Notes for my writing

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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The all too familiar voice of Judas the apostate

Harold B Lee said:
"There were Judases in the ranks in [Joseph Smith's] day, just as there were in the Savior’s day, and just as we have today, some who are members of the Church who are undercutting us, who are betraying their trusts. We are shocked when we see the places from which some of these things come."

The same is true today. And when we listen to Judas' words we find they have a familiar ring.

John 12:3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.
 4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him,
 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?
 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein.

There he is, Judas the apostate. And bold as brass he shames Christ's beloved Mary for her sacred act, not because he is really interested in what is right, but to satisfy his own selfish ends.

These days we are surrounded by those speaking in Judas' voice. One way or another they want to destroy that which is sacred. They want to destroy chastity, decency, morality, boyhood, girlhood, marriage, and family. Ultimately, like Judas, they will seek to destroy the church itself.

Just as Judas, these people claim the purest motives. Just as Judas they try to make those who they oppose feel ashamed. Whether in or out of the church, such individuals point the same finger as those in the great and spacious building and mock.

We need to realize these people are moved by the same being that moved Judas. That is why they speak with the same voice Judas used. And those they lead will come to destruction, as surely as Satan led Judas to his.

Dauntless only in third person

Whereas the blood of our ancestors was shed for us their own posterity to bring us freedom including the right to worship our God according to the dictates of our own conscience, can we not see that it is a disgrace upon us if we allow those freedoms to evaporate with no more resistance that the wheat that is blown with the wind? We will not so much as resist with our words lest we commit a faux pas and someone might think of us as being judgmental and throw insults at us where others can see.

We love watching movies about heroes, but what generation offers more craven cowards than our own selves?

We are not proving ourselves worthy of our forefather's sacrifice which was not made for us alone but for their further posterity beyond us.

We must quit ourselves as men. We must stop watching movies about heroes instead of being brave. We must stop being dauntless only in third person, watching the make believe lives of others as they face down impossible odds.

We have a God, and if we will prove we are devoted to him, he will show his devotion to us. But as his hand was in creating a free nation, and those men who assisted gained eternal reward, is there not eternal shame to be earned for sitting passively by as it ebbs away, receding from us like the tides?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Choosing the fear of men over the fear of God

Last night in our scriptures we read the following verse

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

We see this choice being made all around us these days. I am surprised at the sheer volume of cases I have run into where someone either states that they won't stand up for truth on moral matters, or actually opposes truth on moral matters because they would offend some relative or friend who is involved in one or another immoral practice - these days homosexuality and its ilk are the particular battleground this has been taking place on.

But Christ's doctrine on the matter is:

Matthew 10:37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

Other stories I have run into that are, on the surface, sadder, involve someone telling about standing firm that immorality is serious sin, and finding themselves ostracized by a family member, or even their family at large for doing so.

These days it seems like it is very common to face a choice. It seems practically everybody is choosing sides. Will they avoid offending someone? Will they stand up and be counted? Will they stand with Jesus Christ about right and wrong. Will they be more concerned about pleasing men, or about pleasing God?

Its not a new choice, but it has taken a new form. Sadly many are choosing the fear of men over the fear of God. As is often the case, they disguise their choice to themselves and others as a virtue saying they are just being non-judgmental, and even calling anyone who insists on calling good good, and on calling evil evil a hater.

But name calling is also nothing new.

3 Nephi 11:11 And blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake;

And while being ostracized within ones family may be the cost of standing for truth now, it is apparently a price that is going to get higher. The last days do not promise to be days of ease for those who will simply insist that right is right, and wrong is wrong, and that truth is an unchanging and eternal thing. Joseph Smith said:

"I saw men hunting the lives of their own sons, and brother murdering brother, women killing their own daughters, and daughters seeking the lives of their mothers. I saw armies arrayed against armies. I saw blood, desolation, fires. The Son of man has said that the mother shall be against the daughters, and the daughter against the mother. These things are at our doors. They will follow the Saints of God from city to city. Satan will rage, and the spirit of the devil is now enraged. I know not how soon these things will take place; but with a view of them, shall I cry peace? No; I will lift up my voice and testify of them. How long you will have good crops, and the famine be kept off, I do not know; when the fig tree leaves, know then that the summer is nigh at hand." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 161)

Monday, May 25, 2015

Very short note - the non-judgemental bar

Its funny how often my daughters seem to be told that God isn't judgemental, or that he doesn't judge us. Apparently, everyone will one day have to face the non-judgemental bar.

Short note: Why do many choose destruction? Because of the commandments

I think it is interesting in the JST of Matt 7 that Christ says that there are many that travel in the broad road that leads to destruction BECAUSE strait is the gait and narrow the way that leads to life and that is the reason there are few that find it. That is quite insightful. It is because of those pesky commandments and commitments that people don't want the full gospel.

We enjoy more grace for obeying more, not for disobeying more

Many people think of grace as something that is given to us because we don't fully submit our will to the will of the Father. But the opposite is true. In D&C 93 it teaches that the Savior grew from grace to grace, and that we must do the same. Just as with Christ himself, more grace is manifest in our lives as we submit our will more fully to the will of the Father, and not the other way around. That is because grace is not a mechanism by which we get blessing for disobedience. Instead Grace is the merciful and loving gifts from a tender God given on condition of obedience.According to D&C 93 it was the sinless Savior who grew into the fullness of grace, and the more we obey, the more his grace is manifest in our lives. Not the other way round.

God did not gain his power through the atonement

I am surprised at gospel statements made over and over again with no thought given to what they actually mean. For instance, it is now in vogue to say that it is because of the atonement of Christ that God can heal us when we are sick, and can free us from our trials and infirmities.
No it isn't. Yes, the atonement is the single most important act of eternity. Yes, without it all mankind will be doomed to a neverending torment. Yes, it conquered death and hell.
But we believe in a God who is a being of power. We believe in a God who is in and through all things, and who holds all the elements in subjection to him. We believe in a God who will speak, and the elements will obey him, who can dry up the rivers at his word, who can make the sea into sand for a man to walk across, who can stop the earth in the heavens, can blacken the sun and the stars, can shake and rend the earth and the cause the heavens to be wrapped together as a scroll and the world to be destroyed by fire.
We believed in a God who created the heavens and the earth.
The atonement was crucial, but God had power in and of himself to heal or destroy, had power greater than armies or nations independent of the atonement. Yes the atonement plays a crucial role. No, that isn't how God gained power to heal the lame, the sick, the blind or the maimed. The God who created heaven and earth can cure a cold, or cancer, or death. He can throw off our trials, and take us out of the power of our enemies. He can do that simply because he is God. He has always had that power, and he always will.
We believe in Christ the Son of God. But because of that we also believe him when he said "My Father is greater than I".

