Saturday 11 August 2012

A Different Jesus

Todays article was kindly provided by Bobby Gilpin of UK Partnerships for Christ.

In the Book of Mormon 2 Nephi 25:26 says: And we atalk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we bprophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our cchildren may know to what source they may look for a dremission of their sins.
On Mormonism 101 a recent section on the Mormon Newsroom website stating Mormons beliefs, it says this about Jesus.

Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world and the Son of our loving Heavenly Father
Latter-day Saints believe God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to save all mankind from their sins (see John 3:16). God is a loving Heavenly Father who knows His children individually, hears and answers their prayers, and feels compassion toward them. Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are two separate beings but along with the Holy Ghost (Spirit) are one in will, purpose and love. Latter-day Saints worship Jesus Christ as their Savior and Redeemer. He is central to the lives of Church members. They accept His grace and mercy; they seek to follow His example by being baptized (see Matthew 3:13-17), praying in His holy name (see Matthew 6:9-13), partaking of the sacrament (communion) (see Luke 22:19-20), doing good to others (see Acts 10:38) and bearing witness of Him through both word and deed (see James 2:26).

Yet despite what these sources say, Christians worldwide see the Jesus that Mormons believe in as a different Jesus to the bible. What I want to do in this article is look at the background to the LDS view on Jesus compared to the Biblical view, focusing particularly on these 3 areas.

  • The Nature of Christ.
  • The Glory of Christ.
  • The Sufficiency of Christ.
The Nature of Christ

Jesus is as evangelicals believe a part of the Trinity, fully God yet one of the 3 persons that make up the God of the bible. I will spend some time here looking at the biblical evidence for Jesus being God, also looking at His pre earth and the LDS view of His nature compared with biblical statements on this.
So Philippians 2:5-11 says: 5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: 7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
So we see Jesus thought it not robbery to be equal with God, meaning the Father, Jesus existed in the form of the Father and then emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant and being found in the likeness of men. Jesus was equal to the Father, as well as this we see in Colossians 1:16 that all things were made by Him (which is also said in John 1:3, saying all things that were made, were made by Him)  and for Him. What does that for mean? We see throughout the bible that God has created humanity for His glory, we exist for His enjoyment over ours.

Isaiah 43:7

says Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. So if we are made for Gods glory, and we are made by and for Christ, then we are made for Christs glory if He is on an equal level with the Father meaning He is God. Now I wil get on more to the glory of Christ in the next section however in seeing something of the significance of the glory of Christ we get to the heart of who Christ is by nature as in the Old Testament God says this:

Isaiah 42:8
I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
God will not give His glory to another, hold that thought for later. In the LDS view we see a difference from the start, my understanding of this view is that Christ was the first to be born of our heavenly parents in the pre-existence in heaven. Christ being the first to be born was given a God like status as a result and He is the example of what we as the spirit children born after Christ can recieve ourselves in terms of glory and exaltation. We will not necessarily be saviours, though there is some belief amongst some LDS that God the Father was a saviour on another planet and that Christ is doing the same on His road to exaltation and that maybe we will do the same later. However staying on point the general LDS view is that Christ had to come to earth to live out His plan of salvation to recieve His full exaltation to be a god, as well as being our saviour in the process.

BYU Professor Robert Millet said this:
(BYU is a Mormon Church owned college in Provo Utah)
“Jesus was the firstborn spirit child of God the Father and thus the recipient of the birthright of the royal family. As such, and in that premortal realm, he was the Elder Brother of all of the spirit sons and daughters of the Father” (A different Jesus? The Christ of the Latter Day saints, p.20)

Also in an LDS manual:

“Every person who was ever born on earth was our spirit brother or sister in heaven” (Gospel Principles 1997, p.11). So according to this view we all have the same background and start in existence as Christ, we existed eternally as intelligences and later gained our Spirit bodies in heaven,  however He was simply first, and was chosen to be the Savior (Abraham 3:27-28, LDS Scripture)
This massively goes against the Biblical view of where Christ came from and where we came from, heres why:

John 6:46
says Not that any man hath seen the Father, save he which is of God, he hath seen the Father.
No one has seen the Father except Him who is of God, what does that mean He is of God?

Genesis 3:19
says In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return. This verse says for dust we are, and dust we will return, this on a very natural level talks about our origin, being of the earth, meaning we are created and came into being on the earth. However to take away any more doubt here is what Jesus says.

John 8:23
And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. Jesus Himself says He is from above, we are from below, we are of the world He is not of this world, why is this? Because we see in John 6:46 He is of God, we see in Philippians 2 that He came directly from the Father whom He is the only man to have seen, and cast aside His exalted position to lower Himself to take the form of us, however we are of the world, we have not seen the Father, we come from the Earth.
Jesus is utterly unique in His nature and is the only one who can claim to have come from and seen the Father, as He is from everlasting. (Micah 5:2) We are finite contingent beings, dependent on God for our existence and are by no means of the same nature of Jesus only born of our Spirit parents a little later.

The Glory of Christ.

