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.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Priesthood Book excerpt - Jacob's ladder between heaven and earth

This is EXTREMELY Rough, so I will be revising it, but here is a first go. The point is that the ministrations described D&C 76 are a sort of "grand order" of priesthood (and family) ministration in mortality as well as after the resurrection. The celestial can receive the fullness of the Father. The celestial minister to the terrestrial, who can enjoy the presence of the Son. The terrestrial minister to the telestial, who cannot go where the father and the son are, so that the telestial can receive the presence of the member of the remaining member of the Godhead, the Holy Ghost.

The point is also that we as progressively receive more, and more of the laws of God's kingdoms, we also receive the corresponding spiritual blessings, precisely as they are laid out in D&C 76 (and elsewhere).

-----------------------------------------

At baptism we do not receive the full celestial law. I realize that might sound surprising. After all, baptism is the gate onto the path of the celestial kingdom.

There is one route to answering this that I take in my book on the atonement. Here I will take a different route. It is that if we understand the terms by which we may gain a spiritual blessing here then we understand the terms by which we may gain that spiritual blessing before this life or after this life. Spiritual principles remain the same and any spiritual principle you understand here will be the same in the spirit world as well as in the post mortal spirit world.

Put differently,

D&C 130:18 Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.
19 And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come.

Now there is more to this.

The scriptures speak of a telestial law, and terrestrial law, and a celestial law.

And this can be a very confusing thing for people, because when they hear the term telestial law, they naturally assume that a telestial law is whatever remnants of goodness is found in those people that are living so badly that they will go to the telestial kingdom.

But that is not what the scriptures teach at all.

D&C 88:24 And he who cannot abide the law of a telestial kingdom cannot abide a telestial glory; therefore he is not meet for a kingdom of glory. Therefore he must abide a kingdom which is not a kingdom of glory.

The telestial law is the law those people will be willing to live AFTER having repented of their sins, enduring the pains of a damned soul in hell during the millenium. The scriptures state that the telestial will all bow the knee before Christ, and will be his servants. They will no longer be rebellious. This will all be done BEFORE they enter the telestial kingdom. Thus the telestial law has nothing to do with the wicked behavior found in a fallen world. It is the law of a glorified telestial kingdom and to live it one has to repent, confess Christ, and become a servant of the Most High.

D&C 76: 109 But behold, and lo, we saw the glory and the inhabitants of the telestial world, that they were as innumerable as the stars in the firmament of heaven, or as the sand upon the seashore;
 110 And heard the voice of the Lord saying: These all shall bow the knee, and every tongue shall confess to him who sits upon the throne forever and ever;
 111 For they shall be judged according to their works, and every man shall receive according to his own works, his own dominion, in the mansions which are prepared;
 112 And they shall be servants of the Most High; but where God and Christ dwell they cannot come, worlds without end.

Those living a telestial law enjoy spiritual blessings for doing so.

D&C 76: 86 These are they who receive not of his fulness in the eternal world, but of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial;
...
 88 And also the telestial receive it of the administering of angels who are appointed to minister for them, or who are appointed to be ministering spirits for them; for they shall be heirs of salvation.

Those living a telestial law can receive of the Holy Spirit through the ministration of the terrestrial, as well as through the administering of angels.

And now we come to the meat of the matter. The scriptures say the telestial can receive the Holy Ghost. On what terms? Why, on the same terms that we can receive the Holy Ghost. They must repent. They must accept Christ as their King and Savior. They must become his servant. These requirements of the telestial law allow them to enjoy spiritual cleanliness and spiritual gifts the same as such requirements allow us to enjoy spiritual cleanliness and spiritual gifts.

D&C 88:34 And again, verily I say unto you, that which is governed by law is also preserved by law and perfected and sanctified by the same.

And now to the central point: We are not given the full celestial law at baptism. Rather, we start our climb from the bottom, and then slowly proceed to the top. When we are baptized, we are given some portion of the telestial law, and on the same terms as those who living in a glorified telestial kingdom, we can receive the Holy Ghost. We repent, we accept Christ as our Savior and King. We become his servant, and we are given the gift of the Holy Ghost. Those were the same things that the telestial will all do before they can receive a telestial glory.

The strait and narrow path can be viewed as no different than a ladder that climbs through the kingdoms of glory from the very lowest to the fullness of the highest. We start at baptism on the lowest rung, the beginnings of the telestial law. Then we climb by learning to obey that portion we have received. In time, we are given more through the endowment, and sealing ordinances.

But that is a long ways from the full celestial law. When we are baptized, we do even receive the fullness of the telestial law, much less the full celestial law. We start at the bottom rung. You can enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost as soon as your are baptized. You are living the law, and can receive the blessing. But you probably didn't receive the ministering of angels, or commune with the general assembly and church of the firstborn as soon as you were sealed or endowed. Nor did I. We have a long ways to go to climb our ladder and the full course won't be finished in mortality. We just press forward along the strait and narrow path, knowing that is the correct route to our desired destination, and with a particular mind toward saving all we can.

As long as we have endured to the end, pressing forward, we expect that we will be able to continue our course in the spirit world  And there is much of this course that we may receive in mortality, or there would be no point in the Lord giving us scriptures like this one:

D&C 107: 18 The power and authority of the higher, or Melchizedek Priesthood, is to hold the keys of all the spiritual blessings of the church—
 19 To have the privilege of receiving the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, to have the heavens opened unto them, to commune with the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, and to enjoy the communion and presence of God the Father, and Jesus the mediator of the new covenant.
 20 The power and authority of the lesser, or Aaronic Priesthood, is to hold the keys of the ministering of angels, and to administer in outward ordinances, the letter of the gospel, the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, agreeable to the covenants and commandments.