Neal A Maxwell grandson story

A quote I really like from a Neal A Maxwell conference talk:
It’s interesting, too, how we create, cumulatively, expectations in the lives of our grandchildren even when we are not aware of it. Some years ago, when our grandson Robbie was about five, we dropped by to see his family in Orem. He was asleep upstairs, and his mother called, “Robbie, Grandpa Neal is here!” A tired little voice floated downstairs saying, “Shall I bring my scriptures?”

Sunday, May 24, 2015

God watches over his little ones

The world we live in is a curious place. The realities of it are often the opposite of what they appear. For instance, the widow, the orphan, the little child appear to be helpless. But those who mistreat them will not escape swift rebuke. And those who will care for them cannot escape the Lord's rewards. He soon pours out the fruits of their labors doubly on their own heads. The Lord watches out for his little ones, his helpless ones. He also watches over his daughters, and takes vengeance on those who mistreat them.

The world is upside down from its appearances. The weak and tender are seen and watched over by their God, While the mighty and strong who trust in the arm of flesh are left to their own wisdom, and often fall by the wayside, and suffer the pains of his rebuke.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Truth and error about saving grace in contrast

The protestant doctrine of grace as popularized by Stephen Robinson in his book "Believing Christ" as well as by Brad Wilcox in his books and articles on the atonement stand in direct opposition to the true doctrine of grace found in the scriptures. They are not just different sides of the same coin, they are in opposition. They cannot coexist without one or the other eventually growing to dominate and destroy the other.

Sadly their protestant version has been playing a substantial role in the thinking of many members for some time now.

The false protestant doctrine they teach is that "the grace of God" means that the atonement made it possible for men to receive every blessing God has to give by having the atonement substitute for man's behavior when his behavior is lacking. Rather than being about forgiveness from sins repented of, the atonement becomes a proxy for righteousness.

Some of us have grown so used to this false teaching about grace that we actually think that is what the atonement is. Instead, that is precisely what the atonement is not. That is exactly the distinction the scriptures are trying to make when they say that Christ didn't come to save us in our sins, but to save us from our sins.

Put differently, their protestant doctrine of grace directly and fundamentally contradicts the scripture:

D&C 130:20 There is a law, irrevocably decreed in heaven before the foundations of this world, upon which all blessings are predicated—
 21 And when we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

Now before anyone cries "Heretic!!!" let me point out what the doctrine of grace is, and what it means that we are saved by grace, for indeed we are.

Grace as the word appears in the scriptures is nothing more nor less than the marvelous, generous, loving gifts God has imparted to his children. Some of these gifts were made possible by the atonement, but the scriptural phrase refers to God's generous gifts to man that did not require the atonement as well. Some of those, and there are many, include the creation, and the gift of a body.

By contrast to the false protestant doctrine, grace that saves our soul is something that is experienced. It has to be experienced to have any saving effect. According to many verses in the Book of Mormon we will be judged according to our works, whether they are good or evil. In case that is not familiar to the reader, here are the bulk of the direct references to the final judgement I could find in the Book of Mormon:

... must be judged of their works (1 Nephi 15:32)
... must be brought to stand before God, to be judged of their works; (1 Nephi 15:33)
... all men shall be judged of their works (2 Nephi 9:44)
... they shall be judged, every man according to his works (Mosiah 3:24)
... stand before God to be judged according to the deeds which have been done in the mortal body (Alma 5:15)
... stand before God, and be judged according to their works. (Alma 11:41)
... to be judged according to their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil. (Alma 11:44)
... stand before God to be judged according to their works (Alma 12:8)
... all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works. (Alma 33:22)
... stand in the presence of my God, to be judged of my deeds. (Alma 36:15)
... stand before God, and be judged according to their works. (Alma 40:21)
... men should be judged according to their works; and if their works were good in this life,
 and the desires of their hearts were good, that they should also, at the last day, be restored unto that which is good. And if their works are evil they shall be restored  unto them for evil... (Alma 41:3-4)
 ... they are restored into his presence, to be judged according to their works (Alma 42:23)
 ... all people, all kindreds, and all nations and tongues shall stand before God, to be judged of their works, whether they be good or whether they be evil (3 Nephi 26:4)
 ... be judged according to your works (Mormon 3:18)
 ... to be judged according to your works (Mormon 6:21)

Any blessing that doesn't affect our works has no power to help us at the judgement bar, because it has no affect on the means by which that judgement will take place: namely our works. Real saving grace affects our works. It is experienced, it is not just something we are informed about, because it must change our works in order to save us.

For example, the light of Christ is a saving grace of God. It is a marvelous gift. The more we give diligent heed to the light of Christ, the more clearly we are able to judge righteous judgement, the correctly we discern good from evil. It allows us to reject the bitter that we may choose the sweet. It is the light that is given to all mankind to lead them into truth and life.

Learning to discern truth through the light of Christ is not just some academic promise of future reward. It has constant, important meaning in our life. The light of Christ is the source of our conscience. Without conscience we are morally adrift and headed for disaster. By hearkening to the light of Christ we are instead partaking of a saving grace of God that leads us back to him. Note how this grace works: We enjoy it on conditions of obedience. The more we partake, the more sensitive to it we become to it, and the more fully we enjoy its benefits. It is a saving grace, a merciful gift from God. We cannot be saved without it, yet it has absolutely nothing to do with granting us blessings by allowing the atonement to substitute for actual righteousness.

The light of Christ has power to transform our works. Thus it has power to save us, by the grace of God, at the judgement bar. Without that grace, we could not be saved.

Now if we search diligently in the light of Christ, we do not stop at the light of Christ. As described in D&C 93 we progress from grace to grace.

Another example of a saving grace is the remission of sins that is available through Christ's atonement. His marvelous atonement has power to forgive us of our sins on condition of repentance.

Helaman 5:11 And he hath power given unto him from the Father to redeem them from their sins because of repentance; therefore he hath sent his angels to declare the tidings of the conditions of repentance, which bringeth unto the power of the Redeemer, unto the salvation of their souls.

D&C 138: 19 And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.

That "on condition of repentance" part is often left out and used to extend the forgiveness of the atonement to everything we are presently doing whether right or wrong.

But that condition of repentance is critical. For example. I am far from perfect. I have many faults and flaws. Let's say that I am not as charitable to my neighbor as the gospel requires. Does the atonement mean I am clean from that sin because of my covenant with Christ, even though that fault is still part of my regular practice? The scriptures answer "No, not until I stop doing it". We are never clean of misbehavior we are still engaging it, as we read in the scriptures.

D&C 82:7 ... unto that soul who sinneth shall the former sins return, saith the Lord your God.

This scripture doesn't mean whenever we do anything wrong, ALL of our former sins return. Otherwise who could be saved? It means that the atonement doesn't grant me forgiveness for things which I am still doing. If I am breaking the Sabbath, then whether I am forgiven for Sabbath breaking or not at baptism, as soon as I break the Sabbath again thereafter, my former sins of Sabbath breaking return to me. I will not obtain lasting forgiveness for Sabbath breaking until I have repented of it and stopped doing it.

