THE CROSS UNVEILED
Last Update: 2/2014
A testimony is the keystone to LDS beliefs. A testimony is something Mormons are taught from a very young age to publicly bear even if a personal testimony has not been developed. As an example, during a fast and testimony meeting (occurs once a month), I recall time and time again children would be escorted by their parent to the podium to bear their testimony to the fellow members. The parent would whisper into the child's ear a testimony the child relayed to the audience. Not much of a personal testimony, but you can easily see from this example how testimonies (feelings) are manufactured in the LDS church from a very young age which do not change into adulthood.
A proper Mormon testimony includes five points which have no variation ward to ward, stake to stake, state to state, or country to country. I recall a church manual to teach children what a testimony is and its five points. The parent would create a "testimony glove" with pictures to help the children remember each point.
This highlights a Mormon's testimony is not truly from the heart, but only what they have been trained since birth to declare. The five points are:
I know this [LDS] church is the only true church
I know Joseph Smith is a prophet of God
I know [insert current prophet here] is our current prophet who speaks to God
I know we have a Heavenly Father who loves us
I know Jesus Christ is the Savior
A Mormon testimony, as you can see, includes Christ, whereas a Christian testimony is Christ. Words cannot express how polar opposite a Mormon testimony is vs. a Christian testimony.
One of the essential components above is "knowing this is the only true church [LDS church] on the face of the earth." Mormons will state they "know the church is true" because they have received a spiritual witness from the Holy Ghost. This is the same testimony of the church I had when I was a member, but through objective study of the Bible and the church using only church published material, I quickly found out what I did not know was the "truth," but a feeling of what I desperately wanted to be true. This "feeling" or "burning of the bosom" that confirmed the "truth" for me is the Mormon "test" for truth and comes from three main scripture references: Moroni 10:4, Doctrine, Covenants 9:8-9, and James 1:5.
Moroni 10:4 states “And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.”
Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9 says, "But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings,..."
This spiritual witness or burning of the bosom is no more than just a "feeling" as described in D&C 9:8-9 and by Dallin Oaks who said, “What does a 'burning in the bosom' mean? Does it need to be a feeling of caloric heat, like the burning produced by combustion? If that is the meaning, I have never had a burning in the bosom. Surely, the word 'burning' in this scripture signifies a feeling of comfort and serenity. That is the witness many receive. That is the way revelation works” (Apostle Dallin Oaks, "Teaching and Learning by the Spirit," Ensign, March 1997, p.13).
The church likes to tie this “feeling” you get from reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, which helps you gain a testimony (feeling) of its truthfulness. When you have gained a testimony of the truthfulness, then this is a conformation all things in Mormonism must be true because if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith must be a prophet and the church must be the only true church. The church wants you to base your entire faith on a “feeling” because if the feeling is good, then everything else is true about the church, regardless of what the Bible, archaeology, anthropology, DNA, linguistics, and all other evidences reveal in opposition regarding Mormonism. Now I am not saying one must not have faith, but there is a difference between a faith in the Bible and Christ which is backed with all sorts of ancient manuscripts, fulfilled prophecies, archaeology, anthropology, etc. versus faith in something which has zero evidence to support its claims. In fact, all the evidence points to the Book of Mormon being a modern composition.
Psychology of an LDS Testimony
As a Mormon I was trained to fallback on this manufactured feeling (testimony) when my beliefs are challenged in any way. Because if you even entertain thoughts and evidences which are not harmonious with the teachings of the church, you will be branded as having a "weak testimony" and are being "deceived by Satan." You will be singled out by leadership and talked about by other members. Your eternal family unit and chance at the celestial kingdom are held hostage. You risk becoming a "son of perdition" and burning at Christ's second coming. Your desire to fit in for fear of the consequences overwhelms and overpowers any thoughts the church might not be what it claims.
