In a comment on Monday's post Dayanna asked me about why I left the Mormon Church. Monday's post wasn't about Mormonism and I thought I would post my testimony here and then if there are follow-up comments and questions they will relate directly to Mormonism.
Why I Joined the Mormon Church
I remember my first contact with Mormonism, and the elders who taught me. I remember vividly the conviction with which I embraced the church and it's teachings. I recall experiencing a burning in the bosom, not just once but many times, and can picture to this day where I was kneeling when it first happened. I could barely contain my excitement as I discovered more through the missionary discussions. This revolutionary message that the heavens were not sealed and that God spoke again through living prophets. I recollect my baptism at the District Centre then, before Wales had a Stake; It has two now.
It took less than a month for us to make our momentous decision and, whilst this may seem hardly enough time to fully consider the issues, I assure you we were convinced and had no doubts. I realise now that that month was the culmination of a longer period of questioning and seeking. In the end ours was a real "road to Damascus" experience and, like Saul, it was as if scales fell from our eyes.
Contrary to what you might think, I am not part of an anti-Mormon group. I am not an anti-Mormon at all but a Christian. I am a member of a local Baptist church and my life is taken up with full involvement there. My time is not spent pouring over anti-Mormon literature, nor is it spent finding ways to "get at" Mormons. I do, however, share my experiences and findings with others in the same spirit in which Mormon missionaries go around the doors. I have found the truth and, especially in relation to Latter-day Saints, wish to share it.
I am sometimes asked why I now "fight" the Mormon Church. Mormons I meet ask why I try to convert church members who are, after all, already Christians. I might ask the same question of Mormon missionaries. When they find a Christian on the doorstep do they back away saying "Oh, you already know Jesus"? They do not, because they believe that there is no salvation outside the Mormon church. I believe there is no salvation inside the Mormon church and so, by the same token, I proselyte Latter-day Saints.
Why I Became a Christian
I have already said that I was happy as a Mormon and that I have no complaints about the way the church treated me. The inevitable question is, "Why, then, did you leave? There must have been something wrong".
I recall it was one Friday evening, the children were in bed, and there was a quiet moment when we looked at each other apprehensively. We had not been discussing church, either that evening or that week, except in the general way. I remember how we tentatively but finally agreed that there was something wrong. There was an unspoken, undefined, significance to that word "something" precisely because we had nothing to complain about.
One of us, I don't now remember who, said, "It's not working, is it?", and the other one agreed. Again an unspoken understanding of something we had never discussed or given the vaguest expression to, yet we each knew what the other meant. Our faith was not "working". What did we mean by that? We didn't then know or understand, but we felt an earnest desire to put right whatever it was we felt was wrong because our church membership was important to us.
It was then that we made a decision that, to this day, makes people stare. We turned to a Christian friend. It seems almost inconceivable, especially since we had no reason to shun our church friends, that we should do such a thing. I believe God was in all this. Of course I would say that, wouldn't I?
I believe our friend John could barely contain his excitement at being presented with such an opportunity. He did hold himself back, however, and simply invited us to church. "Come and see" he said to us. It was in that church that we experienced such a love for God that we were left wondering what it was that we thought we had been experiencing for all those years. Don't misunderstand me. I am not suggesting that Mormons are loveless, or that they have no genuine desire to serve God. But this was different.
When I set out to read Romans I was looking for a solution to the problems of my faith as a Mormon. I was not trying to sort out the Mormon Church. I was trying to sort out Mike Thomas. I wanted to get right with God so that I could be a better Latter-day Saint. Now you might say that I had a peculiar way of doing this. After all, going to a non-member etc. But God was in this from beginning to end so how could I do otherwise?
It was now that I did the one thing I had never done before. I knelt before God and asked Jesus to be my Saviour. I had believed in him for years, but I had been taught that the way to salvation was by obedience to the Mormon church. The church had effectively stood between me and God.
I came to see that there is only one mediator between men and God, the man Christ Jesus. I realised that the head of every man is Christ, not an organisation. I saw that all who came to him would not be condemned but would receive eternal life. I had an assurance of eternal life, something I had never known before, something no Mormon knows because the Mormon church teaches that salvation is by obedience, and so it is arrogant and presumptuous to say that you know. The Bible told me that I could know, the Mormon Church told me that I couldn't. I chose to believe the Word of God.
Now I was faced with a dilemma. Could I give up all those things that had been my life up to now? Leave my church friends? People think that obedience is all about the ten commandments and that sort of thing. Really it is about attitude. What really is the most important thing in your life? Put like that there was no other choice. I left the Mormon Church and embraced my newly discovered joy. My life since really coming to know Jesus bears no comparison to all those years when I only thought I knew him. Iremember the sobering realisation of what was happening when my wife one day said, "You realise we can't go back?"
I made the right choice and discovered a God who truly proves his faithfulness. So many scripture promises came true for me when I sought him and and discovered that "if you seek him, he will be found by you" (1 Chron.28:9). Coming from a system that saw obedience to law as the way to God I was brought to rejoice in the fact that "a righteousness from God , apart from the law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify" (Romans 3:21). The assurances of God's Word are a blessing to me beyond anything I could hope or ask. I know that through faith in Jesus I have eternal life as a present possession and a guaranteed inheritance (John 5:24). I just thought you would like to know.
What we Discovered in Romans
What did we find in our reading of Paul's letter to the Roman? We travelled what we later found was called The Roman Road. It is one of many journeys through the Bible designed to help us understand the fundamentals of God's Word. I reproduce it here:
THE ROMAN ROAD
This is a simple explanation of the gospel, using scriptures from the Book of Romans - hence the name. It can be easily marked in your Bible by writing the first reference at the beginning of Romans, and then in the margin by each reference writing the reference which follows. Thus when you want to share the gospel message from the scriptures, you do not need to remember a string of references, you just need to look at the book of Romans and follow the road through it. The references and a brief description follows. Feel free to explain them in your own words.
3:10 - There is no-one righteous, no matter how good we are or how hard we try.
3:23 - All have sinned and fallen short. It is impossible for us to measure up to God's standard.
5:12 - Death came to all men, because all sinned. It is our nature to sin.
5:8 - Because of God's love for us, he sent Christ to die for us - while we were still sinners, not because we had done anything to earn it.
6:23 - The wages of sin is death - wages are what you earn as a result of what you do. The gift of God is eternal life - you do not earn a gift, or deserve it. God gives the gift because He loves us. We do not need to work for it, only accept it.
10:13 - Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved, regardless of who they are or what they have done. You only have to call.
10:9,10 - True, heart-felt confession of faith in Jesus is what it takes to be saved, not works.