Dear Friends, May 28, 2012
Greetings in Christ, who is to us a revelation of the lavish generosity of the Father, that we might know that the Father loves us even as He has loved His Son. May we spend our days contemplating together the riches of this sin-bearing love, that we, like Paul and Timothy, would be constrained to open our hearts wide to all those we meet that they too may embrace Gods surprising generosity at the cross. Recently, I have been much blessed in listening to a sermon series on grace by a pastor in WA. Others have mentioned noticing their lives change in listening to this series. Find it at: trinitywallawalla.org
After the last prayer letter went out, we had two more weeks of preaching at USU. At the end of that last letter, We mentioned a good conversation with Chris and John. There actually had been a third man quietly listening at length. On our last day on campus that third man, Chad, came up to the table and asked if it were possible for an active Mormon to be born-again Christian. I said: yes, but he would think differently from the others. As I quizzed him, he declared clearly that he had submitted to Christ as all of his righteousness, and mentioned that he was surprised to find that he had a new motivation to do good without the pressure of rules. He then told his story of how while on his Mormon mission seven years earlier, one of his fellow missionaries, Micah Wilder, had testified at a gathering of the 50+ missionaries and the mission president, that Christ on the cross was all that was necessary for one to be right with God. Chad had clearly been significantly effected by that testimony. Chad said that he and his wife have been discussing these matters, including church affiliation. Pray for Chad and Joanna to find fellowship with true saints and to proclaim boldly righteousness by faith alone. We encourage you to watch Micahs (and seven other former Mormons) glad testimony of finding Christ as all their righteousness at: unveilinggrace.org Please pray for the Mormon missionaries you see or hear about that God would give each of them a kind Christian to help them lift their eyes to the moral perfection of Christ that they would escape being drunk on personal righteousness (Isaiah 29:9-13), see themselves as ruined sinners (Isaiah 6:5) and accept the gift of righteousness (Is. 53:11). May God give some of you the privilege of such a conversation.
In our last prayer letter we mentioned Andrew, a student who was considering joining Mormonism, whom Eli encouraged to read the Bible and to see what God has to say about Jesus. Andrew has had a difficult past of drugs and has been seeking to get his life in order, and thinks that Mormonism may be able to do this for him. Since the campus semester has ended, he has been coming into the bookstore regularly, eager to share with us what he has been learning in the Bible. His excitement over the things he is finding is wonderful, and Eli has been having good times with him discussing the freeing and transforming gospel of grace. Pray that Andrew's eyes would be opened to see that God's provision for him in the cross of Christ is all the he needs, and that he doesn't need to supplement Christ with rules or an organization.
Every few months a fund-raising group from the Unification Church (Moonies) seems to pass through Logan and one of the members ends up at Oasis. They are identifiable by what they carry and so I preempt their donation discussion with a question about forgiveness. They seem always eager to talk. As Eric came up I drew him into conversation about righteousness and the need of the cross. He said that he had been thinking about these things. When Eric's companion entered Oasis, a dear brother, Jason, left the conversation and engaged the companion separately with the gospel. Eric was thankful for the conversation and he and his friend both gladly took a wonderful gospel booklet, The Scandal of Jesus, by Vinoth Ramachandra.
Yesterday Karen, 61 and a happy casual Mormon who enjoys reading the NT, walked into Oasis, glanced around, and curiously asked if it were a Bible bookstore. We had a long conversation about righteousness. She disliked the religious rules and pretending of Mormonism but loved being around other Mormons to try to influence them to see love and good feelings as all that was important. She was intrigued by the idea of religion behind religion (see below) and declared being shocked at perfection as the standard of life. She was in love with her efforts to improve. Even she laughed a little at her proud words. She had spent six months visiting a huge baptist church in Orlando, said she had understood the Christian message, but hadn't been shocked by it before. She gladly took materials, including the Unveiling Grace DVD, as I mentioned it was a testimony from Orlando. She said she would be back and invited me to her home.
Mormonism indoctrinates its members unusually thoroughly to think that the only important question in the universe is: Is Mormonism true? For them the question is loaded with snares that harden their hearts to the Christian gospel. If Mormonism isn't true then 1) there is no God, or 2) agnosticism is the only option as there is no authority among men to tell us about God, or 3) God is very cruel to play such a dirty trick on people who have done their best to please him. Topics related to this question are where Mormons want to keep the conversationto keep it safe and shallow. But the question we want to explore with them is: what is the religion behind their religion? There are only two types of thinking about the moral life: seek to be a good personestablishing one's own righteousnessor trust Christ to be one's righteousness. Every person has a religious or moral facade which they use to support their true religion/morality. We all seem drawn to argue about our religious facades, even we Christians. Real unity or change comes in focusing on the religion behind religion. If we can help our Mormon friends contemplate righteousness (perfect moral goodness), sin and God's judgment, and reveal to them the sweet message of a generous God who welcomes sinners without any moral improvement, some of them will turn and rest in Christ. Their new life will eventually swallow up the old facade of death. A very sad reality is that when Mormons find Mormonism to be false, they most often adopt a new facadeusually agnosticism or atheismto support their real religion of being a good person. We seek to not be baited into fighting against the facade of Mormonism. That fight can get emotional. We do find most Mormons very willing to let down their defenses in discussing God's perfect goodness and righteousness. This fight is invigorating and wins the friendship of those willing to be at least a little honest about their failings and need for forgiveness.
Thank you for your prayers.
In our faithful Lord Jesus Christ,
25 W. Center St.
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