"Do you have a personal relationship with Christ?", the question was asked of the Mormon missionary. "Yes we do, the Church believes in Jesus Christ, and honours Him as the Saviour", came the reply. However, when the following questions were asked: "But do you really have a relationship with Him? Do you pray to Jesus and worship Him?" "Well, we pray through Him to Heavenly Father." It was then asked of the missionary: "Can I ask you, would you pray to Jesus tonight, the Jesus of the Bible?", to which the reply came: "No. I will not do that." This true account is typical of the conversations that I have personally had with many Mormons over the years. Mormons claim to honour Christ but fail to give Him the prominence that He rightly deserves. The songs that Mormon folk sing about Christ, such as 'Jesus Wants Me for a Sunbeam' etc. do not seem to express a personal relationship with Christ any more than singing the LDS hymn 'Praise to the man who communed with Jehovah' express a personal relationship with Joseph Smith (I understand that LDS people do not worship Joseph Smith as has sometimes been falsely accused by some misinformed individuals).
Concerning the concept of a personal relationship with Christ, the late LDS Apostle, Bruce McConkie made the following infamous speech (note that McConkie even goes as far as denying the pattern of praying through the Son):
"Some ("holier-than- thou" students) begin to pray directly to Christ because of some special friendship they feel has been developed. In this conception a current and unwise book, which advocates gaining a special relationship with Jesus, contains this sentence - quote: "Because the Saviour is our mediator, our prayers go through Christ to the Father, and the Father answers our prayers through his son. " Unquote. This is plain sectarian nonsense. Our prayers are addressed to the Father, and to him only. They do not go through Christ...You have never heard the First Presidency or the Twelve...advocate this excessive zeal that calls for gaining a so called special and personal relationship with Christ...never, never at any time have they taught or endorsed the inordinate and intemperate zeal that encourages endless, sometimes day-long prayers, in order to gain a personal relationship with the Saviour...I wonder if it is not part of Lucifer's system to make people feel they are special friends of Jesus when in fact they are not following the normal and usual pattern of worship found in the true Church." (Bruce McConkie, Speech at BYU on March 2 1982).
McConkie also stated:
"We worship the Father and him only and no one else. We do not worship the Son and we do not worship the Holy Ghost. I know perfectly well about what the scriptures say about worshipping Christ and Jehovah, but they are speaking in an entirely different sense - the sense of standing in awe and being reverentially grateful to Him who has redeemed us. Worship in the true and saving sense is reserved for God first, the Creator." (Ibid.).
McConkie also said the following words in his book Mormon Doctrine:
"Prayers of the saints are expected to conform to a prescribed standard of divine excellence...They are to be addressed to the Father; should always be made in the name of Jesus Christ; ..." (Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, p. 581).
In the same book, under the subject heading of "Prayer Books", and how they relate to some Christian traditions, McConkie has the following to say:
"As an indication of how far removed most of them [the churches] are from the true form of prayer is the fact that many of them are not made in the name of Christ, while others are addressed directly to Christ or the Holy Ghost rather than to the Father."
However, despite what McConkie, and many Mormons, think about the practice of praying to and worshipping the Lord Jesus, the Bible is very clear on this matter:
The Bible clearly records many instances where Christ is freely worshipped by the disciples:
In none of the above Gospel accounts do we find that Christ ever rebukes the disciples for their worship and adoration of Him. Surely, this pattern of worshipping Christ should therefore be continued today. In addition to the Gospel accounts, other biblical examples of Christ being worshipped is found in the New Testament letters:
"...Ye must bow down and worship him, and worship Him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in no wise be cast out."
Next we will turn our attention to the subject of praying to Jesus. In a similar way to Jehovah's Witnesses*, many Mormons whom I have spoken with will often say that they will pray through Jesus but not to Him directly. Indeed, it is not wrong to pray through Jesus, and this is certainly a prominent pattern in the New Testament. However, Mormons, like many other groups today, will refuse to draw close to Christ in prayer. However, contrary to the refusal of Mormons and others like them, the Bible clearly records instances whereby Christ is rightly prayed to. Acts 7:54-60 records the last words of the apostle Stephen before he was martyred:
"And they went on stoning Stephen as he called upon the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord, do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell asleep."
