I talked to the missionaries and they asked me to read the Book of Mormon (BOM), especially Moroni 10:4 and pray about it. They were so excited that I actually agreed to read the book, I couldn’t let them down. Besides, they said that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was the one true church on earth today. If it really is true, I needed to know about it. I decided to read the last chapter first, Moroni 10 because they had already pointed out verse 4. Sounded good, until I got to 10:32, I was a little concerned with what it said, but I decided to read the introduction.
The intro says that Joseph Smith told the brethren that the BOM is the “most correct book on earth and people will get closer to God by reading it than any other book.” Wow, I really wanted to know God, so I decided to read the entire book. It’s written in King’s English, just like my King James Bible so it took a little getting used to, but I managed. I didn’t know the Hebrews in Egypt knew 17th century English, but I had faith and the missionaries were so darn eager for me to read it.
It didn’t take me long to get to 1 Nephi 3:7. It says that God will not give me a commandment that I can’t keep. Really? I know that I can’t keep every commandment every day. I started thinking that I wasn’t worthy enough for God. I hoped that there would be some way to get closer to God because I was really struggling with sin. I kept reading.
Soon, I got to 1 Nephi 13 and 14 and learned about the great abominable church and that there were only two churches on the earth, the church of the Lamb of God and the church of the Devil. The missionaries already told me that the LDS church was the one true church, so I knew what the Lamb of God church was. I grew up Catholic and I knew that the Catholic Church wasn’t my favorite church, but it says that everyone that is a member of any other church is of the Devil. I don’t think that I am of the Devil and I don’t think that my family and friends are of the Devil. That sounded pretty harsh for a loving God. I continued to read.
I read about the trip that the family of Lehi took to the Americas and the trials and tribulations that followed them. I read 2 Nephi 9:27 and it says woe to me for my awful state. I transgress commandments. Transgress means sin. That is why I needed to find God, I am a sinner and the BOM says woe to me. I read up to 2 Nephi 25:23 and had a question. What does “after all you can do” mean? Does it mean that I need to stop sinning, or does it mean that I need to join the LDS church; does it mean that I need to see all my family as the devil? I don’t understand what that means do you?
I continued to read about wars and peoples, cities and prophets, coins, horses, elephants, steel, glass, etc. It was a great story. Plenty of action and bible verses. It sounded great. I had never heard about this history of the Americas before. I was reading in Alma and there was another verse that really weighed down on me. I know that I must always do what God says, and Alma 11:37 seemed impossible to me. It says I couldn’t be saved in my sins. I need to be saved. But it says God can’t save me in my sins. I always thought that God could do anything, but I guess that He can’t save me in my sins. I know that I am a sinner. I started to feel doomed. But I listened to the missionaries and they said that the BOM was true. If it is true, I’m in real trouble.
It didn’t take long to reach Alma 34. The missionaries told me that I could repent and I would be saved. Great! I could repent and my sins would be forgiven. But I sin every day. I would need to repent every day to make sure that I would live with Heavenly Father again if I died unexpectedly. I read in Alma 34:32-35 that I needed to repent of all my sins before I die or I will be sealed to the Devil. But the missionaries told me that I would be sealed to my wife and children and be a family for eternity. But if I’m sealed to the devil, are my wife and kids sealed to the devil also? Again, I always sin. It may not be a big sin, but it is still a sin. There must be something more.
That something more better hurry, because I read Alma 42:30. I can’t excuse myself from any of my sins. Big, little, any sin. But maybe teeny, tiny sins are OK. I hoped there was a loophole for people like me.
I finally got back to Moroni and continued to read. There was 10:4 again saying that I must pray about the truth of the BOM. By this time, I was really depressed. Then 10:32 hit me hard.
“Yea, come unto Christ and be perfected in Him,”
Sounds great! I really needed to be perfected because I am a sinner
“and deny yourself of all ungodliness,”
I still can’t do this, what’s next?
“And if ye shall deny yourself of all ungodliness, and love God with all your
might, mind, and strength,”
I will try, but sometimes I will question things and sin occasionally.
“then is His grace sufficient to you.”
If I deny myself of all ungodliness then what am I? I’m perfect. But only Jesus was perfect. If I am perfect, why would I need grace? But what if I can’t deny myself of all ungodliness? I still need His grace! I’m a sinner. I really need grace. But it won’t be sufficient for me. God loves me, I need His grace. But the God in the BOM can’t save me in my sins. But I again listened to the missionaries and they told me that there was always repentance and the atonement. Good, there must be something more. I prayed about the BOM, but I didn’t get that “burning in the bosom” that the missionaries said that they felt. I decided to look deeper into the LDS church because the missionaries were adamant that the church is true. I went to engineering school and research comes naturally to me. I decided not to judge the church on just the BOM, even though it does say that it the “most correct book of any on earth, and the keystone of our religion.”
I bought a quadruple combination from LDS.org. It contains the KJV Bible with Joseph Smith’s changes in the footnotes, the BOM, The Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrines and Covenants (D&C). That’s a big book! Tons of commandments, laws, rules, etc. The missionaries referred to D&C a number of times. Maybe I would start to feel better about my salvation and eternal life by reading that book.
I was wrong. Right from the start, in D&C 1:31-32, I knew I was in big trouble. There was no way I could even get by with tiny little sins. Remember Alma 42? No more little white lies, looking at a pretty girl, covetousness, hatred, are there more? I’m sure there are. God couldn’t look upon ANY sin with the least degree of allowance. Again, I thought God could do all things, but I guess not. But wait, there may be a way out of my predicament. In verse 32 it says, “He that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven.” I need that forgiveness, desperately.
