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.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Apparently most of the twelve were there when Christ asked Peter "lovest thou mee" three times

Hmmmm... not important, but my mental picture of the story in which Christ says "Lovest thou me" three times to Peter has always involved Peter, John, and maybe James. Yet it sounds like it was really 7 of the apostles and we only get direct conversation that involves Christ and Peter and an indirect reference to John.
John 21:1 After these things Jesus shewed himself again to the disciples at the sea of Tiberias; and on this wise shewed he himself.
2 There were together Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two other of his disciples.
3 Simon Peter saith unto them, I go a fishing. They say unto him, We also go with thee. They went forth, and entered into a ship immediately; and that night they caught nothing.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Apostate Christendom had to redefine grace because it had no experience with it

A world without the Holy Ghost had to come up with explanations for why revelation, prophecy, and all of the spiritual gifts had ceased through the dark days of apostasy. Having no experience with God's grace, they had to come up with a new meaning for it. Not being worthy to experience spiritual manifestations such as the Holy Ghost, they taught instead that his grace was a legal arrangement by which blessings would come after this life, rather than during it. Real saving grace is necessarily experienced during mortality. It necessarily alters and exalts our works. Grace that that does not transform our works has no power to save anyone for it is by our works that we will be judged.

Friday, November 27, 2015

It's Christmas - Do we know that Jesus Christ was the Son of the Living God

The world of apostate Christendom had well over a thousand years to interpret the scriptures before the restoration. Some of the plainest parts of the gospel have been spiritualized away into nothing, and probably the most prominent of these is that Jesus Christ is the son of God.

We believe, and we are the only people under heaven that believe, that Jesus Christ was the literal son of a literally living God. Why is it important that God the Father has a body? Because without a body he could not have had a child. Christ was begotten and born as the child of a father and a mother in the usual way that children are begotten and born. His father was Heavenly Father, and his mother was Mary.

The Greeks and Romans had a theology filled with pagan gods having affairs with mortal women. Nobody had any question what was being claimed when it was said that Christ was the Son of God.

In the days of his mortality Christ's sonship was taught openly. When Peter said "Thou are the Christ, the Son of the Living God", Peter could not possibly have been misunderstood.

And it took thousands of years of spiritualizing away at the word "son" to turn something as clear as the fact that the Father had a son by a mortal woman into a mere meaningless nothing in which the Father creating Christ by chemical magic. To do so would make Christ his creation. But it would not make Christ his son. And it is offensive to reduce the Son of God to a chemisters magic trick instead of to the literal son of the living God.

Christ has an eternal family. His father and mother in eternity will be Heavenly Father and Mary. Naturally, Mary was sealed to the Father in accordance with the Father's own divine law.

Mary was both pure and was not given to any mortal man. The authors of the scriptures choose to describe her pure state using the word "virgin", which to our ears is confusing. It differentiates her from the pagan theologies of her day. In the scriptures the word virgin emphasizes that a woman is pure and is not given to any man.

In Shakespeare's play "Much ado about nothing" we see a statement of virtue being made with the words  "And surely as I live, I am a maid." To us, that sounds like she is a cleaning lady. But to their ears it was a statement of chastity.

And to ancient ears the word that was translated "virgin" was the best way to convey the fact that she had not been given to any other mortal man and that thereby her marriage to Joseph while carrying the living son of the Father was honorable and right.

But nobody wondered what it meant that God had a son by her.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Gender Apostasy part 2

We cannot help with gender apostasy until we come to terms with the reality that it is a form of apostasy. It is of the same nature as apostasy from the true church, it demonstrates the same characteristics, and it must be treated in the same way if it to be helped at all.

And until we embrace that we will be stumbling around doing more harm than good to those who struggle with it.

Apostasy is rejection of fundamental truth. The more perfectly the truth is known, the harder it is to recover from apostasy form it.

What is the usual route to apostasy from the church? Doesn't it usually start by the adversary getting us to question? If we give heed to those doubts then his power over us is strengthened and those doubt become more compelling to us. The more we give way to such questions and doubts the more power Satan gains until he overpowers even our own personal divine experiences and we cast away the gospel. Once the adversary convinces one to reject God's truth, his rejection of fundamental knowledge works against him and he becomes incredibly hardened against the truth he was once so firm about.

When we reject eternal truth that we already know we are engaging in a form of apostasy and it follows the same pattern whether it is rejection of a testimony, a rejection of our nature to be attracted to the opposite gender, or a rejection of our own gender.

In all cases, if we are misbehaving, if we are increasing the devil's influence over us through sin, especially through moral sin, then his power to influence us will be dramatically strengthened.

Just as with apostasy from the truth, sometimes people apostatize from their gender mostly by giving way to initial temptations to question. If the adversary can get them to give way to his whisperings to question their gender, then they find those questions become more compelling. If the cycle is allowed to initially take root, it continues and becomes harder and harder to escape. It is just like apostasy from the church.

The moment we teach that those questions are legitimate we have opened the floodgates for this sort of apostasy. We will then see dramatically more of it and it will begin to take coarser forms. We may have helped those who have given way to it already salve their troubled consciences. But fighting against the light of Christ comes at a cost, and if we teach that such questions are legitimate we will end up destroying far more of his children while simultaneously reinforcing the harm those who have already given way have done to themselves.

Satan had power to tempt even the sinless Christ. Do those temptations define who Christ is? No. Do they define who we are? No.

And when we start telling people that those temptations might just be who they really are then we have actually told them to listen to the first of Satan's lies. That dramatically strengthens his ability to make those lies seem compelling.

The only way out of gender apostasy is to treat it like apostasy.

Step 1. If you are feeling such temptations you must take a firm stance that you KNOW what gender you are, and what gender your body is attracted to, and that those temptations are lies.

Step 2. Keep doing step 1.

Important Caveat. You will never defeat Satan on a moral issue while misbehaving morally. Cast out any or the least moral misbehavior. Know that it will take months or even years for the effects to go away. But know this: you have given Satan only temporary power to sway you on moral issues and in time if you fully repent his influence will fade and the truth will come out if you will stay firm in what you know to be true, even if that truth is nothing more than you know your gender, and you know what gender your body is really attracted to.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Very short quotation

George Q Cannon, speaking of the saints of his day, the pioneers: "We have sacrificed enough for truth to show that we love it."

