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.)
God chose Abraham’s seed to be His covenant people so that they would “be a blessing” to all people (see Genesis 12:2–3). But instead, by the time of Amos’s ministry, many of the covenant people were oppressing the poor and ignoring the prophets, making their acts of worship empty and meaningless (see Amos 2:6–16). True, the nations surrounding them were also guilty of great sins (see Amos 1; 2:1–5), but that has never been an excuse for God’s people (see Amos 3:2). So God sent a herdsman from Judah named Amos to preach repentance to the Kingdom of Israel. Later, God also declared through the prophet Obadiah that although the Kingdom of Judah had been destroyed, the Lord would gather and bless His people again. The covenant people had strayed from the Lord, both prophets testified, but they would not be cast off forever. When God reveals His secrets to His servants the prophets (see Amos 3:7), we can take it as a sign that He still wants to help us live up to the covenants we made with Him.
For the most part, I have no qualms with this paragraph…until the final sentence. I’ll discuss this problem in the next section.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
Amos 3:1-8; 7:10-15
The Lord reveals truth through His prophets.
In Amos 3:3–6, the prophet Amos presented several examples of causes and effects: because a lion finds prey, the lion roars; because a baited trap is set for a bird, the bird is ensnared. (Note that in the Joseph Smith Translation of verse 6, the word “done” was changed to “known” [in Amos 3:6, footnote b].)
A Latter-day Saint can say a person doesn’t need to be an expert and that God could have anything in the Bible changed if He wanted to. The problem is that Joseph Smith had no manuscript evidence to support his changes made in the “Joseph Smith Translation.”
For information about this “translation” and the problems associated with it, visit these two sites:
In verses 7–8, Amos applied this logic to prophets. What causes a prophet to prophesy? What else do you learn about prophets as you read Amos 7:10–15? Ponder why you are grateful that the Lord still “revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). What does this truth suggest to you about God?
Amos 3:7 is one of the Top 10 taken-out-of-context verses used by LDS leaders to support their religion. Instead of rehashing the arguments we have already written, we encourage you to look at this article: Amos 3:7
This is another bad attempt by the authors of this series to use the Old Testament to support its church’s teachings. Since Amos 3:7 is taken out of its context, all credibility is lost.
The word of the Lord can satisfy spiritual hunger and thirst
We all experience periods of spiritual hunger and thirst, but there is no need for us to “wander from sea to sea” (Amos 8:12) looking for something to satisfy us. We know what will satisfy that spiritual hunger, and we have been blessed with the word of the Lord in abundance. As you read Amos 8:11–12, think about why a famine is a good comparison for living without the word of God. What additional insights do you find in Matthew 5:6; John 6:26–35; 2 Nephi 9:50–51; 32:3; Enos 1:4–8?
I would agree with this paragraph if it was referring to the Bible only. However, the “Word of the Lord” has a variety of meanings in Mormonism, including the other three scriptures comprising the “Standard Works”–the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.
In addition, the “word of the Lord” is a reference to what is taught by the LDS leadership. Eleventh President Harold B. Lee taught,
There is scripture other than the standard works. Some people get the idea that the only scripture we have in the Church today is that which is contained in the four standard Church works. Now, the Lord in a revelation has spoken of something else [which He] defined [as] scripture. I read from the sixty-eighth section of the Doctrine and Covenants. This was a revelation given through the Prophet Joseph Smith. [The Lord] said this: “And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth—and this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.” (D&C 68:2-4)The Teachings of Harold B. Lee, 148. Italics and brackets in original.
This teaching is reiterated by other leaders, including Apostle L. Tom Perry when he said, “God’s eternal blessings are contingent upon our obedience and adherence to the word of the Lord that is revealed to us through His holy prophets” (“We believe all that God has revealed,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2003, 88).
A church manual puts it this way:
Your greatest safety lies in following the word of the Lord given through His prophets, particularly the current President of the Church. The Lord warns that those who ignore the words of the living prophets will fall (see D&C 1:14-16). He promises great blessings to those who follow the President of the Church.True to the Faith: A Gospel Reference, 2004, 130
I disagree. If the unique standard works of the LDS Church and its leaders deny or distort biblical doctrine, then these–not the Bible–are to be rejected. Christians do not need a “living prophet” other than Jesus Himself (Heb. 1:1-2).
Who are the “saviours . . . on mount Zion”?
President Gordon B. Hinckley gave one possible interpretation of the phrase “saviours on mount Zion,” connecting the phrase to temple and family history work: “[In the temple] we literally become saviors on Mount Zion. What does this mean? Just as our Redeemer gave His life as a vicarious sacrifice for all men, and in so doing became our Savior, even so we, in a small measure, when we engage in proxy work in the temple, become as saviors to those on the other side who have no means of advancing unless something is done in their behalf by those on earth.”“Closing Remarks,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2004, 105.
It seems quite audacious for a Latter-day Saint to consider him or herself a “savior” of anyone. In Christianity, this is solely the work of Jesus. How can/should a human be considered a savior? Second President Brigham Young taught:
“Saviors on Mount Zion”—We have a work to do just as important in its sphere as the Savior’s work was in its sphere. Our fathers cannot be made perfect without us; we cannot be made perfect without them. They have done their work and now sleep. We are now called upon to do ours; which is to be the greatest work man ever performed on the earth. Millions of our fellow creatures who have lived upon the earth and died without a knowledge of the Gospel must be officiated for in order that they may inherit eternal life (that is, all that would have received the Gospel). And we are called upon to enter into this work. JOD 18:213.Discourses of Brigham Young, 406. Italics in original.
