Using the Bible to Test Joseph Smith's Revelations

(July 28 2021)


Occasionally, I meet people who are part of the Church of Latter Day Saints, often called Mormons. They believe the Bible is God's Word. They're often nice people. They also believe in extra revelations from Joseph Smith, various writings, and the teachings of L.D.S. Chuch. Their beliefs are very different from those of even the earliest Christians. Their church claims to be the true church having finally gotten things sorted out. I previously wrote how to test prophecies. Although initially disagreeing, I was happy to test their claimed revelations.

Detour: Straight to Jesus

It's much easier to just read the Gospel. The Gospel is God's core message to us that He made simple enough for everyone to understand. That Gospel spread into 196 countries, was translated to over 2,000 languages, and helped define Western civilization. Individuals believing in it experienced life transformations from inside out, inner peace, and sometimes miracles. It is very clear the Gospel we've been preaching for almost 2,000 years has the power of God behind it. Pray God speaks to your heart about its truth and you might not even need this essay.

Back to Testing Joseph Smith

We both believe the Bible is the Word of God. We'll use it as our foundation. On a few topics, we're going to look at what the Bible teaches vs Church of Latter Day Saints ("L.D.S." from here) teaches. When comparing, remember that God's unchanging character means that no new revelations contradict previous ones. If the topic is open-ended, then the new revelations would only add detail in a way that's consistent with prior revelations. If not open-ended, then the Bible is either already clear on the topic or the Bible itself is finished. Then, no new revelations would even be allowed into the Bible itself. They'd all be false teachings by default. (We believe this.)

My method is simple. To save time, we'll narrow the discussion down to just what is essential and appears to disagree. We'll compare Christian vs LDS beliefs. On doctrine, I'm going to exclusively use the Bible with no new claims or revelations so that readers see it already covers these topics. Since LDS likes KJV, we'll default on it while adding a accurate, modern translation (ESV) when it's helpful. I'll include extra links where helpful. Let's do it! :)

Heads up: Like Wikipedia, I put all my references into paragraphs as links. If they look overwhelming, remember that you don't have to read them all. You can just check the ones you're most skeptical about or interested in.

Comparisons between Christianity and L.D.S.' Claims

About the Bible:

Christianity says the Bible is God-breathed, a living thing (ESV) that pierces our hearts, sent for a specific purpose, and that's to tell us about Jesus. That includes Old Testament that He fulfilled. Unlike all other works, the Old Testament has prophetic material predicting Jesus' life and character. Unlike fake gospels, the generally-accepted works of the New Testament constantly reference the Old Testament. We see a combination of God establishing His character and plan via His Word, making future predictions in His Word, leveraging His Word in fulfilling them, and total consistency across His Word (esp God's plan and character). Like many artists, these patterns are how the Spirit of God signs His work so we know it comes from Him.

Far as prophets, the Bible says real ones are inspired by God's Sprit. There's many warnings about false prophets, though. Here's a pile of verses that includes those. We're told to test/prove all teachings. A quick hint is any that come from God focus people on Him (i.e. Jesus Christ). His main apostle, Paul, said avoid teachings built on wordly principles or deceitful spirits (i.e. demons). He said Satan even disguises himself an angel of light. Many demons will pretend to be godly with distorted gospels. Others will focus you on just being "good." Neither will save you because Jesus said only following the true Gospel will save us.

Like in Acts, new claims are compared to existing Scriptures to ensure they match. That's because God's character and truth are unchanging. He isn't good one day, wakes up to a bad morning, and throws us in hell after writing a new Bible. His consistent character is exactly why we can rest in His promises. It's also why His Word says toss what contradicts it even if it comes from an angel or the source performs signs and wonders. Finally, John writes Revelation as if it's the end of the Bible. He left a huge warning that nothing in it can be changed or have new additions.