Matthew Cowley, A nation cannot live on bread alone

Matthew Cowley, General Conference 1951
If the individual cannot live by bread alone, neither can the nation. This great country owes its birth and preservation to men who were guided by spiritual values. The Pilgrim fathers who first set foot upon the rugged shores of New England and the great pioneers who conquered the mountains and deserts from the Atlantic to the Pacific were men of God. They survived the hunger and hardships incident to colonizing and pioneering because they were motivated by a quest for God rather than by a lust for gold.
They penetrated the forests and pushed on to forbidding waste lands with confidence that with the help of God they would live, and that without His help they would perish. They broke the scorched earth, turned the virgin soil, planted their crops and then called upon God to bring forth the harvest. They lived by His words and He provided them with sustenance.
History records the decline and fall of great nations and empires, both ancient and modern, which have rejected God and denied man the right to live in accordance with His divine will.
The institutions of our own nation, which were founded by men who invoked divine aid, may be lost to future generations if the lessons of history are ignored. If God loses control in the affairs of this great nation, the decline and decay of its structure of freedom and liberty will surely follow. The loss of its soul will be inevitable because ours is a nation which cannot survive on material values alone.
To say that "it can't happen here" is to disregard the destructive forces of evil that are abroad in the land.
At another time in the Nation's history when men were trying to live by bread alone and were forgetting God, Abraham Lincoln issued a timely proclamation which reads as follows:
"And whereas it is the duty of nations as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions, in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon; and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the holy scriptures and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord.
"And, insomuch as we know that by His divine law nations like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of war which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our national reformation of a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have grown in numbers, wealth, and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated with unbroken success, we have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us."

Sunday, November 22, 2015

We have been fools to try to abolish shame and feelings of guilt

There has been a general movement within our culture to treat shame and guilt as inherently bad things, and to take great measures in what we teach to avoid creating feelings of shame or guilt.

If guilt and shame are not essential to us it is a wonder that the light of Christ, which proceeds forth from the presence of God to fill the immensity of space is our conscience. For while, if we allow it, the adversary can inspire such feelings, if we are following God it is principally our conscience that inspires guilt and shame, and that conscience comes from God.

Many in our culture have preached tirelessly against guilt and shame. In a bizarre twist, they have made people feel guily and ashamed for doing no more than stating the plain truths found in the scriptures, on the pretext that doing so will make some people feel guilty and ashamed. Some of our own members have helped in this effort.

And the end result was that God is right and we were fools to think that we knew better.

We can see that because our societies efforts have been so successful: every major city has gay "pride" parades. A recent television show spent its hour of screen time endorsing planned parenthood, who has recently been caught in many instances of actually selling away baby parts like a fish market.

Our culture has, in large measure, convinced itself that there is nothing to be ashamed of or guilty for.

And what a horrible tragic mistake it has been. Shame and guilt are critical means God gives to inspire repentance, and by cutting our people off from them, we have severed the principle rope holding people up out of the flames. By doing so we have dropped those previously climbing it into the depths and we have left those already at their basest in misery they believe to be inescapable because we have robbed them of their primary guide to a better life.

Joseph Smith had long experienced what the endowment teaches

Brigham Young  - JoD vol 2, "Necessity of Building Temples, etc..."
At Nauvoo, Joseph dedicated another Temple, the third on record. He knew what was wanting, for he had previously given most of the prominent individuals then before him their endowment. He needed no revelation, then, of a thing he had long experienced, any more than those now do, who have experienced the same things. It is only where experience fails, that revelation is needed.

Very short note: Do we believe that whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

Wow it would be nice if this verse was generally known and perfectly believed. James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

To be saved by grace is to grow into the principle of revelation until we become perfect in Christ Jesus.

This is what it means that we are saved by grace.

"The Spirit of Revelation is in connection with these blessings. A person may profit by noticing the first intimation of the spirit of revelation; for instance, when you feel pure intelligence flowing into you, it may give you sudden strokes of ideas, so that by noticing it, you may find it fulfilled the same day or soon; (i.e.,) those things that were presented unto your minds by the Spirit of God, will come to pass; and thus by learning the Spirit of God and understanding it, you may grow into the principle of revelation, until you become perfect in Christ Jesus." (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 150-151)

To be saved by grace means that we grow into the principle of revelation until we become perfect in Christ Jesus.

Of course the Holy Ghost can dwell with little children

I have observed in the past that of course the Holy Ghost will dwell with little children just as it does with any member who was been given the gift of the Holy Ghost, for what is more pleasing to God than innocence, and what is more innocent that our little ones? How could the Holy Ghost be refrained from visiting such perfect purity? How could the savior say "of such is the kingdom of Heaven" while the Holy Ghost was unable to dwell with them?

Obviously, when they reach the years of accountability this necessarily changes unless they receive baptism for the remission of sins and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

But some will say it doesn't square with our doctrine that a child can have the Holy Ghost dwell with him just as someone with the gift of the Holy Ghost. And to them I would reply:

Luke 1:13 But the angel said unto him, Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer
is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt
call his name John.
1:14 And thou shalt have joy and gladness; and many shall rejoice at
his birth.
1:15 For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord, and shall drink
neither wine nor strong drink; and he shall be filled with the Holy
Ghost, even from his mother's womb.

Brigham Young - the priesthood can no longer be destroyed by killing a few

I have been looking for this quote for some time. Apparently it is immediately after Brigham Young gives his statement about what your endowment is.

"Who has received and understands such an endowment, in this assembly? You need not answer. Your voices would be few and far between, yet the keys to these endowments are among you, and thousands have received them, so that the devil, with all his aids, need not suppose he can again destroy the Holy Priesthood from the earth, by killing a few, for he cannot do it. God has set His hand, for the last time, to redeem His people, the honest in heart, and Lucifer cannot hinder Him."

I find this quote fascinating because of its conclusion that the devil could no longer destroy the Holy Priesthood by killing a few BECAUSE thousands of people were now endowed.

Now I could ask any Sunday School or Priesthood class whether the priesthood could be destroyed by the death of only a few people and, after some thought, everyone would conclude that "yes" the priesthood could be destroyed by destroying only a few men. Anyone who dissented would not dissent on the basis that so many people were now endowed.

So there is something being taught here that we don't understand.

What does this mean? I don't know. But Brigham Young is one of the great prophets that has lived, and received extensive teaching directly from Joseph Smith.

Whatever it means, I think its meaning has long been lost to us. He is saying something about eternal matters so we can't simply reason out the answer - we can't use man's wisdom to determine truths known only to God. But we have the Holy Ghost - so we can certainly ask, seek, and knock and in time the Holy Ghost may reveal the matter to us. If we, being evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more shall  our Father in Heaven give good things to them that ask him?

Friday, November 20, 2015

How should gospel writing be valued

From time to time I have had one person or another offer an opinion about how I think others should value what I write.

It is simple. I think my writing should be taken in exactly the same way I think any one else's should be, which is this:

Insofar as one writes by the power of the Holy Ghost then what he writes is the mind of the Lord, the will of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation.

And insofar as one is writing anything else, insofar as one is writing from oneself, that writing is worthless, it is nothing more than the varied and useless opinions of man.

