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Mormonism and Eternal Truth

Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
(Henri-Frederic Amiel)

MORMONSM AND
THE OLD COVENANT

A careful examination of LDS doctrines reveals that as well as having their roots in Joseph Smith’s revelations, they also include teachings and practices from both the Old and the New Covenants. This article will discuss the differences between these two Covenants, as well as the relationship that Mormonism has to the Old Covenant.

THE OLD COVENANT

The Old Covenant was established between God and the nation of Israel and involved the practice of Judaism. They had a temple, a priesthood, a sacrificial system, ceremonies, and laws and ordinances, all of which combined to provide a picture of the holiness of God and the sinfulness of fallen man.

Because their temple was solely for the presence of God, more than one temple would have indicated that they had more than one God. So they only ever had one temple at a time (which was why Jews came to Jerusalem from all over the world to celebrate the passover). Because no fallen man is worthy to enter into the presence of God, the congregation was not permitted to use the temple for any purpose whatsoever. They gathered together for prayer, worship, reading of God’s word, teaching and sacrificial offerings in the courts outside the temple. There was even a court for gentiles.

On the other hand, the LDS has a great many temples scattered all over the world, which they use for ceremonies pertaining to the life hereafter (including marriage ceremonies for time and eternity) and also for proxy ceremonies for the dead.

The Old Covenant was ratified by an oath taken by the nation of Israel, to live strictly in accordance with God’s laws and ordinances:

“And Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord, and all the judgments: and all the people answered with one voice, and said, All the words which the Lord hath said will we do. … And he took the book of the covenant, and read in the audience of the people: and they said, All that the Lord hath said will we do, and be obedient. … And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words” (Exodus 24:3, 7, 8, KJV; c/f Deuteronomy 30:15-18).

However, the never ending pall of smoke from their sacrificial altar bore evidence of the fact that the were not capable of fully keeping the law. But the law was never intended to save them from their sin or to open the door to eternal life. Its purpose was to reveal their hopeless, sinful condition and their need for a Saviour:

“Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law. But the scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe. But before faith came, we were kept under the law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Galations 3:21-25, KJV).

Those of the Old Testament Israelites who truly loved and followed God discovered the hopelessness of their fallen, sinful condition through personal experience and conviction. So they turned to God in deep humility. And with faith in His goodness and mercy, they confessed their sin and asked Him for grace and forgiveness. Here are two such prayers of David:

“Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me.” (Psalm 51:1-3, KJV)

“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man unto whom the Lord imputeth not iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no guile. When I kept silence, my bones waxed old through my roaring all the day long. For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.” (Psalm 32:1-5, KJV).

A NEW COVENANT WAS PROMISED

After the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 BC, Jeremiah prophesied that some time in the future God would make a new, different covenant with Israel.

“Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which My covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord.” (Jeremiah 31:31-32, KJV)

Unlike the Old Covenant of Law, which they were incapable of keeping, the New Covenant would cater for their fallen condition:

“Also he [Jesus] is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second … For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more. In that He saith, A new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.(Hebrews 8:6-7, 12-13, KJV)

Because of our fallen condition we do not possess the wherewithal, of ourselves, to live according to the righteousness required by God. No matter how hard we try, it is beyond our reach. God’s requirement for salvation and eternal life is absolute holiness. And as the apostle James puts it, if we break only one of God’s commandments, it is as if we had broken them all:

“For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.” (James 2:10, KJV)

In case we still haven’t got the point, Christ said that the whole of the law is summed up in two great commandments; that we shall love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves (c/f Mark 12:30-31).

Who can honestly say that they love others as they love themselves, let alone that they love God perfectly? Nobody. The fall has caused us to become self-centered instead of God-centered. It is all too easy to see faults in others but hard to see sin in ourselves, as we see everything from our own point of view. And we subconsciously justify our faults.

The New Covenant only came into existence after it was ratified by Christ’s shed blood on the cross. So the gospels Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, cover a transitional period where the Jews were still living under the Old Covenant with its temple and priesthood as the New Covenant had not yet been ratified. Many folk don’t realize this and they become confused between the Old and the New Covenants.

To add to the confusion, Christ was a Jew, born under the Old Covenant. Consequently He lived His entire life under the religion of Judaism, with all its laws and ordinances. And He fulfilled the Law in every respect. His sinlessness and spiritual perfection qualified Him to pay the full penalty of the law in the place of those who trusted in Him for salvation from sin.

This is what is known as substitutionary atonement. As Christ was our representative, when He paid the penalty for our sin on that terrible cross, we paid it too, because we were “in Him.” He represented us. What He did, He did on our behalf. And we were still “in Him” when He arose from the dead to new life.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave Himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galations 2:20-21, KJV).