I looked up repentance in the index and it says “requires” with D&C 58:43. I needed to know how to repent because I needed to be saved. The only way I could be perfect is by grace and that requires repentance. I read, “By this ye may know if a man repenteth of his sins, behold, he will confess them and forsake them. What does forsake mean? I looked it up in the dictionary. It says I can’t do it anymore. Forsake means abandon. Abandon means stop. Again, I need to stop sinning. I CAN”T. It’s too hard! There is no way I can do it! But remember 1 Nephi 3:7, it says that I can do it! Will I ever be worthy enough?
I wanted to find out what happens if I sin again after I repent. Back to the index and under SIN, it says D&C 82:7, “former sins return…” I looked up the verse. I shouldn’t have done that.
“And now, verily, I say unto you, I, the Lord, will not lay any sin to your charge;
go your way and sin no more;
There it is again, I can’t sin again, ever!
“but unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.”
Great, I’m right back where I started from. Will I ever be worthy enough?
Now I really needed forgiveness. Again, the missionaries said that all we need to do is try our best and God will know that we are sincere and enduring to the end. That sounded good, but I couldn’t find where trying was enough in the scriptures that I had read. The missionaries to the rescue again! They said that is what modern day prophets were for, to clarify the scriptures and provide guidance to the people of this dispensation.
I tried deseretbooks.com. Bingo! I was looking for modern day prophets and their teachings. I bought “Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith” and “Miracle of Forgiveness”, by Spencer W. Kimball. These two guys were supposed to be God’s prophets on the earth, so I had better listen to them. Plus, I needed that miracle that Kimball’s book talks about. I really needed that forgiveness. My sin just continues to happen.
Joseph Smith was the man who brought about the restoration of the Gospel, so I decided to read his book first. Pretty boring, not much that told me about my eternal life, until page 150. What did the missionaries say, “We repent every day.” But Joseph Smith, the Prophet Himself, says that daily repentance doesn’t please God. God is already mad at me and can’t save me in my sins, so now I can’t even repent every day! What happens if I die on my way home from work? Remember Alma 34, I’m sealed to Satan. But God only wants us to try our best, I hope.
“The Miracle of Forgiveness.” What a great title to a book. I was sure that in this book I would have all my worries put to rest. Forgiveness is a miracle. I needed a miracle to forgive a sinner like me. I started reading.
The title of the first chapter already had me worried, “This Life is the Time.” I already knew what that meant. Remember Alma 34. The second chapter’s title wasn’t much easier on me, “No Unclean Thing Can Enter.” I know that I’m unclean, but I didn’t know how dirty I really was until I got to pages 23-25. Remember that I asked if there were more sins I needed to know about? Spencer Kimball found them for me! I’ll be honest, if this is the list of sins that I need to repent of, and be finished with by the time I die, I have no hope. The church is true and the BOM is true, Joseph Smith was a prophet, and Spencer Kimball was a prophet, and prophets don’t lie (I don’t think), and the church teaches this information. But all I need to do is try. Trying is enough for God, right? I can’t find it anywhere in the books I have read, but the missionaries are certain trying is all that needs to be done. I better not trust the scriptures and the books the church publishes, only the missionaries. They really know their doctrine!
I read further in “Miracle of Forgiveness.” Now I’m really praying for that miracle it talks about in the title. I need grace, forgiveness, salvation, sealing to my family, exaltation, worthiness, etc. I’m trying my best. I have all the desire in the world to please God. That is all that God asks for, trying and desire. I have all the blessings, or so I thought. Chapter 12 sealed my eternal doom.
Again, the title was familiar, but not comforting, “Abandonment of Sin.” Where did I hear that before? I remember, D&C 58:42-43. Abandon means forsake, forsake means stop. I asked myself how well I was doing with abandoning my sins. Not good. I really want to abandon them, really! I didn’t even get off the first page of the chapter before I knew I had a problem. “Desire Is Not Sufficient.” Great! “The saving power does not extend to him who merely wants to change his life.” I sincerely want to change my life. Am I saved if I really, really truly want to change? Nope. I agree that wanting to change is different from trying to change. At least that is what God wants us to do, right? Work! Spencer doesn’t stop with desire.
“Trying is Not Sufficient.” The final hammer fell. Those two missionaries didn’t have all the answers, did they? Up until this point, I truly believed that little saying, “We do our best, and Jesus does the rest.” Spencer Kimball, a prophet of God declares, “Nor is repentance complete when one merely tries to abandon sin.” “To try is weak.” “To ‘do the best I can’ is not strong.” We must always to better than we can.” What is better than we can? We can do anything (1 Nephi 3:7). Where is that miracle?
Now I knew what “after all you can do” meant in 2 Nephi 25:23. It is the complete abandonment of all of my sins before I die. I can’t just want to, I can’t just try. I must live up to the scriptures and teachings of the prophets. I must deny myself of all ungodliness, do all I can do, abandon every sin, not repent every day, endure to the end (end of what? I’m still unclear), and remain worthy. What happens to me if I don’t complete my repentance before I die? I’m sealed to Satan. Do I make it to the Celestial Kingdom? No. Do I have my eternal family? No. Can I progress in the post-mortality? No. I must be PERFECT.
No one is perfect, therefore, there is NO HOPE! There must be something more. A loving, caring, merciful, and just God would never teach that there is no hope. Fortunately, there is a God that understands the nature of His creation.
My journey through Mormonism didn’t end the way I thought, or the way the missionaries wished it would have. The missionaries were so happy (how I can’t figure out) and knowledgeable (well, somewhat) and certain (I heard their testimonies 5 times). They “knew” that if I only prayed about the BOM, I would have that “burning” and “know” that it is true. I sincerely prayed about the Mormon Church. The Holy Spirit clearly told me that it wasn’t true and guided me to the Bible.