It is up to the reader to determine how much, if any, belongs in either class. God expects us to recognize and accept anything written by the power of the Holy Ghost. And he expects us to reject anything that is not of him. And that is true whenever you are reading anything written by anyone addressing eternal truths.

Joseph Smith wrote: "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.'"

What else did you expect? That is the doctrine.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

A sermon by Joseph Smith

From Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith page 216-217
Joseph the Seer arose in the power of God; reproved and rebuked wickedness before the people, in the name of the Lord God. He wished to say a few words to suit the condition of the general mass, and then said: I shall speak with authority of the Priesthood in the name of the Lord God, which shall prove a savor of life unto life, or of death unto death. Notwithstanding this congregation profess to be Saints, yet I stand in the midst of all [kinds of] characters and classes of men. If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses, for if we are not drawing towards God in principles, we are going from Him and drawing towards the devil.

Yes, I am standing in the midst of all kinds of people.

Search your hearts, and see if you are like God. I have searched mine, and feel to repent of all my sins.

Men are Saved Through Obedience to Knowledge

We have thieves among us, adulterers, liars, hypocrites. If God should speak from heaven, he would command you not to steal, not to commit adultery, not to covet, nor deceive, but be faithful over a few things. As far as we degenerate from god, we descend to the devil and lose knowledge, and without knowledge we cannot be saved, and while our hearts are filled with evil, we are studying evil, there is no room in our hearts for good, or studying good. Is not God good? Then you be good; if He is faithful, then you be faithful. Add to your faith virtue, to virtue knowledge, and seek for every good thing.

The Church must be cleansed, and I proclaim against all iniquity. A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.

What is the reason that the Priests of the day do not get revelation? They ask only to consume it upon their lusts. Their hearts are corrupt, and they cloak their iniquity by saying there are no more revelations. But if any revelations are given of God, they are universally opposed by the priests and Christendom at large; for they reveal their wickedness and abominations. (April 10, 1842.) DHC 4:588.

Will our family tree have leaves of red?

I was enjoying the dark red hues of the leaves on a tree standing in front of a house. I think that as the future now stands that tree represents us. It isn't a pleasant image, but I think as things stand many of our posterity will be martyred for their faith if they remain faithful. In the book of revelation we find these words:

Revelation 6: 9 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held:
 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

I know these verses are about the opening of the fifth seal. But the prophesies about the last days will all be fulfilled. And even without any prophesies at all it takes little sense to see that we are heading into days of intense persecution. The adversary has gained a firm grip on the hearts of this nation and thus far we are have suffered only name calling. But sticks and stones, which hurt more than words, will certainly follow in time and with the same intensity and self righteous rage that words have been flung at us thus far. Where Satan has gained such power he will persecute, drive, and slay the saints as soon as he gains a sufficient hand to do so. 

Our posterity has no place to flee to now. There is no promised land in an unsettled new world. There are no unsettled Rocky Mountains. So our options will be different.

I think that leaves us with two options for our posterity. The first option, the one that presently looms before us, is that our posterity over successive generations will become martyrs for the truth. Their blood will be spilt for their faith and the leaves of our future family tree will be painted in tones of deepest red for generations. 

That is no surprise. God has "sworn with an oath, that .. the sons of God should be tried so as by fire." (JST Gen 14:35).

All in all that is not actually a bad option. If our posterity are martyrs they will gain eternal life, and what have we to complain of? All the persecutions of this world will be nothing compared to the glory which they will receive if they die for the truth.

But there is another option. And it requires us to change. It is the option that we cease to be satisfied living at a level of righteousness that leaves us far beneath our privileges. 

Have we not read that through one man, Moses, God overthrew the might of Egypt?

But that required Moses to live so that he had faith to do such works.

We are fat and happy living far beneath our privileges, but the days of consequence loom before us.

I think we have two routes before us. One is the route of persecution and martyrdom for our posterity. 

The other is to really repent as a people and begin to enjoy the rights of the priesthood. If we do that, there is no power on earth that can hold us.

You may laugh at the second route I propose. But in reality, that route MUST eventually be taken, for we must build a Zion. And Zion must be built by men who, like Enoch, can speak and the mountains obey them, can command and the rivers obey them. In the end, there IS no issue of which route we will take.

Again, you may laugh at my two alternative routes. But they are not particularly different than the two alternatives offered in the scriptures.

D&C 84: 4 And your minds in times past have been darkened because of unbelief, and because you have treated lightly the things you have received—
 55 Which vanity and unbelief have brought the whole church under condemnation.
 56 And this condemnation resteth upon the children of Zion, even all.
 57 And they shall remain under this condemnation until they repent and remember the new covenant, even the Book of Mormon and the former commandments which I have given them, not only to say, but to do according to that which I have written—
 58 That they may bring forth fruit meet for their Father’s kingdom; otherwise there remaineth a scourge and judgment to be poured out upon the children of Zion.
 59 For shall the children of the kingdom pollute my holy land? Verily, I say unto you, Nay.

Thus we can repent, live up to our privileges in a way that the saints have not yet done in this dispensation, or alternatively we can be scourged until we will.

Like the amlicites

When many facebook profiles changed from sporting a rainbow flag over their face to sporting a french flag over their face after a terrorist attack on France
Well, I'm glad at that at least that the facebook profiles are now sporting a different flag. Though I do think it was interesting when so many profiles were sporting the rainbow how, still even now, they mark themselves like the Amlicites did. I recall a sister in our last ward gushing over her husband and how she likes that he has a tattoo because she wanted someone with a little rebellious streak. She knew why he marked himself, and what it stood for, without even knowing the relevant scripture.

The atonement doesn't change whether an unchangeable God can tolerate sin

I remember the other day seeing someone saying that God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance. Then the person backed off from that statement saying something like the atonement changed that.

We have this idea that the atonement changed that fact. But that is not how the atonement works at all.

Here is a verse from D&C 1. It was given long after Christ performed the atonement.

D&C 1:31 For I the Lord cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance;

There we have it. A direct revelation from God long after the atonement was performed. It simply states the obvious because God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. The atonement did not change an unchangeable God.

When we say the atonement conquered sin, we do not mean it changed the way God views sin. It did not change God. And if we will just look at the next verse in D&C 1 we can see what the atonement actually does do.

D&C 1:32 Nevertheless, he that repents and does the commandments of the Lord shall be forgiven;

THAT is what the atonement makes possible: forgiveness of sin. Not just arbitrary forgiveness, but forgiveness on condition of repentance and keeping the commandments. Atonement or no, we are never clean of wrong that we are still in the habit of doing. The atonement ONLY grants forgiveness on the condition that we change.

So the reconciliation between God and man did not change God in any way. Otherwise he would not keep saying he was the same yesterday, today, and forever. The atonement made it possible for man to be forgiven.

