a feeling that a shot of Alka-Seltzer could get rid of is the extreme of folly. We all know people who believe many things very sincerely, and even feel that the “Holy Ghost” has told them that what they believe is true. They may be just as sincere as the LDS person is – so what is the difference? We all have testimonies, and if having one makes you right, then we are all right and we might as well forget it. Instead, the Bible provides us with an unchanging standard by which our feelings must be measured, not the other way around.
7. Acts 17:11: “These were more noble minded that those is Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
Comment: This is a very important verse that you cannot simply rattle off. It must be explained to be effective. Begin by explaining the background – possibly like this: “Paul and Silas are kicked out of Thessalonica. They come to Berea and begin to preach the Gospel. Now, the
Bereans have never seen Paul and Silas before, nor have they heard this Gospel. How are they going to know that it is true? If the Mormon position is right, we should read that they hit their knees and began praying to receive a testimony. Is this what we find? No.” At this point you quote the verse, emphasizing the last clause which says “and searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so.” You then might continue by pointing out the fact that the Word of God was the standard the Bereans appealed to, not their emotions. Then, before the Mormon does so, move to the next verses.
8. I Thessalonians 5:21: “Prove all things, hold fast that which is good.”
9. James 1:5: “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.”
Comment: I Thessalonians 5:21 is a verse that will come in handy in many situations and with many different groups. I know a large number of Christians that should take its advice as well. At any rate, you will want to back up Acts 17:11 with this, and then move straight to James 1:5 before the Mormon does. Since it is claimed that James 1:5 gave Joseph Smith his impetus to go out into the woods to pray before the First Vision experience, most Mormons are familiar with it, and will use it to try to make prayer more important than God’s revealed Word in determining truth. It is very effective to go to the favorite verses of Mormons, and interpret them correctly before the LDS person can give his false view of it. This is one of the keys of keeping control of the conversation! You might do it like this, “Now, it is true that James tells us that if we lack wisdom, we are to ask of God. However, it is important to note that the word used at James 1:5 is wisdom (Gr: sophia), not knowledge (Gr: gnosis).” [You may wish to learn the Greek words and use them at this point]. “Hence we see that the Bible does not contradict itself, but does indeed tell us that God’s revealed Word is the final authority, not our feelings or prayers, no matter how strong those feelings, or sincere those prayers.” This series of verses, properly utilized, can open many doors that otherwise would be shut. Learn them well.
[Note: This section is divided into three different presentations. Of course, this listing is not meant to be exhaustive, and includes only those verses that lend themselves to the battle-line situation. There are many, many more that say the same things.]
– There is only ONE God –
10. Deuteronomy 6:4
11. Isaiah 43:10-11
12. Isaiah 44:6, 8
13. Isaiah 45:5-6
14. Isaiah 45:22
15. Psalm 96:5
10. Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:”
Comment: [For the reason LORD is in small caps, see verse 16 below]. This verse is known as the Shema (from the Hebrew word translated “Hear!”). It was recited every morning by every good Jew. It is the heart and soul of Judaism – it is sheer monotheism – one God. The passage goes on to talk about loving Yahweh (LORD) with all your heart and soul – a pretty tough trick if there is more than one God hanging around out there!
11. Isaiah 43:10-11: “You are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour.”
Comment: I doubt there is a more often used verse in dealing with Mormons than Isaiah 43:10. The reason is clear – the LDS law of “eternal progression” [intelligence -> spirit -> man -> god] is cut right in half by this verse. There were no gods before Him, and there will be none after him. As Wally Tope likes to put it, there is no “Future Gods of America Club” – God is not advertising for vacancies. The Christian finds firm ground in this verse upon which to make his stand, and stand he should! Unless a Mormon comes to realize that there is only one true God, he is going to have a tough time understanding the salvation offered by that one God! [You may also be interested to know that this verse is the source of the name for another rather famous cult – Jehovah’s Witnesses].
Few Mormons have ever seen or read Isaiah 43:10, and even if they did, they probably missed it, so effective are the Mormon blinders of false doctrine and the “testimony.” But a few have run into it in debate before, and may try to use an old trick on you. They will point out (rightly, as far as it goes) that the context here is in reference to false gods – hence, God is simply saying that He is the only God for this planet, and that we should not worship false gods. As you can see that ploy does not really address the issue, but it seems logical to the Mormon. How do you deal with that? Simple. You might do it like this: “Then what you are saying is this, “before me there were no false gods formed, and there will be none after me”? Certainly you can see that that doesn’t work. God is proclaiming his uniqueness – there is only one true God, and He is it!” You would then move quickly to consolidate the Biblical position with one or more of the following verses.
12. Isaiah 44:6, 8: “Thus saith the LORD the King of Israel, and his redeemer the LORD of hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God…Fear ye not, neither be afraid: have not I told thee from that time, and have declared it? ye are even my witnesses. Is there a God beside me? yea, there is no God; I know not any.”
Comment: Two more strong verses in proclaiming monotheism to the polytheistic Mormon. Verse eight is best introduced with a question – “Does God know about all those other gods out there?” The answer, from the LDS viewpoint, is obvious – they must answer yes (if they don’t you might want to point out Psalm 147:5). “Well, if He knows of all those other gods out there, why does He say in Isaiah 44:8…” [Note – the New American Standard will have, “Is there any God besides Me, or is there any other Rock” rather than the KJV “God.” The difference is purely translational, as the word translated “rock” is frequently used of God in the OT].
13. Isaiah 45:5-6: “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else.”
Comment: Modern versions will translate the phrase “from the west” much more accurately, recognizing it as the idiom for the setting of the sun.
14. Isaiah 45:22: “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.”
Comment: You may wish to point out the fact that since this one true God is the only one who saves, it is important to know Him.
15. Psalm 96:5: “For all the gods of the nations are idols: but the LORD made the heavens.”
Comment: This verse will be useful when a Mormon dredges up some obscure reference to “gods” in the Bible (see specific examples of this below under the Miscellanious category).
– Who are/is Yahweh and Elohim? –
16. Deuteronomy 4:35
17. Psalm 100:3
18. 1 Kings 18:39
19. Isaiah 44:24
20. Psalm 97:9
16. Deuteronomy 4:35: “Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.”
Comment: Though it is important, especially in this series of verses, to stick with the KJV, please change “shewed” to at least “showed” if not “shown.” Thank you.
This section of verses introduces an aspect of witnessing that few have undertaken to use very often. We at Alpha and Omega Ministries have found it to be helpful, and so I share it with you. In Mormonism, the two Hebrew words which refer to the one true God are mixed up. Mormons believe that “Elohim” (which is translated “God”) is the Father, and that “Jehovah” is the Son. Now, “Jehovah” is a false pronunciation of the Hebrew word “YHWH,” correctly pronounced “Yahweh.” This is God’s “personal” name in the Old Testament. Unlike Jehovah’s Witnesses, Mormons rightly believe that Jesus is Jehovah (YHWH) – unfortunately, since they miss the clear fact that there is only one God, they miss the significance of the whole thing. At any rate, in Mormonism the Father and Son are two distinct personages and two distinct gods – hence, the Bible should support this teaching. Does the Bible teach that “Elohim” and “Jehovah” are two beings?
Before we can answer that, we must figure out how to recognize the Hebrew words themselves in an English translation. A vast majority of the time, the word “God” in the English Bible is the translation of the Hebrew “Elohim.” If you are in doubt about a specific passage, consult an exhaustive concordance of the Bible (such as Strong’s). The way you recognize the Tetragrammaton (=YHWH) is that the English Bible will translate it “Lord” but will have the “o-r-d” in capitals, yet a smaller size. We will indicate this by typing it “LORD”. Should you need to give support for this to the Mormon (which you probably will) see the Bible Dictionary in the back of the King James Version published by the Mormon Church (1979 and after), page 711, top left column (or, under “Jehovah”). This should satisfy them.