So lets us fill this path out some more. As we continue to progress, we receive more and more of the telestial law. Angels and terrestrial beings minister to us so we can live up to their standard and receive a greater measure of the Holy Ghost. They give us more and more of the telestial law (by covenant) until we have the fullness.

Continuing in this path, eventually we will come to the point where we are ready to receive a terrestrial law. When we are ready to receive a terrestrial law, then we are also ready to begin receiving the same spiritual benefits as those who live in the terrestrial kingdom. We will be able to receive the presence of the Son, but not the fullness of the Father.

As we receive and learn to live up to that higher law until we have lived up to the full terrestrial law, then we can begin to receive not only of the presence of the Son, but of the fullness of the Father, the full celestial law. Christ accomplished this in his mortality.

D&C 93: 16 And I, John, bear record that he received a fulness of the glory of the Father;
 17 And he received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with him, for he dwelt in him.
...
19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.

Thus we climb Jacob's ladder from the lowest rung, the telestial law, which we start to receive at baptism, until we get to the highest rung, the full celestial law, and can receive all that the Father has.
The terms don't change between mortality and the resurrection. After the resurrection those who are living a celestial law can receive all that the father has. Those who are living a terrestrial law can receive of the presence of the Son, but they are not able, from living a terrestrial law alone, to receive all that the Father has. The celestial can minister to the terrestrial. Those living a telestial law receive the Holy Ghost, and to that end they are ministered to by angels and by the terrestrial.

And it is the same in this life. We see the same thing described in this life in Moroni 7, even if in looser terms.

We see angels minister to those in the telestial so they can receive the Holy Ghost. We also see there are some who can begin to enjoy the presence of the son. (And why? Because they have progressed to the point where they are living a terrestrial law and can therefore begin to enjoy precisely the same spiritual blessings those in a terrestrial kingdom enjoy.)

Moroni 7:22 For behold, God knowing all things, being from everlasting to everlasting, behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men, to make manifest concerning the coming of Christ; and in Christ there should come every good thing.
 23 And God also declared unto prophets, by his own mouth, that Christ should come.
...
30 For behold, [angels] are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.
 31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.
 32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.






No really, we believe in the ministering of angels.

It has become popular to spiritualize the keys of the ministration of Angels into being nothing more than home teaching visits. But while teaching that we can serve as ministers to each other certainly has its place, the intention of that teaching can't possibly be to put scriptures like these out of our hearts, nor to deny the plain meaning of D&C 13.

Moroni 7:27 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased because Christ hath ascended into heaven, and hath sat down on the right hand of God, to claim of the Father his rights of mercy which he hath upon the children of men?
 28 For he hath answered the ends of the law, and he claimeth all those who have faith in him; and they who have faith in him will cleave unto every good thing; wherefore he advocateth the cause of the children of men; and he dwelleth eternally in the heavens.
 29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
 30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

D&C 88:74 - We don't believe in the protestant atonement

We believe in the real atonement, not in popularized ideas about the atonement, and therefore we believe that it only insofar as we sanctify ourselves, purify our hearts, and cleanse our hands and feet that Christ can make us clean. Put differently, through the atonement we can be forgiven of past mistakes, but our cleanliness through the atonement doesn't walk ahead of our actual behavior, and therefore neither do our spiritual enjoyments.

D&C 88:74 And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean;
75 That I may testify unto your Father, and your God, and my God, that you are clean from the blood of this wicked generation; that I may fulfil this promise, this great and last promise, which I have made unto you, when I will.

Here the Lord requires us to "prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleans your hands and your feet before me". Put differently, we need to change what we are doing, and do better.

And if we will do that, he will make us clean.

Note that this is the reversal of false protestant ideas about the atonement. Protestant ideas about the atonement that are being popularized among church members teach that we are made 100% clean, pure, and fully perfect baptism. But that is not the reality. We are made clean of our sins at baptism, because we repented of our sins before baptism. If baptism didn't require us to repent of our sins, it could have no power to grant us forgiveness for them.

At baptism we didn't suddenly become perfect, so there is greater cleanliness for us to enjoy above and beyond what we obtained at baptism as we continue to improve. We are made clean through the atonement at the level of goodness we are willing to live, but no cleaner than that.

And we see that in this verse in D&C 88. Christ requires us to make our actions clean, to prepare and to sanctify ourselves, to make our hands and feet clean before him. And THEN he will make us yet more clean through his atonement than we became at baptism, because we have come to a higher standard of living than we did initially at baptism.

Unlike false protestant ideas about the atonement, in the real atonement our cleanliness through the atonement never walks ahead of our actual behavior, and our spiritual enjoyments are always on a par with both of them.


Monday, December 29, 2014

Children are not an obstacle to real Christian service

It is sad to think of the men and women I have known who thought of their families as an awkward appendage to the church. An odd side job they had committed to, as it were, that stood as an unfortunate obstacle to giving their all to the church.

We knew a family that had no problem having children, but intentionally stopped because they thought it would interfere with their church service.

Another woman recently bore fervent public testimony that she was willing to give up her career and the nicer house they would get with that income in order for her husband to keep a prominent church position. But it was clear from her discussion that there was no question she wouldn't have given it up to be home with their young children. In fact, she called their youngest an unexpected caboose. She finally expressed gratitude for the revelation she felt she had that she could keep her career without interfering with her husband's calling.

Couldn't we do better by remembering the example of the Savior?

Mark 9:33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way?
 34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest.
 35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all.
 36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them,
 37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.

How can children be an obstacle to real Christian service? Who cannot read about Christ and the little children and not know better?

