Wednesday, December 13, 2017

WHAT CORNER DO YOU SHINE IN?

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The previous article, "The Peter Testimony: Do you have one?" can be found below this article at the end, or else directly at: http://wwwjanishutchinson.blogspot.com/2017/08/the-peter-testimony-do-you-have-one.html
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Many of you may be struggling with the same quandary as I once did—to make sense of life, especially when you feel you haven’t fulfilled the need that instinctively resides in every human breast, to perform some noble service to humanity through which your life will achieve meaning. You may secretly be wondering: “When am I going to make my significant contribution? And . . . what is it?”

Why is this so important to us? Because deep down we realize that if our own individual life has no meaning, then life in its grander perspective has no meaning either and we can’t handle that. Why? Because it begs a further question: Why, then, are we here? 

In this article, I will share with you my struggle and how a simple little Sunday school song that I learned when a small child gave me the answer. However, it didn’t come as an “Aha” moment until years later as an adult. When it did, this song made a greater impact on me than all the theology, psychology and philosophy books I've read, and it solved my personal dilemma. 

WHAT CORNER DO YOU SHINE IN?

When did my struggle begin?
My frustration about my own life’s purpose began in grammar school. 

I recall my teachers telling stories about outstanding people in history who started out with humble beginnings but grew up to become these really, really great individuals who influenced the nation, even the world. One teacher told how Abraham Lincoln, despite his poor education and the fact that he was raised in a log cabin, grew up to be President of the United States and made his great contribution by abolishing slavery. Another teacher told about Madame Curie who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work in isolating radium that led to the treatment of illnesses.

Then, of course, there was Mozart, Michelangelo, Sir Isaac Newton, Alexander Graham Bell, and we can’t leave out George Washington Carver (what would the world do without peanut butter?) and many others. 

In more recent times, other individuals have made significant contributions, and the list could go on:
  • Martin Luther King with his dream of equality . . .
  • Leonard Bernstein’s musical gifts . . .
  • Luciano Pavarotti’s voice that thrilled millions . . .
  • Albert Einstein’s brilliance in science . . .
  • Harriet Beecher Stowe’s world-changing book, Uncle Tom’s Cabin . . .
  • Mother Teresa’s charitable work to the needy . . .
I firmly believed that those individuals who contributed so significantly to the world were led by God’s spirit to do exactly what they did.  Similarly, whatever I was supposed to do was what God particularly appointed me to do.

Naturally, the objective of my grade school teachers was to inspire our young minds to realize our potential and convince us that we, too, could do something great for mankind.

Now, I’m sure I was no different than my other classmates who listened to those stories. Sitting there in class, we truly believed that we would some day make a great contribution to the world and influence humanity just like Abraham Lincoln or Madame Curie—for me, especially Marie Curie, after I saw Hollywood’s dramatization of her life starring Greer Garson (I’m sure dating myself). 

So, we students had very grandiose ideas about what we were going to do that would help the masses when we grew up. Back then I seemed incapable of narrowing my contribution down to anything smaller than the whole human race. Unfortunately, I think all of us, myself included, thought it would just happen willy-nilly with no effort on our part. Whatever it was that was inside us would have to break out and express itself and we’d hit the jackpot!

Nevertheless, albeit naïve, what was instilled in me remained and I carried my dream with me for years, determining that I was going to do all these great things and make this terrific, tremendous, significant, outstanding, enormous, colossal (yet, of course, humble) contribution to the world.

My apple cart is turned upside down
The unsettling reality of my naiveté and the perplexing problem that began to gnaw at me by the time I approached middle age was that so far, nothing big and specific had happened in my life to fulfill my pressing need:
  • I hadn’t discovered a cure for some deadly disease.
  • I hadn’t composed any powerful symphony that thrills people’s souls
  • I hadn’t produced a lilting song that the whole world sings; 
  • I hadn’t been recognized by the world at large
  • Neither had I become a best selling author (the book subjects I write about only appeal to a small select audience).
Was I frustrated? Well, yes. My day was definitely not going well . . .  What I was facing was failure as a human being. I also had to face the fact that life itself may be purposeless and meaningless. It frustrated the heck out of me. What was the problem? Was I supposed to wait longer? But I was already 60!!

The need to create the right question
I decided I needed to formulate a question I could ask myself that would help me recognize when I had achieved this.

That’s when I came up with a two-part question: (1)What kind of question can I ask myself so that I’ll  know whether I have achieved my great contribution? (2) What point in time should I ask myself this question? I thought about that and, since my life wasn’t over yet, it came to me—at least my first attempt at an answer.
It would be when I am finally lying on my deathbed and looking back over my life. At that point, I would ask myself the question and, having lived my life, either be able to acknowledge, or not, that I made some great discovery, cured some disease, wrote some great book, or performed some significant service--all of which would have benefited the world and helped the masses.

But whoa! Who wants to wait until their deathbed?

Shouldn’t I be able to determine if I had achieved it sooner than that? If I wait until I die to figure it out and I don’t see any kind of satisfaction in SOME accomplishment at that point, my life would definitely have proved utterly worthless. I absolutely didn’t want to face that . . . I couldn’t.

So, I discouragingly sat down with myself and said, “Self, face it. At the ripe old age of 60, you haven’t become an Abraham Lincoln, a Madame Curie, or even a John Steinbeck—nor will you ever. You’re simply not going to do anything that’s going to influence the whole human race. You’re going to have to settle for just being plain ol’ Janis Hutchinson who isn’t going to do any more than what she’s already doing.” It was a moment of abject worthlessness beyond description, because I realized it would bring me to my deathbed realizing three things:

1.     I had failed God (or did he fail me?)
2.     There had been no purpose or meaning to my life, and . . .
3.     if there was no meaning to my life, life itself has no purpose either (the latter can be devastating enough).

While I was laboring through all this, something unusual happened! I heard something!

Revelation at last!
What did I hear? A simple little Sunday school song I learned when a small child. I began singing it to myself--couldn’t get it out of my mind. What on earth, I wondered, would make me think of it after all these years? Over and over it went in my head, day after day after day.

The song only had four short lines—and please pay attention to the underlined words because even if universal life itself may have no particular meaning for you, individual lives do. This is where the rubber meets the road as far as one’s life’s purpose and meaning goes.

 Jesus bids us shine with a clear, pure light
Like a little candle, burning in the night.
In this world of darkness, so let us shine,
You in your corner—and I in mine. 

Well, the first 3 lines were nice, although liking myself to a “little” candle was somewhat troublesome . . . but it wasn’t so much about being a “candle” that grabbed me as did the last line about "corners." Corners were LITTLE! They were SMALL places! Was I supposed to be a little candle in a small, insignificant corner of a room like where spiders hide? Surely, I wasn’t to be relegated to that!
What kind of corner was this song talking about?

So, I began to dig into what corners were.

What is a corner?
A corner, as we already understand, is a small, remote space between two converging lines, like the corner of a room where 2 walls meet. That corner-space is always part of something larger - but it is NOT the large part itself (the whole room)it’s only a corner of it.

This led to my next question.

Are there other kinds of corners other than where two walls meet?
Yes. There are 5 different kinds. For example:

1.     We live in a world which is in a particular corner of the universe
2.     We live in a country which is in a corner of the world
3.     We live in a State which is in a corner of the country
4.     We live in a city which is in a corner of the State
5.     We live in a house, apartment or condo, which is in a corner of a city.

The above are all the options we have to shine in. Some people are fortunate to shine notably in all of them (notables we learned about in grammar school). Although Mother Teresa lit her candle in one place, at the same time she also functioned in five corners:
(1) She lived in a corner of the world, South Asia.
(2) In a corner of South Asia she lived in a corner called India.
(3) In India, she lived in the corner/state of West Bengal
(4) In West Bengal, she lived in a corner city called Calcutta.
(5) In Calcutta, she resided in a corner of West Bengal called “Missionaries of Charity Mission” where she ministered to the sick and dying.
Jesus also functioned in more than one corner—a corner of the world called Palestine; a corner of Palestine called Bethlehem; a corner in Galilee; a corner in Jerusalem; a corner in Samaria by a well; a corner on a hillside.

Similarly, we all have the same 5 locations to function in. I live in a corner of the world called America. In a corner of America, I live in Washington State. In Washington State, I live in a corner called Everett. I live in a corner within the city of Everett—my condo. In my condo and elsewhere, my church for example, is where I function. (Can I call it “shine?”)

Actually, I don’t need to shine in all 5 of them . . . just one, because all our “corners” keep reducing down to one—our individual corner where we function as a human being in whatever unique abilities God has blessed us with. The problem is that oftentimes we don’t realize what they are and that we’re making a contribution.

When Jesus said in Matt 5:16, “Let your light so shine before men that others may see your good works and glorify your father in heaven,” he did not mean that we have to shine to the WHOLE world all at once! Just in our own unique individual corner.

The difference in everyone’s corners
The difference is that your corner will never be like my corner, and my corner will never be like yours. As the little Sunday school song goes: “You in your corner, and I in mine.” We can’t shine in someone else’s corner. Their corner is distinctively theirs, as is yours.

Now, let’s talk more about our “Individual Corner” since this is the one that should concern us the most. This is the one where we function according to our abilities we’ve been blessed with, or a profession we’ve been trained in. However, within our Individual Corner are two sub-corners: (1) a “Specialty Corner” and (2)  “Unexpected Corners.” Here are the definitions of each:

Specialty Corner This corner is where we function in the areas of our expertise, meaning the talents, capabilities and qualities the Lord has blessed us with (teaching, writing, art forms, singing, love, hospitality, friendship, etc.) It may also include what we are trained in (teaching, writing, administration, business profession, church ministry, or music.)

Unexpected Corner(s)
These corners consist of the places we unexpectedly find ourselves—in a corner of the supermarket, parking lot, at church, the work place, on an airplane, etc.

Let’s take our “Specialty Corner” first. And I’ll have to use myself as an example since I can’t speak for the rest of you.

My Specialty Corner
Within the walls of my condo, my "Specialty corner" is my computer room. Lining the walls of that small room are bookcases containing a zillion books, four beat-up filing cabinets, a printer, a computer, and a table with a six-tiered set of filing baskets wobbly perched on top of each other that some have referred to as my “Leaning tower of Pisa.”

There, I spend most of my time, out of the public eye, writing. This is my passion. And usually one’s “passion” is what God has called you to and we should recognize it as the purpose or calling in our life.

For me, writing books, magazine articles, and my blog (also teaching at church) is the purpose of my life and what I’ve been called do. How do I know? Simple. Because it’s my passion!

There, in the corner of my computer room, I fulfill my “Specialty Corner.” Plus, I also mentor cultists and ex-cultists worldwide (those coming out of false, sometimes abusive, religions) and spend hours responding to emails from them to help them through the difficult transition into Christianity. I’m able to help because I have expertise in that area.

I didn’t plan for all this. It just progressively happened due to my life’s experiences. It sorta sneaks up on you, which is why we often don’t recognize it as our life-purpose. My Specialty corner is where I feel the most useful and where I would like to think, as the little song goes, “Jesus bids me shine.”

Now, even though I do all thisand this is the pointI’m not some big name that the whole world knows. I am not functioning to the whole world en masse as I once dreamed as a child. I simply function in one tiny corner, hopefully letting Jesus work through me so my “little” candle will shine and affect the lives of those I’m particularly fitted to help.

Hopefully, you will also know that your amount of shining doesn’t have to bring you huge national or worldwide attention—it can be something less than that. Yet, at the same time, it will convey a huge benefit to whomever is on the receiving end.

Now, we come to our second sub-heading of our Individual Corner:

Unexpected Corners
While we all have our Specialty Corner to shine in, Jesus bids us shine in ANY corner we happen to find ourselves in. It consists of those places we spontaneously and unexpectedly find ourselves in, although it may or may not involve your “specialty.”

The following are 6 true stories that illustrate “Unexpected Corners.” (Hang in . . . they’re good ones!)

Story No. 1
This story appeared in Guidepost magazine many years ago: 

A small Christian mission was trying to establish itself in an Asian country by functioning in a rented room in a building in the poor part of town. Their front door opened on to the sidewalk that edged the main street. But so far, the mission hadn’t been successful in gaining converts. 
Then a woman came in and converted to Christianity. She couldn’t speak English and she couldn’t even speak the language of most of the people in that town. But she was so happy to have found Jesus that she wanted everyone to know about Him. 
She thought and thought—What could she do? Where could she shine the best? Having come from humble circumstances, all she knew how to do was sweep. So, every day she went out on the front sidewalk of the mission and began sweeping. 

To everyone who came along she shined each one a great big smile and excitedly told them about Jesus even though most couldn’t understand her. Then she would motion to them and invite them into the mission. 

Day after day after day, week after week, month after month, she continued to sweep and smile, sweep and smile. Many were caught up by her contagious smile and entered those doors and their lives were changed forever. Many who would otherwise never have known the Lord were brought into the Kingdom. She made her contribution as a little candle in the corner she found herself in and she made a difference. 

Story No. 2
The author, Robert Louis Stevenson, went to live in Samoa for his health. The natives loved him. To them he was “Tusitala, teller of tales.” But he was also more than that. He was their kind friend. 

Stevenson became concerned because the natives had only a narrow, rugged path on which to bring provisions from the harbor to the interior. It was a difficult undertaking and so Stevenson, with his own money had a good road built. In gratitude for his kindness the Samoans named it, “The Road of the Loving Heart.”  
Building that road, however, wasn’t Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Specialty Corner” to shine in. His specialty corner was writing books. But he recognized and took advantage of an unexpected corner of the world he happened to find himself in, and seeing a need acted, made a difference and indeed shined.

Story No. 3
Debbie, a staff writer at a St. George, Utah newspaper, tells her experience:

She pulled into the parking lot of the local supermarket. It was winter and snowing and on the curb at the entrance sat a man, his face red from the cold. He continued to sit there, his hands out of his coat sleeves just far enough to cling to a cardboard sign, “Will work for food or money.”

She went into the store and bought her groceries. As she stood at the counter, she overheard two ladies discussing the man at the curb. One said, “They shouldn’t allow those kind of people in St. George.” The other agreed, mumbling about what a disgrace it was to have “those” people in their city, and concluded with, “The store Manager ought to go shoo him away.” 

Debbie paid for her groceries, still thinking about the man. When she went out to her car, he was still there with his red face, holding up his signand it was still snowing. She got into her car, drove by him, then circled around and drove by him a second time. She studied him for signs of alcoholism or some disorder that would tell her it was okay to disqualify him as a human being. She thought about a recent Association Press’ expose on the amount of money made by professional bums. He could be one of those crooked guys! But as she looked into his face she saw sadness, hunger and desperation. She also saw a brave survivor. She headed for home again¾then turned around and went back. She parked and watched as vehicle after vehicle passed the man by. No one stopped. It continued to snow¾and he continued to sit. 

Then, she thought about the high cost of living and what if she suddenly found herself without a jobcould she survive?  Wouldn’t it be nice, she thought, for that man to think that someone, even a total stranger, cared? For less than $5, she purchased a cheeseburger and a hot bowl of chili. She returned, stepped out of her warm car and took it over to the man on the curb. She said in her account: “The spirit contained within that man’s smile was one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever received."

She concluded her newspaper article by saying that perhaps if we all cared just a little bit more, it would be a wonderful life for everyone.

In other words, what she was saying was is if we would all anticipate the little unexpected corners in life where we can shine and realize we can make a difference, the world would be a better place because of us. Her "Specialty Corner," as a staff writer, was journalism. But that day she shined in another of life's corners she hadn't anticipated.

Story No. 4
Some years back on the program, “Sixty Minutes,” the guest was a black man. He was unemployedactually, a bum who lived on the streets. But even in those dire circumstances he found a corner he could shine in, illustrating that we can make a difference no matter who we are.

Every morning he would stand at a busy intersection. There, he would smile and wave, calling out “Hi” to everybodynot only to those driving to work in their cars, but to passersby’s on the sidewalk who, if he came to know them, he’d call them by name. 

People soon came to look forward to passing that corner. He made such a big difference in their lives and became so popular that Sixty Minutes interviewed him. They not only interviewed him, but also took time to interview those to whom he waved. Many of those individuals said that getting up to go to work and facing morning traffic was a real bummer. But when they passed his corner and he smiled and waved, they said it changed their whole attitude for the rest of the day. Person after person who was interviewed said that “bum” made a difference in their life.

Story No. 5
A story in Guideposts entitled, “The Conversation I’ll Never Forget.” It took place in a Veteran’s Hospital where someone almost missed their unexpected corner: 

A prospective patient named Bob was sitting in one of the waiting rooms and there was a patient across the table from him who wanted to talk. Now, you know, sometimes we’re in the mood to talk, sometimes we’re not. Well, Bob was deep into thinking about his own medical problems and didn’t want to talk. Every time the patient would try to draw him into conversation, Bob would give him a curt answer. But for some reason the patient persisted. 

Finally, Bob says, “I opened my mouth to tell him off completely. But instead something made me yield, and to my surprise we were soon involved in a lively conversation. I was impressed by the friendliness and enthusiasm this patient put into every word he said. I found myself warming to himeven began to like him as I intently listened. Well, we finished our coffee and I got up to go”. Then, this patient remarked to me very calmly:   

It was sure nice talking to you. Tomorrow morning I’m to have a laryngectomy on my throat. This is the last conversation I’ll have with this voice.” 

We can shine in so many places. Not only in the expertise and talents God has blessed us with, but also:
  • Showing patience when an elderly person can’t move as fast anymore, or hear as well.
  • Reaching out to individuals with particular problems and loving them unconditionally.
  • Curbing our criticisms and thinking of something positive to say.
  • Building people up when they’re down.
  • Offering someone a warm shoulder in this often cold world.
  • Providing household maintenance to a widow who can’t afford to hire something done, or helping her when she may be ill. (Men: plumbing, moving something heavy, etc. Women: housekeeping, meals, shopping, etc.)
  • Giving a pat on the back, or a hug to someone that relays, “I care”
How sad it would be if we were so busy looking for the one great thing that we could do, that we become blind to the people in need standing on the small, common corners of our lives.

Story No. 6
This story took place on a cold, rainy, night:  

While I was waiting at a bus stop, an elderly woman got off a bus and walked slowly over to where I stood. “Could you tell me when the next bus is due?” she inquired of him. I asked which bus she wanted and when she told me, I exclaimed, “But you just got off that one!” 
“Well,” she stammered a bit shyly, “you see there was a terribly crippled young man on that bus and nobody offered him a seat. I knew he’d be embarrassed if an old lady like me got up for him, so I just pretended it was time for me to get off and I rang the bell just as he was alongside my seat. He wasn’t embarrassed, and Iwell, there’s always another bus.”

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I know I may have included too many stories, but I wanted to put across that it’s the LITTLE deeds in life that are big and important, and hope you enjoyed them.

Our corners won’t always include a stage and a spectacular setting with the world as audience. Our life consists of small corners—nothing more, nothing less. All God requires of us is that we let our little candle shine. You in your corner, and I in mine.

Once I realized that I didn’t have to set the whole world on fire, but could function significantly in some corner no matter how small—and knew that this was all God expected of me and designed me for—this led to so much contentment—not to mention excitement. I could make my contribution any place I happened to beone corner of my computer room or on a street corner—even if the rest of the world can never see me doing what I do. I go about functioning in my individual “Specialty” or “Unexpected corners” quietly, and it’s okay and acceptable to God. 

Conclusion
Inside of us we all want to matter and make some kind of impact on the world. So, it is imperative that we remember these 4 requisites:
  • Your individual purpose is what you have a passion for and it resides “inside” you. It is up to you to discover it. If you can’t decide what your passion is, see the last paragraph.
  • You don’t have to achieve or do anything big or important like an Abraham Lincoln or a Martin Luther King. 
  • You don’t have to shine and affect the WHOLE world or the masses of humanity—only in your own corner.

  • Do not feel you’re a failure if you don’t shine exactly like someone else does. They have their unique corner. You have yours. As the Sunday school song goes: “Jesus bids us shine . . . you in your corner and I in mine.”
Still don’t know what your passion or calling is?
While many will say that to discover it all you have to do is recognize what your passion is (and they’re right), there are many who still find themselves frustrated in this respect.
If you are one of these individuals, the answer to your dilemma is to invite Christ and the Holy Spirit to come inside you so that he can reveal your passion to you. The Holy Spirit acts as a revelatory guide to help you accomplish your God-given purpose in life in all the corners God has designed for you. (He may also give you a gift you hadn’t anticipated.) When he does this, he will magnify your passion and purpose that has lain dim within you all the time, and bring it to a brighter illumination so you can recognize it. In order to enable this, God set up a wonderful way to facilitate it so that he and his Holy Spirit can indeed be inside you (Col. 1:27). To see how the process works, go to Romans 10:9.

And age is no hindrance!

Until next time!
Janis

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pingomatic

Sunday, August 27, 2017

THE PETER TESTIMONY--DO YOU HAVE ONE?


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What is a Peter Testimony? It is revelation knowledge of the divinity of Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter received a sure testimony by this method in Matt.16:13-18. 

I received my testimony the same way as Peter did—and it happened when I was a Mormon. It occurred when God first started the process of bringing me out of error and into the truth. 


What God did was fairly dramatic. But I think He chose to do it the way he did, because he wanted to be sure he got my attention. 


As I tell about receiving the Peter Testimony, don’t assume that everyone needs to have some far out, dramatic John-the-Revelator kind of experience to receive a testimony about Jesus. There are other ways the Holy Spirit can endow one with this testimony. This is explained in Part 2, which immediately follows Part 1. 

In addition I also share how He reassured me I was forgiven and accepted. Normally, I don't share my very personal experiences, but I think we need to start hearing more of these kinds of Godly encounters. In the early days, people shared more freely and we heard more of them. Now, we don't. But, they are happening. God is still performing spectacular deeds in the lives of his children. 

(The previous article, "What Are the Most Reliable Sources About Jesus" by Robert M. Bowman, Jr., can be found at this link:
 http://wwwjanishutchinson.blogspot.com/search?q=reliable+sources )

Now, on to The Peter Testimony!

PART 1

MY PETER TESTIMONY©
(How I received revelation knowledge of the divinity of Jesus)


Part 1 covers the following:
  • My experience of receiving the Peter Testimony  
  • The Biblical explanation of a Peter Testimony 
  • Are there other ways of receiving the Peter Testimony? 
  • Should Mormons receive the Peter testimony? 
  • Does God bless Mormons with not only a Peter Testimony but also other genuine experiences? 
  • Why did God give me my Peter Testimony while still a Mormon? 
  • What did my Peter Testimony do for me that led me out of the Mormon Church? 
Part 2 covers: 
  • More on the Biblical explanation of the Peter Testimony.
  • What is the Mormon "Burning Bosom" phenomenon, and what does it feel like?
  • What is the difference between a Mormon's Burning Bosom and a Peter Testimony?
  • The test for truth, aside from "feelings"
  • Does it concern you that Mormons may receive a Peter Testimony of Christ?
  • Have you received a biblically based Peter Testimony?
Here is my story:


I was not born in the Mormon Church.  To the contrary, I was born and raised in the Methodist church. When I was 14, my single mother had my sister and I join the Mormon Church because of its excellent youth program. By age 19 I was thoroughly converted to its theology. Active in the organizations, I married a returned missionary in the Salt Lake Temple and had three children before he died of Spinal Meningitis at age 29. I also served two Stake missions. 


At the time I received my special testimony, I was living in Wendover, a small desert down on the edge of the Utah salt flats. Back in the sixties, the only time the Bible was ever read in the ward (other than to pull passages out of context to prove Mormon doctrine) was at Christmas and Easter. 

It was during a special Christmas program in the Ward Sunday school that God gave me revelation knowledge that Jesus is the Christ. And take my word, I shall never forget it! He certainly didn’t give it to me because I was some super-duper spiritual person. Rather, he knew that since I was such a dedicated, true-blue-through-and-through Mormon with tunnel vision, he probably concluded, "I’ve got to do something to get her attention, short of hitting her in the head with a two-by-four." So, he planned a more spectacular witness from heaven to launch my journey out of Mormonism.

When I arrived at Sunday school that Christmas morning, I sat on the front row. The Bishop surprised me by rushing up with an open Bible. Shoving it into my hands, he said, "One of the readers didn’t show up. When I give you the signal, come up and read this passage." I agreed, and put my finger on the place without reading it ahead of time.

Knowing that most ward members didn't read the Bible much let alone try to understand King James English, I assumed a smug attitude. "I’ll show everyone how well I can read."  Little did I know that my cockiness would soon be knocked out of me. I mention this so you will understand that I was not in any spiritual frame of mind to have somehow, on my own, produced what happened.

Fifteen minutes into the program, the Bishop nodded to me and I went up to the pulpit and started to read. To this day, I don’t know which passage it was, but since it was Christmas it obviously had something to do with Jesus’ birth and his being the Son of God. I, of course, already believed this. After all, ever since I was a child everyone celebrated the baby Jesus' birth on Christmas, and the Bible states he was God's son. You just accept it. But as I was soon to find out, I didn’t have an absolute, convicting knowledge of it. I didn’t even know something like that was possible—after all, how could one actually prove something like that?

I had only read a couple of verses (quite well, I thought) when, without warning, my voice box was suddenly cut off and I was unable to speak. (The congregation probably thought I was stumbling over some King James word.) But that wasn't it! 


At that moment, a powerful "something" came down from above, which I can only describe as an electric-like flood of heavenly power. 



It started at the top of my head and poured down through my body like nothing I can describe. It flowed into my chest, both arms, hands, down my torso and through my legs and feet. And as it swept through me, a powerful, voice penetrated the very depth and core of my being: "Yes, Jesus is the Christ!Then, it was over and my voice was given back to me. 

Stunned, I managed to finish reading the passage. I walked off the stage, took my seat, and then left when Sunday school was over.

At home, still moved by the event and pondering its dynamic effect, I realized that I now knew in a way that I had never known before, that Jesus was indeed the Christ, the anointed son of God. God had poured revelation knowledge into me. Prior to the experience I only had an intellectual belief in Jesus which I thought was genuine—after all, hadn’t I been raised to believe in the baby Jesus’ birth, the angels, the shepherds and wise men, his crucifixion and resurrection? But there was a significant difference between what I received that morning with my previously held belief.

Rapt in thought, I wondered why God thought this was so important to give to me. Then, the Holy Spirit immediately rushed Matthew 16:13-18 into my mind and a light bulb went off. "Aha!"

When Jesus came to Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, "Who are the people saying I am?" Well, they replied, "some say John the Baptist; some, Elijah; some Jeremiah or one of the other prophets." Then he asked them, "Who do you think I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "The Christ, the Messiah, the Son of the living God."
 "God has blessed you, Simon, son of Jonah," Jesus said, "for My Father in heaven has personally revealed this to you―this is not from any human source. You are Peter, a stone; and upon this rock I will build my church; and all the powers of hell shall not prevail against it." (LNT)
God gave me that same testimony. But why as a Mormon?

He gave it to me knowing it would act as a springboard from which I could be launched out of the Mormon Church into biblical Christianity, and ultimately bring me into the true Body of Christ. Being a Mormon, he needed to give me a solid foundation under my feet―a Rock that I could stand on and that would not crumble or shift when later I went through the trauma of excommunication, having friends turn their backs on me, being told I was in the devil's territory (see end note 3, how my Patriarchal Blessing predicted LDS friends would turn their back on me), later pressured by the Fundamentalists who held me prisoner because I wouldn't renounce the Christian Jesus (see my story, Escape From the Cult), and when I entered a Christian church and went through the painful ordeal of adjusting to a new church culture after 35 long years. None of it this was easy--in fact, quite stressful (see my book, Out of the Cults and into the Church). 

What happened after I received that experience?
I discovered the Bible― and became addicted to it! I fell in love with Jesus Christ, his principles, love and power!

But I still had a smattering of Mormon theology in me, one of which consisted of a negative concept of God the Father. My impaired perception of him probably accounted for why I focused more on reading the New Testament rather than the Old. I was afraid of God, but loved Jesus.

In my Mormon concept of God, I envisioned him as a glorified man, just like Jesus, but with a totally different personality. He was stern, ungracious and, as portrayed in the Old Testament, a hard, whip-cracking taskmaster who allowed for no mistakes or it was off with your head. I’m sure the LDS Church’s impossible mandate of perfection, which I knew I fell short of, influenced my fear of him.

But that wasn’t all.

I also had a misunderstanding of forgiveness, attributable to the unbiblical teaching of Spencer W. Kimball, the Mormon prophet and Church President at that time, who said it was impossible to know whether Jesus had forgiven you. This resulted in my never being sure if my repentance counted for anything.

Kimball said forgiveness could take years; maybe never in this lifetime
Your Heavenly Father has promised forgiveness upon total repentance and meeting all the requirements, but that forgiveness is not granted merely for the asking. There must be works-many works…[Forgiveness] could be weeks, it could be years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you."[1] 
 Therefore, in view of all that error, Jesus felt it crucial to correct my misconceptions―to not only learn the truth about grace and forgiveness provided through his sacrifice on the cross where he took my place as a sinner, but also about God the Father’s true character and how reconciliation with him takes place.

How did he plan to set me straight on so much? Well, experience is the best teacher, and seeing is believing.

One night, I suddenly found myself in heaven standing before the throne of God. I have no idea how I got there; it just happened. The whole atmosphere was pure white with the light of the glory of God. I learned later from Rev. 21:23, heaven is illuminated by the glory of God’s splendor and radiance and reflected in the person of Jesus; therefore, no other light source is needed.

 I looked up the steps leading to the throne and saw Jesus seated in a white robe. Now, one would think I would have been absolutely overjoyed; but instead my first reaction was fear. I thought, "Uh oh…" I felt like Isaiah when he saw the Lord, "Woe is me, I am doomed" (Isa. 6:5 nlt).

I lowered my head not daring to look at him, feeling totally guilty and unworthy. This reaction was not some purposeful intention on my part to fake a humility; rather, it was instinctive and automatic. Just being in his presence seemed to naturally evoke the awareness of my faulty nature. I knew I didn’t measure up, and expected the worst kind of condemnation and rejection.

After a moment, I cautiously glanced back up. Much to my surprise Jesus stood. His beautiful face was smiling with a love and acceptance of me that was absolutely beyond description. I didn’t just see love in his face, I felt it. It went through my whole being. He slowly came down the steps and walked towards me, his arms outstretched with the clear and obvious intent to embrace me. As he moved toward me, he didn’t have to speak to tell me he loved me for it was all relayed through the affection radiating from him.

He wrapped his arms around me in a rapturous embrace enveloping me with an indescribable kind of glorious and exquisite love no English words could possibly relay, and at that moment all sense of guilt and condemnation immediately evaporated.

But there was also something else I felt…it was breathtaking.

Not only was I immersed in Jesus’ personal love, but the whole atmosphere and the very breath of heaven was suffused with love. You’ve heard the expression, "so thick you could cut it with a knife;" that’s how the love was―palpable, like it had a physical presence. You could feel it everywhere. There was no space where it was not. Where was that love coming from? From God the Father’s love emanating and which was manifesting the essence of his being which was also resident in and reflected by Jesus.

Never had I experienced love like that!

The whole experience of Jesus' (and the Father's) love and acceptance of me affected me powerfully. Even though I had previously fallen in love with Jesus when I was turned on to the Bible and had sensed he had loving qualities, it was nothing compared to being submersed in both his and the Father’s love in such a wondrous way.

I felt reconciled to God through Jesus, aware of the Father's most magnanimous and loving act in sending his only begotten son to die for mankind’s sins. I was one of those who now had the promise I would never perish but spend eternity with him and enjoy his love forever (Jn. 3:16; Eph. 2:18). To experience for eternity the kind of love I felt, is something I indeed look forward to!

What God taught me in that experience:
  • My concept of a cruel and fearful "God the Father" was erroneous. His total being is love, not the hard taskmaster I had envisioned for so many years. Also, the Father is not a glorified man, but an omnipresent Spirit breathing out his attribute of all-embracing love that permeates all of heaven.
  • God’s love also resonates through the person of Jesus who "is the sole expression of the glory of God…the out-raying of the divine…the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature" (Heb.1:3 ampc).
  • My Mormon theology about the Godhead was straightened out, for I did not see God as a resurrected man with a white beard standing alongside a resurrected Jesus. Jesus sat alone on God’s throne, qualified to sit there because of what he did on the cross: "When he had [offered] himself [and] accomplished our cleansing of sins and riddance of guilt, he sat down at the right hand of the divine Majesty on high…" (Heb. 1-3b ampc). Jesus was the only one in human form; yet God, who is a Spirit, was also present .
  • I did not have to perfect myself first and then wait years or centuries, as Mormonism taught, to wonder if I would ever be forgiven. Jesus, in this experience, did not reject me. He immediately loved and accepted me, verifying Romans 8:1: "There is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus.
I know the reality of both the Father and Jesus’ all-encompassing and embracing love, what it feels like, now having experienced it personally.

No one, regardless of what they have done, need fear in approaching his throne. His forgiveness, love and acceptance is guaranteed! "Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into Christ’s presence." (Eph. 3:12 NLT)

Those who will be able to stand before the glorious throne of God are only those who have accepted Christ. At that time, the scriptures state that it is Christ's righteousness, imputed into believers, that God will see. (Certainly, we can't claim we are righteous on our own.)

My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.

Refrain:
On Christ, the solid Rock I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand.
All other ground is sinking sand.
 (Hymn: The Solid Rock) [2])


END OF PART 1

Proceed to Part 2 for the biblical explanation of the Peter Testimony.



[1] The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball (Bookcraft Pub. Salt Lake City, Dec.17, 1968); 324-5.
[2]  Hymn: The Solid Rock by Edward Mote, vv. 1,4

THE PETER TESTIMONY 

PART 2 


The Biblical explanation of the Peter Testimony.
The scriptures don’t share with us how or exactly when the Holy Spirit gave this special testimony to Peter, but Jesus was pleased because he knew he hadn’t received it based on what others (flesh and blood) said, but what had been revealed to him from heaven. And it is understandable that Jesus would ask his disciples who they thought he was, considering that at that time they were in an area where the worship of Baal and other false gods was prevalent. The false gods were dead gods and Peter testified that unlike them, Jesus was the son of the Father, a living God.

But there was more significance to Jesus’ satisfaction with Peter’s answer—something the LDS Church fails to see every time they quote this scripture.

Jesus knew that the receipt of this kind of revelation knowledge from heaven would be required of all future Christians who would make up his church. They, too, must receive the same revelation knowledge from the Holy Spirit and have a correct testimony of his person and mission as described in the Bible. Since this is basic to salvation, believers would have to absolutely know this, not via flesh and blood, or hearing others say he is the Christ; nor by logic, intellect, or blind acceptance of some church’s written doctrinal statement; but from their own personal, Holy Spirit testimony received from heaven. These confessions of faith were to be the bedrock of the church. Without it, the church would have no strength.

Because of Peter’s solid-like-a-stone, Holy Spirit testimony, Jesus changed his name from Simon to Peter (petros), which is Greek for a small stone. After Jesus tells him he's blessed to have received this kind of revelation from heaven, in the very same breath Jesus continues. "You are Peter, a stone; and upon this rock (petra) [which is Greek for a solid, immovable bedrock], "I will BUILD my church. While Jesus himself is known as the Rock, the bedrock foundation for building His church would be the rock of “revelation about Christ” that would be given to all believers.

Peter was metaphorically called a "stone," because of his solid testimony of revelation knowledge. And he wouldn't be the only one. He later tells believers in I Pet. 2:4-5, that God will build his church based on the strength of their Holy Spirit testimonies. They, like himself, were to be "living stones" for God's use in building his church. 
Come to Him [the risen Lord] as to a living Stone which men rejected and threw away, but which is choice and precious in the sight of God. You [believers], like living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house for a holy and dedicated priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices [that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ. (Amp)
 Present yourselves as building stones for the construction of a sanctuary vibrant with life, in which you’ll serve as holy priests offering Christ-approved lives up to God. (v. 5 MSG vers)

What kind of church was Jesus talking about that he would build?
The church is not an institution, but worldwide, "called out believers." That’s what the original word for “church” (ecclesia) means. This is where Mormons err in their understanding of this passage. While they rightly say the true church will be built on revelation, they believe it is revelation given to their formal institution (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) solely to their prophet, the President of the Church. 



This is wrong. The strength of Christ's church Jesus said he would build, as seen in Matthew 16, must be built upon revelation-knowledge given to individual believers, not to an institution or a single prophet. Without individual members also receiving a revelatory testimony of Christ, they will not have the motivation nor the consistent strength to persevere in building a church that is, as the above Message Bible passage describes, “vibrant with life.”

Now, the LDS Church does claim that members have Holy Spirit testimonies. But their “programmed and memorized testimonies” include unbiblical doctrines and beliefs. Here is a typical Mormon testimony they are trained to say. It often is longer and may include temple work for the dead and more, but the following are the basics that “must” be included:
I know by the power of the Holy Spirit that the Book of Mormon is true, that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God; that Jesus is the Christ; President Thomas S. Monson is a prophet, seer and revelator; and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true church upon the face of the earth. And I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 
This is not what the Holy Spirit relays. His main function is to testify only to the truth about Jesus, His ministry, death and resurrection as described in the Bible.

What are other ways of receiving the Peter TestimonyThere are different ways in which the Holy Spirit may give this testimony:

  1. by a dream, vision, voice, or the way I received it
  2. meditating upon the scriptures, during which time Christ will be unveiled to you in a powerful way
  3. an inner, audible voice
  4. the impression of words being spoken in your mind and heart
  5. or at the moment of your salvation experience when you first accept the Biblical Jesus and his work and ask Him to come into your heart and be Lord of your life. The most common experience is numbers 2 and 5.
Which way you will receive this testimony will be according to the grace of God and how and when he decides to relay it to you; also your sincerity and spiritual receptivity. At that moment, the Holy Spirit will cause a divine quickening in your spirit with revelation knowledge about Jesus. And the testimony the Holy Spirit gives will always agree with what the Bible teaches about Christ and his work—not the additional things the Mormon Church teaches about him, such as God and Jesus appearing to Joseph Smith telling him that Christianity is corrupted, the Bible is unreliable, and sending an angel with a drawn sword threatening Joseph Smith if he didn’t practice polygamy.

When the Holy Spirit reveals Jesus and his work to believers, as he did to Peter, it will come in such a convincing manner that recipients will know it is not of themselves. It is the kind of testimony that Jesus told Peter, “flesh and blood cannot reveal.” It will border on the supernatural because, after all, it is a spiritual, other-worldly message from the Holy Spirit.


Should Mormons receive the Peter testimony?  Some have, and it is imperative that they receive this testimony because God wants to eventually bring them out of error and into the full truth of his gospel. This will fully be accomplished if the recipients understand what they’ve received, accept it for what it is, allow themselves be led to the truth of Biblical Christianity; and further, not assume that the Peter Testimony automatically incorporates Mormon doctrines into the witness they’ve received. (Examples later) Mormons claim a Holy Spirit testimony, but it extends outside the range of the Holy Spirit's mission and includes far more than Jesus ever taught.