Hence, if we can find Scripture identifying Elohim as Jehovah, or Jehovah as Elohim, the Mormon teaching is in trouble, to say the least. Now, I have been kicked out of Mormon Visitor’s centers for showing these verses to people they are so plain, especially to Temple Mormons. Allow me to explain. In the temple ceremony, Elohim and Jehovah appear as separate and distinct individuals. They talk with each other and interact – there is no way to confuse them. In Talmage’s book Articles of Faith, pages 466-473, we have “The Father and The Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by The First Presidency and The Twelve.” It clearly identifies the Father and Elohim and the Son as Jehovah. Why go into all of this? The only way Mormons can get around the fact that the Bible says Elohim is Jehovah is to deny that they really identify the Father as Elohim; “that is just a matter of convenience” is one excuse I have heard. Most Mormons won’t do that – only those who know they have a real problem supporting this teaching.
Now, what does all of this have to do with this section of verses? You may have already guessed. As you look at Deuteronomy 4:35, you will notice that it says “…the LORD, he is God…” With your new knowledge, you can tell that the Hebrew text reads, “…Jehovah, he is Elohim…” Oops, the LDS church has a problem here. Now you can see the value of these verses. Look at the next one.
17. Psalm 100:3: “Know that the LORD he is God; it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.”
Comment: You can see the direct connection between Dt. 4:35 and Psalm 100:3 – both say “Jehovah, he is Elohim.” Notice also the problem polytheism has with these passages – Dt. 4:35 says there is none other beside him, not them – which is what it would have to say if Jehovah and Elohim were different beings.
18. I Kings 18:39: “And when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces: and they said, “The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.”
Comment: Again, the identification of Jehovah as Elohim is here made, twice even!
19. Isaiah 44:24: “Thus saith the LORD, thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the LORD that maketh all things; that stretcheth for the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.”
Comment: This verse provides what might be called a “sanctified trap.” It can be used to make a Mormon see the contradiction between his temple ceremonies and the Bible. In the temple ceremony, Elohim directs Jehovah and Michael to go down and organize an earth similar to the ones they have already made. Hence, Jehovah is not alone in creating the earth – Elohim is in charge and Michael is with him. By asking a question like, “Was Jehovah alone when he created the earth, or did he have help from others? Was Elohim involved?” you can lead into this verse quite nicely and present yet another problem for the Mormon’s polytheistic ideas.
20. Psalm 97:9: “For thou, LORD, art high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods.”
Comment: Should the LDS person persist in his belief in polytheism, this verse will present another difficulty. In Mormonism, it is impossible for Jesus (Jehovah) to be exalted above his Father (Elohim). Hence, when faced with the above verse, the Mormon must admit either 1) the “gods” mentioned are not real gods but false gods, or, 2) that Jehovah is exalted far above all gods, including “Elohim”. Either position causes problems for his argument.
[Note: the above section presents some somewhat complicated information – use your best judgment as to whether the situation warrants its use.]
– God’s Nature –
21. Psalm 90:2
22. Malachi 3:6
23. Numbers 23:19
24. Hosea 11:9
25. Jeremiah 23:24
26. 2 Chronicles 6:18
21. Psalm 90:2: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.”
Comment: I have not yet had an even semi-reasonable rebuttal of this verse by a Mormon of any rank. The best they have ever offered is, “Well, he is the God of this eternity, but not other eternities.” This, of course, involves a redefinition of the very term “eternity.” I use my hands to point one direction while quoting “even from everlasting…” and then, pointing 180 degrees the other direction, “…to everlasting, thou art God.” It is good to emphasis the present “art.” He not just “was” or “will be,” He is God, and has always been God and always will be God. Press the claims of this verse strongly.
22. Malachi 3:6: “For I am the LORD, I change not.”
Comment: Notice only the first part of the verse is given, as the last portion goes on to re-join the contextual discussion. God does not change – because of that we can have trust in God and His plan of salvation. This idea can have a very strong effect on a Mormon, especially one who is realizing the sheer folly of any kind of works-salvation system. Many Latter-day Saints long to have security – long to have a righteousness not based on their works (Philippians 3:9!) but on God’s grace. In my first encounter with Mormon missionaries I brought up this very fact, that my salvation as a Christian was based on the word of an unchanging, eternal God, while his salvation was based on the word of a god who was once a man. The point drove home, I could tell.
23. Numbers 23:19: “God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?”
Comment: God is not a man – not even an exalted man. God is a completely different order of being than is man – man is God’s creation. Be prepared for the sharp Mormon to take you to Genesis 6:6 and try to show a contradiction in the Bible (interesting, isn’t it, how the cults must attack the Bible?). Problem is, they are ignoring the context of the passages and the meanings of the words. The word literally means to “sigh deeply” or be troubled. In Genesis 6:6 the rest of the verse expresses God’s deep sorrow at the wickedness of man. Such is not the case at Numbers 23:19 – here the context clearly is in reference to a changeableness like man’s.
24. Hosea 11:9: “…for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee…”
Comment: Again, the whole verse is not given here.
25. Jeremiah 23:24: “Can any man hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD.”
Comment: The Mormon has been taught that the Christian’s view of God is some fuzzy ethereal essence floating about through space like some kind of cosmic fog. The very idea of a God who is omnipresent and unlimited was held up to open ridicule in the Mormon temple ceremonies (as was the doctrine of salvation by grace) all the way up to 1990. Since man cannot imagine such a majestic, glorious, eternal and unlimited being as the God who reveals Himself in the Bible, he comes up with squashed-down, man-like imitations that are much more to his liking. Such is the Mormon doctrine of God. Joseph Smith reached up and pulled God down from his throne and made him a man, while reaching down and pulling man up by his boot-straps and making him a god-in-embryo (yet another Wally Topism). The Bible will have none of this kind of teaching. God Himself says, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” “Oh, yes!” says the Mormon, “God fills heaven and earth through his influence, His Holy Spirit!” But is that what it says? God says, “do not I fill heaven and earth,” not “does not my influence fill heaven and earth.”
26. 2 Chronicles 6:18: “But will God in very deed dwell with men on earth? behold, heaven and the heaven of heavens cannot contain thee; how much less this house which I have built!”
Jesus and Lucifer
27. Colossians 1:15-17
28. John 1:3
29. Ezekiel 28:13
30. Revelation 22:13
27. Colossians 1:15-17: “Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Comment: This section of verses addresses a vital topic in Mormon teaching – Jesus, according to Mormons, is the spirit-brother of Lucifer! This amazing teaching is based on the idea that since Jesus is God the Father’s literal offspring (in his case, both spiritually and physically) as is Lucifer, they must be spirit-brothers. This blasphemy is based upon numerous other errors such as polytheism, which we have already addressed. At any rate, it is quite useful (as well as important) to be able to demolish this falsehood Biblically, and these verses provide a framework in which to do it.
By utilizing the Colossians passage above, you will force the Mormon to see the Scriptural position concern-ing Christ over against their limited ideas. The LDS Church does teach that Jesus created all things – while at the same time denying that. Yes, I know that doesn’t make sense. See, the Mormon limits the Bible’s authority spacially – i.e., the Bible is true only as long as it rests on planet earth – it is “only for this world.” Hence, when the Bible says “all things” the Mormon auto-matically thinks of only those things related to this world – they cannot understand it to mean what it says, “all things…” They must alter the Scriptures at this point in their thinking. The Christian must point out this illogical thinking, and that is not easy. Mormons do not have the concept of the true, eternal, almighty, omnipotent God of the Bible that Christians do. The Bible clearly states that Jesus created all things – there are no exceptions.
(Note: some Mormons will actually ask you, “so who created God? Did Jesus create God?” Psalm 90:2 will help.)
28. John 1:3: “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.”
Comment: Make sure to familiarize yourself with the context of this verse. You will again need to set the stage before using this, making sure the Mormon realizes that the “him” in verse three is in reference to the Word who is Jesus Christ (1:14).
29. Ezekiel 28:13: “Thou hast been in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone was thy covering…the work-manship of thy tabrets and of thy pipes was prepared in thee in the day that thou was created.”
