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.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Christ suffered great troubles, and learned obedience by the things he suffered

I had never thought to put these two verses together. I wonder if it's a good match;
Mosiah 14:5 ... yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
Hebrews 5: 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;
From the first we know that while it isn't mentioned in the four gospels, Christ had such troubles that people believed that God must be smiting him with them. From the second we see that he learned obedience by the things which he suffered.

What kind of judging are we talking about?

There are three ways in which we have gospel obligations which use the word "judging" or "judgement".

1) We have a critical obligation to correctly judge good from evil. We came to earth partly that we could "know good and evil". Calling evil good or good evil is dangerous.

2) We also have an important obligation to pass over the petty faults of others. Joseph Smith asked how we would feel if God and his angels were to reject us over trivial matters. Zion cannot be built amidst petty bickering.

3) We have an obligation to warn and teach those who are acting in a way that endangers their exaltation. This is all through the scriptures. We are to warn, teach truth and save souls. "It becometh every man that hath been warned to warn his neighbor" (D&C 88:81)

Unfortunately the phrase "judging" gets applied to all three and makes the matter confusing even though the scriptures and prophets are perfectly clear on the matter. So when someone says "Don't judge!" the question is, which of the three things are we talking about.

One critical purpose of mortality is to "know good from evil". This even comes up in the temple. Moroni 7 covers this in great detail. Moroni 7:15 states "it is given unto you to judge". And why? The answer: "that ye may know good from evil". Not only is it given to us, but the same verse teaches that "the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night".

It then provides two descriptions of this plain way to judge that is so clear we can know perfectly as day from night.

One is to "search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil" (Moroni 7:18-19).

The other description of this plain way to judge is that anything that brings us closer to Christ is of God and anything that takes us further is not. Moroni 7 is written to faithful members of the true church in Mormon's day (Moroni 7:3). Without the knowledge of the true church, it is impossible to apply this criteria correctly. Joseph Smith proved this because, while he wanted to follow Christ, without the true gospel he stated: "how to act I did not know, and unless I could get more wisdom than I then had, I would never know; for the teachers of religion of the different sects understood the same passages of scripture so differently as to destroy all confidence in settling the question by an appeal to the Bible." Without the knowledge of the true church we cannot apply this means of judging good from evil correctly, just as Joseph Smith could not. It is only in the context of membership in the true church that we can apply this method of judging good from evil. Anything that is bringing us to Christ, i.e. anything that brings us more deeply into Christ's true church, is of God. Anything that is taking us away from that is of the devil.

Moroni 7 warns that if we judge good to be evil or evil to be good then we are in danger of being judged. We don't know good from evil if we just call everything and everyone good. Calling good evil, or calling evil good is referred to as "unrighteous judgement" in the scriptures. Joseph Smith was inspired to correct the famous phrase "Judge not that ye be not judged" in Matt 7. In its corrected form it reads "Judge not unrighteously that ye be not judged, but judge righteous judgement." This has a radically different meaning and agrees very well with what is taught in Moroni 7. It is not judging the brings us in danger of being judged. If that was the case, the Lord wouldn't give us a way to judge good from evil "as the daylight is from the dark night". Instead, it is judging good to be evil, or evil to be good, that puts in danger of being judged. That agrees exactly with Moroni 7:14; "take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil." It also agrees exactly with Moroni 7:18; "seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgment which ye judge ye shall also be judged."

The warning to not call good evil or evil good is not a light matter. It goes hand in hand with choosing life or death. In Helaman 14:31 we read "He hath given unto you that ye might know good from evil, and he hath given unto you that ye might choose life or death; and ye can do good and be restored unto that which is good, or have that which is good restored unto you; or ye can do evil, and have that which is evil restored unto you." We cannot do good if we are mixing up what is good with what is evil.

The obligation to look over each others petty faults is often inflated in days of wickedness into an obligation to not say anything or anyone is bad. That is because the wicked take the truth to be hard (1 Nephi 16:2, John 3:20).  Laman and Lemuel speaking of Lehi and those in Jerusalem state "our father hath judged them" (1 Nephi 17:22). Calling everything good is not righteous judgement, it is calling evil good. Interestingly, that quickly leads to also calling good evil, using words like "judgemental" for someone simply refusing to call evil good.

