Today is the day. I rejoice with the SBC.
Revelation 2:1-7 – This is the Lord’s omniscient, and righteous, and spot-on evaluation of you:
“To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says he who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:
I know your works, your labor, your patience, and you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary. Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place–unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God” (NKJV).
1. Our culture might boast of their acceptance of certain people who are activists for sin, but you cannot tolerate those who are evil. You don’t shake their hands. You don’t accommodate to them. Jesus commends this about you. You firmly practice church discipline. You stand against all aberrations of human sexuality. You despise religious hypocrites. You are warriors against the cesspool of corruption. You separate yourselves from a world system in opposition to God, false teachers, and those who claim to be Christians but are in blatant disobedience and rebellion.
2. You declare the truth about false apostles. You test their doctrine. You expose their false gospel. You shed light on the lies. You are Bereans who compare religious leaders’ lives and creeds with the Scripture. You renounce those claiming the positions of religious authority but who do not follow the Bible. Like keen bloodhounds on the trails of heretics and wolves in sheep’s clothing, you sniff out deceit. You preach and teach discernment. Thank God for your relentless courage.
3. You labor long and hard for the name of the Lord Jesus Christ each week. You work like a slave in your ongoing toil. You have a full-time job in town and on top of that, you are involved in so many ministries in your local congregation. It exhausts you, but you do not give up. You grow weary in the work but not weary of the work. Others quit. But you do not. You persevere. You continually bear up under the pressure of service. And you don’t cave in to the criticism.
4. You are not afraid to demonstrate the h-word. You hate as Jesus hates. Specifically, you hate the doctrine and deeds that Jesus hates. You don’t give in to compromise. You don’t fall prey to spiritual treachery. The colors of your banner are black and white — not grey.
Thank God for those of you in Christ’s Church in Idaho Falls who display these qualities. You give your strength to sound doctrine, seeking to be a bastion for truth and orthodoxy. And in the midst of the Eastern Idahoan beehive, you are the busiest. You are not lazy. You just keep going, week after week, month after month, year after year.
But will you listen to where Jesus is deeply displeased with you? This might come as a shock. Jesus says to you, “I have against you. You have left your first love.”
You are not the same as when you first began. You have forgotten what is really important. The chief priority. You have wandered off the beautiful Greenbelt path, forsaking that which is most precious. Your heart is distant. Mechanical. You are just going through the motions. Business as usual. The sober reality is that God is going to shut down your business if things don’t change.
Do you find yourself grumpy? Joyless? Does Jesus taste as sweet to you as Orange Leaf yogurt? What was it like when you first became a Christian? How is your heart now? When was the last time that you gave yourself in reckless abandonment to the Lord? How often do you find yourself in the Lord’s presence where you just lose track of time?
Jesus shuts down the part of His Church where it is all head and no heart. You will not be in heaven if you do not love Jesus.
1. Remember. Do you remember what it was like to be eating out of a pig’s trough? Do you remember the days when you were in painful, shameful, helpless bondage? Do you remember what it was like to have the heaping, suffocating burden of your sins removed from you at the foot of the cross? Do you remember when the Lord found you in the Snake River high desert among the sagebrush, naked, lonely, and destitute?
2. Repent. Tell the Lord about the weakness of your love. Agree with Him about your idolatry. Turn from that sin which you have been holding with a steady grip. Embrace His love and forgiveness. King Jesus is everything. Jesus is the treasure. Jesus is what makes heaven actually heaven.
3. Do the first works. Prostrate yourself before Jesus. Talk to Jesus. Laugh with Jesus. Sing to Jesus. Start sharing all over again in Idaho Falls your Jesus story of amazing grace. And let Jesus know that there is not anything that you would not do for Him. Let this be the prayer to the majestic King who walks in the midst of His Church in Idaho Falls. Lord Jesus, send me anywhere, only go with me. In this city, be His golden love and light.
Taken from The Baptist Home Mission Monthly:
“The Gospel for Utah”: An address delivered at the annual meeting of the society, at Detroit, Mich., May, 1884, by Rev. S. Graves, D.D. This was the year in which the first Baptist church building was erected in Idaho Falls.