Comment: You may wish to memorize this one in the NASB or some other modern version – “tabrets” and “pipes”? At any rate, the verse is important because of its reference to one who was “in Eden.” The next verse this person is identified as “the anointed cherub that covereth” and that this one was “upon the holy mountain of God.” Many scholars would identify this passage as having a double audience – one, the obvious “king of Tyre” (vs. 12), the other Lucifer himself. Be aware that there are Christian scholars who would not push this passage that far – they do not see Satan addressed here. Most, however, see Satan referenced both here as well as in Isaiah 14. It seems fairly obvious to me that Ezekiel 28 does refer to Satan, and in that, says that he was “created.” The important point is that Satan is a created being – and, since we have seen, Jesus Christ created all things, how could the Creator (Jesus) be the spirit brother of His creation (Satan)? That is the point!
30. Revelation 22:13: “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
Comment: This passage could be used as the “stinger” in this discussion. I usually use it like this, “the Bible says Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, not number 165,000 on the totem pole.” The fact is Jesus is supreme – He is not one of many gods, but is the One True God.
31. I John 1:7
32. 1 Peter 1:19
33. Matthew 12:31-32
31. I John 1:7: “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ, his Son, cleanseth us from all sin.”
32. I Peter 1:19: (ye were redeemed…) “…with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot…”
Comment: These verses put forth the Biblical teaching that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ is all-powerful and all-sufficient. There is no trespass, no sin, no in-fraction that is so serious that the blood of Jesus Christ is not powerful enough to cleanse it. This is not the case in Mormonism, however. A sinful man’s blood is more powerful than Christ’s for the forgiveness of serious sins such as murder in the LDS Church. Now, as soon as you quote the above two passages, the Mormon will bring up the next verse, so lets move on to it…
33. Matthew 12:31-32: “Wherefore, I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the age to come.”
Comment: At this point the Mormon will bring up the “unpardonable sin.” They identify the unpardonable sin with their idea of blood atonement. Hence, the Christian must be able to deal with the unpardonable sin issue in a fast, logical, easily communicated way.
Now, I will be the first to admit that there are a number of different views to be found amongst Christians concerning this topic. The view I take I freely admit comes from a professor I had in college by the name of Dr. D. C. Martin. At first I didn’t like the way Dr. Martin (to be distinguished from Dr. Walter Martin) put this, but as I dealt with the topic in relationship to the cults, I found his explanation to be very consistent.
Basically, this is how I handle the unpardonable sin:
The context of this passage is vital to an understanding of it. Just before these words of Jesus He had cast out a demon. The Pharisees had come to Him and accused Him of casting out demons by the prince of demons, Beelzebul, or Satan. This charge provides the background for understanding verses 31 and 32. The Pharisees had identified the working of the Holy Spirit with the power of Satan – they had called God the devil.
Jesus identifies this act, that of calling that which is good evil, as the unpardonable sin. Why is this un-pardonable? Is it unpardonable because it is so serious that even the sacrifice of Christ cannot atone for it? No, I don’t believe so. Lets see why.
When one blasphemes the Holy Spirit, he (or she) is cutting himself off from the presence and work of the Spirit. When one rejects the work of the Holy Spirit (by attributing it to evil, as the Pharisees had done), one is cut off from His convicting power. Remember that the Bible tells us (John 16:8) that one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to bring conviction of sin to the heart of man.
This is what makes the unpardonable sin unpardonable – it is not the seriousness of the sin itself, as the effect it has – one cannot ask for forgiveness of sin unless one is convicted by the Holy Spirit. When one cuts oneself off from His convicting power, one cannot any longer ask for pardon, hence the unpardonable sin. As Dr. Martin put it, it is unpardonable because it is unpardonable – you can’t ask for forgiveness from it.
Now, it may be asked, who would commit this sin? First, we can see that the person would have to be terribly twisted, calling what is obviously good, evil, and what is obviously evil, good. Isaiah put it this way, “Woe unto them who call evil, good, and good, evil; who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20). The most likely candidates for this, ironically, are religious people – the very ones who have the most “light” in which to walk are the ones who can become so twisted as to commit this sin. I have seen, sadly, such people involved both in cults, and more often, in atheism. I remember debating a man who was once a minister but who now is an active atheist, a “minister preaching the good news of freethought.” Such a person, by his own statements, is a likely candidate for the unpardonable sin, and most definitely falls in the category of one spoken of in Hebrews 6:4-6.
The main point of all this is the fact that the unpardonable sin is not one that by its grossness or severity is beyond the reach of Christ’s power to forgive – it is unforgivable because of the position it places the sinner in, a position from which he cannot cry for forgiveness. Indeed, it is my opinion that the one who has committed the unpardonable sin will not care about it – his conscience is seared and he is not concerned at all. By the same token, if a person is concerned about his having committed this sin, it is very doubtful that he has.
34. Numbers 16:40
35. Hebrews 5:4
36. Hebrews 7:3
37. Hebrews 7:12
38. Hebrews 7:24-25
39. Hebrews 8:4
40. Matthew 27:51
41. John 1:12
42. Revelation 1:5
43. 1 Peter 2:5
[Note: It is not my intention to go deeply into the topic of the priesthoods in this section. That must be left up to your own study and work. Comments will be limited to technical aspects and suggestions]
34. Numbers 16:40: “To be a memorial unto the children of Israel, that no stranger, who is not of the seed of Aaron, come near to offer incense before the LORD; that he be not as Korah, and as his company: as the LORD said to him by the hand of Moses.”
Comment: Again, the context and background must be discussed. Learn about Korah’s rebellion, and how this demonstrates that one must be a Levite of the family of Aaron to officiate in the Aaronic priesthood. Then, you must point out that in the Mormon’s “patriarchal blessing” he was told that he was of the tribe of Ephraim or Manassah – not the tribe of Levi or the family of Aaron! Hence, he cannot hold the Aaronic priesthood, at least not at the same time maintaining that it is the same priesthood that was in existence in that day.
35. Hebrews 5:4: “And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.”
Comment: This is a favorite verse of Mormons, which in reality condemns their position. They usually quote it thinking that they were called even as Aaron was. A quick glance at Exodus 29 and Leviticus 8 will reveal how Aaron was called – modern LDS certainly are not called in that way! (Some LDS might say the “call” came from God and that is what Hebrews 5:4 is about – fine. Then what does Hebrews 5:4 have to do with their claim to the Aaronic priesthood at all? This interpretation, which is correct, causes the LDS position severe troubles in light of the rest of the book of Hebrews’ presentation of what is, and what is not, the priesthood.)
36. Hebrews 7:3: “Without father, without mother, without descent, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like unto the Son of God, [he] abideth a priest continually.“
Comment: Much more important than the “Aaronic” priesthood is the supposed “Melchizedek” priesthood held by Mormon elders 19 years of age and older. Hebrews is the source of our information about this priesthood, and to it we will turn. Note that 7:3 gives us a description of the Melchizedek priest – he is without father, mother, descent, and is eternal. Few Mormons will claim to fill those requirements. Also,
as soon as this topic is broached, you will surely be asked, “Well, who was Melchizedek then? Isn’t he still a priest?” We are given very little actual information about the historical person Melchizedek, so it is hard to answer that question. The writer of Hebrews’ point is that the Melchizedek priesthood is completely and totally unique, and so we can’t get a lot of information from that source. Many scholars feel Melchizedek was a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ, and this is the position I personally take. Of course, Mormons don’t take much stock in what scholars think about anything – they just accept what their own leadership teaches. It would be best to keep the conversation on the subject by pressing the claim of the Scripture at that point, or by bringing in Hebrews 7:24-25 at this point (see below).
37. Hebrews 7:12: “For the priesthood being changed, there is made of necessity a change also of the law.”
Comment: The word translated “change” is the term metatithemi. Dr. A. T. Robertson commented on this passage, “God’s choice of another kind of priesthood for his Son, left the Levitical line off to one side, forever discounted….” Some really sharp Mormons might say, “Yes, the priesthood has been changed – now today we don’t have to be of the tribe of Levi!” Of course, this ignores what Hebrews is talking about in the first place. This response is very rare – most Mormons would recoil from the very idea – but it could come up.
