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.)
During His mortal ministry, Jesus Christ often challenged people’s long-held traditions and beliefs. This didn’t stop after He ascended into heaven, as He continued to guide His Church by revelation. For example, during Jesus’s life His disciples preached the gospel only to fellow Jews. But soon after the Savior died and Peter became the leader of the Church on earth, Jesus Christ revealed to Peter that the time was right for the gospel to be preached to non-Jews. The idea of sharing the gospel with Gentiles doesn’t seem surprising today, so what’s the lesson in this account for us? Perhaps one lesson is that in both the ancient and modern Church, a loving Savior guides His chosen leaders (see Amos 3:7; Doctrine and Covenants 1:38). Continuing revelation is a vital sign of the true and living Church of Jesus Christ. Like Peter, we must be willing to accept continuing revelation and live “by every word of God” (Luke 4:4), including “all that [He] has revealed, all that He does now reveal,” and the “many great and important things” He will yet reveal “pertaining to the Kingdom of God” (Articles of Faith 1:9).
This is not the first time the writers of this series have made a not-so-sublte attempt to tout the “modern Church” leaders. As if that concept has anything to do with this passage. “Continuing revelation is a vital sign of the true and living Church of Jesus Christ,” they write. And “we must be willing to accept continuing revelation.” I, for one, am not willing to accept any “revelation” that contradicts the teachings of the Bible, contrary to unique LDS teachings.
Indeed, there are just too many problems with the LDS Church for there to be anything worthy to cling to. For instance, here are 10 reasons why Mormonism should not be considered the same as Christianity. These are not peripheral issues. They are major reasons why I cannot accept Mormonism as “the Church of Jesus Christ.”
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
“God is no respecter of persons.”
For generations, the Jews had believed that being of “the seed of Abraham,” or a literal descendant of Abraham, meant that a person was accepted and chosen by God (see Luke 3:8). They considered anyone else an “unclean” Gentile who was not accepted by God. In Acts 10, what did the Lord teach Peter about who “is accepted with him”? (Acts 10:35).
The answer is given in the passage, that those who “fear him and do what is right” are accepted by God. As Proverbs 1:7 teaches, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning on knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline.” Acts 10:2 described Cornelius and his family as devout “God-fearers.” The Christian fears God more than man.
What evidence do you find in this chapter that Cornelius’s life was acceptable to the Lord? Ponder what is meant by the statement “God is no respecter of persons” (verse 34; see also 1 Nephi 17:35). Why is it important to you to know this truth?
Salvation is not based on a person’s heritage. Rather, it’s based on faith. Notice what Peter said in verse 43: “To him all the prophets bear witness that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” As Ephesians 2:8-9 puts it clearly, “not by works lest any man should boast.” It’s important to understand this concept because a person who wants to follow God must understand that about what God has done for us, as He send His Son to the world to die for the sins of many. It’s not based on what we do that earns us the rigtheousness of God.
Like the Jews who looked down on those who were not of the seed of Abraham, do you ever catch yourself making unkind or uninformed assumptions about someone who is different from you? How can you overcome this tendency? It might be interesting to try a simple activity for the next few days: Whenever you interact with someone, try to think to yourself, “This person is a child of God.” As you do this, what changes do you notice in the way you think about and interact with others?
While every person is made in the “image of God,” not everyone is a “child of God.” Consider this description of preexistance and why this is not a doctrine taught in biblical Christianity.
As far as the question in this paragraph is concerned, I think many Latter-day Saints somehow think that their membership in the LDS Church is a saving grace. The common mentality that their church is the “only true church on the face of the whole earth” makes quite an impression on most Latter-day Saints whom I have met. (See D&C 1:30.) After all, it is claimed that there was the “Great Apostasy” and how God the Father and Jesus said this tainted all of modern-day Christianity. (For more on this issue, click The Great Apostasy.)
