I Bear You My Testimony
By WALKER, JAMES K.
A Brief History of Mormonism
Joseph Smith, the founder and first prophet of Mormonism, was born on December 23, 1805, in the town of Sharon, Vermont. According to the official account, when Smith was 14, two persons radiating with light appeared to him, identifying themselves as God the Father and Jesus Christ. From them Smith said he received instructions to join no existing religious groups, for they all were evil in God’s sight.
Smith later wrote that on the evening of September 21, 1823, an angel named Moroni appeared to him three times. Each time Moroni told Smith that he was sent from God to reveal ancient gold plates inscribed with the history of the inhabitants of the Americas. With the plates were also two "seer" stones used to translate the characters on the plates. The next day Smith allegedly found the plates buried in a hillside near Palmyra, New York, but he was told that they would be given to him only when he became worthy.
According to Smith’s writings, he retrieved the golden plates on September 22, 1827. Smith later began translating the plates using the "seer" stones. From these translations the first edition of the Book of Mormon was published in March of 1830.
Smith claimed that in late 1829 or early 1830, the Apostles Peter, James, and John appeared to him and restored the "Melchizedek priesthood." Ordained with this new authority, Joseph organized his church on April 6, 1830. Several years later a number of Smith’s followers led by Brigham Young migrated to Utah and built Salt Lake City. From that desert arose the empire now known as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I believed that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God and that the LDS Church was the only true church on earth. You see, I was born into an LDS home. My father’s side of the family had been members of the Church for four generations. At the age of eight I was baptized into the LDS church and received the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost.
From that early age to adulthood, I was involved in many aspects of Mormon life. I tithed and attended Priesthood, fast and testimony, and Sacrament meetings. I also performed my duty in our Family Home Evening and Home Teaching. I even obtained my temple recommend and entered the Salt Lake City temple to perform baptism for the dead.
As my commitment increased, a good friend of mine, who was not a member of the Church, became concerned about me. He had been researching the LDS church and shared some facts I didn’t know. I began to wonder about my personal salvation. Although I was in good standing with the Church, I was not sure I was keeping all the laws. I also read in the book of Mormon, “...it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”1
As a Mormon, I thought I had been trusting Christ as my personal Savior, but I was really trusting my testimony and my good works for salvation. I finally knelt down and admitted to my Heavenly Father that even on my best days I was not perfect. I, like everyone else, was a sinner.2 It was hard, but I told God I was no longer going to trust in my own good works or any church for eternal life. From that time on, I was going to trust His Son Jesus Christ alone to save me from my sins.3,4
A True Comparison
Mormonism’s doctrines are very different from those in the Bible.
The True God:
The god I worshiped as a Latter-day Saint was very different from the God of the Bible. I had worshiped “God the Eternal Father, His Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost.”5 The names were right—but the god was wrong.
The god that I worshiped as a Latter-day Saint had a body of flesh and bone6, was a glorified, exalted man7, and was one of many gods.8
I even learned that the Mormon god has Eternal Wives through whom spirit children are born9 and these children have the potential to become other gods.10
However, the God of the Bible does not have a body of flesh and bone. “God is a Spirit...; A spirit hath not flesh and bones.” He is not a man who was exalted to godhood. “God is not a man....”11 The God of the Bible has no wife and stands alone as God.12
Mormonism teaches that Adam’s fall in the Garden of Eden was a “fall upward” that was not sinful, but rather was necessary to propagate the human race.13 It also says that man has the potential of becoming God, just as Christ did; man is king of kings and lord of lords in embryo.14
However, the Bible says that Adam’s sin in the Garden of Eden caused spiritual and physical death for all persons.15 Mankind’s ultimate goal is not godhood, but rather people have been punished precisely because they thought they could make themselves like God.16
The True Christ:
The Christ of the Bible and the Christ of Mormonism are two completely different persons.
