Many people expect that those who profess to be “Christians” will wear a crucifix, and their chapels will display a cross. Some people would say that because The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (commonly known as the Mormon Church) doesn’t have the sign of the cross in their chapels and because Mormons don’t wear crosses, Mormons are not Christians. The sign of the cross is widely acknowledged by many as the symbol of Christianity, and it is the sign of faith of the people who are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Most people would then comment that the Mormons are ‘peculiar’ people, for they are thought to be different from other Christian denominations that have common interests or beliefs. They often ask, “How Do Mormons Worship? Why are they different and what is its difference from other sects?”
Mormons do worship God in the most sacred manner. Mormons believe that God and His Son Jesus Christ live. “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!” (Doctrine and Covenants 76:22). Meetinghouses of the LDS Church don’t have a sign of the cross at the top of it, nor do the members wear the cross as a symbol of their faith. The reason is that Mormons worship the Living Christ and focus on His resurrection and grace in their lives. No icons are used in Mormon chapels, because it’s so easy for people to begin to focus on the icons and not upon God. In Mormon meetinghouses and temples, there is always artwork depicting the life of the Lord Jesus Christ, but never in the chapel.
We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost. We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel. (Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1&3).
Sacrament meeting attendance for Mormons is considered a commandment. This is where the sacraments of the Lord are offered and those covenants which members made at baptism are renewed each week. Mormons covenant to repent of their sins and take upon them the name of Christ and to always remember Him. In return the Lord promises His spirit always to be with them. Sacrament meeting lasts for about 75 minutes and includes “talks” by lay members. After sacrament meeting, there are various classes that take place. Mormon Sunday worship fills a block of three hours, after which more church-work can be done, since Mormonism has a lay clergy.
Visitors are welcome to attend the Sacrament meeting, the Sunday school class, the Relief Society class for women, and the Priesthood class for men every Sunday at the meetinghouses of the LDS Church. Members are encouraged to be prepare spiritually by reading the holy scriptures, sincere prayer, and doing good to all men (not just during Sunday) as a form of love, devotion and worship to God. There are also available classes for Seminary ages 12 thru 16 and Institute ages 17 and up on other days of the week to enhance our understanding about God, His Son Jesus Christ and the Plan of Salvation.
Temple worship is different for Mormons than Sunday worship. Mormon temples are open most days from very early in the morning, and patrons attend when they are able. There are many possible ordinances to participate in during a temple visit, and each touches the heart in a different way. Temples are light and peaceful places separate from the world, sanctuaries, Houses of God, where prayer and meditation might be practiced and revelation received.
Perhaps most of us will agree that the LDS Church is a very organized Church. People should not worry that any important question will be left unanswered, because these questions are so lovingly and carefully addressed by the Church according to the will of God. The LDS Church is sending thousands of missionaries out each year, creating beautiful and user-friendly websites, books, magazines, leaflets, and pamphlets, and lovely visitor centers adjacent to temples around the world to address these questions from those who want to know more about the Church and the basic doctrines of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Missionaries are primarily the ambassadors of the Church to teach the fullness of the everlasting gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
All people that are living today and all those who have ever lived here are children of God and therefore are entitled to the greatest blessings available on the condition of faith and obedience to all of His commandments. Someday all of us shall bow down before God and His Son Jesus Christ, and every doubt will be taken away.
The fear of the Lord was upon all nations, so great was the glory of the Lord, which was upon his people. And the Lord blessed the land, and they were blessed upon the mountains, and upon the high places, and did flourish. And the Lord called his people Zion, because they were of one heart and one mind, and dwelt in righteousness; and there was no poor among them. (Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:17-18).
Until this time, Mormons wish to share the gospel with their brothers and sisters on the earth. Please join us at a temple open house and at our Sunday worship services.
1) Doctrine and Covenants 76:22
2) Articles of Faith of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1&3
3) Pearl of Great Price, Moses 7:17-18
Growing up as a young child, I was (and still am) a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (Which church is often mistakenly referred to as the “Mormon Church.”) My childhood best friend was of another faith. My friend was familiar with and occasionally participated with my family during some of the religious practices we held in our home. (Things like family home evening, family prayer, and scripture reading.) Similarly, I spent many hours in her home and spent many a meal time staring at an ornate statue of the Virgin Mary that sat atop their kitchen window sill. I was always fascinated when on a rare occasion my friend would pull her rosary beads out of a bedroom drawer and recite the prayer that went along with them. While more complex parts of my religion, like the Mormon temple endowment, were not part of my practice at that point, it did come up later in our relationship.
