Total confusion concerning the Church and the New Covenant

We continue our comments on the manuscript sent to us by a Mormon called Stephen.(*) Click here to see the other articles in this series. You can also go to the Mormonism page to find all the articles that are in this refutation of Stephen’s document.

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Now we have got to Stephen’s chapter four in which he claims to study the topic of the Church, while in fact he only explains to us his confused views about the Church. As he has not known who the Head of the Church really is (God incarnate), so how will he understand what the Church is?… Thus far, we have only seen how Stephen misunderstands what the Church is, and how he thinks the Church is an organization. We have clearly seen this in our answers to Stephen’s previous chapter where he asked about the Church: “Why is it so hard to believe such an organization could exist today?”… Yes, indeed, he thinks of the Church as an organization and not as a body or an organism as the Bible describes it. This error led Stephen to question the fact that the true believers are really one in nature and not just in purpose, and we have treated this error in our article Is the Church one in purpose or in substance? And we had previously explained Mormons’ confusion about the catholic Church in our article The confusion about the catholic Church. These two articles give a summary about the topic of the Church; the questions that were not treated there and other points will be clarified as we comment on Stephen’s views in the following lines.

Stephen wrote:

When Jesus asked His disciples whom they thought He was, Simon Peter took occasion to speak for the group: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter (Petros, ‘small rock’ in Greek), and upon this rock (petra, ‘bed-rock’ in Greek) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Matt. 16:16-19)

As you see, the topic of the Church was opened by the Lord when the talk was about who He is. In order to understand rightly what the Church is, man needs to know who Christ is. I explained this above. But Mormons have no real knowledge about who Christ is, as we have seen in all our previous studies.

Stephen continues:

So, the Lord told Peter it was not mortal man who had revealed the truth of the Savior’s role to him, but His Father in Heaven.

Notice with me the blindness of Stephen displayed in this statement: he speaks of the role of the Savior, while Jesus was talking about who He is, i.e. about His Nature. And Peter answered and said that Jesus is the Son of God, which is Christ’s Nature, and not just His role. If it were just a role, then the Lord Jesus would be just another son of God (king) like David or other anointed kings or authorities who were just images of the real One and who presented that image as they occupied the role which described the real One’s Nature in the form of an Old Covenant figure. But we have seen that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Only-Begotten Son of God, i.e. the unique in His Nature, the only one who is the King by Nature and not just as a role, for He is God incarnate.

Stephen continues:

At the risk of sounding redundant, it means this revelation came to Peter by . . . revelation.

Yes, God revealed it to Peter. What’s so strange here?…

Stephen continues:

The Lord spoke to Peter in the second person singular or “thou” form, meaning he was talking directly to Peter and not to the whole group, as He had been when He first asked the group whom they thought He was.

Yes, thanks for admitting this… We will see how you will regret admitting this truth…

Stephen continues:

The Lord then tells Peter, “upon this rock”—what we LDSs identify as the Rock of Revelation—He would build His Church.

While the LDS opinion may be very impressive for a deceived Mormon like you, and yet it is not so impressive for us. We only believe what the Bible says. The Bible has not left us to speculations about this Rock. The context itself shows that the Lord was talking about the truth that was revealed to Peter about who Jesus is: That He is the Messiah, the Son of the Living God. This truth itself, i.e. Jesus Christ Himself in who He really is, is the Rock upon which the Church is built. The Church is built on Christ Himself who is the Cornerstone: “So then ye are no longer strangers and foreigners, but ye are fellow-citizens of the saints, and of the household of God, being built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the corner-stone (Ephesians 2:19-20). So the Apostle Paul authoritatively said by inspiration that Jesus Christ Himself is the Rock of the Church (of the household of God). Peter himself, to whom Jesus addressed the words about the Rock, agreed with Paul and explained to us what he had understood from those words of Jesus about the Rock: “To whom [i.e. to Christ] coming, a living stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen, precious, yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. Because it is contained in the scripture: Behold, I lay in Zion a corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believes on him shall not be put to shame. To you therefore who believe [is] the preciousness; but to the disobedient, the stone which the builders cast away as worthless, this is become head of [the] corner, and a stone of stumbling and rock of offence; [who] stumble at the word, being disobedient to which also they have been appointed.” (1 Peter 2:4-8) So Peter said Jesus Christ is that Rock, the Cornerstone upon which the Church (the spiritual house) is built. Stephen disagrees with Paul and Peter who both received this truth by inspiration and not from a mortal man… Those who deny who Jesus really is, i.e. those who deny that He is God Himself incarnate, will stumble upon this Rock and will not be built on Him; therefore the Mormons and all unbelievers stumble upon this Rock and take offense, i.e. they do not believe Jesus is God incarnate and thus they are lost. And this is why Jesus said: “And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” (Matthew 11:6). All along the history of the Church, Satan has tried to destroy the Church by attacking this Cornerstone or Rock upon which the Church is built: he always attacked the true Deity and the true Humanity of Jesus. The Gnostics attacked the Humanity of Jesus and of course misunderstood His Deity. The Arians (principally) attacked the Deity of Jesus and of course misunderstood His Humanity. The Mormons also misunderstand both the Humanity and the Deity of Jesus Christ as we have seen. All these have attacked the Church by attacking the Rock upon which it is built. But the gates of Hades cannot overpower the Church, because the evil one cannot overpower the Rock of the Church, i.e. JESUS CHRIST THE LORD! The Lord Himself promised this!

