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Mormonism, Latter Day Saints, Joseph Smith, Book of Mormon

Mormonism, Latter Day Saints, and the Bible:
Was Joseph Smith a True Prophet? Is the Book of Mormon from God?

Mormonism, Latter Day Saints, and the Bible: Was Joseph Smith a True Prophet? Are the Book of Mormon and Doctrine and Covenants from God? How does Mormonism compare to the Bible and Christianity?

This is a continuation of a four-part study. To start at the beginning of the study, click here. 


Part 3: Mormonism and Bible Prophecies


Mormonism does attempt to establish Smith and his revelation as being from God on the grounds that they fulfill Bible prophecy. Fulfillment of prophecy can prove a man is from God, depending on what prophecies are fulfilled.

But where is the proof that Smith fulfilled Bible prophecies? The followers of many false prophets, from Mohammed to Mary Baker Eddy to Herbert Armstrong, have claimed to fulfill various Bible prophecies. But making a claim and proving it are two different things. So, let us consider the evidence.

A. Genesis 22:18; Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Acts 3:19-25

Mormons claim that Smith and his work were the blessing on all nations that God promised to Abraham (Genesis 22:18), that Smith was the one Moses predicted would be a prophet like himself (Deuteronomy 18:16-19), and that Smith brought the restoration of all things explained by Peter in Acts 3:19-25.

But where is the proof? Anyone can make claims. Consider the Bible teaching:

The blessing promised to Abraham (Genesis 22:18) was salvation through Christ.

This is specifically stated in Scripture.

Galatians 3:7-16

Galatians 3 discusses the promise to Abraham that a blessing would come on all nations through his seed (v8). Note how the context explains this promised blessing, repeatedly referring to Abraham, the "blessing," the "promise," "all nations," and the "seed." Then note the frequent references that tie these concepts to justification through Christ by faith.

The "blessing" comes on those who have "faith" (vv 7-9). It could not come through the law given through Moses, since the law brought a "curse," not a blessing (vv 10-13).

V14 - The "blessing" of Abraham would come upon the Gentiles through "faith." "Gentiles" means "nations," in contrast to the nation of Israel. So, the promise to Abraham stated that through his "seed" would bring a blessing on "all nations," Jew and Gentile, through faith. But this blessing comes on Gentiles "in Christ," not in Joseph Smith.

V16 specifically identifies the "seed" through whom the promise would come. The promise was made to Abraham and his seed, "who is Christ"! The Bible expressly states that the seed, through whom came the blessing promised to Abraham, was Christ, not Smith!

Vv 24-29 explain further that we are justified through "faith" in Christ and thereby become children of God. If we come into Christ and belong to Him, then we are heirs according to the promise to Abraham.

So the blessing that God promised to all nations through Abraham's seed was justification or salvation from sin, so people of all nations could become children of God. And the "seed" through whom this came was, not Smith, but Jesus.

Acts 3:25,26

The conclusion of Peter's speech in Acts 3 likewise identifies Jesus to be the seed through whom the promised blessing came, and the blessing was justification from sin.

V25 - The Jews to whom Peter spoke were descendants of the fathers who received the promised covenant that in Abraham's seed all nations would be blessed.

V26 - The blessing is then explained. God sent Jesus to bless people by turning them away from their sins.

Here is the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. The blessing to come upon all men was forgiveness of sins, and the seed who brought it was Jesus. To claim that Smith was the promised seed, or that he brought the promised blessing, is to directly contradict the Bible and to put a mere man in the place of the Divine Son of God!

The prophet like Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15-19) was also Jesus Christ.

Where is the proof Moses was predicting Smith? The Bible says otherwise.

Note Acts 7:35-40,51-53. Stephen's purpose here was to explain to the Jews the truth about Jesus (6:14), whom they had killed (7:52). In doing this, he explains who the prophet was that Moses predicted. But remember that, ultimately, the lesson is about Jesus and who He is.

Vv 35-40 describe Moses' work, quoting his prediction that God would raise up a prophet like Moses (v37). Note some things Stephen says about Moses that are similar to Jesus:

* Moses gave God's people a law and a covenant that they did not have before - Acts 7:35,38. But so did Jesus (Hebrews 10:9,10; 9:15-17; cf. James 4:12).

* Moses delivered the people from bondage - vv 34-36. But so did Jesus (Matthew 1:21; John 8:31-36).