The subconscious phobia indoctrination cultivated by the church instills a belief system rooted in fear, guilt, and shame. You are taught by the church that your testimony is most precious and needs to be strengthened and protected at all costs. This is how feelings can replace facts as any evidence or fact presented will be ignored, denied or rationalized away to protect your belief (cognitive dissonance). Our minds like to subconsciously maintain balanced feelings of joy, happiness and security. For Mormons, their joy, happiness and security are tied to the truthfulness of the church. A Mormon will subconsciously filter and reject any evidence which may jeopardize these feelings.
When I was a Mormon, I was not only subconsciously influenced by the church to practice cognitive dissonance because of phobia indoctrination, but I was also influenced to practice conformation bias in that I was selective in only using pro-LDS evidence to confirm my beliefs and my testimony. Most logical and rational people would agree these are not objective methods for determining truth and leave you exposed to potential for undue influence and deception. So let's continue to analyze the LDS testimony and test its nature.
Testing for Truth
Is this at all what the Bible informs us to do in determining whether something claiming to be scripture is true, or if a prophet is a true prophet of God, or a church is true? There are several issues with manner of testing whether something is or is not true.
First - it is completely unbiblical and the reason is because prayer, although useful, is not enough to guard against false claims. As Jesus declared in 2 Corinthians 11:13-15, Satan and his ministers are transformed into ministers of righteousness and will deceive even the elect. Satan would love to make your bosom burn if it keeps you away from the true gospel of Jesus Christ. So we are left with our subjective feelings or a spiritual witness to determine the truth since the Mormon method does not ask us to test this “additional” gospel (another testament of Jesus Christ) against what we already know to be true in the word of God, the Bible. Feelings and spiritual witnesses cannot determine truth, only searching objectively for evidence and facts can determine the truth.
1 John 4:1 states "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
The Bible consistently states we need to test the claims of anyone who says they are a prophet and has additional scripture to make sure it is true and agrees with the Bible. If their claims prove to be false through testing, or if they fail the test of a prophet (Deuteronomy 13:1-5, 18:20-22) then we should not follow them.
In Acts 17:11, the Bereans searched the scriptures to find out if those things they were being taught were true. Why? Because the Bible tells us our hearts [feelings] are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and he who trusts in his own heart [feelings] is a fool (Proverbs 28:26). They did not pray and wait for a feeling or a burning in their bosom. I am by no means suggesting prayer is not useful; it’s just not the keystone of determining truth. 2 Corinthians 13:5 tells us to examine ourselves and to see if we are in the faith. We may think we are Christians, but what we do, say and think may not be in agreement with what the gospel portrays what a Christian believes and how that belief is demonstrated.
James 1:5 tells fellow Christians (as noted by his greeting of the brethren in verses 1-2), not non-believers, to pray and ask God for wisdom. This is important because they are already in the faith and know the truth; they just need to know how to apply the truth to trials they face in life. Wisdom is the proper use of knowledge, not the acquisition of knowledge. God never asks us to pray about what is or is not true. In context, James 1:5 is suggesting we ask God for wisdom (how to use the knowledge we have) during the trails we face in life (James 1:2), not to know if a book is true. If you want to know how deep a pool is you don’t pray about it, you get something which has been tested as true such as a tape measure to measure the depth. Likewise, the Bible is our tape measure for determining doctrinal truth as exemplified by the Bereans. Spiritual knowledge is gained from the Bible, not from your feelings, a spiritual witness or your heart.
You cannot use subjective feelings to determine objective truth. If praying and getting a spiritual witness or burning in the bosom was enough to determine truth, then why are there over 200 splinter groups of Mormonism all with their own prophets. Their followers all have the same spiritual witness that they are the only true church and their prophet is the only true prophet on the face of the earth. Both can't be right so this method for determining truth is flawed. Our feelings are subjective and based on emotion which makes them easy to induce, and therefore, unreliable. Feelings reveal our emotional reaction to what we examine, not the truthfulness of what we examine. We should let truth drive our feelings and not let feelings drive truth. We must look to the Bible alone for determining truth.