38. Hebrews 7:24-25: “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Therefore, he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”
Comment: This is an extremely important passage to get down. Of course, I would suggest getting the context of the entire discussion of the priesthood in Hebrews down first. Then, get specific with this passage. The “man” is, of course, Jesus Christ. The writer says that because he continueth ever, he has an unchangeable priesthood. Now, first notice that the basis of the priesthood is the fact that “he continueth ever” – He is eternal. How can a Mormon claim this? Next, the word translated “unchangeable” is very important. Since it is used only here in all the Bible, it is hard to be dogmatic about the translation. At the same time, it is clear that the meaning is “intransferrable,” (Strong’s) and “unchangeable, and therefore not liable to pass to a successor” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). A. T. Robertson commented “God placed Christ in this priesthood and no one else can step into it,” and the Expositor’s commentary says “…that the new priest is sole and perpetual occupant of the office, giving place to no successor.” Some Mormons would argue this meaning (very few know anything about it at all) and would say that it is referring to the eternal nature of the priesthood more than inviolability. Fine. Then the question must be asked, if Jesus holds this eternal, unchangeable priesthood, why should anyone else? Is not Jesus’ work sufficient? That is the whole point of this passage. The very next verse goes on to proclaim the fact that because of Jesus being our one high priest after the order of Melchizedek, He is able to save “to the uttermost” (completely) those who come unto God by Him. Can the Mormon elder claiming to hold the Melchizedek priesthood claim to save people completely, to the uttermost? I certainly hope not. The Mormon claim to the priesthood is based on a complete misunderstanding of what the priesthood did and now does.
39. Hebrews 8:4: “For if he were on earth, he should not be a priest, seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law.”
Comment: This is a not-very-often used verse that makes two points – one, Jesus’ priesthood is not an addition to or a furtherance of the old priesthood – His is one that is completely and totally unique, since Jesus is completely and totally unique Himself. His priesthood is based on His completed work, while the old priests offered sacrifices that simply pointed to the eventual fulfillment of all things in Christ. Second, if the Mormons are right about needing the priesthood to have authority, what authority did Jesus have while on earth since He was not a priest until after His death and resurrection? Hmm.
40. Matthew 27:51: “And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake and the rocks rent;”
Comment: First change “was rent in twain” to “was torn in two” and “the rocks rent” to “the rocks were split.” That might help some. The point of memorizing this verse is to point out that when Christ died on the cross, God made a statement about the priesthood and He made it loud and clear. Once a year the High Priest went through the veil to offer the atonement for the sins of the people. The only access the people had to the presence of God in the Holy of Holies was through the priesthood and that once-a-year event. Hence, when Christ died, God showed once and for all that everyone now had access directly into the presence of God through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. He symbolized this by tearing the veil that separated the Holy of Holies from all else from top to bottom (notice not bottom to top as man would do), opening the way directly into His presence. Now, this was definitely a supernatural event, as that veil was made of woven cloth at least four inches thick! The point you will want to make in the witnessing situation is this – God has opened the way for each and every believer, whether male or female, bond or free, Jew or Gentile (see Gal. 3:26-29) to have direct access to Him through Jesus Christ. The old function of the priesthood has passed away – it has been fulfilled in Christ – so why recreate it? The Mormon teaching in effect does away with what Christ accomplished on the Cross! The entire Mormon plan of salvation does this also, so this is just part and parcel of a larger false teaching.
41. John 1:12: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name;”
Comment: The word translated “sons” in John 1:12, tekna, is more accurately rendered “children,” especially in the Gospel of John. At any rate, this verse is my first response to the inevitable Mormon question, “Well, what is your authority? By what authority do you do these things?” My response centers around John 1:12. The word “power” is the Greek term exousia which can also be translated “authority” (see Mt. 21:23 where the KJV translates it in this way). Our authority as Christians is not bound up in some mythical priesthood based on a human organization – no! Our authority comes directly from the Lord Jesus Christ! We are made children of God by faith in Jesus Christ, and there can be no higher power than that!
42. Revelation 1:6: “And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
Comment: You will probably want to dump the KJV at this point and go to the NASB: “…and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father; to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” The KJV here mistranslates basileian and misses yet another example of Granville Sharp’s Rule (see our information sheet on this rule if you are interested). All that technical stuff aside, the verse is fairly clear. We are a kingdom, and each one a priest unto God. Now, we are not Aaronic priests, or Melchizedek priests, or any other kind of priest that is involved in sacrifices or anything else – we have already seen that from Hebrews. Instead, we are believer priests, a royal congregation of called out ones who make up the body of Christ, the Church (Ephesians 1-2). Notice especially that all are included – male or female, quite unlike the male-only Mormon priesthood.
43. 1 Peter 2:5: “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.”
Comment: You may want to put “living” for “lively” to avoid any unwanted ideas. This verse teaches that all Christians who are in the Church are part of a holy priesthood that offers sacrifices, not for sin (like the old priests) but spiritual sacrifices. What are these sacrifices? We offer praise, obedience, even our very bodies (Romans 12:1) to God. The Biblical teaching about this is quite different from the LDS conception of a formal authority structure, is it not?
[Note: This section is divided into five sub-sections. Again, as with our discussion of God, this is not meant to be an exhaustive listing of verses.]
– The Gospel –
44. I Corinthians 15:1, 3-5
45. I Corinthians 1:14, 17-18
44. I Corinthians 15:1, 3-5: “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you…For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the Scriptures; and that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve.”
Comment: This verse needs an introduction. This is the way I have used it – when the subject of the Gospel comes up, the Christian needs to point out that the “gospel” of Mormonism is not the Gospel of the Bible. Hence, another question/answer situation is helpful. I normally start like this: “Do you know where the classic definition of the Gospel is found in the Bible?” I cannot honestly remember ever getting the proper answer from a Mormon, but if you did I wouldn’t let it bother you. Chances are that Mormon has spoken to Wally Tope or one of the volunteers from Alpha and Omega Ministries. At any rate, you then continue on (no matter what the response), “It can be found in 1 Corinthians 15, where Paul says…” and then you quote the above passage. After having done so, you might continue, “See, the Gospel is the story of the Person and Work of Jesus Christ. It is the message of His death, burial and resurrection. Now, let me ask you a question – did you hear any ‘laws and ordinances’ in that Gospel?” (Mormons believe in “gospel ordinances and principles – Third Article of Faith). The answer is, of course, no. Now, the Mormon will immediately jump into some “works-salvation” prooftext which you will have to properly exegete for him (probably James 2:20), but before you let him/her direct the conversation in that direction, reiterate the fact that Paul preached a gospel that centered on the Person and Work of Jesus Christ, not on the person and works of the sinful man. It will be incumbent upon you to make sure the Mormon sees the difference!
45. I Corinthians 1:14, 17-18: “I thank God that I baptized none of you, but Crispus and Gaius…for Christ sent me not to baptize but to preach the gospel; not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us who are saved it is the power of God.”
Comment: This passage is a good, quick rejoinder to the Mormon contention that baptism is part of the Gospel, as you can see. Verse 17 makes a clear distinction between baptizing and preaching the gospel – if baptism was part of the gospel then why did Paul say this? Also, I threw in verse 18 for your edification. You will, if you do this long enough, experience the truthfulness of this passage for yourself. I have not yet had the privilege (?) of attending the Manti Miracle Pageant, but someone who has was telling me about it at General Conference recently. She told about how at one point in the Pageant the choir mockingly sings “At the Cross,” poking fun at those silly “Christians” who sing it. It is sad indeed, but the cross is foolishness to Mormons, at least in its real meaning. They certainly would not say such a thing, but its absence is conspicuous in their buildings, its effect is negated through their doctrines of blood atonement, works-salvation and the priesthood, and the very idea that Christ’s sacrifice is not a unique event (what happened on all those other worlds?) is enough to convince the Christian person of the truthfulness of I Cor. 1:18.