Religion was really never a topic of conversation between the two of us. It never seemed to matter to two children, or gradually teenagers, what our religious beliefs were. We accepted each other’s rituals, practices, and religious paraphernalia as normal.
Several years after moving away, I returned to visit this dear childhood friend. We were both now young adults. While riding in her car through a crowded London street, she expressed to me that she had a religious question for me. Apparently, when my friend had told some work colleagues that I was going to be visiting her from Utah, they asked if I was a “Mormon.” My friend continued to explain to me that while she had defended me (and my family) as “normal,” she couldn’t believe the things these colleagues had brought up about Mormons, specifically things that go on within an LDS (Mormon) temple, like the Mormon temple endowment.
Certainly, much of what my friend’s co-workers were convinced was true about me and my faith were nothing but rumors and misconceptions that are often thought about Mormons. It was a wonderful opportunity to help my friend understand a little more about the LDS faith, specifically about Mormon temples and the Mormon temple endowment.
Mormon temple worship is largely judged and misunderstood because only faithful members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are permitted to enter temples. The Mormon practice of baptisms for the dead and eternal marriage (the temple sealing). Both of which are ordinances performed in LDS (Mormon) temples. The Mormon temple endowment though, is frequently misinterpreted and misunderstood.
The Mormon temple endowment teaches about our duties for this life. We make covenants (two-way promises) with the Lord in which we take on particular commitments and responsibilities, and then believe the Lord will compensate us with the blessings of eternity as well as temporal blessings.
Latter-day Saints believe the temple endowment, because of the covenants made and blessings promised therein, is crucial for us to return to the presence of God.
Of this, President Brigham Young said:
Let me give you a definition in brief. Your endowment is, to receive all those ordinances in the house of the Lord, which are necessary for you, after you have departed this life, to enable you to walk back to the presence of the Father, passing the angels who stand as sentinels, being enabled to give them the key words, the signs and tokens (Discourses of Brigham Young, comp. John A. Widtsoe, Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1941, p. 416).
The Mormon rituals that take place inside Mormon temples are simple, beautiful, and sacred. It is a place of learning and growth. It is within the temple Mormons can gain an eternal perspective, despite the busyness of their day-to-day lives outside of the temple.
A few years after my religious conversation with my friend, I was again in my homeland visiting with her. On this occasion she accompanied my husband, two children, and me to the grounds of the London LDS temple. As we sat surrounded by the lush green gardens in the English countryside, we stared up at the beautiful edifice in front of us. Much of our conversation revolved around the temple and what happened inside. Though still friends of different faiths, a respect and mutual tolerance of those differences was paramount to our discussion.
My friend and I were sitting alone on a bench as we both turned to watch my husband and two children return to us, indicating our conversation was to end and our departure was imminent. In an almost reverent whisper, my non-Mormon friend, looking up at the temple quietly said, “It’s a lovely idea. It really is.”
I’m not sure a Mormon would say it any differently. From the temple gardens to the temple ordinances performed inside, indeed it is lovely.
“Mormons” are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This church is the full restoration of the Primitive Church of Jesus Christ organized by the Lord Jesus through His original apostles. As predicted by Paul, there was a falling away even while the Lord’s apostles were visiting the congregations as often as they could. Within a few hundred years of the Lord Christ’s death and resurrection and organization of His church, the philosophies of Greece and Egypt, and the Roman Emperor Constantine had mingled with true doctrine. Many simple truths were lost, and many were changed. As Protestants believe, so do Mormons, that the apostolic authority was lost. This idea caused many protestant reformers to come forward to try to reclaim lost truth. However, a reformation of ideas and policies was not enough. A full restoration of lost power and authority was necessary.
Mormons believe that conditions were right in the early history of the United States for the restored gospel of Jesus Christ to survive. Persecutions had always followed the reformers in Europe, and that was the very reason they left Europe for a free America. During the Second Great Awakening in the early 1820′s in the northeastern states, there were many who believed a reformation of Christianity was not enough. Some had revelations that God would soon restore the gospel in its fulness. Many of those converted to the Church of Jesus Christ when it was introduced to them.