Additionally, this verse is set up to be a no-win proposition because if the person praying about the Book of Mormon does not get the burning in the bosom, the verse has a built-in answer that the person must have not have had a sincere heart, faith in Christ or real intent. This is what is known in the world of psychology as a double bind.
Apostle Boyd K. Packer succinctly stated, "Be ever on guard lest you be deceived by inspiration from an unworthy source. You can be given false spiritual messages. There are counterfeit spirits just as there are counterfeit angels. (See Moro. 7:17.) Be careful lest you be deceived, for the devil may come disguised as an angel of light. The spiritual part of us and the emotional part of us are so closely linked that is possible to mistake an emotional impulse for something spiritual. We occasionally find people who receive what they assume to be spiritual promptings from God, when those promptings are either centered in the emotions or are from the adversary" ("The Candle of the Lord," Ensign, January 1983).
Apostle Packer makes my point as the test for truth extremely clear in that you cannot trust your feelings alone. You must test these messages against what we already know to be historically and doctrinally true in the Bible.
Second - the Apostle Paul warns the Galatians 1:6-9:
“I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any [man] preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”
We must be diligent in who we chose to listen to and the message they bring making certain they share the gospel of grace Paul taught or we will wind up deceived and eternally condemned. Paul warns us, not once but twice, if any of us follow after another gospel than the gospel of grace he preached, we will be eternally condemned. It is interesting the Book of Mormon is subtitled, “Another Testament of Jesus Christ.” Does this mean it is wrong? No, but it should set off a nuclear alarm in your head I had better make no mistake and be absolutely certain and test this gospel message of the Book of Mormon and the doctrines of the Mormon church are in complete harmony with the Bible.
Third - I would personally have an issue going to God to ask him if a book is true which already has so many issues. I cannot imagine going to God in prayer and asking if the Book of Mormon is true knowing there is not one shred of archaeology or linguistics, or anything for that matter to back it up, proof that it is a 19th century composition, doctrines which contradict the Bible (and the other standard works), DNA proof that Lamanites are not of Jewish ancestry, but Asian ancestry, massive textual issues and anachronisms, editing which changes the character of God, that it was “translated” by someone who fails the test of a true prophet, and many, many more issues. But despite this mountain of evidence against it, God, is it true? One should make certain the claims against Joseph Smith and the standard works of the church are valid. There is nothing wrong with honest intent of searching for answers and truth. God has never rebuked an honest seeker. The Mormon Church says it is the only true church on the face of the earth, so if it is, then whatever you search should uncover only truth, right?
One comment I have heard a Mormon state in defending Mormonism's lack of evidence is "maybe God is testing us to see if we will stay in His true church."
Nowhere in the Bible will you find anything which suggests God demands faith in spite of evidence. Suggesting this is effectively believing God is trying to deceive us by creating a religion with zero evidence and mountains of issues to see if we will ignore it and continue to believe in the religion. God gave us critical thinking and logical reasoning for a reason, which is exactly why he does tell us many times in the Bible to examine and test what we are being taught to see if it is true. If we were suppose to just blindly follow, God would have created robots and not humanity.
Fourth - Why would I read the Book of Mormon and pray to God to know whether it’s true if it does not contain virtually any doctrines of the Mormon church? The doctrines include: the plan of salvation, our pre-earth existence, plurality of gods, gods with wives, temple works, eternal marriage, chance for repentance after death, baptism for the dead, three levels of heaven, the church organization, god being an exalted man, the Aaronic priesthood, eternal progression, men can become gods, celestial marriage (plural marriage), and the word of wisdom. Why don’t missionaries hand out the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price instead of the Book of Mormon as these contain the real doctrines of the church. You may say it testifies of Jesus Christ in the Americas. If that is the case, then what doctrines are in the Book of Mormon which are not in the Bible? What additional spiritual truth and wisdom can I gain from a book which has nothing the Bible does not already have?