Even though I was baptized for remission of sins, I still have lots of lesser stuff I need to get over.

And let's be honest with ourselves. This is actually part of our regular life experience. When we start doing something wrong, even if it won't get us kicked out of the church or require confession, we experience a loss of the Holy Ghost. We are not as clean as we once were.

And on the other hand, when we overcome some fault, we know that we feel better about ourselves. We know that we have Holy Ghost a little more in our lives. We feel happier and cleaner.

We don't really have to be told this, because we experience it. We experience mistakes, repentance, forgiveness. We experience our own flaws and failures and we know that as we overcome them we grow into the gift of the Holy Ghost. We may not notice the difference in a day, but as we press forward over 5, 10, 25 or more years we can look back and see how much more committed we are, and how much more we enjoy the gift of the Holy Ghost than we used to.

The grace of forgiveness through the atonement can forgive more as we repent more. And we experience that. We experience greater cleanliness and greater spiritual endowments now than we used to, as we continue to press forward diligently and put aside more of our own flaws and overcome more of our own failings than we once had.

The condition of forgiveness through the atonement is always repentance and we also experience that. As we continue to repent and change we experience a feeling of greater cleanliness and a greater closeness to God day to day than we did before.

Another saving grace is the gift of the Holy Ghost. The more we experience the Holy Ghost, the more he is part of our lives, the more clearly we know God's will and the easier it is for us to submit to it. As we gain the Holy Ghost more powerfully in our lives our works are transformed from works of rote obedience to a list of laws to works that, while they still include obedience to those laws, also involve being led by the Holy Ghost to those who need our help, and being inspired when and how to teach a nonmember the gospel, and which ancestor wants their work done, and how to find that ancestors information, and so on.... Our works take on a new spiritual life as we grow in obedience to the gift of the Holy Ghost and thus also become more worthy of it. This transformation of our works is a saving grace because it transforms the works we will be judged by. We could not be saved without it, because our works can never really become like the Master's without the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Ghost. Christ always did that which pleased his Father, but without the Holy Ghost, we cannot hear what the Father wants to tell us. His voice is spirit. The Holy Ghost is our connection to the Godhead who knows all things. As we grow into the gift of the Holy Ghost, our works, those works we will be judged by, take on new spiritual life.

There is no conflict with the fact that we will be judged according to our works, but we are saved by grace. In fact, we progress from grace to grace. We progress from that grace which is the light of Christ, to the grace of baptism for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Ghost. From there we can progress to make greater covenants. Those commitments, faithfully kept, always endow us with greater light and spiritual power, particularly by helping us grow into the gift of the Holy Ghost as we become more worthy of him.

There is much more to the doctrine of grace, but this lays out the general pattern. Saving grace always transforms our works and is inseparably connected with the powers of heaven. Saving grace connects us with the powers of heaven and we experience it and can observe that it transform our works. Everyone knows that in some measure. Who hasn't done tender service for another and not felt, for a time, the sanctifying effects that God bestows in reward for that effort. Do we not feel like our burdens are lightened, that we can more easily do right, that we want to be more good after such an experience. Even that, the light of Christ experienced by all mankind, demonstrates the pattern of saving grace. It can only be experienced on principles of righteousness. It has nothing to do with excusing bad behavior, or providing a proxy atonement to substitute for righteous work. It has everything to do with living so that we are connected to the powers of heaven by enjoying those spiritual gifts and endowments that are saving graces, that enlighten our minds and free our souls from sin.

Now let us compare that to the protestant doctrine being popularized these days.

Students of grace as taught this way need teachers like Robinson and Wilcox to inform them of all the spiritual blessings that are made open to them by the atonement and grace because they do not experience them. Their doctrine turns grace and the atonement into a mystery, that requires proper teaching to fully understand. They teach that the atonement makes it so we can receive every spiritual blessing from God without actually choosing to change, without actually putting forth the effort, diligently pressing forward. Instead, any change we make is simply a show of gratitude to Christ for his atonement.

It is easy doctrine. It is comfortable doctrine. And the reason we need teachers to explain it all to us is because it isn't what we experience. It has no power to connect us to heaven. It actually inspires apathy toward repentance, the very opposite of true saving graces such as the light of Christ and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Their doctrine teaches that the plan of salvation is that we are saved as we have faith, but that real change in our lives is only a sign of gratitude since our works have no power. Can we not be honest that sin is comfortable? Christ taught in Matt 7 that "... broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it."

Why did Christ say many choose destruction? He said it was because strait is the gait and narrow is the way that leads to life. It is because the commandments and commitments are restrictive, and people don't want to do them.

If sin is so comfortable that many choose the broad way to destruction, and only few choose the strait path, can't we admit to ourselves that a doctrine that teaches that our good works merely show gratitude for the atonement is a doctrine that will inspire most of its listeners to do the bare minimum they think they can get away with?

That is the opposite of the true doctrine of saving grace. And sadly, it is trumpeted and proclaimed and gloried in as being precisely what the atonement and grace are all about. It is destructive doctrine as surely as any false doctrine ever was. It is the doctrine that Christ came to save us in our sins, where the true doctrine of saving grace is that the grace of God is precisely the means by which he can transform our works, and thereby save us from our sins.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A short note on Balaam and sacrifice

I'm not sure where there is a less popular teaching of Joseph Smith than when he taught that since animal sacrifice existed and had a purpose before the law of Moses, then it would be restored, and in fact that it is always present "when the powers of the Melchizedek priesthood are sufficiently manifest".

It is an ordinance that we know nothing about since it hasn't been restored. We don't have any idea what it's purpose is, so it was interesting in reading the story of Balaam that Balaam had animal sacrifices made and then the account states that Lord put a word in his mouth. He declared that word and it was a blessing on Israel.

Since Balaam knew nothing of the law of Moses, this would presumably be the older form that will one day be restored. Not that all ordinances aren't frequently attended by revelation like Balaam had. Baby blessings, blessings of the sick, ordinations to priesthood, father's blessings and confirmation are frequently accompanied by the Lord putting a word into a person's mouth.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

In response to a man saying sex in movies is OK because it happens in the bible

I wrote the following in response to a man who claimed that if hollywood made a movie of the bible it would have lots of sex, so watching sex in movies is OK:

The depiction of the sex in the bible is never provocative. Even when Absolom rapes his own sister, we are informed that it happens, that she pleaded with him not to, and that is all. We are given essentially the minimum we need to understand what happened, but nothing that is intended to be arousing.

Telling us something of a sexual nature happened, and acting it out for us to see are radically different. I can safely assume you know that your parents had sex. But you probably never watched. The information is different than the portrayal.