The inflated, destructive version of the obligation to pass over others faults is hammered into us so constantly that it becomes difficult for us to read a text as plain as Moroni 7 and understand it. But if we give way to the constant pressure to call good evil, or evil good, then we are judging unrighteous judgement, and are in danger of being judged.

Guest Writer - Joseph Fielding Smith - Sins against the marriage covenant

Birth control is wickedness. The abuse of this holy covenant has been the primary cause for the downfall of nations. When the scared vows of marriage are broken and the real purpose of marriage abused, as we find it so prevalent in the world today, then destruction is inevitable.

No nation can endure for any length of time, if the marriage covenants are abused and treated with contempt. The anger of the Almighty was kindled against ancient nations for their immorality. There is nothing that should be held in greater sacredness that this covenant by which the spirits of men are clothed with mortal tabernacles.

When a man and a woman are married and they agree, or covenant, to limit their offspring to two or three, and practice devices to accomplish this purpose, they are guilty of iniquity which eventually must be punished. Unfortunately this evil doctrine is being taught as a virtue by many. It has even become prevalent among members of the Church.

It should be understood that this kind of doctrine is wickedness in the sight of the Lord.

The command which God gave in the beginning to multiple and replenish the earth is still in force upon the children of men. Possibly no greater sin could be committed by the people who have embraced this gospel that to prevent or destroy life in this manner. We are born into the world that we may have life, and we live that we may have a fulness of joy, and if we will obtain a fulness of joy, we must obey the law of our creation and the law by which we may obtain the consummation of our righteous hopes and desires - eternal life.

When young people marry and refuse to fulfill this commandment given in the beginning of the world - they rob themselves of the greatest eternal blessing. If the love of the world and the wicked practices of the world mean more to a man and a woman than to keep the commandment of the Lord in this respect, then they shut themselves off from the eternal blessing of increase. Those who willfully and maliciously design to break this important commandment shall be damned. They cannot have the Spirit of the Lord.

Small families is the rule today. Husbands and wives refuse to take upon themselves the responsibilities of family life. Many of them do not care to be bothered with children. Yet this commandment given to Adam has never been set aside. If we refuse to live by the covenants we make, especially in the house of the Lord, then we cannot receive the blessings of those covenants in eternity. If the responsibilities of parenthood are willfully avoided here, then how can the Lord bestow upon the guilty the blessing of eternal increase? It cannot be, and they shall be denied such blessings.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Joseph Smith - We don't know all the commandments, and we must to find happiness.

I always find it interesting when I run across a great teaching that, if one were to quote it without citing its source, the teaching would be questioned. Take this wonderful teaching from Joseph Smith:

"Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God."

If one said that, one could expect to be corrected on two matters (1) "holiness", and (2) "keeping all the commandments of God".

Joseph's teaching continues:

"But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another."

Notice that his teaching took a wonderful and unexpected turn. Joseph didn't teach the expected thing. He didn't say the impediment to "keeping all the commandments" is our fallen nature.

Instead he says that the impediment to "keeping all the commandments" is that in reality we don't know all of them. Wait, what was that? He said that "we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received.". He is teaching that the problem with "keeping all the commandments" isn't our fallen nature, the problem is that we don't have all of them, and the reason we don't know all of them is because we aren't obeying the ones we have.

Apparently he believes we can keep the ones we already have, and by so doing, can then begin to learn more of them. Only when we have learned all of them can we "keep all the commandments" and thereby arrive at that happiness which is the object and design of our existence.

Elsewhere Joseph Smith said if the Saints knew all the commandments, they would reject half of them -- which certainly implies we don't even know half of them.

Joseph F Smith teaches the children that Christ is literally the Son of God

This talk by Joseph F Smith is a gospel classic. Joseph F. Smith, who spoke as President of the Church at a conference in Box Elder in December of 1914. This is taken from an individual blog that took it from Messages of the First Presidency, included in the GospeLink 2001 collection:

We are all sons and daughters of God, and I want the little folks to hear what I am going to tell you. I am going to tell you a simple truth, yet it is one of the greatest truths and one of the most simple facts ever revealed to the children of men. Yet it is one that has been mystified and philosophized by men, more perhaps, than any other truth ever uttered by the mouths of the prophets. If I talk to the little folks so they understand the parents and teachers will be able to understand.

