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.)
December 4-10, 2023
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
John’s vision teaches about Heavenly Father’s plan to save His children.
The book of Revelation can be hard to understand, but don’t get discouraged. John’s promise may inspire you to keep trying: “Blessed are they who read, and they who hear and understand the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein, for the time of the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (Joseph Smith Translation, Revelation 1:3 [in the Bible appendix], emphasis added).
If you compare this text with the King James Version, there are just a few additonal things added by Smith, but what he adds really doesn’t change the meaning of the text. It’s amazing how the KJV is the “official” Bible of the church yet, whenever the church writers seem to like what Smith did in his version, they use this text. I suggest they either use Smith’s translation regularly or not at all. If Smith’s version truly is “inspired,” why not use the better translation?
One way to study Revelation is to look for connections to the plan of salvation. This general overview may help you:
Chapters 5 and 12 describe events in the premortal life.
Chapter 12 speaks about how Satan is thrown down to earth. and thus the point in even bringing this up is that premortality, as taught by Mormonism, is somehow true. Has the Latter-day Saint ever considered that his/her church’s presuppositons came from biblical teaching but have absolutely nothing to do with biblical truth?
Chapters 6–11, 13–14, 16–19 describe mortal life and events in the history of the earth.
Many Chrisitan scholars say that these chapters are not talking about present elements but future. The writers don’t explain this very broad statement.
Chapters 2–3, 15, 20–22 describe the Final Judgment and the glory that awaits the faithful.
This is true.
As you read, ask yourself, “What does this teach me about God’s plan? What has God done to help me overcome evil and return to Him? What are His promises to the faithful?”
In Mormonism, celestial glory is reserved for those who have completely overcome evil. I don’t know anyone who has been successful in this endeavor. For the Christian, the job has been paid in full on the cross. Jesus Himself said “it is finished.”
It might also be helpful to know that Doctrine and Covenants 77 explains some of the symbols used in Revelation. In addition, the Joseph Smith Translation clarifies several passages in Revelation, so check the footnotes and the Bible appendix regularly.
Here is another shout-out to the Joseph Smith Translation and its ability to “clarify” the Book of Revelation. Again, why is this “translation” not used in everything the church cites, here and elsewhere? D&C 77 is not accepted by Christians as being “scripture,” in any sense of the word, so what it teaches here is not considered authoritative.
Here are some articles describing the Joseph Smith Translation, also known as the “Inspired Version.”
Jesus Christ is the Living Son of the Living God.
The first chapter of Revelation describes Jesus Christ’s appearance to John in a vision. Perhaps you could make a list of everything this chapter says about Jesus Christ, including who He is, what He does for us, and what He is like.
For a comparison of the Jesus of the Bible versus the Jesus of Mormonism, visit here. There are major differences that ought to be considered and show why our faith in Christ are not comparable.
Some things you learn will come from symbols. Ponder what the Lord might be trying to teach you about Himself through these symbols. For example, notice that the Savior calls Himself “the beginning and the ending” and “the first and the last.” Why do you think these titles are significant? What do these titles teach you about the Savior?
As the Greek text puts it, Jesus is the “alpha and the omega, the beginning and the end.” It doesn’t mean that Jesus had a “beginning” (as Mormonism teaches) or an end. He has always been. John 1:1-3, 14 very clearly teach that Jesus has always been God in the past and will never give this up in the future.
Jesus Christ knows me personally and will help me overcome my challenges.
The Savior’s words in Revelation 2–3 reveal that He understood the successes and struggles unique to each branch of the Church in John’s day. He praised the efforts of the Saints and also warned them of things they needed to change. What do you learn from the Savior’s praise and warnings?
The Savior also understands your successes and struggles, and He wants to help you. Note the frequent promises He offers to those who overcome. What impresses you about these promises? What might the Lord want you to overcome? What can you do to receive His help?
A person can pray to get God’s help. It’s not rocket science.
Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening
Show the picture of the Savior knocking at the door (see the end of this outline) as your family reads Revelation 3:20. Why does Jesus knock instead of just coming inside? Family members could take turns knocking on a door. Then someone else in the family could suggest a way we can “open the door” to the Savior and let the family member in. How would it feel to have the Savior in our home?
This portion of the book of Revelation was written to Christians in the church at Laodicea. These believers had become complacent in their attitude toward Jesus. As James 2:20 teaches, good works are the necessary sign that accompany true faith, but the Christians at Laodicea fell in the bad habit of producing value-free works. They had lost their zeal for Christ and their evil works proved it. Rather than leave Christians to this diminished life, Jesus persists patiently, calling us to realize our error and return to a close walk with him. All Christians can be like the prodigal son at some point in life (Lk. 15:11-32), and yet God does not give up loving His children. And just as the prodigal returned to his father, so John instructs the Laodiceans to return to their first love, the Christ who loves us and it patient toward us.
What does it mean to worship Heavenly Father? What do we know about Him that makes us want to worship Him?
A great question! The answer for me is there is nothing greater than God. As verse 11 teaches, He is our creator and everything we are is owed to HIm. It’s why Christians love to worship God in their lives, from gathering together communally to living for Him in our work, play, and other activities. He is worthy of our worship as the Christian wants to lift up on high the very highest that can be possibly imagined by the finite mind.
As mentioned earlier, many Bible commentators believe that Revelation is referring to future events. The church makes it appear it only believes the last few chapters are talking about the future. What is the end times according to Mormonism? This is a topic that seems to never be addressed in general conference sessions. Why not?