– Sin –
46. Romans 3:23
47. Ecclesiastes 7:20
48. Romans 3:10-11
46. Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God…”
Comment: Most of you will already have this verse memorized, and many Mormons do also. You might wonder why we even bother mentioning it here, but there are several reasons. First, I would suggest to you going verse by verse from Romans 1:1 to this point and get the context down really well. You will find that it is the climax of an argument Paul has been pursuing for quite some time. Also, continue on through chapter four and you will find the ultimate refutation of the entire LDS doctrine of salvation in Paul’s discussion of the grounds of righteousness.
Believe it or not, I once sat in a Mormon bishop’s office for forty-five minutes talking about sin. Now, I had been asked to go into his office after having gotten up during a Fasting and Testimony meeting and giving my testimony. For some reason they didn’t appreciate my testimony of salvation by grace through faith. At any rate, the bishop informed me that Spencer Kimball taught that there were perfect men on earth who had not sinned. I never expected to have to prove universal sinfulness to a Mormon, but it happened. You may never need to use these verses in this kind of situation, but it is best to be prepared. The other, more prevalent reason for talking about sin has to do with the Mormon misunderstanding of it. The Book of Mormon says, “Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). Biblically, nothing could be farther from the truth. God did not have to utilize sin to bring men into a position where they could have joy. Sin brings death, not joy. As with most human beings, Mormons have fallen prey to the belittlement of the seriousness of sin. What is even more ironic, the Mormon system then goes on to destroy the plan by which God deals with sin! It is a sad state of affairs, to say the least.
47. Ecclesiastes 7:20:“For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good and sinneth not.”
48. Romans 3:10-11: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: there is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.”
Comment: Many other verses touch on this subject. The Christian witness needs to be aware of the fact that, like many Christians, Mormons feel that somehow God was under compulsion to save us – He owed it to us somehow. They feel we deserve a chance – that we are worth it. The Bible does not present a God who is in a situation where He has to give anyone anything. If God gave us what we deserve, we would all receive death and hell. Anything beyond simple punishment of sin is grace – anything. Mormonism has such a twisted idea of grace because Mormonism does not have a sovereign God nor a Scriptural view of sin. Since they don’t understand that there is absolutely nothing we as human beings can do to save ourselves or to provide for so much as one scrap of righteousness on our own, they accept a salvation system that includes within it ordinances, principles, rules, and works that must be done. Grace, real grace, is not found in Mormonism – oh yes, the word is, but the meaning is not. I’ve gotten on my soap box here – the main point to get down is that there is none who seeks after God – no one! If it were not for God’s sovereign grace moving in the hearts of men, none would be saved.
– Faith –
49. John 5:24
50. John 3:17-18
49. John 5:24: “Verily, verily I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life.”
Comment: This is a very important verse. Most Mormons know all about the Great White Throne judgment described in Revelation 20:10-14. Mormon missionaries daily talk to people about the fact that “we are all going to be judged by our works, just like the Bible says in Revelation 20.” Unfortunately, it’s like all LDS Bibles don’t contain verse 15, or so it seems, as they don’t seem to have read that far. Friend, if you are going to be at the Great White Throne judgment, you’ve got a problem! I’m sure glad I won’t be there! Why, you ask? Two reasons: 1) there is no mention of anyone in Revelation 20:11-15 who is not thrown in the lake of fire – see, if you are judged by your works, you are in big trouble, for “by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified” (Romans 3:20). Also, the passage clearly says that the ultimate criterion was not their works (all were found wanting in that aspect), but whether their names were written in the Lamb’s book of life (v.15)! Second, John 5:24 (the verse under consideration here) says a few things about this subject.
First, notice that Jesus says that the one that believeth (not the one that remains worthy, is pure, or works really hard) has everlasting life. In both Greek and English the present tense comes through – eternal life is a present possession of all believers. Jesus promised it, believe it. Most cultists cannot answer the question “do you have eternal life right now as a present possession?” in the affirmative, because they don’t. Next, Jesus goes on to say that those who believe in Him and have eternal life “shall not come into condemnation….” It is at this point that again you will want to go to a modern version, because the word is “judgment.” Jesus says that we shall not enter into judgment, because we have already (past tense) passed out of death and into life. Here Jesus defines what the judgment touches – life or death. Our sins were judged on the cross of Calvary once and for all. There is no judgment concerning life for the Christian – that was decided long ago. Now, the Bible does talk about a judgment of Christians for our works as Christians (1 Cor. 3:10-15), but this passage clearly points out that this is not in reference to salvation but rewards. At any rate, John 5:24 contains some beautiful promises for Christians.
50. John 3:17-18: “For God sent not his son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”
Comment: Again, “condemned” is actually “judged” as in 5:24. Notice that verse 18 makes the sole grounds of judgment rejection of Jesus Christ, thereby emphasizing the fact that the sole grounds of salvation is faith in Jesus Christ (works are excluded from both aspects).
– Justification –
51. Romans 3:20
52. Romans 3:28
53. Romans 4:2-5
54. Galatians 3:10-11
55. Romans 10:4
56. Romans 11:6
57. 2 Corinthians 5:21
51. Romans 3:20: “Therefore, by the deeds of the law shall no flesh be justified in his sight; for by the law is the knowledge of sin.”
52. Romans 3:28: “Therefore, we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
Comment: We enter here upon a difficult discussion – not because the Word is not very clear on the subject – it most certainly is – but because the Mormon has no basis upon which to understand the Bible’s teaching. One cannot understand the Christian teachings concerning salvation (sin, punishment, the atonement, faith, grace, adoption, righteousness, security, election, etc.) without first understanding 1) the authority and accuracy of God’s Word the Bible, and 2) the existence of the sovereign, omnipotent God. Mormonism will have nothing to do with these things – hence, the Mormon teaching concerning justification and grace is, from the Biblical viewpoint, terribly twisted and unsound. Allow me to give some background before we begin, as this point is, unfortunately, rarely addressed in so-called “anti-Mormon” literature.
The following statement is one of the best I know in exposing the Mormon doctrine of salvation. It is found in Mormon Doctrine, page 339: “Grace is granted to men proportionately as they conform to the standards of personal righteousness that are part of the gospel plan.” I’ve read many books and many authors on the subject, but this is one of the best examples I know of in reference to the backwardness of Mormon salvation. There are a number of points that must be pointed out in reference to this statement: 1) If grace were granted proportionately to man’s conformance to the “standards of personal righteousness” then the more sinful a person is, the less grace is granted; conversely, the more righteous a person is the more grace is granted. This is completely the opposite of the Biblical teaching (see Romans 5:20, etc.) which posits grace as the basis of all God’s actions toward us, and clearly proclaims that grace is granted to us because God desires to grant it, not because our “personal righteousness” merits it or draws it. Such a teaching on the LDS Church’s part destroys the very meaning of grace itself (see #56). There is no way one can read the Bible and come up with the idea that grace is granted only to the righteous – such is calling white black and black white. It is backwards. Who needs the most grace – the righteous or the sinner??
2) There is no such thing as personal righteousness.” Righteousness is the gift of God, not something that finds its source in mankind. Romans 5:1 says we are justified by faith. The word “justified” is dikaios, which is the same word from which we get the term “righteousness,” making “justified” and “righteous” complete synonyms, as they translate the same Greek term. Romans 3:24 says very clearly “Being justified freely by his grace….” Since our righteousness is given to us freely on the basis of God’s grace, it follows that the above statement by a Mormon apostle is absurd from God’s view-point, as it presents the basis of the reception of grace as man’s righteousness, whereas the Bible says righteousness is the gift of God based on His grace! There is so much more to be said about this, but I cannot due to space. Notice, however, that though Bruce R. McConkie (the above apostle) used Christian terminology, the resultant teaching was exactly opposite of Christian teaching.
3) Again, the above statement presents the gospel as a “plan” by which a person, through adherence to certain standards, “gains” or merits righteousness. Not only have we already seen what 1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-5 says about this, but nothing could be farther from the Biblical truth concerning how one is made righteous. The sinner receives righteousness as a free gift from God on the basis of God’s grace – the sinner is never “granted” righteousness in response to deeds done or merit gained.