Stephen continues:

He then tells Peter the gates of “hell” (hades—the spirit world) would not prevail against “it.”

Hades means death in its spiritual sense of evil, as we have previously seen. We have seen that death will be thrown in the Lake of fire, because death is the wages of sin, the result of evil. So “the gates of Hades” is an expression that means “the powers of evil and death”. This kind of expressions in which the word “gates” is used is very familiar in Semitic languages. The gate of a city represents its power and authority. Once the key of a city’s gate is owned by someone, that person has free access to that city, as the gate of that city is not locked against him, and as the people of that city consider him a friend and not an enemy against whom the city has to defend itself by locking its gates (the power of the city). Until today, in some places, whenever a great personality visits a city, the authorities in that city present to him the key of the city, implying that they honor him as a friend who has free access to their city, and not just as a simple visitor. In a battle, once the enemy has opened the gate of a city, then that city has fallen in their hands. Jesus expressed His authority over death and Hades by saying: “and the living one: and I became dead, and behold, I am living to the ages of ages, and have the keys of death and of hades.” (Revelation 1:18) So not just the gates of Hades do not have any power against the Church (because it is built on the Rock, Jesus Christ), but even more: the whole power of Hades is under the full control of Christ, because He is God Almighty! So the gate represents the authority and the power of a city. The gates of Hades represent the powers of evil and death. This power will never overpower the Church, because the Rock upon which the Church is built is the Lord of lords! He has promised to keep His Church always. That’s why the powers of evil have never overpowered Christ’s Church. That’s why Mormons with all their vein stratagems cannot overpower the Church.

Stephen continues:

The subject of the sentence is “this rock,” not “my church” or “Peter.”

Yes, indeed, Peter is not the subject, as you have already admitted. But the Rock and the Church built upon Him is the subject. And I remind you that the Church is the body of Christ, and not an entity separate from Christ. So the Lord was talking about the whole building, the Church and its Cornerstone (the Rock) which are not separate. The true believers and Christ are ONE, as we have previously seen. And as we have seen, the powers of evil will NOT overpower this Rock, that’s why the Church built on Him will never be destroyed.

Stephen continues:

The Lord then continues to speak directly to Peter, telling him he would hold the keys—or Priesthood authority—to run the Church.

I don’t see any priesthood mentioned in this verse, so I dismiss your imaginary interpretation. Peter and all the Apostles received authority to bind and loose in the New Covenant. We have seen this in our article The Canon of Scripture where we have learned that the Apostles were the authority to whom Jesus gave the privilege of writing the Canon of the New Covenant. The Lord Himself made it clear that this authority was not just given to Peter but to all the Apostles; He did this in the following passage (and similar passages): “And having said this, he breathed into [them], and says to them, Receive [the] Holy Spirit: whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted to them; whose soever [sins] ye retain, they are retained.” (John 20:22-23) The part put in bold is practically the same truth that Jesus said to Peter when He gave him the keys of the Kingdom (and not the keys of any priesthood, as Stephen imagines): “And I will give to thee the keys of the kingdom of the heavens; and whatsoever thou mayest bind upon the earth shall be bound in the heavens; and whatsoever thou mayest loose on the earth shall be loosed in the heavens.” (Matthew 16:19) Thus we see that ALL the Apostles had this same authority, but the keys of the Kingdom were said to be given to Peter particularly, because the Lord had chosen Peter to be the leader figure among the Apostles, as He used him as the example of who a shepherd or a pastor is. That’s why He called him Peter, because there were in his character elements that make him the example of a leader in the Church: attachment to God’s Word, readiness to learn even after falling, and readiness to express what others were hesitant to express immediately. This latter character is the reason why we always see Peter answering for the group of the Apostles. Peter was ready to go forward before the rest of the group. This character made him pay much, as this was one reason why he fell and denied the Lord, but this same character was used by the Lord to Peter’s good, to build in him the trust in God’s Word and the genuinely humble character of a true servant leader in the Church. Peter’s attachment to God’s Word is really impressive, as we always see that whenever he spoke in an approved way, he expressed this attachment to God’s Word! And this is in fact how a leader in the Church should be! Wherever God’s Word is respected and obeyed, there an awakening always happens and the Church prospers spiritually. Let me just quote some places where Peter is speaking, and notice with me how he builds his arguments on the Word of God (note the parts put in bold): “And Peter answering him said, Lord, if it be thou, command me to come to thee upon the waters.” (Matthew 14:28) He practically said “I build my confidence on the command that You will give!”. “Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast words of life eternal (John 6:68) Jesus has the Word of God, and that’s what Peter wants (and he expressed this in the name of the other Apostles). Peter asked the majority of the questions addressed to Jesus; he made most of the errors, and he also experienced the depths of God’s Mercy as He made him stand up after each fall! The leader is beaten for the sake of the group; he is open to learning from God’s Word; he is ready to go forward and to learn even at the cost of the wound that his mistakes will leave and which God will heal! When you are on the front line in a battle, it is more difficult. Jesus chose such a man to be the leading figure, and that’s why He only mentioned the keys of the Kingdom while speaking to Peter, because He would give him this privilege of opening the door of the Kingdom to both Jews and Gentiles! And in fact, when the Holy Spirit came, the first sermon was preached by Peter, and the door was opened to the Jews! After that, all the Apostles could lay their hands and the believers would receive the Spirit (see Acts 8:17). But the opening was with Peter. The same with the Gentiles: it’s Peter who was called to go to Cornelius and to open the door to the Gentiles. And even with the Samaritans who were neither fully Jews nor fully Gentiles, Peter was sent with John to open the door. This was a great privilege and responsibility given by the Lord to Peter: to open the door to all nations with the keys given to him. After that, all the Apostles had the same authority to bind and loose, as we have seen.