When I read the entirety of this address, I thought of the new church planting team arriving in Salt Lake City this year. Though this present team will not be using the same rhetoric nor contending with polygamy, they will certainly have one passion to communicate – Gospel Grace.
This is the theme assigned me, Mr. President, for a few minutes of your time. The gospel is the Supreme need of Utah, as it is of every place on this green earth where sin abounds, and especially in Utah “where Satan’s seat is.” The gospel will medicine her sickness. It will kill the cancer that is there eating into the vitals of our civilization. It will cure the patient and banish this plague from the land. Pour in the pure waters of gospel truth, and it will clean this “Augean Stable,” whose stench is in the nostrils of the nation and “smells to heaven.” The gospel with all it is, with the help it gathers and the allies it creates, will solve this question which our wise men at Washington cannot, will untie the Gordian knot, which else the sword must cut, if it have edge and temper enough. The gospel will do this and save Utah to civilization, and make her as beautiful in all her moral garnitures as the waters of her wonderful lake and the glow of her opal mountains in the crystal clearing of her skies. . . .
Go with me to Salt Lake City and let us look at it. Forty years ago the Mormons planted themselves here. We are 1,500 miles west of the Mississippi, 500 miles beyond the first or Park range of the Rocky Mountains. We have passed over vast regions of rainless, barren, plains, through deep gorges and wild canyons, and are standing on what was Mexican soil at the close of the war of 1846. All these distances and obstacles and foreign boundaries the Mormons have placed between themselves and our American civilization, and they had indeed found a paradise. Few points combine so much of beauty, so many of the charms and advantages of nature, as this Salt Lake basin, if we may call that a basin whose bottom is 5,000 feet above sea level. You are standing on a plain, not level, but gently tilted, so that it can be easily irrigated; for the rainfall here, in summer, is so slight that irrigation is necessary to insure a crop. This plain extends from Ogden, on the North, 47 miles away, then southward for 250 miles, and is from 20 to 40 miles in width. On the north and east are the Wasatch Mountains, up to whose foothills the northern suburbs of the city crowd. Look upon their hundred peaks bare and brown; higher up, a zone of verdure; and higher still, the diadem of everlasting snow. You will never tire of watching them, in the varying lights that fall upon them from dawn till dark. On the west lies that strange and mysterious body of water, the great Salt Lake, 50 miles wide and 90 miles long.
The city itself, which is some 18 miles from the Lake, is beautifully laid out. Its streets are broad–180 feet wide, running at right angles. Indeed “the city lieth foursquare, and as the mountains are round about Jerusalem,” so are the mountains round about Salt Lake City. . . .
Of the 25,000 inhabitants in Salt Lake City, three-fourths are Mormons. The principal business is done by them, and on most of the chief business is done by them, and on most of the chief business houses you see the sign emblazoned with the all-seeing eye above it, –Z.C.M.I., which means Zion’s Co-operative Mercantile Institute.
There are seven anti-Mormon churches already in Salt Lake City, two Presbyterian, one Congregational, Methodist, Episcopal, Catholic, and last of all, but not least in our interest and hope, a Baptist church. With these are connected schools, a college, and a high school. As there is no public school system in Utah, whatever schools there have been hertofore are a part of the Mormon church organization. . . .
But why does Utah, why does this Eden of Salt Lake City, so especially need the gospel? Because, as in that Eden of old, the trail and the slime of the serpent are there, and no one but the “man child,” “the seed of the woman who should bruise the serpent’s head” by the power of the gospel, can destroy this work of Satan.
Mormonism is a strange compound of Christianity, Judaism, and Mohammedanism; of saintliness, sensuality, and superstition; of the devout and the diabolical.
It is not all evil. A system all evil couldn’t have the power and hold this has. There is enough of good with the evil to make it a masterpiece of the deceiver.
One of my old professors used to say: The most dangerous falsehoods, the most difficult to meet and subvert, are those that are half a truth and half a lie. . . .