Another passage I will briefly mention is found in the Book of Mormon at 2 Nephi 25:23. It reads in part, “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” I always reply, “It is not by grace that we are saved after all we can do, it is by grace we are saved in spite of all we’ve done!” 2 Nephi 25:23 is saying the same thing as Bruce R. McConkie above – and both he and Joseph Smith suffered from the same eternally fatal flaw – they did not understand the grace of God!
With all of this as a background, let’s get back to the two verses we are working on. As you can see, it would be best to simply memorize Romans 3:20-28 as an entire block, but we will deal with them as two single verses right now. Romans 3:20 contains a very important phrase, “in his sight.” Literally the phrase is translated “before Him.” Paul uses the same phrase in Ephesians 1:4 where he says that the result of our being chosen eternally in Christ is that we should be holy and blameless “before Him.” Why is this important in dealing with LDS? James 2:24 talks about justification coming not only by faith but also by works. James 2:20-24 is a favorite passage of Mormons. Problem is, James is not talking about justification in the sight of God (“before Him”) but he is talking about justification before men. There is a big difference. Paul’s point is that there is no possibility of being set right with God by keeping any law, whether the law of Moses or any other. However, James’ point is that the only way you can demonstrate your faith before men is to follow God’s commands. The two passages are not contradictory or exclusive but harmonious.
I have utilized Romans 3:28 as another “sanctified trap.” I ask a young Mormon missionary, “Would you agree that we are justified by faith apart from the works of the law?” They will normally answer, “No, I would not agree with that.” I then ask them to read Romans 3:28 and move on from there. The word translated “without” in the KJV is best translated “apart from.” Also, an important point – the word “law” in Romans is often (as here) anarthrous – that is, without the article. In this form the word refers not specifically to the Law (as in Law of Moses) but to a law principle, that being the idea that by righteous works we can gain favor with God (as the Judaizers were saying). This is an important point as the Mormon will readily agree, “Oh yes, we cannot be saved by the Law of Moses, but instead we obey the Law of Christ” which to them includes “gospel ordinances and principles.”
53. Romans 4:2- 5: “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath something of which to glory, but not before God. For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
54. Galatians 3:10-11: “For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is everyone that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law, to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident; for, The just shall live by faith.”
Comment: I have grouped these two verses together due to the fact that I utilize them together so often. They present two different aspects of the same point. Romans 4:4-5 makes the point that to the one who works, his wage is not given to him as a gift, but as what is due him. But to the one who does not work, but believes, his faith is reckoned to him (imputed) as righteousness. The word translated “counted” or “imputed” refers to the act of deposit, and Paul says faith is the key by which righteousness is deposited to our account. On the other hand, Galatians 3:10-11 makes it clear that those who are under the law (trying to please God by legalism) are under the curse, not because the law is evil, but because men simply will not fulfill all the righteous demands of the law, and hence will be in violation of it! Paul’s point in the Galatians passage is that there simply is no way for man to keep the law in its entirety. Not only is this true of the Law of Moses, but any law that man might create – ironically, we don’t even live up to our own standards! Hence, these two passages together make a powerful point – legalism brings condemnation and a curse, while faith in the One who “justifies the ungodly” (notice it is the ungodly that are justified – not the self-righteous) brings righteousness! This is an important aspect that must be made clear. Be prepared, however! Few topics bring out more scorn than this one!
55. Romans 10:4: “For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone that believeth.”
Comment: Though the point of utilizing this verse is rather obvious, it is just as obvious that you will have to first explain the above item about the law principle before this verse can be used. Again, here, “law” (Gr: nomos) is anarthrous (without the article).
56. Romans 11:6: “And if by grace, then it is no more of works; otherwise grace is no more grace.”
Comment: This verse is so important you may wish to memorize it in NASB for clarity: “But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.” This is the whole verse, as the second section found in the KJV is a later insertion. This verse is really wonderful. Unfortunately, we miss some of it in English. Paul’s point has to do with the very meaning of the word “grace.” Grace is unmerited favor, something that is totally undeserved. Grace is outside the realm of works, legalism, etc. Hence, Paul’s point is that grace cannot ever be bought, earned, paid for or even begged – it is given as the free gift of the bestower. Hence, graphically, it may be expressed like this:
works< ——————————————————————————— >grace
Both terms are mutually exclusive and are at opposite ends of the spectrum in reference to gaining righteousness. One of my favorite phrases is “Grace plus works is dead, being meaningless.” This is not to say that doing good works as a Christian is unimportant – it is just that we are not talking about living the Christian life, we are talking about how one enters it! I would suggest as further reading a wonderful chapter by William Barkley entitled “The Essential Grace” from his book The Mind of St. Paul.
57. 2 Corinthians 5:21: “For he hath made him, who knew no sin, to be sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
Comment: How does one go from being guilty (unrighteous) to being not guilty (righteous)? There is only one way. That way does not lie in the path that seeks after “standards of personal righteousness” through works of a law. If we someday stand before God clothed in our own righteousness, we will face only His rejection, wrath and judgment. The only possible righteousness is the righteousness given as a free gift by the grace of God in Jesus Christ. God’s plan is simple – He made Jesus Christ, the sinless Lamb of God, to be sin for us, so that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ. What a deal! We trade our sinfulness for His righteousness! We trade death for life, misery for joy, turmoil for peace! How foreign to the striving-for-worthiness-through-personal-righteousness-so-I-can-get-grace Mormon! And what a tragedy that is!
One of the main reasons salvation by grace through faith is so difficult for LDS (and many others) to understand and accept has to do with our own sinful pride. God has provided salvation, it is true. But He demands that we come to Him in a certain way – not a way of legalism and works which find their origin, source and power in human kind – but He demands that we come to Him realizing our own helplessness and unworthiness. We must come to Him admitting our sin and the fact that there is not so much as one thing we can do to save ourselves, not one little thing we can do even to help God save us. We must acknowledge our powerlessness in the face of the omnipotent God. Now, mankind does not like to admit that he cannot do something – especially for men in our culture, that simply isn’t “macho.” Mankind, therefore, decides to “help God out” by adding in all these works that we can do and point to and say “see how I helped God out?” God will have nothing to do with a person who comes to him on their own terms! We must come to Him on His terms – the merciful terms of faith.
– Works –
58. John 3:5
59. James 2:20-24
60. Genesis 15:6
61. Galatians 2:20-21
62. Ephesians 2:8-10
63. John 6:28-29
58. John 3:5: “Jesus answered, Verily, verily I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.”
Comment: This is a favorite verse of Mormons to “prove” that baptism is necessary for salvation. Of course, Mormons are not alone in utilizing this verse to make this point – many “Christian” groups do the same thing. I feel sorry for someone who believes in baptismal regeneration when they run into a sharp Mormon – they are in big trouble, since, in my opinion, their viewpoint is much more similar to the LDS position than it is to the Bible’s. At any rate, does John 3:5 teach that baptism is necessary for salvation? A better question might be, is “being born of the water” the same as water baptism? Let’s look at the passage in its context and find out.
First, it must be pointed out that the phrase “born of the water” is never used of baptism in the Bible. If this is a reference to baptism, therefore, it must be the only example we have of this usage. Second, the context calls for a different interpretation. The concept of water and Spirit has been seen before in Scripture, specifically, in the prophecy of Ezekiel: “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances” (Ezekiel 36:25-27). There is only one act of being “born” in this passage, and one means: by water and Spirit, not by water (one act) and then the Spirit. Jesus is talking about the new birth in this passage, not baptism plus something else. One birth, brought about by the cleansing and regeneration of the person so born. This is the same concept found in Titus 3:5-7.
59. James 2:20-24: “But wilt thou know, 0 vain man, that faith without works is dead? Was not Abraham, our father, justified by works, when he had offered Isaac, his son, upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness; and he was called the friend of God. Ye see, then that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.”
