What is a Christian?
This chapter comes after handing out countless mentoring outlines without this topic. It dawned on me one afternoon while mentoring a brand new ex-Mormon that I needed to include this all important subject!
I was speaking on the phone with one of the sweetest ex-Mormons I had ever met. I asked her if she had accepted Jesus into her heart yet and in a matter-of-fact tone of voice she told me that she had figured it was “just too late”. She was getting in touch with me for one reason only – she wanted information on how to remove her name from the roles of the LDS Church. (If any of you want to know how to make me have a heart attack; well now you know.)
My heart sank as I began asking her if she knew it wasn’t too late. Her tone of voice wasn’t rude or short; she had simply been hanging on to the doctrines of the LDS Church, (her heritage) some thirty-eight years later. She remembers being told that Heavenly Father wouldn’t accept her outside of Mormonism and because she had no choice but to leave the clutches of her heritage, she was taking a gamble to leave.
She understood the teachings to mean that she would also have to leave her Heavenly Father behind even though she didn’t want to. In addition to that, because she couldn’t even have ties to the Father, the idea of having a relationship with Jesus was most certainly out of the realm of possibilities.
Inside I felt as if I was dying while I waited for her answer. Much to my relief she said that she didn’t know He’d want anything to do with her! Oh my goodness! At this point I asked her to hang on – I needed a chair. Why wouldn’t He want her? My mind began racing – she obviously wasn’t Hitler or Stalin. She wasn’t Marilyn Manson or even Charles Manson – so why wouldn’t He want her? I had to know why she believed this lie so I asked her what made her think this; was there anything other than the doctrines of the Church?
There was nothing that came between the Father and “Jane”. She wanted a relationship with Him and missed Him in her life. She was too ashamed to go to Him because she couldn’t accept the teachings of the Church! Whew – praise God! We got that settled straightaway and off we went for her to begin her new journey and life in Christ!
What a lie from the pit of hell this woman had to endure in her mind all those years! About a year before our phone conversation I had given my business card to “Jane” when I had the blessing of meeting her.
She had held onto my card and finally came to a point in her life when she couldn’t deny Him anymore; that’s when I received the phone call I’ve mentioned above.
For people who believe that handing out business cards, tracts, DVD’s, etc., are a waste of time; this woman is proof that those theories are wrong!
“In the celestial glory there are three heavens or degrees; And in order to obtain the highest, a man must enter into this order of the priesthood [meaning the new and everlasting covenant of marriage]; And if he does not, he cannot obtain it. He may enter into the other, but that is the end of his kingdom; he cannot have an increase. (May 17th, 1843.) The more sure word of prophecy means a man’s knowing that he is sealed up unto eternal life, by revelation and the spirit of prophecy, through the power of the Holy Priesthood. It is impossible for a man to be saved in ignorance.”
I became a Christian in March of 1993 and the longer I am a Christian, the easier it is to sometimes just rest in the daily routine of my “Christianity”. Her experience reminded me that Mormons don’t even understand the definition of what it means to be a Christian. The Mormon “scripture” above is a classic example of what the Mormons think of what it means to be a Christian and go to heaven.
I’ll personally never get over the desperate feelings in my heart or mind I had as a Mormon, and thankfully the Lord has moved me into a different place since I’ve left the Church. It wasn’t uncommon in my life as a Mormon to experience panic attacks, self-loathing and an highly intense fear of the leadership of the Church – the leadership I feared wasn’t necessarily living in Salt Lake City; they were the bishops, MIA leaders, Relief Society members, et al.
The chasm that had enveloped my heart as a member of the Church has been chiseled down through the years by His sweet presence and His mercy to me by opening my eyes when I study His word each day.
I shared with a friend of mine not long ago that it has felt like I have lived two distinctly separate lives in this one body. I just have no other way of articulating what this has been like for me personally and I’m certain that I’m not a lot different than any of the other ex-Mormons. Ask the ex-Mormon you are mentoring or any born-again ex-Mormon you know; do they feel as if they’ve lived two different lives in the body of one person?