Now in the first book in the Bible and the Bible has been the standard of the Christian faith for nineteen centuries, yet nearly all the Christian believers and advocates of the Bible throughout the world have seemed to ignore one of the great truths that is taken from this book we read: "In the beginning God created man in his own image, and in his own likeness male and female." Right on the face of this great and yet simple truth that is revealed in Genesis, the Christian world has formulated a God that is incomprehensible. One of the greatest syndicates of learned men known in history were once chosen to determine and define the Being called God, and after deliberating over it for months rendered the decision that "God was incomprehensible," and that "to comprehend God would be to destroy Him." Yet he said he created man in his own image and likeness, male and female. If God made man in the likeness of God then he is like God and God is like man. The Saviour, Jesus Christ, begotten of God, was in the likeness of his Father, resembling him so nearly that He said on one occasion that "He that hath seen me has seen the Father." I see a little boy. He has hair, he has eyes and he has a face which resembles his father's, and when he grows up we say that we cannot tell him from his father, so perfect is resemblance between the boy and his father. The boy looks like the father and the father looks like the boy; he looks a little older; of course you can tell the father from the boy because he is a little older than his son. Jesus Christ was created just like his Father; had the same features; same frame, same kind of body and was so like Him when you saw him you saw an exact likeness or similitude of His Father.

You all know that your fathers are indeed your fathers and that your mothers are indeed your mothers you all know that don't you? You cannot deny it. Now, we are told in scriptures that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God in the flesh. Well, now for the benefit of the older ones, how are children begotten? I answer just as Jesus Christ was begotten of his father. The Christian denominations believe that Christ was begotten not of God but of the spirit that overshadowed his mother. This is nonsense. Why will not the world receive the truth? Why will they not believe the Father when he says that Jesus Christ is His only begotten Son? Why will they try to explain this truth away and make mystery of it?

Now if God is a man, a glorious perfected man-that is, perfect in all his glorious attributes, and infinite in power, there never will come a time when God the Father will not have power to extend His dominion and His Glory. He is the maker of Heaven and the Earth, on which we dwell, for He made this earth by his word and by his power. How did he make it? He called the elements that are invisible to our eyes. He formed the earth on which we dwell, and has formed millions of worlds, and they are peopled with his children, for there is no end to his dominions and the worlds he has created cannot be numbered unto man.

Now, little boys and girls, when you are confronted by infidels in the world who know nothing of how Christ was begotten, you can say he was born just as the infidel was begotten and born, so was Christ begotten by his Father, who is also our Father-the Father of our spirits-and he was born of his mother Mary.

The difference between Jesus Christ and other men is this: Our fathers in the flesh are mortal men, who are subject unto death; but the Father of Jesus Christ in the flesh is the God of Heaven. Therefore Jesus, as he declared, received the power of life from his Father and was never subject unto death but had life in himself as his father had life in himself. Because of this power he overcame death and the grave and became master of the resurrection and the means of salvation to us all.
Shall we as Latter-day Saints deny the truth and then claim that God made man in his likeness in the beginning? Shall we come under the impression that God possesses the power of creation, and yet did not literally create? He is not without his companion any more than I am without my companion, the mother of my children.

These are truths and I wish they could be instilled into the hearts of these little children so that they will not be tossed about by every wind of doctrine and be confused by the teachers of atheism. Now, by and by you will be able to understand this far better than you can today. Some of us grandparents find it difficult to conceive the truth we want to think of something marvelous. We want to try to make it appear that God does not do things in the right way, or that he has another way of doing things than what we know, we must come down to the simple fact that God Almighty was the Father of His Son Jesus Christ. Mary, the virgin girl, who had never known mortal man, was his mother. God by her begot His son Jesus Christ, and He was born into the world with power and intelligence like that of His Father.
Now, my little friends, I will repeat again in words as simple as I can, and you talk to your parents about it, that God, the Eternal Father is literally the father of Jesus Christ.

Mary was married to Joseph for time. No man could take her for eternity because she belonged to the Father of her divine Son. In the revelation that has come thru Joseph Smith, we learn that it is the eternal purpose of God that man and woman should be joined together by the power of God here on earth for time and eternity.

(Messages of the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4:329.)