Comment: You enter here upon a passage that is probably the most often discussed verse in the one-on-one witnessing encounter with a Mormon. I early on lost count of the number of times this verse came up in conversation. Now, there are two ways of handling this. If you are in a situation where time is of the essence, I would suggest getting to James 2:20 as quickly as possible, using it to make your point, and then moving on to more fertile ground in Romans and elsewhere. It is not that James 2 is something to be feared – it just takes a good deal of time to handle. I would do it something like this: we are talking about salvation, and I have quoted, say, Romans 4:2-5. “Now, we know that faith is something much more than just tipping our hats toward God. James says in James 2:20 that faith without works is dead, so we see that a true, saving faith will result in good works. An empty, meaningless faith will result in nothing at all. So when Paul says we are made righteous by faith he was referring to the real kind of faith. Now, let’s look at Romans 3:20….” By using James 2:20 first, and using it to make your point, you will probably be able to be in a conversation based on the great passages about the subject. However, it normally won’t be that easy. More often than not James 2 will come up and will stay there till you deal with it. That is fine. Now, you need to get the following information down pat, because if the Mormon sees you struggling with it, you are in trouble. Realize also the fact that you are at an immediate disadvantage in this situation – the Mormon does not have a background upon which to understand the passage, and you are supposed to be able to provide that background and then build upon it all in a few minutes in a normally emotionally-charged, public situation. With all that in mind, let’s look at what James was saying.
If the context of James 2:20-24 was the same as, say, Romans 3:20-5:10, then a good case could be made for a direct contradiction. But such is not the case. How are we to understand what James says, then! I will deal with the two main points of the passage. First, James 2:20 is (for some strange reason) more popular amongst LDS than James 2:24, though personally I feel James 2:24 presents more difficulty than does 2:20. Wally Tope’s tract, “Faith Without Works is Dead” deals with 2:20 quite quickly and quite well. The front of the tract has the title, and then the first paragraph reads, “Yes, faith without works is dead, but you’re still saved by a saving faith alone. Try to understand this: “Faith alone saves, but a saving faith is never alone.” In other words, the kind of faith that can save you will eventually result in good works. For example, sheep don’t go “baa, baa” to become sheep, they go “baa, baa” because they already are!” Touche, Wally. The “baa, baa” illustration needs some expansion. I could wrap myself up in wool, get down on all fours and crawl around the room bleating like a sheep from now till doomsday and I still would not be a sheep. Why? Because all that outward stuff doesn’t change my inner being – I’m still a human being (albeit a strange one at that). A sheep bleats because it is its nature to do so. Going “baa, baa” is the natural result of its inner being as a sheep. In the same way, I can do good works all my life, but unless my inner being is changed, I will never be a Christian. Acting like a Christian does not make one a Christian. However, when that inner change does take place, the natural result will be good works – they come forth from my changed nature. See the parallel? (I would suggest memorizing Wally’s phrase “Faith alone saves, but a saving faith is never alone.”) We will look at 2:24 after listing the next verse.
60. Genesis 15:6: “And he believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness.”
Comment: As I mentioned, I feel 2:24 demands more work than does 2:20, mainly because it seems directly opposed to Romans 3:28. Now, I don’t believe it is, but showing that to a Mormon is the trick. Let’s look at the passage and see how it fits. I feel the key to understanding James 2:24 is the preceding example used by James, that being the story of Abraham and his offering of Isaac upon the altar. At what point in time does the Bible tell us Abraham was made righteous? When was righteousness imputed to him?
The answer is to be found in a passage that is quoted at least four times in the New Testament, including here at James 2:23 – Genesis 15:6. Go back and read what happened. On what basis was Abraham made righteous – his works, or his faith? Read Romans chapter 4. Paul’s argument in Romans 4 is that Abraham was made righteous by faith and not by works of the law, and he backs up his argument by pointing out that Genesis 15:6 took place hundreds of years before the law was given! Therefore, how could Abraham have received righteousness by works of the law when the law had not yet been given?! Now, what is the time relationship between Genesis 15:6 and the imputation of righteousness to Abraham, and his offering of Isaac on the altar? In other words, which came first – the proper relationship with God (i.e. righteousness) or the works that demonstrated Abraham’s faith in God? The answer is quite clear, as the story of the offering of Isaac is found in chapter 22 of Genesis, which would indicate that this event took place at least twenty, and possibly as long as forty years after Genesis 15:6. Hence, the Bible makes it clear that the act of faith recorded in Genesis 15:6 was the basis of Abraham’s salvation – he demonstrated that faith many years later in reference to Isaac. Then the question must be asked, what does James mean when he uses the term “justified”? Is he using the word in the same sense as Paul did? I would have to say, based on the foregoing discussion of Genesis 15/22 that he is not.
The context of James is in reference to living the Christian life in a non-Christian world. James would be using the phrase “justified” in reference to a demonstration of faith before men – a justification of his claim to know God and to follow Him. The important distinction between justification before God and justification before men can be seen in two ways – 1) man must have visible, outward deeds upon which to make a judgment, while God does not. Works are visible and outward, faith is not. Therefore, for men to see our faith, it must result in tangible, visible works. 2) Paul makes it very clear in Romans 3:20 and Galatians 3:11 that justification before God (in the sight of God) is by faith and not by works. This is a very important differentiation to grasp – which is more important, justification before men or before God? Can a man be just before men without being just before God? Possibly. But can a man be just before God and not give evidence of this before men? Both Paul and James would give a resounding “no” to that question. We will see the perfect harmony of faith and works in #62 below.
61. Galatians 2:20-21: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God; for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ died in vain.”
Comment: Unfortunately, this booklet isn’t meant to be a devotional guide, so I must repress my natural preaching tendency and get on with the topic. Verse 21 flings a bold claim in the face of all legalistic systems that dare call themselves “Christian.” “If,” Paul exclaims, “a person could gain so much as one ounce of right standing before God through law (the word is without the article again!), then not only is the grace of God made null and void (again pointing out the contradictory nature of law and grace), but travesty of travesties, the death of Christ was in vain! Why? Because we had the route of salvation all the time – keeping laws! We had the ability all the time within ourselves to pull ourselves up by the boot-straps and obtain a right standing with God. Paul here makes it very clear – it is all or nothing at all – either one is saved by God’s grace through the efficacy of the death of Christ, or one is saved by keeping the law – THERE IS NO MIDDLE GROUND! Paul was more concerned with those who attempted to mix grace and works (thereby destroying both) than he was with those who totally rejected grace and strove for worthiness through works. A grace-plus-something-more salvation plan is the false gospel Paul anathematizes in Galatians 1:6-9, and that is exactly what we are dealing with in Mormonism!
62. Ephesians 2:8-10: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God – not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Comment: This passage is undoubtedly the most oft repeated come-back for the Christian. I would suggest holding it until its full effect can be utilized. If the Mormon expects it right off the bat, then stay cool and delay its use until you have been able to build a solid foundation upon which to place it. The Greek phrases “not of yourselves” and “not of works” both use the word “ex.” Literally it would mean “not out of yourselves” and “not out of works.” What he is saying is that the basis or origin of our salvation is not found in man, nor in works of the law, but in the grace of God. Oh how vastly different than the thousands of man-made systems such as propounded by the LDS Church! He calls salvation the “gift of God.” Again, you will have to make sure the Mormon understands that you are not just talking about the old “salvation = resurrection” scheme he is used to. A gift is something freely given – there is no price, no earning of a gift. And why has God ordained it so? Well, the Bible certainly does know men well! “lest any man boast.” If we had a part in creating, bringing about, earning or keeping our salvation, would we not boast? Most assuredly we would! But there is no boasting before God, because God is the one who saves in spite of man! Works-salvation systems put man in a place where he can boast of his accomplishments – Christian salvation gives all the glory to God.
The sad fact is that verse 10 normally goes unquoted and it certainly should not, important as it is. Verse 10 provides the perfect balance of works and faith. It says that we have been created in Christ Jesus unto good works. Now, notice it does not say that good works created us in Christ Jesus! First comes the creation in Christ (salvation), then the good works. How sad it is when the order gets mixed up. God’s work in our lives will bring about good works, but to place the proverbial cart before the horse and make good works a prerequisite for salvation is to miss the whole point of salvation itself! The Jews had a similar problem, as we shall see in the next set of verses.
63. John 6:28-29: “Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? Jesus answered, and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.”
