Notes for my writing

This blog is made up of notes on the gospel as found in the only true and living church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This includes notes that are either excerpts from or ideas for books I either have in draft or may yet write.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

The restoration of all things isn't a checklist, it is a foundation

I have often heard people say that one thing or another is or was or will be practiced briefly because of restoration of all things. An example of such a practice I have heard this applied to animal sacrifice. I have heard people teach that there will be a one time animal sacrifice at some time before the second coming because there is supposed to be a restoration of all things.

Now the point isn't sacrifice, the point is what we mean when we talk about a restoration of all things. The restoration of all things is not just an arbitrary to do list that Heavenly Father laid out. He didn't just think to himself "why not do all the things in all dispensations during the last one as well" as some sort of divine whim.

In fact, it isn't literally a restoration of all things because the lesser law given to Moses will not be part of the restoration of all things. That is because the restoration of all things doesn't mean the restoration of every specific gospel practice that was ever done, it is a restoration of every gospel POWER and BLESSING that has ever existed because the building of Zion requires the full measure of all the gifts and ordinances available through the gospel (which, if you will pay attention, is taught in the endowment).

Now wait, you may say, we the general membership of the church already have everything. You may say we already have all the saving ordinances there are. You may say there isn't anything else we could have.

Not so.

We have all that we are willing to receive, but we have a long ways to go.

I mentioned animal sacrifice previously, so I may as well cite some of the relevant teachings on that as an example:

Joseph Smith taught:

"It is a very prevalent opinion that the sacrifices which were offered were entirely consumed. This was not the case; if you read Leviticus 2:2-3, you will observe that the priests took a part as a memorial and offered it up before the Lord, while the remainder was kept for the maintenance of the priests; so that the offerings and sacrifices are not all consumed upon the altar--but the blood is sprinkled, and the fat and certain other portions are consumed.

These sacrifices, as well as every ordinance belonging to the Priesthood, will, when the Temple of the Lord shall be built, and the sons of Levi be purified, be fully restored and attended to in all their powers, ramifications, and blessings. This ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek Priesthood are sufficiently manifest; else how can the restitution of all things spoken of by the Holy Prophets be brought to pass? It is not to be understood that the law of Moses will be established again with all its rites and variety of ceremonies; this has never been spoken of by the prophets; but those things which existed prior to Moses' day, namely, sacrifice, will be continued."
 (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 172)

The first paragraph here leaves us in no doubt that we are talking about actual animal sacrifice. He even discusses some of the details of how it is to be done. The second paragraph states that the animal sacrifices that existed prior to Moses' day will be restored. Whenever this is restored, it is going to be horribly unpopular.

But why does it say they will be restored? Joseph Smith said it was because "this ever did and ever will exist when the powers of the Melchizedek priesthood are sufficiently manifest".

To put that in plainer speech, it means that we do not have animal sacrifice now because we are not yet ready. As of yet the powers of the Melchizedek priesthood are not sufficiently manifest. When they are, they go hand in hand with animal sacrifice, as was offered by Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the other ancient prophets. According to this statement there are "ramifications, powers, and blessings" that are available only through that ordinance once it is properly restored.

The restoration of all things isn't a checklist of things other dispensations did before that we need to do again for a moment or two. The restoration is a restoration of all the ramifications, powers, and blessings that have ever existed on the earth, because this is the day in which Zion will be redeemed and in Zion all such powers are fully manifest.

This isn't limited to animal sacrifice of course. That is probably a small example. We have a long ways to go before we can list the following, which are given only by God's own voice, among the rights and blessings that are general in the church:

JST Gen 14:27 And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,
 28 It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;
 29 And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.
 30 For God having sworn unto Enoch and unto his seed with an oath by himself; that every one being ordained after this order and calling should have power, by faith, to break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to turn them out of their course;
 31 To put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will, according to his command, subdue principalities and powers; and this by the will of the Son of God which was from before the foundation of the world.
 32 And men having this faith, coming up unto this order of God, were translated and taken up into heaven.
 33 And now, Melchizedek was a priest of this order; therefore he obtained peace in Salem, and was called the Prince of peace.
 34 And his people wrought righteousness, and obtained heaven, and sought for the city of Enoch which God had before taken, separating it from the earth, having reserved it unto the latter days, or the end of the world;

Note that these powers of the priesthood were relevant to those who built a Zion. It is far, far more that what we generally enjoy now.

