Matthew 15-17; Mark 7-9
Isn’t it strange that the Pharisees and Sadducees would demand that Jesus show them “a sign from heaven”? Weren’t His many well-known miracles enough? What about His powerful teachings or the multiple ways He had fulfilled ancient prophecies? Their demand was prompted not by a lack of signs but by an unwillingness to “discern the signs” and accept them. (See Matthew 16:1–4.)
Peter, like the Pharisees and Sadducees, witnessed the Savior’s miracles and heard His teachings. But Peter’s definitive testimony, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God,” did not come through his physical senses—his “flesh and blood.” His testimony was revealed to him by our “Father which is in heaven.” Revelation is the rock upon which the Savior built His Church then and now—revelation from heaven to His servants. And this is the rock upon which we can build our discipleship—revelation that Jesus is the Christ and that His servants hold “the keys of the kingdom.” When we are built upon this foundation, “the gates of hell shall not prevail against [us]” (Matthew 16:15–19).
This is a common point made in Mormonism. It is taught that revelation is the “rock upon which the Savior built His Church.” What does this mean? George Q. Cannon, a member of the church’s First Presidency, once declared:
“This Church has been continually led by the spirit of revelation. The spirit of revelation has been here in our conference. The addresses that have been delivered have been made under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and they are the word of God unto this people, binding upon them, and they will be judged by these words that we have heard. If we do not listen to these instructions and counsels and abide by the word of God as it is given to us from time to time, we shall be held to a strict accountability.”Gospel Truth: Discourses and Writings of President George Q. Cannon 1:329.
Current President Russell M. Nelson told a general conference audience,
“Revelation from God is always compatible with His eternal law. It never contradicts His doctrine. It is facilitated by proper reverence for Deity.”“Ask, Seek, Knock,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2009, 83.
In other words, LDS Church leaders make the claim that they have the authority to speak for God based on the revelations they claim to receive. If you disagree with the church’s leadership, then it is assumed you will suffer the consequences. Thus, “when we build upon this foundation,” as it reads above, then “the gates of hell shall not prevail against [us].” (Notice, the passage doesn’t say “us” but “it”–quite an audacious claim to make it appear the church represents 1st century Christianity.) It is convenient how these leaders want to hold up the mantle of truth by using a passage that really has nothing to do with an organization that contradicts the Bible in any number of ways.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
A testimony of Jesus Christ comes by revelation.
If Jesus Christ asked people today, “Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” what might they say? How would you respond if Jesus asked you, “Whom say ye that I am?” (See Matthew 16:13–15.)
How could a Latter-day Saint answer the question “whom say ye that I am?” Let’s consider how past leaders have answered this:
Sixth President Joseph F. Smith said Jesus was not perfect at first but had to attain that status:
“Even Christ himself was not perfect at first; he received not a fulness at first, but he received race for grace, and he continued to receive more and more until he received a fulness.”Gospel Doctrine, 1986, 68. See also Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph F. Smith, 153.
Apostle Orson Hyde claimed that Jesus was married:
“I discover that some of the Eastern papers represent me as a great blasphemer, because I said, in my lecture on Marriage, at our last Conference, that Jesus Christ was married at Cana of Galilee, that Mary, Martha, and others were his wives, and that he begat children.”March 18, 1855, Journal of Discourses 2:210.
According to Seventy Milton R. Hunter in a church manual, Jesus was the spirit brother of Lucifer:
“The appointment of Jesus to be the Savior of the world was contested by one of the other sons of God. He was called Lucifer, son of the morning. Haughty, ambitious, and covetous of power and glory, this spirit-brother of Jesus desperately tried to become theThe Gospel Through the Ages, 15.
Savior of mankind.”
Hunter also taught:
“Jesus became a God and reached His great state of understanding through consistent effort and continuous obedience to all the Gospel truths and universal laws.”The Gospel Through the Ages, 51.
Jesus was our eldest brother, according to a church manual:
“The oldest child in our heavenly family was Jesus Christ. He is our oldest brother.”Gospel Fundamentals, 2002, 5.
According to 13th President Ezra Taft Benson, Jesus was the result of a physical union between God the Father and Mary:
“The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints proclaims that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in the most literal sense. The body in which He performed His mission in the flesh was sired by that same Holy Being we worship as God, our Eternal Father. Jesus was not the son of Joseph, nor was He begotten by the Holy Ghost.”The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 7. See also the Church News, December 18, 2004, 16.
Not one of these doctrines are taught in the Bible! The Jesus of Mormonism is not the same as what Evangelical Christians hold to be true.
For more on this topic, see Crash Course Mormonism: Jesus.
Matthew 16:13–19; 17:1–9; Mark 9:2–9
“The keys of the kingdom of heaven” are on the earth today.
