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Come, Follow Me (Acts 1-5)

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.)

July 3-9, 2023

Acts 1-5

Have you ever wondered what Peter might have been thinking and feeling when he, with the other Apostles, “looked steadfastly toward heaven” as Jesus ascended to His Father? (Acts 1:10). The Church that was founded by the Son of God was now in Peter’s care. The task of leading the effort to “teach all nations” now rested on him (Matthew 28:19). But if he felt inadequate or afraid, we don’t find any evidence of that in the book of Acts. What we do find are examples of fearless testimony and conversion, miraculous healings, spiritual manifestations, and significant growth for the Church. This was still the Savior’s Church, still led by Him. In fact, the book Acts of the Apostles could also be called the Acts of Jesus Christ through His Apostles. Guided by an outpouring of the Spirit, Peter was no longer the unlearned fisherman Jesus found on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. Nor was he the distraught man who only weeks earlier was weeping bitterly because he had denied that he even knew Jesus of Nazareth.

In the book of Acts, you will read powerful declarations about Jesus Christ and His gospel. You will also see how that gospel can change people—including you—into the valiant disciples God knows they can be.

I have no problems with this introduction. And I agree, the book certainly could be called the Acts of Jesus Christ through His Apostles. Yet, as we will study this book through the month of July, I will suggest that many of the things so important to Latter-day Saints were not a priority to the apostles, including:

  • Going into temples to do ordinance work for themselves and the dead
  • Families and a desire to want to be with the nuclear family forever
  • Keeping the Sabbath (Sunday) in a legalistic manner
  • Avoiding certain types of drinks (hot?) and foods
  • Tithing 10% of one’s income as a commitment to being a “member in good standing”

The list could go on, but my main point at the very beginning of the study of Acts is to show that there seems to be more dissimilarities with the “former-day church” than the one supposedly found in the “latter days” that we call Mormonism.

Ideas for Personal Scripture Study

Acts 1:1–8, 15–26; 2:1–42; 4:1–13, 31–33

Jesus Christ directs His Church through the Holy Ghost.

The book of Acts records the Apostles’ efforts to establish the Church of Jesus Christ after the Savior’s Ascension. Although Jesus Christ was no longer on the earth, He directed the Church by revelation through the Holy Ghost. Consider how the Holy Ghost guided the new leaders of Christ’s Church as you review the following passages: Acts 1:1–8, 15–26; 2:1–42; 4:1–13, 31–33.

I read through those passages and I had to wonder about Acts 1:15=26. Among other things, it talks about how Matthias was chosen to replace Judas, who had committed suicide. The disciples “cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias, so he was added to the eleven apostles.” For the rest of the Book of Acts, we see disciples die but they are not replaced. (Could this be the beginning of the “Great Apostasy“?)

OK, so the early church replaced an apostle. Many biblical scholars are of the opinion that this was not the right way to go about it or the right person who was chosen. Some say that the apostle Paul would have been a better alternative. Here is the question I have: Does the LDS Church use lots to replace deceased apostles? As far as the position of prophet, their policy is to give this to the man with the most seniority. Where do we see this example in the Book of Acts? If the church wants to be consistent when it comes to how its church is the same as the former day, then these seem to be problems.

As members of Christ’s Church today, we each have a responsibility to participate in the work of salvation and exaltation—to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, care for those in need, invite others to come unto Christ, and unite families for eternity (see General Handbook, 1.2). What do you learn from these early Apostles about how you can rely on the Holy Ghost to guide your efforts?

This paragraph reeks of works, of what we “do” in order to “unite families for eternity.”

Again, I see no reference in the book of Acts that talks about families and being together with them for eternity. Instead, Acts 4:12 says, “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Based on last week’s lesson, I also like verse 33 of chapter 4: “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.” The resurrection was the centerpiece of the Gospel for the early Christians. Certainly Christians believe that the Holy Spirit’s empowering is what we need to be able to do the work that is intended by God.

Acts 2:36–47; 3:12–21

The principles and ordinances of the gospel help me come unto Christ.

Have you ever felt “pricked in [your] heart,” like the Jews on the day of Pentecost? (Acts 2:37). Maybe you did something you regret, or maybe you simply want to change your life. What should you do when you have these feelings? Peter’s counsel to the Jews is found in Acts 2:38. Note how the first principles and ordinances of the gospel (including faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost—or what is sometimes referred to as the doctrine of Christ) affected these converts, as recorded in Acts 2:37–47.