I would add another example of this same blessing given to another man besides Enoch. Just as was stated in the last scripture, it was delivered by God's own voice. We call it the sealing power, but it is a much fuller manifestation of the sealing power than temple sealers are given. After all, as described in the previous scripture, it is only given by God's own voice:

Helaman 10:2 And it came to pass that Nephi went his way towards his own house, pondering upon the things which the Lord had shown unto him.
 3 And it came to pass as he was thus pondering—being much cast down because of the wickedness of the people of the Nephites, their secret works of darkness, and their murderings, and their plunderings, and all manner of iniquities—and it came to pass as he was thus pondering in his heart, behold, a voice came unto him saying:
 4 Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments.
 5 And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.
 6 Behold, thou art Nephi, and I am God. Behold, I declare it unto thee in the presence of mine angels, that ye shall have power over this people, and shall smite the earth with famine, and with pestilence, and destruction, according to the wickedness of this people.
 7 Behold, I give unto you power, that whatsoever ye shall seal on earth shall be sealed in heaven; and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven; and thus shall ye have power among this people.
 8 And thus, if ye shall say unto this temple it shall be rent in twain, it shall be done.
 9 And if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou cast down and become smooth, it shall be done.
 10 And behold, if ye shall say that God shall smite this people, it shall come to pass.

And there is yet one more example of one who had such power delivered to him. Again, as was stated it was by God's own voice. I expect this version refers to the fullness of the Melchizedek priesthood we sometimes hear referred to:

Hebrews 5:5 So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.
 6 As he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
 7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
 8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
 9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;
 10 Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.

Thus the restoration of all things is not just a restoration of those powers we now generally enjoy, but a restoration of the powers we do not yet enjoy, but that will be enjoyed when we choose generally to become a people who are pure in heart, a people who Christ himself can come and live among, just as he dwelt among the people of the Zion that Enoch built previous to their being taken up into heaven.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Two gospel covenants and our finances

In order to get to the temple, we need to be paying our tithing. It is part of our baptismal covenant and many, many people will openly attest to the miraculous way the Lord has blessed them when they have faithfully paid their tithes and offerings.

But it is odd how when it comes to not limiting our children how little faith we seem to have. Far too many of us say we "can't afford" more children.

Paying tithing is part of our baptismal covenant. Not limiting our children is part of our sealing covenant. Our sealing covenant is a higher covenant with a higher blessing.

So why do we think God won't be more generous in his tender care for us when keeping our higher covenant than we do for keeping our lower covenant?

We should know and trust our God better than that. We should believe Nephi who said "I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them."

Surely, he will provide tender and watchful care for those who are keeping their temple covenants. It will be as we keep the commandments that we prosper in the land. Putting the commandments behind seeking our own prosperity will only backfire. Even the Lord allows some to gain wealth by it, they sadly do so at the cost of eternal rewards.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Addressed only to the most gullible

Someone was claiming that religious freedom would mean freedom of religion inluding the relgions of athiesm, satanism and wiccan (witches). They added islam into the same list. 

As only the most gullible would believe that, this is dedicated solely to them. Here is my response.

No it doesn't. Go back and read where it came from. It was the right to worship your God, it was the right to do according to your conscience. It never included the right to worship the devil. It never included the right to act against your conscience, to consciously choose evil. 

All men have a right to worship God. The fact that some people have perversely adapted the phrase "religion" to mean worshiping the devil instead just means some people have perverted the word. Those who are gullible can't tell the difference.

Yes, it did protect muslims from square one, as it ought to. No, it did not protect those who worshiped the devil and sought to do evil, masking their deeds as "religion". Religion is worship of God, not the devil, and those who penned the constitution understood that when they wrote it. Religion is to act by conscience for good, not to seek evil.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Christ distinguishes between the wicked and righteous, and requires repentance, which is possible for all mankind

Does Christ differentiate between the wicked and the righteous, or does he just throw us all into the melting pot of "sinners" and call us equal?

I ask this because I keep hearing the most serious of sins being salved by saying "well, all are sinners and have come short of the glory of God." That is certainly true, but I can't help notice that Christ himself frequently and bluntly divided people into groups.

There were those who were willing to repent. They were penitent. They had sinned. Some had sinned seriously. Some were like Joseph Smith who were not guilty of any malignant sin, but were guilty of things like "levity". But what mattered is that they were all sorry. They were willing to heed Christ's admonition to "sin no more". They were willing to come unto him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. While the Savior reproved these individuals, such as his beloved disciples, at times for their errors, his relationship with them was tender and personal. When he spoke, he knew and addressed their inmost souls. He loved them dearly, and the new testament accounts of his dealings these people radiate Christ's intimate, tender, personal love for these people.

There were also those that were rebellious and would not come unto Christ, even though his miracles clearly showed that he was the Son of God. Such were the scribes and the pharisees, the priests and the levites. Generally he treated these people very differently. He spoke to them differently. He frequently embarrassed them for their false teachings. He took their secret sins and declared them openly. He openly stated that in their hearts they didn't even believe in God. He openly called them iniquitous, and asked how they could hope to escape hell.

Now it is certainly true of both Christ's disciples and of the wicked pharisees that all had sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. But in Christ's eye there were still a distinct difference between these groups and it shows up in every faucet of his dealings with them.

The same groups exist today, and we each get to choose which group we belong to. We need to let the reality that these groups are quite real sink in.

Yes, if a man is a sinner, he may repent and be saved. If a man is righteous, he may still fall. But there is a huge difference between keeping those crucial facts in mind and in pretending that there is no difference between the wicked and the righteous.

Christ treated the two differently. Do we doubt his good judgement? Should we question his interactions with others?