To say “our fathers cannot be made perfect” without people doing work in the temple is not true. Mormonism teaches that works for the dead, including baptisms, must take place in order for this opportunity for salvation for spirits trapped in spirit prison. As fifth President Lorenzo Snow explained,
We can be saviors to those in the spirit world. God intends to make us saviors not only of many that now dwell on the earth, but of many in the spirit world. He will not only place us in a position to save ourselves, but He will make us competent to assist in the redemption of many of the offspring of the Almighty. And that we may assist in the salvation of other people we are building [temples]. (Deseret News, Jan. 31, 1883, 18.)The Teachings of Lorenzo Snow, 126. Bold and brackets in original).
None of this is accurate according to the teachings of the Bible. For instance, 2 Corinthians 6:2 says that “today” is the day of salvation. Hebrews 9:27 adds that after death comes the judgement. The Bible never teaches that people can come into fellowship with God after death. Even the Book of Mormon denies this teaching. Alma 34 says:
32 For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors.
33 And now, as I said unto you before, as ye have had so many witnesses, therefore, I beseech of you that ye do not procrastinate the day of your repentance until the end; for after this day of life, which is given us to prepare for eternity, behold, if we do not improve our time while in this life, then cometh the night of darkness wherein there can be no labor performed.
34 Ye cannot say, when ye are brought to that awful crisis, that I will repent, that I will return to my God. Nay, ye cannot say this; for that same spirit which doth possess your bodies at the time that ye go out of this life, that same spirit will have power to possess your body in that eternal world.
35 For behold, if ye have procrastinated the day of your repentance even until death, behold, ye have become subjected to the spirit of the devil, and he doth seal you his; therefore, the Spirit of the Lord hath withdrawn from you, and hath no place in you, and the devil hath all power over you; and this is the final state of the wicked.
So where do Latter-day Saints get the idea that it is possible to do work for the dead? The the most often-used passage is 1 Corinthians 15:29, though this verse has been badly pulled out of its context.
For more on this issue, visit Is Baptism for the Dead a Biblical Doctrine?
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
You might review several recent messages from the President of the Church and discuss what the Lord is revealing to your family through him. Why is it important to have a prophet leading the Church? How have we come to know he is a true prophet? What are we doing to follow his counsel?
It is not important to have a fallible human with false theology lead the so-called “restored church.” Just how can we know if a person is even a “true prophet”? The answer is that he will always tell the truth! This was certainly true in the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 13 says,
If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, 2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” 3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
The next verse explains the punishment,
That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.
Of course, I’m not advocating that Joseph Smith or other false prophets should have been put to death. Not at all. Yet it is true that Joseph Smith did teach false doctrines, including a God who is different from what is taught in the Bible. For instance, the “King Follett Discourse” has been called the best sermon Joseph Smith had ever given. Evangelical Christian, I encourage you to read this sermon and determine if you think Smith ought to fall within the bounds of biblical Christianity. Just click on King Follett Discourse and consider the problems.
Meanwhile, Deuteronomy 18 says,
21 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true, that is a message the Lord has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously, so do not be alarmed.
Your family might create a poster to hang in your home with this verse on it. What does it mean to seek the Lord? How do we seek Him? What blessings do we receive when we do? You could invite family members to share and discuss other passages that teach about seeking the Lord, such as Matthew 7:7–8; Ether 12:41; and Doctrine and Covenants 88:63.
The God-fearer needs to seek the Lord with humility. Second Chronicles 7:14 says,
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
Psalm 149:4 explains, “For the Lord takes pleasure in his people; he adorns the humble with salvation.” Meanwhile, James 4:8-10 says,
8 Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.
Children might enjoy making up actions that go with phrases in these verses. When our bodies are hungry or thirsty, what do we do? When our spirits are hungry or thirsty, what do we do? You might also watch the video “The Great Apostasy” (ChurchofJesusChrist.org) and talk about how the Restoration of the gospel satisfies our spiritual hunger.
Here the authors make a sneaky mention of the “Great Apostasy,” a teaching of Mormonism that claims how all Christian churches are missing the fulness of truth. It is rejected by Christians for good reasons.
For more on this topic, see Crash Course Mormonism.
Obadiah 1:21. What could it mean to be “saviours … on mount Zion”? (For one possible explanation, see the statement by President Gordon B. Hinckley in “Ideas for Personal Scripture Study.”) Which of our ancestors need saving ordinances? What will we do to help them?
Since the Bible claims that today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2) and that judgment comes after death (Heb. 9:27), none of our ancestors need any “saving ordinances.” It is audacious in the first place that humans can be considered “saviours . . . on mount Zion” as that designation can only be attributed to Jesus!
The authors of this series once again want to turn their unique teachings into things discussed in the Old Testament. This is why these articles in Come, Follow Me are so dangerous. The idea that Mormonism’s leaders are the fulfillment of biblical prophecy is far from the truth. And work done in LDS temples by living persons for deceased ancestors is not valid for salvation. My heart’s desire is for Latter-day Saints to recognize this false teaching and seek to understand the Word of God in an accurate way.