Comment: The Jews asked Jesus about doing works, and Jesus replied by saying the work of God is real faith. Most LDS think Christians have a pretty low view of faith. Maybe we have, by our mass-appeal, health-wealth “gospel” (which I feel is just as false as any other un-Biblical gospel) given them sufficient reason to think so. Be that as it may, real faith is a scary thing. Faith trusts in Christ and NOTHING ELSE. True faith looks to the Lord and says, “Lord Jesus, you said that if I believed in you, you would raise me up at the last day (Jn. 6:40, 44). Well Lord, I am going to trust you to do that. I am going to hold on to you, and absolutely nothing else. I am not going to trust in my church, my friends, my good works – nothing. Only in you. And Lord, if you don’t do it, nobody will.” That is faith. It is not just a tipping of the hat toward God – it is a complete and total sell-out to God.
This section consists of verses that just don’t fit neatly into any of the above categories. These are verses you will want to have memorized due either to their popularity amongst LDS (#’s 64, 65 and 68) or due to their usefulness to the Christian (#’s 66 and 67).
64. I Corinthians 8:4-6
65. John 10:34
66. Hebrews 1:1-3
67. Luke 16:16
68. I Corinthians 15:29
64. I Corinthians 8:4-6: “As concerning therefore the eating of those things that are offered in sacrifice unto idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many,) But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him.”
Comment: [I give you here the same material as is contained in our information sheet entitled, “Many gods, many lords]. The above passage opens a discussion by the Apostle Paul on the sensitive topic of behavior among believers, and the matter of each person’s conscience. He is answering a question that must have been included in a letter sent to him by the congregation at Corinth. Idols were a very common sight in Corinth, as in most ancient cities of the time. Some of the believers, having been involved in idol worship, could not with a clear conscience partake of meat that they knew had been sacrificed to idols. This was a serious problem, as just about every bit of the meat supply in the city may have been involved in such practices.
Paul addresses the problem by first saying that idols “are nothing in the world.” An idol has no power over the Christian. It has no reality other than the demonic power that would cause someone to worship it. There was no real Diana, or Jupiter, or any of the other false gods of the era. He then puts forth the fact that though things or people may be called gods, to the Christian there is only one God, the Father, and one Lord, Jesus Christ (obviously connecting them in a supernatural way.) In the process, Paul says that “there are gods many and lords many.” Obviously what he meant by this is that there are many false gods and false lords being worshiped by non-believers, but these are simply idols. One can make a god out of almost anything – as one person put it, some people get up in the morning and shave their god in the mirror, others get into their god and drive to work, others sit in front of their god for hours each night and watch it.
The fact that Paul is alluding to false gods is brought out more clearly in more modern translations:
“For even if there are so-called gods whether in heaven or on earth, as indeed there are many gods and many lords,…” (New American Standard Bible)
“For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as indeed there are many “gods” and many “lords”),…” (New International Version)
The Bible clearly says that “all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the LORD made the heavens.” (Psalm 96:5). In context, then, Paul is not saying that he believed in polytheism, the belief in many gods, but rather that he was a monotheist – he believed in only one God.
In light of the clear Biblical position on this, it is amazing to read the words of the Mormon “prophet” Joseph Smith in regards to this verse: “You know and I testify that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods. I have it from God, and get over it if you can. I have a witness of the Holy Ghost, and a testimony that Paul had no allusion to the heathen gods in the text.” (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith by Joseph Fielding Smith, page 371.) Which would you rather believe – God’s Word, or a false prophet?
66. John 10:34: “Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods?”
Comment: This verse is often used out-of-context by LDS to “prove” that men can become gods. A few quick observations you may wish to share with a Mormon that uses this verse. First, the passage clearly says that Jesus is quoting from the Old Testament. Does the LDS person know from whence this quotation came? Most probably not. The Lord is here quoting Psalm 82:6. You will want to point out that Psalm 82:7 says “But ye shall die like men, and fall like any one of the princes.” Doesn’t sound like we are talking about eternal gods here, does it? In fact, if you will read Psalm 82 you will find that it is about unrighteous judges in Israel, not about gods in heaven. The Israelite judges, sitting as it were in the place of God as they judged the people, had become corrupt, and this psalm is a song of judgment upon them. (I have only had one Mormon argue that scholars feel the “gods” mentioned here are not judges. Should you ever run into that one person, you may want to refer him to the commentary of Keil and Delitzsch, volume 5, pages 400-404. This volume is really three-in-one (how ironic), and the pagination starts over each time. This is part of the second volume.) Hence, the OT background from which Jesus is quoting does not allow for the LDS interpretation.
Second, notice that Jesus says “ye are gods,” not “ye shall become gods.” The present tense is used, indicating a continuous, present action. Now, a bunch of mad Jews standing around with rocks in their hands about to stone the Son of God hardly seems to me to be the most likely candidates for godhood! Since Jesus was addressing them as judges in Israel, not as eternal gods, the LDS view is again seen to be off-base.
66. Hebrews 1:1-3: “God, who at sundry times and in divers[e] manners spoke in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; who, being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high…”
67. Luke 16:16: “The law and the prophets were until John; since that time the kingdom of God is preached…”
Comment: Briefly, these two verses are helpful in discussing the sufficiency of the revelation of God in Jesus Christ. Many LDS quote Amos 3:7, thinking that we must have Scripture-giving prophets around today. I would suggest reading our tract “Jesus is Sufficient” for some ideas on how to approach this issue.
68. I Corinthians 15:29: “Else what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they, then, baptized for the dead?”
Comment: This is one of the most difficult passages to deal with. The Mormon does not see how it is illogical for him to attach his own theological baggage to this passage, and how by doing so he makes it meaningless in its context. To help you explain it, we will look at what it means. The Christian church had never practiced baptism for the dead in the sense that the LDS Church wants us to believe. They are forced to take 1 Corinthians 15:29 out of its context and force their own peculiar meaning on it. First, the Bible does not teach that baptism saves anyone (even 1 Peter 3:21, upon close examination, does not do so), hence it certainly would not be needed to “redeem the dead” as Mormons put it. 1 Corinthians 15:29 is found in the “resurrection chapter.” The needed clue to its meaning is found in the language in which it was originally written, that being Greek. The word “for” is the Greek term huper. It refers to the taking of someone’s place, or to substitution. Baptism “for” the dead is not baptism of a living person in behalf of or for the benefit of a dead person, but rather the immersion of a living person in the place of or into the former position of a now deceased person. It is the baptism of a new convert who takes the place in the church of one who has died. The baptism of a young child, for example, the day after an elderly saint of the Lord has passed away could be viewed as the younger person coming to “fill” the position of the person who has gone home to be with the Lord. This vein of thinking is carried on in the context when Paul says in the next verse, “Why are we also in danger every hour?” (NASB). Being a Christian in those days was a dangerous business. Paul’s whole point in the entire passage has to do with the fact that if the dead are not raised (v. 12) there is absolutely no point in bringing new converts into this dangerous position through baptism when there is no future life to promise them, no reward in the future for their faithfulness. Why not just let everyone die off without filling their positions in the church, since, if there is no resurrection, “we are of all men most to be pitied” (v. 19). Belief in baptizing the living to somehow help in saving the dead demonstrates a complete misunderstanding of the New Testament teaching concerning the nature, extent, and purpose of salvation.
Congratulations! You have come to the end of the 100 verses relevant to sharing the Gospel with Mormons. (Though only 68 references are given, the total number of verses is 100). To sort of round-out your education, I would like to list five references from the Book of Mormon that you may wish to memorize as well, helpful as they are.
2 Nephi 2:23, 25
2 Nephi 25:23
2 Nephi 2:23, 25: “And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they know no sin…Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.”
(Note that v. 23 says one can do no good unless one knows sin. What about Jesus?)
2 Nephi 25:23: “…for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
Moroni 8:18: “For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being; but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.”
(Note: Joseph didn’t believe in plurality of gods, etc. when he wrote the BofM.)
Moroni 10:4,5: “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.”
(See above section on the Mormon testimony in reference to this last verse.)
God bless you as you put His Word in your heart and use it to lead those lost in the blackness of Mormonism to the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!