A visit from the Lord Jesus Christ to a boy of fourteen who was confused by the many disagreeing sects of Christianity put to rest one tenet of creedal beliefs — that of a trinity — God as a spirit without body parts or passions who could manifest Himself on earth as Jesus Christ, therefore God incarnate. When Joseph Smith prayed to know which religion he should affiliate with, two personages appeared to him in a pillar of flaming light — God the Father introduced His Son, Jesus Christ, and told Joseph to “hear Him.” Although glorious beyond description, these two beings were resurrected men. It seemed logical to Joseph, who knew from the Bible that the resurrected Christ had ascended to heaven before the eyes of the apostles and had promised to return in like manner. Christ Himself had said during His ministry that He did the work of the Father, the same Father He had petitioned in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the brutal cross.
God the Father and God the Son told Joseph he should join none of the churches, but that the true and miraculous Church of Jesus Christ was about to be restored in preparation for the Second Coming of the Lord. This restoration, guided by Jesus Christ Himself, necessitated the return of proper authority, and it took heavenly messengers to confer that authority, since there was no one on earth who had it. John the Baptist conferred the lesser, preparatory priesthood, so that the ordinance of baptism could be performed. Peter, James, and John conferred the high priesthood, so that the Holy Ghost could be conferred upon the newly baptized, and miracles could become common once again.
The Lord has revealed His will line upon line and precept upon precept to ensuing prophets and apostles. Previously hidden scriptures have been revealed and more are promised. The work has gone forth and will continue to go forth until it fills the earth.
Mormons Believe in the Biblical Christ
Mormons believe that Jesus Christ was and is who the Bible says He is — the Creator and Savior. Mormons believe that He did the will of His Father who sent Him. Mormons believe that the Lord Jesus Christ was born to the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem and was crucified in Jerusalem. Mormons believe that the Lord Jesus Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world, that we might not suffer, if we would repent and keep His commandments. Mormons believe that Christ will return, destroy the wicked, and establish one thousand years of peace and rest on the paradisaical earth. Mormons believe that the miracles performed by Christ and the original apostles are the right of holders of the Holy Priesthood — the power and authority to act in God’s name — and that this priesthood has been fully restored, along with miracles in these modern times.
Mormons believe the heavens are open and that God’s words are endless. Mormons believe in prophets and scriptures and revelation, both for the church and for each individual human being on earth. Mormons believe that God loves His children.
A shepherd may be referred to as one who leads, herds, guards, and tends sheep. A good shepherd is very protective of the flock which he has been entrusted to care for, and if necessary, in the act of caring for his fold, will give his life. Therefore, sheep are completely dependent on their shepherd for provision, guidance, and protection.
The Psalmist reminds us in Psalm 100:3, ”Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Sheep are figurative of believers who follow their Shepherd. Jesus Christ is our Divine Shepherd and we are the sheep of His pasture. He provides for, guides, and protects us in the same manner as a shepherd cares for the sheep of his fold. In referring to the purpose and mission of the Divine Shepherd in each of our daily lives, the late President James E. Faust, a former Second Counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which church is frequently misnamed the Mormon Church) taught:
The Divine Shepherd has a message of hope, strength, and deliverance for all. If there were no night, we would not appreciate the day, nor could we see the stars and the vastness of the heavens. We must partake of the bitter with the sweet. There is a divine purpose in the adversities we encounter every day. They prepare, they purge, they purify, and thus they bless (“The Refiner’s Fire,” Ensign, May 1979).
In the Book of Mormon (a companion book of scripture to the Bible and another testament of Jesus Christ), Nephi, the founding king and prophet of ancient inhabitants known as the Nephites taught, “And he gathereth his children from the four quarters of the earth; and he numbereth his sheep, and they know him; and there shall be one fold and one shepherd; and he shall feed his sheep, and in him they shall find pasture” (1 Nephi 22:25). Nephi also taught, “And they must come according to the words which shall be established by the mouth of the Lamb; and the words of the Lamb shall be made known in the records of thy seed, as well as in the records of the twelve apostles of the Lamb; wherefore they both shall be established in one; for there is one God and one Shepherd over all the earth” (1 Nephi 13:41).
Amidst the world, the Church is a sheepfold, exposed to deceivers and persecutors. The Divine Shepherd of the sheep knows all that are His individually by name, guards them by His providence, guides them by His Spirit and Word, and goes before them in the same manner as Eastern shepherds go before their sheep, to set them in the way of His steps.
As ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) help to care for the sheep of the Divine Shepherd’s fold by tending to their spiritual needs and concerns through their Church callings (responsibilities accepted on a volunteer basis) and other acts of unselfish service. As they do so, the Spirit of Christ sets before them an open door.