I'm horribly afraid that these days we hear that and feel like that just isn't good enough. We feel underwhelmed to be given forgiveness on condition that we change. We don't shout "Hosanah!" to hear that. It kind of sounds like work.

In the great depression many couldn't earn enough to feed, house, and clothe their families. A man might have wept for joy to have discovered that he would have the opportunity to provide for his family.

That is what the atonement opens for us: the ability to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling. It opens the ability to press forward diligently holding firmly to the rod of iron. It opens the door to the ability to work our our salvation - and I mean work. It says "I will forgive you if you repent" and because of that it becomes possible for us to be baptized for the remission of sins and thereby, through forgiveness, become worthy of the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Are we worthy to walk into the presence of the Father and the Son then? No. If we were, would he not allow us to?

The Holy Ghost is a spirit and can dwell in us. That does not mean he is physically present with each of us. He is a spirit being with a spirit body and that allows us to feel his influence and presence in way that is impossible for us to feel the influence and presence of the Father and the Son in our current state.

D&C 130: 2 The Father has a body of flesh and bones as tangible as man’s; the Son also; but the Holy Ghost has not a body of flesh and bones, but is a personage of Spirit. Were it not so, the Holy Ghost could not dwell in us.

When we are willing to live at the level or righteousness required at baptism, Christ's atonement offers remission of sins through baptism. That bare minimum level is enough for us to begin enjoying the presence of the Holy Ghost. Through the atonement we are clean of those things we have put aside and that is clean enough for the Holy Ghost to dwell in us in some measure.

But let us not pretend the bare minimum required for baptism is perfection. There is a long ways to go. As we move forward and cast off our sins then through the atonement we can be forgiven of those sins. We then enjoy a greater measure of cleanliness and a greater measure of the Holy Ghost.

And we all experience that. As we live better we feel cleaner and we enjoy the spirit more. But that would be impossible if not for the atonement of Christ which offers forgiveness on condition of repentance. Instead, we would be stuck with the consequences of our sins.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

If we are not offering more than other churches

We must be offering more than other churches.

If we are offering social gathering place for friendship and mutual love - that is freely available in other churches.
If we are offering a form of charity that is nothing above and beyond a form of extreme politeness peppered with some service - don't fool yourself - that is freely available in other churches.
If we are offering Christ as he is understood by Christianity at large - that is freely available in other churches.

We are the true church of Jesus Christ, but what blessings will that allow us to claim if we do no more than other churches? Who will be enticed to join us if we do not offer them more than other churches?

Certainly, the prophet is still the prophet. Certainly the apostles are still the apostles. But we will not enter heaven on their coat tails. Yes, the numbers look good and the tree is larger than it was yesterday. But we don't have to look hard to see that there are many among us around whom the wood of the tree seems to be rotting, and we must strive for more than that or what do we more than others? They don't want to be peculiar, they want to make us like the world, and if we cease to be a peculiar people then cease also to be God's people.

If our righteousness does not exceed the righteousness of other churches, if it does not exceed that of the Scribes and Pharisees, we will in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

If our teachings suggest is is OK if as many of our own members are addicted to pornography as are found in the world at large we are not a peculiar people.
If we teach that it is acceptable for divorce to be as common in the church as it is in the world then we are teaching we need not be a peculiar people.
If we teach that a little sexual misbehavior is more or less normal for youth and single members, or if we teach that sleaze in entertainment is normal for members, then we are not a peculiar people at all.
We are then as the generality of mankind.

We must be offering more than other churches or we cannot be offering the Holy Ghost.

And the Holy Ghost is what we must offer. It is what we must offer our youth, our children. It is what we must offer nonmembers. It is what we must offer members.

But we cannot offer the Holy Ghost while not being a peculiar people.

Also if we are not offering teachings that justify the blood of Joseph and Hyrum on the floor of carthage jail, then we are not really offering the gospel.

If we are not offering the commandments as commandments with a clear understanding that the various transgressions of chastity are genuinely offensive to God then we cannot be offering the Holy Ghost.

If we are not offering the covenants as genuine commitments and blessings only to be bestowed if we know and keep our part of the bargain then we are not offering the Holy Ghost.

We must offer commandments, covenants, and a God who will not be mocked. Without that we cannot offer the Holy Ghost. We must become a more peculiar people, not a less peculiar people, if we want to save any from out of the world world or even our own children.

You don't care for the sheep if you keep them with the wolves

I am disgusted that John Dehlin was allowed to remain a member of the church 10 years after he was actively trying to get people out of the church.

By utterly failing their duty to excommunicate him John Dehlin's local leaders greatly increased the harm he has done. It would have been so much better if he had been excommunicated 10 years ago.

What sort of short sighted "love" allows a wolf to actively devour the sheep and still leaves them in the flock?

Sadly, I think many believe it is the love of the Savior. As if he doesn't stand behind his own word
concerning apostasy.

Every form of church leadership, including parenthood, carries with it the joy to be had in saving souls, but accountability for those we fail in our leadership. We are not accountable for their choices. But we are certainly accountable for keeping a known wolf in our flock.

I am thankful that I am not the Bishop or the Stake president who will explain to God why John Dehlin was kept in the flock while publicly, actively, and constantly leading others out of the church.

They cannot miss the tally at the judgment bar. It must be faced.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Oppressive government might only be solved by changes among its own people

Our experience in the middle east seems to be that there are not really enough good guys among them to fix their problems. You help whoever is being oppressed against their oppressor and a new oppressor quickly rises in their place. Some of those you helped may become the next cruel regime.

I remember I used to wonder why the Lord tends to do his work locally. When there were two different branches of the church, even under the united order, the united order operated independently in each branch.

I think there is something too that. Russia is known for having one cruel dictatorship after another. We tend to take that and interpret it as meaning that there is a victim and an oppressor. And there is, but what we never seem to think about is that maybe they, as a people, haven't got enough people living rightly enough for anything else. It may be that pretty much whichever group happens to be on top simply lacks the virtue taken as a whole to rule any less cruelly than their predecessors.

When that appears to be the case, we cannot solve their problems, and we should stay completely away from of any such attempt.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

The Lord God is a jealous God

The Lord says that he is a jealous God. He frequently refers to himself as the husband and the church as his wife. He is saying he is a jealous husband. A jealous husband is one that, when his wife starts seeming a little interested in some other guy, or becoming a little friendly with some other guy, becomes angry. He takes it as being much more than the wife thinks it is. 

Deuteronomy 6:14 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you;
 15 (For the Lord thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the Lord thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

It has become "cool" among many members to be admiring the other God's that the world offers. They admire false versions of Christ who is defined by inclusiveness. They do not admire a the real God who cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance, but instead admire a different God whose love and mercy overshadow his children's disobedience and even covers their knowing rebellion. 

God says he is a jealous God. How much plainer could he be?