Note that this Apostolic authority was given once for all to the Twelve. No one can add to the Canon of Scripture today. We have seen the details of this in our article The Canon of Scripture.

As you see, Stephen only imagined a priesthood in this text, and now he will build a whole doctrine upon this false interpretation…

Stephen continues:

Besides, the gates of hell did prevail against Peter—at least temporarily.

And Mormons believe the gates of Hades prevailed against Revelation until Joseph Smith came… So your interpretation of the Rock is also wrong, just like the Roman Catholic interpretation.

Stephen continues:

He was later crucified.

This has nothing to do with the prevailing of evil. Peter’s crucifixion was not a spiritual failure in Peter, but on the contrary it was martyrdom!

Stephen continues:

They also prevailed against the organization of the Former-day Saint Church.

We have seen how the Church is NOT an organization or any of the denominations that we see today. The Church is the body of Christ, and the gates of Hades have never prevailed against her, or else the Church would not exist today.

Stephen continues:

It fell into apostasy and its remnants not dispatched to the spirit world in violent fashion were gathered up by the Roman dictator, Constantine, to form his church some two hundred years after the disintegration of the quorum of the twelve apostles.

The visible Church is NOT the Church Jesus was talking about in Matthew 16. And Constantine did not form any church, as we have previously seen. All these things were studied in details in our articles: Was the Church ignorant about the Nature of God? and The confusion about the catholic Church and Did Athanasius tell the Church who her God is?

Stephen continues:

Before we discuss how Revelation was the Rock to which Jesus referred

That’s the first thing you need to establish, Stephen, because the Bible is against your interpretation of the Rock.

Stephen said:

Before we discuss how Revelation was the Rock to which Jesus referred, I want to focus on Jesus’ use of pronouns in these verses. He did not say directly to Peter “upon thee” or to the entire group of disciples “upon you.” Jesus used two distinct words, Petros and petra, and their different meanings to show He was not referring to Peter as the Rock upon which the Church would be built.

Yes, He referred to Himself as the Rock, i.e. to the truth that Peter declared. We have seen the details previously.

Stephen continues:

“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints (members of the church), and the household of God; And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone; . . .” (Eph. 2:19-22) Since a structure is set upon a foundation, we can presume Christ meant His organization—the structure of which He spent the last three years of His mortal existence preparing—was to be built upon Himself and His apostles and prophets. And how would He communicate with these apostles and prophets when He had left His earthly mission? By revelation, of course.

As you see, Jesus Himself is the Cornerstone. Christ did not need to communicate with His Apostles from afar, because He promised to come and be IN them by His Spirit. The Holy Spirit came on Pentecost, if you remember. The Lord said that the Holy Spirit would take from HIM and reveal it to the Apostles. So the whole final revelation was in Christ Himself, as we have already seen in details. This truth has been explained very well in our previous articles, so we don’t need to repeat it. The Church is built once for all on the Rock, Jesus Christ. No new revelation will come after the final revelation that came in Christ.

Stephen continues:

Even though there was a break in this communication with the death of all but one of the apostles—John the Beloved, how long was this network supposed to last?

The Canon of Scripture was closed with the death of the last Apostle. This has been fully explained in our replies to the previous chapter of Stephen’s document.

Stephen continues:

“Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and unto the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” (Eph. 4:11-14) Again, what do prophets do? They prophesy. And how do they obtain their information to prophesy? BY REVELATION! So, the structure of revelation was supposed to last until we are all of the same faith.

The Church was all of the same Faith, the Faith once for all handed down to the saints (see Jude 3). We have answered the error of Stephen in his interpretation of this passage in Ephesians, and we have explained what prophets do. So we don’t need to go back there.

The Canon of Scripture was closed at the end of the first century A.D. We have fully explained this in our previous replies.

Stephen continues:

ECs must agree how we—all of us who claim to be Christians—are not yet at a unity of faith.

I don’t really care what ECs or anyone agree or does not agree to. I care about what the Bible says. We have seen how the Bible says that the Church is ONE body, and how the Faith was once for all handed down to the saints. I don’t need to disagree with the Bible in order to agree with a cultist.

By the way: who said that we want to be one with cultists?? I have already treated this matter in the article Mormons desperately want to be considered Christians…

Stephen continues:

So, why is it the Lord told his disciples not to call themselves or each other by “master” or by “father” or by any other name that would shift the emphasis from the Savior Himself to any particular member of the Church?

Because that is a fact: Jesus alone is our Master, and God alone is our Father. Jesus already explained this in the very passage from where Stephen quoted this truth.

Stephen continues:

“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. . . . Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. . . . For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. . . . For the body is not one member, but many. . . . Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are we all apostles? are we all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” (1 Cor. 12) If you would like to read this entire chapter, do so.

Thanks for giving us the permission to read this whole chapter…

Stephen continues:

It is an excellent analogy for keeping things in perspective—especially when Paul correlates members of the church to members of the body in verses 15 to 25.

Yes, the Church is a body and not an organization. You should realize this.

Stephen continues:

We are not to get caught up in the positions we hold in the Church. Positions mean nothing. There is no political structure in the Church. How we members serve is what counts, not which position we hold. We are to be “one” as Jesus prayed for His disciples when He was in the Garden of Gethsemane. All members are essential. Not everyone can be a leader. And only One is the Master. The rest of us are servants.

