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.)
July 4-10, 2022
2 Kings 2-7
A prophet’s main mission is to teach and testify of the Savior Jesus Christ. Our record of the prophet Elisha, however, doesn’t include much of his teaching or testifying. What the record does include is the miracles Elisha performed, including raising a child from the dead (see 2 Kings 4:18–37), feeding a multitude with a small quantity of food (see 2 Kings 4:42–44), and healing a leper (see 2 Kings 5:1–14). So while we don’t have Elisha’s words bearing witness of Christ, we do have, throughout Elisha’s ministry, powerful manifestations of the Lord’s life-giving, nourishing, and healing power. Such manifestations are more plentiful in our lives than we sometimes realize. To see them, we need to seek the miracle Elisha sought when he prayed on behalf of his fearful young servant, “Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see” (2 Kings 6:17).
And this is my prayer as well for Latter-day Saints. The Gospel is a very precious thing and Jesus warned against casting pearls before swine. (For an article on this topic, click here.)
When we talk about “opening eyes,” I would say the same thing needs to happen today for a person to see seems obvious to the regenerated believer. First Corinthians 2:12-14 reads,
12 Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. 13 And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. 14 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Second Corinthians 4:3-4 adds,
And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God
It is the Holy Spirit who must initiate; left to our own devices, a person is unable to “accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him.” He is “not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
I have found that many Latter-day Saints are not open to hearing any opposition to their church because they “know” they are right and believe what can be offered is foolish. When I have tried to explain the Gospel that differs from what their leaders teach, I usually get pushback with no desire to see the other side. This is unfortunate, because what may be considered “folly” is keeping them from considering the truth of God and the power of His Word.
If you are a Latter-day Saint who is reading these reviews, I commend you for taking a look at the other side. There really is a God, Jesus is King, and it is possible to have a relationship with God through grace and not through what a person accomplishes (i.e., good works). I appreciate you reading this. Truly I do.
2 Kings 2–6
God can work miracles in my life.
Miracles often help us overcome the difficulties of mortality—in Elisha’s time, a barren land needed pure water and a lost ax needed to be recovered (see 2 Kings 2:19–22; 6:4–7). But miracles also turn our hearts to the Lord and teach us spiritual lessons. As you read 2 Kings 2–6, consider making a list of the miracles you find, and ponder the spiritual lessons you learn from each one. What do these miracles teach you about the Lord and what He can do in your life?
There are miracles, no doubt, and God is responsible for all of them. The biggest miracle is the resurrection of Jesus. Over and over again, we hear about the importance of the resurrection in our faith. For instance, Peter starts off his epistle this way:
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
Study that passage! Through the resurrection, we have an “inheritance that is imperishable.” Thus, while we “have not seen him,” we love Him. We thus obtain the outcome of our faith, which is the salvation of our souls. Such powerful words!
I think people often go searching for miracles that are just not there because they need something empirical to show their faith is true. Shouldn’t Jesus be enough? Isn’t Jesus rising from the dead enough? Isn’t it enough for us to have faith, which is a miracle of its own? Stop looking and read God’s Word (the Bible) to see that Jesus and nothing more is needed for eternal life.
2 Kings 4:8–17; 7:1–16
The words of the Lord through His prophets will be fulfilled.
As recorded in 2 Kings 4:8–17; 7:1–16, the Lord inspired Elisha to prophesy of things to come—things that seemed, from the perspective of others, unlikely to occur. As you read these verses, think about how you respond to the word of the Lord through His prophets today. What teachings, prophecies, or promises have you heard from living prophets? What are you doing to act in faith on those promises?
It is funny that this topic is brought up because, when it comes to prophecy (if we’re talking about fore-telling, which in this passage is the context), what has Russell M. Nelson, the current president of the LDS Church, prophesied that puts him in a league with Elisha? I was just talking about this with a colleague and we remembered how Nelson seemed shocked at the opening session at the April 2020 general conference when there was no more than 10 people in the conference center. He said he never could have imagined such a scenario caused by COVID. Yet throughout the ministries of the OT prophets, there are specific prophecies given by God that were later fulfilled. I am curious why the writers of this curriculum even mentioned “living prophets” who had provided prophecies in the order of Elisha.
