Christian theologian John Piper wrote about “How Christ Fulfilled and Ended the Old Testament Regime.” Dr. Piper noted, “with the coming of Christ virtually everything has changed.” He listed five specific elements found in the Old Testament that the coming of Christ changed. Interestingly, the “Restoration” — that is, Mormonism — reinstituted many of the things that were transformed at Christ’s coming.
Number 1 on Dr. Piper’s list:
The blood sacrifices ceased because Christ fulfilled all that they were pointing toward. He was the final, unrepeatable sacrifice for sins. Hebrews 9:12: “He entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption.”
Mormonism has not officially reinstituted blood sacrifices. However, some Mormon leaders have taught that Christ’s blood was not sufficient to atone for some sins; therefore, the sinner will have to atone with his or her own blood.
“Joseph Smith taught that there were certain sins so grievous that man may commit, that they will place the transgressors beyond the power of the atonement of Christ. If these offenses are committed, then the blood of Christ will not cleanse them from their sins even though they repent. Therefore their only hope is to have their own blood shed to atone, as far as possible, in their behalf.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 1:135)
Number 2 on Dr. Piper’s list:
The priesthood that stood between worshipper and God has ceased. Hebrews 7:23-24: “The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever.”
Mormonism functions through the institution of priesthood authority. Though very different from the Old Testament priesthood, the Mormon priesthood is believed by Latter-day Saints to be the power and authority to act for God on earth in matters of salvation. According to Mormonism, this priesthood is necessary for people to have access to a relationship with God via baptism, washings, anointings, endowments, etc.
“No man has authority from God to administer to the children of men the ordinances of life and salvation [except] by the power of the Holy Priesthood. The power of that Priesthood is with the Latter-day Saints.” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Wilford Woodruff, 2004, p. 39. Brackets in original)
“The priesthood is the eternal power and authority of God, through which He created the heavens and the earth and by which He governs the same. It is used to redeem and eventually exalt His children. As given in mortality, the priesthood is the power and authority to act in God’s name. By and through it, one is authorized to preach the gospel, administer the ordinances and govern in the Church.” (“Priesthood Authority,” Church News, November 10, 2007, 16)
Number 3 on Dr. Piper’s list:
The physical temple has ceased to be the geographic center of worship. Now Christ himself is the center of worship. He is the “place,” the “tent,” and the “temple” where we meet God. Therefore Christianity has not [sic] geographic center, no Mecca, no Jerusalem. John 4:21-23: “Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, believe me, the hour is coming when neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. …But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth.’” John 2:19-21: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. …He was speaking about the temple of his body.” Matthew 18:20: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.”
Mormonism centers itself in what is called “temple worship.” Mormon temples are believed to be the place where Mormons meet God and where they make covenants with God that they believe are necessary for eternal life.
“Let us truly be a temple-attending and a temple-loving people. …Let us make the temple, with temple worship and temple covenants and temple marriage, our ultimate earthly goal and the supreme mortal experience. …All of our efforts in proclaiming the gospel, perfecting the Saints, and redeeming the dead lead to the holy temple. This is because the temple ordinances are absolutely crucial; we cannot return to God’s presence without them.” (Howard W. Hunter, “A Temple-Motivated People,” Ensign, February 1995)
“…temples are the most sacred place on earth-a place where earth and heaven meet and where we feel close to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ” (“Why Latter-day Saints Build Temples”)
Number 4 on Dr. Piper’s list:
The food laws that set Israel apart from the nations have been fulfilled and ended in Christ. Mark 7:18-19: “[Jesus] said to them, ‘Do you not see that whatever goes into a person from outside cannot defile him . . . (Thus he declared all foods clean).’”
Mormonism requires observance of a “commandment” called the Word of Wisdom. This rule calls for abstinence from things such as tobacco, alcohol, coffee, and tea. To imbibe in things prohibited in the Word of Wisdom is considered a sin and can cost a Mormon his or her place in the celestial kingdom.
“SALVATION AND A CUP OF TEA. You cannot neglect little things. ‘Oh, a cup of tea is such a little thing. It is so little; surely it doesn’t amount to much; surely the Lord will forgive me if I drink a cup of tea. Yes, he will forgive you, because he is going to forgive every man who repents; but, my brethren, if you drink coffee or tea, or take tobacco, are you letting a cup of tea or a little tobacco stand in the road and bar you from the celestial kingdom of God, where you might otherwise have received a fulness of glory?” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation 2:16).
Number 5 on Dr. Piper’s list:
The establishment of civil law on the basis of an ethnically rooted people, who are ruled directly by God, has ceased. The people of God are no longer a unified political body or an ethnic group or a nation-state, but are exiles and sojourners among all ethnic groups and all states. Therefore, God’s will for states is not taken directly from the Old Testament theocratic order, but should now be reestablished from place to place and from time to time by means that correspond to God’s sovereign rule over all peoples, and that correspond to the fact that genuine obedience, rooted as it is in faith in Christ, cannot be coerced by law. The state is therefore grounded in God, but not expressive of God’s immediate rule. Romans 13:1: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting.”
Today Mormonism does not overtly attempt to hold theocratic rule over all people (although some residents of Utah might disagree with me, but Mormonism’s founding prophet, Joseph Smith, took steps to establish a theocracy, which was continued by Brigham Young.
“In the Nauvoo church paper, Smith said in 1844, ‘I go emphatically, virtuously, and humanely, for a THEODEMOCRACY, where God and the people hold the power to conduct the affairs of men in righteousness.’ Eight years later, [Lieutenant John W.] Gunnison said, ‘They call their system of government, a “Theo-Democracy;” and that, in a civil capacity, they stand as the Israelites of old under Moses.’” (Bigler and Bagley, The Mormon Rebellion, 21)
“The Prophet established a confidential Council of Fifty, or ‘Ytfif,’ comprised of both Mormons and non-Mormons, to help attend to temporal matters, including the eventual development of a one-world government, in harmony with preparatory plans for the second advent of the Saviour.” (John J. Stewart, Joseph Smith The Mormon Prophet, 204)
As Dr. Piper noted, Christ “unleashed these massive changes in the world.” They are wonderful and glorious! They demonstrate the absolute fulfillment of the law in Christ. They tore down barriers and opened the gates of Heaven. They set God’s people free. But Mormonism has discounted this finished work of Christ, re-erecting barriers and re-instituting an Old Testament-type of religious system that relies on covenant-keeping (laws and ordinances) for developing personal righteousness – the basis for earning eternal life.
God has provided something much better.
“The law was kept perfectly by Christ. And all its penalties against God’s sinful people were poured out on Christ. Therefore, the law is now manifestly not the path to righteousness, Christ is. The ultimate goal of the law is that we would look to Christ, not law-keeping, for our righteousness.” (John Piper, “How Christ Fulfilled and Ended the Old Testament Regime”)
May God’s amazing provision in Christ never be rejected.
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.”