We should get back in the scriptures and cast off our traditions. When someone says something about Christ, can we think of a scripture that backs it up. More interestingly (and these days, more frequently), can we think of a scripture that directly contradicts it? 

Harold B Lee said that we should compare what any speaker says, except the Prophet himself, to what is found in the scriptures, and to stand by the scriptures when they disagree. I think we could follow that counsel much better. When we become plain about the Christ in the scriptures we will find far fewer of our members falling away because they are so enamored with another God than the wisely jealous God of heaven.

Oprah's counsel

I was musing the other day on an occurance that I think is mirrored in many other ways in our life. I remember that Oprah was quite popular among the sisters in our ward at some point growing up. Oprah has never been married, and has simply had a string of affairs in its place. She is horribly immoral. But the women loved her and put aside the scriptural counsel.

Mosiah 23:14 And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.

Put aside is hardly the word. To not listen to her counsel because of her morals was laughable.
Then, at some point, Oprah had an episode where she asked these women how many of them had been raped by their husbands. They had never heard of such a thing before, and rightly so. In marriage the wife gives her body to her husband. the husband covenants to receive her body and treat it as if it were part of his own body, to treat it as he would treat his own. The need to provide and protect is a part of that, but by no means the whole part. Oprah explained a doctrine that was very different. In her doctrine if the wife has sex when she didn't want to, that means she was "forced" into it. She taught that that whenever a woman had sex when she didn't feel like it that woman was being raped because she was being "forced" to. This was not about helping women who had really been raped. It was about changing the definition of rape in way that would transform marriages by making normal compromise into sexual deviance and abusive oppression on the man's part.

When I was at grad school there was a movement that a pregnancy was a parasite because it took nutrients from woman's body. This transformation of normal marriage life into abomination has the same feel to me as the marriage rape doctrine. If a woman doesn't laugh that off as ridiculous, it is liable to slip into her heart and create suspicion and subtle animosity in the marriage that never needed to afflict the couple.

After all, in the wife's mind her husband is suddenly put forth as potential sexual deviant with herself as the victim. In fact, she has been asked to think back and discover whether he really already is a rapist, and she already was the victim. 

But this would have been avoided if they had heeded Mosiah 23:14 instead of going after a silly woman laden with lusts for counsel and advice about life.

Brigham Young - It is impossible for man to please the Lord without the Holy Ghost

We know, brethren, that it is impossible to please the Lord by following the counsels of our own minds, unless they are enlightened by the Spirit of the Almighty. The wisdom of man is not the wisdom of God, and to be successful in extending and strengthening the cause of God on the earth, we must have his Spirit to guide us. If our ways were as God's ways, we would do as he would have us do; but it is evident to all who are acquainted with the actions of the human family, not excluding the Latter-day Saints, that the mind of man is not as God's mind. A verse of Scripture, which now occurs to my mind, will illustrate this. It will be found in the 11th verse of the 2nd chapter of the 1st epistle to the Corinthians—"For what man knoweth the things of man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God."

The experience that the Latter-day Saints have had has taught them that this is true, and we know that when a man deems himself capable of acting solely on his own intelligence, and neglects to seek for the wisdom of Heaven to guide him, he is very apt to go astray. This feeling of independence of the Almighty has caused the apostasy of some, whom we, perhaps, have thought it would be almost impossible to blind to the truths they once advocated so well; but it is the case. Men do not look at things as God looks at them, therefore it is indispensably necessary for each individual Latter-day Saint to have the Spirit of God within him, that he may do His will and not carry out his own views.

(Brigham Young, "Gods ways not mans ways..." Journal of Discourses vol 15, discourse 21, pages 139-145)

Brigham Young - Virtue is found in resisting temptation; those who take confidence in misbehavior because not excommunicated apt to be cut off

To say that we are a perfect people, I cannot do it, neither can I say that I am a perfect man. I am just as full of weaknesses as any other man, and so are my brethren with whom I associate; but the Elder of Israel, no matter how great his weaknesses, who humbly trusts in God and continually strives to overcome evil and to do only that which is right, will be enabled to triumph and be faithful to the end. What matters it if a man likes whiskey, if he does not drink it? I do not care how much a man in this Church likes it, if he does not drink it, it makes no difference. I do not care how much he loves tobacco, or this, that or the other, that is not good, if he brings his actions and feelings into subjection to the dictates of the Spirit of God. I do not care how much a man loves property, it will not harm him if he does not set his heart upon it so that he could not sacrifice it, if required to do so, to promote the interests of God's kingdom upon the earth. I remember once, when a boy, Jedediah M. Grant saw me chewing tobacco, and said he, "You chew tobacco, do you?" "Yes, sir." "Well, I never had any taste for it; it is no virtue in me that I do not use it, I tried hard enough, but it made me sick." The virtue, brethren, is in putting away or overcoming habits which you know would impede your progress in the kingdom of God. It was not a virtue in Bro. Grant that he did not chew tobacco, he tried to learn how, but could not do it. I tried, and succeeded. But, brethren and sisters, the idea is, to bring our actions, thoughts and feelings into complete subjection to the dictates of the Holy Spirit, and to be on hand at all times to labor as we are directed for the building up of the kingdom of God upon the earth; that should be the object with us. It is no use for a man to say, "I am a Latter-day Saint, and they have not cut me off yet. I have almost feared it sometimes, because I did not do that which I knew to be right; but I am still within the pale of the kingdom, and I hope to slip along with the balance." This is just as great folly as for a man to claim the right to go a journey by railway when he has no ticket and no means to pay his fare. He may hang around, and declare that he is one of the crowd, and that he is going along with them on that train; but, ignorant of the time it starts, and destitute of the means to pay his way, he strays off for a short time, and in the meanwhile the train starts and leaves him behind. It is just so with an unfaithful Elder in this kingdom—he is not prepared for events as they transpire, and, lacking the spirit of the Gospel, is liable to be left behind.
(Brigham Young, "Gods ways not mans ways..." Journal of Discourses vol 15, discourse 21, pages 139-145)

Brigham Young - there are many more ordinances, including for the power of resurrection

Brigham Young "Increase of the Saints..." Journal of Discourses, vol 15 discourse 20, page 135-139
It is supposed by this people that we have all the ordinances in our possession for life and salvation, and exaltation, and that we are administering in these ordinances. This is not the case. We are in possession of all the ordinances that can be administered in the flesh; but there are other ordinances and administrations that must be administered beyond this world. I know you would ask what they are. I will mention one. We have not, neither can we receive here, the ordinance and the keys of the resurrection. They will be given to those who have passed off this stage of action and have received their bodies again, as many have already done and many more will. They will be ordained, by those who hold the keys of the resurrection, to go forth and resurrect the Saints, just as we receive the ordinance of baptism, then the keys of authority to baptize others for the remission of their sins. This is one of the ordinances we cannot receive here, and there are many more. We hold the authority to dispose of, alter and change the elements; but we have not received authority to organize native element to even make a spear of grass grow. We have no such ordinance here. We organize according to men in the flesh. By combining the elements and planting the seed, we cause vegetables, trees, grains, &c., to come forth. We are organizing a kingdom here according to the pattern that the Lord has given for people in the flesh, but not for those who have received the re surrection, although it is a similitude. Another item: We have not the power in the flesh to create and bring forth or produce a spirit; but we have the power to produce a temporal body. The germ of this, God has placed within us. And when our spirits receive our bodies, and through our faithfulness we are worthy to be crowned, we will then receive authority to produce both spirit and body. But these keys we cannot receive in the flesh. Herein, brethren, you can perceive that we have not finished, and cannot finish our work, while we live here, no more than Jesus did while he was in the flesh.