Real grace is something experienced, not just something we are informed of

Saving grace is not something one is informed of, it is something one experiences. The protestant versions of grace are like unexpected benefits you have to be informed of. Those who teach them are informing their students of things they didn't know, because they were never experienced. They say something like "Christ already paid the bill in full, and all you have to do is have faith in Christ", or "Christ already did all of it, and you just need to accept what he did for you". Their students have to be informed of the benefits they received, because those benefits are make believe ideas of men. They have to be told so they can pretend along.
By contrast, real grace is not something one has to be informed of. For example, one experiences the Holy Ghost. It is remarkable. It may not be obvious without being taught that the Holy Ghost is what one is experiencing, but there is no mistake that one is experiencing SOMETHING.
Now sure, we do tend to grow into these things, and yes, the beginnings of grace may be whispers we don't even notice at first - the influence of the light of Christ, the gentle whisperings of the Holy Ghost, forgiveness when we repent. But in time we learn to recognize them as they grow and we experience them personally, and we can even look back and recognize times when we were experiencing them without realizing it.
By contrast, fake grace does not have that effect. It doesn't grow into a greater experience. It isn't real. We have to be told about it so we can pretend along.
But the reality is that Christ forgives us on condition of repentance, we are cleansed as we change, and not one bit faster than we are willing to do so. We are not made perfect simply by redefining what it means to be perfect. Instead, as we continue to grow into God's gifts BY CONTINUED REPENTANCE AND CHANGE SO WE CAN GAIN GREATER ACCESS TO THEM, then we find them more powerfully manifest in our lives, and those graces, such as the gift of the Holy Ghost, allow us to know Gods will better and enable us to more easily choose to submit our will to it. That is what it means to be made perfect in the grace of God. It is not accomplished in a moment, but over in a lifetime and well beyond. And when it is fully accomplished we will be perfect as the Father and the Son are perfect, and one with them as they are one with each other, because the unity that allows us to fully know their will only comes as we grow from grace to grace into the submission and obedience that allows us to fully submit to it.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Those who have died not knowing

The description in Mosiah 3 sounds as if those who don't have the full gospel have a free ticket. It says that Christ's blood atoneth for the sins of those who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them.

Mosiah 3:11 For behold, and also his blood atoneth for the sins of those who have fallen by the transgression of Adam, who have died not knowing the will of God concerning them, or who have ignorantly sinned.

This verse is true enough, but it is, as often happens, only a hint of how that actually works. It is fleshed out in D&C 128 and 138, e.g. in D&C 138 Christ teaches in the spirit world:

D&C 138:19 And there he preached to them the everlasting gospel, the doctrine of the resurrection and the redemption of mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on conditions of repentance.

So there the message was the same redemptive message we have here: "Redemption of all mankind from the fall, and from individual sins on condition of repentance." That is how Mosiah 3:11 is brought to pass.

Not that we didn't know that, but it is interesting to see how a verse that gave only a hint of its full meaning unravels into a more complete picture given additional revelation.

Lindsey Stirling

Recently a famous mormon, Lindsay Stirling, wore a dress to a large event. Her dress does, in fact cover her body, but the dress uses large amounts of skin colored cloth to give the appearance that she is wearing a very sexy dress that shows her body off in the extreme. The skin colored cloth is tight and is a good match to her own skin tones, so there is nothing obvious about the charade.

No matter what else one says about it, the dress is clearly designed to entice. In fact, it is designed to appear downright sexual.

And how can it be designed to appear sexual and to be enticing, and yet be modest?

There is no such thing.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

They loved Satan more than God // False Christs

One thing that stands out in the beginning of the world is that we read of people loving Satan more than God. This was also clearly an issue in the premortal life, as Satan was able to get a third of the hosts of heaven to follow him in rebellion against the Father.

Moses 5:13 And Satan came among them, saying: I am also a son of God; and he commanded them, saying: Believe it not; and they believed it not, and they loved Satan more than God. And men began from that time forth to be carnal, sensual, and devilish.

Moses 5:18 And Cain loved Satan more than God. And Satan commanded him, saying: Make an offering unto the Lord.

Moses 5:28 And it came to pass that Cain took one of his brothers’ daughters to wife, and they loved Satan more than God.

We wonder how such a thing could be possible. How could a people love that being that seeks their destruction more than they love that God that loved them first.

But what we need to realized is that this is nothing new. In fact, this is precisely what we see happening in the world today.

Those people loved a being that opened a broad road for them. They loved a being that said that it didn't matter if they were honest, and particularly, doesn't matter whether or not they were chaste. They loved that being more than they loved a God that required faith, repentance, and obedience to commandments.

A matter of names

We live in a day when people still generally love Satan more than God. They would rather be immoral than moral. They would rather have indecency than decency. They would rather be able to do whatever they want, whenever they want, with whomever they want, then submit themselves to commandments and the scriptures.

But they do not call their God by the name Satan. It works far better to parade their God about as Jesus, or nature, or atheism, or whatever name they want for a God that will let them come as they are, and continue from there however they want.

When we read of the "false Christs" in the scriptures, we need to realize that the many false popularized versions of who Christ is, and what he requires of us, are exactly those prophesied false Christs. When it comes to the prophesied false Christs, we are immersed in the fulfillment of prophecy, while still waiting for it to come to pass.

Cain, Abel and Secret combinations

The scriptures teach some things about secret combinations that often go unnoticed.

The story of Cain and Abel itself is a story about secret combinations. That may sound a bit shocking, but it is actually quite plainly laid out in the text.

Moses 5:29 And Satan said unto Cain: Swear unto me by thy throat, and if thou tell it thou shalt die; and swear thy brethren by their heads, and by the living God, that they tell it not; for if they tell it, they shall surely die; and this that thy father may not know it; and this day I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands.
 30 And Satan sware unto Cain that he would do according to his commands. And all these things were done in secret.
 31 And Cain said: Truly I am Mahan, the master of this great secret, that I may murder and get gain. Wherefore Cain was called Master Mahan, and he gloried in his wickedness.

Thus Abel wasn't just slain by a wayward brother. His brother, Cain, inspired by Satan, organized a secret combination. The "great secret" was not that "that I may murder and get gain". That is kind of transparently obvious. The "great secret" was that by organizing according to Satan's direction, then Satan swore that he would do as Cain directed, and help them accomplish their dark works. Thus Satan says "I will deliver thy brother Abel into thine hands."

This was a secret combination of the darkest sort. And it was all organized before Abel was slain. In fact, slaying Abel was part of its charter.

So the story of Cain and Abel is not the story we are usually told. It is a story about a secret combination slaying a man who "walked in holiness before the Lord".

Actually, the Lord's declaration about Cain doesn't make sense unless we understand this. 

Moses 5:40 And I the Lord said unto him: Whosoever slayeth thee, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And I the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.

Why will the Lord be seven times more angry at someone that kills guilty Cain, then at Cain for shedding innocent blood? 

In fact, why is Cain so worried about being slain? Why does Cain say?

