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Gethsemane and the Atonement Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever
The Truth Network Radio
March 30, 2021 9:58 pm

Gethsemane and the Atonement Part 1

Viewpoint on Mormonism / Bill McKeever

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March 30, 2021 9:58 pm

John Hilton III wrote an article titled “Jesus Suffered, Died, and Rose Again for Us” in the April 2021 issue of the LIahona church magazine. Just where did Jesus pay for the sins of His people according to traditional Mormonism. And where do Christians point? Bill and Eric discuss the Mormon teaching versus what is … Continue reading Gethsemane and the Atonement Part 1 →

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Viewpoint on Mormonism, the program that examines the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from a Biblical perspective. Viewpoint on Mormonism is sponsored by Mormonism Research Ministry. Since 1979, Mormonism Research Ministry has been dedicated to equipping the body of Christ with answers regarding the Christian faith in a manner that expresses gentleness and respect. And now your host for today's Viewpoint on Mormonism. Welcome to this edition of Viewpoint on Mormonism. I'm your host, Bill McKeever, founder and director of Mormonism Research Ministry, and with me today is Eric Johnson, my colleague at MRM. We are looking at the April 2021 edition of the Liahona magazine.

This is the magazine that replaced the Ensign magazine. But there was an article in this edition that was written by John Hilton III, and his brief bio simply says that he's an Associate Professor of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. The title of his piece is Jesus Suffered, Died, and Rose Again for Us. And the fact that Friday is known as Good Friday, we're coming up upon a day that we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ, we felt that this is very pertinent to talk about. Because what John Hilton does in this article, he's trying, would you say, Eric, to dispel a myth that may be among many Latter-day Saints, that there was only one place where the atonement took place, that being the Garden of Gethsemane.

But he tries to spread it out into three different places. And so we're going to be talking about that. But first, let's start off with his very first paragraph. He writes, What comes to mind when you think about the atonement of Jesus Christ? Some members of the church think primarily about what occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane. But what about the crucifixion? Was that part of the Savior's atonement? And what about the resurrection?

Now, that's an interesting question that he asked here. Some members of the church think primarily about what occurred in the Garden of Gethsemane. And that sounds very similar to a statement that you can find in a book titled Third Nephi, Nine to Thirty, Semicolon, This is My Gospel on page 14. It was written by Monty S. Nyman and Charles D. Tate Jr. They were the editors of this book.

But this is what it says on page 14. It is probably the case that if 100 Protestants were asked where the atonement of Christ took place, those 100 persons would answer at Golgotha on the cross. It is also no doubt true that if 100 Latter-day Saints were asked the same question, a large percentage would respond in Gethsemane, in the garden. In fact, these writers say the sufferings of Jesus Christ that began in the Garden of Gethsemane were consummated on the cross.

So what I get from this is that these two editors of this book, it sounds like he's drawing the same type of conclusion that John Hilton is bringing out in his piece that is found in the Liahona magazine, the April edition, starting on page U10. Well, let's talk about that. If it is true that Protestants, when asked where we think the atonement took place, we would say on Golgotha, on the cross. The question remains, why would we? Why do Protestants tend to look to the cross as the place where the atonement took place? There's good reasons for that, folks.

There's very good reasons for that, and we want to talk about that. One of the reasons why we look to the cross is because it was there that Jesus actually died. He died on the cross. For an atonement to be made, there has to be a death. And when you read the Old Testament accounts about the sacrifice of animals, clearly there is a death that is involved. For instance, if you go back to Exodus chapter 29, look at what it says in verse 10. You shall have the bull brought before the tabernacle of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the bull.

Well, right there we notice only certain people could do this. The priest in the Old Testament had to be a son of Aaron, as the expression goes. It couldn't be just anybody, but yet in the Mormon church, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, just about anybody can be a priest as long as you're a male.

It doesn't matter what tribe you came from. And of course, according to the Old Testament, that was sinful. But the LDS Church does it, and they don't think anything of it, even though it certainly contradicts the directions that were given in the Old Testament. But here's what the next verse says in verse 11 of Exodus 29. Then you shall kill the bull before the Lord by the door of the tabernacle of meeting. Verse 15, it says you shall also take one ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram. And you shall kill the ram, and you shall take its blood and sprinkle it all around on the altar. Then in verse 19, it mentions this again. You shall also take the other ram, and Aaron and his sons shall put their hands on the head of the ram.

Then you shall kill the ram. In other words, there's a death that has taken place. Now, for a 21st century Christian living in a Western culture, you might think, boy, that sounds awfully strange.