We ALL are servants. The leaders also are servants. And we have seen how the prayer of Jesus was answered: Is the Church one in purpose or in substance?

Stephen continues:

Even He served us all by His Atonement. No matter which position we hold in the Church, it is no less or more important than any other position. For those who avoid “organized religion” in favor of so-called “non-denominational” churches, may I suggest your problem is not with organization itself, but with and by whom a religion is organized?

Non-denominationals also are a denomination after all. The Church is not the denominations, as we have already seen.

Stephen continues:

I would like to pose what I believe are rhetorical questions. For those who may have difficulty fathoming a continuation of revelation, these may not be so rhetorical:

We have seen how the final revelation came in Jesus Christ. Stephen is repeating himself. Maybe he thinks if he repeats things then they become truth…

Stephen continues:

Why would God not have prophets today if He will do nothing without first informing His prophets (Amos 3:7)?

God has prophets today, but not any new revelation. We have already answered this error in a previous reply.

Stephen continues:

If God always spoke to ancient man, why would He not speak directly to us—the dispensation of the fulness of times (Eph. 1:10)—through His prophets as He did anciently?

Because: “God having spoken in many parts and in many ways formerly to the fathers in the prophets, at the end of these days has spoken to us in [the person of the] Son (Hebrews 1:1-2). We have fully explained this in our previous replies.

Stephen continues:

Elder Hugh B. Brown’s line of reasoning to a British judge just prior to England’s involvement in World War II will suffice: Is God not able to speak to us, not having the power? Does He not love us as much as His early children on this planet? Do we not need His direct communication because we all completely understand His ancient Written Word? Again, is the Bible complete, perfect, and pure so that all can understand its doctrines and ordinances—being in a unity of faith?

God is still speaking to us today, but He’s not contradicting the final revelation that came in Christ; He’s not contradicting the Bible. We have fully answered all these questions in our previous articles.

Stephen continues:

The Bible is important.

Thanks for granting the Bible the “favor” of being called important… Who do you think you are, Stephen?? The Bible is God’s Word, whether you like it or not. It’s the Bible that evaluates you, and not you evaluate it!

Stephen continues:

Otherwise, the Lord would not have ensured its preservation with as much content as it has.

Yes, God kept His whole Word just as He promised. We have seen this in details. Your expression “with as much content as it has” is an insolent attack against the Word of God. Pass now to talk about the Church, because that’s the topic of this chapter…

Stephen continues:

For the moment, let us disregard the Bible’s imperfections.

If there were really imperfections, you would never disregard them… But how disrespectful to attack God’s Word in this way, although you say that you love and honor God. This is typical to all false prophets who dishonor God by disrespecting His Word, although they keep boasting of being God’s prophets and faithful servants.

Stephen continues:

Hypothetically, if the Bible were complete, would understanding its contents better than anyone else qualify people to claim they represent God—that they have been called of God to be His Special Witnesses?

No, but all true Christians understand God’s Word, because the sheep of Christ can hear His voice, as He said in John 10. Study that passage…

The Bible interprets itself, because it is the living Word of God that the Spirit keeps and makes it operate in the lives of people. Those who respect God’s Word (i.e. true Christians) take the time to study it patiently and with perseverance.

Stephen continues:

“And no man taketh this honour (the Melchizedek Priesthood) unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron.” (Heb. 5:4)

Stephen has the habit of linking irrelevant passages to each other… He is really confused…

By the way, the honor is about the honor of being high priest, and not particularly about the ONE Priest according to the order of Melchizedek (i.e. Jesus Christ). There is nothing called “Melchizedek Priesthood”, because the priesthood of Jesus is not according to the order of Aaron; it’s not successional, because this High Priest (Jesus Christ) does NOT die like the priests of the order of Aaron: “And they have been many priests, on account of being hindered from continuing by death; but he, because of his continuing for ever, has the priesthood unchangeable.” (Hebrews 7:23-24) No one succeeds Jesus, because He is High Priest forever. His priesthood is not a priesthood of many priests like it was with the priesthood of Aaron… This is fully explained in the Epistle to the Hebrews, but it seems Stephen did not care to study the context; he was content to believe what Mormons taught him. This is how people are deceived to become Mormons or to follow any other sect… Sects do not allow for their followers to study the whole Word as it is.

Stephen continues:

The next chapter, Chapter Five, deals with who can hold the Melchizedek Priesthood.

Only Christ, and it’s unchangeable. No one succeeds Christ, as we have seen.

Stephen continues:

But for now, let us deal with this requisite. We know how Aaron was called of God. (See Ex. 28:1,41.) And we know what happens to those who assume this honor without having been called. You may recall what occurred to King Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26 when he thought it was acceptable for a king to perform ordinances of the Priesthood, or to Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8 when he thought he could purchase the power of the Priesthood,

Simon did not think about any Priesthood… Simon sought the Apostolic authority…

Stephen continues:

or to the Jewish “exorcists” in Acts 19 when they thought they could just take the power of the Priesthood upon themselves because they referred to the names of the Savior and His apostles.

Nothing is mentioned there about any Priesthood. Stephen is imagining flying elephants…

Stephen continues:

So, how best could I describe how we, as LDSs, see the structure of Christ’s Church?

It’s clear that you, LDSs, have no idea what the Church is.

