The Real Book of Mormon Lesson 4
THE (REAL) BOOK OF MORMON
Know Their Stress
A favorite Bible passage that every Latter-day Saint knows is Matthew 5.48.
"Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
The drive for perfection is almost an obsession with the Latter-day Saints. There is no backing down in their Scriptures. They are to be perfect, right now, right here.
Joseph Smith's translation of this passage makes it very clear:
"Ye are therefore commanded to be perfect.
And Nephi 12.48 maintains,
"Therefore I would that ye should be perfect, even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.
This is also something the Living Prophet has emphasized.
Yes, I said, but we are commanded to be supermen. Said the Lord, "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. We are gods in embryo, and the Lord demands perfection of us.
The Miracle of Forgiveness, Spencer W. Kimball, page 286
Pastor Cares gives an illustration of how he often approaches a Latter-day Saint.
"The Spirit has revealed to be that you are going to spend eternity in outer darkness.
"How can you say that? the Latter-day Saint replies.
"Because you are not perfect.
"I try to be perfect.
"That's not good enough. Jesus has commanded you to be perfect. "Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.
When the Latter-day Saint hears, "Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect, what generally is their interpretation of those words?
- Become perfect
- Be as perfect as you can, for that is all we can do.
- Be perfectly perfect right here and right now
What does "be mean?
Right now. At this present time you are supposed to be something or other.
What does "perfect mean?
Exactly the way you are supposed to be, complying with all demands and expectations.
Here is a summary of how the Latter-day Saint should be living to be perfect.
Regular family prayer
Regular family home evening
Regular scripture study
Strict personal worthiness
Support of quorum, ward, stake and general Church leaders
Tender concern for your wife and other family members
Patience and love
Honest work and integrity in your occupation
Exemplary grooming and dress
Regular attendance at and gaining strength from Church meetings and activities
Regular temple attendance
Observance of the Word of Wisdom (no alcohol)
Purity of thought
If you went through this list with your Latter-day Saint friend, how would they feel?
They would probably admit they weren't doing all of them as they should.
Who is demanding this standard of perfection of them?
Their church! Their church is saying these are God's demands upon them.
But what if you are not perfect?
Then you are not going to reach exaltation and become a god. And after being a Latter-day Saint for all this time and not achieving exaltation, that is the remorse of the lower levels.
At this point your Latter-day Saint friend may be pushing back a bit. He keeps most of the requirements. He is a good and worthy person. Nobody's perfect in the way you are insinuating they have to be perfect.
What does "be perfect mean?
Absolutely perfect, with no short-comings.
Underscore it with James 2.10.
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.
Can you think of an illustration from our daily life in contact with the laws of our land?
It doesn't matter if I have never murdered someone and even saved the lives of a few people when they were drowning out at Lake Mead. If I am speeding through a school zone, the judge will not care about all the other laws I have kept. I'm supposed to keep all the laws.
Shouldn't God's laws be more rigorous than the laws of our land?
Yes, we would expect God's standards to be higher than the standards of man and earthly government. We can see that in any number of immoral things our government legalizes and regulates.
Shouldn't those who will become gods be expected to be perfect?
You would think so. Only the perfect can become gods because gods are, by definition, perfect.
Then comes the final question.
"Well, are you perfect?
"Yes I am!
How can you say that?
Now they may be ready to hear the Gospel.
Read Hebrews 10.10-18
Look at verses 10, 12 and 14. How many sacrifices did Jesus have to make for us?
Once for all. One sacrifice, by one sacrifice.
Look closely at verse 14. What has Jesus accomplished for us through his sacrifice?
He has made us perfect.
What does a perfect tense, "has made perfect mean?
Jesus did it and now we already are perfect and continue to be perfect.
What does "forever add?
That perfection of ours will never end. It is ours now and continues forever into the future.
So what about the list of works a Latter-day Saint needs to accomplish to be perfect?
They don't need to do that to be perfect.
According to these verses, what do we have to do to add to what Jesus has done?
Nothing. Jesus has done it all for us. There is nothing more that needs to be done and nothing more that can be done.
What else could Hebrews 10.14 mean?
Your Latter-day Saint friend will have a hard time coming up with another realistic explanation. It means what it clearly says. If they try to wriggle out of the meaning, go back and review again.
The Latter-day Saint sees Jesus as their _example_____.
Hebrews 10.10-18 presents Jesus as their ___ substitute______.
Look at the close of verse 14.
"He has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.
What does this mean?
The entire work of Jesus is presented and now its impact on the world is what we are left with. One by one, people who were not holy, because they did not believe in Jesus, are made holy, are holy, when they believe. Any believer is perfect, is holy, in God's sight. Any unbeliever is far from perfection and holiness in God's sight.
Verse 18 emphasizes forgiveness. To LDS thinking, forgiveness must be earned.
To every forgiveness there is a condition. The fasting, the prayers, the humility must be equal to or greater than the sin.
Gospel Principles, page 252
Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin¦To try is weak.
Sharing the Gospel Manual, page 94
What do I have to be in order to be forgiven if I am a Latter-day Saint?
I have to earn that forgiveness.
What if I fall into that sin again?
Those who receive forgiveness and then repeat the sin are held accountable for their former sins.
Gospel Principles, page 253
I forfeit the forgiveness I previously earned and am accountable for that earlier sin, too.
What confidence does the Latter-day Saint have that they are forgiven?
Give them an illustration of forgiveness from daily life, say, lending money.
Say I lend you $10. But you can't pay me back. I say, "Forget it. I forgive you that debt. You don't have to pay back that $10 ever.
Go back to verses 17 and 18 again.
How does God forgive?
He forgives completely and finally.
Why does God forgive?
Jesus offered the once for all sacrifice for sin.
You may want to refer them to Psalm 32.1-2
Blessed is he whose transgression are forgiven, whose sins are covered.
Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord does not count against him.
And in whose spirit is no deceit.
Eternal Life: John 6.47
Jesus Conquered Satan: Hebrews 2.14, 1 John 3.8
The Proper Relationship to Faith and Works: James 2.14-26