I am glad some of us still understand the relationship between family and the gospel to one degree or another. I do not understand it fully myself. But I do know there are a great number of members who know, to one degree or another, the proper relationship between church and family. However, I am concerned about whether that great number is also a great percentage. And it appears that misbehavior regarding family, children and chastity is ebbing away at the percentage that does.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Guest Writer - Spencer W Kimball - Crimes against nature

I just thought it would be interesting to provide a quick sense of the way Spencer W Kimball spoke and wrote about serious sin. No, I didn't search long and hard through Spencer W Kimball's writing to find this. I flipped five or so times. One of the times he was talking about a vacation he took, so I skipped it. This is apparently from a section entitled "Crimes against nature". I didn't look for his sharpest words, I just flipped a few times to find what I know from reading his talks was typical of the way he spoke out against serious sin. It is the same way Christ spoke. When speaking to the the rebellious he was downright fierce at times. When speaking to the penitent, he was very personal and tender, warning them to sin no more and continue in the path. When speaking to his followers, he taught the very highest of standards, but there were many times he reproved as well, sometimes quite sharply.

So here are some words from Spencer W Kimball:

It is serious to attempt to justify oneself in the perversion of homosexuality. Many have been misinformed that they are powerless in the matter, not responsible for the tendency, and that "God made them that way." This is as untrue as any other of the diabolical lies Satan has concocted. It is blasphemy. Man is made in the image of God. Does the pervert think God to be "that way"?

To those weaklings who argue this way, James answers:

Blessed is the man that endureth [i.e. resisteth] temptation: for when he is tried, he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that Love him.

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempted the any man:

But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.

Then when lust hath concieved, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, which it is finished, bringeth forth death.

Do not err, my beloved brethren. (James 1:12-16)


Sometimes not heavenly but earthly parents get the blame. Granted that certain conditions make it easier for one to become a pervert, the second Article of Faith teaches that a man will be punished for his own sins. He can, if normal, rise above the frustrations of childhood and stand on his own feet.

The soul the sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son...(Ezekial 18:20)

A man may rationalize and excuse himself till the pit is so deep he cannot get out without great difficulty. But temptations come to all people. The difference between the reprobate and the worthy person is generally that one yeilded and the other resisted. And if the yielding person continues to give way he may finally reach the point of "no return." The Spirit will "not always strive with man." (D&C 1:33)

Principles of Conscience

This is a follow up to something that was posted at:

http://www.mormonwomenstand.com/need-conscience/

In that article the need for all people to heed conscience, as imparted by the light of Christ, was pointed out.

Principles of Conscience

For those that don’t have the gospel, maybe not even Christianity, according to the scriptures there are principles of conscience God still expects them to live by. He blesses them when they live by them. In the scriptures he has stated that has destroyed some heathen societies for not living by these principles.
As God has held even the heathens who had no notion of Christianity accountable for violating these principles of conscience in the scriptures, then we must recognize that these are fundamental expectations the Lord holds for all mankind.
Sadly, some of these principles are actively taught against in our own society. When we face decisions about what a society can fairly expect of someone who is not a member of the church, let us give way from our own wisdom to God’s about what every person can know and be expected to live by simply by nature of having the light of Christ. Every human born has that much light and knowledge.
To start, consider a case where the Lord blesses people whose parents have rejected the gospel. He does so based on their obedience to truth that, even without the gospel, the light of Christ alone is sufficient to understand.
In Jacob 2-3 we read of the Lamanites:
Jacob 3:5 Behold, the Lamanites your brethren, whom ye hate because of their filthiness and the cursing which hath come upon their skins, are more righteous than you; for they have not forgotten the commandment of the Lord, which was given unto our father—that they should have save it were one wife, and concubines they should have none, and there should not be whoredoms committed among them.
6 And now, this commandment they observe to keep; wherefore, because of this observance, in keeping this commandment, the Lord God will not destroy them, but will be merciful unto them; and one day they shall become a blessed people.

Here we see the Lamanites being blessed for obedience to chastity, despite the fact that they have completely rejected the gospel. This is a principle of conscience. Even having rejected the gospel, the light of Christ alone is sufficient to inspire mankind to live the law of chastity. Because the Lamanites obeyed that principle, the Lord would bless their posterity.

On the other side of things, there have been many societies which the Lord has destroyed for their wickedness. Some of them did not have the gospel, for example Babylon, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the nations in the promised land that were destroyed by the Israelites. Would the Lord have destroyed them if they were not accountable for their wicked behavior? No, of course not. We know Christ well enough to know that he doesn't destroy a people for something they don't know any better than to do. Being destroyed was, itself, holding them accountable. They were not accountable for the full light of the gospel, which they didn't have, but they were accountable for principles of conscience. These nations violated these principles. Even without the gospel, they knew better by nature of having the light of Christ and were destroyed for their disobedience. 

What are principles the Lord condemned these people for? What are the kinds of principles that people can have and be blessed for obeying, or be destroyed for violating, simply because they have enough light to know better because they have the light of Christ?

In Leviticus 20 we read that the people who had the promised land before the Israelites were being destroyed because of these sorts of practices: adultery, homosexuality, incest, bestiality, and sacrificing of children. We won’t recite all of it, but an example of the verses is:

Leviticus 20:13 If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

Of such practices the Lord stated:

Leviticus 20:23 And ye shall not walk in the manners of the nation, which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them.

There you see it. The Lord stated that he “abhorred” these heathen nations because such things were among them. These were heathen nations. They didn't have the gospel. But these are matters of conscience. These are things that the light of Christ is sufficient light for people to know better than to do.

