Truth is not only
violated by falsehood;
it may be equally
outraged by silence.
The LDS church maintains that in order to receive both God’s blessings and eternal life, we have to be worthy:
“Immortality is assured to all of us through the
atonement of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. But eternal
life is a personal responsibility we must earn and be
worthy of.” (LDS Apostle Delbert L. Stapley, Member
of the Quorum of the Twelve, The Path to Eternal
Glory, “Ensign,” July 1973, page 99.)
“Thirty-eight years ago my husband and I were married in the Salt Lake Temple by President Gordon B. Hinckley … He said: ‘There will come times in your life when you will need immediate blessings. You will need to live in such a way that they will be granted — not out of mercy but because you are worthy …’ These holy habits and righteous routines have helped steady us on the path that leads back into our Father’s presence. And today I say, We thank thee, O God, for a prophet to guide us in these latter-days.” (taken from Look Toward Eternity, a talk given at the October 2006 LDS Conference by Elaine S. Dalton, Second Counselor, Young Women’s General Presidency)
What Mormons term “worthiness,” or “holy habits and righteous routines,” is related to observances of LDS laws and ordinance. But these things have nothing in common with Christian holiness, or sanctification, as practiced and taught by the apostles and the primitive church.
Only “worthy” Mormons are permitted to enter their temples. A temple recommend, which is valid for two years, is required. This is obtained by appearing before both their Bishop and their Stake President in separate, one on one interviews. The following questions are put to them:
But the LDS’s ideas about worthiness differ from what the Bible teaches.
Alfred Edersheim was a historian of note. In chapter 16 of his book on the temple he tells us that once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest (who represented the people to God) would go into the temple, and pray as follows:
“Ah, Jehovah! I have committed iniquity; I have transgressed; I have sinned — and my house. Oh, then, Jehovah, I entreat Thee, cover over [atone for, let there be atonement for] the iniquities, the transgressions, and the sins which I have committed, transgressed, and sinned before Thee, — I and my house … ”
This was the prayer of a man who was humbled by his fallen condition, not of someone who was considered either by himself or by others, as being worthy. He knew very well that both he, and the people whom he represented, were absolutely unworthy in the sight of a holy God. That’s precisely why he went to the temple — to ask for forgiveness for his sins and for theirs too.
When it comes to the LDS’s insistence on Mormons having to be pronounced worthy before they are permitted to go to their temple, they’ve got everything back to front. Mormon beliefs and practices do not fit in either with what the Bible teaches.
The Pharisees came into being during a period of spiritual decline in Israel. Their aim was to bring holiness back into the life of the nation. So they were sticklers at obeying laws and ordinances. In this respect they could not be faulted. They fasted and prayed, donated money to the temple, gave to the poor, and tithed religiously.
At the other end of the scale, tax collectors (called publicans in the KJV) were considered to be the lowest of the low. They collaborated with the Roman troops who occupied Israel. And in collecting taxes for their Roman overlords, they extorted (sometimes by force) far beyond the required amount, to enrich themselves. They were looked upon as traitors, robbers and the grossest of sinners. And to illustrate a principle, Jesus tells this story:
“Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:10-14, KJV)
The first thing we notice is that this social outcast, who was a gross sinner and a crooked tax collector, was allowed to go to the temple. Nobody stopped him, and he didn’t need a temple recommend. In biblical times the temple was the place where sinners went to confess their sins and to ask God for forgiveness. But the LDS uses their temples for purposes for which they were never intended.
The second thing we notice is that the tax collector had the right idea. He knew he was a sinner in need of God’s mercy. It was the Pharisee who had a problem. He was blind to his own inherent sinfulness.
The third thing we notice is that Christ said that the tax collector was justified. His sins were forgiven because he had humbly acknowledged his sinfulness, confessed his unworthiness and pleaded with God for mercy.
The Pharisee was under the mistaken impression that his obedience to laws and ordinances made him worthy. He seemed to have forgotten that he was a member of a fallen race, and that deep down inside he was no different to the tax collector — self-oriented, biased and inclined to sin. He was blind both to his sins and to his standing before a righteous and holy God. And instead of humbly asking for mercy, he proclaimed his imagined worthiness. Consequently he went away from the temple unforgiven.
We should never have the attitude that serving God will put us in line for future blessings. Because He created us and is the provider of all that we have, it is our duty to serve and obey Him. Christ illustrated this point in the following story:
“But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say unto him by and by, when he is come from the field, Go and sit down to meat? And will not rather say unto him, Make ready wherewith I may sup, and gird thyself, and serve me, till I have eaten and drunken; and afterward thou shalt eat and drink? Doth he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded him? I trow not. So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do.” (Luke 17:7-10, KJV)
The following links lead to articles that are relevant to what we have been discussing:
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