L.D.S. believe what the eighth LDS Article of Faith states: "We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly." That means they have to accept its claims above. Per their web site, The Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and the teachings of Mormon Prophets are on the same level of authority as the Bible. Joseph Smith said they received it on golden plates from an angel around 1830, almost two thousand years after Bible was written. It introduces new doctrines that Christians say contradict previous ones.

Test and discern: Do these verses already answer your question about the claimed appearance of an angel adding new, contradictory claims to His Word? And after Revelation about some of the same topics? 

About God:

To start with, the Bible says there is one God. He's a Spirit. When comparing to Jesus' body, Scripture adds that spirits have no body and that God is invisible (again). He says He is one Lord/God here, here, and here. He adds being our Father here. There is no one else (no other God) and "none beside me". He clarifies in Isaiah here there was no God before Him, none like Him, and no God will come after Him. God Himself is also the Savior. He's the singular, most-perfect Being in existence who created us to glorify His name Himself saves us for His name's sake. After warning everybody, He also disciplines Israel and punishes foreign nations (example) for worshiping other gods or multiple gods.

L.D.S. doctrine claims there's three, separate beings (or three gods). They all have physical bodies, not just Jesus. Sections like Genesis talk like God takes human form either literally or metaphorically. Readers might debate that point. However, Scripture is very clear, from Moses to the Prophets, that there's only one God. The LDS beliefs about multiple gods contradicts that. We've seen the one God might consider that a grave offense.

About Man:

Scripture teaches that God created the first man in mortal form on Earth. He breathed life into him. We are initially created in the womb (ESV) for an eternal relationship with God. The first humans turned against God, He issued a death sentence on humanity as a result,  and made the earth harder to live in. That sinful nature was passed down from Adam to all men (ESV). Scripture teaches we have wicked hearts that, combined with temptation (ESV), lead to the evils of men. "Not one does good," God says. Our sin puts us in bad standing, or separation, from a holy, pure God. It also leads to His eternal wrath.

Although agreeing on sinful nature, L.D.S. doctrine says we're created as spirits in another realm before taking on a body. We are to come to Earth to be tested, only one (Jesus) would make it, and through Him we return to God. That contradicts Genesis and other verses where our existence starts in bodily form. The only spiritual beings mentioned in Old and New Testament are the one God and angels. They are correct that Jesus existed before the world and it was created through Him. We'll understand that better later.

About Sin and God's Justice

We were supposed to love God and each other. Adam and Eve, humans in an ideal environment, still chose to sin. We all do. That's why we must face God's justice.

Most false religions say we can save ourselves by being extra good (aka good works). Scripture says our good works can't save us because they're like offering Him filthy rags. Also, remember that all nations are a drop in the bucket (aka worthless or "vanity") to Him. With a thought, God could instantly create a million times more good works. He's offended when we act like anything we've done makes Him owe us something. Everything we are and have is a gift from Him to us to begin with. He might give more to those He's very pleased with. He might not. Our sovereign God does as He pleases.

The lesson of Scripture is clear that He doesn't need us: we need Him! We need His forgiveness and love. Since all sin is paid in blood, atoning for it would cost blood of a man innocent and perfect enough to make that sacrifice. Prior verses showed us every man to ever live disqualified themselves by choosing to sin. God Himself will have to save us somehow. He promised He'd send someone, Christ, to atone for us.

L.D.S. doctrine agrees that we're doomed by both the sin of Adam and our own. They agree God will save us through a mediator, Christ. This starts with grace. All Christian denominations believe that. Then, L.D.S. believes our works contribute to our salvation by maintaining it. So, how are we saved?

About How We're Saved

We'll look at what Jesus said, people He saved directly, and how it's laid out in the Epistles. When preaching, Jesus said we had to repent and believe the Gospel. We believe in Jesus, turn away from our sins (repent), follow Him at any cost, sometimes says be baptized, and try to obey His commandments. When asked what work is needed, Jesus kept emphasizing it is to believe in Him and His Word: John 5:37-47; John 6:28-29, 40; John 6:63-64; John 7:38-39; John 11:25; John 15:3. Faith saves us. Then, good works flow from it.