Moses 5:39 ... it shall come to pass, that he that findeth me will slay me, because of mine iniquities, for these things are not hid from the Lord

The answer is because the secret is out. When Cain says it will be because of his iniquities, he is not referring to the iniquity of killing Abel, but to the iniquity of organizing a secret combination to kill Abel. When it is discovered that the cat is out of the bag, then Cain is worried that according to their oath Cain's own secret combination will kill Cain. The Lord is not seven times more vengeful toward men for killing a guilty man than for killing a holy man. The Lord is seven times more vengeful toward men that murder a guilty man for no other reason than because of the oath of a secret combination, than he is for more regular murder in passion or for gain.

Friday, May 15, 2015

The story of Balaam and hard, challenging issues

I hear a lot these days about standing up on certain issues being "hard" or "challenging". We tend to even congratulate each other over such sentiments. I don't agree. I was reading the story of Balaam tonight. Balaam clearly felt like he was facing a "hard decision". He asks the Lord. Then he asks the Lord again. He does the right thing at first, then he finally takes such a wicked course that the Lord assigns the Israelites to ensure they slay Balaam.
It seems that fretting over what a hard and challenging thing it is to stand up and be counted on moral issues these days is something we should be wary of. We should have faith and speak the truth boldly. We know that many of our ancestors in the scriptures chose to simply have faith and do right no matter the cost and so can we. The story of Balaam shows us where fretting and fearing can lead.
To fret over how hard it is to do right is to put asides ones faith. President Hinckley taught us "Where there is doubt, faith has no power."
Faith is power, and when we feel things are hard, the last thing we should do is put aside our power. Our faith is our power. Joseph Smith used the terms faith and power interchangeably. He didn't treat them as being different things. Waffling and fretting is really choosing to allow our fears to eat the foundation out from under our faith.
Why let our fears separate us from God's power? It must be our faith that precedes the miracle. Therefore, let us cease to fret about "hard decisions" and simply stand by truth and right in faith.

The restoration of all things is a foundation, not a checklist

The restoration of all things is not a checklist or a divine to do list. The restoration of all things is the foundation on which Zion can be built. Zion is built on a foundation in which members are enjoying all the covenants in their fullest manifestation. We will not build Zion on tithing, Zion demands the higher covenant of consecration. The spiritual blessings of tithing are insufficient to build her. Every principle must be entered into by covenant, and every spiritual blessing must be manifest in the fullest measure it has yet existed among God's people on this earth for Zion to be built.
To say that the people were of one heart and one mind is not to say that they were tolerant. They lived the covenants and enjoyed the spiritual blessings that could bind them together by the Holy Ghost in a measure as the Godhead itself enjoys unity. They gained the spirit of God, and by that means experienced the divine unity Zion requires.
This is the doctrine and purpose of the restoration of all things.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Teaching truth by the Holy Ghost is for all, but directing by a revelation requires authority

To simply state the truth plainly and without apology to let others believe it as they see fit does not require any special calling. It is a privilege of members and nonmembers alike. Joseph Smith said: "Have the Presbyterians any truth? Yes. Have the Baptists, Methodists, etc., any truth? Yes. They all have a little truth mixed with error. We should gather all the good and true principles in the world and treasure them up, or we shall not come out true 'Mormons.'"

If a Presbyterian can state a truth and God would require us to believe that truth simply because it is true, then can we not see that it is the right of any man or woman member or non member alike to simply state and teach truth as they perceive it by the Holy Ghost.

Any man can teach the truth as he sees it and let his listeners judge for themselves and this requires no calling, nor even a membership in the true church.

But what is different altogether is for a man to offer a statement of revelation from Heaven as instruction. It is against the economy of heaven for a man to receive instruction from heaven for those above him. It is one thing to simply state the truth as purely as one can, and that is the privilege of nonmembers and members alike. It is another altogether to put forth something as a revelation from heaven.

Frequently we confuse the two. And for those that do, I again refer to Joseph Smith's statement. If we are bound by truths found among Baptists and Methodists, then we are bound by truth itself. And thus every man has a right to speak truth as purely as he can.

We should speak and learn by the Holy Ghost, rather than fretting over whether we are saying something that somebody already said.

But what a regular man or woman cannot do, and what is reserved in the keys of presidency, is to utter the words "I have had a revelation that ...." to those over whom he has no authority, instead of simply stating truth to the best of his ability, and letting others decide for themselves what portion of his words are uttered under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, and what portion is no more than another man's meaningless opinion.

And how can one tell what is taught by the Holy Ghost and what is just another meaningless opinion of man? The answer is that as we teach by the Holy Ghost those who are prepared will learn by the Holy Ghost. Frequently they learn more than the teacher himself intended as he spoke, or even more than the teacher himself knew. The Holy Ghost manifests truth and they are edified and rejoice together.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Hardened against motherhood

Diane wrote a post about having many children and some personal revelation she had along the way.

Not surprisingly, some women went out of their way to express their disdain over the whole affair. These are women who have rejected largely rejected motherhood, having limited their own child bearing for selfish reasons. They have largely rejected their divine nature as mothers

There are people who leave the church after they know it is true. Those who leave the church through apostasy and then can never leave the church alone. They have rejected fundamental divine truth in favor of error, and the adversary uses that to stir them up against that which is good, and most particularly against that true church they rejected.

There is something similar whenever we reject anything from God. Joseph Smith pointed out that whenever we reject something from God the devil takes power.

And so the adversary had power with these women. They acted kind of like apostates to the church, except it is motherhood they are apostate towards, instead of the church. Having rejected such a gift, they just can't leave it alone.

One of them said what Diane wrote sounded like the book 1984.

It reminds me of a scripture I read earlier tonight about the first attempt by the Nephites to return to the land of Nephi and reclaim it. They get in a fight with each other and mostly kill each other off before they ever really begin their attempt. You can tell that they were mostly a bloodthirsty group by the spirit they gave heed to.

And you could tell that really, these women were rejecting motherhood by the spirit they gave way to. The very idea of listening to inspiration to have children bothers them. It gets under their skin because they have rejected the fundamental divine truth of their own nature, and thereby Satan has power to stir them up over the matter. Thus having left it, they just can't leave it alone.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

More about signs and miracles

I previously wrote about the oddity of the verse about false prophets in Mathew 24. I am suspicious that it doesn't mean what it sounds like at face value. At face value it sounds like there will be people in the last days claiming to be prophets or to be Jesus himself, and doing great signs and miracles like those we see in the scriptures, but that in fact, those people will be deceivers.

Here is the scripture.

Joseph Smith Matthew 1:22 For in those days there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.

Now all I'm after here is what is peculiar about this verse. It isn't clear how it fits with the other scriptures. So I'm trying to sort it out.

Compare that verse with this one:

3 Nephi 8:1 And now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record—for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus; and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity

The scriptures say that he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus, and therefore they knew he was a man of God.

