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.)
August 22-28, 2022
Psalms 102–103; 110; 116–119; 127–128; 135–139; 146–150
The traditional Jewish name for the book of Psalms is a Hebrew word that means “praises.” That word, Tehillim, is also related to the exclamation “hallelujah” (meaning “praise Jehovah” or “praise the Lord”). If you had to choose one word to sum up the main message of the Psalms, “praise” would be a good choice. Some of the Psalms contain the direct invitation to “praise ye the Lord” (see especially Psalms 146–50), and all of them can inspire a feeling of worship and praise. The Psalms invite us to reflect on the Lord’s power, on His mercy, and on the great things He has done. We can never repay Him for any of this, but we can praise Him for it. That praise may take different forms for different people—it may involve singing, praying, or bearing testimony. It often leads to a deeper commitment to the Lord and to following His teachings. Whatever “praise ye the Lord” means in your life, you can find more inspiration to do it as you read and ponder the Psalms.
The Evangelical Christian believes that there is nothing as great as God. He is above our every thought, which is defined as transcendence. He is not just an advanced form of us (man) but is the only God who is worthy of our worship.
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
Psalms 110; 118
The Psalms can point me to the Savior.
The Psalms contain passages that point toward the life and ministry of Jesus Christ. Here are a few examples:
Psalm 110:1–4 (see Matthew 22:41–45; Hebrews 5:4–10; 6:20)
Psalm 118:22 (see Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:10–11; 1 Peter 2:7)
Psalm 118:25–26 (see Matthew 21:9)
What truths do these verses teach you about Jesus Christ? How does knowing these truths bless you?
In Hebrews 5:7-10, the writer explains how Jesus is the great high priest in the order of Melchizedek. This is what it says:
7 In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. 8 Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
In Mormonism, the Melchizedek priesthood is available to every male member of the church who is 18 or older. Several million hold to this priesthood. But this passage says that Jesus was “designated a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.” More is said in Hebrews 7. I encourage you to read the first half of this incredible chapter before it says this later:
18 For on the one hand, a former commandment is set aside because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect); but on the other hand, a better hope is introduced, through which we draw near to God.
20 And it was not without an oath. For those who formerly became priests were made such without an oath, 21 but this one was made a priest with an oath by the one who said to him:
“The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind,
‘You are a priest forever.’ ”
22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant.
23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.
This Man “holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.” Verse 27 says He does not need to offer sacrifices day for day–first for his sins and then for the people–as the Levites did. The next part is just mind-blowing: He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered Himself on the cross. This was not meant to be a type of “priesthood” for any fallible man to hold; Jesus is the only one who holds it. Verse 28 then says that “Jesus has been made perfect forever.”
To me, this is yet another way that the Jesus of the Bible is not what is portrayed in Mormonism.
As you read the Psalms this week, continue to make note of other passages that teach you about the Savior. You might also read or listen to some of your favorite hymns that help you think about Him.
The question is, which Jesus are we talking about? In my new book Introducing Christianity to Mormons (Harvest House, 2022), I provide a chart to help define the differences between Mormonism and Christianity:
|LDS Seventy Milton R. Hunter: “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.”[i]||John 1:1-3: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”|
|LDS Apostle Bruce R. McConkie: “Christ attained Godhood while yet in pre-existence, he too stood as a God to the other spirits, but this relationship was not the same one of personal parenthood that prevailed between the Father and his offspring.”[ii]||Philippians 2:5-6: “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped.”|
|LDS Apostle Robert D. Hales: “Jesus was born of heavenly parents in a premortal world—he was the firstborn of our Heavenly Father.”[iii]||Colossians 1:15-17: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”|
|LDS Church teaching manual: “The oldest child in our heavenly family was Jesus Christ. He is our oldest brother.”[iv]||Jude 25: “To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.”|
Much more can be said about his. I encourage you to look up this article in Crash Course Mormonism to see how this Person is seen much different in the two religions.
[i] Milton R. Hunter, The Gospel Through the Ages (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book, 1957), 51.
[ii] Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book Company, 1966), 323.
[iii] Robert D. Hales, “Your Sorrow Shall Be Turned to Joy,” Ensign, November 1983, 67.
[iv] Gospel Fundamentals (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2002), 5.
God’s word will keep me on His path.
This psalm contains many phrases that compare our lives to a journey back to Heavenly Father. As you read, look for words like walk, path, way, feet, and wander. Ponder your own life’s journey—where you’ve been, where you are now, and what direction you are headed. What do you learn from this psalm about your journey back home? According to this psalm, what has God provided to help you stay on the right path?
I agree that the Bible is the source to keep a person on the path to God. Unfortunately, Mormonism offers three additional written scriptures that divert from the authentic special revelation.
Apostle Jeffrey R. Holland explained:
Some Christians, in large measure because of their genuine love for the Bible, have declared that there can be no more authorized scripture beyond the Bible. In thus pronouncing the canon of revelation closed, our friends in some other faiths shut the door on divine expression that we in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold dear: the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the ongoing guidance received by God’s anointed prophets and apostles. Imputing no ill will to those who take such a position, nevertheless we respectfully but resolutely reject such an unscriptural characterization of true Christianity” (“My Words…Never Cease,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2008, 91).
Apostle Neil A. Maxwell blames “faulty transmission” for what he believes proves the corruption of the Bible. He wrote,
By faulty transmission, many “plain and precious things” were ‘taken away” or “kept back” from reaching what later composed our precious Holy Bible (Neil A. Maxwell, “The Wondrous Restoration,” Ensign, April 2003, 35).