Webster’s definition of a Christian is: “a person professing belief in Jesus as the Christ”. I can hear the Mormons now; their fingers flying over their keyboards to make sure everyone knows they’re qualified to be included. After all, “the name of Jesus is in the title of their church”!
This is what I hear from every single Mormon that writes in and even what President Hinckley told Time Magazine in David van Biema’s article “Kingdom Come”, (August 4, 1997, page 56).
Because we cannot just take this at face value, let’s dig just a bit deeper shall we? Who is Jesus?
This is the topic of an article that we have available on the website you can download and give to your Mormon friends; it’s called “What Would Jesus Say”. It’s obviously essential to have the right Jesus before we can answer the following questions properly:
What is a Christian?
Who or what is the Christ?
You can worship the rocks in your back yard and call them Jesus Christ, but you’ll be in the same spiritual boat the members of the LDS Church find themselves in today. Just because you pick out an object or some imaginary person and name it Jesus does not qualify it to be the authentic Jesus of the Bible.
In the Joseph Smith Historical Center located in Nauvoo, there is a roped off area for a display of various items from the original buildings that were in the village of Nauvoo. (Kirk & I visited the center while on a missions trip to Nauvoo in 2005.) In the small roped off area you’ll find a few pieces of crumbling brick that was part of the cornerstone of an original building; as well as some replicas of papers written by Smith that had been buried under the cornerstone.
As you can imagine I began to think about their all-important cornerstone that had crumbled and the cornerstone we have – that being Jesus Christ. Ephesians 2:19-20;
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone.”
They have been duped into holding onto a false hope that is found in a set of papers with “another testament” of a false christ. In the end their good works and false god will resemble those deteriorating bricks on display in Nauvoo. The following is a short list of what the LDS Church claims about Jesus Christ.
Jesus was created as a spirit child of Heavenly Parents in the pre-existence – Gospel Through the Ages, pg. 21 – Milton Hunter.
Jesus not begotten by the Holy Ghost but after the manner of the flesh – Journal of Discourses 1:51 – Brigham Young. – also see DS 1:18
Jesus and Lucifer are brothers – Jesus the Christ, pg. 8 – James
Talmage. Also see Abraham 3:22-8 in the Pearl of Great Price.
Jesus is God – Introductory page of the Book of Mormon.
Jesus and God are both made of flesh and bones – D&C 130:22.
This should suffice in helping you begin to understand where the Mormon is coming from. I pray it will be of help in the process of detangling the web of lies from the Church. You can also use the examples from the handout on the website and/or your favorite verses about Jesus.
Grab a separate piece of paper and write out all the examples I’ve listed above. You’ll want to do a side-by-side comparison with the ex-Mormon to show them from the Bible how these claims are lies. Remember to look at the phrase or word listed to pick out a “key word”. Use that key word to define your study.
For example the first LDS doctrine listed above is “Jesus was a created…” Look for the word “creator” and Jesus in the same verse to refute the lie.
There is another section in this workbook that will focus on the person of Jesus Christ from the Bible and that of the Mormon Church. Let them see your faith in action when you emanate His radiance through your actions and words – one of the most exciting things for me as a member of the Church was meeting a born-again Christian.
I loved being in their presence because they were filled with peace, patience, love, kindness; all the gifts of the Holy Spirit that Paul talks about in Galatians 5:22.
For now, let’s take a moment to answer the question: What is a Christian? The message I would never want to send is that you must know everything there is about the Bible in order to qualify as a Christian! Jesus rebuked His own disciples for shushing the children that came to be blessed. Mark 10:13-4 says;
“And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his
disciples rebuked those that brought them. But when Jesus saw it, he was much
displeased, and said unto them, Suffer the little children to come unto me, and forbid them not…”
Likewise the apostle Paul told Timothy not to be intimidated because of his youth in 1 Tim. 4:12, but to be an example of charity and truth. In the body of Christ there are all types of Christians. Some of us have been around for a long time and others of us have only been a true child of God for a short time. And then within those parameters there are different levels of how dedicated we are to the Christian faith.
There are parts of the body of Christ that will be drinking milk all the days of their lives. Then there are some of us whom God set apart and we were eating meat before we had a taste of the milk. All of us who are acquainted with or have met a baby Christian know it is vital to be kinder and more patient with those who are new to the faith.