If the light of Christ weren’t sufficient for these nations to know better, than the Lord would not have abhorred them for these practices. The Lord only holds us accountable for what we know better than. These were people who worshiped idols and sacrificed children. The Lord knew they knew better, or he would not have punished them for it. But it wasn’t their religious leaders that had taught them better. It was the light of Christ. These are principles of conscience all mankind are expected to obey.

From these scriptures we see that it is not necessary for a people to be taught that adultery is wrong, that homosexuality is wrong, that child sacrifice is wrong, that bestiality is wrong for the Lord to hold them accountable for violating these principles. The Lord knows what things a person should be able to recognize as wrong by their conscience alone, and for such things we see in the scriptures that the Lord holds men accountable no matter what their religion approves of.

So there are two sides of the matter. There are principles of conscience that all mankind is accountable for. That accountability can bring them blessings, as it did for the Lamanites, or it can bring them sorrow and destruction, as it did for some nations in ancient days.

It should be mentioned that it is no surprise if people who are violating principles of conscience will not admit that they really know better. Those who are involved in misbehavior rarely want to admit that they are misbehaving. Christ taught:

John 3:20 For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

There are principles of conscience, basic truths which the Lord imparts to people through the light of Christ. These basic truths include a knowledge that husbands and wives should love each other and love their children. Husbands and wives should be faithful to each other. Adultery is wrong. Homosexuality is wrong. Bestiality is wrong. Killing children is wrong. These are basic truths that any society can require of its people, because all mankind has sufficient light and knowledge to know and to follow them. These are things that God holds all people accountable for, because he has given the light of Christ to all mankind.


Saturday, December 27, 2014

Husbands and wives

One feminist author crows that a 2013 Ensign article written by Mormon social scientists teaches that the gospel truth about husbands and wives is, in every point, the opposite of what was taught in a 1973 Ensign article based on the teachings of Joseph F Smith.

What the scriptures say is so shocking to us, even though true, that we just can't really even read them with a level head.

Honestly, anyone who reads these verses like they mean something may as well brand the word "heretic" across their forehead. By definition, such a person is the worst possible husband in the church. However, I've never been one to worry about whether believing the scriptures had consequences.

Ephesians 5: 22 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.
 23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.
 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
 25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
 26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
 28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself.
 29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
 30 For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
 31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
 32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
 33 Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Holy cow. It is hard for us to even parse such language. It says (take a deep breath) for wives to submit themselves to their husbands even as the church submits itself to Christ.

Yes, there is also striking counsel to husbands here to love their wives as their own flesh, to love their wives as Christ loved the church. But that counsel isn't why nobody ever reads these verses.

Nobody reads them because they imply that husbands should be the head of the home.

The temple offers some important clarification on this teaching. The teaching is given on the assumption that the husband is, himself, following the Lord. Spencer W Kimball, who quoted these scriptures boldly, taught that clarification clearly. The obligation on the wife is contingent on the husband following the Lord.

Joseph Smith takes the teaching quite seriously, as seen, for instance, in teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith pages 86-88 where one sees it illustrated in some practical matters. Part of the consequences of such a teaching are that the husband bears a much greater accountability for his own family. Prompted by the claim of the feminist author, I have been looking over Joseph F Smith's teachings on this.

From what I have read, here is a quote that stood out. It hits a number of topics so beautifully that I couldn't refrain from including the extra. It doesn't alter the teaching in the scriptures, but greatly clarifies it. But it doesn't alter it.

Joseph F Smith - Gospel Doctrine page 273
----------------------------------------------------
And no man holding the Priesthood who is worthy and of age should remain unmarried. [The Church authorities and the teachers of our associations] should also teach that the law of chastity is one of the most vital importance, both to children, and to men and to women. It is a vitally important principle to the children of God in all their lives, from the cradle to the grave. God has fixed dreadful penalties against the transgression of his law of chastity, of virtue, of purity. When the law of God shall be in force among men, they will be cut off who are not absolutely pure and unsoiled and spotless both men and women. We expect the women to be pure, we expect them to be spotless and without blemish, and it is as necessary and important for man to be pure and virtuous as for woman; indeed, no woman would ever be other than pure if men were so. The gospel of Jesus Christ is the law of love, and love of God with the whole heart and mind is the greatest commandment, and the next is like unto it: love thy neighbor as thyself. This also should be remembered in the marriage relation, for, while it is said that the desires of the woman shall be to her husband, and he shall rule over her, it is intended that that rule shall be in love and not in tyranny. God never rules tyrannically, except when men so corrupt themselves that they are unfit to live. Then, and under such conditions, it is the story of all his dealings with mankind, that he sends judgment upon them and wipes them out and destroys them. 

Saturday, December 20, 2014

As if we were Adam and Eve.

If Adam had not gone with Eve she could not have been redeemed for it was by posterity that the fall would be overcome. The circle of marriage, intimacy, and family provided the means for Adam and Eve's redemption as well as their exaltation. There is something profound in the fact that it was the ability to have children that Adam and Eve gained by the fall that provided the very means for their redemption from the fall and their future exaltation.

They fell through their mortal bodies. But the means for their redemption was opened to them through those same fallen bodies. It was provided by their body's ability to have children.

And so it is for us today. 

For those born before the restoration, what was the means of their redemption? It was to have posterity who might perform their work. As Christ redeemed his maternal ancestors Adam and Eve, so those born during the apostacy would be redeemed by their own posterity. Their posterity would redeem them by doing that work they could not do for themselves in this life. 

Some of the early saints in this dispensation received the covenant of baptism, but did not live long enough to receive the endowment or sealing ordinances. Those who died before those ordinances became available needed some descendant do their work for them, even though they were baptized into the true church.