Although they are not as upfront as earlier days, church leaders have made it clear that only their church is true. This is the power of D&C 1:30. Using the account of the First Vision, Apostle Boyd K. Packer put it at a general conference in 1985,
We did not invent the doctrine of the only true church. It came from the Lord. Whatever perception others have of us, however presumptuous we appear to be, whatever criticism is directed to us, we must teach it to all who will listen.Source
Acts 10; 11:1–18; 15
Heavenly Father teaches me line upon line through revelation.
Acts 10, 11, and 15 recount instances in which the Lord directed His servants through revelation. It might help to record what you learn about revelation as you read these chapters. In what ways does the Spirit speak to you?
God speaks to people today through His Word. My feelings don’t take precedence over the facts of His Word to understand God’s revelation in my life. I compare everything to what His special revelation says and that is the final authority in my life.
I noticed that the authors of the series never mentioned Acts 10:44-48. It says,
44 While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word. 45 And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared, 47 “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to remain for some days.
In the Come, Follow Me NT
lessons that covered John 3 and Acts 2, the curriculum’s authors claimed that water baptism is a requirement for the forgiveness of sins. If that is the case, then how does one explain this passage? After all, verse 44 says that “the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word,” with verse 45 saying that “the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.” The next verse declares that they were speaking in tongues. After all of this, in verse 48 Peter “commanded them to be baptized.” If water baptism is a requirement for salvation and for the forgiveness of sins, then why did the event take place after the Spirit had fallen on the Gentile believers. Not one word is mentioned of this passage, showing how this study is limited in scope to the presuppositons of Mormonism.
I am a Christian because I believe in and follow Jesus Christ.
What is significant about a person being called a Christian? (see Acts 11:26). What does it mean to you to be known as a Christian? Consider the significance of names. For instance, what does your family name mean to you? Why is the name of the Church important to you? (see Doctrine and Covenants 115:4). What does it mean to you to take upon yourself the name of Jesus Christ by covenant? (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:77).
A person whose sins have been forgiven is a Christian in the Christian because I have been forgiven of all my sins. I follow Him.
The authors decided to give another shout-out to their church’s leadership. So much is made by leaders about how Jesus’s name is part of their church’s title, as if that somehow gives this religion credibility. As we have shown before, having His name in a church’s name does not make it a Christian church.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
As you read this chapter together, some family members could make note of blessings that came to the disciples and the Church. Other family members could note opposition or trials disciples experienced. Why does God allow difficult things to happen to righteous people?
It’s a question so many people ask. But the ultimate answer is to “bring glory to Himself.” Just a couple of quick points on this.
First, the passage in John 9 says that a man was born blind (only to be healed by Jesus at the Pool of Siloam). It says,
As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.
In addition, we know that nothing happens without first going through the veil of God’s love. Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Paul also wrote in Romans 5:3-5,
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
We live in a fallen, sinful world. When things happen, the goal is to give God all the glory, even when it hurts. One day there will be no more tears as we spend eternity with Jesus. Revelation 21:4 says, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
These verses describe a disagreement in the Church about whether converts needed to keep the law of Moses, including circumcision. What did the Apostles do about this disagreement? What can we learn from this example about how Church leaders direct the work of the Church?
A final “shout out” is given by the writers to their church leaders. It’s amazing how many passages in this lesson were cited (3) in an obvious attempt to bring credibility to Mormonism’s hierarchy.
As with other lessons in the Come, Follow Me series, this week’s chapter overly emphasizes the importance of the church’s claim that it represents “restored” biblical Christianity. There is no evidence the Book of Acts is pointing to the importance of a “restored” church where all the “former day” saints would fade away only to be tainted by a “Great Apostasy.”
In addition, I find what was not discussed as the highlight of this chapter. The authors point out the things that they feel support the LDS faith while ignoring those that are difficult to explain. If baptism is required for salvation, it makes no sense that the Gentiles received the Spirit before going into the water.