This is our final week in our 4 week series entitled, “Does it Matter What I Believe?”. It is my hope that during this series you will be strengthened in your faith and deepen your understanding of what a relationship with God is all about. Each week we are also looking at alternative belief systems that are tripping up our family and friends and our culture. Last week, we talked about 4 specific truths that inform a healthy worldview:
A Healthy Worldview
1) Truth matters
2) Faith alone is not enough
3) The object of your faith makes the difference
4) Jesus Christ is the only worthy object of faith
Today will perhaps be the most difficult of the entire four-week series. We will be looking at two religious systems that are clearly non-Christian. And yet, they present themselves as either affiliated with or replacements of Christianity such that it is often hard to distinguish. In addition, whereas many of us may not know any Muslims, or perhaps not interact regularly with a declared New Age practitioner or Secular Humanists, undoubtedly all of us have contact with someone who is a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon.
Just before I begin to give the background of these alternative religious systems, I want to say that I will be speaking and teaching very firmly about these belief systems. I believe the belief systems are destructive and non-Christian. And yet, I want to make clear that there are many fine people, loved ones, and good citizens who practice these religions. At the end of our time today, I will be helping us understand how we can be a light for Christ in the lives of people who have been deceived into these religious systems.
Background of Jehovah’s Witnesses & Mormonism
Founded in 1879 as Zion’s Watchtower, 1881 it became Watchtower Bible & Tract Society, in 1909 it was known as The Peoples Pulpit Association, in 1914 it was the International Bible Students Association. Finally in 1931, 15 years after the death of their founder(Charles Taze Russell), a man named Judge Rutherford helped adopt the name Jehovah’s Witness. It comes from Isaiah, 43:10,12, 44:8.
Founder was divorced by his wife in 1913. He and later leaders established many business enterprises and corporations, particularly known for publications and distribution of literature. Began with a tremendous focus on the end of the world. During their history at least 5 specific dates have been fixed for the end of the world and ushering in of peace and righteousness. Most of us would recognize them for their door to door witnessing, which helps to secure their place in the chosen 144,000 who will be able to be in the inner kingdom.
Mormonism was founded
Jehovah’s Witnesses(JW), Mormonism(M), and the Bible
If you were to develop a counterfeit $20 dollar bill, how would you go about it? Would you take a piece of sandpaper 2 x 3, paint it pink, and then put a $20 symbol on it? No, you would make it look and feel as close as possible to the genuine article. That is a good illustration of how both JW’s and Mormonism work.
In the next few moments, I am going to share a contrast between Jehovah’s Witness and Mormon teaching and Biblical Christianity. Some of the basic errors of both these teachings go back to the 4th century a.d. These are not new heresies, they are well trodden pathways of deception.
JW’s claim to believe in the Bible, “from cover to cover”. However, their use of the Bible is based on their own reason, and their own translation. They believe all translations but their own are corrupt. They pay particular attention to the Old Testament and to the prophetic literature in Daniel and Revelation
“This church is the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth(M)
Mormons believe that the Bible, as correctly translated, is a source of authority but that it is incomplete. They also believe that the Living Prophets(from Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and all the other heads of the church) are of greater importance than the written Scriptures.
“The Book of Mormon is the keystone of our religion. Every spirit that confesses that the Book of Mormon is true is of God and every spirit that does not is of anti-Christ”(M)
“The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God stands forever.”(Isaiah
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and
training in righteousness” (II Timothy 3:16)
JW’s deny the doctrine of the Trinity.
“Satan is the originator of the trinity doctrine”(JW)
Their allegiance is to Jehovah God. They deny the deity of the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ.
“God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted man”(M)
“He(God) created man as we create our children for there is no other process of creation”
Mormons believe that God was once a man and is now exalted. He and His spouses created the souls that now inhabit children once born. Jesus was a prophet (like Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, and others). He was once a man with several wives who came to the American Continent. The Holy Spirit is not a person, but a substance or fluid
“Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”(Genesis 1:26)
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.” (Deuteronomy 6:4)
Jehovahs’ Witness deny the deity of Christ, “This one was not Jehovah God…He was a mighty one, although not almighty as Jehovah is…He was a god, but not the Almighty God”(JW). They believe that Jesus Christ was God’s first creative act and that Jesus then created the rest of creation.
Mormons believe that Jesus was married, had several wives, and that he was a unique part of the Godly council that decided to create the world and fill it with people.
“In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods and they came together an concocted a plan to create the world and people it”(M)
“Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing,
taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”(Philippians 2:5-8)
Jesus was a mere man who gave his life as a ransom for mankind. His sacrifice was a human sacrifice and atones for the general sins of mankind. Our specific sins must be atoned for by indviduals and is completed by our witness.
“One can hope to live forever only if he follows the apostolic example of publicly declaring to others the good news concerning Jehovah’s marvelous provisions for life”(JW)
“There is no salvation outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints”(M)
“The sectarian dogma of justification by faith alone, has exercised an influence for evil since the early days of Christianity”(M)
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”(John 14:6)
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. “(Ephesians 2:8-9)
JW”s believe that the soul of mankind is not eternal. Death brings about soul sleep, they will be raised from the dead and given a second chance. If they do not respond then, they will be annihilated and there is no hell.
“So we see that the claim of the religionists that man has an immortal soul and therefore differs from the beast is not Scriptural. The Bible shows that both man and beasts are souls…”(JW)
Mormons believe that we will all be judged by Joseph Smith at the culmination of all things. There are three levels of heaven(celestial, terrestial and telestial). The highest level of heaven will be attained at the end of all things by those who have been married in a Mormon temple and have been admitted by Joseph Smith. The deny the doctrine of hell and instead
“They who have obeyed the laws of the Gospel, received the Holy Ghost, obtained and honored the priesthood and lived lives of righteousness shall be admitted to the celestial glory. Here they shall have thrones, dominion and endless increase; they shall be Gods creating and governing worlds and peopling them with their offspring”(M)
“The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.”(John 3:35-36)
“In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.” (II Timothy 4:1-2)
What Should I Do With What I Beleive?
1) Draw near to Christ
“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.”(John 15:4)
2) Pray for those who are being misled
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”(Phillipians 4:6)
3) Speak with grace and not malice
“Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”(Colossians 4:5-6)
4) Be prepared with an answer
“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect”(I Peter 3:15)