We now have ordinances up through the sealing covenant. Is that the end? Is the sealing the end of all ordinances. No, for there is a long distance between our current commitments and the full law of the celestial world. And for those covenants that are made available to later generations, if our descendants prove worthy of them, will not our hope of receiving them rest on our posterity? Is the plan for us any different than it was for Adam and Eve? If we keep the marriage covenant, God will bless us with the most righteous spirits for our posterity, and a future generation of such righteous spirits may become worthy of those ordinances that our generation was not prepared for. And then our descendants can then become Saviors for us, performing the work for their ancestors, ourselves, that we in our day did not yet have available.

It is not a coincidence that the names we have a right to submit for temple work are those of our ancestors and their relatives. It is because we are offered the same system of salvation that Adam and Eve were offered. Salvation through our righteous posterity, along with a promise that if we are true to our covenants, the Lord will bless us with the most righteous of his spirit children, those most likely to in turn be able to do work on our behalf.

Friday, December 19, 2014

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.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Out of the books which shall be written part 2

I recently wrote about a scripture that clarifies the meaning of the teaching that we will be judged out of the books which are written. Another scripture gave even more explanation, as well as having lots of interesting material all of its own.

2 Nephi 33: 10 And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.
11 And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness.

Here we see a number of things:

Judging


The Joseph Smith Translation provides clarification to Christ's intended meaning when he teachings "Judge not, that ye be not judged". It amplifies the phrase to:

JST Matt 7:2 Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.

The principle isn't to not judge, it is to not judge by our own inclinations. We are to seek diligently in the light of Christ and the revelations, and thereby to judge righteous judgement.

That is exactly what we see here in Nephi's words. Nephi doesn't tell us "don't judge". Instead Nephi tells us to judge whether these are Christ's words or not. But he warns us. If we use unrighteous judgement, if we don't search diligently in the light of Christ and the scriptures we already have, then we will be judged by our rejection of these words.

Out of the books


This scripture gives a remarkably clear example of what it means that we will be judged out of the books which will be judged. Those who read the Book of Mormon and judged it unrighteously, are those who judge it by some other means that the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost. They will be judged by the fact that they rejected the Book of Mormon.

Who are they that believe in Christ


These verses also give a scriptural notion of what defines those who "believe in Christ". It is far more than merely believing in a Christian denomination. The verses stated "And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ,... "

So in the scriptures those who "believe in Christ" are those who are used to discerning by the light of Christ, and listening to what inspiration they gain by the Holy Ghost. They are used to drinking from the light of Christ, and so when they hear his words they recognize him. His sheep know his voice, and his voice is spirit. (D&C 88:66). As promised in Moroni 7, they are led by the Holy Ghost into all truth.

Pulling it together

Pulling these parts together gives a much clearer picture of the doctrine that we will be judged out of the books that will be written. Those who are used to listening to the light of Christ (which they are introduced to as their conscience) and what inspiration they get from the Holy Ghost are those who "believe in Christ". They are those who are used to seeking truth from him. When they read the Book of Mormon they will recognize Christ's words and will join the true church. Those who judge by some other means are judging the Book of Mormon unrighteously. They will be judged for rejecting it, because they should have judged righteous judgement instead, listening to the light of Christ and the Holy Ghost telling them it is true.



For as I hear, I judge // There is another who beareth witness of me

In the JST of John 5 we find two great truths. Both are stated by the Savior as truths about himself. However, both are examples that we are all meant to walk in.

JST John 5:30 And shall all be judged of the Son of Man. For as I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just;
31 For I can of mine own self do nothing; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father who hath sent me.
32 Therefore if I bear witness of myself, yet my witness is true.
33 For I am not alone, there is another who beareth witness of me, and I know that the testimony which he giveth of me is true.

For as I hear, I judge

In the JST of Matt 7 we get insight into Christ's meaning when he says "Judge not, that ye be not judged". The phrase is expanded to:

JST Matt 7:2 Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment.

This gives us a much clearer sense of Christ's intention. His is intention isn't to command us not to judge good and evil. He doesn't even discuss it as an option. Instead he commands us to judge righteous judgement, and warns us against unrighteous judgement. We learn about righteous and unrighteous judgment in Moroni 7. Righteous judgement is to judge good and evil by diligently seeking in the light of Christ and the revelations of God - thus righteous judgement is to yield up our own notions about good and evil in favor of God's. Unrighteous judgement is to judge good and evil by any other method.

Here in John 5, Christ gives a perfect example of what righteous judgement means. "For as I hear, I judge, and my judgement is just; ... because I seek not mine own will but the will of the Father who hath sent me."

Note that the Savior doesn't refuse to judge. Instead, he will judge, but, as Christ puts it, "as I hear, I judge". Just as we are to leave judgement in God's hands, so also the Savior leaves judgement in his Father's hands. He leaves judgement in his Father's hand not by refusing to judge, but rather by judging as his Father dictates. What his Father dictates as wrong, he will call wrong. What his Father dictates as right, he will call right. Similarly when we leave judgement in Christ's hands that doesn't mean we refuse to call good good, or that we refuse to call evil evil. Instead it means that we judge as Christ dictates. The principles is that "as we hear, we judge, for we of our own selves can do nothing". We can only hear clearly to judge good from evil as we learn to "seek not our own wills, but the will of the Father".

There is another who beareth witness of me

Christ says of himself "For I am not alone, there is another who beareth witness of me". Christ points out his miracles and his Father. His Father bears reference on very rare occasion by his own voice, but mostly through the Holy Ghost.

3 Nephi 11:35 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost.

We see that witness in the lives of Christ's disciples.

