Dear Kristy, May 20, 2001
I just wanted you to know that I have appreciated having you as a visiting teacher, but more than that, getting to know you somewhat while I was attending the ward.
You brought something up when you were here last that I wanted to address, but didn’t feel it was appropriate at the time since you were sharing some personal things with me and Astrid. You reminded me of an occasion (or perhaps several) when I stated that I felt like my prayers didn’t get past the ceiling. That is no longer the case.
I know God hears and answers my prayers. I feel His Holy Spirit with me every day and am taught by both His Word and His Spirit. For the first time in 26 years (the length of time I was a TBM – True Blue Mormon), I have a peace and assurance that I didn’t have as a member of the LDS church.
My “testimony” was just as strong as any good LDS person’s would be. It was not shallow. It was through sincere prayer and study and becoming acquainted with God’s Word via the Bible, that I have come to know who God really is. I always doubted my salvation as an LDS. I hoped I would make it to the Celestial Kingdom, but I was never sure. Have I done enough? Am I doing enough? Will I ever be able to do enough? Have I really kept the commandments as best as I could? Am I really good enough?
The Apostle Paul taught:
“For it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
“That if you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)
I have that assurance now and cannot describe the JOY I have in my life from knowing Who my Savior is. It does make a difference what a person believes about Jesus Christ. If you have the wrong Jesus and the wrong gospel you do not have the Life that the real Jesus Christ gives.
“Now brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached unto you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures…” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4)
“But even if we or an angel from heaven (Moroni?) should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned.” (Galatians 1:8-9)
I just didn’t want you to go on thinking that I still felt the same way about praying and about my Father’s love for me. I have His assurance that He is mindful of my every thought, desire, and prayer.
You shared with me that you had been reading Hebrews and invited me to do the same. It certainly is a wonderful book in the New Testament! I would like to share some of the insights the Holy Spirit impressed upon me as I read it:
Hebrews 1:1-2 “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.”
The time for prophets passed away with John the Baptist. Christ ended the time of the prophets.
Hebrews 2:1-3 “We must pay more careful attention, therefore, to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away. For if the message spoken by angels was binding, and every violation and disobedience received its just punishment, how shall we escape if we ignore such a great salvation? This salvation, which was first announced by the Lord, was confirmed by those who heard him.”
Under “The Law,” the penalty for sin was punishment. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23). If, by Jewish law, earthly punishment was meted out for violations, how much more awful the punishment (spiritual death – separation from God) if it were not for the salvation which Jesus Christ brought!
Hebrews 6 is all about Jesus Christ being our High Priest. Chapter 7 is especially powerful in declaring that Jesus is the LAST HIGH PRIEST, that the Aaronic priesthood was done away with and fulfilled in Jesus. As a matter of fact, if you can find a copy of the pre-1980 edition of the LDS scriptures, look at the heading on top of page 291 (New Testament) – referring to Hebrews chapter 7. I have a copy of the page if you want it. It says “Levitical Priesthood abolished.” Then in verse 24, speaking of Jesus, it says He has an “unchangeable priesthood.” In the footnotes it explains that unchangeable means which passeth not from one to another. If it doesn’t pass from one to another, how could it have passed from Jesus to Joseph Smith? The church must have gotten too many letters asking about it, because when the church came out with the new scriptures that heading and footnote was left out! Because of Jesus’ resurrection He is our High Priest; there is no Melchizedek priesthood necessary today as LDS teach. Look at Hebrews 7:23;
“Now there have been many of those priests, since death has prevented them from continuing in office; but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he is always able to intercede for them.”
Isn’t that incredible!? Because of Jesus Christ, we can approach the throne of God directly; not through temple ordinances, not through Joseph Smith, not through good deeds, or through any other means! He makes intercession for us!
Consider verse 26: “…But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”
Other verses in Hebrews that testify of God’s grace are 7:14-17:
“Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy. The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says: This is the covenant I will make with them after that time, says the Lord. I will put my laws in their hearts, and I will write them on their minds.” Then he adds, “Their sins and lawless acts I will remember no more.”
It is Jesus’ righteousness that becomes OUR righteousness! Not our works!
Hebrews 11 is known as the faith Hall of Fame. And finally, Hebrews 13:9 warns us, “Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by ceremonial foods, which are of no value to those who eat them.” For example the Word of Wisdom. It is not what goes into the mouth that defiles a person, but what comes FROM the mouth, as Paul taught.
All that just to say that I enjoyed studying Hebrews – thank you for recommending it. God is truly good. Sunday used to be my least favorite day of the week. Now it is my favorite! I hunger for and am filled by His word in a way I have never experienced before. How do I know leaving the church was the right decision? I know by the fruits my choice has produced; love, joy, peace, and all the things that the God of the Bible has promised those who believe on His name.