As far as his teachings, they are the teachings originated by Joseph Smith, whom Christians believe is a false prophet, including the idea that God is a man and once lived in another realm, that people have to earn exalted glory, and the potential to become gods and goddesses. These teachings are antithetical to what Bible says, and as such, ought to be rejected.
2 Kings 5
If I am humble and obedient, Jesus Christ can heal me.
Sometimes it’s easier to find personal meaning in the scriptures when you compare physical things in a story with spiritual things. For example, while reading 2 Kings 5, you might compare Naaman’s leprosy with a spiritual challenge you are facing. Like Naaman, perhaps you have hoped that the Lord would “do some great thing” (verse 13) to help you. What does Naaman’s experience teach you? In your life, what would be the equivalent of following the simple counsel to “wash, and be clean”?
Obviously, the question is rooted in Mormonism’s idea that you have to “wash” yourself in order to “be clean.” Thus, only if a person is “humble and obedient,” then according to Mormonism “Jesus Christ can heal me.”
The authors are taking more out of 2 Kings 5 than what was intended, making it appear that we (as sinful humans) are responsible to cleanse ourselves (as Naaman did) in order to gain the forgiveness of sins through Jesus. In the Bible, only God through the Holy Spirit is capable of making a person clean. Two verses to show this to be true include:
- Titus 3:-5-7: “he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
- Hebrews 9:27: “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.”
Of course, we are responsible to respond to what God has done by justifying believers through faith alone (Rom. 3:28) as provided by grace. Don’t misunderstand, as good works are important as well. We call this process that happens after salvation “sanctification.” For instance, 1 John 2 clearly says good works prove that regeneration did take place:
3 And by this we know that we have come to know him, if we keep his commandments. 4 Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments cis a liar, and he truth is not in him, 5 but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: 6 whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.
When Mormonism teaches that people do not come to God unless they make themselves clean, this is putting the cart before the horse. Jesus cleanses sins by forgiving them, once for all and forever. From that point the person is responsible to clean up their act and live as if the Holy Spirit really is in control.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
Think about the people who saw that Elisha “took up” Elijah’s mantle (or cloak—a symbol of his prophetic calling). How might this have affected the way they responded to Elisha’s ministry? (See also 1 Kings 19:19.) Maybe family members could take turns wearing a “mantle” and testifying of ways they have seen the Lord support and strengthen those called to serve in His Church.
Any time the authors of this teaching series can remind their readers about who is “in charge,” they do. Here is another instance.
The point I made earlier is, if the leaders are not guiding the church in the teachings of the Bible, should their instruction be adhered. Jesus said in Matthew 7 that there are many false prophets who are dressed up like wolves in sheep’s clothing. First John 4:1 says that Christians ought to test the spirits to see if they are from God. Why? “Because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
How can we test a person who claims to be a prophet? By taking what he teaches and seeing if it is in accord with the Bible. Don’t just accept the “mantle” of the LDS leadership without checking out their teachings and seeing if these square with the Word of God.
2 Kings 4.
You could invite family members to read about one of the miracles in 2 Kings 4 (see verses 1–7, 14–17, 32–35, 38–41, 42–44) and write a clue to help other family members guess which miracle he or she is describing. What do we learn about the Lord and His miracles from this chapter? What miracles—big or small—have we seen in our lives?
All of us are going to claim we have seen “miracles.” I believe I have as well. Just the fact that I am a Christian who received forgiveness of my sins is, in my book, a miracle based on my personal testimony.
2 Kings 5:1–15.
As you read these verses and ponder the simple thing Naaman was asked to do, consider the simple things our prophet has asked us to do. How can our family better follow his counsel?
The chapter ends by pointing to the LDS “prophet” and his counsel. To the question “how can our family better follow his counsel?” ought not the answer be what D&C 25:15 says:
Keep my commandments continually, and a crown of righteousness thou shalt receive. And except thou do this, where I am you cannot come.
The answer according to Mormonism is a person must keep all the commandments of God. How often? I would think all the time. Latter-day Saint, when will you achieve this goal?
The LDS leaders want their people to think:
a) that cleansing oneself is what is required in order to be accepted by God/Jesus
b) the general authorities have a corner on truth and they ought to be obeyed in everything they teach.
According to the Bible, a person comes to God through a humble heart, as it is impossible for anyone to cleanse themselves. Until Latter-day Saints understand this biblical concept, they will be forever doing their best while failing to accomplish a job that only God can do.