When Christ walked in mortality upon the earth he gave sight to a man blind from birth. This man testified to the unbelieving Pharisees:

John 9:29 We know that God spake unto Moses: as for this fellow, we know not from whence he is.
 30 The man answered and said unto them, Why herein is a marvellous thing, that ye know not from whence he is, and yet he hath opened mine eyes.
 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.
 32 Since the world began was it not heard that any man opened the eyes of one that was born blind.
 33 If this man were not of God, he could do nothing.

Also we read

John 10:25 Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.

John 10:37 If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not.
 38 But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him.

John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.

The Lord expected the Nephites to heed the signs and miracles given among them:

 3 Nephi 1:4 And it came to pass that in the commencement of the ninety and second year, behold, the prophecies of the prophets began to be fulfilled more fully; for there began to be greater signs and greater miracles wrought among the people.

Putting these other verses together, now read the opening verse again:

Joseph Smith Matthew 1:22 For in those days there shall also arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch, that, if possible, they shall deceive the very elect, who are the elect according to the covenant.

In the context of those other scriptures I don't think this means what it appears to mean on the surface: that people will be performing miracles of the sort that appear in the scriptures claiming to be prophets or to be Jesus, but that those people will be deceivers. Christ, himself, expected people to believe in him at least for the miracles he did. While he wouldn't offer up signs to the wicked at their whim, he expected them to repent and believe in him based on the signs he did do:

Matthew 11:20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
 21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
 22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
 23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
 24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.

So who is doing signs and wonders these days? Well, so far the only obvious answer is that we are surrounded by the signs and miracles of science, and that we are so wowed by them, that many are believing whatever science states about moral issues as well.

For example. I have been surprised at how many members these days frankly accept anything in the world about moral issues that claims to be backed by a scientific study. These generally aren't very scientifically minded people. Often they aren't even technically minded people. Where did they gain this intrinsic trust in scientific studies? Because of the signs and wonders that science has been offering them through their lives.

Science not only offers many signs and wonders, but it it also denies all signs and wonders and miracles that are not its own. Thus it generally stands directly opposed to revealed religion. Sure, men of faith are exceptions, but they probably know better than to speak to freely of their belief in those miracles among their colleagues. Science rejects biblical miracles as miracles. It accepts only the miracles it performs itself.

Don't get me wrong. I am not anti-science. I highly enjoy physics and mathematics. I am also not anti-learning. But that doesn't change that I believe the scripture that teaches:

2 Nephi 9:28 O that cunning plan of the evil one! O the vainness, and the frailties, and the foolishness of men! When they are learned they think they are wise, and they hearken not unto the counsel of God, for they set it aside, supposing they know of themselves, wherefore, their wisdom is foolishness and it profiteth them not. And they shall perish.
 29 But to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God.

Sscience has been at odds with revealed religion for some time. Charles Darwin's theory of Evolution claims that 2 out of the 3 pillars of eternity are nothing more than pure fancy. Professor Charles Anthon seemed to set the stage by declaring that he would not endorse the golden plates if they were delivered by an Angel.

The nature of man

Usually when we hear someone talk about the nature of man, they treat man as a being in isolation. It is as if he stands outside Eden, having been cast out, and then decides what to do.

Many think of the nature of man as being the principle thing that determines whether men will do good or evil. In fact, there has been much wasted effort on the question of whether man is naturally good, or naturally evil. Those who want to argue that man is naturally good like to point to the good works of great men. Those who want to argue that man is naturally evil like to point to the dark depths that wicked men have fallen into.

But the picture of man as a being in isolation is false. It gives us a wrong picture of the nature of man. 

Man is not a being in isolation, and we will always get a wrong picture of him if that is how we think of him.

Man is a being that is constantly, and frequently quite powerfully, enticed by two forces that stand in direct opposition to each other. The more fully a man gives way to God the more capable he becomes to do good works, the more clearly he can sense the light of Christ, or hear the gift of the holy ghost, and the more enduring his joy becomes. The more a man gives way to the adversary, the more power the adversary has to influence and pervert his behavior, to direct him in path that will destroy himself and those around him, and the more the adversary brings him to misery the depths of which we would never have imagined.

Any description of "human nature" that neglects these two facts will not get very much right.

God pulls mankind toward him through the light of Christ, and a man that repents and is baptized into his true church, will be given the Holy Ghost to direct that man to God.

When we ask about the nature of man in isolation, we are asking about that which never was and never will be. It is like asking what matter is like without positive and negatively charged particles, and without gravity. We can never get a true picture of a being in isolation from the forces that define that being.

Quick Note: Judged by the light we have hearkened to follow

The scriptural warning that we will be judged as we judge is not a warning that we are to call nothing evil. The scriptures explain the idea in great detail:

Insofar as we learn to judge by the light of Christ, then when we are judged that light will be found in us.

If the light of Christ is not the light by which we judge then when we are judged that light will not be found in us.

As we judge, we are judged. Is his light the light we see by? Or do we choose another means through which to see the world?

Judgment: one of the weightier matters of the law

Christ speaks of the weightier matters of the law. Are there weightier matters of the law today? Of course. The scriptures mostly give specifics about the most serious. There is one sin which is unforgivable and it is the worst, the next is murder, and after that the next is adultery.

But we should know by the Holy Ghost as we grow into the gospel which parts of the gospel constitute the weightier matters of the law. Which ones we should have done, and not to leave the others undone.

According to Christ judgment, mercy, and faith are among the weightier matters of the law. That is interesting. We believe in mercy, believe in faith, but we actually believe that judgment is a reproachable evil. Clearly we are passing over one of the the weightier matters of the law ourselves.

When we justify passing over judgment, condemning it instead of developing our ability to judge good from evil, when we put aside our duty to call good good, and to call evil evil, and instead choose to simply call everything good, or try to pretend we can call good good and call evil undecidable, then we are passing over judgment. We have omitted the weightier matters of the law.

When we quote Christ on judgment, why can't we either quote

Matthew 23:23 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

or quote

Luke 11:42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

or at least can't we quote the JST of Matthew 7 which radically clarifies the intention of Christ's teachings about judging in the sermon on the mount, showing that we are actually commanded to judge righteous judgement, and not to judge unrighteous judgment. Righteous judgement is to judge good as good, and evil as evil, discerning the matter by the light of Christ. Unrighteous judgment, is to judge good to be evil or evil to be good, using some other measure than the light of Christ to judge good from evil.

When we simply call everything good, or refuse to call evil evil, we are not judging by the light of Christ, we are not calling evil evil, and we are judging unrighteous judgement. That is precisely what Christ commanded us not to do. We must not persist in omitting judgment, one of the weightier matters of the law.

We have much of one of the great chapters of scripture, Moroni 7, devoted to teaching us how to judge righteous judgement. It goes into detail teaching how we are to keep the commandment to judge. There we are told that it is given to us to judge, and that by searching diligently in the light of Christ we can learn to judge with the same clarity that we can tell light from darkness.

Joseph Smith on Grace

I was recently reminded of Joseph Smith's discussion of the doctrine of grace. I post it because the doctrine of grace has been being replaced by a false protestant version.

