Joseph Smith: Prophet of God?

Joseph Smith, Jr. was an American religious leader and the founder of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He is regarded as the Prophet of the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ by his followers.

Beginning in the early 1820s, Jospeh Smith said he had visions, in some of which he said an angel directed him to a buried book of golden plates, inscribed with a Christian history of ancient American civilizations. In 1830, he published what he said was an English translation of these plates as the Book of Mormon, and organized branches of the Church of Christ, saying he had been chosen by God to restore the early Christian church. Church members were later called Latter Day Saints or Mormons.

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. (1 John 4:1 ESV)

As Christians, we should have the attitude that there are no parts of the Bible that we don’t believe, don’t like, or won’t teach, preach or obey. We cannot be like Thomas Jefferson, who brazenly sat down in the White House with a razor in one hand and a Bible in the other and cut out the portions he rejected, asserting his authority over the authority of God. We cannot be like those who are more subtle than Thomas Jefferson and simply ignore parts of the Bible as primitive, dismiss them as outdated, or explain them away with human reasoning.

The Apostle Paul showed us the proper attitude to have towards Scripture when he said, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV).”

The Apostle Peter expanded this admonition when he said, “And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:19-21 ESV).”

The Scriptures are given by God’s inspiration, the very words of God, all we need to know God, a perfect guide for life, pure, true, trustworthy, perfect, effective, powerful, not to be taken from or added to, for everyone, to be obeyed and the standard by which all teaching is to be tested.

From the very earliest days, the church knew which books were God’s inspired Word. They read them, studied them, obeyed them, lived them, and passed them on. We should do the same without adding anything to the Scriptures. King Solomon said, “Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, lest he rebuke you and you be found a liar (Proverbs 30:5-6 ESV).”

Does Scripture contain errors? The truthfulness of the Bible is inextricably tied to the nature of God. God is a truthful God who does not lie. Since God is ultimately the author of Scripture, it is perfect, unlike every other uninspired writing and utterance. The doctrine of inerrancy asserts that because God does not lie or speak falsely in any way, and because the Scriptures are God’s Word, they are perfect. As a result the entire Bible is without any error.

Yeshua used copies and translations. He trusted them, so we should too, especially when the science of textual criticism has confirmed that our text is accurate. Due to the fact that we have so many manuscripts to check, we are certain that the text of over ninety-nine percent of the Bible we have today is faithful to the original manuscripts. Most of the variations we do find involve spelling (e.g., color vs. colour), word order, or style. Less than one percent of all variations have anything to do with doctrine, and no doctrine is affected by any of those variations.

Can Scripture be written today? No, it cannot. The Tanakh ended with the prophet Malachi predicting that the next major event in history would be the coming of John the Baptist, who would prepare the way for Yeshua. Four hundred years of silence followed in which no Scripture was written until John the Baptist came, just as promised. The Brit Chadashah ends with its final book, Revelation, telling us that no other books of the Bible are to be written after it and that we will have silence until the Second Coming of Yeshua. The Bible tells us that Yeshua is God’s final word or revelation to us and that we should not add anything to the Bible.

One way of saying this is that the canon of Scripture is closed. No books, not even a word, will be added to the Bible. The warning at the end of Revelation applies to the Bible as a whole.

I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. (Revelation 22:18-19 ESV)

God still speaks to people and groups, albeit not in apostolic, inspired, canonical revelation. Examples include such things as predictive prophecies, dreams, visions, angelic visits, and other such means that the Scriptures speak about. In dealing with any alleged extra-biblical revelation, we must follow the biblical cautions. The Apostle Paul said, “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 ESV).” We must follow the biblical guidelines for testing those who prophesy or allege other forms of extra-biblical revelation.

Are they loyal to God? Is their word consistent with the Bible? Is what they describe or predict accurate? Is their character Christlike? Does their word build up and encourage the church in truth? Do the church elders confirm their word?

While Christians should and do enjoy multiple good translations of the Bible, we must always be careful of corruptions of Scripture. Corruptions are “traslations” that seek to undermine the very teaching of Scripture. These translations include the Jehovah’s Witness translation called the New World Translation, which was written in large part to eliminate the deity of Yeshua Ha’Mashiach, and the Book of Mormon, the Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenanats which were written in part to promote Tritheism (the belief that there are three distinct, powerful gods, who form a triad) and Monolatrism (the recognition of the existence of many gods, but with the consistent worship of only one deity). These are not translations, per se, but terrible corruptions of Scripture masquerading as God’s Word.

Mormons read poetic passages such as, “His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him (Psalms 98:1)” and wrongly conclude that God has a literal body of flesh and bones. However, the Bible clearly states that God is not a man and that He is a spirit without a physical body.

God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?
(Numbers 23:19 ESV)

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”
(John 4:23-24 ESV)

A list of basic Mormon beliefs (heresy) can be found at the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry. Follow this link (Mormon Beliefs, Are They Christian?) to learn more.

Joseph Smith made a considerable amount of prophecies during his lifetime We know that the criteria of a true prophet is not failing when predicting the future. This is because God, who is outside of time and the creator of the universe, makes no mistakes when he tells us what will happen. Therefore, if anyone claims to be a prophet of God and speaks in the name of God and gives a prophecy that fails, then the person is not of God. Was Joseph Smith a prophet of God? There are two ways to find out. First, compare what he says to Scripture and if what the prophet teaches contradict Scripture, then he is a false prophet. The second way is to examine any prophecies that he has made. If a single prophecy fails, then the person is a false prophet. Please note that having several fulfilled prophecies and even a single false prophecy still means that the person is not a true prophet of God. The test for a prophet is not if he gets them most right, but all right. The Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry have listed a few of Joseph Smith’s False Prophecies on their website.

Joseph Smith said, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. We believe all that God has revealed, all that He does now reveal, and we believe that He will yet reveal many great and important things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.” Please see the Articles of Faith at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints’ website.

In addition, the Book of Mormon is filled with inaccuracies and errors. There are far too many to list here in this article. Interestingly enough, Joseph Smith’s book is known as The Book of Mormon: Another Testament of Jesus Christ. The Apostle Paul warned us of such writings in his epistle to the Galatians.

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel– not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
(Galatians 1:6-9 ESV)

In conclusion, Joseph Smith was not a prophet of God and the Book of Mormon and other LDS literature are terrible corruptions masquerading as the Word of God. Joseph Smith and the Mormons are the example I have chosen for this article, please note that these tests and guidelines apply to any and all self-proclaimed prophets.

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