Last - The LDS test to determine the veracity of the Book of Mormon is completely out of order. What I mean is the LDS missionaries tell you to follow the directions of the Book of Mormon; i.e. read and pray to get a spiritual witness or feeling of its truthfulness. Would it not be logical, wise and not to mention biblical if you were to first find out if the book was true before you follow and obey it just in case it is a deception by Satan and his ministers who will appear as righteous (2 Corinthians 11:13-15 and Boyd K. Packer's statement above)? This would be especially important given the previous points I have already made. If the Book of Mormon is true then it should welcome investigation because all people should find is truth. If it is proven true, then it should be easier for missionaries to convert people. If it is proven false, then it should be exposed as a false religion with a false salvation.
Feelings will Deceive
Remember how effective Satan is at deception and will have his ministers appear as righteousness. So if you feel what you perceive to be the Holy Spirit testify to you the truthfulness of the book, would it not be too much to do as the Bible asks and to test the “prophet” and search the scriptures to see if the doctrines are in harmony? If you think about all the people in the world who follow through on this challenge the Mormon missionaries make versus how many actually get a conformation to the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, it is quite a small percentage. If this were the biblical method for determining the truthfulness of the book, would not many more of these challenges end with a higher convert rate and a new convert retention rate above the 25% (foreign) and 50% (US) shown on LDS owned website Cumorah.com? These retention rates within one year of conversion are terrible compared to other religions. This is why the LDS membership roles are extremely overstated at 14+ million. The active attending membership is closer to the 5 to 7 million range as demonstrated by the first quote in the article link above.
There are no second chances to get this right. Again, we cannot stand before a holy Judge and proclaim we were deceived by an “angel of light” and his “prophet.” Jesus has told us where we will end up if we follow a false prophet and a false gospel. Eternal life and eternal damnation are at stake and you cannot be wrong.
Look at this analogy. When you were a child you believed in Santa Claus, right? Up until the point you knew the truth about Santa you were certain he was real even though some of your friends may have know the truth earlier and tried to share it with you, but you did not want to believe them. What happened though when you learned the undoubted truth about Santa? Your feelings changed, right?
Faith is what bridges the gap where reason, logic, facts and science end. Mormonism’s bridge happens to be much longer because what they hope to be true flies in the face of tested biblical doctrine, reason, logic, history and science.
Apostle Dallin Oaks said What?!
In the May 2008 Ensign, Dallin Oaks made this comment about a testimony:
“Another way to seek a testimony seems astonishing when compared with the methods of obtaining other knowledge. We gain or strengthen a testimony by bearing it. Someone even suggested that some testimonies are better gained on the feet bearing them than on the knees praying for them” (Dallin Oaks, "Testimony," Ensign, May 2008).
So his advice to those who do not have a testimony is to bear one anyway in order to gain one. Does this sound logical or rational to you? It sounds like Oaks wants me to give in to psychological persuasion and to just keep telling myself something, regardless of the facts, so I can eventually believe it. This sounds like an easy way to fool yourself into believing something that may or may not be true. If I was raised around people who kept bearing a testimony of the truthfulness of UFO’s and was told if I prayed hard enough about them, and bore a testimony I did not have of them, I would eventually gain a testimony to the truthfulness of them. There is something seriously wrong with this technique of gaining a testimony of the truthfulness of something. Yet this is essentially the entirety of what a Mormon bases their faith on when it comes to Mormonism because there is zero factual or historical evidence to support its claims.