"The doctrine that the Presbyterians and Methodists have quarreled so much about--one in grace, always in grace, or falling away from grace, I will say a word about. They are both wrong. Truth takes a road between them both, for while the Presbyterian says: "Once in grace, you cannot fall"; the Methodist says: "You can have grace today, fall from it tomorrow, next day have grace again; and so follow on, changing continually." But the doctrine of the Scriptures and the spirit of Elijah would show them both false, and take a road between them both; for, according to the Scripture, if men have received the good word of God, and tasted of the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, it is impossible to renew them again, seeing they have crucified the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame; so there is a possibility of falling away; you could not be renewed again, and the power of Elijah cannot seal against this sin, for this is a reserve made in the seals and power of the Priesthood." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, page 308)

Grace, as understood by Joseph Smith, was to have received the good word of God and tasted of the powers of the world to come, to be bound up by the power of Elijah. For one who has grace and has fallen away it is impossible to renew them again, because they have crucified the Son of God afresh.

That is quite interesting. Clearly, in Joseph Smith's mind, grace as he used he word wasn't something that was received at baptism, because there were members that were baptized, and then fell away, but were later renewed unto baptism. Nor was it received simply by being made an elder or a high priest, or being endowed, or even being sealed. Men and women have been "renewed" after falling away from any and all of these. Grace as Joseph Smith felt the term applied, required tasting of the powers of the world to come. In fact, one who was in grace did so to such a degree that if he or she were to fall away, it would be impossible to be renewed.J

Friday, May 8, 2015

A quick note: Freedom versus Intimidation

Our ancestors weren't intimidated out of their fight for freedom by power and armies. But we are being intimidated out of the very freedom they won by nothing more than name calling and social intimidation.
How will we face our ancestors? How will we face our descendants?

Thursday, May 7, 2015

They dream and are feasting, they awaken and are famished

It makes me sad as I see and read and observe the many women who have sold their birthright. They delay marriage and children to travel, to get a degree, to advance in a career, to have a nicer home, a second car, a large television, or a new couch , choosing paths of feminism and worldliness. All of that will seem so meaningless in the next life. They came here to prove worthy of family for eternity. Sadly, the broad road takes them away from that in the eternities, and they are blinded by the craftiness of men to put aside what they most wanted, what they shouted for joy for, in order to obtain naught. I can't imagine how that must be to dream and think they are feasting, and then to awaken at death, and discover they are famished.

Commandments and inspiration

I was engaged in discussing inspiration with those who found the idea of making important decisions based on inspiration laughable, even repulsive.

And doing so I was struck with the importance of keeping the commandments. I could hardly tell such people "listen to the Holy Ghost." I don't think they had ever met.

But what can you tell such people?

Well, the answer is found nicely the example set by ancient prophets. When people are willing to listen then the prophets talk more about listening to the Holy Ghost. They speak about heavenly things. But when people are rebellious, the message tends to be more blunt and direct: "repent and keep the commandments". I guess the more complete version is "repent and keep the commandments that the Holy Ghost can have place in your heart".

And that is the key. We need to prove that we will submit our will to the will of our Father by keeping his commandments. We need to have a broken heart and a contrite spirit, as measured by our willingness to follow Christ's example and submit our will to the will of the Father.

Until we do that, the Holy Ghost really can't stay around.

The general principle is the more we are willing, like Christ, to submit our will to the will of our Father, the more plainly he will manifest his will to us. And this mostly happens through the Holy Ghost. The more we obey, the more clearly we can hear it.

But it all starts with that first determination to repent and keep the commandments.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

The story of Korah in Numbers 16, a chapter for our day.

Numbers 16 contains the account of Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and their 250 followers. These men were all levites and had right to the Aaronic priesthood. The Levites had the Aaronic priesthood and were charged the duties of the tabernacle. The events in Numbers 16 have a familiar ring to anyone who has been paying attention to those trying to sway the church in modern days.

Numbers 16:2 And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron and said unto them Ye take too much upon you, seeing all the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them: wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the congregation of the Lord?

Moses reproves them saying:

JST Numbers 16:8 And Moses said unto Korah, Hear, I pray you, ye sons of Levi:
9 Seemeth it but a small thing unto you, that the God of Israel hath separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to himself to do the service of the tabernacle of the Lord, and to stand before the congregation to minister unto them?
10 And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the high priesthood also? 
11 For which cause both thou and all thy company are gathered together against the Lord: and what is Aaron, that ye murmur against him?

So there you have it. This echos some members of our own day in many ways, and was inspired by the same being back then that inspires similar ideas today. 

It echos the women of today who demand the priesthood.

It echos those of today who claim that if the leaders of the church don't hearken to the worldly demands made by regular members then the leadership is lifting itself above the congregation of the lord, and takes too much prerogative upon themselves.

It echos those who constantly demand blessings for one group or another independent of real worthiness or even basic righteousness. The people in this chapter wanted the "high priesthood". It wasn't that the Lord was unfairly biased. The Lord gave Lehi the high priesthood when Lehi wasn't the prophet, Jeremiah was. Korah and his followers demanded the priesthood without becoming worthy of it. Instead of actually becoming worthy, they found a rationalization that would give it to them as they were. One can imagine Nehor standing by their side, saying that as God had created all men, he would save all men. Any number of other people today might join them saying that since God loves his children, he wouldn't restrict his kindness, tender mercies, and blessings, to them based on commandments, obedience, repentance, etc...

The story of Korah ends badly for his followers. It will also end badly for those who advocate similar ideas today. Moses warns the congregation to leave Korah and his followers, and not to even touch any of their things as they do so. He tells the congregation that they will know whether these men have provoked the Lord, specifying the manner of their death. And then we read:

Numbers 16:31 And it came to pass, as he had made an end of speaking all these words, that the ground clave asunder that was under them:
32 And the earth opened her moutn, and swallowed them up, and their houses, and all the men that appertained unto Korah, and all their goods.
33 They, and all that appertained to them, went down alive in the the pit, and the earth closed upon them: and they perished from among the congregation.
35 And there came out a fire from the Lord, and consumed the two hundred and fifty men ...

When we see members or nonmembers whose doctrine echos the ideas of Korah and his followers, we should follow Moses' advice, and get away from them. His counsel to leave without even touching anything that belongs to them gives us a sense of how such ideas are to be treated like a deadly disease, something to go our of our way to avoid associating with.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Joseph Smith's letter to W.W. Phelps

Dear Brother Phelps.--I must say that it is with no ordinary feelings I endeavor to write a few lines to you in answer to yours of the 29th ultimo; at the same time I am rejoiced at the privilege granted me.