Stephen continues:

“We believe that a man must be called of God, by prophecy, and by the laying on of hands by those who are in authority, to preach the Gospel and administer in the ordinances thereof. We believe in the same organization that existed in the Primitive Church, namely, apostles, prophets, pastors, teachers, evangelists, and so forth.” (Fifth & Sixth Articles of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Yes, this is what you believe, because you are confused, as you don’t believe what the Bible says. We have seen all this in details.

Stephen continues:

A common anti-Mormon topic I heard while growing up in the state of California was of our use of temples and their exclusivity to non-members. Invariably, the following verses were thrown in my face, the first of which was during Stephen’s final discourse to the Sanhedrin and the second is from Paul’s declaration to the Athenians:

The person who mostly throws out of context verses is you…

Stephen continues:

“Howbeit the most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands; as saith the prophet, . . .” (Acts 7:48) At first glance, this would appear to refute our need of temples. A careful look at the context of this verse shows what “the prophet,” who was Isaiah, actually recorded: “Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will ye build me? saith the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Hath not my hands made all these things?” (Acts 7:49,50; Isaiah 66:1)

Yes, the Old Covenant temple only SYMBOLIZED the true Temple which is the body of Jesus Christ. Unless you’re still under the Old Covenant, you don’t need a temple today.

Stephen continues:

So, we see God putting into perspective how little we can do to provide for Him. Service to God does not consist of what aid we can render to Him, personally. (We will look at the service to God after this point.) Ironically, Paul’s declaration of God not dwelling in temples made with hands to the Athenians is a repetition of what he personally heard Stephen declare to the violent priests whose garments Paul held while they stoned Stephen: “God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; . . .” (Acts 17:24,25)

Yes, the Old Covenant temple was not for a need in God, but it was the symbol of the real Temple, as I explained above. Everything in the Old Covenant pointed to Christ. Once Christ has come, we don’t need those symbols anymore:

“Let none therefore judge you in meat or in drink, or in matter of feast, or new moon, or sabbaths, which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ.” (Colossians 2:16-17)

Christ has come; we have no need of a temple anymore.

Stephen continues:

Paul clarified his statement to the Hebrew saints, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us:” (Heb. 9:24) So, temples made with hands are figures of the true, holy places on earth which symbolize God’s dwelling place.

Where did you read about temples in plural?? And where did you read that this temple was on earth?! The verse is talking about the holy places in the ONE temple which was in Jerusalem. The temple had places, and all those places were holy, but there was also that place behind the veil which was the Holy of Holies (i.e. the most holy place among all holy places): “but after the second veil a tabernacle which is called Holy of holies (Hebrews 9:3) This is the most Holy among holies (holy places). So in the verse quoted by Stephen, “the holy places” are those holies in the temple. And in fact, the Greek original does not say “holy places”, but “holies”. But the teachers of Stephen did not care to study the Greek original as long as the English translation could be distorted by them to mean what they wanted it to mean; and Stephen by far did not think that he needs to do this effort, as long as his masters did not do it…

And as you see, those holies were just the figures of the true, as I explained above. Once Christ had come, there was no more need for such figures. So Mormons are confused. And note that the verse itself says that the true one is in Heaven, as it says that Christ entered into Heaven itself, but Stephen understood this to mean that there are “true, holy places on earth” according to this verse…

Total confusion…

Stephen continues:

Due in part to my irreverent nature, instead of going over the context of these verses, again my usual response to those who confronted me was, “So what’s your point?”

It’s good that you’re admitting that you’re irreverent by nature… Now you need to take the next step: to repent. Unless of course your statement is not honest…

Stephen continues:

After all, we do not build temples to “house” the Lord.

Neither did Solomon build a temple to “house” the Lord. But in the time of Solomon, there was a need for the temple, because they were under the Old Covenant. Now that we’re under the New Covenant, there is no more need for a temple which was a symbol for the true. Mormons are still confused concerning the Covenants.

Stephen continues:

It is His house, but it is a house of worship and ordinance for us mortals, not His actual home.

If you’re still under the Old Covenant, then your temple cannot be built anywhere but on mount Zion, the place that God has chosen. Let’s read the laws of the Sanctuary:

“These are the statutes and ordinances, which ye shall take heed to do in the land, which Jehovah the God of thy fathers is giving thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places wherein the nations which ye shall dispossess have served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree; and ye shall break down their altars, and shatter their statues, and burn their Asherahs with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and ye shall destroy the names of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto Jehovah your God; but unto the place which Jehovah your God will choose out of all your tribes to set his name there, his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come; and thither ye shall bring your burnt-offerings and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and the heave-offering of your hand, and your vows, and your voluntary-offerings, and the firstlings of your kine and of your sheep; and ye shall eat there before Jehovah your God, and ye shall rejoice, ye and your households, in all the business of your hand, wherein Jehovah thy God hath blessed thee. Ye shall not do after all that we do here this day, each one whatever is right in his own eyes. For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance which Jehovah thy God giveth thee. But when ye have gone over the Jordan, and dwell in the land which Jehovah your God causeth you to inherit, and when he hath given you rest from all your enemies round about, and ye dwell in safety, then there shall be a place which Jehovah your God will choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you: your burnt-offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave-offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye shall vow to Jehovah. And ye shall rejoice before Jehovah your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your bondmen, and your handmaids, and the Levite that is within your gates; for he hath no portion nor inheritance with you. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt-offerings in every place that thou seest; but in the place which Jehovah will choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt-offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee. Nevertheless, according to all the desire of thy soul thou mayest slay and eat flesh in all thy gates, according to the blessing of Jehovah thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the gazelle, and the hart. Only, ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water. Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy new wine, or of thine oil, or the firstlings of thy kine or of thy sheep, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy voluntary-offerings, nor the heave-offering of thy hand; but before Jehovah thy God shalt thou eat them in the place which Jehovah thy God will choose, thou and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy bondman, and thy handmaid, and the Levite that is within thy gates; and thou shalt rejoice before Jehovah thy God in all the business of thy hand. Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite all the days thou shalt be in thy land. When Jehovah thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he promised thee, and thou say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh, thou mayest eat flesh, according to all the desire of thy soul. If the place which Jehovah thy God will choose to set his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt slay of thy kine and of thy sheep which Jehovah hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates according to all the desire of thy soul. Even as the gazelle and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean alike may eat of them. Only, be sure that thou eat not the blood; for the blood is the life, and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh; thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water: thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do what is right in the eyes of Jehovah. But thy hallowed things which thou hast, and what thou hast vowed, thou shalt take, and come to the place which Jehovah will choose; and thou shalt offer thy burnt-offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of Jehovah thy God; and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of Jehovah thy God, and the flesh shalt thou eat. Take heed to hear all these words which I command thee, that it may be well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest what is good and right in the eyes of Jehovah thy God. When Jehovah thy God cutteth off from before thee the nations whither thou goest, to take possession of them, and thou hast dispossessed them, and dwellest in their land, take heed to thyself that thou be not ensnared [to follow] after them, after that they are destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so to Jehovah thy God; for every [thing that is] abomination to Jehovah, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters have they burned in the fire to their gods. Everything that I command you, ye shall take heed to do it; thou shalt not add thereto, nor take from it.” (Deuteronomy 12)

According to this passage, Mormons did whatever is right in their own eyes and built temples for themselves in places where Jehovah has NOT chosen. God has chosen only Jerusalem, mount Zion, to build His temple there. So according to these verses, Mormons should destroy all their temples, because they are not the temple of Jerusalem…

And if Mormons claim to be under the New Covenant, then look how Christ talked about the Temple of the New Covenant:

“Jesus answered and said to them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews therefore said, Forty and six years was this temple building, and thou wilt raise it up in three days? But he spoke of the temple of his body.” (John 2:19-21)

So under the New Covenant, the Temple is the body of Christ. And as the Church is the body of Christ (an organism), and not an organization as Mormons imagine, so the Church is the body of Christ as the Apostles explained. Therefore the Apostle Paul explained that the Temple of God under the New Covenant is the Church, the Assembly of believers in Christ, and that this Temple is not made of stones, but of humans: “If any one corrupt the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, and such are ye.” (1 Corinthians 3:17); “Do ye not know that your body is [the] temple of the Holy Spirit which [is] in you, which ye have of God; and ye are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6:19) The bodies of Christians are the members of Jesus Christ, because the Church is the body of Christ, the Temple of God. And we have seen how Peter explained that the stones of this household (this Temple) are not dead stones but humans (living stones): “To whom coming, a living stone, cast away indeed as worthless by men, but with God chosen, precious, yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” (1 Peter 2:4-5) Yes, Christ is the living Rock of this Temple, the living Cornerstone, and the believers in Christ are ONE BODY with Him, they are the living stones of which the Temple is made. According to this truth, the Mormons have separated themselves from the Temple which is the Church.

So whether Mormons are under the Old Covenant or the New Covenant, in both cases they are in error, because they do not respect the principles of the temple…

Stephen continues:

If there were not supposed to be any temples, then why did God command Moses to build a “tabernacle,” which, by the way, means, dwelling?

Because that was the Old Covenant of the shadows, as we have seen.

Stephen continues:

If there were not supposed to be any temples, then why did Ezekiel receive a revelation of not only the description of the temple in the last days, but its measurements, just as had been given to Solomon centuries prior as described in 2 Chronicles?

Old Covenant. All what was described through Ezekiel was a figure of the true Temple, Christ’s body.

Stephen continues:

In fact, after the description in Ezekiel 38 of the Battle of Gog and Magog prior to the Second Coming and after their destruction and the gathering of Israel in Ezekiel 39, we find minute details of the outer and inner courts of the Temple in Ezekiel from chapter 40 to chapter 42. Ezekiel 43 tells how the glory of the Lord comes to the Temple where He promises to dwell there forever. Then, in Ezekiel 44, the Lord chastises Israel for polluting the Temple with the unclean. In verse 9, we read, “Thus saith the Lord GOD; No stranger, uncircumcised of heart, nor uncircumcised of flesh, shall enter into my sanctuary, of any stranger that is among the children of Israel.” Of course, uncircumcised of heart, refers to those of Israel not living the laws of Israel. This therefore shows a need to verify one’s worthiness to enter the temple, regardless of membership.

The prophecies were about the true Temple, Jesus Christ. Only those who are cleansed by His blood can enter this Temple which is Christ’s body, the true Church, as we have seen. This has nothing to do with Mormon temples.

Stephen continues:

The rest of Ezekiel’s chapters deal with ordinances and laws of the Temple and other latter-day prophecies, including waters issuing from the Temple that will heal the Dead Sea mentioned in chapter 47. That would indicate the Power of God, and therefore His blessing and acceptance of the Temple, literally issuing forth from it.

Yes, the once-for-all Sacrifice of Jesus Christ was accepted by God, therefore He raised Him from the dead. Now all nations receive the water of life from that Temple.

