22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.
Mark 13:22 (KJV)
In a YouTube video entitled “The Scripture That Saved My Life From Human Traffickers” (https://youtu.be/LJof2_59vbc), Tim Ballard tells a story about going undercover to gain intel.
As he finished his mission, the traffickers decided to kill him and his fellow operatives in order to acquire their belongings. Tim went to his car and grabbed his worn out Book of Mormon. In the midst of the chaos he remembered Alma 58:11.
11 Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him.
Tim Ballard got out of the car and was surprised to find the traffickers had left. In the video he testifies of The Book of Mormon and says, “There’s power in just holding the book.”
Tens of thousands of Latter-day Saints claim they’ve gained a spiritual witness that The Book of Mormon is true. This testimony comes by utilizing “Moroni’s Promise” in Moroni 10:3-5.
3 Behold, I would exhort you that when ye shall read these things, if it be wisdom in God that ye should read them, that ye would remember how merciful the Lord hath been unto the children of men, from the creation of Adam even down until the time that ye shall receive these things, and ponder it in your hearts.
4 And when ye shall receive these things, I would exhort you that ye would ask God, the Eternal Father, in the name of Christ, if these things are not true; and if ye shall ask with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, he will manifest the truth of it unto you, by the power of the Holy Ghost.
5 And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.
The Book of Mormon compels the reader to abandon logic, and instead balance their testimony of the restored gospel on the tightrope of subjective feeling.
Faith promoting experiences are a dime a dozen in Mormonism. Parents get uneasy feelings and discover their toddlers mere steps from busy roadways. The men use the priesthood to heal the sick. Those who pay their last dollar on tithing find magical checks in the mail that cover their expenses.
Under this mountain of spiritual evidence, one must conclude that Mormonism is true, right?
Not so fast, hold your cureloms! It turns out even non-LDS folks experience these spiritual events.
I once worked with a lesbian named Kourtney who didn’t believe in God. Instead she believed in the universe. One day she said she asked the universe for money and found 20 dollars on the side of the road.
I chastised God inwardly. “Where’s my 20 dollars?” I asked. I was an obedient member of the true church. If anyone deserved 20 dollars, it was me. “Don’t you know she’s living in sin, God? Besides, she believes in the universe. You know this is going to reinforce her false beliefs, so why bless her?”
My black and white viewpoint couldn’t make sense of the situation. God was supposed to reward the righteous and punish the wicked.
My mistake, it turned out, was trying to force God inside a box.
In Matthew 5:44-45 (KJV) Jesus says:
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;
45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.
The problem with this is it dismantles most of the experiences used to justify the LDS church.
Luckily, there’s still miracles. Certainly the act of casting out demons and priesthood healing is evidence of the validity of the restored gospel, right? Wrong again.
Deuteronomy 13:1-3 says:
1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
This passage makes it clear that a sign or wonder can be employed by a false prophet.
Pharaoh’s magicians were able to perform miracles. They made a stick turn into a snake and turned water into blood. If Moses hadn’t been there, it would have been easy to assume they had God on their side.
Joseph Smith certainly could have produced a book that gave individuals a burning in the bosom, whether it was true or not.
But what about the temple? What about all the stories about spirits appearing to family members and thanking them for doing their ordinances?
That’s problematic as well.
In 1 Samuel 28 Saul asks a witch to conjure up the deceased Samuel so he can speak to him. The spirit of Samuel appears and foretells of Saul’s death.
Under the heading Samuel in the LDS Church’s Bible Dictionary we read:
The account in 1 Sam. 28:5–20 of the prophet being brought back from the dead by the witch of Endor, at King Saul’s request, presents a problem. It is certain that a witch or other medium cannot by any means available to her bring up a prophet from the world of spirits. We may confidently be assured that if Samuel was present on that occasion, it was not due to conjuring of the witch. Either Samuel came in spite of and not because of the witch, or some other spirit came impersonating him.
The fact that it can’t definitely be stated whether it was Samuel or another spirit is terrifying. This means evil spirits are so good at impersonating people, that it’s impossible to tell the difference. So when you see a spirit in the temple, how can you be certain it’s not a demon in disguise?
The Book of Mormon prophecies of itself in 2 Nephi 26:16:
16 For those who shall be destroyed shall speak unto them out of the ground, and their speech shall be low out of the dust, and their voice shall be as one that hath a familiar spirit; for the Lord God will give unto him power, that he may whisper concerning them, even as it were out of the ground; and their speech shall whisper out of the dust.
The fact that it expressly mentions familiar spirits in conjunction with the coming forth of The Book of Mormon should tell you all you need to know. As a well known early Mormon apostle, Willard Richards, infamously said:
“God or the devil has had a hand in that book, for man never wrote it.’” (D. Michael Quinn, “They Served: The Richards Legacy in the Church,” Ensign, Jan. 1980, p.25)
Since a familiar spirit is a demon, that settles the dispute.
Let’s return to the story I shared at the beginning of the article. Even if God was sending inspiration to Tim Ballard through Alma 58:11, it’s still not a point for Mormonism.
We need to stop mistaking the tree for the forest. The experience Tim shares isn’t about a book, it’s about a principle. Alma 58:11 talks about assurance, and ironically, that’s one thing Mormon’s don’t have.
Latter-day Saints must obey God’s commandments. They must eradicate their sins. They must pay 10% of their incomes to the Church. They must endure to the end because the threat of losing salvation hangs constantly overhead. This is nothing short of human trafficking on a spiritual level.
I invite all Latter-day Saints to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. His grace is free, and it endures forever on our behalf. Only Christ can speak peace to our souls. Thanks to His vicarious atonement, we can rest in our deliverance through Him.
Hebrews 6:17-19 (KJV)
17 Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:
18 That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:
19 Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil.