Before and After Pictures
There were two sets of before and after pictures of two people’s mouths – before and after dental work. The before picture in the first set revealed some crooked teeth and a few others with cavities. The after picture showed the same mouth but now with perfectly straight teeth and not a cavity in sight. This set touted the work of one dentist.
The second set, publicizing the work of another dentist, showed a much more drastic change. That before picture revealed a mouth with major problems. As you looked at the picture, you wondered how the person could even close his mouth or eat anything. The after picture amazingly resembled the after picture of the first set – perfectly aligned teeth with not a problem in sight. It was obvious that a highly skilled dentist had worked on it.
Obviously, I don’t want to talk about dentists. I want to talk about how wonderfully God has worked on me. One way that I can emphasize his incredible work is by showing people my before picture. The Bible paints it vividly. I was a lawless rebel. (1 John 3:4). I was totally corrupt and evil. (Genesis 8:21) I was spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1) always doing sin’s biding. (John 8:34) I did no good; I was worthless (Romans 3:10-12). A viler picture could not be drawn. That was my before picture – really, not figuratively.
Mormonism, however, portrays people more in line with the first person mentioned above. It says that people are basically good. The following quote is from a speech given by Tad R. Callister at BYU in 2012.
On the other hand, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that we are the spirit offspring of God with inherited spiritual traits that give us the divine potential to become like our parent, God the Father. As to this identity, President Packer has written:
You are a child of God. He is the father of your spirit. Spiritually you are of noble birth, the offspring of the King of Heaven. Fix that truth in your mind and hold to it. However many generations in your mortal ancestry, no matter what race or people you represent, the pedigree of your spirit can be written on a single line. You are a child of God!
That is just one example of many from that article. From this positon of man’s “divine potential” he builds the argument that people can become gods themselves. Although that is official LDS teaching it is striking to see it spelled out so clearly. Go here to read his entire speech. Click this link.
The point I want to emphasize is that Mormonism’s high view of mankind diminishes the great things God has done for us. Its conception of Jesus’ atonement and God’s grace pales in comparison to what the Bible says. And it all begins with their faulty conception of the human race.
The Bible gives all credit to God for me being right with him. He washed and cleansed me (1 John 1:7). He made me spiritually alive (Eph. 2 5). He created a new heart within me (2 Cor. 5:17). He changed me from being a slave of sin to a slave of righteousness (Rom. 6:17-18). He adopted me into his family (Gal. 4:5). He sanctified and made me holy (Heb. 10:10-14). He did this all for me through Jesus Christ.
The tremendous contrast between my before and after pictures emphasizes the greatness of what God has done. He didn’t just fix a few problems in me. He made me alive when I was spiritually dead. We recently posted a video series of messages, entitled Anchors of Faith, which emphasize God’s great work for us. You can find them here. As you prepare once again to celebrate Christ’s birth, may these messages help you appreciate all the more what he has done for you. To God be ALL glory.