Unfortunately, there are Mormons who are not spiritually receptive to this Holy Spirit testimony because they erroneously believe they have already received it. They think this because they are able to stand up in their monthly testimony meeting, often with tears, and verbalize the church’s memorized testimony.

But, a legitimate Peter Testimony is not meant to convey anything that contradicts the Bible, such as a testimony about Joseph Smith who taught the Gnostic doctrines of vicarious work for the dead, insisted that God required plural marriage, secret passwords and death penalties to get into heaven, and who was married to women who, at the time, were still married to their lawful husbands, and was also involved in the occult. (See my archived article, "Joseph Smith’s Involvement with Magic, Masonry and the Occult.") The Holy Spirit’s only job is to testify to the person and work of the Biblical Jesus Christ.

The following is how Mormons learn their special testimony; also, how converts gain theirs. (This is not to say that some Mormons have not received a genuine Peter testimony, which will be covered later.)

Mormons who are born and raised in the church are taught from toddlerhood to memorize the testimony quoted earlier in this article. Church leaders encourage this, knowing that the verbalization of one’s faith tends to give more meaning and appearance of truth to beliefs, even if done by memorization. So, as children grow up they continue to rattle it off as a conditioned response, which at the same time acts as an incentive for acceptance and approval. If missionaries going into the field feel they don’t have one yet, they are urged, as Boyd K. Packer (President of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles) admonished, to keep stating a testimony until they get one.(4) In other words, keep saying it over and over again until the repetition produces an inner conviction that it really is true and it’s so deeply embedded in your gut that you finally believe it.

When the Mormon’s inner conviction finally materializes through this process, it often translates into an emotional experience—more so if they are active in the church. Members are told that their emotion is proof the Holy Spirit is confirming their beliefs. Further evidence is if tears are actually shed. But the reiterating of words, plus tears is deceptive and doesn’t endow one with a genuine testimony of revelation knowledge from the Holy Spirit.


How do “converts” gain their testimony of Mormonism?  Converts to the church are told that they are to gain a testimony of the church. Of course, converts want to comply—especially when they attend the ward and see other members bearing theirs in meetings. After all, they want to be acceptable and like everyone else. So motivated by this, they pressure themselves until they soon believe they have received a testimony to Mormonism’s truthfulness. But what convinces them their testimony is true? 

What influences converts, is that they have already acquired an attraction and love for the contents of the Book of Mormon. (They are not instructed to pray for a Peter Testimony about Christ, just the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith.) But why are potential converts thrilled over the Book of Mormon and believe it must be true? Because Joseph Smith incorporated so much from the Bible into it. He hadn’t come up with his more bizarre doctrines yet. (See endnote 1 for more detail.) Plus, new converts love all the outstanding claims of the LDS Church—and indeed, they are outstanding. What other church can boast visitations from God, Jesus, angels, Peter, James and John, Elijah and John the Baptist? Then, there is the thrill, especially in today’s world, in believing God has called a “living prophet” to head the church. The major error is that potential converts pray about the “contents” and not the origin. Naturally, the content is thrilling because it contains so many biblical principles. But, one should pray: “Did an angel really give the Book of Mormon on gold plates for Joseph Smith to transcribe? And was Joseph Smith a true prophet sent by God?”

The missionaries tell potential converts that their proof of a testimony about the Book of Mormon from the Holy Spirit may be a tingling feeling in the spine or a warm feeling in their chest—the Burning Bosom phenomenon (covered later). Therefore, their feelings of love for the contents of the Book of Mormon, plus the outstanding claims of the Mormon Church, and their feelings (Burning Bosom or spine tingling), convinces them.

Interestingly, you will find that Christians who receive a true Biblical Peter Testimony do not necessarily experience emotion, warm chest or spine tingles while they are receiving it—even with those who may have been caught up in a heavenly vision. Afterwards, however, they may be elated to have received it and will then be filled with joyful emotion over God’s love and the fact that they received it, but emotions are not the test of truth or proof of a witness from the Holy Spirit. To test the truth of whatever you are praying about, it must agree with the Bible, lock, stock and barrel. Mormons are taught that all you need is the Burning Bosom witness. Everything hinges on feelings.

Does God bless Mormons with not only a Peter Testimony, but also other genuine experiences?
There may be Mormons who have received a valid Peter Testimony, even heavenly experiences, but who, by their own free will, choose to stay in the Mormon Church and fail to follow through on what God wants to achieve in their lives. The following is one example—an LDS man who prayed to know if his sins had truly been forgiven. He received what I believe to be a valid vision. (12)

This man, after anguishing prayer for forgiveness, was given a vision where he witnessed Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane. There, in the garden, he stood behind a bush and watched it all, at the same time suffering immensely as he realized how much his own sins had made Jesus suffer. When the vision closed, he still remained in a state of sobbing and pleading to know if he was forgiven. Finally, the voice of the Lord spoke to him, telling him that his sins were forgiven.

Why did God choose to give the Mormon man this Gethsemane vision? Because He saw one of his children genuinely pleading for forgiveness and wanted to show him what he went through and that he indeed died for his sins.

Some may feel that the Lord should have reacted differently by saying something like: "Sorry, I can’t respond—you belong to the Mormon Church." When one of God’s children cries to him he is not going to give them a stone or a serpent, despite the denomination they may be in. (See Luke 11:11). And while we’d like to think that God loves only "us," in reality he also loves "them." It is his nature.

This was, no doubt, a wonderful experience for him. It certainly had to put a conviction in his heart that Jesus died for his sins. Yet, at the same time, he was influenced by Mormon doctrine and didn’t fully comprehend the atonement well enough to know that he didn’t actually have to wonder and keep asking whether his sins were forgiven.

It is doubtful that this man ever came out of the church because of the testimony he gave about it afterwards (see below). While he, like many other Mormons love Christ and may even have had special experiences similar to the Gethsemane vision, here’s the problem why so many stay in the church after receiving them. It’s because they jump to the wrong conclusion. They mistakenly lump the truth of their experience with their Mormon beliefs. I call it the all-or-nothing logic.

Here’s how a Mormon’s mind can often work after receiving a Peter Testimony or some other revelatory experience:
I received this special testimony about Jesus being the Christ (or whatever the heavenly vision relays). Therefore, because I received it as a Mormon, it was also God’s way of saying that Joseph Smith is a prophet, LDS doctrines and temple rituals are true, and this is the only true church that He recognizes, etc.
Similarly, this man who received the Gethsemane experience testified afterwards that he knew with a perfect knowledge that all men must be born again and sanctified…which is true. But he also latched on to the all-or-nothing logic, by adding exaltation (meaning, godhood) into his testimony. He said: 

I now know with a perfect knowledge that all men must be born again, or sanctified of the spirit in order to receive their salvation and obtain their exaltation.
Jesus said nothing, either in the Gethsemane vision or in his words of forgiveness about exaltation and becoming a god. In addition, the man further tacked on to his testimony that because of what he received, he also knew the LDS Church was the only true church on the face of the earth, that Joseph Smith was a prophet, the Bible is the word of God, although error-filled, that the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants and Pearl of Great Price are all God’s word, and that those in the Mormon Church who are devoted to Christ as he now is, are endowed with special keys of power through LDS temple ordinances.

Jesus didn’t say or show to him anything about the LDS Church, its scriptures or temple ordinances. But the man assumed that because he was favored to receive this Gethsemane vision while a Mormon; that it also meant Jesus was acknowledging that his church and all its beliefs were also true.

But upon examination, this is not what the vision or the voice of the Savior conveyed to him. Jesus did not say, "My son, not only are your sins forgiven, but you are blessed for your faithfulness in temple work and striving for exaltation so you can become a god, and for belonging to the only true church upon the face of the earth restored by my prophet, Joseph Smith."

A similar incident occurred when a Seventy (a male priesthood position) sat in my front room and shared with me his experience of feeling the Savior’s loving arms around him during a Sacrament meeting. "Therefore," he concluded in all soberness, "the Mormon Church is the only true church." (Once again, the all-in-one conclusion.)

I politely told him that his experience was no doubt genuine because he loves the Savior and the Savior loves him. The Savior wanted to show his love for him. But just because he was a Mormon sitting in an LDS Ward chapel when he received Jesus’ expression of love, did not automatically mean that the experience was confirming the Mormon Church. If this were so, members of other churches who receive similar experiences of God’s love—Methodists, Baptists, Catholics, Hare Krishnas or Moonies—could rightly assume that their church is the only one God approves of as well. Obviously, this isn’t so. All that was relayed to this man was that Jesus loved him.

God has compassion for all individuals who love Him, albeit they may be blindly entrenched in a church organization that teaches erroneous doctrines. Loving them anyway, he hopes to move them toward the full truth, as he did with me. But many Mormons, still blinded by the all-or-one logic, choose to remain in the church.

I would venture to say that members who have received a genuine testimony and witness about the Biblical Jesus or some aspect of his work, but stay in the LDS Church because of the all-in-one logic, will find that Satan may take advantage by giving them additional revelations that will verify Mormon doctrines. It wouldn’t take much for these individuals, already feeling favored with a valid manifestation, to believe any future revelation and be unaware of its source. Satan tried to do this to me, but I was able to recognize the experience for what it was. I may, at some point later, share this.

The one difference between the testimony I received and the LDS man’s experience of witnessing Jesus’ agony in Gethsemane, is that after receiving my Peter Testimony I gained an even stronger testimony afterwards, because it led me to read the Bible with enlightened eyes. I did not tack on, or make any assumptions that because I was a Mormon, standing in a ward chapel that Sunday morning on Christmas, that it also meant that the LDS Church was the only true church on the face of the earth, or that Joseph Smith was a prophet, or that exalted salvation can only be achieved through temple ordinances as Joseph Smith, Brigham Young and others taught.(14)

Although the man remained in the Mormon Church because he assumed incorrect things from his Gethsemane experience, my experience eventually brought me out of the church into the complete truth of Biblical Christianity.

