By Eric Johnson
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 is being reviewed.)
January 3-9 (Genesis 1-2; Moses 2-3; Abraham 4-5)
As this series will do the entire month of January, chapters from the Pearl of Great Price are used to supplement the chapters in Genesis. In fact, there were no Old Testament chapters covered in last week’s initial installment in this series.
Because the world around us is so beautiful and majestic, it is hard to imagine the earth when it was “without form, and void,” “empty and desolate” (Genesis 1:2; Abraham 4:2). One thing the Creation story teaches us is that God can make something magnificent out of something unorganized.
As referenced in last week’s review, Mormonism teaches creatio ex materia, or “creation out of already-existing material.” This is much different than what is taught in biblical Christianity and other monotheistic faiths, as creatio ex nihilo, or “creation out of nothing,” is taught. It appears that the author(s) of this chapter purposely include the word “unorganized” to fit LDS theology. The Christian God is big enough to create from scratch and had no need is use already existing materials.
That’s helpful to remember when life seems chaotic. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ are Creators, and Their creative work with us is not finished. They can make light shine in dark moments in our lives. They can form solid ground in the midst of life’s stormy seas. They can command the elements, and if we obey Their word like the elements did, They can transform us into the beautiful creations we were meant to be.
Pay attention to the very unique LDS wording here. Only when people “obey” God’s word can they be transformed “into the beautiful creations we were meant to be.” (To see more on Mormonism’s view of justification, click here.)
This is a major difference between Christianity and Mormonism. In Mormonism, transformation does not take place until their is complete obedience. In Christianity, it is God who does the work of transformation based on a person’s faith, not actions.
Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Notice how (in past tense) “the old has passed away” and now “the new has come.” Upon faith, the Bible teaches that believers have already become beautiful creatures. The next verse states that God “reconciled” us to Himself–again, past tense.
At the same time, sanctification is vital. Titus 3:8 says, “The saying is trustworthy, and I want you to insist on these things, so that those who have believed in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people.” Biblical Christianity teaches that a person is saved unto good works, as there is not a requirement that good works are necessary to be justified and have sins forgiven.
That’s part of what it means to be created in God’s image, after His likeness (see Genesis 1:26). We have the potential to become like Him: exalted, glorified, celestial beings.
Mormonism teaches that qualified individuals (based on obedience) can become “exalted, glorified” gods of their own right. This contradicts the teaching of the Bible.
For more on this, see “Mercy Cannot Rob Justice”–The Need for Mormons to Merit Exaltation.“
Genesis 1:1-25; Moses 2:1-25; Abraham 4:1-25
Elder D. Todd Christofferson said, “Whatever the details of the creation process, we know that it was not accidental but that it was directed by God the Father and implemented by Jesus Christ” (“Why Marriage, Why Family,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2015, 51). While there’s a lot we don’t know about exactly how the world was created, ponder what you learn about the Creation from what God has revealed in Genesis 1:1–25; Moses 2:1–25; and Abraham 4:1–25. What do you notice in these accounts that is similar? What do you notice that is different? What thoughts do you have about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ as you read about the Creation?
For those who read the three accounts as suggested by the author, there will be confusion even though the three passages appear to be similar. After all, the Book of Moses (written between June-October 1830) describes God in the singular (“And I, God”). The same is true of Genesis 1:1-25. However, the translation of Abraham 4:1-25 uses the plural “Gods” who “organized and formed the heavens and the earth.” That, I suppose, is what the author of the question wants to point out.
Yet while all three Persons of the Trinity created the universe, the Bible teaches that there is only “one God,” not multiple gods. Mormonism rejects the Trinity, which solves the problem if monotheism (“one God”) is true (Deut. 6:4; Mark 12:29). Since the Book of Abraham was “translated” from Egyptian funerary papyri that does not say what Joseph Smith claimed it did, why should anyone accept the validity of the Book of Abraham as discussed in last week’s review?
For more information about this problem, see “The Creator-Gods of Mormonism.”