* Moses judged the people - v35. But so will Jesus (Acts 17:31; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

* Moses, at first, was rejected by God's people - vv 35,39,40. Stephen's main point in the context is that this is exactly what the Jews had also done to Jesus. Note v52 - The Jews murdered the Righteous One (Jesus), just like they rejected those who had prophesied of Him. But Moses is the only prophet specifically named in the context who was rejected by the people and who predicted the coming of a prophet - v37. And the passage where he made this prediction is the one we are studying - Deuteronomy 18!

So, Stephen's main point is that, just like the Jews had rejected Moses, so they had rejected Jesus, who was the prophet Moses had predicted! God's word here explains that Jesus is the prophet Moses referred to in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. To claim that Smith was that prophet is, once again, to directly contradict the Bible and to put a mere man in the place of the Divine Son of God!

Jesus was the one who restores all things in Acts 3:19-25.

Where is the proof that this passage predicts Smith would restore all things (v21), or that he is the prophet Moses predicted (vv 22,23)? Anyone can make claims. The Bible explains who is being prophesied.

Peter's purpose in context is to convince unbelieving Jews to believe in Jesus.

Keep the passage in context.

Vv 1-11 - Peter and John performed a miracle in the presence of many unbelievers by healing a lame man. This forever eliminates the Mormons from using Acts 3 to confirm Joseph Smith or Mormonism, since Smith and Mormon apostles refuse to do public miracles as Peter and John did here! The context does not confirm Mormonism; it contradicts it!

Vv 12-16 - Peter used the opportunity to explain that the people had killed Jesus, the very one Whose power had healed the lame man. The lesson was that people should turn to Jesus, because He can save from sin just as He had healed the lame man (note 3:12-16,26; 4:7-12,14-18). Peter's sermon was intended to lead people to believe in Jesus! It has nothing to do with Joseph Smith.

Vv 17-19 - Having confirmed Jesus' claims on the basis of His miracles, Peter proceeded to confirm His claims on the basis of fulfilled prophecy (cf. vv 22-26). Then he urged the people to repent and be converted so they can be forgiven. (Note that Peter confirmed Jesus' claims by means of miracles and fulfilled prophecy - the very methods that we have shown should be used to test prophets.)

Vv 22-26 - Peter offered specific examples of prophecy to substantiate his argument, then concluded that Jesus came to turn people away from their sins.

As with most sermons in Acts, the purpose of Peter's speech throughout was to convert people to Christ. Why talk about Joseph Smith, a man who would not live for 1800 years? These people needed to believe in Jesus and be saved from their sins. That is the context. A discussion of Smith would be completely out of context.

Vv 18-26 specifically are discussing, not Mormonism, but Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus and the gospel.

Vv 18,19 - Peter introduced the subject of prophecy by saying Christ (not Smith) has fulfilled the things God foretold. "Therefore" - on the basis of prophecies and miracles (vv 12-16 ) - the people should repent and be converted.

Vv 20,21 - Jesus Christ, who was preached (prophesied) before, must be received by Heaven until the time of restoration of all things about which Old Testament prophets spoke. Where is the proof this refers to Smith? The discussion throughout refers to Jesus and His work, not Smith.

I believe the best explanation here is that Jesus' life and death made salvation available for all men (remember, salvation through Jesus is the theme of the sermon). When He ascended, the gospel began to be preached and men began to obey. As a result man's spiritual relationship to God can now been restored, granting them all the spiritual blessings God offers to those in His favor.

The things being restored refer to all things "spoken by the mouth of all God's prophets" of old! This does not mean all men will be saved, for the prophets predicted the salvation of only a remnant (Romans 9:27; 11:5; Matthew 7:13,14). This restoration of fellowship with God began when Jesus was received into Heaven and the gospel was first preached. As the gospel is preached, people continue to be restored in relationship to God. When this has been accomplished to the extent of God's will, the times of restitution will be complete and Jesus will return.

This view fits the context, since all this was surely prophesied in the Old Testament and was brought about by Jesus (note vv 25,26; Eph. 1:3-7; chap. 2; Colossians 1:11-23; Heb 10:9-23). I believe this view is the best explanation of these verses. But even if some modification is needed, still there is no proof of any reference to Smith or any other modern-day "prophet." The context throughout refers to Christ and His gospel.