Matt 16:17 Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jonah: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it to thee, but my father which is in Heaven.

Nephi teaches that the Holy Ghost is God's gift to "all those who diligently seek him" even in the days that Christ "should manifest himself unto the children of men".

1 Nephi 10:17 ...I, Nephi, was desirous also that I might see, and hear, and know of these things, by the power of the Holy Ghost, which is the gift of God unto all those who diligently seek him, as well in times of old as in the time that he should manifest himself unto the children of men.
 18 For he is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and the way is prepared for all men from the foundation of the world, if it so be that they repent and come unto him.
 19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.

Now back to our discussion of John 5. Christ says of himself: "For I am not alone, there is another who beareth witness of me, and I know that the testimony which he giveth of me is true." The scriptures teach the same must be true of our own teaching.

D&C 50: 17 Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way?
 18 And if it be by some other way it is not of God.

If we preach, and not by the Holy Ghost, God simply doesn't acknowledge it as teaching his gospel. In fact, he He says it is not of him. In his mind it apparently simply isn't the same thing.

Put differently, If we can't say the same thing as Jesus did:"For I am not alone, there is another who beareth witness of me" then, as far as God is concerned, we aren't teaching the gospel.

A common thread

There is a common thread to these. Judgement is called righteous judgement if it has its source in the light of Christ and the revelations. We can judge some teaching or practice or entertainment as good or evil. For illustration, let us say it is an idea, and we decide it is good. From God's perspective, whether we "judged righteous judgement" is not just a matter of whether we judged correctly. It is a matter of how we came to our conclusion. If we truly did so by the light of Christ and his revelations, then we "judged righteous judgement". We would have sought "not our own will but the will of the Father" and consequently, as we heard, we judged.

But the main point is that if we judged the teaching by some other method, maybe by how charismatic or how learned the source of the teaching was, then even if we made the right decision, we didn't judge righteous judgement. Righteous judgement will always lead to the correct conclusion. But whether or not we used righteous judgement is determined by HOW we made our judgement. In the Lord's eyes, if we came to the right conclusion the wrong way, we simply aren't using his method of judgement. It is unrighteous judgement. It simply isn't the same thing.

And similarly, those Elders who were being reproved in D&C 50 weren't being reproved for failing to read the scriptures or to discuss the gospel. At issue was the spirit they were listening to. Apparently, as Joseph Fielding McConkie pointed out, you can read a scripture by the light of some other spirit, and as far as God is concerned, it simply isn't the same thing as reading that same scripture by the light of the Holy Ghost. It is a completely different activity. One is preaching and learning the gospel. The other is not of him.

In both cases, the "how" of what is being done is critical. If the how involves going to God by preaching by the Holy Ghost, or judging by the light of Christ, then we are preaching the gospel and judging righteously. But if we preach in some other way, then as far as God is concerned, we are not preaching his gospel. What we are doing is not of him. It just isn't the same activity.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

How could the high priests in 3rd Nephi apostatize en masse and overthrow the government?

I have been musing about how this could have come about in practice?

Joseph F Smith talked about three threats to the church from within. They were the flattery of prominent men in the world, false educational ideas, and the one he said is the most serious threat from within, sexual impurity.

Were one or more of these at the root of what happened here? Because falling apart from within is what happened. The Nephite government was overthrown by a secret combination made up of a group of men that sounds like it included almost all the high priests in the church. Not so much the Elders or other priesthood offices, from what is described.

3 Nephi 6:20 And there began to be men inspired from heaven and sent forth, standing among the people in all the land, preaching and testifying boldly of the sins and iniquities of the people, and testifying unto them concerning the redemption which the Lord would make for his people, or in other words, the resurrection of Christ; and they did testify boldly of his death and sufferings.
 21 Now there were many of the people who were exceedingly angry because of those who testified of these things; and those who were angry were chiefly the chief judges, and they who had been high priests and lawyers; yea, all those who were lawyers were angry with those who testified of these things.
 22 Now there was no lawyer nor judge nor high priest that could have power to condemn any one to death save their condemnation was signed by the governor of the land.
 23 Now there were many of those who testified of the things pertaining to Christ who testified boldly, who were taken and put to death secretly by the judges, that the knowledge of their death came not unto the governor of the land until after their death.
 24 Now behold, this was contrary to the laws of the land, that any man should be put to death except they had power from the governor of the land—
 25 Therefore a complaint came up unto the land of Zarahemla, to the governor of the land, against these judges who had condemned the prophets of the Lord unto death, not according to the law.
 26 Now it came to pass that they were taken and brought up before the judge, to be judged of the crime which they had done, according to the law which had been given by the people.
 27 Now it came to pass that those judges had many friends and kindreds; and the remainder, yea, even almost all the lawyers and the high priests, did gather themselves together, and unite with the kindreds of those judges who were to be tried according to the law.
 28 And they did enter into a covenant one with another, yea, even into that covenant which was given by them of old, which covenant was given and administered by the devil, to combine against all righteousness.

The atonement separated from redemption and resurrection.

The atonement has been a popular topic. I have both heard and read discussions of the atonement recently. Remarkably none of the ones I have recently seen made more than a passing reference to the fall, resurrection, forgiveness, redemption, repentance, or sin. The constant focus was on mortal trials and sorrows.

Which is ironic, as this generation has far fewer trials than any other generation of church members since the restoration.

Here is what I am hearing constantly about the atonement these days:

The atonement got me through a trial.
Through the atonement, my trials were lifted.
The atonement comforted me in times of sorrow.

