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.

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.

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