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.)
Ideas for Personal Scripture Study
Revelation 16–18; 21–22
The Lord invites me to flee Babylon and inherit “the holy city.”
After witnessing the destruction and perils of the last days, John saw a future day that can be summed up in the Lord’s declaration “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). One way to understand what that means is to contrast John’s description of Babylon, the symbol of worldliness and wickedness (see Revelation 16–18), with his description of the new Jerusalem, symbolic of celestial glory in God’s presence (see Revelation 21–22).
In Mormonism, what does “celestial glory” mean? Thomas Monson, Mormonism’s 16th president, taught:
“It is the celestial glory which we seek. It is in the presence of God we desire to dwell. It is a forever family in which we want membership. Such blessings must be earned”“An Invitation to Exaltation,” Thomas Monson, Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1988, 56.
And what does “forever family” reference? This is talking about having one’s biological family together in the next life. The idea that Christians have to “earn” God’s blessings and that heaven is made up of biological members and not just the Body of Christ is a contradiction of biblical Christianity.
Revelation 20:12–15; 21:1–4
All of God’s children will be judged out of the book of life.
Suppose an author offered to write a book about your life. What details or experiences would you want included? If you knew that your future actions would also be recorded, how would you approach your life differently? Think about this as you read Revelation 20:12–15. What do you hope will be written about you in the book of life? How would you describe the Savior’s role in your book of life? In your opinion, why is it significant that it is called “the Lamb’s book of life”? (Revelation 21:27).
For Bible-believing Christians, Jesus is 100% about the role in having me in the Lamb’s Book of Life. It is by grace true believers have been saved by faith, not by works, the apostle Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8-9. For Mormons, salvation comes by grace after all a person can do. Works play a vital role in qualifying for eternal life. Thus, I don’t think a Latter-day Saint could sing the Christian hymn “Jesus Paid it All.” The refrain says,
Jesus paid it all,
All to Him I owe;
Sin had left a crimson stain,
He washed it white as snow.
In Mormonism Jesus paid it some but not all. Seventeenth President Russell M. Nelson explained,
“Eternal life, or celestial glory or exaltation, is a conditional gift. Conditions of this gift have been established by the Lord, who said, ‘If you keep my commandments and endure to the end you shall have eternal life, which gift is the greatest of all the gifts of God.’ Those qualifying conditions include faith in the Lord, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and remaining faithful to the ordinances and covenants of the temple”“Salvation and Exaltation,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2008, 9).
It is keeping commandements, as taught in the first section of the D&C, and “remaining faithful” to the commandments that allows the Latter-day Saint to possess salvation. Yet which Latter-day Saint is doing all he or she can do?
If the thought of standing before God to be judged is uncomfortable for you, consider reading Revelation 21:1–4. Referring to these verses, Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf has said:
“That Day of Judgment will be a day of mercy and love—a day when broken hearts are healed, when tears of grief are replaced with tears of gratitude, when all will be made right. Yes, there will be deep sorrow because of sin. Yes, there will be regrets and even anguish because of our mistakes, our foolishness, and our stubbornness that caused us to miss opportunities for a much greater future.
“But I have confidence that we will not only be satisfied with the judgment of God; we will also be astonished and overwhelmed by His infinite grace, mercy, generosity, and love for us, His children” (“O How Great the Plan of Our God!,” Ensign or Liahona, Nov. 2016, 21).
Well, that citation sounds promising. No regrets, it says. We’ll be satisfied and overwhelmed. It sounds too good to be true when we consider the teachings of Mormonism. Perhaps it is too good to be true. Listen to how Seventy Allen D. Haynie explained it:
“The scriptures teach that every individual must ‘be judged according to the holy judgment of God.’ On that day there will beno opportunity to hide among a larger group or point to others as an excuse for our being unclean”“Remembering in Whom We Have Trusted,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2015, 123.
From my understanding of Mormonism, this citation sounds more accurate, especially in light of D&C 1:30-31, which says that God cannot look upon sin with the “least degree of allowance.” That sounds pretty narrow. Then, the person who truly repents and “keeps the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.” How is Mormonism not a works-based religion?
Do these verses mean that there cannot be any additional scripture besides the Bible?
Some people have cited Revelation 22:18–19 as a reason to reject the Book of Mormon and other latter-day scripture. You can find an answer to this objection in Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s message “My Words … Never Cease” (Ensign or Liahona, May 2008, 91–94).
The verses mentioned here are talking only about the Book of Revelation. Yet, I would say that “additional scripture” should not be added to the canon of the Bible and I don’t think we need to use these verses to show this being true.
For more on this topic, visit Does Revelation 22:18 condemn the Book of Mormon?
It has been quite the journey, but we have made it through the Old Testament (2022) and New Testament (2023) study done by many members of the church. As shown, there are many differences between Mormonism and Evangelical Christianity’s take on the passages.
My encouragement to every LDS reader of this review series is to make an effort to study the Bible as a little child. You do not need to use the church’s study guide to understand what God is trying to say to people even today. Go back and read the books of John, Romans and Ephesians and ask yourself: Is this they way the church leaders have described the meanings of these books the best way to understand these passages? Without the church’s commentary in front of you, I think you will admit that there is quite a bias in the LDS teaching.
If you would like to discuss more about the Bible and its meaning for us today, feel free to mention the Come, Follow Me series and ask any questions you would like. Our general email is [email protected].
Thanks for reading these review and may the Lord bless you.