This is one of a series of reviews from a Christian perspective on the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me (New Testament, 2023) for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To find the index of these reviews, visit here.
Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence is being reviewed.
2 Corinthians 8-13
What would you do if you heard that a congregation of Saints in another area was struggling in poverty? This was the situation that Paul described to the Corinthian Saints in 2 Corinthians 8–9. He hoped to persuade the Corinthian Saints to donate some of their abundance to Saints in need. But beyond a request for donations, Paul’s words also contain profound truths about giving: “Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver” (2 Corinthians 9:7). In our day, there are still Saints throughout the world who are in need of help. Sometimes the most we can do for them is to fast and donate fast offerings. In other cases, our giving can be more direct and personal. Whatever forms our sacrifices take, it’s worth examining our motivations for giving. Are our sacrifices expressions of love? After all, it’s love that makes a giver cheerful.
Without trying to sound snide, I am wondering how sacrificial a people ought to be when it knows its church’s coffers hold more than $100 billion in a “rainy day fund.” Click here. Could this number be closer to $150 billion? Nobody really knows. In fact, a “Widow’s Mite” report says the LDS Church could even be worth $1 trillion by 2044.
For the LDS Church to ask its members to give offerings in the same way Paul did is an apples and oranges situation. Paul did not have access to a large fund that could have taken care of all the Jerusalem Saints’ needs. I indeed believe in the importance of being a “cheerful giver,” but the organization doing the collecting needs to be above approach as well to ask for sacrifices from its people.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith.”
Today, as in Paul’s day, there are those who seek to lead us away “from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). For that reason, it’s crucial to do what Paul suggested: “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith” (2 Corinthians 13:5). You could start this process by thinking about what it means to “be in the faith.” How do you know if you are in the faith? Look for opportunities you have to examine yourself.
I agree. And ask yourself, “How do I know if I am in the *true* faith?” Just because you have faith is not good enough. We want to have faith in the right God, the right Jesus, and the right Gospel.
2 Corinthians 12:5–10
The Savior’s grace is sufficient to help me find strength in my weakness.
We don’t know what Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was, but we all have our own thorns that we wish God would remove from our lives. Think about your thorns as you read 2 Corinthians 12:5–10, and ponder what you learn about Jesus Christ in these verses. What did Paul teach in these verses about trials and weakness? What does it mean to you that God’s “grace is sufficient” for you?
I love how Jesus answered how HIs grace was sufficient. We need nothing else. Even when we are not capable or sufficient, He is! Thus, when I am weak, then He is strong. He gets all the credit and I am OK with that.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
2 Corinthians 9:6–7.
Does your family know someone who could be described as “a cheerful giver”? How can we make our service to others more cheerful? Younger family members could make badges that say “I am a cheerful giver.” You could award the badges to family members whenever you see them serving one another cheerfully.
More than a third of this lesson covered the passage in 2 Corinthians 9. Now, I think 2 Corinthians 9 is important, don’t get me wrong. But, there are many parts in the chapters this lesson is suppoed to cover that are not discussed at all.
2 Corinthians 11:3.
What can your family do to focus more on “the simplicity that is in Christ”?
I think I understand what this question (and a reference earlier in the lesson, which said, “Today, as in Paul’s day, there are those who seek to lead us away ‘from the simplicity that is in Christ’ (2 Corinthians 11:3).” I think I understand the message that the writers of the curriculum are trying to give. The Gospel is “simple,” so let’s not complicate it. Things like $100 billion accounts, the issues of Joseph Smith (i.e., multiple wives, translating the Book of Mormon with a seer stone, not being capable of translating the Book of Abraham papyrii in a literal fashion, etc.), the difference between the doctrines of Mormonism versus those described in the Bible, and so on…these are complicated. Don’t look too deeply, the Mormon is told. Just accept what you are told with a simple faith, like that of a childen.
If I am correct in why “simplicity” is being emphasized, then I have a problem. The NIV translates “simplicity” as “your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion in Christ.” Sincere and pure is dffereirent from the way the church is bringing up the 17th century meaning of the word “simplicity.” Notice the next verse:
“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 one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.”
“Simplicity” is opposite to complicated. Yet determining the correct Jesus is a difficult job. Different religions teach that Jesus is a good guru (Hinduism), or a good prophet (Islam), or a good angel (Michael, as Jehovah’s Witnesses teach). Yet sincerity or simplicity will not do when it comes to understanding the true and living Jesus of the Bible. We must “study to show ourselves approved unto God” and be willing to invest our time into looking deeper (1 Tim. 2:15). We’re told to be discerning and to test the spirits to see if they are from God. Why? Because many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). In fact, the apostle Paul minces no words when he says to “test everything.” That sums it up well!
It’s a risky business. I just think too many Latter-day Saints rely on their heritage (perhaps they are from pioneer stock), their church (or temple) attendance, or even all their other “good” works. They are satisfied keeping it “simple” because if you begin to go down Alice in Wonderland’s hole, you may never return the same person.
In Paul’s days, there were false apostles, just as there are today. Besides this passage, see Galatians 1:8-9 and, as mentioned, 1 John 4:1. Notice what Paul writes in verse 14: “such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ.” Then he throws in this kicker: “It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness.”
Generally, Mormons are nice people. They make great neighbors. And even their leaders seems to be faithful, righteous men. But how will you know if they are not false apostles that I claim them to be, despite the nice image they portray? How do you know if they are honest (rather than deceitful) workmen? How do you know if they are to be trusted?
I think the answer, quite simply, is to take what they have said and compare their words and teachings with the pages of the Bible. And this is where I believe these leaders are false apostles. What they teach about the essential issues of the Gospel are completely contrary to what the Bible teaches.
I encourage you to go through the website Crash Course Mormonism and take a look at the differences. In addition, I have written a book titled Introducing Christianity to Mormons. In that book, I lay out the basic fundamentals of Christianity and show how the biblical faith is different from Mormonism.
As my friend Peter Barnes, who had been a Jehovah’s Witness for three decades, used to say, “error will run from truth but truth will never run from error.” If you have the truth, then you need to be willing to take a look at any criticism going against your beliefs. Always head to where the evidence leads and don’t just accept any old faith. This is what I offer to you.