Mormonism says that before Christ’s earthly ministry He was the first spirit child born to the Heavenly Father and Mother.17 In fact, Mormonism teaches that Satan [Lucifer] was originally the spirit brother of Christ.18 Mormonism also teaches that God the Father in His glorified physical body had sexual intercourse with the virgin Mary that resulted in the conception of Christ’s physical body.19
But the Bible teaches that Christ is the only Eternal God, not the product of conception.20 Satan was originally a created angel who led a rebellion against God in heaven.21
Mormonism says that Christ’s blood shed on the cross provides for the universal resurrection of all people. Its effectiveness for cleansing personal sin, however, depends on each person’s repentance and good works.22 In contrast, the Bible says that the blood of Christ shed on the cross was sufficient for the cleansing and forgiveness of all an individual’s personal sin.23
The True Gospel:
Before I trusted in Christ as my Savior, I followed what Mormonism taught me about getting to heaven. Its gospel—its message about how to get to heaven—included “all of the laws, principles, rites, ordinances, acts, powers, authorities, and keys necessary to save and exalt men in the highest heaven hereafter.”24 So Mormonism's full salvation comes through a combination of faith, baptism in the church, and works.25
The Bible’s Gospel message focuses on Christ. When He died for us on the cross, we were forgiven and offered eternal life. To avoid any confusion, the Bible clearly explains that the Gospel does not include laws, or ordinances, or works.26
Both gospels say they lead to eternal life, but each has its own definition of what that eternal life is. In Mormonism, eternal life is the power to attain godhood and have children in heaven. That can be achieved only through obedience to the Mormon church and having one’s marriage sealed in a Temple ceremony by the Mormon priesthood.27 In the Bible, eternal life is entering into an eternal knowledge of and fellowship with God and is achieved by personal faith in Christ as Savior.28
Mormonism and the Bible teach two different messages about getting to heaven. In fact, they are direct opposites. Both can’t be true; I had to choose one or the other. How about you?
I urge you to come to the God of the Bible, the only true God.29 He loves you and sent His Son Jesus Christ to die for your sins.30 You can find wonderful freedom when you admit to God that you are a sinner and trust Christ alone as your Savior.31
“And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12).
James K. Walker
Information & Resources
James Walker now serves as president of Watchman Fellowship, an evangelical Christian discernment ministry based in Arlington, Texas. If you have questions or would like further information, please contact James Walker at: Watchman Fellowship, Inc.
P.O. Box 13340
Arlington, Texas 76094
* Walker, James: Witnessing to Mormons Resource Library (3 cassette tapes and witnessing manuals).
* Roberts, R. Phillip: Mormonism Unmasked, Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1998.
* Tanner, Jerald and Sandra: The Changing World of Mormonism, Chicago, Moody Press, 1980.
* Cares, Mark: Speaking the Truth in Love to Mormons, Milwaukee: WELS Outreach Resources, 1998.
12 Nephi 25:23. 2 Romans 3:23. 3 Acts 4:12. 4 Ephesians 2:8-9. 5 First Article of Faith; McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (MD), 1966, p. 270. 6 Doctrine and Covenants (D&C) 130:22. 7 Gospel Through the Ages (GTA), 1945, p. 104. 8MD, pp. 576-77. 9Ibid., p. 516. 10Ibid., p. 745; Achieving a Celestial Marriage, 1976, p. 132. 11John 4:24; Luke 24:39; Numbers 23:19; Psalm 90:2. 12Isaiah 43:10; 44:6; 46:9. 13Journal of Discourses, (JD), V. 13, p. 145; V. 10, p. 312; Pearl of Great Price, Moses 5:10-12; Doctrines of Salvation, V. 1, pp. 114-15. 14JD, V. 10, p. 223; History of the Church, V. 6, p. 306; D&C 76:50-70; 132:20. 15Genesis 3:16-24; Romans 5:12-14. 16 Ezekiel 28:1-10. 17MD, pp. 278, 590. 18GTA, p. 15. 19MD, p. 547; JD, V.1, p. 51; V. 4, p. 218. 20John 1:1-2. 21Ezekiel 28:11-19; Colossians 1:16. 22 Third Article of Faith; MD, pp. 62, 669. 23 Colossians 2:13; Romans 8:36-39. 24MD, p. 331. 25Ibid., pp. 669-70; Ensign, Nov. 1982, p. 61; Moroni 10:32-33; 3 Nephi 27:19; Alma 12:16-18; 34:32-35. 261 Corinthians 15:1-8; Acts 10:43; John 3:16; Romans 3:19-24; Colossians 2:16-17; Titus 3:5-7. 27JD, V. 11, pp. 221, 269; MD, p. 411. 28 John 17:3; Romans 3:21-25, 6:23; 1 John 5:11-13. 29 Deuteronomy 4:35, 39. 30John 3:16. 31Isaiah 53:6; Acts 13:39; Romans 10:9-13.