Brigham Young on the Unity of the Saints

Brigham Young taught:

You take men, women and families from the Cape of Good Hope, from the northern seas, China, the East Indies, or the islands of the sea, and let them receive the Gospel and come here, and, just as long as they live so as to enjoy the Spirit of the holy Gospel they have obeyed, there are no questions asked with regard to doctrine. We will now go a step further.

Here is a great bone of contention with regard to political affairs. The world say, "Why do not these Latter-day Saints get up their mass meetings, and sustain this, that or the other one, and be like other people in a political point of view?" Why do we not sustain these advocates who are now in the field, and join, and be one with, some one or other of the political parties of the country? We have no desire to do so, that is the reason. If we had the privilege of voting in, independent of all other people on this land of America, or in the United States, the man who should serve as president, we should cast about to find the most suitable man, and he would be the nominee, and when his name came before the people, every man and woman who had the privilege of putting their vote in the ballot box would vote for that man, asking no questions. Our friends in the political world say, "We do not like this oneness." The ministers in the pulpit, the politicians in the bar room, on the steamboat, in the rail cars, in the halls of Congress or in the legislatures, say, "We do not like this oneness," and still the priest and the deacon are praying continually, according to the Scripture testimony, that the Saints may be one. Well, where will you have them one?

(Brigham Young, "The Fullness of the Gospel—Its Power to Unite—Its Comprehensiveness—Definition of Its Priesthood—Condition of Apostates", Journal of Discourses vol 15, discource 18, page 121-129)

The Unity of the Church comes from revelation through the Holy Ghost

Brigham Young taught that the Unity of the Church comes from revelation through the Holy Ghost.

"When the Chinese receives the Gospel he is one with us. He does not want six months' teaching or trial; he does not need to go to an academy or a seminary five or seven years to learn that this mode of baptism is correct; but taking the Bible he reads it, and, says he, "The Holy Ghost bears witness to me that baptism by immersion is the correct mode, and that it is right to break bread and drink wine in remembrance of, and to testify our faith in him whose body was broken and whose blood was shed for the salvation of the human family." There is no contention, and though only one Elder may have gone there, and he has baptized but one, or ten, a hundred, a thousand, or thousands, they are all of one heart and one mind; and if we were to charge this Elder not to tell these Chinese that they must gather to America, for that was the land of Zion—and America is the land of Zion—the first this Elder would know, somebody or other would be up in a meeting and telling that Zion was in America, and they had got to emigrate there. The Elder might inquire why, and he would be told, "It is revealed to me, and I do know by the manifestations of the Spirit within me, through your preaching, that we are to assemble on the continent of America, for that is the land of Zion." And if they come here, they will not ask how many methods of baptism we have, or how many of administering the Sacrament, or of dispensing the  ordinances of the house of God, for the Spirit makes them of one heart and one mind with those on this continent, and from whatever nation they come, they all see alike in reference to the ordinances of the house of God." (Brigham Young, Journal of Discourses, vol 15, discourse 18, page 121-129)

Insofar as we have the Holy Ghost, we will be one. When we see members within the church fighting against the truth you can put it down in writing that such a member has not the Holy Ghost. When we see members fighting the brethren, we should know they have lost the spirit.

2 Nephi 18:20 To the law and to the testimony; and if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.

There is only one Christian church because knowing and worshiping the true Christ is impossible without the Holy Ghost

There is only one Christian religion and it is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all other churches worship a being made fashioned in the image of man. Christ is only known through the Holy Ghost. Even if he were on the earth today that would be as true now as it was in his day. Peter knew Jesus was the Christ because the Father revealed it to him through the Holy Ghost, and Peter could not have known it except by revelation.

Truly those who are born of the spirit are like the wind. The world hears the sound thereof. They see the works that these people do. They see their outward actions. But, just as they don't know where the wind came from or where it is going, they don't know whence these actions come from, or where they are headed.

Christ is only known and worshiped in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints because it is only possible to know him through the Holy Ghost, and that is only found in his true church. All other churches worship a different being and give him the same name. But they have not the spirit that would teach them who he really is by revelation, and so they can do nothing but worship a God made after the image of their own ideas about him.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

When we violate sacred laws we lose the joy of our body.

The devil has no body, and herein is his punishment. We don't seem to realize that when violate the chief laws of the body regarding life and chastity that we, in some measure, partake of the same punishment. We cannot partake of the joy that is reserved for the saints while acting like sinners. Men who are involved in pornography quickly find little joy in their own wife. God will not be mocked in sacred matters, and we can never misbehave in these matters and still enjoy the felicity, family, and marital joy that he reserves for his saints. We may still have a body, but we have lost the joy of it when we anger God by violating his most sacred laws - the sacred nature of human life and of chastity.

The testimony of Jesus in the scriptures refers to Jesus as he is rightly found in the one true church.

The testimony of Jesus as used in D&C 76 refers to a testimony of Christ as he really is. It is not about the many Christian churches that stand in opposition to the true church. Of these various denominations Christ actually declares:

D&C 76:98 And the glory of the telestial is one, even as the glory of the stars is one; for as one star differs from another star in glory, even so differs one from another in glory in the telestial world;
 99 For these are they who are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas.
 100 These are they who say they are some of one and some of another—some of Christ and some of John, and some of Moses, and some of Elias, and some of Esaias, and some of Isaiah, and some of Enoch;
 101 But received not the gospel, neither the testimony of Jesus, neither the prophets, neither the everlasting covenant.

For all practical purposes receiving the testimony of Jesus in D&C 76 can be replaced with stating that one becomes a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Thus we read that those who were celestial

D&C 76:50 And again we bear record—for we saw and heard, and this is the testimony of the gospel of Christ concerning them who shall come forth in the resurrection of the just—
 51 They are they who received the testimony of Jesus, and believed on his name and were baptized after the manner of his burial, being buried in the water in his name, and this according to the commandment which he has given—

But that among the Terrestrial we find:

D&C 76:72 Behold, these are they who died without law;
 73 And also they who are the spirits of men kept in prison, whom the Son visited, and preached the gospel unto them, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh;
 74 Who received not the testimony of Jesus in the flesh, but afterwards received it.
 75 These are they who are honorable men of the earth, who were blinded by the craftiness of men.

