101 prophecies (Interpretation)

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Jesus' Later Teachings

This page covers several of Jesus' teachings on the Great Apostasy - the loss of scripture, the long period of trial, and the nature of modern churches. It also covers the doctrinal and behavioral requirements of the true church. We begin with a teaching that is almost too bold to repeat...


Predictive prophecies are in red. Other prophecies (teachings) are in black.


71. Mormons dare not repeat some Bible prophecies for fear of sounding arrogant!

Matthew 19:28: the saints to judge Israel.
Mormons are sometimes condemned for teaching that leaders of Jesus' church will be given positions of authority in the next life (see 1 Corinthians 6:2). But that is what the Bible says. (The topic is expanded in the book of Revelation, where faithful saints sit on thrones and take on themselves the name of God). Jesus said that we should follow him, be like him, be a joint heirs with him, and so on. And only the Mormons believe him!

72. Non-Mormon churches today and in Jesus' time - the same!

Matthew 23: "woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees". Mormons are often criticized for their stance that all the traditional churches are wrong. But we never said it as bluntly as Jesus did in the 23rd chapter of Matthew! I blush to repeat some of the strong language that Jesus used against the established churches (the Scribes and Pharisees), but note the final accusation against them: they claim to follow the dead prophets yet attack the living ones, and say, "if we had been in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them of the blood of the prophets" (verse 30). Yet at the same time they persecute anyone who claims to follow a living prophet (verse 34). It is just the same today. The message of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that Jesus Christ has again spoken from the heavens. There are living prophets today! And sure enough, the established churches persecute us for it.

Having said all that, it would be unfair not to mention that the greatest sin of the Scribes and Pharisees was hypocrisy. I am not suggesting that the modern churches are hypocrites. Many, if not all, are very sincere and do many good works, but the analogy otherwise holds.

73. the Dark Ages and the need for a restoration of the truth - foretold

Matthew 24:3: the Great Apostasy. When Jesus was asked for the signs of his Second Coming, the very first thing he warned of was false Christs. The name "Christ" means "Messiah", or "anointed one" - in other words, one whose head has been anointed with oil to symbolically make them a king or priest. False kings and priests characterised the period after the end of the New Testament, the Dark Ages. Jesus was right.

Although the New Testament does not dwell on the idea (that would have been too depressing for new converts), the writers knew well that their church would not last on the earth. As Paul said in Acts 20:29-30, after the apostles left, false teachers took over. Like Jesus, Paul indicated that a Great Apostasy had to happen before the Second Coming - see 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3.

In the Revelation of John, the Great Apostasy is referred to as the church being in the wilderness (Revelation 12:6, 14). History records that the Christian church did indeed fall into apostasy. The process began when the apostles died and no more scripture was being written. Only the Mormon church admits the obvious - the church was in total apostasy throughout the Dark Ages. It needed more than just a Protestant Reformation (how can a dead tree bring forth live branches?). It needed a complete restoration from on high - with prophets, apostles, and new scripture, just as in ancient times.

74. Mormon missionaries do not have time to waste!

Matthew 24:14: the gospel to be preached to the whole world, and then the end will come. Which church has the largest group of full-time missionaries in the world?

Matthew 24 also includes some powerful teachings on the Great Apostasy. Teachings that traditional churches, the fruits of that apostasy, tie themselves in knots over.

75. The atonement - the greatest and most wonderful and important event of all time!

Matthew 26 to 28: the atonement of Jesus Christ.

This is the most important event in the history of this or any other world. Yet the Bible as it has been passed down to us has left many disagreements over how it works, who has claim on it (for example, what about a believer who has been lukewarm? How bad is it for a non-believer who has led a good life?), or exactly what we must do to be saved (faith and works? how essential is baptism?). These questions are too important to be left open to human disagreements. We need additional revelation. And thanks to the Lord restoring the gospel in these last days, we now have it.

