This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)
June 13-17, 2022
1 Samuel 8-10; 13; 15-18
Ever since the tribes of Israel had settled in the promised land, the Philistines had been an ongoing threat to their safety. Many times in the past, the Lord had delivered the Israelites from their enemies. But now the elders of Israel demanded, “We will have a king … [to] go out before us, and fight our battles” (1 Samuel 8:19–20). The Lord relented, and Saul was anointed king. And yet when the menacing giant Goliath hurled his challenge to the armies of Israel, Saul—like the rest of his army—was “greatly afraid” (1 Samuel 17:11). On that day, it wasn’t King Saul who saved Israel but a humble shepherd boy named David, who was wearing no armor but was clothed with impenetrable faith in the Lord. This battle proved to Israel, and to anyone who has spiritual battles to fight, that “the Lord saveth not with sword and spear” and that “the battle is the Lord’s” (1 Samuel 17:47).
No problems here.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
1 Samuel 8
Jesus Christ is my King.
As you read 1 Samuel 8, notice how the Lord felt about the Israelites’ desire for a king other than Himself. What does it mean to choose the Lord to “reign over [you]”? (1 Samuel 8:7). You might also consider ways you are tempted to follow the unrighteous trends of the world instead of following the Lord. How can you show that you want Jesus Christ to be your Eternal King?
See also Judges 8:22–23; Mosiah 29:1–36; Neil L. Andersen, “Overcoming the World,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2017, 58–62.
I agree, Jesus Christ ought to be our “Eternal King.” But should Jesus be considered the “Eternal King” according to LDS doctrine? This answer is no.
It is admitted by 15th President Gordon B. Hinckley that the Jesus of Mormonism is not the same as the Jesus traditionally believed in biblical Christianity. Consider:
In bearing testimony of Jesus Christ, President Hinckley spoke of those outside the Church who say Latter-day Saints “do not believe in the traditional Christ.” “No, I don’t. The traditional Christ of
whom they speak is not the Christ of whom I speak. For the Christ of whom I speak has been revealed in this the Dispensation of the Fulness of Times. He together with His Father, appeared to the boy Joseph Smith in the year 1820, and when Joseph left the grove that day, he knew more of the nature of God than all the learned ministers of the gospel of the ages” (“Crown of Gospel is Upon Our Heads, Church News, June 20, 1998, 7).
He also said,
As a church we have critics, many of them. They say we do not believe in the traditional Christ of Christianity. There is some substance to what they say (“We look to Christ,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2002, p. 90).
When a top leader of the church says that there may be “some substance to what they say” about Mormonism not teaching “in the traditional Christ of Christianity,” that ought to get your attention. Mormonism has a different Jesus as described in 2 Corinthians 11:4, which says, “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
Consider how the Person of Jesus is minimized in Mormon teaching when a church manual states, “The oldest child in our heavenly family was Jesus Christ. He is our oldest brother” (Gospel Fundamentals, 2002, 5). What a difference from the Jesus of the Bible–who is fully God and fully man. He did not have to gain his godhood. John 1:1 says that the “Word” (Jesus) was not only with God but is God. He created all things (v. 3). As God, He became flesh and dwelt among us (what is known as the Incarnation).
1 Samuel 9:15–17; 10:1–12; 16:1–13
God calls people by prophecy to serve in His kingdom.
God chose Saul and David to be kings through prophecy and revelation (see 1 Samuel 9:15–17; 10:1–12; 16:1–13). This is also how He calls men and women to serve in His Church today. What do you learn from these accounts about what it means to “be called of God, by prophecy”? (Articles of Faith 1:5). What blessings come from being called and set apart by the Lord’s authorized servants?
As so many lessons in this series do, the authors use this opportunity to point back to the authority of their general authorities who are the head of the LDS Church. This is a manipulative move, for sure.