His sheep who know Him as:
(1) the Good Shepherd—”I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep” (John 10:11);
(2) the Great Shepherd—”Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20–21); and
(3) the Chief Shepherd—”And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1 Peter 5:4). His sheep will observe their Shepherd and be cautious and shy of strangers who would attempt to draw them away from the fold because they have come to learn and know that He is the only True Shepherd and “he that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber” (see John 10:1).
Most Christians are familiar with the 23rd Psalm. The Psalm does not necessarily focus on the animal-like qualities of sheep, but rather on the discipleship qualities of those who are followers of the Lord Jesus Christ. When a person recognizes the voice of the Divine Shepherd, he should be willing to follow Him. When he allows Christ, his Shepherd, to lead and guide him, he will find peace, contentment, and safety for his soul. However, if he chooses to ignore the Shepherd’s voice and wander away from the fold, he will have no one to blame but himself when he falls into the snares of those who seek to destroy him.
Because of the subtle uncertainties of life, each of us should be willing to follow the Divine Shepherd, who offers us eternal confidence in Him. Even if we may walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we need fear no evil: for our Shepherd is with us; His rod and His staff give us great comfort (see Psalm 23:4). It is He alone who is able to walk us through this valley and bring us safely to the other side. Christ, the Divine Shepherd and Host, promises to guide and protect us through life and to bring us safely home to live in His presence forever (see Psalm 23:5, 6). He gives us the blessed assurance, “Wherefore, I am in your midst, and I am the good shepherd, and the stone of Israel. He that buildeth upon this rock shall never fall” (Doctrine and Covenants 50:44).
In the Book of Mormon, Alma the Younger, a prophet and chief judge of the Nephites, exhorted, as recorded in Alma 5:59–60:
For what shepherd is there among you having many sheep doth not watch over them, that the wolves enter not and devour his flock? And behold, if a wolf enter his flock doth he not drive him out? Yea, and at the last, if he can, he will destroy him. And now I say unto you that the good shepherd doth call after you; and if you will hearken unto his voice he will bring you into his fold, and ye are his sheep; and he commandeth you that ye suffer no ravenous wolf to enter among you, that ye may not be destroyed.
Mormon Sacrament Meeting
The primary family worship service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often inadvertently called the “Mormon Church”) is called Sacrament meeting. Typically this worship service takes place each Sunday in a Latter-day Saint chapel and lasts for approximately one hour. Members, their non-member family members and friends, prospective members, and visitors are all welcomed to attend and partake of the Sacrament. A few times a year, conferences on the stake (a group of congregations) or all-church level replace Sacrament meeting.
The meeting is opened with the congregation singing a hymn from the hymn books that are normally provided in the pews. Following the singing of the hymn, a member who has been asked will come forward and offer the invocation. After the prayer, any business that needs to be conducted is taken care of. Once the business has been taken care of, the congregation will prepare to partake of the sacrament by singing a hymn while members of the Priesthood prepare the emblems (bread and water) of the Sacrament. At the conclusion of the singing, the Sacrament is blessed and passed to the congregation by the Priesthood holders. After everyone who so desires has had a chance to partake of the Sacrament, the congregation listens as two or three members who have been previously assigned by a member of the Bishopric or Branch Presidency come forward and deliver the messages that they have prepared. Each message is based on the doctrines and principles taught in the scriptures, and are inspirational and edifying. Lay members are guided by the Holy Ghost in preparing their messages.
In the Catholic Church the central act of worship is the Mass. “Mass” is an English word derived from the Latin text of the priest’s dismissal of the congregation at the end of the liturgy (“Ite, missa est.” – “The dismissal is”). The celebration of the Mass in the Catholic Church is quite different from the Sacrament service in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Latter-day Saints understand that the bread and water are symbolic of Christ’s body which was broken and His precious blood which was shed for them. In contrast, during the Liturgy of the Eucharist, Catholics believe that the emblems (bread and wine) actually become the literal body and blood of Christ.
A closer look at how a Catholic Mass is conducted may prove helpful in understanding what Catholics believe. Everything that takes place in a Catholic Mass is for a specific purpose including the color of the vestments that the Priest wears: green (ordinary times), white (special feast days, special Saints day, Christmas), red (celebration of a martyr or Pentecost), and purple (celebration of Lent, and also the color for repentance).