To confirm that, let's look at examples of people Jesus said or implied were saved. After demonstrating His power, the demoniac was sent out and the Samaritan woman went out like evangelists telling others who He is. They just believed in Jesus and told people about Him .The paralytic was forgiven after they showed lots of dedication to basically just ask Jesus for help (a gift). Another woman showed heart-felt repentance with Jesus saying her "faith" saved her. The thief on the cross just publicly proclaimed his faith to be saved. Notice these examples have no baptism, sacraments, or lifetime of good works. They just put their faith in Jesus who forgives them. That faith does drive them to take action, too.

In Romans, the Gospel's theology is laid out (ESV) in a thorough way. It says we're "justified" (declared not guilty) by grace through Jesus' redemption. "Propitiation" means He was our substitute who stands in our place before the Father. "Just and justifier" means God put's His justice (our punishment) on Jesus to justify us (declare us not guilty). At no point does it say God and us working together: it's all God driving it. We're saved "freely" and by "grace:" a free gift we didn't earn in any way. Paul says we're justified by faith, not works, which he repeats twice. Even better, Christ says nobody can snatch us away because Christ won't let us go. Being sealed (ESV) by the Spirit guarantees (ESV) it.

We don't even go to Christ because we're too evil. Jesus says the Father draws (i.e. drags) us to Him, opens our hearts by His Spirit, and the Word is the trigger. God performs every step of the process. It's described in past tense because Christ guaranteed it. Although we make choices, God seems to initiate and sustain everything from our faith to our good works. We persevere because He makes us choose to. Like He did for Israel, God saves Christ's Church for His name's sake.

Summary: While fake religions require works for salvation, God loves us so much that Jesus did the work for us, bought our eternal future with His works, paid for our sin with His own life, and guarantees our future by His works and power. Then, His Spirit drives our obedience which we'll look at in "Good Works." All of this showing God is love. To be saved, though, all you have to do is believe in and commit to Him.

What about baptism? We're commanded to publicly confess who we serve in a way that visually symbolizes (ESV) what His death and resurrection did for us. Water baptism is a beautiful picture of how He washed our sins away. That His good works and sacrifice made us clean and righteous before God.

L.D.S. describe salvation here. On the surface, the process looks similar to Bible's claims. The first difference is that Romans (ESV) and Ephesians teach us salvation was entirely a gift that none of our works contributed to (earned). That's why we can't lose it. Next, they teach baptism is both necessary for salvation and entering a covenant. People already made a covenant when the surrendered in faith to Christ. We saw several saved without baptism. L.D.S. also teach here in "spirit prison" that people can get the Gospel and be saved after death. Scripture says we have one life whose consequences we are stuck with. The clock is ticking. Don't delay!

About Our Good Works (Sanctification)

God's goal in sanctification is to make us like Christ. Jesus explains this in John 15 (ESV). He says His Word made them clean already (saved). From there, God continues pruning them (changing them) so that they'll bear fruit (good works). God gives the growth and increase by the Holy Spirit, not our works. We just choose whether to take what He's giving at any moment. Christ stays interceding (ESV) for us. If we turn away, the Spirit convicts us to cause godly sorrow to lead us back to repentance.

God also blesses our obedience. There's always rewards in heaven. God might also grant blessings on Earth but righteous might only suffer (1/2/3). If we disobey, we might be disciplined here or suffer lost rewards (ESV) there. On top of His free gift (justification), God gives more grace that's conditional on obedience which He Himself helps us with. Isn't our God awesome?

L.D.S. describe sanctification here. Although there's much agreement, I'll note a few differences. Their non-Biblical books talk like the Spirit can leave us. We've already covered being sealed with the Spirit by Jesus who won't let us go. We can grieve Him or temporarily extinguish His presence via our sin. Turning back to God lets us experience Him again.