May we always remember those baby Christians are no less of a Christian than the mature person who has walked with the Lord for ninety years!
It’s also our duty to point these things out to the new Christian – they need to be encouraged to study the word, investigate the teachings you’ve presented them with and take responsibility for their own spiritual life. Up until this point they’ve been kept in a vacuum of lies without understanding the basic truths of the “real Christian church”.
For example: the LDS Church certainly isn’t teaching that there were 500 soldiers that showed up to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane or that after He crossed the Cedron, He was betrayed just as David had been a thousand years beforehand at the same place (2 Sam. 15).
Factual information isn’t what the LDS members are accustomed to, so this is going to be really cool for them! Isn’t it amazing when we think of how God has sustained His church? We as humans may die and go live with the Lord, but His promise continues on as it says in Matthew 16:18!
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”
I suppose one of the definitions of a Christian could be “encapsulated” if you will, in John chapter three. Nicodemus asked Jesus what a man must do to be saved. Jesus told him that he must be born again to see the kingdom of God. John 3:1-8;
“There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? 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. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again. The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.”
If Nicodemus chose to continue living by the Law then surely God was going to judge him by it (Rom. 2:12). Jesus let him know that it was time to die to self and allow God to give him a new life in the spirit. Paul also tells us in Galatians 2:20-21 that to live a Christian life we must be crucified with Christ and believe that He is the only acceptable sacrifice in the eyes of God.
“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 is dead in vain.”
Watchman Nee, an awesome man of God who suffered greatly at the hands of the Chinese government for his testimony said the following in addition to quoting 2 Cor. 5:17;
“Our old history ends with the Cross; our new history begins with the resurrection.”
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (1)
A change in character, a turnabout of who we once were is the leading sign that someone is a Christian. The cross necklaces we dangle from our necks, the worn Bibles we carry to church, the tithe we pay each week is not what make us “Christian”.
“Someone who has accepted by faith, God’s gift of salvation through the sacrifice of Christ on the cross” is how my husband Kirk defined what it means to be a Christian. One of the questions for this chapter is for you and the ex-Mormon to define this question!
How has your life changed since you became a follower of Christ? There are countless people who say they believe in Christ, however, there’s a huge difference between those who believe and those who follow. The Bible says that even the demons believe in the Messiah in James 2:19!
So, we are Christians when we follow the Jesus of the Bible. We need to make sure we have the right Jesus and then we need to be followers, not just believers.
The doctrines of the Mormon Church have historically claimed that each individual of the LDS Church is the doctrine of the Church. According to God Almighty this is a lie. Ps. 139:13-15 says that He knew us in the womb. Ps. 119:73 says His (God’s) hands made us; Eph. 2:10 says that He created us and we are His workmanship. The Greek transliteration for workmanship is a poem – so here we find that we are referred to as a “written word” in a sense. When it says we are His poem, it is an allegory (symbolic), just as we find in other places of the Bible.
In LDS doctrine you can find that they believe Adam was a Christian and that Adam was baptized. Now let’s stop and think about this for just a moment instead of allowing our brains to absent-mindedly absorb any and all information that our eyes take in.
This is when it’s imperative for the ex-Mormon to stop and think about what has been written and implied.
How logical is it that Adam was the first Christian on earth based on what we learned earlier in this lesson? What about Adam receiving the Gospel from God and passing it on to his children and then baptizing them? If Adam was a Christian then how did Jesus change his life?
Doctrines of Salvation 3:81 says;
“To Adam, after he was driven from the Garden of Eden, the plan of salvation was revealed, and upon him the fulness of the priesthood was conferred. As Michael, the prince, he holds the keys of all the dispensations, which appointment he received under Jesus Christ, “Who hath appointed Michael your prince, and established his feet, and set him upon high, and given unto him the keys of salvation under the counsel and direction of the Holy One, who is without beginning of days or end of life.”
In Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pg. 157 it says this about Adam;
“Daniel in his seventh chapter speaks of the Ancient of Days; he means the oldest man, our Father Adam, Michael, he will call his children together and hold a council with them to prepare them for the coming of the Son of Man. He (Adam) is the father of the human family, and presides over the spirits of all men, and all that have had the keys must stand before him in this grand council. This may take place before some of us leave this stage of action. The Son of Man stands before him, and there is given him glory and dominion. Adam delivers up his stewardship to Christ, that which was delivered to him as holding the keys of the universe, but retains his standing as head of the human family.”
Aside from the fact that Adam got booted out of the Garden of Eden, take a week or two to study the term “inherently evil”. What does inherit mean? Why does the Bible always refer to Adam and sin at the same time? Listed below are some challenge questions for you!
Who was the first Christian? When did this take place?
Who was the first recorded European Christian in the Bible? Clue: she was a seller of purple fabrics.
To help you find the answer to the last question – look up the key words in your concordance. For this situation they are purple and fabrics.
Your concordance will then give you a list of all the locations in the Bible where these words can be found. Since you know you’re looking for something or someone that took place in the era after Jesus’ resurrection, you can obviously narrow your search by going to the New Testament references.
The way I distinguish key words from a verse or passage of scripture is to find the least common word or phrase in that particular passage. Because purple and fabrics would be less likely to show up as often as woman in a lexicon or concordance, I would look for those first. (This is not necessarily the way anyone else would use this “tool”. As I stated, it is the way I look for key words and phrases.)
Also, the Bible doesn’t use the word European –this is a modern term created to name the continent. The etymology (creation of a word) for European was circa 1603 and it means “broad-faced”. Again, it’s an interesting historical account of what really took place and it gives the ex-Mormon a little more information to build their trust in the Bible.
The one thing to always keep in mind that while there are many subjects that are touched upon, even with the break-down of having chapters and titles in this book; the LDS Church has interwoven things together when there shouldn’t have been interweaving!
Such is the case with the example of Adam above. One subject will probably lead them into another LDS doctrine and prompt them to ask you; “Is this Mormon or Christian”? It takes a few years for that to be ironed out in the mind of the Mormon and that’s okay!
The average Mormon who has spent any amount of time in the Church will remember the teachings about Adam. These teachings didn’t die out in the 1970’s like some members would have you believe. Whenever there is a new topic or subject presented in this work I suggest you write it down and have the Mormon do so as well.
Your ultimate goal is to help show how God can expunge all LDS teachings from the mind of the ex-Mormon that has held them in bondage. It has been my experience there are no set of rules to just zap them with the right words and they’re healed. It’s never worked that way in the past so I don’t imagine it’ll start anytime soon!
As soon as any new topic or subject is raised for discussion then it’s usually a sign this needs to be addressed. Something as monumental as the tokens at communion; to the seemingly benign issue of dresses vs. slacks for women, are indeed worthy of counsel and sharing. So that you don’t get off track, write the topic down to address another time.
The ex-Mormon has never been asked to give their opinion about anything at Church before, so asking them about it now is imperative. They need to learn how to flex their spiritual muscle, employ independent cognitive thinking and gain confidence in their new role! One experience upon another will continue the building up of their spiritual maturity level and encourages them to think on their own. They will soon learn to lean on Jesus and not others around them.
LESSON PLAN FOR CHAPTER TWO
1 – Give at least one biblical reference to refute each of the LDS doctrines listed about Jesus in this chapter. (Jesus is spirit child of God, not begotten by HS, etc.)
2 – Give at least four other scriptural examples of the “cornerstone” of our faith. These can be prophetic examples taken from the Old Testament or the fulfillment stage that you’ll find in the New Testament or both.
Challenge yourself: Find one scriptural example of “corner-stone” from each of the books in the New Testament and 4-5 from the Old Testament!
3 – In your opinion, what is a Christian?
4 – What does a person need to do to live under grace?
5 – Space for answers in the bonus section of chapter two!
6 – Using a dictionary, define the following words giving examples of each. Examples for churches can be used as the name of church or as denomination. Just be sure to define the two categories as clearly as you possibly can with the ex-Mormon!
1. Watchman Nee, The Normal Christian Life, pg. 48.
© 2010 Life After Ministries, Inc.