The majority of Mormons are not, in their hearts or in their habits, polygamists. They have, I believe, no special desire that way, neither the men nor, especially, the women. Not one in ten joins the Mormons for this purpose. The Book of Mormon does not enjoin polygamy. It was an afterthought, coming fifteen years later, by a special revelation, it was claimed. Polygamy is forced upon many by the stress of a divine command, and the better nature of thousands of wives is in their perpetual revolt against it, and they bear it as a cross, which they are made to believe the Lord lays upon them, and go down to the grave dragging its intolerable weight upon their souls. The church surrounds polygamy by such sanctions, such mystic and solemn rites, and claims for it so high and divine a ministry in the welfare of unborn millions, that women yield to their fate in a sad, religious submission, and are often dragooned into a defence of it.
I assure you, sisters, the Mormon women, as a whole, are of the same make and mould as yourselves, with that natural delicacy and shrinking from pollution, which God has put into a woman’s heart.
They need the Gospel, with its hope for woman, and its power to save her.
But while polygamy, as seen from a distance, is the most prominent as it is the most shocking and disgusting feature of Mormonism, it is by no means the most difficult or alarming aspect of the system. This is found in its claims and in its organization. . . .
The Fifty-fourth Annual Conference of the church was held on the fourth of last month. I beg your indulgence while I give you a few of the official statistics. The number of Mormons in Utah is about 100,000, and in seven other States and Territories, 38,000 more. Over these is a body of 28,-838 of officials–one to every 4 1/2 of the members. The grade of these men who stand in the place of God and utter his voice to the people are: The First President, 12 Apostles, 68 Patriarchs, 3,413 Priests, 4,747 Seventies, 12,191 Elders, 1,611 Priests, 1,786 Teachers, 5,022 Deacons.
And to show that Mormonism is not wanting, the number of these officials, as compared with four years ago, is 5,386 greater; and last year they supported more foreign missionaries than the American Board. Everything is tithed, from bank stock to chickens, and the annual income of the church is reported at $1,000,000. With no public school system in the Territory, they levy a school tax of $50,000, which is expended in missions.
Here is a system of religious despotism in utter defiance of and in active and determined antagonism to the spirit and genius of our American institutions–civil, social, religious, educational, and moral,–which has taken strong root in Utah, and is striking its roots out, to right and left, into Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, Nevada, and Idaho, and which, if not arrested, will soon control the votes in those six empire States and Territories as it does now in Utah.
Brethren of the Home Mission Society, and you, sisters of the Women’s Home Mission Society, what can be done to meet this great emergency, to arrest this gigantic system of religious fraud, fanaticism, despotism, and sensuality, and rescue its tens of thousands of victims to the liberty and the light of the truth?
The more this puzzle is studied in Washington the more intricate it becomes. It is not to be solved, I believe, by the civil, much less by the military power of the nation.
The clue is in the hand’s of God’s people–in the church of Christ. The panacea is the Gospel. The phalanx that is to take this fortress is the ministers of the cross,–the strongest men you have, flanked to right and left by Christian teachers. The school-house and the church side by side, hand in hand,–these, with such interference and protection by the general government as shall sunder church and state, and relegate each to its proper sphere, and secure to every man, woman, and child, the rights of American citizenship. Here are the factors, the known factors, by which this Mormon problem is to be solved. Put the law on the leaders, and give the Gospel to all. . . .
Taken from The Home Mission Monthly:
This is from the Rev. Richard Hartley in Ogden, Utah (around 120 years ago).
. . . much has been said and written of late concerning the religious condition of Utah, but only by personal contact and observation can we truly appreciate the appalling evils of Mormonism. Only as we try to win its adherents to the truth can we measure the intensity of the fanaticism. Their system combines in one strong bond almost every evil that can control a soul. The basest passions, the strongest prejudices, the densest ignorance, all oppose the entrance of truth. Aside from those who are loyal to Mormonism, the apostate element is quite large; and yet, with those who have forever renounced Mormonism and now curse it bitterly, we find an indifference to all religious truth as hard to overcome as the most determined opposition. Not only has Mormonism given nothing, but it has seemed to burn the religious element out of the natures of those who have believed in it. . . .