The “keys of the kingdom of heaven” that the Savior promised to give Peter are priesthood keys (Matthew 16:19). What are priesthood keys? Why do we need them? Ponder these questions as you read about the Savior’s promise in Matthew 16:13–19 and its fulfillment in Matthew 17:1–9; Mark 9:2–9 (see also Joseph Smith Translation, Mark 9:3 [in Mark 9:4, footnote a]).
Other resources to help you learn about priesthood keys include Doctrine and Covenants 65:2; 107:18–20; 110:11–16; 128:9–11; “Keys of the Priesthood” in Guide to the Scriptures (scriptures.ChurchofJesusChrist.org); and Elder Gary E. Stevenson’s message “Where Are the Keys and Authority of the Priesthood?,” (Ensign or Liahona, May 2016, 29–32). While studying these resources, consider making a list of what you learn about priesthood keys and the blessings that come from them. Why do you think a key is a good symbol for the right to direct priesthood service?
According to Mormonism, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the “restored church,” nothing less than a direct descendant of the church of the apostles. The status of “restored” means that this church, or so it is claimed, has keys to the restored priesthood.
To get to this point, the church teaches that there was a “Great Apostasy” that has tainted Christianity during the past 2,000 years. This, then, is said to keep Bible-believing Christians from having the same authority as Latter-day Saints.
For more on this topic, see:
- Crash Course Mormonism: Great Apostasy
- “Should Mormons be considered Christians? Only if they deny the Great Apostasy first.”
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
Matthew 15:7–9; Mark 7:6–7.
What is the difference between honoring God with our lips, or words, and honoring Him with our hearts?
Quite simply, Jesus said we are to love the Lord our God with our whole heart, soul, mind, and strength. We cannot truly honor Him, though, unless we do as Jesus said in John 4:24, that is, to worship God in spirit and in truth. It’s one thing to talk a good game, but it’s entirely a different thing to play that game. That is what Christians are commanded to do. As Jesus told the church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:16, it is impossible to stay lukewarm. He’d much rather have His people sell out to Him rather than have them merely go through the motions.
Matthew 15:17–20; Mark 7:18–23.
Why are we careful about what we put into our mouths? Based on what Jesus taught in these verses, why should we be even more careful about what comes out of our mouths—and out of our hearts? How can we keep our hearts pure?
The problem stems from our intake. If we continually put detrimental garbage into our minds and allow the world to play a major role in our lives (Rom. 12:1-2), what should we expect? Instead of taking in social media, movies, music, and the rest with no discernment, a Christian should focus on God’s Word as well as dedicated prayer and fellowship. This will make it much more likely we will display the fruit of the Spirit as described in Galatians 5 than continually be characterized by the acts of the sinful nature.
How does God reveal to us that Jesus is “the Christ, the Son of the living God”? (verse 16). How can we prepare ourselves to receive this revelation from Him?
Contrary to what the church teaches, we can have this revealed through the special revelation of God’s Word, the Bible. It does not come through “personal revelation” or anything related to the LDS Church.
Prophets with faith in Jesus Christ have moved literal mountains (see Jacob 4:6; Moses 7:13). But usually, that isn’t the miracle we need. President M. Russell Ballard taught: “If we have faith as small as a mustard seed, the Lord can help us remove the mountains of discouragement and doubt in the tasks ahead of us as we serve with God’s children, including family members, Church members, and those who are not yet members of the Church” (“Precious Gifts from God,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 10). What are some mountains in our lives that need to be moved? How can we show faith in God’s power to help us remove these mountains?
I think the largest mountain that must be removed in the life of average Latter-day Saint is the presupposition that the leaders of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are directing them into truth. Too often, Mormons are too willing to merely believe what they are told rather than consider (and evaluate) the facts for themselves. First John 4:1 says, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” Jesus said in Matthew 7:15 that false teachers are dressing up as wolves in sheep’s clothing looking for whom they might devour.
So the questions I would ask are:
- How do you know Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God?
- How do you know the church needed to be restored?
- And how do you know your leaders are correct in all they teach?”
This is a huge mountain. Until the individual Latter-day Saint is willing to consider the available evidence and read the Bible for what it says, he or she will remain in error. And that’s why we at Mormonism Research Ministry do what we do–we care very much about you and desire for you to know the biblical Jesus in a personal way.
The teachings of LDS leaders over many years portray a different Jesus than what is reality. If these leaders are wrong, then it is a very dangerous position. Second Corinthians 11:4 says, “For if someone comes to you and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached, or if you receive a different spirit from the Spirit you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it easily enough.” Don’t receive a different spirit and a different gospel that what is true. Instead, discover who Jesus really is. And that is who you ought to follow with every ounce of your being.