You may in some measure realize what my feelings, as well as Elder Rigdon's and Brother Hyrum's were, when we read your letter--truly our hearts were melted into tenderness and compassion when we ascertained your resolves. I can assure you I feel a disposition to act on your case in a manner that will meet the approbation of Jehovah, (whose servant I am), and agreeable to the principles of truth and righteousness which have been revealed; and inasmuch as long-suffering, patience, and mercy have ever characterized the dealings of our heavenly Father towards the humble and patient, I feel disposed to copy the example, cherish the same principles, and by so doing be a savior of my fellow men.

It is true, that we have suffered much in consequence of your behavior--the cup of gall, already full enough for mortals to drink, was indeed filled to overflowing when you turned against us. One with whom we had oft taken sweet counsel together, and enjoyed many refreshing seasons from the Lord--"had it been an enemy, we could have borne it. In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day when strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Far West, even thou wast as one of them; but thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother, in the day that he became a stranger, neither shouldst thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress."

However, the cup has been drunk, the will of our Father has been done, and we are yet alive, for which we thank the Lord. And having been delivered from the hands of wicked men by the mercy of our God, we say it is your privilege to be delivered from the powers of the adversary, be brought into the liberty of God's dear children, and again take your stand among the Saints of the Most High, and by diligence, humility, and love unfeigned, commend yourself to our God, and your God, and to the Church of Jesus Christ.

Believing your confession to be real, and your repentance genuine, I shall be happy once again to give you the right hand of fellowship, and rejoice over the returning prodigal.

Your letter was read to the Saints last Sunday, and an expression of their feeling was taken, when it was unanimously Resolved, That W. W. Phelps should be received into fellowship.

"Come on, dear brother, since the war is past,

For friends at first, are friends again at last."

Yours as ever,


Friday, May 1, 2015

The bureau of doctrine and its checklist of quotations

Good doctrine tastes good. Joseph Smith said "I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you."

But sadly our members don't really believe that. Most good members have a mental checklist. They don't really believe in truth. It is more like they dreamed up a bureau of official doctrine that itemizes all the truths there are in this world - apparently in quotations. If you can't find it at the bureau, they think, it doesn't exist.

The gospel and its doctrine is not a checklist. And it is not a set of quotations.

I was trying to describe this to my children. It involved Elder Bednar who stated during this last general conference: "The fear of the Lord ... is the prospect in His presence of facing things as they really are about ourselves and having 'a perfect knowledge' of all our rationalizations, pretenses, and self-deceptions."

I pointed out to my children that this wasn't something Elder Bednar read somewhere. He wasn't trying to think of a quotation or scripture that would validate this before he taught it. Instead, when the Holy Ghost was upon him he had learned from his own experience that where the Holy Ghost is sufficiently manifest, truth is also plainly manifest. For the wicked that would be awful because it sweeps away their rationalizations and self deceptions and lays their own state bare before them.

I pointed out to them how different that is than trying to understand the gospel from a checklist of quotations.

A list of quotations is nice to have, but if that is really all that constitutes your knowledge of gospel truth then it is just a body without a soul. It is missing the part that makes it alive. It is made alive by the Holy Ghost. The gospel is based on faith, repentance, baptism, and giving people the gift of the Holy Ghost. Why would we give people the gift of the Holy Ghost and then tell them not to use the Gift of the Holy Ghost?

Christ recited this pattern of repentance, baptism, and learning by the Holy Ghost. He then said:

3 Nephi 11:39 Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them.
 40 And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

And I think that if we are trying to supplant the Holy Ghost with a quotation checklist, we are "not built upon his rock". As a second witness of that I would point out that Joseph Smith taught: "Jesus in His teachings says, 'Upon this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.' What rock? Revelation." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 273.

The rock we are to be built on is revelation. Now put that with Joseph Smith's statement that:

"No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelation. The Holy Ghost is a revelator."

Did you catch that?

It said that if you have received the Holy Ghost, if you are doing more than learning to live by the light of Christ, then you receive revelation. Period. Put differently, you can tell the degree by which you have kept the commandment to "receive the Holy Ghost" by whether or not you are acquainted with learning by revelation.

And that is the whole point. The point of the Gift of the Holy Ghost is for members to grow into the principle of revelation for themselves. If you don't believe me, read Joseph Smith's statement again "No man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelation. The Holy Ghost is a revelator." We give people the Holy Ghost FOR THE PURPOSE of teaching them to receive revelation. And why is receiving revelation so important? Because that is how they come to know God.

Ancient Israel told Moses to speak with the Lord for them, because they did not want to. Can we grow to be one with the Lord while not willing to learn at the hands of the Holy Ghost? How do we think the brethren made those wonderful quotations in the first place? Will we raise up a generation that is prepared for the second coming of the Son of God, but who are not acquainted with the Holy Ghost?

The whole idea is that we become one with the Father and the Son by growing into the gift of the Holy Ghost. He bears record to us who they really are as we become acquainted with him. To rob our religion of that is to rob us of, well, our religion, because God stands revealed, or remains forever unknown.

If we take that away we have robbed the gospel of its life. We have driven out its spirit. We have said to the Holy Ghost and to the Lord "here you may go, and no further" and held up a checklist of statements that they may not step beyond.

And if that is our attitude, we can hardly expect them to do so.

If one truly believes in a checklist of official doctrine then one might be interested in what our official statement is about what constitutes our official doctrine. It is:

D&C 68: 3 And this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost.
 4 And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.

So there is an official statement about what constitutes our official doctrine. Officially. And the answer is that it is what is spoken when moved upon by the Holy Ghost.

Yes, we have canonized scripture. What defines it? It was inspired by revelation, the vast bulk of that revelation being received through the Holy Ghost.

Yes we have general conference. Yes we have prophets and apostles. But the point of it is to listen to leaders speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost, and if you took that away, no matter their calling it would be pointless. For goodness sake, they are called chosen "vessels" of the Lord because they are supposed to be vessels that are filled with the spirit of God. It is that which makes what they say worth listening to. It is for that reason that they were chosen in the first place.

Our official statement of official doctrine is that we need to learn and teach by the Holy Ghost.

I ran across an interesting account of a man who did want a quote on something. He knew it was true. He had apparently have never seen a quote by anyone on the subject. He was apparently not aware of any scripture that teaches or even addresses it. He did happen to know who would have likely discussed such a matter, and found a couple of quotes by that prophet stating the matter perfectly.

But the point is that he would still have known it was true if he hadn't found those quotes.

And THAT should not seem to any member of this church like an unusual experience because as we read the scriptures and we learn to taste truth, and when an idea occurs to us that is right, we can learn to recognize the truthfulness of it by the light of Christ and by the Holy Ghost. We tend to relegate the Holy Ghost to the position of "The Eternal Butler". We think of him as being able to influence household affairs, to warn us of danger, and sometimes make a suggestion. But he is a God. That is not the purpose of giving us the companionship of a God. Instead, he is the one who will reveal to us his Father and ours, as well as the Savior of all mankind. That is how we come to know them and become one with the Godhead as they are one with each other. And without that revelation, we really have cast the soul out of the gospel.