If praying to Christ directly was wrong, then did Stephen fall into apostasy just before he died? Of course not. Stephen recognised that praying to His Saviour was right and the pattern of the early Church who were known as those who "called upon the name of the Lord" (Acts 9:14; 21; 22:16; 2 Cor. 1:2). This is especially significant as 'the name', in ancient times, was intrinsically connected to the actual person of that name. To call upon the name of the person, was therfore tantamount to calling upon the person themselves. The book of Revelation ends with these words:
"...Amen. Come Lord Jesus. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with you all. Amen"(Rev. 22:20-21).
Further biblical evidence of praying to Jesus is seen in the many Old Testament passages which describe Jehovah (THE LORD, YHWH) being prayed to. This is especially significant in Mormonism, as LDS scholars have long held that Jehovah of the Old Testament is the pre-incarnate Christ. For example, in the Latter-day Saint Bible Dictionary section of the King James Version of the Bible, 1981 ed., pages 710-711, it says:
"Jehovah is the premortal Jesus Christ and came to earth being born of Mary."
With this in mind, let us examine a couple of Old Testament passages which declare that Jehovah is to be prayed to. Jeremiah 29:7 encourages the exiles to
"...pray to the LORD [Jehovah]..."
Verse 11 of the same chapter records Jeremiah giving the word of Jehovah to the people:
"Then you will call upon Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And I will be found by you, declares the LORD [Jehovah]..."
Deutronomy 4:7 declares:
"What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD [Jehovah] our God is near us whenever we pray to Him?"
Similarly, as was seen earlier with the evidence that the Book of Mormon has some verses that demonstrate that Christ should be worshipped, there is likewise the even more surprising evidence to show that Christ should be prayed to! 3 Nephi 19:17-26 records an incident where Christ is being freely prayed to:
"And behold they [Christ's disciples] began to pray; and they did pray unto Jesus, calling Him their Lord and their God" (v. 18).Verse 24 states that the disciples
"...did still continue, without ceasing to pray to him..."Verse 25 says that
"...Jesus blessed them as they did pray unto him..."The final result of the disciples prayer is recorded in verse 26:
"And Jesus said unto them: Pray on; nevertheless they did not cease to pray."
It is certainly worth asking the Mormon believer why it is that even the Book of Mormon appears to advocate both worshipping and praying directly to Christ but the Mormon Church itself does not advocate either.
Throughout the New Testament, the importance of a relationship with Christ is stressed over and over again. As was seen above, this relationship involves prayer and worship to Christ. There are also other Scriptures which point out that a close relationship is not only important but vital. In John 17:3 Jesus Himself said that "eternal life" was given freely by knowing both Himself and the Father:
"Now this is eternal life: that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent."
We are to 'know' Christ, like the apostle Paul who felt that this was the most important thing in his life:
"More than that I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish in order that I may gain Christ, and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own derived from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith, that I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain the resurrection from the dead." (Phil. 3:8-11).
We are to have "fellowship" with the Son (1 John 1:3), Revelation 3:20 speaks of the intimacy of Christ coming in to a believer and "eating" with him or her. In ancient times eating together often meant friendship and hospitality.
Further Scriptural support for a close relationship with Christ is also seen in the many verses which speak of 'coming to Christ'. For example, Jesus said in Matthew 11:28:
"Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
John 6:35 records Jesus as saying:
"...I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me shall not hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst."
Similarly, Jesus also said in John 7:37:
"...if any man is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink."
In a similar way to our own present day, it was the religious people of Jesus' own day who were the one's who would not come to Christ. This is seen in John 5:39-40:
"You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me; and you are unwilling to come to Me, that you may have life."
The conclusion of the evidence examined above clearly demonstrates that even though the books accepted by Mormon's as Scripture (i.e. both the Bible and the Book of Mormon) clearly testify to worshipping and praying to Christ, the vast majority of Mormon's are not doing this. This is sad as the true Jesus Christ of the Bible wants every Latter-day Saint to come to Him in worship, prayer, and adoration. It is clearly right to come near to Christ in worship, prayer, praise, and fellowship. Such a relationship with Christ brings every believer "eternal life." (John 17:3).
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