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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The "Other" Gospel

Not too long ago, my companion and I talked about a mission conference we had awhile back. I remembered the long trek we had to make from South Carolina to a building on a road called, "Roaring River Road." Often times, the name of the building is named after the road on which it is located. This observation lead me to the conclusion that the building was called the "Roaring River Building." He was completely certain that it was the "Reedy Creek Building." We tried to convince each other that the other was correct, and the other was wrong. We eventually gave up this argument seeing that neither of us was swaying from our positions, so we left this "conversation" open for another round. This round came when we looked up the location of a building for a man who had visited our church. I saw a church building located in that general vicinity. I clicked on it and saw the location was "Roaring River." I was glad to find that my position was the correct one. I showed it to him, and the other missionary room said, "That's where the Reedy Creek ward meets." We had been arguing for the same position. There was no need for our debate. Often times, I run into a concern which has this same exact situation. Today, I wish to address a concern which has been brought to my attention multiple times in my service, and to eliminate the line which ought not exist.

Paul wrote to the dissenting church of Galatia, "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." (Galatians 1: 6-9) The interpretation of this scripture has lead people to do a variety of things to me and my companions. I have seen everything from not speaking to us, refusing to shake our hands, to using severely inappropriate language to get rid of us; but the most common result is they reject additional light, even The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. This occurs for a couple of reasons when this scripture is brought to my attention.

1.) Joseph Smith was lead to The Book of Mormon by an angel
2.) the word "another" in the sub-title

Rather than saying, "nope, your wrong;" I want to say, "I completely agree with you" (but that doesn't mean I will be rude to anyone who is trying to share what they believe to be the truth). The question I ask when I hear this concern is, "What is the gospel?" Unfortunately, I have not met anyone with this concern that has told me a clear answer as to their interpretation of "gospel." Nevertheless, they do direct me to the very fact the word "gospel" is before the testimonies of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and that they are commonly referred to as "the gospel of Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John." I want to be able to bring further light to this subject, and clarify what "gospel" means. In the King James Version of the Holy Bible, we read at the beginning of each of those testimonies "the gospel according to..." Does this mean that they each teach a different gospel? Heaven forbid. The fact the first word is "The" indicates there is only one, and all four teach the same gospel. Hence, they can co-exist within the same theology because they don't teach anything different. Sure, they have minor differences, but the principles they teach are the same. The doctrines they teach are the same.

Therefore, there comes a question which ought to come to mind is "what constitutes "another gospel"? John the Beloved, in his first general epistle to the entire church, wrote, "every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God..." (1 John 4: 3) Hence, another gospel means a belief which does not believe in Jesus Christ as being The Son of God. Further, "another gospel" is described by Paul who said, "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." This passage informs us that someone had been changing, adding and subtracting, from the original teachings of salvation taught by Jesus Christ.

According the dictionary on my tablet, the first definition of gospel is, "the teaching or revelation of Jesus Christ." John, previous to warning us about the spirit of antichrist, wrote, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God..." (1 John 4: 1-2) In other words, if anything comes forth which testifies Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World, and that He has come in the flesh to Atone for the transgressions of man it will be from God. You must do as John says and try them. If it meets all the criteria, it teaches the same gospel. So, IF I could re-title the Book of Mormon, I would title it, "The gospel according to the ancient inhabitants of the American Continents." The Book of Mormon teaches the same divine gospel, which is the Doctrine of Christ. "And now... all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto [The Book of Mormon] and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not [The Book of Mormon] believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe [The Book of Mormon], for [it is] the [word] of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good... judge ye--for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that [The Book of Mormon is His word], at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar... And I pray the Father in the name of Christ that many of us, if not all, may be saved in his kingdom at that great and last day." (2 Nephi 33: 10-12)

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