It is popular now to believe that to be christlike one must pretend that there is no such thing as the wicked, and no such thing as the righteous. But that isn't actually what Christ did. He clearly distinguished.

And this is important in part because the wicked will not repent when the righteous are pacifying and lulling them on in their iniquity. It is supposed to be the devil that lulls people away into carnal security. We must not be seconding his claims.

Those who are choosing to be wicked need to be warned, not lulled into carnal security. And those who are hardened in their iniquity as were the scribes and the pharisees often need to be warned against.

We need to stand up and say right is right and wrong is wrong. We need to stand by the proposition that a man or woman can change. But we must not back down on the truth that it is change that is necessary. We must not back down from the truth that wickedness never was happiness, and that wickedness really is wicked. How can we hope to save any of them if we can't stand firm pointing out the only way they will find peace in this life is change?

No one involved in serious sin truly feels good about themself. Not really. We must offer them the hope of change, not the false hope that change is unnecessary.

When we read the scriptures, we are reading about the requirements of change. Redemption comes on conditions of change. We must hold firmly to the teaching that change is both genuinely possibly and necessary. For if we will not offer them that hope, we can know that the adversary will stifle it. We are their life line.

This is what we must offer the wicked, we must point to Christ's words and unflinchingly insist that this is the only way to peace in this world, and eternal life in the world to come:

3 Nephi 9:22 Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved.

The works that ye have seen me do

When Christ said "The works that ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do", we always read it as "The sort of behavior and service ye have seen me do, that shall ye also do". But that isn't what he is actually getting at, because he follows it up with telling them that they would do greater works than he had done because he went to the Father.

He isn't talking about behavior and service. He is talking about the works of his Father being plainly manifest in him. He is saying, in part, "these signs shall follow them that believe....".

Actually, in retrospect I should have realized that because of Lectures on faith discussion on the disciples doing greater works than he had done.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Women who shaped history

I sometimes hear some book or article praised that teaches about "Women who shaped history".

I think that is an idea born out of ignorance. Women have always shaped history. The women shape the rising generation. The women who shaped history the most are the ones history has all but forgotten. History has its tides and movements, but is presented without understanding that the mothers that raised each generation were the dominant influence in the direction the next generation would take. The goodness or badness of a rising generation is largely the work of the mothers of the previous generation.

The generation in which a free country could be established was raised by peculiar mothers. It was not one mother that could accomplish it any more than one man could make a free country. It was a lot of mothers raising their children up the best they could according to the light and truth that was available to them. That was women shaping history. And shape it they did.

We have women shaping history all around us. But they are doing it now primarily by seeking for something greater than being wives and mothers and training and nurturing their own children. Thus we see history being shaped by women these days in a degenerative way.

I believe it was Joseph F Smith that prophesied of a generation of mothers that would not stay home with their children, and whose children would rebel. That was fulfilled when the mothers that went to work in the World War 2 effort didn't return home after the war ended but stayed at work for greater financial prosperity. They raised the hippy generation.

The rising generation currently has a major problem with discarding morality as being a small matter and rejecting gospel truth whenever it conflicts with worldly wisdom. This is the result of the previous generation of mothers who, by and large, chose to work outside the home. There you have it again: Women shaping history.

Women always shape history. The Lord gave them an innate love and interest in their little ones that inspires them to shape history toward Zion if they will hearken to the light that is given to them.
If they do not give heed to that light, they still shape history.

Yes, Fathers are also an important influence, but it is women who are primarily responsible for the nurturing of their children.

Whenever society has moved forward toward Zion the women of those days shaped history by nurturing their children. History is always being shaped by how mothers view and pursue their divine role of raising children up to light and truth. If it is second to their other pursuits, then, to borrow a line from Elder Maxwell "If you have not chosen the kingdom of God first, it will, in the end, make no difference what you have chosen instead." Such women will shape a history of successive generations that become successively more rebellious. A generation cannot be raised up to God as a secondary interest, a subsidiary pursuit to personal accomplishment.

Zion will not be built without women shaping history. Women can shape history and build a Zion, one generation improving upon the previous one, by centering their lives on their roles as wives and mothers, raising their children up to the Lord and building a Zion in their own homes. And if they do that, then shape history they will.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

McConkie: The scriptures versus programs, statistics, trends, and goals

In April 1982, Elder Bruce R. McConkie spoke to the regional representatives about the priority the scriptures should take in our labors. He said: “We are so wound up in programs and statistics and trends, in properties, lands and mammon, and in achieving goals that will highlight the excellence of our work, that we have ‘omitted the weightier matters of the law.’ … However talented men may be in administrative matters; however eloquent they may be in expressing their views; however learned they may be in the worldly things—they will be denied the sweet whisperings of the Spirit that might have been theirs unless they pay the price of studying, pondering, and praying about the scriptures.” (In Regional Representatives’ Seminar, 2 Apr. 1982, pp. 1–2.)

The quote appears in the Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: Ezra Taft Benson manual in the chapter on the Word of God.