The CROSS Newsletter March 2022

#1 – THE MAN – JOSEPH SMITH

(ca. 1805 – 1830)

Over the past few years, it has been my habit to read through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. God has shown Himself to me through His Word. Creation of the heavens and the earth are briefly revealed. The Patriarchs are introduced to set the stage for His direct involvement with the epitome of His Creation, mankind.

The Creator’s connection to humanity is established through Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Jacob’s twelve sons leading to Moses. Moses and his brother Aaron are Levites. The Levites were appointed by God to be the Priests for the children of Israel. They were responsible for carrying out God’s directions for observances and implementation of God’s requirements.

Most of this is not new information for you. You have also read the Bible. This is being emphasized to later demonstrate where Mormon theology changed direction. Much of current Mormonism is an effort to recapture portions of the old Law of Moses and implement some of its requirements.

The Christian Church is founded upon Jesus Christ, God’s Son. There is no discussion about the origination of Mormonism, formally called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Joseph Smith is the founder and first Prophet of this organization. So, WHO IS JOSEPH SMITH?

At this point I will provide a Joseph Smith quotation from a public sermon he delivered just before the end of his life. This is Joseph Smith’s description of who he is. The sermon was delivered on May 26, 1844, one month before he died in the Carthage jail (History of the Church, Vol, 6 by the LDS Church, pg. 408-409).

“I have more to boast of than ever any man had. I am the only man that has ever been able to keep a whole church together since the days of Adam. A large majority of the whole have stood by me. Neither Paul, John, Peter, nor Jesus ever did it. I boast that no man ever did such a work as I. The followers of Jesus ran away from Him; but the Latter-day Saints never ran away from me yet.”

Did Joseph Smith really believe this? At this time in his life, I believe he really did. A friend, Daniel Thompson said, “…this is NOT information the average Mormon wants to hear.” And I would add, it is not information the LDS Corporation wants their followers to hear. This is a blasphemous statement, which reminds me of King Herod in Acts 12:20-24. King Herod was praised as a god, which he did not deny or give praise to God. Scripture says he was ‘immediately’ struck down by an angel of the Lord. Joseph’s death one month after this sermon makes a person wonder if the sermon and the jail event are connected.

Joseph was born in Sharon, Vermont on December 23, 1805. He was the third son in the family. They were poor itinerant farmers, moving often. By 1816 the family moved to Palmyra, New York. Fawn Brodie, a former tenured history professor at UCLA and former Mormon, researched Joseph Smith’s life in her book, No Man Knows My History – The Life of Joseph Smith. This book is a wealth of information about the man from birth to death. Her excellent research reveals a youthful braggadocious individual who followed his father into money-digging, searching for imaginary mineral mines, and finding seer-stones for interpretation of writings and supernatural directions. Chapter II (2) of History Professor Brodie’s book reveals a young man influenced by other ne’er-do-wells of his community. He becomes the charismatic leader of those given to this dubious style of life and coupled it with the religious fervor of that day. This was the beginning of his personal ‘visions’, impressing his followers. As his visions progressed his followers increased. More visionary ‘revelations’ supplied news that elevated him to a local position of influence. Continuing ‘revelations’ brought more prominence to him. In 1820 he is visited by “God the Father and Jesus Christ” telling him all the churches are wrong.

On September 21, 1823, Joseph reported three visits by the angel Moroni. In Moroni’s visions Joseph was told of a book of gold plates, two stones (Urim and Thummim) for translation, a sword, and a breast plate all in a buried wood box. The stones were ‘Seer’ stones which would allow Joseph the ability to translate contents of the book. According to records, once each year he would return to the spot of his directed discovery. Four years later, September 22, 1827, he was allowed to carry the box and its contents home, as reported by Fawn Brodie, pages 39-40. Differing accounts of the ‘translation process’ ensued for the following 30 months.

In March 1830, 5,000 copies of the new Book of Mormon were published and distributed. Two weeks after the publication Joseph Smith announced his title to his followers as: “Seer, a Translator, a Prophet, an Apostle of Jesus Christ, an Elder of the Church through the will of God the Father, and the grace of your Lord Jesus Christ”. He was either a new savior or a con man.

The next newsletter will continue reflections on the life of Joseph Smith, ca., 1830 – 1844.