At the beginning of mass the congregation stands and sings and rejoices as the Priest enters from the back representing Jesus coming into the great marriage feast in Heaven. The congregation is standing to greet Jesus and sing praises to Him for coming to the feast. In each altar there is a relic from a Saint. When the Priest gets to the altar he kisses it as a sign of respect for the Saints that have gone before, and also as a sign of reverence for the altar where Jesus will give a sacrifice of Himself.
The prayers are then started by making the sign of cross, and the congregation immediately goes into repentance to prepare souls to receive Jesus.
It is important to note that Catholic Mass has two distinct halves: (1) Liturgy of the Word where the focus is on receiving Jesus in the Word, and so the congregation listens to the scriptures as they are read, and (2) Liturgy of the Eucharist where the focus is on the altar where Jesus gives His sacrifice.
Following the prayers and repentance, the congregation sits down so that the Word of God can be heard. Typically there are several readings from the Bible. If it is a Sunday liturgy or a feast day, there is usually an Old Testament reading, a Psalm, a New Testament reading, and then the congregation stands as a sign of reverence and attentiveness to the words of Christ as a reading from the gospels is read. After hearing the gospel proclaimed, the congregation sits down to be educated on the readings.
After the homily, the congregation stands to recite the profession of faith (what the people believe as a Church). After which they offer the prayer of the faithful in which prayer is offered on behalf of the entire world and the Church together. Following the prayer of the faithful, the congregation sits to transition into the second half of the Mass, or the Liturgy of the Eucharist.
The second half begins with the people making a monetary offering which is usually put in a basket and brought to the altar along with the other gifts, the bread and the wine, all symbolizing the gifts and sacrifices that the people give to Jesus. As the wine is made from human hands crushing the grapes and working to turn them into wine, and the bread is made from kneading the dough, it requires the efforts of the people to participate in the redemptive plan of Christ. Catholics believe that Jesus unites the gifts and sacrifices of the people with His own sacrifices and gives them to the Father. The congregation sings as the gifts are brought to the altar.
The congregation then stands as it is time to pray. The Priest sets the altar and begins the prayers as if it were Jesus Himself praying. The Priest stands in persona Christi (the person of Christ) offering prayers on behalf of the people to the Father. It is at this point that Catholics believe that Jesus takes the emblems of the Eucharist (the bread and the wine) and literally transforms them into His own body and blood, thereby uniting the people and their offerings and His own sacrifice and giving them to the Father. At the moment that Catholics believe Christ becomes present in the Eucharist they kneel to show special reverence and respect, and they do so in worship, honor, and gratitude. The congregation then receives Jesus in the Eucharist and He becomes one with them. After receiving the Eucharist they kneel again out of respect that the Living God is now one with them. The congregation then stands and the Priest gives closing prayers and blessings upon the people to empower them to take the Living Jesus out into the world and to transform the world.
Centering our Minds and Hearts upon Jesus Christ
Although the method of administration may differ between the Latter-day Saint Sacrament service and the Catholic Mass or Liturgy of the Eucharist, the main focus of both is the Lord Jesus Christ, that a person participating in either may be able to first take the name of Christ upon him or herself and become one with Him, and then in turn take the name of Christ to the world to help transform the world.
In a General Conference address given in October 2008, Elder Dallin H. Oaks, a modern day Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, gave these remarks concerning the Sacrament in his message titled “Sacrament Meeting and the Sacrament”:
By participating weekly and appropriately in the ordinance of the sacrament we qualify for the promise that we will “always have his Spirit to be with [us]” (Doctrine and Covenants 20:77). That Spirit is the foundation of our testimony. It testifies of the Father and the Son, brings all things to our remembrance, and leads us into truth. It is the compass to guide us on our path. This gift of the Holy Ghost, President Wilford Woodruff taught, “is the greatest gift that can be bestowed upon man” (Deseret Weekly, Apr. 6, 1889, 451).
When I consider my experiences in attending temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which church is often misnamed the Mormon Church), a bevy of memories come to mind. Here’s just one: When I was 12 years old—that’s the age in which young men and women may receive a recommend from their congregation’s bishop to begin attending one of the Church’s 136 temples throughout the world—I traveled with my youth group in Centerville, Utah, to the Bountiful Temple 10 minutes south of my family’s home. I may have been surprised by our bishop’s taking some dozen-plus of us to eat ice cream afterwards (surely that counts as a fun memory to my first-time temple trip), but it didn’t match the feelings of peace that I experienced as I entered through the sacred doors of the structure, which rest on a mountainside overlooking a sliver of Utah’s Wasatch Front. I felt nothing less than serenity as I sat in the waiting room on the temple’s basement floor, waiting to receive instruction regarding how to proceed with Mormon baptisms for the dead. As I was immersed in a font of water by a local church leader who had proper authority, and as I later received a sacred ordinance called confirmation, I could feel the presence of God and knew He approved of my willingness to do such temple work.