Friday, December 12, 2014

Joseph Smith discourse - whatever God requires is right - God is both more merciful as well as more severe than we suppose

Happiness is the object and design of our existence; and will be the end thereof, if we pursue the path that leads to it; and this path is virtue, uprightness, faithfulness, holiness, and keeping all the commandments of God. But we cannot keep all the commandments without first knowing them, and we cannot expect to know all, or more than we now know unless we comply with or keep those we have already received. That which is wrong under one circumstance, may be, and often is, right under another.

God said, "Thou shalt not kill;" at another time He said, "Thou shalt utterly destroy." This is the principle on which the government of heaven is conducted--by revelation adapted to the circumstances in which the children of the kingdom are placed. Whatever God requires is right, no matter what it is, although we may not see the reason thereof till long after the events transpire. If we seek first the kingdom of God, all good things will be added. So with Solomon: first he asked wisdom, and God gave it him, and with it every desire of his heart, even things which might be considered abominable to all who understand the order of heaven only in part, but which in reality were right because God gave and sanctioned by special revelation.

A parent may whip a child, and justly, too, because he stole an apple; whereas if the child had asked for the apple, and the parent had given it, the child would have eaten it with a better appetite; there would have been no stripes; all the pleasure of the apple would have been secured, all the misery of stealing lost.

This principle will justly apply to all of God's dealings with His children. Everything that God gives us is lawful and right; and it is proper that we should enjoy His gifts and blessings whenever and wherever He is disposed to bestow; but if we should seize upon those same blessings and enjoyments without law, without revelation, without commandment, those blessings and enjoyments would prove cursings and vexations in the end, and we should have to lie down in sorrow and wailings of everlasting regret. But in obedience there is joy and peace unspotted, unalloyed; and as God has designed our happiness--and the happiness of all His creatures, he never has--He never will institute an ordinance or give a commandment to His people that is not calculated in its nature to promote that happiness which He has designed, and which will not end in the greatest amount of good and glory to those who become the recipients of his law and ordinances. Blessings offered, but rejected, are no longer blessings, but become like the talent hid in the earth by the wicked and slothful servant; the proffered good returns to the giver; the blessing is bestowed on those who will receive and occupy; for unto him that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundantly, but unto him that hath not or will not receive, shall be taken away that which he hath, or might have had.

Be wise today; 'tis madness to defer;
Next day the fatal precedent may plead.
Thus on till wisdom is pushed out of time
Into eternity.

Our heavenly Father is more liberal in His views, and boundless in His mercies and blessings, than we are ready to believe or receive; and, at the same time, is more terrible to the workers of iniquity, more awful in the executions of His punishments, and more ready to detect every false way, than we are apt to suppose Him to be. He will be inquired of by His children. He says, "Ask and ye shall receive, seek and ye shall find;" but, if you will take that which is not your own, or which I have not given you, you shall be rewarded according to your deeds; but no good thing will I withhold from them who walk uprightly before me, and do my will in all things--who will listen to my voice and to the voice of my servant whom I have sent; for I delight in those who seek diligently to know my precepts, and abide by the law of my kingdom; for all things shall be made known unto them in mine own due time, and in the end they shall have joy. (Aug. 27, 1842.) DHC 5:134-136. (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith - Section Five 1842-43, p.255)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Part of the revelation that became D&C 5

The doctrine and covenants isn't just a direct transcipt of all the revelations. We believe in continuing revelation and authorized changes to the wording, much or most of it for clarification, appears to be all through the doctrine and covenants. Also, not every revelation is included, nor is all of every revelation included, just those parts published for the benefit of the whole church.

Joseph Smith papers for D&C 5 contains these words which I found interesting. These words didn't end up being part of the current D&C 5, but are still part of the revelation.

I will put down all lyings and deceivings and priestcraft and envyings and strifes and idolatries and sorceries and all manner of iniquities and I will establish my Church yea even the church which was taught by my disciples and now if this generation do harden their hearts against my words behold I deliver them up unto Satan for he reigneth and hath much power at this time for he hath got great hold upon the hearts of the people of this generation and how far from the iniquities of Sodom and Gomorrah do they come at this time and Behold the Sword of justice doth hang above their heads and if they persist in the hardenings of their hearts the time cometh that it must fall upon them.