This Sunday we talked about how important unity is to the mission of advancing the gospel. Unity is a powerful collective witness to an unbelieving world (John 17:23) and allows to accomplish so much more together. But I also mentioned a third aspect of unity that has a tremendous impact on our mission: our unity as a community of believers is a way of standing together for truth and hence, for the mission. Standing for the truth will consequently mean standing against false teaching and against false gospels that would hinder the mission. When someone unites themselves to a believing group by profession or membership, they are identifying themselves with what that group believes and are saying they are committed to it (be it evangelical, Mormon, Catholic, Muslim, Buddhist, et cetera.). Who we unite with or don’t unite with either helps or hinders the mission.
The reason why this stood out to me this week is because last Sunday evening I watched a lengthy interview between Dallas Jenkins, producer of The Chosen, and a young Mormon individual. Most of you have probably heard of The Chosen. It’s a relatively new, high-quality series that I was personally enjoying and even mentioned from the pulpit on an occasion or two. But for that reason and due to its popularity, I felt it was necessary to say that because of Jenkins’ latest comments in which he, as a professed evangelical, espoused Mormonism, I cannot recommend this series anymore. Unfortunately, this is something that happens many times over in the evangelical world. The bigger something becomes, the less it holds tight to the Word of God. Those of you who know me, know I’m not big on calling people out like this but this time I felt it was necessary. My job is to shepherd that flock and that means protecting it against wolves in sheep’s clothing or those who act like there is no difference between a wolf and a sheep.
In Acts 20:29, the apostle Paul said to the Ephesian church elders,
In producing The Chosen series, Dallas works with many Mormons in Utah where much of it is filmed and the app that broadcasts the series, VidAngel, is a Mormon company. In the interview, Dallas went so far as to say that we love same Jesus and want to make the same Jesus known, called them our brothers and sisters, and also refused to deny their extra-biblical writings in the book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon is “extra-biblical” meaning that it is treated as sacred scripture to them and held in highest regard. Dallas admits in the interview that he has some different evangelical beliefs than Mormons but skirts the issues at hand.
Mormons do not hold to the same fundamental truths as we do. We do not have the same the Jesus and do not want to make the same Jesus known. Our Jesus is the eternal God who took on flesh through a virgin to pay for sin. The Mormon “Jesus” is one of many “gods” who experienced a natural birth and is the spirit-brother of Satan. Our gospel is that we are saved by grace through faith in Christ but Mormons have a works-based religious system gospel whereby one will end up in hell for trying to keep it (rejecting Christ’s work for their own religious works). While we hold to the Bible as the inspired, inerrant, and sufficient Word of God, they add to it the Bible-contradicting book of Mormon and more. As you can see, they deny our fundamental truths and should not be considered Christian at all.
The apostle John warns us to beware of anyone who denies the Deity of Christ. Any such denial of Christ’s true nature and deity is a demonic doctrine (2 Corinthians 11:14-15; 1 Timothy 4:1; Galatians 1:6-9; 1 John 4:2-3).
1 John 4:2-3
I’m guessing that The Chosen series will continue to make ecumenical videos that refuse to step on the toes of any group that falls under the heading of “Christianity” but one would be wise to stay alert and recognize the limitations that such a film could produce towards spiritual health. The situation reminds me of Proverbs 25:26,
Even though Mormons are often nice people, very friendly and zealous, they have been deceived by a false religion with a shady past and need to hear the good news. The need the truth and not the right hand of fellowship. To compromise and extend the right hand of fellowship with them would be to hinder, not help the mission. Let's stick to the mission!
In Christ alone,
by grace alone,
through faith alone,
according to the Word of God alone,
for the glory of God alone,
Years ago, I was sitting in the office of a friend who is a precision ag agronomist. He helps farmers be precise in their farming techniques so that they get the most out of their operation. Other than the free seed hats I took home that day, I also took home an unforgettable illustration!
Every farmer knows that their fields can have multiple soil types in it (especially around here). Some soils are better than others. A field can have sandy, rocky stuff on the hilltops that hold no moisture and then heavier, darker soil in the low spots that hold more moisture and nutrients. Obviously, the better soil produces better yields. Yet, for a long time, precision agronomists tried various ways to try and make the poor soil types more productive by pumping things like fertilizer into them. But after years of testing, they finally realized that the poor soil just wasn’t going to produce the yields they were after no matter what they did. The only answer (and many farmers do this by the way) is to bring in better soil by the truckload and dump it on top! You’d just be better off investing in your good soil that you do have!
This is a wonderful illustration for sowing and reaping like we talked about on Sunday morning. We only have two fields we can sow in – the flesh or the Spirit. The flesh is poor soil that always brings forth weeds and destroys whatever you put into it. The flesh profits nothing (Jn. 6:63)! It’s dumping your precious resources in the trash! It will always be bad soil! You will never see a return on your investment in poor soil.
However, the good soil of the Spirit is always a wise investment that God will reward now and in eternity. Invest your resources in the good soil!
In Galatians 6:7-10, Paul encouraged us not to lose heart or grow weary! Why? Probably because he knows it’s not easy to choose to invest in the good soil. Farming is hard work! While weeds come up naturally, crops must be cultivated and cared for. He also knows, like every farmer knows, that the planting season is short! Sow “while you have opportunity!” he says.
Oswald J. Smith, in his book Passion for Souls, shared a story about two farmers:
“[There were] two farmers. The one takes a look at his fields and says to himself, ‘I would like to have a crop this year. However, it is none of my business. There is nothing I can do about it,’ and with that he goes into his house, sits down in front of the open grate fire and prays for a crop.
The other farmer says, ‘I, too, would like to have a crop this year and there is a great deal for me to do. I am sure I can have one if I do my part.’ He [prays and] goes to work. He ploughs the ground. Then he plants the seed and after he has done all that he knows is necessary, he then looks to God to send the sunshine and the rain and with perfect confidence, looks forward to the days of harvest.
Which farmer would you prefer?”
I think we would all agree that one farmer is irrational and making excuses. The other is humble, has faith, and understand he plays a part in the harvest. Let’s be like the second farmer who trusts the Lord and humbly keep sowing! We will reap a bountiful harvest soon enough!
Farming with you in the Lord,
Pastor Justin Schefcik 1/9/2022
1 Oswald J. Smith, The Passion for Souls, (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1964), 117.
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