Vv 22,23 - Moses predicted a prophet like himself that the people must listen to or be destroyed (Deuteronomy 18:15,19). We have already proved by Acts 7 that this prophet is Jesus, not Smith.

In fact, Smith himself knew Acts 3:22,23 refers to Jesus! In Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:40, Smith records that the angel Moroni quoted Acts 3:22,23 and "He said that that prophet was Christ." Smith got it right this time! But modern Mormons apply this passage to Smith, thereby contradicting both the Bible and their own "Scriptures" written by Smith!

V24 - Peter explained that Moses, Samuel, and all the prophets following him spoke of "these days" - not the days of Smith, 1800 years later, but the days during which Peter lived!

Vv 25,26 - Peter concluded by explaining that God sent Jesus to give the blessing of forgiveness of sins, in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. We have already shown that Peter's statement and Galatians 3 both prove this refers to the blessing of forgiveness through Jesus.

So, Peter's sermon ends as it began - talking about Jesus, explaining how the One who gave the power to heal the lame man has also given the power to be saved from sin. That is the message of Acts 3. To apply it to Joseph Smith is to directly contradict the Bible and to put a man in the place of the Son of God.

B. Ezekiel 37:15-19

Mormons claim that the "stick of Judah" is the Bible that came through the Jews and the "stick of Ephraim" is the Book of Mormon that supposedly came through descendants of Joseph in America. Hence, this is a prophecy showing that the Book of Mormon is another revelation like the Bible, and the two should be joined equally as evidence of God's will.

Again, however, this whole explanation is human assumption and speculation.

Where does the passage say the "sticks" are books? Where in the Bible is any book ever called a "stick"? Where is a scroll ever called a "stick"? This is all a figment of imagination without a shred of proof.

Note: the stick Mormons say refers to the Book of Mormon is called the "stick of Ephraim."

Ephraim was a son of Joseph, but Joseph had two sons - Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 48:1). Each son eventually became a tribe of Israel (Josh. 16:4,5; 17:1). But the Book of Mormon claims that the people who wrote it were descendants of Manasseh, not of Ephraim - Alma 10:2,3. So, the Book of Mormon could not be a "stick of Ephraim."

(Note that the sons of Ishmael, who came to America with Lehi, were also counted as descendants of Nephi, and so would also be of the tribe of Manasseh - 2 Nephi 1:28).

Just continue reading Ezekiel 37 and the meaning of the prophecy is explained!

Ezekiel is a book of symbolic lessons. V18 - when people ask what the meaning is, it is explained (vv 19-23).

God will gather the children of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered and will reunite them. They will not be "two nations" or "two kingdoms," but "one nation" (vv 21,22). That is the meaning of the two sticks being joined together to form one stick (vv 16,17). It is not two books being joined together, but two nations.

God's people had been divided into two kingdoms. The southern one was often called Judah, and the northern one was often called "Ephraim" - Isaiah 7:6-9; 9:8,9. Ezekiel is prophesying the reunion of these two kingdoms. The passage explains itself; it has nothing at all to do with the Book of Mormon!

C. Joel 2:28-32

Joel 2:28-32 prophesies the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. In Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:41, Smith claimed that the angel Moroni said that this passage "was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be." Mormons sometimes claim that the Spirit is still coming on men in the Mormon Church to cause them to prophesy, in fulfillment of this passage.

Again, this is assumption without proof.

Anyone can claim that his teaching fulfills this passage, but that does not make it so. In the Bible, the revelations that came from the Holy Spirit were confirmed by public miracles, as we have shown. If Mormon apostles and prophets are directly guided by that same Spirit, why don't they confirm the message by miracles?

Again, the Bible explains the fulfillment of this passage. Note Acts 2:16-21.

The Holy Spirit fell on the apostles (vv 1-4). When questioned about what had happened, Peter quoted Joel 2:28-32 saying, "this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel." Hence, the Bible says Joel 2 was fulfilled in the first century, but Smith claimed that Moroni told him it still had not been fulfilled 1800 years later.

[Someone may say maybe Smith meant the prophecy had begun to be fulfilled, but was not yet completely fulfilled. If so, he also said it soon would be fulfilled, so the Spirit would soon complete its work and cease inspiring men. Yet, Mormons still claim to have the Spirit 140 years later!]

Note that the pouring out of the Spirit, according to Joel's prophecy, was to occur "in the last days."

