Dear Friends, March 19, 2010
Greetings in our compassionate Father who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ (Eph 1:3). This verse has much encouraged me the past 30 years. It seems to state that our only spiritual lack is that we don't notice the fulness of the provision that is already ours. Paul mentions in chapters 1 and 3 his prayer for the saints to be given a vision of their provision. We saints in Utah would welcome any who would pray this for us.
Recently Eli and a friend joined a large Mormon gathering at USU to listen to the president of the Logan Mormon temple speak. That respected older man spoke clearly about how nearly all spiritual blessings and knowledge are gained by going to the Mormon temple. Eli saw Dr. Cooley (mentioned in the previous letter) there, greeted him cheerfully, and asked if Dr. Cooley had yet read Eli's letter to him. The professor became rude and cold and left. Dr. Cooley and Eli had spoken at length weeks before, at which time the professor had given Eli his writing on justification by obedience to the moral law. Eli's letter was a response demonstrating from Romans and Galatians that justification was by faith apart from obedience to the moral law. Obviously Eli's kind but clear letter had gotten under the professor's skin. Pray that God would not let him rest until he finds rest in Christ.
After Cooley left, a student, Todd, greeted Eli. The above temple talk about spiritual blessings had kept Ephesians 1:3 in Eli's mind. So he opened his Bible to the verse, asked Todd to read it, and asked him what it said about spiritual blessings. Eli then asked him: if one has all spiritual blessings in Christ, then why is a temple necessary? Todd was speechless. Pray for the Lord to stir his heart to search for truth.
A bit later across campus, Eli met Travis, a Mormon missionary, who had knocked on Eli's door many months earlier. They had had a good conversation, but Travis had been self-righteous and full of excuses for his sin. This time as they discussed the seriousness of God's perfect law and judgment, Travis freely admitted guilt with no excuses. Sadly, his new companion was full of excuses. At the end Travis asked how he could find forgiveness. Eli explained the way and suspects that Travis soaked up the gospel like a sponge. Pray for God to bring Travis to another Christian and to draw him in soon.
Michelle, a Mormon, who is a nursing student at USU, works as a caregiver for Kim, the dear sister with ALS. Michelle accompanied Kim to church Sunday for the first time. There was much singing, teaching and discussion about grace and forgiveness. Afterward Michelle curiously asked me if a person didn't have to do something to get forgiveness. I explained to her that a person did have to do something: to rest from working and simply trust in Christ's death as the full payment for sin. This may have been Michelle's first conversation with a Christian. Michelle said she would be back to join us again. Kim later had a good conversation with her. May the Father reveal to her that God's religion begins with forgiveness while man's religion ends with it.
Last week at Oasis our discussion with Anikaanother of Kim's aides (mentioned before)was about the seriousness of the Book of Mormon's injunctions to stop all sinning now. Anika agreed that she could and should stop her sins. I jokingly asked her if when we next met I should assume that she had flawlessly followed the example of Christ for the week. She laughed and said that I should. This week at Oasis when I greeted her, she started the conversation by saying that she hadn't been perfect and doubted she ever would be. We had a joyful conversation about sin and forgiveness. She mentioned that the harder she tries the more sinful she gets. She also said that she would be offended if someone tried to bribe her to be loved by her. It seemed to give her pause when I applied that to her god. How could her god not be offended by her thinking that he required obedience from her before he would love her fully? When she mentioned that overcoming addiction requires putting all hope in Christ, I agreed, and said that such was what we were telling her. Did she have any hope in her sincerity? In her repentance? In her willingness? If so, she was not putting all hope in Christ, but reserving some in herself. She seems near the end of her struggle and close to the kingdom. Pray for God to show her her total lack of hope in self and His glorious gift of hope in Christ.
Austin, saw our sign and came in today. He is a young married student, having returned from his Mormon mission. I handed him the good person tract. He started to read it but seemed to be waiting. I interrupted and asked him if he thought he was a good person. He expressed that he thought so, even when compared to Christ. He seemed to be in inner turmoil about his sindenying it but yet admitting he was not fully obedient; declaring that God does not allow excuses, but making excuses; saying that he is doing his best, but also that he could be doing better; resisting my every word but seeming to soak it in, almost unwilling to leave. He had twice read completely, in English and Spanish, The Miracle of Forgiveness, a thick Mormon book about the critical need to stop all sin. He said it was depressing and made him feel worthless. He asked what hope I had. I explained the total absence of hope in self and the glorious hope outside of self in Christ. He lingered and lingered so I repeated this from several angles. He saw our differences and said that he could not feel good about himself unless he did his best before accepting God's gift. He left slowly, obviously with some new thoughts. Pray for God to remind him of his own words and to make him aware of his sinfulness and of Christ's great love for sinners.
On Monday, March 22, USU students return from Spring Break. Eli and I plan to begin campus evangelism at 10 am Monday at the usual spot near the fountain outside the student center. We will have a table of free books and other materials as well as preach to the crowds. If you are on campus, please come by for a free book, to join us in witness or to pray. We plan to be on the plaza all day Monday through Thursday and maybe on Friday. Friday there will be crowds of High School students from across Utah visiting USU in anticipation of fall enrollment. Many have heard much of the law and gospel the past 2 years. Trust with us that His Word has power to break into hard hearts and fill them with rivers of living water. Pray for God to fill us with His Spirit that we would overflow with wisdom, grace and boldness. Pray that He would save many. Spring seems to have arrived this week, but pray for God to provide warm weather. Spring can be cold and snowy here.
IN MORMONISM: People must be worthy to be baptized, having first repented of their sins, and then they are allowed to progress to the next level toward exaltation.
IN THE BIBLE: When people are baptized, they are confessing that they are unworthy sinners who need forgiveness of sins through the death of Jesus Christ. This is not a step toward exaltation, but an act of going down into the waters of humility.
In our faithful Lord Jesus Christ,