Seventy Paul Dunn's Stories
Look at Mormon General Authority Paul Dunn as an example. He was one of the church’s most dynamic speakers and publicly declared and testified wonderful stories of God protecting him from enemy machine gun fire that was so close it tore off his gear, clothing and helmet, but left him unharmed. He told stories of playing major league baseball for the St. Louis Cardinals. His speaking was so eloquent and touching that these stories moved and strengthened the testimony of LDS church members. However, when the facts of these stories he told came to light many years later, he admitted they were not true. Due to this scandal, Dunn was removed from his calling in the quorum of the seventy in 1989. How would you feel if you were one of the thousands of LDS that had your testimony strengthened or gained based on the fabricated stories of Paul Dunn? There were likely thousands who were just in this boat whose testimonies were strengthened or gained on a foundation of lies. It unfortunate though this does fit in with “the ends justifying the means” comments church authorities have coached over the years.
Feelings vs. Facts
Truth is not something which is relative or subjective when it comes to the Bible and its doctrines. All the burning feelings, spiritual witnesses and prayers cannot change facts and truth and they never will. The very basic premise of Mormonism is the Bible is corrupt and Joseph Smith was called by God to be a prophet and restore lost truths to the Bible. Would you not think the very first thing God would have Joseph Smith do is point out these "plain and precious parts" which were lost? Yet, we have never heard one word about what is and what is not corrupt in the Bible. And as I pointed out earlier, the Book of Mormon adds no doctrine as Mormon doctrine comes from the Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price.
Would you not agree if the Bible were true, it would be in the best interest of a false prophet to first get you to doubt and not trust the word of God, but to trust in your feelings? By doing this a false prophet is able to get people to transfer their trust in the Bible to trust in the prophet. The prophet then becomes the ultimate authority, is unaccountable and untestable. Has Joseph Smith not followed this exactly? Not only does he try to get you to not trust the Bible by saying it is corrupt, but he really hammers the point home as his agenda is made clear with 2 Nephi 29:6 which says, "Thou fool, that shall say: A Bible, we have got a Bible, and we need no more Bible." It is clear in this verse Joseph Smith is attempting to convey God would suggest only a fool would say the Bible is the only inspired scripture. But since this completely contradicts the inspired and tested words of the Bible we know it is false teaching.
I pray as you read this the pride swelling in your heart which would have you defend the Mormon church without question will subside enough to put your trust in the written word of God and what it implores you to do; to test your prophets, apostles, and the doctrines of the church against the Bible. Listen to your prophet Brigham Young when he stated, “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter-day Saints with it and see if it will stand the test…” (Journal of Discourses, vol. 16, p. 46). You have nothing to lose and potentially everything to gain.
Why do we Test for Truth?
The Bible is the word of God and the Christian trusts in solely in the inspired writings of the prophets and apostles for doctrine. We trust it not only because there are no doctrinal errors or contradictions in its pages, but also because it has been historically backed by archaeology, anthropology, topology, historians, textual evidence, scientific evidence, and fulfilled prophecy. We also know God has promised us throughout the Bible His word would never pass away (Isaiah 40:8, Matthew 16:18, 24:35, 1 Peter 1:23-25, Psalms 100:5). Had there been a time when there was a complete apostasy, God would be made a liar. Within the Bible we have been warned repeatedly there will be false prophets and apostles who can appear righteous who will deceive even the elect. Since we can trust the Bible (please read the section titled "Bible Corrupted?" for why) and we trust God, He has provided within his word exactly how we are to discern the truth whether it be from who is teaching or what message is being taught. We are exhorted to test everything to make sure it matches the teachings and doctrines in the Bible. If anything is added or subtracted from the Bible, it is a false gospel.
In the Acts, the Bereans were receiving the message of the gospel, reading the word and searching the scriptures daily to find out if those things they were being taught were true (Acts 17:11). 1 Thessalonians 5:21 tells us to “prove all things; hold fast that which is good.”
Satan is more cunning than any human and his goal is to mirror the Holy Ghost because the Holy Ghost is the revealer of truth. So Satan can be the revealer of a message which may sound amazing and make you feel this message is true, but it is really meant to take you away from the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This is why the Bible tells us in Ephesians 6:12 the challenges we face are not physical, but spiritual. Our battle is a spiritual battle against Satan and his ministers of righteousness.