Mormons believe that the "last" or "latter" days refer to the age of the Mormon restoration through Smith (thus "Latter Day Saints"). Hence, they apply every prophecy mentioning the "latter days" to modern times.

But Joel two was fulfilled "in the last days," and Peter said in Acts 2:16, "this is that." So, the Bible says that the events in the first century were "in the last days." We have been in the "last days" ever since Pentecost! Most prophecies the Mormons believe refer to them, therefore, were already fulfilled in the first century. Other passages confirming this are Hebrews 1:1,2; 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20. The "last days" refers to the entire gospel age, from Jesus' death till His return.

Once again Mormons fail in their efforts to confirm their teaching by the Bible. But even more important, Smith's statement in the Pearl of Great Price clearly contradicts the Bible. So, here we have a case in which Smith himself blundered in writing his "Scriptures." How then can he be a true prophet?

D. Malachi 4.5,6

This passage says Elijah would come and turn the hearts of the children to their fathers. Smith said this was fulfilled when Elijah appeared to him and instituted baptism for the dead - Doctrine and Covenants 110:12-16; 128:17,18.

First, note that "Elias" is just another name for "Elijah."

Smith taught that these were two different men (see above references; cf. Doctrine and Covenants 27:6,9). In fact, they are one and the same man, "Elijah" being the OT (Hebrew) name and "Elias" being the NT (Greek) equivalent of that name in the KJV. Note:

* Cf. Luke 4:25,26 to 1 Kings 17:1,9 - "Elias" (NT) was the "Elijah" (OT) sent to the widow of Zarephath.

* Cf. Romans 11:2-4 to 1 Kings 19:9,10,18 - "Elias" (NT) was the "Elijah" (OT) who thought he was God's only servant when there were really 7000.

* Cf. James 5:17,18 to 1 Kings 17:1; 18:1 - "Elias" (NT) was the "Elijah" (OT) who prayed and it rained not for 31/2 years.

The ASV, NKJV, and other modern -translations confirm that Elias is just another name for Elijah. Smith's first mistake was in distinguishing them.

Smith here made an obvious two-fold blunder. He blundered in understanding Scripture and he blundered in translation. But Smith claimed that he translated the Book of Mormon and other books by direct inspiration, and that he could improve on the translation of the Bible. Why then did he blunder in translation? And if he was a prophet, why did he so blatantly blunder in understanding Scripture? In fact, Smith was wrong when he claimed to translate by inspiration, and he was wrong when he claimed to be a prophet!

The Bible says John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy.

Matthew 11:12-15 - To those willing to accept truth, Jesus said John was the Elijah who was to come.

Matthew 17:10-13 - Jesus said the scribes were right in saying Elijah would come and restore all things. In fact, he had already come, but they had not recognized him (just as Mormons do not recognize him). The disciples then realized He was speaking of John the Baptist!

Luke 1:13,17 - The angel promised that John would act as a forerunner in the spirit and power of Elijah to "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children." The Bible says John fulfilled Malachi 4:5,6!

Prophecy often uses symbolism. In this case, the names are symbolic, referring to the fact that John was like Elijah. Just as Old Testament prophecies of a coming king "David" were fulfilled by Jesus, so also this prophecy about "Elijah" was fulfilled by John.

So, we have yet another example in which Smith blundered by applying to himself a passage that the Bible says was already fulfilled. And since Smith's statements are found in the Doctrine and Covenants, he blundered even in writing Mormon "Scripture"!

E. Isaiah 29:11-18

Vv 11,12 speak of a sealed book that learned and unlearned men cannot read. V14 speaks of a "marvelous work and a wonder." V18 mentions a book deaf men will hear. Mormons apply all these verses to the Book of Mormon.

Again, to apply these to the Book of Mormon is assumption without proof.

Anybody could write a book and claim it fulfills these verses. How do Mormons know?

Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith 2:63-65, claims Martin Harris took Book of Mormon to Prof. Charles Anthon. He examined Egyptian characters copied from Book of Mormon and said they were true characters. He also said Smith's translation was correct, more so than any other he had seen translated from Egyptian. But when told the message came from an angel so he could not see the actual plates, he retracted his statement and said, "I cannot read a sealed book." This is supposed to fulfill Isaiah 29:11,12.