Another aspect of the atonement illustrates how far traditional churches have drifted from the Bible. See Luke 22:41-44: the atonement began in Gethsemane. The Mormon church is aloe in teaching that the atonement, completed on the cross, had its longest portion through the night at Gethsemane.

The church seems to be alone in teaching this. Yet it is what the Bible implies:

First, note that Jesus sweat appeared to be blood - something that not even the agonies of the cross produced (in fact, the word "agony" is only used when describing Gethsemane).

Second, the fact that Jesus asked to be released from his duty if it were somehow possible - something he did not even ask when suffering on the cross. Jesus was no coward, so the normal explanation that he was afraid of what would happen the next day, will not do.

Third, the disciples were asleep (verse 45) yet they later knew what had happened. It must have been very important for Jesus (or an angel) to tell them what happened on that dreadful night.

All this is not to say that the pain of the cross was not the crowning completion of the agony, but simply that if we wish to understand the whole picture, then, like the Mormon church, we should begin by focusing on Gethsemane.

76. The Bible does not contain all of Jesus' teachings

Mark 4:11-12 and 16:12-20: some things are withheld. Was it only the meaning of parables that were hidden from the ordinary people (see also Luke 9:21 - how can we be sure the apostles wrote everything down?).

The earliest Bibles (such as the Codex Sinaiticus) do not contain the last verses of Mark. This is important, since Mark is apparently the oldest gospel, and was used a source by the other gospel writers. Were these last twelve verses invented hundreds of years after Mark died?

If these twelve verses are true, then they must have been written down in the first century, but kept separate for hundreds of years until it was decided to add them to the public version of Mark.

So the early church kept some parts of scripture secret! Then we cannot assume, just because we have the Bible, that we have everything the early church ever taught. That is what the Mormons have said all along.

N.B. the controversial scholar Morton Smith claims to have found evidence for the secret portions of Mark. His theory is based on a reference in a letter of the respected church father, Clement. Smith describes the evidence in his book "The Secret Gospel".

The very next verse after the last verse of Mark is Luke 1:1. This plainly states that "many" have written about Jesus before Luke did. Where are these "many" gospels? The good news is, while many of the ancient texts are lost forever, the lost teachings have been restored again from heaven through modern prophets and can be found in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and the book The Pearl of Great Price.

Hidden teachings

Naturally, the traditional churches fight against the evidence for hidden teachings. Their whole theology is based on the Bible being the final and complete word, so all other evidence must be denied. What is the other evidence?

OF COURSE THERE ARE HIDDEN TEACHINGS!

Every field of truth has different layers of understanding. Hence we have basic mathematics, and advanced mathematics. Basic history and advanced studies in history. Basic childcare and advanced courses in childcare. Basic haircutting and advanced haircutting. The only types of knowledge that do not have advanced versions are simple stories that are not true.

If the gospel is true, than obviously the basics will be taught first, and the whole grand scheme will not be included in the initial books. It would not make sense to include a chapter on superstring theory or quantum mechanics in an introduction to physics! The fact that some teachings are hidden does not mean that they are shameful or that they contradict the basics, but simply that they are inappropriate for new students.

The scriptures we have are the public scriptures - those that were given to non-members and new members. If there was nothing else, if there were no additional teachings, then by analogy with every other field of truth we could conclude that this was a false gospel.

Finally, if a teaching was secret, obviously it would not be contained in the Bible. So to say that "all secret teachings must be referred to in the Bible" is clearly nonsense.

SCRIPTURES ABOUT HIDDEN TEACHINGS:

EXAMPLES OF HIDDEN TEACHINGS

GENERAL SCRIPTURAL THEMES

OTHER EVIDENCE:

This last point is probably the crucial one. Plenty of apocryphal works speak of secret teachings. But the version of Christianity that survived the second century had to stamp them out. To admit that there were secret teachings (which were by then lost) was suicide. So all the different teachings were labeled as "Gnostic" and rejected. Certainly some of these teachings were false, but others are just as ancient and originally well respected as the scriptures in the present canon.