Gary Keating, General Manager

Orange Iris
Orange Iris

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Part 2: What does the Bible say about Sin and Forgiveness?

By Kristine Nelson

As you read in last month’s Forgiveness Part 1, as an LDS teenager and young adult, and young mother, I was caught in a vicious cycle of unworthiness, guilt, maneuvering to find ways to make things “right”, approval and appreciation seeking, and performance. I had expectations that good things would come when I performed well and when I honored the LDS gospel. I was raised to believe that repentance came before forgiveness of sin.

But that was a faulty foundation.

As I faithfully sought a loving and understanding God, the God I wished for my children to know, I sat cynically in Christian churches challenging what the pastor or small group leaders were teaching. I asked bold questions such as, “How can you say man is sinful?” (As an LDS child, I was taught that we were born righteous and became accountable for our sins at age 8.) and “How can God know our decisions and our nature before we even make decisions?” (I had previously relied only on my own willpower, free agency while earning worthiness and making good choices in order to progress to become a better human being and hopefully make it into the Celestial Kingdom.)

As my marriage crumbled, I cried out to God. I wanted him to show me who He was. Many believers in Christ that I’d met during my bold questioning had come alongside me and were praying for me and my family. Who knew that over the course of a few years, my faithful seeking of a merciful and forgiving God would drastically change me from the inside out? One unique passage during a sermon in December of 1999 changed my life. The pastor was speaking about mercy and judgment:

James 2:12-13 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Who or what was that law that gives freedom? I wanted to know more about mercy triumphing over judgment. I had judged myself and others harshly for all of my time on earth. I wanted freedom from the burden of my wrongdoings, the judgment I felt against others, and the hurt I had caused. After years of trying to understand what mercy and forgiveness were, many prayers of those praying for me were answered. I walked out of that church on that Sunday in December and knew that I had been given something miraculous, splendid, something eternal for free…not earned. I had no idea what I would face in the life ahead of me, but I knew I’d never be the same again. I began to seek Him with all my heart.

I learned that his blood is the New Covenant. At the last supper, Jesus says his blood is the New Covenant and amazingly, his blood was shed for me (all verses are in NIV of the Bible):

Luke 22:20 Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

I also learned that because of his blood poured out for me, I have a guarantee of a better covenant:

Heb 7:22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

I also learned that I had been dead in my sin (I sure felt dead all those years) but now I was alive in Christ, and that he took away the old covenant, the old code and its regulations, and nailed it to the Cross:

Col 2:13-14 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

And I also learned that forgiveness of sins only comes through the blood of Christ, that Jesus Christ is the sole mediator (an LDS prophet isn’t needed) of the new covenant and that his death on the cross covered ALL of the sins of those under the old covenant, so that we may receive eternal life:

Hebrews 9:15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

And I learned that all of us have sinned and fall short of being with God but that while we are in our sin, he saves us. It is not because of our righteous deeds that we are saved, but because of His mercy:

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us by the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

And finally, it is still amazing to me, 22 years later after coming to know Jesus Christ and being anointed by the Holy Spirit, that my forgiveness and mercy toward others still flows out of what He did for me on that Cross. I’m forever grateful.

Eph 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.

Finally, we arrive back at the beginning of Part One with the biblical concepts I never understood as an LDS youth. Now, in my quiet moments with God, I have thanked him for what he gave to me many times. When I was at my worst, and while I was in the deepest part of my sin and despair, he poured out his mercy, his forgiveness and his Spirit on me. He held no judgment. He didn’t save me when I was righteous but at my lowest point. All I needed to do was ask Christ into my life, confess my sin, ask Him for forgiveness, and through the Holy Spirit, he would do the work in me. Jesus Christ has stayed true to me in this. I’ve lived more contentedly, trusting in Him over these past two decades, knowing that it is not what I have done but what He did on the Cross…that is my identity is in Christ.

1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.

He bears all our burdens, he always provides us a way out of temptation and evil, and he is always willing to forgive us for all our sins.

He died for all our sin, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

1 John 1:9

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.

Part 2: What does the Bible say about Sin and Forgiveness?

By Kristine Nelson

As you read in last month’s Forgiveness Part 1, as an LDS teenager and young adult, and young mother, I was caught in a vicious cycle of unworthiness, guilt, maneuvering to find ways to make things “right”, approval and appreciation seeking, and performance. I had expectations that good things would come when I performed well and when I honored the LDS gospel. I was raised to believe that repentance came before forgiveness of sin.

