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Saturday, July 16, 2011

WORK: An Eternal Principle???

Color Key:
Quotes from the Ensign article in blue.
Quotes from the Bible in red.
All my own words are black.

By Connie Raddon

Each Ensign Magazine has a section entitled, “What We Believe”.  In the July 2011 Ensign, this section has an article called “WORK is An Eternal Principle”.  This is an official message from the leadership of the LDS Church. 

For references, the article cites
1.      The Bible
2.      LDS books:  “Doctrine & Covenants” and “Pearl of Great Price”
3.      LDS teaching manual, “Gospel Principles 2009” pg 155-60

The article begins by saying, “Our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ worked to create the heavens and the earth… Their example shows us that work is important in heaven and on earth.”

I don’t see anywhere in the Genesis account of the creation an emphasis, or even a suggestion that work is an important eternal principle.  The account shows an awesome God creating something from nothing.  His “work” is so far above our comprehension, that it demonstrates how much greater He is than we are.  It demands giving God glory and praise.  There is no explanation of whether it’s a great labor for God or not.  This isn’t a work ethic lesson from God.

Then the reference, John 5:17 is given in the article as a support for this idea.  The Bible verse, however, has nothing to do with a good or eternal work ethic.  That becomes clear when you include verse 16.

“For this reason the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because He was doing these things on the Sabbath.  But He answered them, ‘My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working.”

The Pharisees were upset with Jesus, because He was breaking the Sabbath, and calling Himself equal with God.  But the LDS church also teaches to not work on the Sabbath, and that Jesus is not equal with God.  So they are actually on the side of the Pharisees in this story.  This verse does NOT support the point they are trying to make.

“When God created man and woman in His own image, He placed them in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 1:26-27; 2:8)

This is correct.  The Garden of Eden was perfect.  It produced all that man needed with no human effort. 

“Later, when they were cast out of the garden, the Lord said to Adam, ‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’ (Genesis 3:19).  From that time on, Adam and eve worked to provide for their own needs and the needs of their children.”

This is true, too.  But as a Mormon, I was always taught that the fall of Adam was a good thing.  It wasn’t.  It was a sin.  God also cursed the land as a punishment for that sin.  All humans are born into this sinful state, and also under the punishment of having to work to provide for our needs.

            As a Mormon, I always had the idea that God gave Adam and Eve two commandments, which could not possibly both be kept.  It was necessary to break one in order to keep the other.  Although it was a tiny little thought in the back of my brain somewhere, it justified sin to me.  I could always imagine that I HAD to lie, disobey, cheat, lust, be angry, etc… in order for God’s bigger purpose to happen in my life.  It made sense to me.  It was a logical example of the Adam and Eve “paradox” and how it applied to my life.

The problem with that idea is that SIN IS NEVER OK WITH GOD.  So, it caused me to minimize God’s holiness, and his absolute perfection, and believe that sin was ok with God depending on the situation.

In the following points, notice where the focus is.  It is on us… our works, our blessings, and our feelings. 

·         We are responsible to care for ourselves and our families. (Our works)
·         Parents have a sacred duty to care for their children.  (Our works)
·         Children will be blessed as they care for their aging parents. (see 1 Timothy 5:3-4, 8) (Our blessings)
1 Tim 5:3-4, 8 “Honor widows who are really widows.  But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is good and acceptable before God… But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
There is no promise of any blessing in these verses.  The chapter is talking about how families should take care of their own so that they are not a burden on the church.  Not only that, but these verses are specifically talking about widows – NOT aging parents. This verse does NOT support the point they are trying to make.
·         We should help members of our extended family when possible. (Our works)
·         We strengthen our character and develop work skills.  (Focus on ourselves)
·         We feel the joy of God’s plan for us on earth.  (Our feelings)
·         We become more prepared and self-reliant as we build a three-month supply of food, water, and other necessities.  (Rely on ourselves)

These points are all about us… What we should do and what we will get. 

Jesus only gave His believers TWO commandments:

Matthew 22:37-40 “…You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and great commandment.  And the second is like it:  You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.”

Jesus also promised His believers that if they would place their trust 100% in Him, they would be filled with the Holy Spirit as a constant, permanent companion.  The Holy Spirit will guide all of us in how to keep this commandment to love – day by day, person to person, and situation to situation.  By studying God’s Word (the Bible), and having His Spirit living in us, we have an intimate, direct line to God.  But the LDS church stands between its members and God. 
The Church leaders tell the members whom to love (families, children, aging parents), when to love, and how to love.  Then it promises blessings that don’t exist. 

The article says, “Blessings come to us as a result of work.”

This is not what the Bible teaches.  The Bible says that you will probably have a much rougher time here on earth once you are a believer:

John 15:19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own.  Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.”

The only blessing God promises is eternal life (salvation, being saved, living in heaven with Him).  And that blessing only comes through faith. 

Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God.  NOT OF WORKS lest anyone should boast.”

The LDS Church has no right to promise these blessings.  It caused me to expect blessings because of my own righteousness.  I believed that if I obeyed what God said to do, he was somehow bound by law to give me the blessings that I had earned.  This made me confused and frustrated when I thought I was keeping all the commandments and doing everything that God wanted me to do, and yet still struggling with finances, or relationships, or school, or career or raising my daughter, etc.  The Church kept promising that if I was obedient, I would be blessed.  So I kept spinning in my little hamster wheel as fast as I could so I could be blessed.

I wish that I could have known then what I know now – that Jesus completed ALL the work necessary for my salvation, and if I trust in Him 100%, he will give me peace, and he will give me rest. 

Matt 11:30 “For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

On May 18, 1873 (as recorded in the Journal of Discourses, Vol. 16 p. 46), Brigham Young issued a challenge:  “Take up the Bible, compare the religion of the Latter Day Saints with it, and see if it will stand the test.”

I have accepted that challenge from Brigham Young.

In the July 2011 issue of the Ensign, the LDS religion FAILS this test.

I sincerely thank my research partner, Art Haglund. 

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