Perhaps the best known examples of the lost "higher" teachings include the "forty day" literature - records of what Jesus taught the apostles between his resurrection and ascension.

"All the 40-day teaching is described as very secret, delivered to a closed cult group. There is no desire to intrigue and mystify, however, as with the Gnostics, but rather the clearly stated policy that knowledge should be given always but only to those who ask for it, with the corollary that the higher and holier a teaching the more carefully it should be guarded. As "the last and highest revelation," the teaching of the 40 days was top secret, and has not come down to us. Since Irenaeus, churchmen have strenuously denied that there ever was a secret teaching or that anything really important has ever been lost. To profess otherwise would be perilously close to an admission of bankruptcy; yet Christian scholars do concede that the Apostles had information that we do not have, allow the existence of an unwritten Apostolic tradition in the church, and grant that there was a policy of secrecy in the early church--though insisting that it began with the catechetical schools. The catechists, however, appeal to a much earlier tradition of secrecy, and when the Fathers attempt to reproduce the unwritten tradition which they claim for the church they have nothing to offer but the commonplaces of the schools. Plainly things have been lost."

Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.4, p.14-15. See that text for footnotes and more examples.

"Even the 'canonical traditions record appearances only to believers' during the 40 days, E. C. Rust, "Interpreting the Resurrection," in Journal of Bible and Religion 29 (1961): 27-28.

"Clement of Alexandria tells how early teachings inevitably become lost, Stromatum I, 1, in PG 8:704; and John Chrysostom, In Epistolam I ad Corinthios Homilia (Homily on the First Epistle to the Corinthians) 7, in PG 61:58, and Basil, Epistolae (Letters) 8, in PG 32:257, note that many sacred writings have been lost. Irenaeus, Against Heresies, himself puts the knowledge of the Apostles in a special category, I, 13, 6, in PG 7:588, and when pressed admits that the Bible does not explain everything, and so falls back on tradition, III, 3, 1, in PG 7:848, and when this fails him he appeals to the oldest churches, III, 4, 1, in PG 7:851, and when these disagree to the most outlying ones, III, 4, 2, in PG 7:855-56.

"The greatest teachings were not trusted to writing, Clementine Recognitions I, 21, in PG 1:1218; Epistles of Paul and Seneca 6, in ANT, 482; John Chrysostom, De Laudibus Sancti Pauli Apostoli Homilia (Homily on the Praise of St. Paul the Apostle) 5, in PG 50:500, and Homilia de Melchisedeco (Homily on Melchizedek) 1, in PG 56:257-58."

- ibid, footnotes.

"Eisler, Iesuous Basileus 2:157, notes that the injunction to secrecy (e.g. Mark 9:1) was to be observed until the general resurrection, i.e., 'until the second coming of the Redeemer in glory.' Origen notes that the Lord's activities and teachings after the resurrection are 'the deep and hidden teachings of the church'; Against Celsus V, 19-22, in PG 11:1208-16."

Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.7, p.454, footnote 11

77. Only the Mormons have the same organization as in New Testament times

Luke 10:1: calling the seventy.
I have heard it said by some that Jesus was not interested in a single organized church. It is strange, then, that the very first thing he did once he started his ministry was to call twelve apostles. With so much else to do, are we to believe that he had his priorities wrong? Here in Luke, the organization becomes more defined. As the New Testament progresses, we learn more and more about the organization of Jesus' church. See for example see Ephesians 4:11-14, which notes that the alternative to organization is to be tossed about by every wind of doctrine, as many churches seem to have been.

Which church today has all these callings? Which church has apostles, seventies, pastors (bishops), teachers, prophets, and so forth?

Many churches today are changing their practices - for example, regarding women priests. The New Testament church also made changes - for example, in taking the gospel to the gentiles (see Acts 10). Which church today makes its changes the same way they were made in New Testament times - by revelation to apostles and prophets? Only one: the Mormon Church.