You may already have been baptized and received the gift of the Holy Ghost, so how do you continue to apply the doctrine of Christ? Consider these words from Elder Dale G. Renlund: “We may be perfected by repeatedly … exercising faith in [Christ], repenting, partaking of the sacrament to renew the covenants and blessings of baptism, and receiving the Holy Ghost as a constant companion to a greater degree. As we do so, we become more like Christ and are able to endure to the end, with all that that entails” (“Latter-day Saints Keep on Trying,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 56).

Latter-day Saints believe in baptismal regeneration (i.e., water baptism is required for eternal life), yet I don’t think Acts 2:38 is a good verse to use to support this doctrine. For more on the verse, click here. One other thing to point out: If water baptism is essential for justification and the forgiveness of our sins, then Acts 3:19 seems to be out of place. In Peter’s follow-up sermon referenced in the next section of this lesson. He said, “”Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out…” Notice, baptism is not mentioned at all. This seems to be a major omission if baptism and confirmation are essential to salvation, as Mormon leaders regularly teach.

Acts 3:19–21

What are “the times of refreshing” and “the times of restitution of all things”?

“The times of refreshing” refers to the Millennium, when Jesus Christ will return to the earth. “The times of restitution of all things” refers to the Restoration of the gospel, which prepares the world for the Millennium.

Wow, that is quite a stretch. How convenient is it that this means something different than what those who listened to the sermon would have understood. Only someone with an LDS presupposition would make the conclusion that was given above. Based on the context, it seems that this was the beginning of the time of refreshing, as Luke points to the prophecy that was fulfilled in Jesus (see verses 22, 24). Peter says in verses 25-26, “And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all people on earth will be blessed. When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.'” Salvation is not only available to the Jews (as Pentecost had already taken place for the Jews in the previous chapter) but also to the Gentiles (with the Gentile Pentecost about to take place in Acts 10).

I highly doubt this is a reference to the so-called “Great Apostasy” and a desire to have the Gospel for days of old restored to the earth. This does not make sense and would not have been understood by the listeners.

Acts 3; 4:1–31; 5:12–42

Disciples of Jesus Christ are given power to perform miracles in His name.

The lame man was hoping to receive money from those who came to the temple. But the Lord’s servants offered him much more.

The word “disciples” is used here. Did they mean to say “apostles”? That’s certainly who was doing the healings in these chapters. If LDS apostles have the same offices, are there documented miracles that they are doing with LDS members around the globe?

Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening

Acts 1:21–26.

Reading Acts 1:21–26 can help your family discuss the blessings that come from having Apostles on the earth today. Family members could share how they have gained a witness that today’s apostles and prophets are called by God. Why is having this witness important?

This is an unashamed plug for the “restored” church. This assumes that there was ever a need for a “restoration” in the first place. It is preaching to the choir, a point that has nothing to do with the text at hand. This is a common tactic used throughout 2022 (Old Testament) and 2023 (New Testament) in the Come, Follow Me curriculum.

For more on this topic, click The Great Apostasy

Acts 2:37.

What could the phrase “pricked in their heart” mean? When have we felt something similar? Why is it important to say “What shall we do?” when we have such feelings?

It meant they were open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. This isn’t just a “feeling” but something that only the Holy Spirit can do. He knows those who are His and a person responds through faith.

Acts 4:31–37; 5:1–4.

How can we help our family, ward, or community become more like what is described in Acts 4:31–37? What does it mean to be “of one heart and of one soul”? In what ways do we sometimes “[keep] back part” of our contribution? Why is doing that like “[lying] unto God”? (Acts 5:2, 4). How does dishonesty affect us spiritually?

I wonder how many Latter-day Saints–when they are going through the temple interview with the bishop and/or stake president–keep “back part” of their tithe. Perhaps this is why this section is emphasized. How many Latter-day Saints reading this could be convicted that they have may have given a white lie/fib about how much they made–if they don’t confess, could they be struck down like Ananias and Saphira? For a Latter-day Saint, giving money is not just a privilege, but it is an obligation. This is the problem with of work-based religion, with the letter of the law taking precedence over everything else.


Many references in this lesson were made to the restored church and passages had this meaning forced upon them. The leaders seem proud about the “fact” that their church is the restored church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. But is it? As mentioned above, how many doctrines emphasized in Mormonism today are part of the early church as described in Acts? When we take a closer look at the differences and see very few similarities, it seems this ought to be more of a problem for Latter-day Saints than it usually is, as many don’t think much about it.

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