Why did God give me my Peter Testimony while still a Mormon?
Simply put . . . "prevenient grace." According to Wikipedia.com, the term originated with John Wesley in the 18th century. In today’s English, it could be restated as preceding grace; that is, "divine grace that precedes human decision." (See endnote 2 for scriptural examples.) I’m mentioning the subject of God’s grace because there are some Christians who believe only they are entitled to receive it—certainly, not a Mormon!

God wants to exert his loving, prevenient grace on Mormons or any who are involved in false religions, hoping he can lead them to come out and embrace the truth. But if they choose to ignore his promptings or any experiences he may graciously give them and stay in the Mormon Church, he will not force them by violating their free will. The words to an old Protestant hymn says: "He’ll call, persuade, direct aright, and bless with wisdom, love and light. In nameless ways be good and kind, but never force the human mind."

Free will (or free agency as Mormons call it) involves the soul (intellect, behavior and emotions) and predominantly exerts strong dominion over a person. Therefore, because it is the soul that is in charge of exercising the free will, the soul often has the last word. So, if a Mormon has received a Peter Testimony, or some other valid experience, his soul may dominate and he may choose to stay. 
The reason may be:
  • he or she has used the all-or-nothing logic
  • perceives the devastating repercussions from leaving, including family estrangement
    or
  • love and bias for the LDS Church.
The influence of the LDS Church is indeed strong—so much so, that I have actually heard Mormons say, "Even if God himself or an angel appeared to me and told me the church was wrong, I would never leave."

Since I wanted to follow the Lord, come what may, I used my free agency and eventually left, guided by the hand of God. But he knew how difficult this would be for me.

So, to begin with, he gave me the Peter Testimony, knowing that if he was going to bring me out of false doctrine he had to give me a firm foundation to stand on—something that would give me a solid foundation under my feet—a Rock that I could stand on that would not crumble or shift when later I went through so much.

Before I exited the Mormon Church, what did my Peter Testimony do for me?
A Peter Testimony will always draw one to the Bible with new eyes so as to understand more about Jesus and his divine mission (that is, if you have not insisted upon using the all-or-nothing logic). The Holy Spirit lit a fire in me to do this and I discovered the Bible in a totally new and exciting way. I began to read it from a non-Mormon perspective (a miracle in itself). I fell in love with Jesus Christ, his work, doctrines, principles, love and power! Then, I made posters of favorite scriptures and hung them all over the house, one in particular on the wall at the end of my bed so I would see it the first thing in the morning:
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. (Gal. 2:20)
I was teaching the church’s Gospel Doctrine class (adult Sunday school) and got into trouble one time when I dared to interject some of my new thinking. I told the class that Baptists also have their prayers answered. People actually stood up and walked out of class over that!

In addition, my Peter Testimony did other things for me. The Holy Spirit quickened an inner ability to discern between correct and incorrect principles promulgated in the church. I remember one example in the church magazine, when President Harold B. Lee quoted the late President Heber J. Grant: 



Brethren, keep your eye on the President of this Church. If he tells you to do anything and it is wrong, and you do it, the Lord will bless you for it. (Ensign, October 1972, p. 7. Italics mine)

Whoa! Since when did God say he’d bless individuals for doing something wrong just because someone tells them to do it? It was an incorrect principle from the word go. Faithful Mormons consider the President of the church a Prophet of God, so it is understandable why they would accept this without questioning or praying about it. But the Holy Spirit was teaching me.

Another one blew my mind:

Lucifer wins a great victory when he can get members of the church to . . . do their own thinking . . . When our leaders speak, the thinking has been done!" (Improvement Era, June 1945, p. 354)
What—no thinking allowed? Prior to my experience I would have blindly accepted in a heartbeat anything church leaders dictated—especially coming from the "Prophet." But unquestioning obedience to anyone who states something contrary to God’s Biblical principles without any thinking or weighing the matter on their own and guided by the Holy Spirit, is definitely wrong. When I asked a few individuals in the ward if they ever prayed about church statements, they said, "I don’t have to pray. I’m to do what my leaders tell me—they won’t lead me astray." (Members of Jim Jones’ church and Kool-aid come to mind.)

The eyes of my understanding, as Paul states in Eph. 1:18, continued to be enlightened by the Holy Spirit wherein God gave me another insightful revelation when I was teaching on the Dead Sea Scrolls. When I discovered that 95% of the words from the Isaiah scroll were identical with the Hebrew text in our present Bible (5% being minor slips of the pen and variations in spelling), I concluded that the Bible, despite the Mormon claim that it isn’t translated correctly and is unreliable for doctrine, was well preserved after all. My next thought, which would never have entered my mind prior to my Peter Testimony was, "If my leaders are wrong about THAT, what else could they be wrong about? This was daring, but God was bringing the blinders down. 


God gave me other wonderful lessons through visions and other ways, a few of which I 

learned later during the time I left the mainline church and secretly entered Mormon Fundamentalism to live a United Order for a year. There, I hoped to perfect myself and grow closer to God by living in a community where I could share everything I had with others. But, as I explain in my story, Escape from the Cult (see the dashboard), God allowed me to go into that situation knowing I was a studier with an intellectual bent, and would need to have a thorough knowledge of the errors of Mormonism in black and white. He knew that within that organization I would gain access to very old, out-of-print Mormon books and manuscripts that had been carefully handed down from early Mormon times, and would ultimately serve to be my route out. 

Through the material I read, I learned about the doctrines and practices that Mormonism was founded upon. I discovered shocking things about Joseph Smith; also, strange temple rituals that I never heard of, or witnessed when I went through the temple. I read of men being sealed (married) to men instead of men to women, and suggestive innuendoes of how these sealings were often consummated, which a rare few Fundamentalist groups, practice today. In addition, I was not prepared to read about women having plural husbands, although I was familiar with the doctrine of plural wives.

How could I belong to something that believed like that! And while the mainline church today no longer practices many of them, it was, nevertheless, what the church was founded upon. I was able to see it in black and white for myself, and not from anti-Mormon literature erroneously declared by the church to be lies. Intellectually, it was what I needed to complete my coming-out process. Then, when things really got bad (when the group held me prisoner for refusing to renounce Jesus and I nearly died), God audibly spoke to me, enabled my escape, and later healed me of the physical infirmities I suffered from the ordeal. After escaping, I briefly returned to the mainline church and requested my excommunication.

God gave me many experiences, but too many to share here.

What is the "Burning Bosom" phenomenon?
The "Burning Bosom" phenomenon is supposed to be a special witness from God to a Mormon, or a convert, that Joseph Smith is a prophet and his doctrines and scripture (Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants and Pearl of Great Price) are true. However, it is only fair for me to point out that not all members believe that this is the method to use in finding truth. (See Elder Dalin H Oakes’ statement further down.) A few teach that the burning bosom phenomenon was only for Joseph Smith in translating records that were in an unknown language.

But for the majority of members, they believe in the testimony via the Burning Bosom, with many claiming to have received it. The phenomenon is strictly a bodily sensation (further described below), but is also subjective and often emotionally based, thus, susceptible to deception.

Leaders quote Doctrine and Covenants 9:8, which says that the procedure to receive a Burning Bosom testimony for an individual seeking to know, for example, if the Book of Mormon is true, is to first study it out in their mind. Now, this is fine if converts or members, in their study, would compare everything about the Book of Mormon and the story of its origin to the Bible, but they don’t. They listen to the missionaries pull Bible passages out of context and explain their "logic" on how a good "feeling" is the evidence of a truthful witness. It is all very logical, so the convert’s mind soon becomes convinced that Mormonism has to be true. (See my article, Strategies of the LDS Church.) Once convinced, either by logic, their good feelings, burning bosom or spine tingling, that they’ve received confirmation from the Holy Spirit, their heart responds in a positive and joyful way.

Usually, missionaries will tell potential converts to get a testimony of the Book of Mormon first—and there’s a reason for this.

Joseph Smith plagiarized by loading the Book of Mormon with scriptures and doctrines from the Bible. His bizarre doctrines came later, so are not in the Book of Mormon. This is the reason missionaries focus on the Book of Mormon and why it is such a good proselytizing tool. When I first read the Book of Mormon, my heart responded to those truths and I experienced a "joyful swelling" in my heart and felt a witness, for the Holy Spirit can do nothing but witness to the truth of Biblical principles. However, the Holy Spirit was not witnessing to the source claimed for the Book of Mormon, e.g., the angel Moroni, etc. Interestingly, I never received this same swelling joy concerning the angel Moroni, or Joseph Smith and his gold plates, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, temple ordinances, or any burning bosom or spine tingles. But because I felt the contents of the Book of Mormon so true, I just assumed everything else about the church also had to be true.

There are active Mormons who have never received this experience. Of course, they don’t let anyone in the ward know this because they are concerned that it would sound like they aren’t spiritual enough for God to give it to them. But there are rare times, however, when they share their failure between close friends. The wife of my Bishop shared with me that she had never received it. Still, she stood up in testimony meeting and declared she knew by the power of the Holy Spirit that the church was true, Joseph Smith was a prophet, including Jesus is the Christ, etc.

One Mormon, determined to receive a burning bosom testimony of the church, believed the Book of Mormon when it said that all he had to do is ask God and he’d manifest the truth to him. The church magazine, The Ensign, published his story. Every night, he asked the same questions about whether the Book of Mormon and the LDS church was true, and did Jesus really appear to Joseph Smith, etc. He waited and waited for an answer, burning bosom, spine tingles or something. But he received no answer. Then, finally to his surprise, after he kept posing his questions, he thought he heard a voice inside him ask:

"What do you think?"

He told God that he believed the church was true and that he never doubted it. Then, the voice came again:

"Then why do you ask?"