In that article, L.D.S. also mentions the Sabbath, the sacrament, the priesthood, and the temple as being sanctification requirements or aids. The Sabbath is also the only commandment that Jesus didn't repeat or require of us. Our renewal happens continually ("daily") in Scripture, not on each Sabbath. Jesus said exactly why we do the Lord's Supper: "in remembrance of me." It's symbolic. We are all priests already which was given the moment we had faith in Christ. While some hold offices, we all have the same faith (ESV) with God Himself dwelling in us. There's no temple in the New Covenant since we are the temple (ESV). Our bodies, too. The false religions... Pharisees, Muslims, Hindus, Jews in end times... often obsess over physical buildings.

What Happens to Us

Scripture describes our fate well. We eventually die or Jesus returns before our death. Eventually, Jesus will raise all the dead to judge everyone for how they lived. Those who remained faithful to Him are already cleared by His blood of their sins. He rewards them for acts of obedience and love. Those who denied His name are punished for their sins. God will destroy most of the old creation, we won't even remember it, He'll give us new bodies, and create a new heaven and earth. We'll live there with He and His angels forever. I'll leave it at that since it's all we need for a comparison to L.D.S. beliefs.

L.D.S. say here in "...ideas about deification" section that we basically become gods. That contradicts Scripture that says there is one God, will only be one God, we're created as flesh, still have bodies, and are treated more like adopted children of a royal family.

(Note: I wanted to start with having faith. Now, we'll look at some doctrines in the faith.)

About Jesus

Scripture describes Jesus as fully human. He was supernaturally born of a virgin to fulfill a prophecy by Isaiah. He was a carpenter. Like us, He got worn out, prayed in tears to God, experienced tempation, and was grieved by others' rejection of Him. This link describes how they tortured and murdered Him. That blood and water-looking fluid came out His side confirms He was both very human and very dead.

Scripture also says Jesus is the God. John says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." Jesus said He's God here ("I AM" is God's name), here by saying they've seen the Father, that the Son only does what the Father does, and here by forgiving sins (only God can). From a Jewish perspective, the Jews say they're trying to kill Him specifically because He's claiming to be the one God. Jesus also confirmed Thomas saying He was the one God ('my God' - singular). God says here and here that only He gets worship. Worship was rejected by the Apostles (ESV) and angels (ESV). Jesus accepted worship here as Son of God and here.

Jesus' Apostles, or founders of the church, added extra points. Paul says all things were created by and for Jesus. Also, he says the Godhead dwells in Him fully. That's the entirety of God. Isaiah called God the Lord, King of Israel, the Redeemer (twice), and the first and the last (twice). Jesus is Lord (775 times), King of Kings, King of Israel, and our Redeemer. In Revelation, we see Jesus (God) is the first and the last: Rev. 1:17-18; Rev. 21:6; Rev. 22:13.

(Note: Even the early church knew Jesus was God. Ignatius cites John 1:1.)

Summary: God is saying in every way, except the most direct way, that Jesus is God Himself. He says He does it to test people's hearts.

L.D.S. doctrine says Jesus is not equal to the Father, He was one of God's spirit children, that he was preeminent among them, and offered to become our Savior in the testing ground. We've already countered spirit children as non-Biblical. Even so, the rest isn't in the Old or New Testament. Remember prior verses say there's one God. John 1 says Jesus was God Himself in Spirit form before the world existed. He, our one God, eventually takes flesh to atone for us since no natural-born human was capable of pulling off a perfect life.

One set of verses show He's fully man. Then, Jesus says He's God and acts like Him in other verses. This is why Christians say Jesus must be both fully man and fully God. He limits His divine nature to be more like us. It's probably because God required a man to be the living sacrifice. I believe He also did it to show the rest of us humans how it's done (i.e. ideal servant).