But what if the Bible was not corrupted? What if “plain and precious things” were not “taken away”? Here are 10 Reasons Why The Bible Can Be Trusted.
The Lord is more powerful than any idol.
Notice the reasons given in Psalm 135:15–18 about why it is foolish to trust in false gods. What might you be tempted to trust in that is similar to the idols described in these verses?
I wholeheartedly agree! Trusting in a false God is a denial of the true God. Yet when it comes to Mormonism and Christianity, we are talking about two different entities. They are not the same.
Again, from the book Introducing Christianity to Mormons comes this chart contrasting our view of God:
|God is one in essence and is the only God who exists. This is called monotheism (mono = one, theism = belief in God).||Deuteronomy 6:4; Mark 12:29; 1 Corinthians 8:6; 1 Timothy 2:5||Three separate gods (Father/Son/Spirit) who “are one in will, purpose, and love.”[i] Tri-theism, not monotheism.||Mormons assume that the biblical verses referring to “one God” mean “one in purpose,” not “one in essence.”|
|God is spirit.||John 1:18; 4:24; Romans 8:2,14; 2 Corinthians 3:17||God has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s.||D&C 130:22|
|God is omnipresent and is not limited by spatial restraints.||Psalm 139:7-12; Proverbs 15:3; Isaiah 66:1; Jeremiah 23:23-24; Amos 9:2-3||God’s body is localized in space and is not bodily omnipresent.||D&C 88:6,7,13|
|God originated everything out of nothing (Latin: creatio ex nihilo).||Genesis 1:1; Isaiah 37:16; 45:7,18; 66:2; Job 33:4; John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17||God organized the universe out of pre-existing material (Latin: creatio ex materia).||Book of Abraham 4:1; Joseph Smith’s King Follett discourse in 1844|
|God is the only true God in the universe; all other “gods” are false.||Deuteronomy 4:35; 1 Kings 8:60; 1 Chronicles 17:20; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6-9; 45:22||Multiple true gods existed before Elohim (God the Father) and there will be gods who will follow Him.||Book of Abraham chapters 4 and 5|
|God is omnipotent (all powerful) to do all things logically possible, although there are some things He cannot do, including sin or lie (Numbers 23:19; Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18).||Genesis 1:1; 18:14; Job 42:2; Isaiah 40:28; Jeremiah 32:17; Matthew 19:26; Luke 1:37; 1 Corinthians 6:14||While He has power over everything, God is limited because He is subject to eternal “natural law.” God organized the elements already in existence but He was unable to create out of nothing.||Book of Abraham 3:22 and 4:1 refer to multiple true gods who collaborated on the creation of the universe. Elements, intelligence, and law are coeternal with God (D&C 88:34-40; 93:29,33,35).|
In Mormonism, God has a body of flesh and bones (D&C 130:22) and is not spirit evidenced by John 4:24. In addition, it is taught that He has not always been God, unlike what it taught in the Bible (Ps. 90:2). This religion also explains that humans have the capability to becomes gods of their own right. Both versions of God cannot be correct. One has to be false. The key is to discover which one is false and consider it to be nothing more than an idol.
[i] See news-ca.churchofjesuschrist.org/article/mormonism-101-faq.
You might make a list of the powerful things the Lord can do, as described in Psalms 134–36. What powerful things has He done for you?
Jesus has forgiven me of all of my sins–past, present and future–not based on works I have done but based on what He has done. Ephesians 1:7 says “we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.” Acts 10:43 explains how “everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” God promises in Hebrews 10:17 that “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” I am excited that, through Christ’s “imputation” (crediting me with righteousness that I did not earn), I have been set free of my sins and am a child of the King (John 1:12; 1 John 3:1).
“Praise ye the Lord.”
As you read these final psalms of praise, think about reasons you have to praise the Lord. Why is it important to praise Him? What are ways you can praise Him?
There are a number of ways that I can praise God. For one, I can praise Him for who He is and reject all teaching that contradicts this. I can praise Him for sending a Savior to die on the cross and forgive me of my sins. And I can praise Him that it is possible to have a relationship with the God as described in the Bible who loves me and wants me to live for Him.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
Perhaps your family could create a path and walk along it in the dark, using a light to illuminate the way ahead. As you walk, you could ask questions like “What in our lives is like this darkness?” or “How is the word of God like a light?” Singing a song about God’s light, such as “Teach Me to Walk in the Light” (Children’s Songbook, 177), can help you reinforce the principle taught in Psalm 119:105.
I agree that “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” The Bible is considered authoritative and can be trusted to guide us in the way of salvation. Inerrancy means that the Bible, as it was originally written, is written down exactly the way God intended and can be trusted for providing God’s special revelation.
After reading verses 1–4, family members could talk about how they have come to know that God knows them personally (see also verses 14–15, 23–24).
God is omniscient and knows us from top to bottom. I like verses 13 and 14, which say,
For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Even when we existed as fetuses, God knew me before I had a chance to know myself. (I think these verses end the debate on the morality of abortion!) It is an awesome feeling to be known by the God of this universe! It should be pointed out, however, that the doctrine of preexistence as taught in Mormonism is not implied here because it (like Jeremiah 1:5) explains how the omniscient God knew us, but nowhere does it insinuate that somehow we knew God in a previous existence.
This is the final (of three) sections on the Psalms from this series. I am glad that the church decided to dedicate so much time to this very important book. Yet, as I express in this review, I think that the LDS Church’s version of God and Jesus are nothing more than idols. When we worship anything besides the God of the Bible, we break the First Commandment. God is a jealous God and wants all worship for Himself. As nice as many Latter-day Saints are–and I know this personally–they too easily accept the worship of a god created in our own image. Such a false concept is damnable.