It just doesn't make a whole lot of sense to us. And doesn't that seem like an awful waste of good livestock? Well, no, it didn't go to waste. If you read on in Exodus 29 and you look at verse 32, it says that Aaron and his sons shall eat the flesh of the ram. In other words, the sacrifices were consumed by the priests.

And so it did not go to waste at all. And there's a number of verses in the Old Testament that show that these animal sacrifices were eaten by the priests, so no problem there. But the book of Hebrews, Eric, refers back to these type of verses to show that there was in fact a death that was necessary in order for an atonement to be made.

And you're making a good point, too, that the idea in the Western culture of death is not very fun to talk about. People don't like to discuss blood and all the things that took place in the Old Testament, but it was required, according to God, to be able to have an atonement that would pay for sins. And according to Hebrews 9, the author actually says that it's Jesus who fulfilled the actual sacrifice. He was the sacrifice. This is what it says in verses 16-18, And then verse 22, quoting from Leviticus 17, says, And that's key. Without the shedding of blood, in the context there, it's talking about not just shedding of blood, but it's actually talking about the death of the sacrificial victim. And there are a number of other verses we should point out, and I think we should take time going through some of these, because it is so important to show the huge distinctive between the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and what its leaders and Scripture have said about this issue, as opposed to what Christians have traditionally understood and believed, and I would say even celebrated in the acknowledgment of Good Friday, which basically means Holy Friday, and what took place on that day when Jesus was offered up as a sacrifice. We have an article on our website, and we have these verses listed here, but I'm going to read off about a dozen, just to get the idea across that Jesus fulfilled what it talks about in the Old Testament. So, in 1 Corinthians 1-18, it says, And then verse 14, he says, Well, let me go back where it talks about Him dying.

I think a very simple question should be raised at this time. If Latter-day Saints point to the Garden of Gethsemane as where the atonement took place, then where is the dying of Jesus? I mean, clearly we see here, He dies. He didn't die in the Garden of Gethsemane.

So here's the difference, folks. They will talk about Him sweating great drops of blood, and that's found in Doctrine and Covenants section 19, but we don't see a death. What we have here is a difference between expiation and perspiration, because that's really what we're talking about when it comes to the Mormon view of the atonement. It's His perspiring great drops of blood, whereas in Christianity, He dies. He expires.

So there is a distinction. Yeah, for the rest of the show, let me just give you these verses. Acts 5-30, the God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you have put to death by hanging Him on a cross. Romans 5-9, the shedding of His blood on the cross makes justification before an all-holy God a present reality.

Romans 8-34, we have the idea that Christ's death resulted in Christians having one who intercedes on their behalf. 1 Corinthians 5, 7-8 talks about Jesus as being a sacrificed Passover lamb. Galatians 3, 1, Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us because it's written, cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree.

That's the cross. Galatians 3, 13, Christ's death on the cross redeemed believers from the curse of the law. Galatians 6, 14, Paul says he would not want to boast except in the cross of the Lord Jesus, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world. Galatians 1, 21-22, it talks about the physical death of Jesus. Galatians 2, 13-15, it talks about the written code of regulations that condemned all people was nailed to the cross, and that gave forgiveness to the believer of his sins. Hebrews 2, 14, by his death Jesus removes the sting of death and frees those who were once held in slavery by the fear of death. Hebrews 9, verses 13 and 14, and it talks about how the regular sacrifices of bulls and goats were not able to take away the sins of a person, but it's Christ's once for all death that cleanses the conscience of the believer and takes away sin. And let me stop you there, because the reason why it's worded that way is anybody could go through the ritual of offering a sacrifice, but there was an element of faith in the Old Testament that that sacrifice meant something. There was the giving of a life on behalf of, you had to have that faith in believing that, just the same as you have to have that kind of faith when it comes to a New Testament context. Just because Jesus died on the cross does not mean your sins are forgiven. You have to have faith that what he did on that cross was on your behalf. The Bible very clearly talks about atonement only in the sense of a death.

There is, as you mentioned, no perspiration that would be efficacious for our sins. As we look at another viewpoint on Mormonism. Looking for a book on Mormonism from a Christian perspective? Or do you have questions about the history or doctrines of the LDS church? Bill McKeever and Eric Johnson are once again volunteering at the Utah Lighthouse Bookstore and would be glad to speak to you on Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m. The Utah Lighthouse Bookstore is located right there at 1358 South on West Temple Street in Salt Lake City. Be sure to come by any Saturday from 1 to 5 p.m. and say hi to Bill or Eric.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-12-08 11:01:16 / 2023-12-08 11:06:36 / 5

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