. . . Those who know best the power of the Gospel and the weakness of Mormonism, believe that the overthrow of the latter will be a conquest of peace. There is work in Washington for our law-makers to do, but they cannot reach the root of the evil. They can treat the symptoms, but not the disease. The moral atmosphere must be purified, and Christianity alone can do this.
Taken from The Baptist Home Mission Monthly:
Have any of you ever heard of the Rev. H. G. De Witt, D.D., a Baptist evangelist who labored in Salt Lake City around 120 years ago?
Bro. De Witt expects to be on the field early in February. He will go with the prayers of thousands, that he may be endowed with wisdom from on high; that his labors may be mighty through God, in pulling down the stronghold of Satan in Utah. Let all who have given for this work now offer fervent prayer that our new and beautiful house of worship in Salt Lake City may be honored with the gracious presence of God in the conversion of multitudes from the error of their ways.
The new house will be dedicated early in February. Rev. Dwight Spencer, to whom great credit is due for his successful completion of the building, will, doubtless, remain a month or two with Dr. De Witt–yoke-fellows in this important field of service. For both these toilers–for the church also–let fervent prayer be frequently offered. If each of these brethren could address one sentence to our numerous readers, we doubt not it would be the words of Paul to his brethren at a critical period in his ministry: “Now I beseech you, brethren, for the Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, and for the love of the Spirit, that ye strive together in your prayers to God for me.” God grant that we may witness triumphs of the Gospel in Utah this year.
My Baptist heritage goes back aways . . . at least 200 years. I have in possession what family members wrote in the 1800s. Also, I have stacks of The Standard, originals of the Baptist weekly newspaper coming out of Chicago. It is interesting to read what they wrote about Mormonism. As a Baptist, my great, great-grandfather attended divinity school at the University of Chicago. The first Baptist missionary, Rebecca Mitchell, came directly from a women’s Baptist training school in Chicago to Idaho Falls (then known as Eagle Rock in 1882) . The First Baptist Church in Eagle Rock erected a building in 1884. Credit goes to the determination of Rebecca Mitchell. In Salt Lake City, the building for First Baptist Church was finished in 1883. The Baptist Home Mission Monthly (July, 1883) has a drawing of it.
Let me share an excerpt of what Baptist men wrote around 120 years ago about Mormonism:
1. “Salt Lake as a Missionary Field” by Rev. D. Spencer, General Missionary (The Home Mission Monthly)
In his article, he first describes Chicago and then in parallel fashion he describes Salt Lake City in great detail as a leading center. In conclusion, he provides his emotional plea:
And what of its moral condition? Salt Lake City has a population of 25,000, and of this number, from 18,000 to 20,000 are Mormons. Of course so great a preponderance in point of numbers gives to the Mormon Church a growing influence. Everything large and grand is Mormon. The large banks, stores, school and Sunday congregations are Mormon. Mormons make the laws, collect the taxes, try the criminals, and manage the schools. And what is this Mormon power? Are its heart-beats in sympathy with our institutions? Are its teachings and practices in keeping with American ideas? No, it is a despotism in the heart of a republic, a hierarchy in the midst of a free church, and a form of Oriental barbarism in the lap of Christian civilization. Organized upon falsehood, its columns filled from the ranks of ignorance and superstition, and led on by artful and cunning priests, and tolerates practices worthy of Tartars and Turks. And what have Baptists done towards curing this evil? Almost nothing! A few months ago a little handful of Baptists were gathered, and a mission established. But we are compelled to worship in a hall over a blacksmith shop; and instead of a score of workers, we have only one. Surely not much can be expected from a mission so feebly sustained. Our views of the ordinances fit us in a remarkable manner for work among this people, multitudes of whom, though terribly deluded, are very sincere and honest. An officer in the Mormon Church called on me some time ago and inquired relative of our views. After a lengthy conversation he assented to nearly all that I said, and has regularly attended our service since. Now will not Baptists all over the country arise and put the mission in Salt Lake City upon a footing where it can successfully cope with this evil? We need ten thousand dollars at once to build a good Church edifice. Who will be first to subscribe towards this amount.