"For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]."
This is exactly what happened to Eve in the Garden of Eden. The serpent gave Eve a new revelation – a revelation if she eats of the fruit they will not die, but will be as gods knowing good and evil. The serpent was cunning enough to deceive Eve by telling her they would become like gods. The Bible tells us Satan has no truth in him (John 8:44) and he has proved it time and time again. The point here is Satan may mix in some half-truths but the end always ends in a lie in context to get you to do or believe something which is contrary to God. Here the serpent wants Eve to doubt the holiness of God and doubt the evil nature of sin. Adam and Eve partake of the fruit and eventually do know good from evil, but not as gods, as well as brought about death to them (and to all), which are the lies the serpent told.
There are so many wonderful and intelligent people who are sold on an image of what they believe is correct such as an outward appearance of righteousness and teachers who teach with wisdom of words. There are many different “prophets,” “apostles,” and “preachers” whom have these characteristics, so how does one separate the genuine from the non-genuine? We must test them and their teachings against the Bible because too many people will only recognize evil when it presents itself as evil. Satan though, is too cunning to appear as evil as evidenced by the scriptures.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 says, “For such [are] false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.” (The pre-1979 edition of the Book of Mormon within the introduction to the Doctrine and Covenants, the angel Moroni was described as an “angel of light.” This has been deleted in post 1979 editions.)
Please pay close attention to what this verse tells us. First, it says Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. This means he is not going to appear evil in the least manner. His sole purpose is to deceive and pull us from the only true gospel of Jesus Christ. Second, and just as important, Satan’s ministers will also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness (not unrighteousness). So those who are ministers for Satan are going to walk, talk, and appear not unrighteous, but righteous! This is why Matthew 24:24 warn us in this manner:
“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if [it were] possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”
This says that even Christians (the elect) will be deceived. But how? These false prophets will be teaching a message that sounds and feels like the gospel message that Jesus and His Apostles taught but will include additional doctrine or take away from biblical doctrine. Satan will then duplicate the role of the Holy Ghost and make you feel the message you receive is truth, and a "true" testimony or spiritual witness of something false is born!
The Simple Biblical Test of a Prophet
God knows this will happen which is why He provides us with a simple test. We are to test these “prophets” as revealed in Deuteronomy 18:20-22 in order to protect us from false teachers and prophets. “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that [is] the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, [but] the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
If someone who claims to be a prophet speaks words God has not commanded him to speak in the name of God or in the name of other gods (false gods people create in their mind to suit who they think God should be) who are not the God revealed in the Bible, that prophet will die.; or if what that prophet speaks in the name of the Lord does not come to pass, he is a false prophet.
What happens if the prophet shows many signs and wonders and has prophecies which come true? Does this qualify him as a true prophet of God? Deuteronomy 13:1-5 provides us the answer by stating:
“If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn [you] away from the LORD your God…”
Even if this prophet's claims come to pass but he reveals a different god than the God of the Bible for his people to follow, that prophet will be put to death. It's interesting to note Joseph Smith revealed a very different god than the God of the Bible to his followers a few years after the church was formed. Smith’s god was an exalted man, who did not create everything out of nothing, who has not existed forever as God, who is not unique in that there are other gods, has parent gods, has a body of flesh and bones, is one of three separate gods in the trinity, is a polygamist, was not manifest in the flesh as Jesus, came down and had sexual relations with Mary to father Jesus, etc. (see the "Jesus Comparison" section for citations).
There are many gods and many Jesus’s people follow who are not the God and Jesus of the Bible. You must make certain you have the one true God and Jesus of the Bible because eternal salvation or eternal damnation is at stake.
Other Scriptural Warnings for "Prophets"
Other scriptures which warn us what to look out for in “prophets” are Jeremiah 14:14, which states:
“Then the LORD said unto me, The prophets prophesy lies in my name: I sent them not, neither have I commanded them, neither spake unto them: they prophesy unto you a false vision and divination, and a thing of nought, and the deceit of their heart.”