The young man concluded that the worded-message was divine and that his previous acceptance of the truth of Mormonism was sufficient as a testimony. He didn’t need a burning bosom or special revelation—revelation was just for those who need it.(16) The principle relayed in this man’s story was that God goes along with whatever the person already believes. Not very Biblical.

What does this phenomenon actually feel like?
Some say the chest actually becomes physically warm, while others say it is electric tingles, both considered valid by many, including the missionaries. A Utah Bishop described his Holy Spirit witness to Mormonism as a strong tingling down his spine, but admitted that he sometimes received a similar feeling while watching a moving program on television.(5) The instruction manual for the missionaries says that they are to tell potential converts that a "good feeling" is the yardstick for truth. (I have the manual in my possession, and served two stake missions myself using the "good feeling" logic.)

LDS, Elder Callin H. Oaks, speaking on the church's position on revelation and in response to critics, states:

Does it need to be a feeling of caloric heat, like the burning produced by combustion? If that is the meaning, I have never had a burning in the bosom. Surely, the word "burning" in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity. That is the witness many receive. That is the way revelation works" (13) 

But, in contrast to his statement, I have actually heard individuals testify that they received this "caloric heat," and described it as literally, a physical warmth in their chest. If, according to Oaks, all a person has to receive is a feeling of being "comfortable and serene," one has to wonder about those many individuals in other unbiblical religious institutions who feel very serene and comfortable in the religious setting they've embraced. For many years as a Mormon, I did.

When a bodily manifestation occurs, such as a tingling, burning bosom or whatever, it is physical. However, the Biblical testimony of Jesus that is imparted by the Holy Spirit is spiritual—not a physical tingling in the body. Jesus never said to Peter, "Blessed art thou, for flesh and blood hath not revealed this to you, but the spine tingling, burning bosom, heat-in-the-chest and feeling of comfort and serenity has."

Now, there’s nothing wrong with feeling joy in one’s heart over finding out that something is true. But the Bible tells us that the heart is deceptive, so the heart can't be reliable. Now, if one actually receives a genuine testimony via the Holy Spirit, emotion and happiness of one's heart can follow afterwards. But it isn’t the way to test the truthfulness of something. The test of truth is by measuring everything with what God says in the Bible.


This, then, raises the question: Can our own hearts and feelings deceive us? Yes, the Bible warns us about this:

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jer.17:9)

He feedeth on ashes; a deceived heart hath turned him aside, that he cannot deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand? (Isaiah 44:20)

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5)

He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool, but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered. (Prov. 28:26)
What causes this Burning Bosom or the electric tingle phenomena in the LDS Church? According to some, there are three possible answers:


  1. A false spirit can relay the burning.
  2. Intimidation from others, so the person unconsciously forces one up. (It’s not hard to get your spine to tingle.)
  3. One’s own heart and psyche can produce the experience simply because the individual sincerely wants Mormonism to be true—after all, it’s claims are quite spectacular. 

I’m more inclined to discount number 1, and believe that more often it is number 3, influenced by number 2.

Former Mormon, David McCament, a member for 13 years, says he received the traditional feelings about the truthfulness of Mormonism, but began studying and comparing the church’s doctrines to the Bible. Seeing that the two contradicted each other, he went through a lot of turmoil and questioning. How could this be when he had the typical and distinctive sensations after he initially prayed concerning the Book of Mormon and the church? Eventually, he reached a point where he went into the woods with his Bible and prayed:


In this state of helplessness I began praying out loud. “What do you want me to do, Father? I've studied hard, I've learned of significant problems with my church, but when I've prayed I have felt a warmth in my heart that I have always believed was the Holy Spirit telling me the Church was true.

As I knelt there, waiting prayerfully upon the Lord, a gentle but persuasive calm came over me. I cannot explain it nor adequately describe the entire experience but somehow I heard the Lord speak to my spirit through a series of thoughts or impressions. "Dave, I love you,"

He assured me. "I know how hard you've looked for an answer about your church and what to do. You thought you could figure it out on your own. Now you realize you cannot. I've been waiting all this time to help you but you had to come to Me first, like you are right now, helpless and surrendered, before I could. What you hold in your hands [the Bible] contains the truth about the Church and what you are to believe. You must place all of your trust in Me and in My Word alone. I decided right then I would believe it by faith apart from feelings. (Read his testimony at: http://www.utlm.org/testimony/davemctestimony.htm) 


The test for truth Proverbs 28:26 admonishes us to check and see if what we are inquiring about lines up with the Word of God. Testing must come by comparing what one is evaluating with what the Bible says—not by emotional feelings, one's heart, or bodily manifestations. The Bible is God’s official yardstick, purposely preserved by his hand down through the ages so that all his children could measure whether something is true or not and avoid being tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. (Eph 4:14) Continuous discovery of more ancient manuscripts is proving the Bible’s accuracy. 

God also says in His Word that we are obliged to test whatever spirit or influence is attempting to convert or convince us of something.
Beloved, do not put faith in every spirit, but prove the spirits to discover whether they proceed from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world. (1 Jn 4:1. Ampl)
So, how do we test religious claims? Not by electric tingles, burning bosom, goose bumps or good feelings in our heart, but "by every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God." (Mt 4:4) And where do we find God’s word? In the Bible—and only the Bible. Paul, in Gal. 1:8, offers a specific test:
But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
Does Mormonism teach a different gospel? While they do teach that Christ died on the cross for their sins, they believe he effected only a partial salvation. It will get you resurrected, but full salvation (exaltation) has to be earned through Mormonism’s unique doctrines and temple rituals they believe God has only revealed to them because they are the elect.

The LDS Church definitely preaches "another gospel," for neither Jesus nor his apostles ever said that polygamy, secret passwords, death penalties, and vicarious work for the dead (a Gnostic practice) were required to enter the presence of God. Nor did they teach that God is not the Supreme and only God, or that he had parents and grandparents and was a polygamous, resurrected man from a previous world. They didn’t teach that men could become gods (Satan’s first lie to Adam and Eve. (Gen 3:5; Jn 8:44), or that Lucifer is Jesus’ brother, or that God physically came down and impregnated Mary, or that salvation/exaltation can only come through Jesus and the say-so of Joseph Smith. (See comparison chart between Mormonism and Christianity, endnote 7.)

Nor did the early-church LDS apostles say that one day what they stated about the priesthood would later be subject to change so that LDS males could usurp the Melchizedek priesthood, reserved only for Christ. (Heb. Ch 7) As far as priesthood goes, the Bible only says that after Jesus’ resurrection, all believers, male and female, would be declared a holy nation of royal priests, in that they would from then on offer up spiritual sacrifices. (I Pet. 2:5; Rom. 12:1). But today's believers are not so presumptuous to assume that they hold Christ’s priesthood.(9)

Nor did the writers of the Bible say that High Priests (who oversaw the sacrificial system) were still to be ordained and that there could be many at the same time. In the Old Testament there was never but one High Priest at a time, with the exception of one instance (6). Upon the death of the high priest, another was appointed and this was repeated down through history until Christ. But, when Christ, the perfect and ultimate sacrificial lamb died, he became the final High Priest. (Heb. 7:27; 10:10) Ordinances were then nailed to the cross (Col. 2:14 KJV) and Israel’s system of high priests and animal sacrifices were done away with. After his resurrection, Jesus entered the Holy of Holies in heaven and became our eternal and only High Priest. Since he cannot die, there would be no need to appoint other High Priests like the LDS Church does. (Heb. 3:1; 4:14-16; Chaps 5-10.) Anyone who would assume this position should be ashamed. Neither should Mormons seize the Aaronic Priesthood. This was a lineage priesthood that not even Jesus could hold. (9)

What is the difference between the Burning Bosom and the Peter Testimony?
Concisely put, the Burning Bosom is physical, a bodily manifestation which also includes human emotions and feelings. The Peter Testimony is a spiritual conviction imparted by the Holy Spirit who bears witness to our spirit--not our body--with revelation knowledge that is not based on human feelings. It is spirit to spirit, and what it conveys corroborates the Bible.

Now, for the sake of fairness, let’s say the Holy Spirit does legitimately witness the truth to a person with bodily manifestations and emotions. It still begs the question: How could a Burning Bosom testimony be valid concerning Mormonism, when the LDS Church not only contradicts, criticizes and denies the accuracy of the Bible, but also adds unbiblical doctrines that Jesus and the apostles never taught? In the long run, this is the crux of the matter. A Christian’s testimony will be confirmed by the Bible, but the Bible will not confirm Mormonism.

If you are a Mormon and have received a Spirit-to-spirit conviction that the Biblical Jesus’ work and his status as the Christ is true, just be sure you don’t make the assumption, as so many have done, that it includes things other than what the Holy Spirit actually conveyed to you.

Is there an LDS concern about today’s Mormon receiving a Peter testimony of Christ? There is a concern that members only focus on doctrines that appear biblical. This is because LDS leaders today, hoping to draw more converts in, are now bent on portraying the church as "Christian." To further facilitate this, they are omitting their unbiblical doctrines from teaching manuals and restricting ward leaders and teachers from making any reference to them. This was a shock to long-time Mormon, Ken Driggs: 

For a long time, I taught the Gospel Principles class in my ward. One Sunday we sang a hymn in sacrament meeting that referred to our Mother in Heaven, Eliza R. Snow’s O My Father. " In heav’n are parents single? / No, the thought makes reason stare! Truth  is reason; truth eternal / tells me I’ve a mother there." The manual touched on family that Sunday, and I mentioned the Heavenly Mother in my lesson. I did not see that belief as heretical. Rather, it was something I had been taught all my life. After class a furious missionary scolded me for bringing this up, for "not teaching from the manual." Apparently an investigator had been in class and freaked out at the reference. (10)
Therefore, ward leaders and teachers are told to only focus on talking about Christ and general and acceptable beliefs that sound more Christian. While this is commendable, it is deceptive. Why? Because church leaders are not renouncing their doctrines, but hiding them--which means they still really believe them. There are, however, pros and cons to this, so for fuller coverage I recommend reading my archived article, Is the Mormon Church Turning Christian?

