Serving February 2013-2015

Monday, July 7, 2014

I Worship A Different Jesus?

I’ve been told too many times while on my mission that I worship a different Jesus…

This is an offensive statement. There is only one Messiah, one Redeemer, one King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ.

You still don’t believe I worship the same Jesus Christ as you?
Please take a few minutes of your time and see what our beliefs are on Jesus Christ.
I hope the things I share below will help you see we worship the Great I AM.

Jesus Christ is the central figure of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint doctrine and practice. Every converted member of the Church should hold a firm testimony that Jesus Christ is the Savior and Redeemer of the world, and a knowledge that only through His sacrifice in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross can mortal man be saved in the Kingdom of God. Jesus Christ and His teachings are the central focus of all LDS scripture; the Bible, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.

In January of 2000, President Gordon B. Hinckley and the Twelve Apostles of the Church published The Living Christ as their testimony to the world about Jesus Christ. It reads in part:

We bear testimony, as His duly ordained Apostles—that Jesus is the Living Christ, the immortal Son of God. He is the great King Immanuel, who stands today on the right hand of His Father. He is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.

We ‘Mormons’ are believers in the divine mission of Jesus of Nazareth and followers of His teachings. Many anti-Mormons and ex-Mormons attack the Church and claim that it is not Christian, because its teachings about Jesus differ from mainstream, traditional Christian teachings. There are, of course, differences between LDS doctrine and Protestant and Catholic teachings, just as there are differences among the various Christian denominations. Latter-day Saints teach that its doctrines were restored to earth by Jesus Himself through living prophets after many centuries of apostasy in the world. Latter-day Saints reject the various medieval and modern creeds declared by the Christian world after Christ's death, because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has revelations from God Himself about who He is.

We teach that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, as revealed in the Old Testament. He is the Messiah who came to earth as Jesus of Nazareth, whose life and teachings are recorded in the New Testament.

He was the Great Jehovah of the Old Testament.

The Bible is enough to show that Jesus Christ is the same person as Jehovah in the Old Testament. "God" in the Old Testament often refers to Jesus Christ, and the term is used interchangeably to speak of God the Father and Jesus Christ, the Son.

The earth is the LORD's[i.e. Jehovah’s], and the fulness thereof; the world, and they that dwell therein. For he hath founded it upon the seas, and established it upon the floods.


[God] 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;

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 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.

It is clear, then, that Jesus Christ, Jehovah, created the world under the direction of His Father, our God. Jesus also declares that He gave the Mosaic Law to Israel.

Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.

By declaring Himself as I AM, Jesus was declaring that He was Jehovah. For I AM, as is shown by the quote below from Exodus, is a translation of the Hebrew word for Jehovah which in most English translations is rendered as LORD in all capital letters. The Old Testament further shows that Jehovah is the judge, the lawgiver of Israel, our King and our Savior:

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

For the LORD[i.e. Jehovah] is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; he will save us.

Before the LORD: for he cometh, for he cometh to judge the earth: he shall judge the world with righteousness, and the people with his truth.

Compare this with the New Testament teaching of Paul:

I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;

Jesus is therefore Jehovah since Jehovah (LORD) is the judge and lawgiver as Paul declares Jesus to be. Latter-day Saints worship Jesus as King, Savior, and Judge of the world in accordance with the teachings of the Bible.

Jesus is the Christ

Our teachings are consistent in asserting, as with all of Christianity, that we believe that it was Jesus of Nazareth, who was ordered to be crucified by Pontius Pilate, He was the promised Messiah, the Savior and Redeemer of mankind, even The Christ, as was prophesied by ancient prophets as recorded in the Old Testament, and then testified of by those who witnessed His life's mission in The New Testament, and taught His Gospel that He established while upon the earth. It suffices to say that ‘Mormons’ believe in the Bible and that, to quote a verse familiar to all Christians…

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life; for God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

Do Mormons believe in a different Jesus?

There is only one Jesus Christ my friends. We believe in the Jesus whose acts and teachings are found in the Bible, but LDS doctrine rejects the creeds and interpretations of post-New Testament Christian theologians. We teach that to correct errors in understanding about God, God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in his First Vision, and called him to be a prophet, just as prophets were called in biblical times, to teach the truth about Jesus and to call all men to repentance.

In a revelation to the Prophet Joseph Smith on January 2, 1831, the Lord Jesus Christ declared who He was:

Thus saith the Lord your God, even Jesus Christ, the Great I AM, Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the same which looked upon the wide expanse of eternity, and all the seraphic hosts of heaven, before the world was made; The same which knoweth all things, for all things are present before mine eyes; I am the same which spake, and the world was made, and all things came by me. I am the same which have taken the Zion of Enoch into mine own bosom; and verily, I say, even as many as have believed in my name, for I am Christ, and in mine own name, by the virtue of the blood which I have spilt, have I pleaded before the Father for them.

