Text: I John 3:23-4:3
I. Those promoting the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-Day Saints, will often ask you to pray to the Holy Spirit about their Book of Mormon
A. “Pray,” they will ask of you, “and see if the Spirit tells you that what is in this book is true.”
B. It is an interesting concept. I once ask a couple of young Mormons who came to my door why I should believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God; in particular, what evidence can be offered. The only response I received was “pray.”
C. From the Introduction to the Book of Mormon: “We invite all men everywhere to read the Book of Mormon, to ponder in their hearts the message it contains, and then to ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ if the book is true. Those who pursue this course and ask in faith will gain a testimony of its truth and divinity by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
D. A Mormon, upset with an article that laid out evidence that Joseph Smith was unfamiliar with the details in the Book of Mormon stated, “The ancient people of America wrote the book and excused their flaws as mortal men. Nevertheless, being commanded to record the things of God, the doctrine and teachings of the book are true. That is what makes it the most correct book, not because the people might have written a run on sentence or two. So there is no contradiction there.”
II. When someone claims to have the word of God, how can you know they are telling the truth?
A. Back in the days of ancient Israel, this was an on going problem.
1. God’s Word was revealed over the course of time - Hebrews 1:1
2. Prophets kept appearing, so how was an ordinary person to separate the real prophets from the charlatans?
3. Deuteronomy 18:18-22 - The things that God’s prophets reveal always come true.
4. Deuteronomy 13:1-5 - God’s messages are always consistent.
B. In other words, God is telling people to check.
1. God is not afraid to have people check out his claims - Isaiah 45:21-22
2. He challenged the false gods to accurately predict the future - Isaiah 41:22
3. Thus we find in the New Testament - I John 4:1
4. It is naive to believe everything you are told - Proverbs 14:15
5. Test all things - I Thessalonians 5:21-22
III. The accuracy of God’s word
A. The Bible claims to contain the very words of God
B. They are not the words of men - I Corinthians 2:4-5
C. They came straight from God - Galatians 1:11-12
D. Even the very choice of words were God’s and not man’s - I Corinthians 2:12-13
E. The words came from God’s breath - II Timothy 3:16
F. These words were confirmed - II Peter 1:19-21
G. Since it claims to be the product of God, it follows that the Bible must not contain errors – not copy errors, or translation errors, but that the original work was error free because our concept of God is that God doesn’t make mistakes.
IV. The unalterable word
A. If we accept that the Bible is the very words of God, then how should men treat them?
1. Would it make sense for fallible man to edit the infallible words of God?
B. The Bible warns against alterations
1. Do not add or take away - Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32
2. Do not add - Proverbs 30:6
3. Any difference is to be rejected - Galatians 1:6-10
4. Do not alter - Revelation 22:18-19
C. What do people do to history?
1. How often have you heard people accused of rewriting history?
b. Because there are unflattering things recorded that some want to forget
2. Archeology finds monuments defaced and sections of history suddenly missing down through the ages
b. Because people didn’t want their failures remembered.
D. We understand man’s desire to think highly of himself and his ancestors. But stop a moment and think: Why didn’t Israel alter the Old Testament?
1. After all, the book is not at all flattering in its description of Israel
2. Deuteronomy 9:7 - Rebellious
3. Ezekiel 2:3-8 - Very Rebellious
4. Hosea 4:16 - Stubborn
5. Why did this one nation not do as all other nations have done?
6. The answer is obvious: They didn’t dare.
V. Yet the Book of Mormon doesn’t make nearly the claims of the Bible
A. It has admitted mistakes
1. From the title page, “And now, if there are faults they are the mistakes of men”
2. But Joseph Smith declared in 1841, "I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth" (History of the Church, Volume 4, page 461).
3. Mormon 9:33: “And if our plates had been sufficiently large we should have written in Hebrew; but the Hebrew hath been altered by us also; and if we could have written in Hebrew, behold, ye would have had no imperfection in our record.”
4. Even the Mormon gentleman who so strongly objected, admitted that there were a few run on sentences in the Book of Mormon. In other words, he admits that the grammar is not perfect, but he was adamant that the doctrine was correct.
B. Joseph Smith’s writings contradict the Book of Mormon
1. The Book of Mormon
a. Admits there is only one God: “Now Zeezrom said: Is there more than one God? And he answered, No.” (Alma 11:28-29)
b. That God is a spirit (and not that He has a spirit): “And then Ammon said: Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit? And he said, Yea. And Ammon said: This is God.” (Alma 18:26-28a).
c. That God doesn’t change: “For do we not read that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no variableness neither shadow of changing? And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.” (Mormon 9:9-10).
2. But in other writings
a. To Joseph Smith, God was only one of many gods
(1) "Hence, the doctrine of a plurality of Gods is as prominent in the Bible as any other doctrine. It is all over the face of the Bible . . . Paul says there are Gods many and Lords many . . . but to us there is but one God--that is pertaining to us; and he is in all and through all" (History of the Church, Vol. 6, page 474).
(2) "In the beginning, the head of the Gods called a council of the Gods; and they came together and concocted a plan to create the world and people it." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 5).
(3) (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 349).
b. He believed that God is an exalted man with a physical body
(1) (Journal of Discourses, Volume 6, page 3).
(2) “The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22).
c. Joseph's God had once been a mortal man and became God -- a very changeable being.
(1) (History of the Church, Volume 6, page 305)
(2) "God himself was once as we are now, and is an exalted Man, and sits enthroned in yonder heavens...I say, if you were to see him to-day, you would see him like a man in form -- like yourselves, in all the person, image, and very form as a man....it is necessary that we should understand the character and being of God, and how he came to be so; for I am going to tell you how God came to be God. We have imagined and supposed that God was God from all eternity, I will refute that idea, and will take away and do away the veil, so that you may see....and that he was once a man like us; yea, that God himself the Father of us all, dwelt on an earth the same as Jesus Christ himself did." (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 6, p. 3).
C. Could such be the product of God?