Genesis 1:27-28; 2:18-25; Moses 3:18, 21-25; Abraham 5:14-19
“Adam and Eve were joined together in marriage for time and for all eternity by the power of [the] everlasting priesthood” (Russell M. Nelson, “Lessons from Eve,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 87). Why is this truth important to know? Ponder this as you read Genesis 1:27–28; 2:18–25; Moses 3:18, 21–25; and Abraham 5:14–19. If you would like to learn more about marriage within God’s plan, read and ponder the resources listed below. What do these resources prompt you to do to improve your marriage or to prepare for marriage in the future?
Although the Christian would not use the books of Moses and Abraham to support the case, we have no disagreement when it comes to marriage being between a man and a woman who were created for companionship and having the responsibility of bringing children into the world. However, we certainly disagree that a man and woman are to be married in the next life.
For more on this issue, click on Celestial Marriage and Eternal Exaltation.
God made the Sabbath day holy, and He asks us to keep it holy. Elder David A. Bednar taught, “The Sabbath is God’s time, a sacred time specifically set apart for worshipping Him and for receiving and remembering His great and precious promises” (“Exceeding Great and Precious Promises,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2017, 92). How could you use this statement and Genesis 2:2–3; Moses 3:2–3; or Abraham 5:2–3 to explain to someone why you choose to honor the Sabbath day? How has the Lord blessed you for keeping His day holy?
There idea of keeping the sabbath holy is taught in the Bible. Unfortunately, Mormonism has turned this commandment into a legalistic rule. In fact, every temple-recommend seeking Mormon is asked, “Do you strive to keep the Sabbath day holy, both at home and at church?” What does that mean? According to 12th President Spencer W. Kimball,
Our prophets have told us that we should not shop, hunt, fish, attend sports events, or participate in similar activities on that day. President Spencer W. Kimball cautioned, however, that if we merely lounge about doing nothing on the Sabbath, we are not keeping the day holy. The Sabbath calls for constructive thoughts and acts. (See Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball , 170.)” (Gospel Principles, 2009, p. 141).
Instead, he says, the requirements include that
one will be on his knees in prayer, preparing lessons, studying the gospel, meditating, visiting the ill and distressed, writing letters to missionaries, taking a nap, reading wholesome material, and attending all the meetings of that day at which he is expected” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Spencer W. Kimball, 2006, p. 170).
These are arbitrary man-made rules and have no support from the Bible. After all, why is writing a letter to a missionary on the “sabbath” deemed OK but it is presumed that a letter to a government official or a friend would not be warranted? In addition, the “Sabbath” is an Old Testament concept that takes place on Saturdays, yet Mormons wrongly treat Sundays as the Sabbath. (Christians call this day the Lord’s Day, not the Sabbath.) As mentioned, keeping the Sabbath Day as defined by the LDS leadership is necessary for a member to go to the temple where important (essential) work must take place for exaltation.
Genesis 1:26-27; Moses 2:26-27; Abraham 4:26-27
Why is it important to know that we were created in God’s image? How does it affect the way we feel about ourselves, others, and God?
If you have small children, you might want to read together Moses 2:27 and play a simple game: Show a picture that depicts Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, such as picture 90 in the Gospel Art Book (2009), and ask family members to take turns pointing to a part of Heavenly Father’s or Jesus’s body. Then the other family members could point to that same part on their bodies.
According to Mormonism, God the Father has a body of flesh and bones (D&C 130:22). Thus, this exercise with small children as discussed in the last paragraph is meant to show how our body parts are just like God the Father’s. This is a blasphemous concept, as God is not a man. Jesus said that “God is spirit” who must be “worshiped in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).
For more information on the God of Mormonism, click here.
For more information about what it means to be made in the image of God, click here.
When trying to understand what Mormonism teaches in contrast to biblical Christianity, the meaning of a term must be understood. So, when Mormonism emphasizes creation out of “organization” of elements, biblical Christianity teaches that God created out of nothing. While Mormonism emphasizes being created in God’s image as a prelude to exaltation, the Christian understands that people have been created with certain characteristics that God has (such as the capability of having “love”) and not physical traits. While Mormons may be taught to honor the Sabbath by obeying certain unique teachings created by their leaders–and if you don’t, you could be kept out of a place where work for true salvation takes place (the temple)–Christians understand the purpose of why God demanded rest. These differences are some of the traits of why Mormonism and biblical Christianity are two different religions.
To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here.