So, the danger for a Mormon in receiving a Peter Testimony today, especially for converts, is because the church now focuses so much on Christ and conceals its unbiblical doctrines. In view of this, they won’t see the advantage of leaving the church to embrace true Christianity. Further, by staying in, they will eventually be convinced that they must earn their salvation through temple work and other activities so that one day they can become a god or goddess. They will find their growth in true biblical doctrines stunted and will fail to understand the complete and final work of the cross, not to mention their eventual disappointment in heaven when they find these beliefs false. It is still a church that believes in earning salvation through works as verified in their Third Article of Faith:

We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.
Gal. 2:16 tells us that, "…a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ." Those who put laws and ordinances into the Good News of the Gospel, make it bad news."(11)

Have you received a biblically based Peter Testimony?
I emphasize "Biblically-based," because the Peter Testimony that Jesus is the Christ will only validate what the Bible says about Jesus and his mission--nothing more, nothing less. This revelation knowledge can happen when one genuinely receives a salvation experience. And since God is love, it is not unusual for the Holy Spirit to relay God’s love during that experience. This, then, provides a continuing joy thereafter, as Dean Kinzel describes:

When I received Jesus as my savior, there was such a great love that flooded over me in the recognition of the fact that Jesus loved me so much that He died on the cross for my sins. The joy from this love was just indescribable; and still is as a matter of fact. This I believe was revealed to me by the Holy Spirit...for it is the Holy Spirit that is the very presence of God within us. (15)
Or, it can also happen during prayer time, or as you are meditating on God’s word in the Bible. Former Mormon, Dave McCament, commenting on his first experience in the woods, (quoted earlier) says that revelation knowledge not only comes to him by God speaking words within his spirit, but also from the Holy Spirit when he reads the Bible. 


About the most direct answer I ever had coming from God was when He told me He loved me, that He was waiting for me to come to Him broken and surrendered, and that the answer I was seeking was found in His Word. I knew God was speaking to me…but I can’t explain how He did it. Sometimes enlightenment will come (an example is when you are reading the Bible and a verse leaps off the page, hits you between the eyes, and God says, "This is right for you now") during scripture reading that is intense and blesses me deeply with greater understanding and insight. I have a certainty of belief in Jesus that is Bible-based and kept supernaturally alive in me via the Holy Spirit indwelling me.... My knowledge of Jesus comes from faith in the Word of God and is centered in how He has revealed Himself through scripture. (8)
When one receives the Peter testimony from the Holy Spirit, this indwelling comes in such a strong manner and testifies of Christ so powerfully, "you know that you know" that it is not of yourself. It is the kind of testimony that flesh and blood, intellect, logic, heat in your bosom, electric tingles or your own heart can never reveal to you--only God. 

This testimony is the imperative foundation for all true believers, and will always testify to the gospel that Jesus actually taught in the Bible . ..that of full forgiveness, reconciliation to the Father and promise of eternal life--not the kind of eternal life that Mormonism defines as temple ritual, godhood and plural marriage.

When you come to the cross, there is nothing else you can possibly do to "earn" your way to heaven. However, a life of good works as admonished by Jesus follows because of one’s faith, but there is no "earning" power in it. While James 2:20 says, "faith without works is dead," you are still saved by a saving faith alone. The Holy Spirit guarantees this:
"And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is 'God’s guarantee' that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people" (Eph. 1:13-14).



THE END
MISCELLANEOUS
To read Christian testimonies, go to: (http://www.precious-testimonies.com/General/a-e/BornAgainIndex.htm )

For former Mormon, David McCament’s testimony, go to:  http://www.utlm.org/testimony/davemctestimony.htm

The following site gives twenty-four ways to identify a false religion and how seductive deception can be. http://www.jubilee.org.nz/articles/how-to-identify-a-cult


ENDNOTES


1.       The Book of Mormon is the easiest to gain a testimony about because it contains so many Christian truths from the Bible. Joseph Smith also addressed many of the issues taking place with the Christian evangelism of his day. Only later did he come up with his bizarre doctrines. Therefore, when members testify about the Book of Mormon, they are truly testifying to the Biblical truths contained in it. They hardly even had to pray about it to know it’s true--which was the case with me. But what they fail to pray about is whether an angel named Moroni delivered gold plates to Joseph Smith. And because they receive a witness that the "contents" of the Book of Mormon are true, they then "assume" that everything else about Mormonism is also the truth, including the angel and the gold plates.


2.       Jeremiah 31:3: "...I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee."

Ezekiel 34:11, 16: "(11) As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy an dark day.(16) I will seek that which was lost and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick. . . ." Luke 19:10: "For the Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." John 6:44: "No man can come unto me, unless the Father who hath sent me, draw him..." Romans 2:4: "...the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance..." Philippians 2:12-13: "...work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God that worketh in you according to his good pleasure, both to will and to do." 1 John 4:19: "We love him, because he first loved us."


3.       A Patriarchal Blessing in the LDS Church is a prophetic utterance in which certain blessings are pronounced on members, their future often declared, and a statement as to which tribe they descend from. Of interest is one particular statement the patriarch said in mine—that I would be spit upon, hated and disdained, but that I was to take heart for God would be with me. At the time this puzzled me, for little did I know that this "disdaining" would be fulfilled by my LDS friends when I left the church.


4.       Mike H. Reynolds, "Preaching to the Choir," The Inner Circle 12, No. 3 (March 1995): 6.


5.       http://www.utlm.org/testimony/davemctestimony.htm



6.       There were two high priests in the reign of David, apparently of nearly equal authority, viz., Zadok and Abiathar (I Chron. 15:11; 2II Sam. 8:17; 15:24, 35). It is not unlikely that after the death of Ahimelech and the secession of Abiathar to David, Saul may have made Zadok priest, and that David may have avoided the difficulty of deciding between the claims of his faithful friend Abiathar and his new and important ally Zadok by appointing them to a joint priesthood; the first place, with the ephod and Urim and Thummin remaining with Abiathar, who was in actual possession of them. It appears that Abiathar had special charge of the ark and the services connected therewith, which agrees exactly with the possession of the ephod by Biathar and his previous position with David before he became king. Abiathar, however, forfeited his place by taking part with Adonijah against Solomon, and Zadok was made high priest in his place." (Unger’s Bible Dictionary by Merrill F. Unger, Chicago. Moody Press, 1980) 888.)

7.  Differences Between Christianity and Mormonism (below). Also, a study of Gnosticism will prove quite revealing to members and investigators of Mormonism; see summary in my book, The Mormon Missionaries, pages 185, 192-194.) 




In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, the late Mormon Prophet, Pres. Gordon B. Hinckley, when if he believed in the traditional Christ of Christians, stated: 

"No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of whom they (the Christians) speak is not the Christ of whom I speak." (Church News, June 20, 1998, p. 7)


8.    Dave McCament, Escondido, CA. Read his testimony at: http://www.utlm.org/testimony/davemctestimony.htm

9. But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God's very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light." (I Peter 2:9)

In the Old Testament only the High Priests qualified to have direct access to God by presenting blood sacrifices. But since they were done away with in Christ who was the ultimate blood sacrifice and he has become our High Priest, God is accessible to all believers because of their royal priesthood. They can approach God with boldness and are empowered to converse with God and minister to others. Hebrews 4:14, 16 says:


Since, then, we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast to our confession [the faith we profess]. …Let us therefore approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. 
In the matter of the Aaronic priesthood, this was reserved only for the descendants of Aaron. Mormons claim to be of the tribes of Ephraim and Manassah, not Aaron. They, however, believe that until a Mormon steps forth with a legitimate claim to being a descendant of Aaron (which is usually supernaturally disclosed through one’s patriarchal blessing), members can substitutionally officiate in those duties. So, now they ordain young men, older men if they are new converts, to the Aaronic priesthood even though they are not descendants of Aaron. But, what is so presumptuous is that in the Bible, God was very strict about who could hold the Aaronic priesthood. Because Christ was of the tribe of Judah, even He couldn’t hold it. (Heb. 7:14) That makes Mormon men making themselves more privileged than Christ! That alone, ought to refute the Mormon Aaronic priesthood. The following should be helpful:



  

10.       "A New Future Requires a New Past." (Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 41, No. 2, Summer 2008), 75. (Italics mine.)


11.       Truth." http://www.frontiernet.net/~avtruth/faithvworks.html


12.       www.greaterthings.com/Essays/testimony.htm


13.       http://en.fairmormon.org/Burning_in_the_bosom



14.       The Mormon Church does not believe Acts 4:12, that Christ is the only name under heaven by which a man can be saved. Rather, to be resurrected or saved in any of the three levels within the Celestial Kingdom, it is through membership in the LDS Church and Joseph Smith's name. (Doctrines of Salvation 1:350) 


Brigham Young and other church leaders reiterated this:

"No man or woman in this dispensation will ever enter into the celestial kingdom of God without the consent of Joseph Smith."

"No man or woman in this generation will get a resurrection and be crowned without Joseph saying so. (Conference discourse on October 8, 1854. See also, (Journal of Discourses, Vol. VII, p. 289)

"So hear it all ye ends of the earth; if you ever enter into the kingdom of God, it is because Joseph Smith let you go there."

"Every man and woman must have the certification of Joseph Smith, Junior, as a passport to their entrance into the mansion where God and Christ are." (Brigham Young)

There is no salvation without accepting Joseph Smith.

President Spencer W. Kimball said: "Exaltation is available only to righteous members of the Church of Jesus Christ; only to those who accept the gospel; only to those who have their endowments in holy temples of God and have been sealed for eternity and who then continue to live righteously throughout their lives. (Spencer W. Kimball, The Miracle of Forgiveness, 1969, 246.


15.       Dean Kinzel, Marysville, WA.


16.       http://library.lds.org/nxt/gateway.dll/Magazines/Ensign/1992.htm/ensign



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