By contrast, it is hard to enumerate the sheer number of scriptures that teach that Christ came to redeem us from our sins. It is the central hub around which the rest of the plan of salvation revolves. It is the lynch pin of eternity. It is what everything else in the scriptures revolve around. But in church and online when we talk about the atonement, the resurrection and the redemption for sin are receding behind our fascination with our mortal trials.

How have we so completely lost track of the atonement as being resurrection and redemption for sin in favor of the atonement being means by which we are comforted in trials? Why are we so lost in our now that we have forgotten that Christianity is characterized by its concern for eternity in preference to mortality?

Hebrews 11:24 By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter;
25 Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26 Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.

Sin makes a change in who we are and whose power we are under. Trials are changes in our circumstances. Changes in who we are and whose power we are under required an atonement to be made. Changes in our circumstances do not. God has power over circumstances without the need for his son to suffer infinite suffering to obtain it. They are not fundamental aspects of who were are. Mortal suffering will end with the end of mortality. If we have sickness as a trial, we do not need the atonement to be healed. God can impart sickness and take away sickness to the dumb animal, to the plant, and certainly to his own children. If we are struggling with financial difficulties, the atonement was not necessary in order for God to, if he so designed, fill our home with gold and diamonds. He has power. He is God. He gives trials and he takes them away.

One may ask, with Christ, which is easier: to heal infirmities, or to redeem from sin?

Matthew 9:5 For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
6 But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.

There needed to be an atonement, the infinite suffering of a perfect son, for it to be possible to say "thy sins be forgiven thee." But God has power in and of himself to say "arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house".

Did not God say he would send the comforter, who is the Holy Ghost? Isn't "the comforter" actually one of the names of God the Holy Ghost?

It is one thing to be grateful for the atonement. It is another altogether to determine that God actually didn't have any power at all without it.

Was intercession necessary for God to lift our trials, or are all things not in his hands? Was the atonement necessary to give God power over earth and mortality, or was the atonement, instead, necessary because no unclean thing can dwell in his presence?

Not only does God have power over trials. God provides trials. He chastens his people. These are actions he takes. He can also remove trials.

Trials are often given to us by God. He did not need to atone for our trials. The atonement was not necessary for him to lift a trial anymore than sin is necessary for us to find ourselves in trials.

Christ suffered trials and tribulations. He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. No sin on his part was necessary for Christ to face sorrows. If sorrows and grief come to a man without sin, then divine redemption was not required to remove trials or to comfort us in them.

The atonement redeems us from sin, and in time through it we will become as God is, perfect without any sin whatsoever. However, there are sorrows that pass beyond mortality. Our sorrow over those who sin will continue. The heavens weep over those who sin. Those who have gone before us can see our actions and perceive our motives and they are often pained therewith.

Physical and spiritual death are different than our mortal trials. God has power to give and take trails simply because he is God. No redemption was required for him to obtain that power. The Holy Ghost is called the comforter for a reason. When we teach about the atonement, we really should be able to give redemption from sin and resurrection far more attention than a passing, but obligatory nod.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Shamed into silence

I expect that most people somewhere in their high school education had to read extracts from the puritan sermon "Sinners in the hands of an angry god." It has become the standard sermon used to characterize the Puritans in the minds of school students and portrays a God anxious to destroy those he predestined to destruction. I still remember how my high school teacher made fun of it.

And it is a truly terrible sermon.

I have seen a variety of religious fanatics as minor characters in movies over the years. They invariably want to condemn everybody to hell, they often talk about Jesus a lot, they are angry and laughably weird. They are usually used for comedy, but occasionally they create real problems. Occasionally they turned out to be wildly hypocritical.

And indeed there was nothing good about those characters.

We may laugh at these in our turn, but I think these portrayals have actually had a chilling effect on our whole membership, myself included, in our willingness to "speak up" or act in a way that clearly identifies themselves as followers of Christ. I think it has, in a course of not very many years, shamed an entire generation out of using words like "hell", "wicked", "sin", or "evil." These are words the Savior used, but when we see "the sort of people that use those words" appear only as fanatical weirdos on television and movies we quietly adjust our language so as not to appear to be "those sorts of people". We find other ways to speak, and even join in the condemnation of anyone using phrases in real life that Christ himself used in his real life.

What would we think of a person who uses words and teachings like the following in public?

Matthew 16:23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.


JST Matt 5:6  And Jesus said unto his disciples, Beholdest thou the scribes, and the Pharisees, and the priests, and the Levites? They teach in their synagogues, but do not observe the law, nor the commandments; and all have gone out of the way, and are under sin.
7  Go thou and say unto them, Why teach ye men the law and the commandments, when ye yourselves are the children of corruption?
8  Say unto them, Ye hypocrites, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.


Matthew 16:1 The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.
 2 He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red.
 3 And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?
 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.

John 5:14 Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee.

John 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?


John 8:34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.


John 8:21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.


John 8:44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

John 9:41 Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth.



Luke 11:39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.
 40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?


Matthew 22:17 Tell us therefore, What thinkest thou? Is it lawful to give tribute unto C├Žsar, or not?
 18 But Jesus perceived their wickedness, and said, Why tempt ye me, ye hypocrites?


 JST Matt 23:15 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than he was before, like unto yourselves.

shortly followed by

 33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?

Could we recognize him as the Son of God?

Media has a powerful ability to teach, to insert mental images of what it means to act a certain way, or to inspire for or against a cause. I expect I am far from being alone in having allowed it to undermine the way I see the world.

We have been shamed into silence. But we should instead look to Christ, both when he does, as well as when he does not, use such language. Christ definitely uses other language at many other times. However, the fact that we have stopped doing it altogether does not make our teaching sound more like that of the Master Teacher. We have been shamed out of it, and we need to reconsider.