And we have already recalled the relevant references to the telestial.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Beware the preachers on the towers

There is an interesting reality shown in the Book of Mormon.

When Amalakiah flees to the Lamanites, he convinces the king of the Lamanites to go to war against the Nephites. The King of the Lamanites declares war and is met with incredible resistence. A large number of people actually organize against the King's declaration and gather at the top of a mountain in preparation to weather the King's wrath and armies rather than go to war against the Nephites.

How did Amalakiah transform the Lamanites so quickly? They are at war with the Nephites within a year or so.

Alma 48:1 And now it came to pass that, as soon as Amalakiah had obtained the kingdom he began to inspire the hearts of the Lamanites against the people of Nephi; yea he did appoint men to speak unto the Lamanites from their towers, against the Nephites.
2 And thus he did inspire their hearts against the Nephites, ...
3 ... for he had hardened the hearts of the Lamanites and blinded their minds, and stirrred them up to anger, insomuch that he had gathered together a numerous host to go to battle against the Nephites.

So the question becomes, for our day, what falsehoods are being taught to us from from the towers?

Are we listening?

Are we giving the preachers on the towers time and advocacy within the walls of our own home? Do we let our children sit to listen to these teachings on television, music, movies, or on the internet? Do we believe they are immune?

A short note about cowardice and valiance.

Can we be cowards about plain truth, and cowards about gospel truth, and yet hope that at the judgment bar Christ will testify that we were valiant in the testimony of Jesus?

I do not believe that we can be both cowards about truth and valiant in the truth.

And we must not do anything that would cause the Lord, who is a God of truth and cannot lie, to be forced to declare of us at the last day:

D&C 76: 79 These are they who are not valiant in the testimony of Jesus; wherefore, they obtain not the crown over the kingdom of our God.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

He will make me be god to you in His stead

Joseph Smith taught that he would teach the Elders and the Elders must teach the people, similar to the way Christ taught his disciples in 3 Nephi and his disciples taught the people. Joseph Smith explains that the same thing was true with himself: God taught him and then had him teach the people in God's stead.

From Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith
I shall leave my brethren to enlarge on this subject; it is my duty to teach the doctrine. I would teach it more fully--the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. God is not willing to let me gratify you; but I must teach the Elders, and they should teach you. God made Aaron to be the mouthpiece for the children of Israel, and He will make me be god to you in His stead, and the Elders to be mouth for me; and if you don't like it, you must lump it. I have been giving Elder Adams instruction in some principles to speak to you, and if he makes a mistake, I will get up and correct him. (April 8, 1844.) DHC 6:318-320.

Brigham Young - Excerpt from JoD 2:179 "The Priesthood and Satan, etc..."

Do I love murderers and mobocrats as I do good men? No. Do I pray for them? Yes, that the Lord would judge them out of their own mouths, and that speedily.
We plead all the time to be let alone, and to be permitted to live in peace, and not to be whipped and abused without cause, for we are "flesh of your flesh, and bone of your bone;" then why not let us enjoy our piece of cake, as we let you enjoy yours? For this we plead, and plead,  and plead continually, but "No," say they, "we will chastise you because we have the power to do it; we will whip you because we are stronger than you."
I will take the Government of the United States, and the laws of Missouri and Illinois, from the year 1833 to 1845, and if they had been carried out according to their letter and spirit, they would have strung up the murderers and mobocrats who illegally and unrighteously killed, plundered, harassed, and expelled us. I will tell you how much I love those characters. If they had any respect to their own welfare, they would come forth and say, whether Joseph Smith was a Prophet or not, "We shed his blood, and now let us atone for it;" and they would be willing to have their heads chopped off, that their blood might run upon the ground, and the smoke of it rise before the Lord as an incense for their sins. I love them that much. But if the Lord wishes them to live and foam out their sins before all men and women, it is all right, I care not where they go, or what they do.
I have but one fear concerning this people in the Valleys of the Mountains, I have but one trembling sensation in the nerves of my spirit, and that is, lest we do not live the religion we profess. If we will only practice what we profess, I tell you we are at the defiance of all hell. But if we transgress the law God has given us, and trample His mercies, blessings, and ordinances under our feet, and treat them with the indifference which I have thought that some occasionally do, not fully realizing the obligations that they are under to their God, I have feared that in consequence they would be overcome, and that the Lord would let them be scattered and smitten. But only let them live their religion, and I have no more fears with regard to their being driven, and with regard to their enemies having power over them, than I have with regard to these mountains being blown over upon this city. I am willing to fight, or to go; to run, or to stay; or to do anything else that the Lord Almighty requires of me for His Kingdom's sake, and then to lay down my life for His cause. But I swear by the Gods of eternity that I will not suffer men in our streets, and in our houses, to corrupt this people and overthrow them, the Lord and good men being my helpers.
To whom do I allude, but to those who wish to destroy this people? Not one, I am not opposed to any man or set of men who are here, there, yonder, or anywhere else, but I am opposed to wickedness and vice, wherever they may be found in the whole earth; I am opposed to unrighteousness, and I always intend to be.
I prefer to remark upon subjects as they present themselves to my mind; though I might prepare a course of lectures, and confine myself to given subjects, as I have often done; but when I am in this stand I hoist the gate and let the flood run, not caring which way it goes, or how.
What happened when I chastised a runaway officer? I did not say one rash word to him, nor chastise him half as much as he deserved; but I told him what he was, and how he looked to me; what he was sent here for, and what he should be, if he magnified his office. Before the meeting was out the word was, "O! we are agoing to be driven; here is a mob coming." Said I, "Get out of my way, or I will kick you out; what are you afraid of?" "O! of the Government of the United States?" I replied, "Let me die and go to my Father in heaven, before I stoop to that abominable wickedness; I never will stoop to it, so help me God." What was the result of the course I then took? He was chastened, and our Chief Justice who is now here told  him in Washington, that he was chastened for his own iniquity, and said to him, "I expect they did not chastise you half enough." Do you suppose that I am agoing to crouch down, and suffer this people to bow down continually to the rod of corruption? No. Come on with your knives, your swords, and your faggots of fire, and destroy the whole of us, rather than we will forsake our religion. Whether it is true or false is none of your business; whether the doctrine of plurality of wives is true or false is none of your business. We have as good a right to adopt tenets in our religion as the Church of England, or the Methodists, or Baptists, or any other denomination have to in theirs. Our doctrine is a Bible doctrine, a patriarchal doctrine, and is the doctrine of the Gods of eternity, and of the heavens, and was revealed to our fathers on the earth, and will save the world at last, and bring us into Abraham's bosom, if we ever get there. Are the officers of the Government the judges of our religion? It is none of their business whether it is true or false. I know whether it is true or not, and that is enough for me; you know, brethren and sisters, and that is enough for you. If they do not believe it, we do not trouble them with it. We say that we will meet you as friends, and as neighbors, as "flesh of our flesh, and bone of our bone," but not, as the world meet you, upon the platform of corruption and iniquity. We are not there, neither will we meet you there; but we will hail you as friends, and as brethren, pertaining to the citizenship of the Government; so we hail the officers who are now with us. And if the gallant gentleman who is now in our midst had received the commission of Governor of this Territory, as was reported, and had accepted it, I would have taken off my hat and honored the appointment; and this people would have been just as passive and submissive to him as ever they could be to me. That I will warrant and vouch for. If they wish to send a Governor here, and he is a gentleman, like the one I have referred to, every heart would say, "Thank God, we have a man to stand at our head in a gubernatorial capacity; a man who has got a good heart, and is willing that we should enjoy the federal rights of the Constitution as well as himself." I am with all such men, heart and hand. But for a man to come here and infringe upon my individual rights and privileges, and upon those of my brethren, will never meet my sanction, and I will scourge such a one until he leaves; I am after him. But I will say, to the praise of the gallant gentleman referred to, if there was going to be a gentleman called upon to be our Governor, there is not a man, out of the Kingdom of God, that I would listen to sooner, and feel more confidence and cordiality towards, than to him. I wish this meed of praise could be awarded to every officer in the Government, but it cannot. We have some of the most corrupt, damnable, mean curses here that ever disgraced the earth; some who even wish to carry the holy sanctuary in one hand, and a jug full of whiskey in the other, and follow a whore and have a saint trail behind them to hold up their garments to prevent their drabbling. They are like the pilot fish to the shark, serving to lead him to his victim. I despise them; and so does every good man. Show your colors, gentlemen, and let us know what and who you are, as I do, that all the earth may see and hear.
Have I any feelings against the man who has a true heart for constitutional rights? I have nothing but love and good feelings for all such. What have I for the sinner, the hypocrite, the unbeliever, the ungodly, the liar, the sorcerer, the whoremonger, and the adulterer? I have nothing  but chastisement for them, until they repent of their wicked ways, and turn to God and find mercy.

