The Mormon Coffee post of April 18, 2008 discussed Jesus’ words from Matthew 7:21-23. Here Jesus warns of the result of spiritual self-deception:
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart form me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matt. 7:21-23).
The article referred to Jesus’ warning as “the most frightening words,” for they speak of being eternally cast away from the safe and comforting presence of the Lord.
After reading the article on Mormon Coffee about the Matthew passage, a Latter-day Saint commented,
“Frightening words? I’ve read this passage many times, and have never found it frightening. The Savior’s ministry has always brought me peace.”
This made me wonder. Under what circumstances would the threat of eternal separation from the Savior Jesus Christ not be frightening?
For someone who does not believe in Christ I suppose the words would have little meaning; but clearly our LDS friend is not in that category.
Someone believing he is secure in his salvation may not be frightened by these words, but he would be foolish to dismiss them so readily. After all, Jesus is warning of self –deception — He is speaking specifically about people who (mistakenly) believe they are secure in their salvation.
Be that as it may, it’s unlikely that our LDS friend is in that category, either. In Mormonism there is no ultimate assurance of spending eternity in the celestial kingdom where Christ dwells, for one of the requirements to enter that kingdom is faithful endurance to the end.
If a person does not believe in a hellish eternal punishment Jesus’ words might not be frightening. In the Mormon belief system pretty much everybody gets an eternal life far better than the earth life we are familiar with. So the prospect of gaining any one of the three LDS eternal kingdoms would probably not generate fearful concern.
Nevertheless, the Mormon understands that being assigned to a place outside the celestial kingdom is in turn being banished from living eternally in the presence of Christ. Is this not frightening to contemplate?
A Christian reader of Mormon Coffee responding to our fearless LDS friend suggested a possible answer:
“Jesus words are sobering to those of us who follow Him because we know what the stakes are.”
Could that be it? People who are not frightened or sobered by Matthew 7:21-23 don’t know what they have to lose? That makes sense to me. If we don’t know Jesus, if we don’t know the depth and the height of who and what He is, maybe we aren’t too worried about living without Him.
Several Mormons have told me over the years that heaven would not be heaven without the continuation of their marriage and family unit; if all they got was dwelling forever in the presence of God they were not really interested in going there.
An LDS man once asked me what I wanted eternity to be like. I told Him that my hope and my joy are in Christ. I long to spend eternity in His presence. That is my perfect eternity, to be with my Savior forever.
The man told me that I would probably get what I hoped for, but I would be missing the best part. He said,
“It’s like going to an exquisite restaurant, ordering an incredible dinner, and leaving after the soup and salad, before the entrée arrives.”
For him, Jesus is a nice appetizer preceding a fulfilling eternity that goes way beyond the joy of the Lord.
Listen to the way Christian pastor S.M. Lockridge described his King Jesus:
Is He your King? Do you know Him?
He is what we have to lose if we deceive ourselves into believing a lie.
Terrifyingly frightening thought.