What have these modern LDS prophets ever given humanity when it comes to the understanding of God and other vital doctrines? Consider the doctrine of God and see how Mormonism has corrupted the beliefs of
|God is one in essence and is the only God who exists. This is called monotheism (mono = one, theism = belief in God).||Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Timothy 2:5||Three separate gods (Father/Son/Spirit) who “are one in will, purpose, and love.”[i] Tri-theism, not monotheism.||Mormons assume that the biblical verses referring to “one God” mean “one in purpose,” not “one in essence.”|
|God is spirit.||John 1:18; 4:24; Romans 8:2,14; 2 Corinthians 3:17||God has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.||D&C 130:22|
|God is omnipresent and is not limited by spatial restraints.||Psalm 139:7-12; Proverbs 15:3; Isaiah 66:1; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Amos 9:2-3||God’s body is localized in space and is not bodily omnipresent.||D&C 88:6,7,13|
|God originated everything out of nothing (Latin: creatio ex nihilo).||Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 37:16; 45:7,18; 66:2; Job 33:4; John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17||God organized the universe out of pre-existing material (Latin: creatio ex materia).||Book of Abraham 4:1; Joseph Smith’s King Follett discourse in 1844|
|God is the only true God in the universe; all other “gods” are false.||Deuteronomy 4:35; 1 Kings 8:60; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6-9; 45:22||Multiple true gods existed before Elohim (God the Father) and there will be gods who will follow Him.||Book of Abraham chapters 4 and 5|
|God is omnipotent (all powerful) to do all things logically possible, although there are some things He cannot do, including sin or lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).||Genesis 1:1; 18:14; Job 42:2; Isaiah 40:28; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37; 1 Corinthians 6:14||While He has power over everything, God is limited because He is subject to eternal “natural law.” God organized the elements already in existence but He was unable to create out of nothing.||Book of Abraham 3:22 and 4:1 refer to multiple true gods who collaborated on the creation of the universe. Elements, intelligence, and law are coeternal with God (D&C 88:34-40; 93:29,33,35).|
[i] See news-ca.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/mormonism-101-faq.
These charts are taken from my new book Introducing Christianity to Mormons available in September 2022.
In addition, consider the doctrine of Jesus and the differences between Mormonism and the Bible:
|LDS Seventy Milton R. Hunter: “Jesus became a God and reached His great state of understanding through consistent effort and continuous obedience to all the Gospel truths and universal laws.”[i]||John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”|
|LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie: “Christ attained Godhood while yet in pre-existence, he too stood as a God to the other spirits, but this relationship was not the same one of personal parenthood that prevailed between the Father and his offspring.”[ii]||Philippians 2:5-6: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”|
|LDS Apostle Robert D. Hales: “Jesus was born of heavenly parents in a premortal world—he was the firstborn of our Heavenly Father.”[iii]||Colossians 1:15-17: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”|
|LDS Church teaching manual: “The oldest child in our heavenly family was Jesus Christ. He is our oldest brother.”[iv]||Jude 25: “To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”|
[i] Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1957), 51.
[ii] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 1966), 323.
[iii] Robert D. Hales, “Your Sorrow Shall Be Turned to Joy,” Ensign, November 1983, 67.
[iv] Gospel Fundamentals (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2002), 5.
I could keep going and show how the entire Gospel message is corrupted by the teaching of Mormonism from the past 200 years. Remember, Paul said if anyone preached a different gospel, that person should be accursed (Gal. 1:8-9).
If we are not talking about the same God as described in the Bible, and we’re not talking about the same Jesus who is also described in the Bible, why should we need any of Mormonism’s leaders–from Joseph Smith through Russell M. Nelson–as guides to truth when they cannot properly instruct on the basics of the Christian doctrine? Jesus said in Matthew 7 to be aware of wolves in sheep’s clothing because they look to devour the unwary. First John 4:1 says we are supposed to test the spirits to see if they are from God because many false prophets are out there. Beware of someone who claims to teach truth but contradicts God’s Word.
1 Samuel 16:7
“The Lord looketh on the heart.”
What are some ways people judge others “on the outward appearance”? What does it mean to look “on the heart,” as the Lord does? (1 Samuel 16:7). Consider how you can apply this principle to the way you see others—and yourself. How might doing so affect your interactions or relationships with others?