This is another area where we dramatically see differences with the biblical and LDS view. According to the LDS view Jesus was exalted as a result of His work on the earth and gained much more glory and status as a god as a result of what He did in His time on the earth. 10th LDS Prophet Joseph Fielding Smith said this:

“CHRIST GAINED FULNESS AFTER RESURRECTION. The Savior did not have a fulness at first, but after he received his body and the resurrection all power was given unto him both in heaven and in earth. Although he was a God, even the Son of God, with power and authority to create this earth and other earths, yet there were some things lacking which he did not receive until after his resurrection. In other words he had not received the fulness until he got a resurrected body, and the same is true with those who through faithfulness become sons of God. Our bodies are essential to the fulness and the continuation of the seeds forever”
(Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 1:33)

 Jesus gained a fulness after His resurrection, this leads to a justifiable question, in that did Jesus actually sacrifice anything by coming to the earth then? Was it humility? This discussion in Shawn Mccraneys book “I was a born again Mormon” illustrates this.

“Several years ago, a close friend who was LDS called me at my home to ask a question.
“All right,” he said rather abruptly, “Ive been thinking about this for a while, and I want to hear your views. What was the sacrifice of Jesus?”
“Other than his life?” I asked somewhat sarcastically.
“What was the sacrifice?” he repeated. “Describe it to me.”
This friend was not aware of my spiritual rebirth and was still under the impression that I subscribed to the LDS idea of Jesus. He had agreed, however, in a previous conversation that the true sacrifice must entail giving up something of greater value for something lesser, otherwise the exchange would simply be an opportunity.
“Well,” I replied, “I suppose in the LDS context of Jesus, there was none.”
“Exactly!” he excitedly replied. “Jesus came to earth and got a body just like us, right?”
“And getting a body is a blessing, right?”
“According to the plan “yes.”
“So His coming to the earth waesn’t a sacrifice,” he concluded.
“And Jesus lived like all men live for most of His life, except He was able to avoid sin completely, right? Now that isn’t a sacrifice because we believe sin is never good, so by living without it, He only benefited himself, right?”
“Go on,” I said, excited to hear where this was going to end up.
“Then He begins his mission, right? Yes, He was without wealth, possessions, or a home; but this was only for a few years right?”
“Okay,” I replied with a laugh. “So the sacrifice was in His suffering and death for all humankind?”
“How can that be?” he snapped. “I agree that He suffered, but most of His mission was filled with people falling all over themselves to touch Him, hanging out with His friends and doing miracles. It was only at the end that He really endured the big-time pain.”
“But imagine the pain,” I interjected.
“I’m not claiming He didn’t suffer. He did. More than we will ever know and maybe in some dimension that we can’t explain. And I’m not saying He didn’t experience undeserved pain to boot. But tell me this, who wouldn’t go through all that suffering for a few days if they knew they would have all the glory, power, riches, and majesty forever and ever once the misery was over?”

And here we start to see the infinitely significant difference between the LDS view of Jesus and the biblical one. Look again at this passage in Philippians 2.

5 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: 8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I am going to use this section as my argument for the biblical view, I will go through the underlined parts and explain what I am trying to say, referencing elsewhere as needed.

1, Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God.

Hold that thought on the form of God for the next point. In the second half of this we see that He thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Imagine if I took some money from your pocket would that be robbery? Of course it would as it was not mine, but what if I took something that was mine.  See this scene from one of the best movies ever.

We see here Bruce wayne getting caught in s supposed robbery, He says I am not a thief, the Policeman says tell that to the owner, who is the owner…..Its Bruce Wayne, did he commit robbery? No as it was His to take. Equality with God was in Jesus posession, He had to cast it aside to come to earth, this was not the start of a promotion process for Him.

 2, Took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:

Here is where we see another massive contrast with the LDS view of God the Father. According to the LDS view the Father has a body of flesh and bones as a result of His time as a man, however here we see a distinction between the form of God and the form of man.

Genesis 1:26-27
is one of they key places LDS theology draws its support for this view.
26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth. 27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

The LDS view is that if we are in Gods image then God must have a body of flesh and bones as we do. This makes sense on the surface but if you read straight after the image mention you see its according to His likeness. We are in His image according to His likeness. A key aspect of Gods character is rulership over all things. We see straight after we are told we are in His image according to likeness that we will rule over the animals of the earth.

We see this turned around later in Genesis 5:3 And Adam lived an hundred and thirty years, and begat a son in his own likeness, after his image; and called his name Seth: In the case of Adam having a son we see he is in his likeness after his image, the New American Standard Bible puts it like this ”his own likeness, according to his image, and named him Seth.”

We see a reversal of how God made us, in His likeness according to His image, as they were of the same image. Going back to Philippians 2 we see a clear distinction between the form of God and the form of man, here is a logical syllogism for this.
  • Jesus before coming to earth existed in the form of God.
  • When coming to earth He took them form of a bondservant – Man .
  • Therefore Gods form is different to that of mans.
3, He humbled Himself.
This has kind of been covered above now so I will quickly say that the Biblical Jesus humbled Himsef casting aside His equality with God to take a lesser form to go through a totally undeserved punishment. The LDS Jesus had a god like status but knew that getting a body and living out His plan of salvation with the suffering and all else involved would lead to more glory and power and spiritual riches than He ever had before, this was a move that worked for His self interest as much as anything else.

4, Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:

And finally here is what is likely the LDS response would be to what I am saying, well Bobby here it is Jesus was highly exalted and given the name above every name, it goes on to say that every knee would bow before Him, so therefore Christ must be more glorious now. This I would say is partly right, however there is a difference between Jesus receiving more glory and being more equal with God, and being more like God in His nature.

Hebrews 12:2
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
The God of the bible is a God that always seeks first His own glory in all acts He carries out, this glory is the primary and most satisfying source of joy to God and He does everything that He does in order that it might please Him.

Ephesians 1:9

Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself:

Philippians 2:13

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.
So God does what He does in us according to His good pleasure.

Isaiah 48:9-11
is where God gives the reason why He will not cut His constantly sinning people off.
9 For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. 10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. 11 For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.

So where am I going with this? Jesus did what He did for the joy set before Him, what is that joy? It was the glory He would receive for Jesus is God in nature and equality so like the God of the Old Testament He acts for His glory. So therefore the Father happily gives Him this honour by giving Him the name above ALL names, even His own. For us the name of Jesus is higher than all names, even the name of the Father because it is only in the name of Jesus we can be saved (Acts 4:12) , and in honouring Jesus we are actually bringing glory to the Father, this is the Trinity fully at work. God the Spirit drawing people to Christ, the Father lifting up the Son and glorifying Him, to the glory of the Father. So when Jesus is exalted and given this name above every name He is no more glorious in nature than before but totally glorified in His position before man as being the source of our salvation. So the joy that is set before Him is not His exaltation in nature but glory before man, that we might live in and enjoy this glory forever.

The Sufficiency of Christ.
So Jesus is totally God by nature and glory, so my final point bringing it back to us is that Christ is all we need eternally. As Gods joy is found in His glory so our joy eternally and in this life can be found in its fullness in His glory.

1 Peter 4:13
But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. When His glory is revealed we shall be made glad with exceeding joy, this is our eternal occupation coming to light here, Jesus in John 17:24 says
Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

As far as I am aware the Mormon take on verses like this and others that talk of us sharing in His glory to mean that we will receive an equivalent glory of our own, and this is what sharing in Christ’s glory means.
However look at this prayer, what is Christ’s hope here, that we get to enjoy our own kingdom as a result of our successful progression and exaltation, or that we are to enjoy His glory and sharing in His glory means actually we get to be partakers in His glory in the sense of we will be looking at and glorifying Him, and the sharing is that we actually get to be with Him forever. Jesus desire was that we might see His glory, that He had before He came to the earth, this also sounds like we had not seen this glory before. Which would further support the view that we did not have a pre-existence in heaven as Mormonism teaches.

Moving  on Revelation 7:9 says.
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

This is the desire of God for His people, that we be with Him forever. In Philippians 1:21 Paul shares His desire to depart from this life and be with Christ as that is far better than living. A Mormons heart cry would be to stay longer and keep demonstrating by obeying the commandments that they might be worthy of receiving their exaltation, Paul just wanted to die and be with Christ , 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says this:
Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

We will EVER be with the Lord, because He is sufficient for our eternity, nowhere do we see in the bible that we are to gain our own glory and exaltation and enjoy it with our family forever with Christ being the example of all we can achieve, there is in fact quite the opposite. On a discussion online on facebook I saw these comments by an Ex-Mormon.

As a young man growing up in the church it was really hard for me at first to understand and except the role of Jesus. There was God the father and then there was Jesus my older Brother, who was also God some how because he was perfect. Jesus got to play the part of God the Father in most of the stories in the scriptures, except when Jesus was actually here on Earth, then I guess the real God the Father had to play that part himself while Jesus was here on the Earth pretending to be one of us mortals. I was a middle child groaning up. I had an older brother who seamed nearly perfect at times. He got strait As in school, excellent musician, great artist, never got in trouble, told funny jokes and seamed to excel at anything he tried. He seamed was much better that me at most things. He was highly favored by my parents and got many privileges. I loved and admired my older brother and was somewhat jealous of him. Why would my older brother, Jesus would want me to worship him, kneel down before him, bath his feet with my tears and kiss his them. Please, no brother would want that. He already gets to be God with out having to come down to Earth to be tested first, like the rest of us do, now I have to worship him too and ask him to forgive my sins because I’m not “perfect” like he is. I’ll admit I had a few jealous issues with Jesus too, like I did with my other older brother.

Is Jesus our elder brother just like us but further on? Or is He God in the fullest and most glorious sense possible, with all we need to be saved and satisfied forever? The Joy set before Christ was the glory that he held before with the Father, (John 17:5)  when He was already equal with the Father (Philippians 2:5-11)being revealed to His people (John 17:24) that we might enjoy it forever (1 Thess 4:17), don’t miss out on this by seeing Christ as merely another man with an exalted status. He the way the truth and the life (John 14:6) not our brother.


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