I am conscious that some might describe “baptisms for the dead” as a confusing term. While Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) certainly believe, like much of Christianity, that an individual must hearken to Jesus Christ’s words in John 3:5, that a man must be baptized—born of water and of the Spirit—to enter the kingdom of God, we believe that this practice isn’t necessarily applied to those who are living alone. If that were the case, how many individuals would be cut short of eternal life, which entails dwelling where God dwells, just because they were not baptized during their lifetimes? Would the damnation of billions of people who never even had a chance to accept the gospel make God very fair and loving, or would it make Him a “respecter of persons,” contrary to how Peter described Him after receiving a revelation to preach the gospel to the Gentiles (Acts 10:34)?
We read in the New Testament that the same Peter taught in a letter to the members of Christ’s church of the day that Christ “preached unto the spirits in prison” since Christ suffered for those particular unbaptized souls, too (1 Peter 3:18–20). Peter wrote not long after that peculiar teaching that because Christ suffered for our behalf, the gospel was preached “also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit” (1 Peter 4:6).
For many Christians, these verses may be intriguing but lacking in information. Fortunately, Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) have the blessing of modern-day prophets today in order to clarify such teachings. Joseph F. Smith, the sixth president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, received divine clarification in Oct. 1918 (only about a month before World War I ended and in the midst of the Influenza Epidemic of 1918 that killed 675,000 Americans) that Christ organized messengers of the gospel to preach to those in the Spirit World (which is the first step of the afterlife in Mormon doctrine) in order to preach the truths of God to those who had not heard it in its fulness during their lifetimes. This teaching and learning in the Spirit World, combined with vicarious baptisms in this world (in Mormon temples) by those who are still living, would enable souls to enter through the “gate” described by Christ throughout New Testament scripture (see Matthew 7:13).
I truly do believe that the act of Mormon baptisms for the dead, the first of many spiritually redeeming ordinances performed in Mormon temples, to be one of the truths of God revealed after His Son’s resurrection to bring the opportunity of salvation to everyone who has ever lived. Likewise, that same practice was revealed to modern-day prophet Joseph Smith, who was initially called as a young man to be the prophet to restore the Church of Jesus Christ in this period of time.
Truly, as the Book of Mormon prophet Nephi, a special witness of Christ in the ancient Americas, said, the Lord ”doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to ccome unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God” (2 Nephi 26:33).
I have felt blessed to have been able to perform the ordinance of Mormon baptisms for the dead and other, higher Mormon temple ordinances many times since initially finding something a bit better than ice cream more than a decade ago. I have gone often to Mormon temples, because Latter-day Saints can truly never perform this sacred responsibility enough. After all, there are a lot of Father in Heaven’s children to reach.
LDS Newsroom: Reminder on Church Policy of Baptisms for the Dead
Rhett Wilkinson is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“Mormon”), a Utah State University athletics correspondent for the Ogden Standard-Examiner, and serves on the editorial staff at the Utah Statesman.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (frequently misnamed the Mormon Church) ran an ambitious Internet initiative over Easter weekend (April 6–8, 2012) inviting members of the Church (Latter-day Saints or “Mormons”) to share their belief in and feelings about Jesus Christ.
This Internet initiative is using social media sites like Youtube and Facebook to post videos from Church members. These videos will be available for anyone to watch, free of charge. Ron Wilson, Senior Manager of Internet & Advertising for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints pointed out that social media today is like the town center of 100 years ago. This is where dialogue is happening, and his department discovered this is also where a lot of people are discussing religion, “So it makes a lot of sense for the church to be there.” He also said, “We think it’s important to use technology to get the message out about the restored gospel, about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”
The videos and posts which volunteer-members of the LDS Church have recorded were intended to enhance Easter for the viewers and to let people know that Latter-day Saints (“Mormons”) worship Jesus Christ as our Savior and as the Son of God.
Watch some of these videos:
Read witnesses shared by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints about their Savior.
More about Jesus Christ in Mormonism.
Chat with a Mormon Missionary.