Unfortunately, I see many Latter-day Saints judging others who drink coffee or tea or go against the Word of Wisdom (as they interpret this teaching); I see them wrinkle their foreheads when someone shows up at a church event not wearing the “right” clothes (i.e., dress for women, slacks and white shirts/ties for men, etc.); I see them look down on those who do not have their temple recommends. These are common judgments made regularly every day.
Yes, some Christians do judge unfairly as well. But if the question is how this principle ought to applied, real-life examples for their own people would be appreciated. For the Lord really does look at the heart and not the outward appearance of what we eat or drink or not meeting the standards of a particular religion with made-up rules that cannot be backed up by the teachings of the Bible.
1 Samuel 17
With the help of the Lord, I can overcome any challenge.
As you read 1 Samuel 17, ponder the words of various people in this chapter (see the list below). What do their words reveal about them? How do David’s words show his courage and faith in the Lord?
I have to share this video on David and Goliath with you. I think you’ll like it.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
1 Samuel 9:15–21; 16:7.
Reading these verses along with the following words from Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf could inspire a discussion about why the Lord chose Saul and David: “If we look at ourselves only through our mortal eyes, we may not see ourselves as good enough. But our Heavenly Father sees us as who we truly are and who we can become” (“It Works Wonderfully!” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2015, 23). Perhaps family members could take turns talking about what good qualities they see in each other’s hearts (see 1 Samuel 16:7).
Here is the problem. Down deep, we are all sinners and don’t have “good qualities” in our hearts. In fact, Jeremiah 17:9 says, “The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” Proverbs 14:12 states, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death” while Proverbs 28:26 says “whoever trusts in his own mind is a fool.”
The Bible teaches that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23); the “wages of sin is death” says Romans 6:23. But I love the fact that there is a comma, not a period, after that statement, and the rest says, “but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
What does it take for us to understand that we are sinful and are in need of God’s forgiveness? Through God’s Word, of course! While I think it’s important to encourage one another, as 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says we are to “encourage one another and build one another us, just as also you are doing.” But I don’t know a verse where it teaches us to commend one another for the “good qualities of our hearts.”
Truly I think this is dangerous advice as it could cause someone to minimize how desperate a situation we as humans are in. The score in the game is 99-7, our team is on its own 1-yard-line, and there are only 38 seconds left to play! Even a “Hail Mary” pass will not do. When we understand how far we have fallen short of God, it moves us to our knees and we recognize that it’s not about our good qualities or works that will allow us to be in relationship with Him. Instead, it’s all about what He has done by forgiving sins through faith in Him.
1 Samuel 17:20–54.
Your family might enjoy reading together the story of David and Goliath (“David and Goliath” in Old Testament Stories could help) or watching the video “The Lord Will Deliver Me” (ChurchofJesusChrist.org). This could lead to a discussion about challenges we face that may feel like “Goliaths” to us. You could even write some of these challenges on a target or a drawing of Goliath and take turns throwing objects (like balls of paper) at it.
It might also be interesting to read about the armor and weapons Goliath had (see verses 4–7). What did David have? (see verses 38–40, 45–47). What has the Lord provided to help us defeat our Goliaths?
Ahh, the Lord has given us His Word, which is called the sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17), to combat our Goliaths. Notice how Jesus–when tempted by Satan three times–cited scripture each time! And prayer is another tool that is essential. As James 1:5-7 states,
5 If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. 8 Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
Mormonism puts too much credence into thinking evil people (that’s me and that’s you) being able to choose the good by following God. Reliance on good feelings along with the guidance of “modern prophets” is a sure recipe to falter and fall short of God’s intentions. Until the Latter-day Saint is willing to put away “personal revelation” and depend fully on God for the forgiveness of sins, there will be uncertainty if enough good works have been performed. God has provided His Word–the Bible–which is fully trustworthy to guide us even in the 21st century.
And if you are a Latter-day Saint, I encourage you to put aside your other standard works and focus on the Bible. A great place to start would be the book of Romans. I challenge you to read this book and see if your doctrinal ideas can be supported by what Paul wrote 2,000 years ago.
For the Roman’s Challenge, click here. Please consider this challenge and see what God has to say about the issue of salvation.