But that was a faulty foundation.

As I faithfully sought a loving and understanding God, the God I wished for my children to know, I sat cynically in Christian churches challenging what the pastor or small group leaders were teaching. I asked bold questions such as, “How can you say man is sinful?” (As an LDS child, I was taught that we were born righteous and became accountable for our sins at age 8.) and “How can God know our decisions and our nature before we even make decisions?” (I had previously relied only on my own willpower, free agency while earning worthiness and making good choices in order to progress to become a better human being and hopefully make it into the Celestial Kingdom.)

As my marriage crumbled, I cried out to God. I wanted him to show me who He was. Many believers in Christ that I’d met during my bold questioning had come alongside me and were praying for me and my family. Who knew that over the course of a few years, my faithful seeking of a merciful and forgiving God would drastically change me from the inside out? One unique passage during a sermon in December of 1999 changed my life. The pastor was speaking about mercy and judgment:

James 2:12-13 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Who or what was that law that gives freedom? I wanted to know more about mercy triumphing over judgment. I had judged myself and others harshly for all of my time on earth. I wanted freedom from the burden of my wrongdoings, the judgment I felt against others, and the hurt I had caused. After years of trying to understand what mercy and forgiveness were, many prayers of those praying for me were answered. I walked out of that church on that Sunday in December and knew that I had been given something miraculous, splendid, something eternal for free…not earned. I had no idea what I would face in the life ahead of me, but I knew I’d never be the same again. I began to seek Him with all my heart.

I learned that his blood is the New Covenant. At the last supper, Jesus says his blood is the New Covenant and amazingly, his blood was shed for me (all verses are in NIV of the Bible):

Luke 22:20 Likewise, He also took the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you.

I also learned that because of his blood poured out for me, I have a guarantee of a better covenant:

Heb 7:22 Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

I also learned that I had been dead in my sin (I sure felt dead all those years) but now I was alive in Christ, and that he took away the old covenant, the old code and its regulations, and nailed it to the Cross:

Col 2:13-14 When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.

And I also learned that forgiveness of sins only comes through the blood of Christ, that Jesus Christ is the sole mediator (an LDS prophet isn’t needed) of the new covenant and that his death on the cross covered ALL of the sins of those under the old covenant, so that we may receive eternal life:

Hebrews 9:15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

And I learned that all of us have sinned and fall short of being with God but that while we are in our sin, he saves us. It is not because of our righteous deeds that we are saved, but because of His mercy:

Rom 3:23 For all have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God.

Rom 5:8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Titus 3:5 He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us by the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

And finally, it is still amazing to me, 22 years later after coming to know Jesus Christ and being anointed by the Holy Spirit, that my forgiveness and mercy toward others still flows out of what He did for me on that Cross. I’m forever grateful.

Eph 4:31-32 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, outcry and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and tenderhearted to one another, forgiving each other just as in Christ God forgave you.

Finally, we arrive back at the beginning of Part One with the biblical concepts I never understood as an LDS youth. Now, in my quiet moments with God, I have thanked him for what he gave to me many times. When I was at my worst, and while I was in the deepest part of my sin and despair, he poured out his mercy, his forgiveness and his Spirit on me. He held no judgment. He didn’t save me when I was righteous but at my lowest point. All I needed to do was ask Christ into my life, confess my sin, ask Him for forgiveness, and through the Holy Spirit, he would do the work in me. Jesus Christ has stayed true to me in this. I’ve lived more contentedly, trusting in Him over these past two decades, knowing that it is not what I have done but what He did on the Cross…that is my identity is in Christ.

1 John 1:9If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins, and purify us from all unrighteousness.

He bears all our burdens, he always provides us a way out of temptation and evil, and he is always willing to forgive us for all our sins.

He died for all our sin, yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

We sincerely hope your Bible doesn’t look like this. God’s Word is for daily consumption. Every reading is filled with the knowledge of a true and Holy God. His word speaks to every situation in life. 10 minutes a day is a great start if you are just beginning. In doubt as to what to read? 31 Proverbs and most months have 31 days. Lord’s blessings to you! Paulette

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