Mormon News on Internet initiative.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often misnamed the Mormon Church), I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. I believe that He atoned for the sins of all mankind. I believe that He gave His life as an offering for the sins of all of us. I believe that He arose on the third day after His death and won forever the keys of death and hell. He triumphed over the grave and through His sacrifice, we all have the opportunity to overcome physical and spiritual death as well. If we follow His commandments and example, we too can return to God, to live in His presence.
I love Easter. I love the time of year when everything is coming back to life. I love the reminders of renewal and the promise of spring and over warmer days. It is always a good time for me to reflect on my Savior and all that He has done for me. The miracle of His life, death, and resurrection is overwhelming and inspiring. It is touching and humbling.
When I think of Jesus Christ being willing to suffer in the Garden of Gethsemane, then walk alone through His trials, innocent, pure, and full of love, I am truly overcome. I am also overwhelmed when I read the story of Abraham and Isaac and realize that God’s sacrifice was also great. How much did He love His Only Begotten Son? How great must be His love for all of us, when He was willing to let Jesus Christ be the sacrifice on our behalf? His Only and Beloved Son was killed and had to stand alone when it happened. There is no greater sorrow and loneliness than in the words, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).
To think of the immense loss and sorrow of the Savior’s living friends and family at the time of His crucifixion is also touching. I have always love the song “Woman, Why Weepest Thou?” by Rob Gardner:
Woman, why weepest thou?
Know ye not that angels now surround thee?
Woman, why seekest thou the living among the dead?
He is not here, for He is risen.
Woman, why sorrowest thou?
Know ye not that Heaven’s eyes are on thee?
Woman, whom seekest thou? He lives, the Redeemer lives!
Oh, Child, why weepest thou?
Know ye not, the Shepherd’s arms that hold thee?
Oh, Child, what seekest thou?
Be still and know that I am God!
Be still and know that I am God.
The statement, “He is not here: for he is risen” (Matthew 28:6) has always filled me with hope and joy. Jesus Christ was not there in the tomb when the women went to anoint Him because He had literally risen from the dead. There was no reason to sorrow for His death because He had overcome death and triumphed over the grave, fulfilling His calling and glorifying God’s name.
I am grateful for the knowledge I have that my Savior lives. I am grateful for the sacrifices He made for me. I am grateful for His love and that I can repent from my sins and have a Mediator for myself.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been working on a project of creating accurate video portrayals from the Savior’s life. These videos are made available to the public for their use, free of charge. The most recently completed are to do with the Savior’s trial before Pilate and His scourging and crucifixion. Visit BibleVideos.LDS.org to view the series.
Of These Emblems We Partake
By Keith Lionel Brown
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes inadvertently called the “Mormon Church”) members have the opportunity to renew those covenants which they make at the time of their baptism as they partake of the sacrament each Sunday in remembrance of the atonement of the Lord Jesus Christ. As they partake of the sacred emblems they have a chance to reflect upon what the atonement means to them personally, and they also realize that the bread is symbolic of Christ’s body which was broken for them, and the water is symbolic of His precious blood which was shed for them. This sacred ordinance is performed in accordance with the scriptures found in the Bible in 1 Corinthians 11:24-26:
And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, this cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me. For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.
The Savior emphasized the significance of the emblems that are used in the Sacrament and promised that those who partake of the emblems in remembrance of Him would always have His Spirit to be with them. This is recorded in the Book of Mormon (Another Testament of Jesus Christ) in 3 Nephi 18:6-11 when Christ instituted the Sacrament among an ancient group of people known as the Nephites:
And this shall ye always observe to do, even as I have done, even as I have broken bread and blessed it and given it unto you. And this shall ye do in remembrance of my body, which I have shown unto you. And it shall be a testimony unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.
And it came to pass that when he said these words, he commanded his disciples that they should take of the wine of the cup and drink of it, and that they should also give unto the multitude that they might drink of it. And it came to pass that they did so, and did drink of it and were filled; and they gave unto the multitude, and they did drink, and they were filled.
And when the disciples had done this, Jesus said unto them: Blessed are ye for this thing which ye have done, for this is fulfilling my commandments, and this doth witness unto the Father that ye are willing to do that which I have commanded you. And this shall ye always do to those who repent and are baptized in my name; and ye shall do it in remembrance of my blood, which I have shed for you, that ye may witness unto the Father that ye do always remember me. And if ye do always remember me ye shall have my Spirit to be with you.