The blind man's words and Joseph Smith

I have been astonished at those who have responded to the recent historical gossip about Joseph Smith by concluding that Joseph Smith did many very wicked things, but these members conclude, that just goes to show that the Lord can use anyone to do his work.

Ugh. A blind man could teach them better.

John 9:31 Now we know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and doeth his will, him he heareth.

Does God punish

I was writing something and referred to God punishing the wicked. As soon as I typed that I realized that, in the spirit of our times, some people reading that would object that God doesn't actually "punish" anyone. Which, of course, he does.

So this is just a quick post on that matter. It is nothing more than a smattering of scriptures to the effect that, yes, the Lord does punish people.

Alma 42:1 And now, my son, I perceive there is somewhat more which doth worry your mind, which ye cannot understand—which is concerning the justice of God in the punishment of the sinner; for ye do try to suppose that it is injustice that the sinner should be consigned to a state of misery.

Article of Faith 2 We believe that men will be punished for their own sins, and not for Adam’s transgression.

D&C 76:44 Wherefore, he saves all except them—they shall go away into everlasting punishment, which is endless punishment, which is eternal punishment, to reign with the devil and his angels in eternity, where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched, which is their torment—

D&C 19:20 Wherefore, I command you again to repent, lest I humble you with my almighty power; and that you confess your sins, lest you suffer these punishments of which I have spoken, of which in the smallest, yea, even in the least degree you have tasted at the time I withdrew my Spirit.

2 Nephi 2:10 And because of the intercession for all, all men come unto God; wherefore, they stand in the presence of him, to be judged of him according to the truth and holiness which is in him. Wherefore, the ends of the law which the Holy One hath given, unto the inflicting of the punishment which is affixed, which punishment that is affixed is in opposition to that of the happiness which is affixed, to answer the ends of the atonement—

Mosiah 2:33 For behold, there is a wo pronounced upon him who listeth to obey that spirit; for if he listeth to obey him, and remaineth and dieth in his sins, the same drinketh damnation to his own soul; for he receiveth for his wages an everlasting punishment, having transgressed the law of God contrary to his own knowledge.

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Quotes stating that Christ worked out his own Salvation with fear and trembling.

Christ worked out his own salvation with fear and trembling. Joseph Smith has the classic quote on this:

"What did Jesus do? Why; I do the things I saw my Father do when worlds come rolling into existence. My Father worked out his kingdom with fear and trembling, and I must do the same" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 347).

Bruce R McConkie taught this in a few places. One was here, coupled with a relevant scripture from Hebrews

"Christ worked out his own salvation.
This is something of which uninspired men have no comprehension. Truly, he was the Lord Omnipotent before the world was; truly, he was like unto the Father in the premortal life; truly, he was the Son of God here on earth—and yet, with it all, as with all the spirit children of the same Father, he too was subject to all of the terms and conditions of the Father’s plan. He also was born on earth to undergo a mortal probation, to die, to rise again in immortal glory, to be judged according to his works, and to receive his place of infinite glory in the eternal kingdom of his Everlasting Father. How well Paul said: 'Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author [that is, the cause] of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.' [Hebrews 5: 8–9]" (Bruce R McConkie, "The Mystery of Godliness", BYU Speeches 6 January 1985)

Friday, November 28, 2014

Joseph Fielding McConkie on Christ as the Son of God

Loved this discussion from Joseph Fielding McConkie's "Valiant in the Testimony of Jesus" (page 96)

"It is not sufficient for us to testify that Jesus is the Christ; our testimony must embrace the verity that he is the Son of God. This is the key that unlocks the revelations of heaven to us, as it did for Peter. Another classic illustration of this principle comes from Nephi, in his explanation of how his father unlocked the heavens to receive the revelation that Nephi then sought to obtain. "He spake," Nephi said, "by the power of the Holy Ghost, which power he recieved by faith on the Son of God - and the Son of God was the Messiah who should come"

"All true religion is based on the testimony that Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah, is actually and literally the Son of God. This doctrine is the key that unlocks the right to revelation and the meaning of all the revelations of heaven." ...

D&C 1 warnings and modern ideals

I was struck by the wording of this revelation recently.

D&C 1:12 Prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh;
 13 And the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth.
 14 And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people;
 15 For they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant;
 16 They seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall.

The statements here are simple enough. The Lord's anger is kindled. Kindling is a reference to a fire that is just being ignited. It refers to the time at which the revelation was given.

Verse 16 is particularly interesting. Every man walks in his own way. While the Lord saw that was true in Joseph Smith's day when the revelation given, in modern days this has become a cultural cornerstone that even many church members will endorse. It is the false teaching that "everyone has to find his own path". It is often used to argue against church doctrines and standards with phrases like "there is no one size fits all".

Every man walks after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of he world. While many were externally claiming to seek the Lord's will when this revelation, the Lord knew that wasn't the reality. The reality was that in their hearts the people of the world where looking to the world for their ideas about God and following that false God in place of the real thing.

Whose substance is that of an idol. If you let the world determine what you think God is like, then you are worshiping a figment of your imagination, and not the true and living God. In that case, what you are worshiping has no more reality to it than an idol or statue does.

Which waxeth old and shall perish. Of necessity, worship of such substitutes will bring no eternal rewards. They prove to be as temporary as anything else of this earth.

The Lord could see the reality of what was happening in Joseph Smith's days. He could look into the hearts of the people. In these days some of the things warned against here have grown from truths hidden in the darkened corners of worldly men's hearts into a public frenzy. "Every man walks in his own way" is no longer so much a warning as a beloved standard - a cornerstone of a corrupted society.