But this whole incident is suspect because:

* According to the account, Anthon himself retracted his conclusion and tore up his written statement. So, there is only one witness (Martin Harris) that this happened, whereas both the Bible and the Book of Mormon agree that 2 or 3 witnesses are needed to establish a historical fact - Matthew 18:16; John 8:17; Deuteronomy 19:15; Ether 5:4.

* Anthon supposedly affirmed the sample shown him was a correct translation from the Egyptian, but Mormon 9:32,34 says the Book of Mormon was written in a language "none other people knoweth." This is supposedly why God "prepared means for the interpretation thereof," so Smith could translate it. But if no one else knew the language and Smith could translate it only by special means prepared by God, then how could Anthon know the language or confirm the translation as correct?

Actually, the passage refers to a common Old Testament theme: Jerusalem would be destroyed (vv 1-13), but later would come a spiritual reawakening (vv 13-24).

This reawakening took place mainly through the work of Jesus.

Vv 9-12 picture men who refuse to heed God's will.

The description is symbolic, not literal. The people are blind and stagger like drunk men; but no wine is involved, so they are not literally drunk. God's revelation is to them like a book no man can understand regardless of his learning. Note that the book is no more literal than the blindnessor the drunkenness (or the eyes or the heads).

In Romans 11:7,8 Paul quotes Isaiah 29:10 and applies to the Jews of his day that rejected the gospel. There is no prediction here of the Book of Mormon.

V13 describes the hypocrisy of people who speak well of God but do not mean it from the heart.

They act, not out of respect for God, but in obedience to human commands. In Matthew 15:7-9 Jesus applies this to people in His day. Again, there is no prediction of the Book of Mormon.

V14 - This indifference would lead God to do a marvelous work among them.

Other Old Testament passages likewise speak of such a marvelous work, but the New Testament shows that Jesus fulfilled these predictions.

Habakkuk 1:5 - God would work a work causing men to wonder marvelously (KJV, ASV), but men would not believe. But in Acts 13:41 Paul quotes this passage and applies it to people in his day who did not believe when he preached Jesus. So, the "marvelous and wonderful work" was the work of Jesus.

Psalm 118:22,23 - The rejection of the head cornerstone would be a marvelous doing (work) from the Lord. This also was fulfilled in Jesus - Acts 4:10,11; cf. Matthew 21:42; 1 Peter 2:7.

Many other passages emphasize the marvelous nature of Jesus' work: Matthew 8:27; 22:22; Mark 5:20; Luke 4.22; John 7:15; Acts 2:7,22.

1 Corinthians 1:19 expressly quotes the last part of Isaiah 29:14 and applies it specifically to the gospel, the message about Jesus (see vv 18-25).

Vv 17-19 - This wonderful work would cause blind men to see, deaf men to hear, and the meek and poor to rejoice.

Again, all this was fulfilled, both literally and spiritually, by the work of Jesus: John 9:39; Luke 4:18-22; Matthew 13:16; 11:5; 5:3,5; 2 Cor. 3:14-16.

So, the "marvelous work and a wonder" prophesied here was the work and message of Christ. Absolutely nothing indicates that it refers to Smith or the Book of Mormon.

Conclusions:

Other Bible passages Mormons might cite as predictions of Smith or the Book of Mormon all fall into the same categories as those we have examined. All are passages that cannot be proved to apply to Mormonism, and usually they have already been fulfilled.

Despite their claims, when people, like the Mormons, seek other revelation in addition to the Bible, invariably they do so because they have lost respect for the Bible. They want teachings that differ from the Bible, otherwise they would be satisfied to follow the Bible alone. They invariably show much more respect for their modern revelations than they do for the Bible. This results in ignorance and obvious blunders and misuse of the Bible, such as we have documented.

We have carefully examined three Bible tests for distinguishing true prophets and true revelations from false prophets and false revelations. Joseph Smith and his "revelations" fail all three. It follows, however, that Smith and his message really do fulfill some Bible prophecies. Here are a few of them:

Galatians 1:8 - But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.

Matthew 7:15 - Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.

Matthew 7:22,23 - Many will say to Me in that day, "Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name ..." And then I will declare to them, "I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!"

2 Corinthians 11:13 - For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.

1 John 4:1 - Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

To start at the beginning of the study, click here. 

Note: If you would like to study further about related Bible topics, we have a number of other study materials on our web site that should interest you. Please see the links listed below.

(C) Copyright 1998, 2007, David E. Pratte
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.

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