About the Holy Spirit

The third reference to God is the Holy Spirit. Sometimes, Scripture makes the Spirit seem like an acting force of God. He moves across the waters in Genesis, comes down on people, and gives them gifts. The gifts include guidance, dreams/visions, knowledge, and the words to say. Other times, He does things only people can do. He teaches, speaks audibly here in Revelation, and can feel grieved by how we treat God. Another trait, which can go either way, is that He dwells in us to help us.

I'll add a metaphor. In the military, the Navy SEAL's are known for being effective teams. It starts in their testing process (BUDS) when each person is physically tied to another person, their "swim buddy." They do everything together. Since that's unnatural, they learn to get in sync in how they think and act. They become an extension of each other. The Holy Spirit in us is like God becoming our swim buddy. He's tied to us, ignoring Him hurts our efforts, and thinking/acting like He does makes everything smoother. If you know SEALs' reputation, how much more awesome is it that the God of the universe has tied Himself so closely to us to work His Plan in and through us?!

L.D.S. says, here and here, some similar things. Key differences are the claim that the Holy Spirit can only be in one place at a time. L.D.S. also keeps describing Him as a companion instead of dwelling in us. The Word shows God is omnipresent and says that He dwells in each of us. He must transcend the limitations of space. That not surprising since He created and sustains it. 

About the Trinity

Let's get to the tough one some have wondered about. I've only given you Old and New Testament Scripture. I haven't appealed to anything else. It's shown us repeatedly that there's one God who alone saves us, forgives sins, and receives worship. Jesus calls Him the Father. We see Jesus, although a man, also does what only God the Father does. He even says He is the Father (somehow). Again. Yet, Jesus talks and acts like a totally separate person that follows the orders of God the Father. He's separately seated at God's right hand in Heaven (if that's even literal in meaning). Then, the Holy Spirit seems to be a separate person from each. Yet, He doesn't come to us until Christ leaves and is called "the Spirit of Christ" in Romans. During Jesus's baptism (ESV), all three are present. In some ways, they're described separately like different people with different minds. Other times, they're described as if they're the same, one God.

In a nutshell, Scripture claims they're both one and three somehow. The how is a mystery Scripture doesn't fully spell out. Eventually, people called this mystery the Holy Trinity. That just puts a name on what details Scripture already has. Let me tell you how I work this out: Jesus describes God as a Trinity. So, who are we to argue with our Lord Jesus Christ about who God is? Do we have faith in Jesus but not what He says about God? Since I have faith in Jesus, I believe God is one and three.

It shouldn't really surprise us that some aspects of a living God might be incomprehinsible to mere mortals like us. Metaphors for understanding Him always fall short. I speculate, but can't prove, God might also reveal Himself this way to set an example for us. You see God the Father directing everything, Jesus as a perfect servant obeying Him, and the Holy Spirit facilitating that obedience. It might just be a beautiful picture of how we walk with God. As if God's own nature illustrates the relationship He created us to have with Him.

If you're scratching your head, I have more good news: you don't need to understand the Trinity to be saved. It's something we just accept as true after studying God's Word for a while. You can call Him by any of His names, esp Father and Jesus. He'll know you're talking to Him. Sometimes, in great stress, the name Jesus is all you'll be able to get out.

L.D.S. say they are three, distinct beings with a shared purpose. That there's three gods or god-like entities. They're in no way one. That contradicts verses that say there's one God, the three are the one God somehow, and the Father and Jesus are the same somehow. So, we should reject the "multiple beings" interpretation in favor of Trinity. Again, don't sweat the confusion since God doesn't require us to understand the Trinity. We just believe what He says about Himself in His Word.

Spirit Marriage and Offspring

L.D.S. adds an eternal covenant of marriage that's not in Scripture. Scripture does picture the church as a bride, though, as a metaphor. After mentioning spirit realm and bodies, they mention spirit offspring in this one. Jesus said people won't marry in heaven. So, they won't have offspring.  Although the Bible's books harmonize, these contradicting changes all come from the new books Joseph Smith introduced.