Stephen continues:

After the 144,000 of Israel were sealed in Revelation 7, John saw “a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, kindreds, and people, and tongues,” which stood “before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palms in their hands.” One of the elders asked John who these people were. As he did not know, the elder explained, “These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple:”

As there is a lot of symbolism in the Revelation, what is meant by these chosen people having palms in their hands? It is a symbol of service, but what kind of service? Does God need “any thing,” as Paul negated, especially to have His children literally wave palm fronds at Him to cool Him? Of course not. So, how do we serve God?

“Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matt. 25:40) And how do we serve our fellow man? By bringing the Good News, the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to the living and the dead. We discussed in Chapter Two redemption of the dead, through both preaching the Gospel to those in the Spirit World who await resurrection and performing their ordinances here on earth. We will discuss in Chapter Six how Elijah “shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers.” We will also see how the righteous dead who lived in the wrong place and time, “received not the promise,” but “might obtain a better resurrection,” and how “they without us should not be made perfect.”

We have seen how Mormons do not have any good news to present, but only bad news. And we have seen how the Temple is Jesus Christ Himself (and His body, the Church). And we have seen other details related to this quote in our previous replies. No need to repeat. I remind you that the Book of Revelation has explained to us what the true Temple is where the righteous will worship God: “And I saw no temple in it; for the Lord God Almighty is its temple, and the Lamb.” (Revelation 21:22) This is in full agreement with the rest of the Bible that describes the body of Jesus Christ as the true Temple.

Stephen continues:

In Revelation 21, we find the measurements of the Holy Jerusalem, God’s Celestial City, coming down from Heaven to the celestialized earth. Of course, as there is no more need for temple work for mortals, past and present, verse 22 tells us, “And I saw no temple therein; for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.”

Yes, the heavenly Jerusalem is not like the Jerusalem of this earth: it is the City of the New Covenant, so it does not have a temple like the one that was in the earthly Jerusalem. We have seen above how the Temple of the New Covenant is the body of Jesus Christ.

Stephen continues:

In answer to the EC claim the Lord did away with the temple after His mortal ministry, I defer to evidence of its usage after His ascension. Upon the Lord’s death, “the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom.” Keep in mind, He never claimed He would destroy the temple. His accusers twisted His words. He only predicted its destruction as a consequence of Israel’s rejection of His call to repentance and of their general rejection of their Savior. Due to this general rejection and the persecution against the early Christians, the righteousness of the few was not enough to stave off the consequence of the wickedness of the overwhelming majority. Though most of Israel rejected Him, as in past examples in the OT, there was a remnant that embraced Him. And that remnant did not abandon the House of the Lord.

In AD 70, the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed, just as the Lord Himself predicted, and no stone was left there upon another. The Lord refused the temple of the Old Covenant and established the New Covenant officially. Between the resurrection of the Lord until the destruction of the temple, the New Covenant was being established and the Old Covenant was ready to disappear (see Hebrews 8:13), although it was still used for worship. When the temple was destroyed, it disappeared officially. So now we’re under the New Covenant, as I have explained above.

Note that the veil of the temple was rent as a symbol of the opening of the way to the Holy of Holies through Christ’s blood, as the Epistle to the Hebrews explains, so there was no more need for the temple.

Stephen continues:

According to Luke’s first letter to Theophilus, after the Lord’s resurrection was confirmed by the Eleven (Apostles) in a locked room where He materialized in their presence in glorified corporeal form, He told them, “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) Endued is old English for endowed, a term familiar to LDSs. Then He led them out to Bethany, blessed them, and ascended into Heaven.

The Apostles immediately followed the Lord’s directive, “worshipped him, and returned to Jerusalem with great joy: And were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God, Amen.” (Luke 24:52,53) They went where they knew they would be Endowed from on High, the House of the Lord.

No, they continued to worship in the temple, because it was not destroyed yet. But note that they were not “endued” while being in the temple… Read where they were: “And when the day of Pentecost was now accomplishing, they were all together in one place. And there came suddenly a sound out of heaven as of a violent impetuous blowing, and filled all the house where they were sitting.” (Acts 2:1-2) Yes, indeed, they were in the upper chamber and not in the temple: “And when they were come into [the city], they went up to the upper chamber (Acts 1:13). When Luke says they were worshiping continually in the temple, he meant the following: “And every day, being constantly in the temple with one accord, and breaking bread in [the] house, they received their food with gladness and simplicity of heart” (Acts 2:46). Note that they didn’t break bread in the temple, but in the house. As I said, the temple was still there and it was holy; but the New Covenant was being established, and the Old Covenant was ready to disappear. In AD 70 the temple was destroyed.

Stephen continues:

Yes, the Temple may have been damaged during the earthquake at the Lord’s death, but it was still there, still in use by the Jews and by the chosen Apostles of the Lord. But, were they, the Apostles, the only ones to “continue” in the temple?

No, all believers, but only until the Old Covenant is fully abolished and the temple is destroyed. That already happened in AD 70. I remind you that we’re in AD 2012…

Stephen continues:

In Luke’s second letter to Theophilus, the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 2, verses 46 and 47, we learn, “And they (the newly baptized members of the Former-day Saint Church mentioned in verse 41), continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.” This cohesive activity in the temple took place after the Day of Pentecost where all the new converts were so dedicated to the Lord, they were able to live what we LDSs call the Law of Consecration, where they “had all things common.” So, was this Temple Attendance to end with the days of the NT Apostles?