78. - everyone claims to be a Christian, but nobody wants to do it the way Jesus said!

Left: The Christian Church was triumphant in the Middle ages. But was it the same church that Jesus established? Is this what he meant in Luke 16?


It is one of the great ironies that critics of the restored gospel often use Luke chapter 16 verse 16, as if it says that the old gospel has changed (and hence we need no more prophets). But if we look at this in context, we find that Jesus was saying the exact opposite! Those who use Luke 16:16 to deny prophets are following in the footsteps of their spiritual fathers, the ancient Pharisees.

A closer look at Luke chapter 16

Luke 16 is one of those chapters that deserves a second look. A superficial look at the King James version is, frankly, confusing. It starts with "the parable of the unjust steward", in which Jesus is apparently saying that it's OK to cheat your employer. Then we jump about on seemingly unrelated topics "no man can serve two masters", then a condemnation of the Pharisees, then a statement about John and the Kingdom of God, then "my words shall not pass away", then a statement on marriage, then the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. It looks like someone has taken some unrelated teachings of Jesus, put them in a bag, shaken it about, and what we have is Luke 16.

So maybe a superficial view is not enough...

Time to look again. Look at the original languages (or a least some different English translations), and imagine you were actually standing there at the time. Now things begin to become a little clearer. Let us go through Luke 16 again.

Luke 16, using the words (in blue) from the Jerusalem Bible

In the commentary that follows, the words and subject headings (in blue) are from the much respected Jerusalem Bible. The other words (in brackets) are my own.

The crafty steward: verses 1-8

(Jesus gives a parable of a wasteful servant who is going to lose his job. So he goes to those who are also in debt, and helps them out. So when he loses his job, he at least has some friends. His master is impressed at his initiative. Jesus comments that people who serve for money are more astute than those who follow Jesus.)

The right use of money: verses 9-13

(Jesus interprets the parable. We also have a master - Jesus. We are also wasteful - we all sin. We are also due to lose our jobs - we will die. We will also face our master to account for what we have done - at the day of judgement. So if we have any sense we will use whatever money we have been given, and give some of it to others who are also in our Master's debt - our fellow men.)

(But Jesus observes that we cannot even be trusted to give the money he has given us to the needy. So why is he going to trust us with greater things?)

(If we do not give our money to the needy, then we must love the money more than God. And we cannot serve the money and serve God at the same time.)

Against the Pharisees and their love of money: (verses 14-15)

The Pharisees, who loved money, heard all this and laughed at him. He said to them, 'You are the very ones who pass yourselves off as virtuous in people's sight, but God knows your hearts. For what is thought highly of by men is loathsome in the sight of God"

The kingdom stormed: (verse 16)

'Up to the time of John it was the Law and the Prophets; since then, the kingdom of God has been preached, and by violence everyone is getting in.'

(Note that Jesus is not making some great new announcement about a change in the gospel. On the contrary, he is saying that it is the same now as it was before - everyone thinks they can be a Christian without keeping the hard commandments.)

(Jesus made a similar comment three chapters earlier, in Luke 13:23-30. The disciples were beginning to realise that many people who thought they were getting in to heaven would not make it. Jesus made clear that many who had eaten at Jesus' table, and heard him speak, and expected to enter into heaven, could not. He was even clearer in Matthew 7:21-23 - even those who have done mighty miracles in Jesus' name, and fully expect a place in the kingdom of God, will be told to leave. The only ones who enter the kingdom of heaven are those who do God's will.)

(Luke 16:16 does of course admit some differences between the Law of Moses and the Law of Jesus - but the changes had nothing to do with the fact that prophets always lead the church. "The Law and the Prophets" is a familiar term meaning the books of Moses and the later books of the Old Testament - the dispensation of the church that began about 1250 BC and ended about 1280 years later with the baptism of Jesus. The nature of any differences are be discussed next.)

The Law remains

'It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for one little stroke to drop out of the Law'.

(Does this sound like "the Law and the Prophets" has been done away with?)