We've just used the Old Testament to check New Testament and LDS beliefs. We found the New Testament never contradicted the Old Testament, it confirmed the Old Testament prophecies (esp about Jesus), showed Jesus acting as God Himself, and commissioning the Apostles to perform miracles similar to His to establish their authority. They are worth trusting with your eternal future.

In contrast, the LDS claims contradict the Old Testament, contradict the New Testament, have no prophecies in either predicting the new claims, seem to be prophesied against with how Revelation closes the Bible, and their sources couldn't perform miracles. That means Joseph Smith is a false prophet. Readers should reject all LDS claims and written material.

On top of that, other people report a lot of problems that add to the Biblical case against L.D.S.. There was Smith's scrying (a Biblical no-no), a story of revelation that's unlike anything in the Bible (remember God's consistency), and archaeology that didn't match real life (unlike the Bible). I'm just using the Wikipedia article for this since it has references you can track down to confirm or refute these.

After praying for gift of discernment, here's what I'm feeling about all of the extra stuff. Moses, David, Solomon, the Prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles got revelations that were consistent with God's character and Word. The Bible even documents many human flaws of its characters. If anything, their failings make the authors look more honest. Joseph Smith's story and work are nothing like that. It's probably because he lied for selfish gain, esp fame and money.

Bonus: Testimony

This video testimony is done with music. It's by a former, L.D.S. missionary who Christ brought to Himself. He discovers Christ already paid for the free gift he's been working so hard for. Then, Christ starts moving in his family.

Extras: Nola Taylor.

Choose the Real Gospel

You've already read much of the Gospel here. I put up both a Bible Summary and Gospel Summary here for anyone who wants it. What you need to know is we're unworthy sinners who chose to rebel against a Holy God. We'll face eternal consequences for that. In His love for us, He sent Jesus to live a perfect life, die horribly for our sins, be raised from the dead, given all authority, and by that authority impart His righteousness to His followers. We don't work toward our salvation: the free gift of God is a salvation Jesus already earned for us. He said believe in Him and you will be saved.

Pray this to give your life to Christ:

1. You believe in God, that Jesus was God in the flesh, that He died for your sins, God raised Him from the dead, and will raise all who follow Him, too.

2. Confess you're an unworthy sinner who deserves justice for your sins. That this salvation is a gift you don't deserve.

3. Tell God you'll try to repent of your sins. That you'll turn your life around to follow Him instead.

4. Tell God you accept Jesus Christ as Lord of your life. The faith He asks for is a heart-felt commitment to surrender everything to Him. You will now live for and in obedience to God's Word.

5. Tell God you know He saves all who have faith in Him. Thank Him for what He's done for you. Tell Him you want to take the next steps in following Him.

If you really meant it, you're now a Christian. You can know this because God Himself calls us to Him, Jesus' sheep hear His voice, our faith is itself a gift He helps with, and those that truly believe are sealed with the Holy Spirit. It is a deposit on their future inheritance. God's Spirit will also start transforming you from inside out. He will also give you spiritual gifts, or ability to do what you can't, to serve in His kingdom.

God's Word is our ultimate authority for all matters on life. Get you a study Bible to understand it better. I recommend the English Standard Version (ESV). Read the New Testament first, starting in John. On the go, you can use a pocket Bible, online Bible, or Bible app.

My other site teaches the fundamentals. It also has a Quick Start guide to get you started. Read the whole thing. Dig into what links you find interesting. Get into a Biblical church to grow with others. Above all, be grateful because Christ has already secured your future by His own blood. It's a gift we did nothing to earn.

(Edited on July 28, 2023 to add some links and consistency with my other work.)

(Read the Gospel. Learn to share and live it.)