We have seen this above: note that they were breaking bread from house to house, and not in the temple. The Old Covenant was ready to disappear, and the New Covenant was being established.

Stephen continues:

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths; for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:2,3)

Yes, as I explained above, Mormons should destroy all their temples which they have built in other places, and should go back to Jerusalem… Oops!… The temple of Jerusalem is destroyed, and now the heavenly Mount Zion (the heavenly Jerusalem) has one Temple and it is JESUS CHRIST. This happened in the last days, and we have seen that the last days began when the Lord came. We have studied all this previously, so we don’t need to go back there.

Stephen continues:

Of course, we LDSs believe this is literally fulfilled in the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ in our time.

And of course the LDSs do not worship in any temple on Mount Zion in today’s Jerusalem… So I wonder how this is fulfilled in their cult…

We have seen how this is fulfilled fully in Jesus Christ and His Church.

Stephen continues:

The conversion of many from all nations, which brings them to seek out the House of God where they are taught of His ways and covenant to walk in His paths, is but a part of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the Last Days through the Restoration.

The House of God is on Mount Zion; under the New Covenant, this is the heavenly Jerusalem. The Temple is Jesus Christ (His body, the Church).

Stephen continues:

Finally, in regards to exclusivity of our temples, as I already asserted, given the hypothetical statement of fact the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the true Church of Christ, no one should be offended at such exclusivity, as the mandate to build these edifices and their governing rules are from the Lord.

The Lord has not given any order to build any temple out of Jerusalem. Only on Mount Zion should the Temple be. Mormons are confused and are rebellious against God’s Commandment concerning the temple.

Stephen continues:

Almost anyone is eligible to enter the Temple of the Lord, through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, through repentance of personal sins, through baptism by immersion by those in authority to perform this mandatory saving ordinance, through confirmation as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and receipt of the Gift of the Holy Ghost through the laying on of hands, again by those in authority to perform these mandatory saving ordinances, and through obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ.

No, Mormonism is a sect.

I remind you again that the Gospel is Good News, and not a set of laws and ordinances… We have seen this Mormon error before.

Stephen continues:

Therefore, exclusion from the Temple is a choice made by those who dismiss the opportunity to come unto, or to return to, Christ and enter His Temple or are those who have committed such grave sins as shedding innocent blood or the unpardonable sin against the Holy Ghost of denying perfect knowledge.

We’re really glad not to enter that abominable place of Mormons. But let me note here the false understanding of Mormons concerning the sin against the Holy Spirit… Denying perfect knowledge??! We have previously seen what the sin against the Holy Spirit is.

Stephen continues:

We claim the Lord Jesus Christ offers to almost everyone this opportunity and extreme privilege by joining the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and abiding its precepts.

The Lord Jesus Christ is not in those abominable places.

Stephen continues:

Frankly, I find the disingenuous questions brought to me by ECs about exclusivity to our temples a moot point on which to take issue. After all, if the LDS Church is God’s Church, then who is anyone to question His policies and procedures.

Yes, that’s why the false prophet Joseph Smith claimed to have authority from God, as I explained before: to impose his false doctrines as divine…

Stephen continues:

Never has His Organization been a Democracy, but rather a Theocracy.

We have seen that the Church is not an organization, and we have seen how the Book of Mormon is not from God.

Stephen continues:

He is in charge and, although He gives consideration to our righteous desires and requests and may even grant same at His discretion, He does not have to, nor does He, take counsel from His Children. Be honest when confronting someone or something you oppose. Take issue with our claims of authority, revelation, and or doctrine.

Mormonism is a sect and not true Christianity; you have no authority from God. The Bible is against your abominations, as we have seen.

Stephen continues:

Attacking policy is one’s unconscious admission of weak argument on these other fronts. If the LDS Church is not the Church of God, as those taking such trivial issues presume, why take issue with anything we espouse?

Because you claim to be the Church of Christ, and we have the responsibility to destroy all lies in the Name of Christ. This is what I am doing through these answers to Stephen’s document. And as you see, the Mormon doctrines are proven unbiblical, and they are destroyed very easily by the Sword of the Spirit. We take issue with your lies, because they destroy souls forever in Hell, and our responsibility is to preach the truth to the lost so that they may be saved. I know you don’t think this is an important issue, but it is very important for us, Christians.

Stephen continues:

Why would one care whom we exclude? As long as we do not take away agency to live as one sees fit outside our Church, why would one who claims we are a cult destined to hell care what we believe, practice, allow, and or exclude in our Church? I assert, such demands are dishonest when our opponents should be discouraging people from affiliation with our Church at all, not mocking our lack of granting access to non-members or non-compliant members.

Your exclusion law is a clear claim that you, and you alone, are the true Church of Christ, as you admitted. So this is a lie that we attack strongly, and we have seen how you are wrong.

Stephen continues:

Our Church is not a public organization funded by the State. It is private and we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone, just as is the right and privilege of any private organization, religious or secular, to so run. Remember:

“We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege; let them worship how, where, or what they may.” (Eleventh Article of Faith of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints)

Yes, and we have seen how your worship is not biblical. You worship according as it is right in your own eyes, although the Bible is clear about the right worship. You worship idols of your own making.

Thus we have reached the end of Stephen’s chapter about the Church, in which we have seen how Stephen and Mormons have no idea what the Church and the New Covenant are, because they have not known who Jesus Christ is.

Grace be with you!
Disciple of Jesus Christ

___

Posted in: Religious Movements / Mormonism
This is part 43 of the series: Answer to a Mormon’s manuscript

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