Also, Jeremiah 23:30-32 states:
“Therefore, behold, I [am] against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. Behold, I [am] against the prophets, saith the LORD, that use their tongues, and say, He saith. Behold, I [am] against them that prophesy false dreams, saith the LORD, and do tell them, and cause my people to err by their lies, and by their lightness; yet I sent them not, nor commanded them: therefore they shall not profit this people at all, saith the LORD.”
These should be important verses for Mormons because they specifically call out types of prophecies Joseph Smith claimed. Joseph Smith claimed to have many visions in which the separate beings of Heavenly Father and Jesus appeared to him, as well visions and visitations of other angels. Additionally, Joseph Smith made many prophecies in his life, many of which were never fulfilled (i.e. Doctrine & Covenants 84:1-5; 104:1; 114:1; 124:59-60). We will not one day be able to stand before the Lord at judgment day and plead our case that we were deceived by people who claimed to be prophets of God because His word has given us the standards to test them by. We will not be able to show the Lord our wonderful works we did in His name because he will tell us He never knew us and to depart from Him you workers of iniquity (Matthew 7:23).
Signs of False Prophets and Apostles
So what will be some of the signs of false prophets and apostles? First, they will have their own Jesus. Just like in Paul’s letter to the Galatians, the Christians in Galatia were being turned to another Jesus and another gospel. It is not that they denied Jesus, but they were beginning to introduce old covenant Jewish laws into their beliefs in order to get closer to God and receive more blessings. The error in this belief Paul is pointing out is they are adding to grace and the cross by instituting these additional works, laws and ordinances to truly have eternal salvation. The Jesus we want is not always the Jesus we need. It is human nature to think there is something we must do in order to please God and earn His acceptance of us. The gospel, however, proclaims there is nothing we can do because if there were, then those laws would have been implemented which could have lead to eternal life (Galatians 3:21).
Second, they will have their own gospel. Does the gospel you follow add or subtract doctrines to the Bible? If so, then the Bible provides ample warning to you. May I point out to the Mormons that the vast majority of their doctrines are not included in the Bible or the Book of Mormon, yet the Book of Mormon supposedly contains the “fullness of the everlasting gospel.” The doctrines include: the plan of salvation, our pre-earth existence, plurality of gods, gods with wives, temple works, eternal marriage, chance for repentance after death, baptism for the dead, three levels of heaven, the church organization, god being an exalted man, the Aaronic priesthood, eternal progression, men can become gods, celestial marriage (plural marriage), and the word of wisdom.
John 20:30-31 informs us even though we don’t have all the words of Jesus, we have surety what is included in the Bible is all we need to know about gaining eternal life. We know for certain "plain and precious parts" of the gospel were not lost or removed from the Bible because of the tens of thousands of Old and New Testament manuscripts which prove the Bibles we have today are the same texts which were written and taught before these claims of removal.
Last, the gospel they teach will sometimes be a "prosperity" gospel message. This can come across in a form such as "giving to get" and is a form of deception, exploitation and control in many churches today. Does your church tell you if you pay your full tithing you are more "worthy" and will receive more blessings from God? If so, this is a form of a "prosperity" gospel. Now I am not suggesting giving is not good or cannot lead to blessings, but the problem with this is rooted in the motivation for giving. Your church is teaching you unless you give, God can withhold His blessings. Thus, the motivation for giving is prosperity, fear or guilt driven in giving to get or earn blessings. The motivation is selfish to get and not selfless and Christ-centered, based on what you have received (the free gift of eternal salvation). It can only be selfless when you know your eternal salvation is secure (1 John 5:13), not based on your obedience to laws, works and moral effort, but based solely on what Jesus Christ freely gave to us as a gift to all those who believe in his name (Romans 5, 6:23).