Bear in mind that we can only pay the ultimate penalty once. After that we have paid our debt to the law in full. And so Christ’s substitutionary crucifixion (we were in Him), covers all our sins, past, present and future:

“And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath He quickened together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” (Colossians 2:13,14, KJV)

THE OLD COVENANT PRIESTHOOD

When Christ ratified the New Covenant, the Old Covenant with its temple, priesthood and sacrificial system, became obsolete.

Under the Old Covenant, the priest was man’s representative to God. He interceded and offered sacrifices on man’s behalf. But under the New Covenant Christ is the only mediator between man and God. He alone has the qualifications to represent both God and man (Romans 8:34). And not only is He the mediator, He is also our High Priest. As such He offered Himself as the perfect sacrifice for our sins on the cross (c/f Hebrews 9:11-12), and prays for us constantly:

“… who also maketh intercession for us.” (Romans 8:34,KJV)

Nobody in the primitive church of Jesus Christ possessed the office of the priesthood, because Christianity falls under the New Covenant, not the Old. In any event, under the Old Covenant the priesthood belonged solely to the line of Levi.

Under the Old Covenant man’s own works or efforts earned him physical, earthly blessings, and disobedience brought down physical, earthly curses. On the other hand the New Covenant is concerned with the spiritual, not the earthly or physical:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (Ephesians 1:3, KJV)

All who trust in Christ, regardless of gender, race or nationality, are part of the spiritual priesthood that comprises the church (1 Peter 2:5, 9). The first sacrifice they offer to God is themselves, as a living sacrifice (Romans 12.1.) They also offer the sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15, I Peter 2:5) and the sacrifices of doing good and sharing (Hebrews 13.16).

“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:5, KJV)

THE OLD COVENANT TEMPLE

The Old Covenant temple was built to house the presence of God in their midst. But under the New Covenant, the saved man becomes the temple of the living God through His indwelling spirit. So there is no longer any need for a temple built with hands.

“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you? ” (1 Corinthians 3:16, KJV)
“In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:22, KJV)

(At the start the early Christians [who were Jewish] went to the Jewish temple to witness about Christ, as salvation was first for the Jews and then the Gentiles. But they were forced to give up that practice because of Jewish persecution.)

THE LAW IS OUR TEACHER

Through the Old Covenant sacrificial system, God was teaching Israel the lesson that fallen mankind is utterly lost in sin. No matter how hard we try to live the way that God wants us to live, sooner or later we sin in word, thought or deed.

“If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” (1 John 1:10, KJV)

Speaking to Jewish Christians about how God used the law to open their eyes to their dilemma, Paul explains:

“Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” (Galations 3:24-25, KJV).
“And by Him [Christ] all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”(Acts 13:39, KJV)

In other words, God justifies those who put their faith in Christ, apart from the law.

“Obviously, the law applies to those to whom it was given, for its purpose is to keep people from having excuses, and to show that the entire world is guilty before God. For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.” (Romans 3:19-20, Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.)

Unless we can bring ourselves to face the humbling fact that we have no option but to rely solely on the merit of Christ and His efforts for personal salvation, we have no hope. However, once we are justified through faith, we will follow the way of Christ — not to earn our right to salvation, but as proof of it. Our gratitude for what God has done for us in Christ, and our desire to please Him in everything, will be the motivating factor.

The gospel of the New Covenant of salvation by grace through faith in Christ and what He has done, is like a safety net. Although we are aiming at perfect holiness, obedience and righteousness, if we slip and fall, our safety net will save us:

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9, KJV)

CONCLUSION

The Bible tells us that the New Covenant is better than the Old, as it was established upon better promises:

“But now hath He [Christ] obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.” (Hebrews 8:6, KJV)
“In that He saith, A new covenant, He hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:13, KJV)
“Then said he, Lo, I come to do thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (Hebrews 10:9-10, KJV)

Considering that under the Old Covenant nobody was ever able to satisfy God’s demands for righteousness by obedience to laws and ordinances, the Mormon gospel places its followers in a precarious position. Not only that, they have trampled underfoot the precious blood of Christ that He so selflessly and heroically shed in order to pay the ultimate price to earn the full forgiveness of all of their sins:

“For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.” (Romans 10:2-4, KJV)

“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to His cross.” (Colossians 2:14, KJV)

“In whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.” (Ephesians 1:7, KJV)

“That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life. ”(John 3:15, KJV)

The following articles have relevance to what we have been discussing above:

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