Marriage indissoluble

(Jesus gives an example of a very strict law of the gospel - marriage. This is a perfect example of what Jesus was saying. In Mark chapter 10, the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce, and Jesus said it was only allowed because the Pharisees were so unteachable. In Mark 10:6-7, Jesus had established a point that is vital to the understanding of Luke 16:16. The Law of Moses was not the original gospel. "From the beginning" there was the higher law.)

(So when we read in verse 16 that "the Law and the Prophets" - in other words, the Law of Moses and the prophets that followed - is treated separately from the time when "the kingdom of God" was preached, it is not because Jesus is replacing something old with something new. He is replacing something old with something older. )

(The gospel never changes. But sometimes, as with the Law of Moses, God adapts it to our weakness, as the alternative would be to lose us completely.)

The rich man and Lazarus

(To drive home the point, that you cannot serve money and serve God - Jesus tells this parable. It is well known so I shall not comment on it, except to point out that heaven is called "Abraham's bosom". Abraham lived before the Law of Moses. He had the higher law, the law of the kingdom of God, the unchangeable law. How else could he get to be in heaven? By dead works? By some different gospel that supposedly operated before Christ? No, Abraham is in heaven because Abraham had - and had accepted - the full gospel of Jesus Christ.)

(As far as I know, there are only two places on earth that you can here it taught that the ancient prophets had the full gospel. One place is in the Bible. The other place is in the Mormon Church.)


The kingdom of God does not change - it existed in Abraham's day

As noted above, Abraham is in heaven and therefore had the full gospel. God does not change!

Those who say that the kingdom of God was not preached at any time in the Old Testament have to ignore the fact that Abraham is in heaven. They have to ignore the fact that God is repeatedly referred to as the King, ruling over his kingdom - see 1 Sam 12:12, 1 Chronicles 28:5; Psalm 45:6; 84:3; Isaiah 44:6. Certainly Jesus preached "the kingdom of God" with renewed vigor, but it was a kingdom that ancient prophets also knew.

Those who say that the Old Testament was a kingdom in heaven and the New Testament kingdom was one on earth have a real problem. If we say that "everyone" joining "the kingdom of God" in Luke 16:16 refers to an earthly kingdom, then where is that kingdom? Where was it during the Dark Ages? This twisted view of Luke 16:16 requires vast numbers to be part of God's kingdom. On the surface, this is just what happened. The church expanded to fill Europe and much of the world. But was the church in the Dark Ages really the kingdom of God? God forbid!

In summary:

The standards required have not changed. Whether it was John and the prophets, or Jesus and the apostles, nothing has changed. The standards are very high, yet everyone thinks they can be a Christian just by looking virtuous, while compromising the ancient principles.

Those who say that there were no prophets after John the Baptist ignore the prophets called Peter, James, and John. As John said in Revelation 19:10, the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Those who say that the prophets did not run the church, ignore what these prophets said. Just read the opening verses of their epistles ("to the seven churches in Asia", "to the churches in Galatia", etc.). And see how they command the church with authority.

Those who twist Luke 16:16, out of context, to say that "there are no more prophets" are just like the Pharisees - they just don't want any new prophets. Everyone wants to force their way into the kingdom of heaven without listening to what the prophets say, both living and dead.

The truth of course, is that the gospel, the good news, does not change. It never has. And the good news is always brought by prophets.




79. Jesus is alive. No, I mean really alive!

Luke 24:36-39: Jesus has a physical body. Did Jesus die again? No? Then he must still have a physical body. His influence is of course everywhere, but his body, as the disciples discovered, is in one place. Most churches (based on creeds formulated in the dark ages) teach that Jesus is everywhere and nowhere. The Bible (and the Mormon church) teaches that he has flesh and bones.


101 Bible prophecies: 1-11 | 12-19 | 20-32 | 33-38 | 39 | 40-55 | 56-70 | 71-79 | 80-86 | 87-101

 

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