This shows the Jesus that we worship: the great I AM, the beginning and the end, the omniscient, omnipotent Creator of the world, the Savior of the world, and man’s advocate with God the Father. The following is Joseph Smith’s testimony of Jesus Christ:

And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives! For we saw him, even on the right hand of God; and we heard the voice bearing record that he is the Only Begotten of the Father--That by him, and through him, and of him, the worlds are and were created, and the inhabitants thereof are begotten sons and daughters unto God.

It is true that we do not believe in the Trinity as most other Christian Churches do. We believe in three separate beings united in purpose, but not in material. We believe in a Godhead that is made up of three distinct personages that are one in reason and will. Jesus Christ is the Son of God the Father. The Holy Ghost is a personage of Spirit, independent from both the Father and the Son. The New Testament contains enough to dismiss the Trinitarian doctrine. Jesus declared that “this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” (John 17:3). To know God and Jesus Christ is eternal life, so, through the grace and Atonement of Jesus Christ man can know God. This is very different from the unknowable God of the Athanasian Creed which is as follows:

[O]ne God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being. For the Father is one person, the Son is another, and the Spirit is still another. But the deity of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is one, equal in glory, coeternal in majesty. What the Father is, the Son is, and so is the Holy Spirit. Uncreated is the Father; uncreated is the Son; uncreated is the Spirit.

Jesus, on the other hand, states the nature of His unity with the Father:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.

Jesus declares that His disciples can be one just as He and the Father are one. This oneness is clearly not that they become the same person, but rather oneness in purpose, glory, exactness, and love. This passage also shows Jesus praying to the Father, which would not make sense if He were the Father. Other passages in the New Testament show that Jesus is distinct from the Father:

At the baptism of Jesus all three personages of the Godhead—God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, were there (Matthew 3:15-17). In the great intercessory prayer recorded in John 17, Jesus prays to the Father. In the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, Jesus again prayed to the Father and once asked His Father why He had forsaken Him. At the Martyrdom of Stephen in Acts, Stephen declares, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God” (Acts 7:56).

All these passages make sense only if Jesus and God are separate individuals. In short, the rejection of Trinitarian notions is not a rejection of Jesus Christ. The original saints and Apostles neither communicated nor suggested at the doctrine in the later Creeds, and their Christianity is crucial to the claims of all Christian churches.

Jesus is our Savior

LDS doctrine clearly teaches that Jesus Christ is our Savior. The Book of Mormon states that "there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent” (Mosiah 3:17). We believe that Jesus Christ set the perfect example for all mankind during His mortal life.

LDS doctrine teaches that Jesus Christ died for mankind. His suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the cross, His death, burial, and resurrection constitute the core events of the atonement which brings about the resurrection of all mankind and offers the means of salvation for those who believe and follow Him.

A hymn I love declares:

There is a green hill far away,

Without a city wall,

Where the dear Lord was crucified,

Who died to save us all.

We may not know, we cannot tell,

What pains he had to bear,

But we believe it was for us

He hung and suffered there.

There was no other good enough

To pay the price of sin.

He only could unlock the gate

Of heav’n and let us in.

("There is a Green Hill Far Away," LDS Hymns, no. 194)

Jesus is the Head of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

We proclaim that Jesus Christ stands at the head of His Church, and that He reveals His commandments and teachings to chosen prophets here on earth. The Bible declares that “Jesus Christ himself [is] the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). The Book of Mormon explains this even further. Jesus Christ appeared after His resurrection and ascension into heaven to the ancient inhabitants in America. He declared to them,

Therefore, whatsoever ye shall do, ye shall do it in my name; therefore ye shall call the church in my name; and ye shall call upon the Father in my name that he will bless the church for my sake. And how be it my church save it be called in my name? For if a church be called in Moses' name then it be Moses' church; or if it be called in the name of a man then it be the church of a man; but if it be called in my name then it is my church, if it so be that they are built upon my gospel.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Christian

As these few quotations and scriptures have shown, the doctrines of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are surely and purely of Christ, and, therefore, we are Christian in the most exact sense. Jesus Christ stands at the head of the Church and His glorious teachings and His perfect example form the core of LDS doctrine and the basis for the testimonies of all Latter-day Saints. The message we share is that Jesus Christ has called prophets in these last days to prepare the world for His forthcoming return and all are invited to ‘come unto Christ’ and be baptized by His authorized servants.

I am so grateful to have this time to be a missionary, a representative of Jesus Christ and acknowledge my beliefs and the truths I’ve learned to everyone that will give a listening ear! Please, if you have any questions, ask me.

Elder Falslev

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