What The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints refers to as the Sacrament, the Catholic Church refers to as the Holy Eucharist. Catholics understand the significance of the emblems used in the Eucharist, but they differ from the Latter-day Saints in that they believe that during the Eucharist the elements that are used retain only the appearance, taste, and texture of bread and wine, but the underlying essence of those elements are miraculously and literally changed into the body of Christ Himself. Catholicism teaches that the Godhead is indivisible; therefore every particle of bread and every drop of wine that is changed is identical in substance with the divinity, body, and blood of the Savior. This belief is known as transubstantiation.
The Catholic teaching of transubstantiation is based on the words of Jesus to his disciples, when He instituted the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper as recorded in the Bible in Matthew 26:26-28 and Mark 14:22-24. In Matthew 26:26-28 are recorded these words:
And as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and blessed it, and brake it, and gave it to the disciples, and said, take, eat; this is my body. And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, drink ye all of it; for this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
And in Mark 14:22-24 are recorded these words:
And as they did eat, Jesus took bread, and blessed, and brake it, and gave to them, and said, take, eat: this is my body. And he took the cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them: and they all drank of it. And he said unto them, this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many.
In these verses the Savior is not saying that the bread and wine are literally His flesh and blood. He is instead using hyperbole (an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally). The use of hyperbole is common in Semitic cultures and languages even to this day.
The Bible is also full of this kind of rhetorical device. Some examples of this are: (1) Matthew 5:29, “And if thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out, and cast it from thee…” – this does not mean that a person is to literally pluck out their own eye, but rather he is to eliminate the cause of temptation; (2) Matthew 6:3, “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth” – this does not mean that a person literally should not let his right hand know what his left hand is doing, but rather when a person gives alms, he should do so without drawing attention to himself, so that it will not appear as though he is boasting or bragging about his “charitableness.”; (3) Matthew 23:24, “Ye blind guides, which strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” – this does not mean that these guides literally swallow camels, but rather they spend too much time focusing on the things that matter least, instead of the things that matter the most.; and (4) Luke 14:26, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple” – this does not mean that a person should literally hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, or even himself in order to become a disciple of Jesus Christ, but rather it means that he should be willing to put the Gospel above all other considerations. A misconstrued reading or interpretation of any of these scriptures could lead to confusion and misunderstanding.
In the Bible, in John 6:53-63 Christ explains the meaning of His own hyperbole so that no one would have any excuse for misunderstanding what He said:
Then Jesus said unto them, verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, dwelleth in me, and I in him. As the living Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father: so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever. These things said he in the synagogue, as he taught in Capernaum. Many therefore of his disciples, when they had heard this, said, this is an hard saying; who can hear it? When Jesus knew in himself that his disciples murmured at it, he said unto them, doth this offend you? What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before? It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.
What the Master was saying to His disciples, He says to us all. The words that are recorded in the above verses were not meant to be taken literally, but rather metaphorically and spiritually. It is the literal words that He speaks that are “spirit and life”, and not the literal eating of His flesh and the literal drinking of His blood.
In the scripture references given earlier (Matthew 26:26-28 and Mark 14:22-24), it is to be understood that the bread and the wine are not the literal flesh and blood of the Lord Jesus Christ, or that a person must literally eat His flesh and drink His blood in order to be saved, but rather the bread and the wine are emblems of His flesh and blood. They are a memorial of His literal suffering for each one of us, and are to be taken in remembrance of His literal sacrifice through the atonement. It is just as the prophet Isaiah foretold, “he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, literally suffered, bled, and died. He became the literal sacrificial Lamb for the slaughter, paying sin’s ransom with His very life. As a person partakes of the Holy Communion as it is referred to in Protestantism, the Holy Eucharist as it is referred to in Catholicism, or the Sacrament as it is referred to in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they partake not of Christ’s literal body and blood, but of sacred emblems that represent His body which was broken, and His precious blood that was shed for them.
Matthieu Bennasar is a French member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as a “Mormon”). Matthieu started his passion for climbing when he was ten years old, as taught to him by his father. As Matthieu grew up, he started going places that his dad did not want to go. He climbed to beautiful and majestic areas of the world. A certain time came when he decided that he would not climb mountains unless he knew that he would be able to go home, where his real passion lies…to his family! He helps connect some of the parallel lessons between climbing and life. One of which is that you have a greater eternal perspective when you are up high.
Watch Matthieu, a Mormon, share his passion for climbing, his family, and the Gospel of Jesus Christ:
Learn more about Matthieu and his beliefs in the Mormon Church.
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