Small note - the first great commandment

I didn't realize that first great commandments spoken of in the new testament was not only found in the old testament, but was actually given in the same instruction by Moses as the 10 commandments, shortly after the 10 commandments are given. The 10 commandments are in Deuteronomy 5, and as the discourse continues in Deuteronomy 6 we read:

Deuteronomy 6:5 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.

Very short note: Teaching children the gospel

These verses beautifully express the proper way for children to learn the gospel. The idea is that the scriptures and doctrine are not something we are required to drag out once a day, but are instead part of our daily family conversation.

Deuteronomy 6:6 And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
 7 And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Grace bears no relationship to what Stephen Robinson portrays it as in "Believing Christ"

Once a man or a woman takes to the popular notion that the purpose of the atonement is, one way or another, to bring about a gospel which is not particularly different than the false teachings warned about in the scripture.

2 Nephi 28:7 Yea, and there shall be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die; and it shall be well with us.
 8 And there shall also be many which shall say: Eat, drink, and be merry; nevertheless, fear God—he will justify in committing a little sin; yea, lie a little, take the advantage of one because of his words, dig a pit for thy neighbor; there is no harm in this; and do all these things, for tomorrow we die; and if it so be that we are guilty, God will beat us with a few stripes, and at last we shall be saved in the kingdom of God.

It seems practically impossible to separate them from the notion. They file this misconception under the name "grace" and then it becomes a herculean task to convince them that is not what grace is about in the least, nor was the atonement made so that God could "justify in committing a little sin".

We read in D&C 93 that the Savior progressed from grace to grace until he received a fulness of grace. If grace means a divinely endowed ability to sin to one degree or another without suffering the consequences then those scriptures are puzzling indeed. If that is what grace is, then as we progress we should require less of it, having less of an inclination toward doing wrong, not more of it until we receive a fulness of it.

But that isn't what the word grace means at all in the scriptures. That is an apostate notion first put forth by Martin Luther. It has been popularized among us by Stephen Robinson's book "Believing Christ" and continues to be taught by those who followed him.

Lehi testified that if a child is trained up in the way they should go they will not depart from it when they are old

There is an interesting scripture that I think we underestimate as being more like wise counsel than a scripture.

Proverbs 22: 6 Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.

After all, sometimes children of prophets turned away from the truth. But even though Lehi himself had some rebellious children, yet he personally testifies that this scripture is true in the Book of Mormon

2 Nephi 4:5 But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it.

So all of our imagined counterexamples to this are not correct.

Now I don't know what the Lord requires for a child to have been properly trained up in the way he should go. We will need the Holy Ghost with us to accomplish it. We will need to delve into the word of the Lord and put aside the philosophies of men. I don't think it is possible to train up a child in the way they should go without creating a family culture that requires perfect decency in our media, music, books, and website.

But I do know that if we train up a child in the way he should go, when he is old he will not depart from it.

The natural man is an enemy to God, and will become a devil and an angel to a devil if not for the atonement

I hadn't realized these two verse go together until just now. I knew that 2 Nephi 9 answered the "what if" question "What if there had been no ateonement?" The answer given there is that all mankind would become devils and angels to a devil for all eternity.

Exactly how that works isn't spelled out. Is it saying there would be no such thing as repentance without the atonement?

But that scripture needs to be paired with the words of an angel:

Mosiah 3:19 For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

The first line of Mosiah 3:19 is not just an angel using exaggeration for effect. He is saying that the natural man is an enemy to god, and will be forever and ever unless he becomes a saint through the atonement. His statement that the natural man will be an enemy to God forever and ever is a statement about each individual .Each individual would be an enemy to God forever and ever unless they yield to the enticings of the Holy Ghost and put off the natural man and become a saint through the atonement of Christ.

This is the same point, more or less, that is being made in 2 Nephi 9 when we read that

2 Nephi 9:8 O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.
 9 And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself; ...

The power Satan gains over us through the weakness that is in the flesh would have no end if not for the atonement. His power over us would continue in the next life. We would be under his sway, and under his influence. We would remain shut off from the gift of the Holy Ghost, because there would be no atonement that could redeem us from our sins and make us worthy receptacles of the divine spirit. Satan gains influence over us as we yield to the desires of the flesh in one way or another. Our body's inclinations are not, by nature, subjected to God's will. The adversary uses our body to tempt us and get us under his power and influence. And if we are to pass on in that state, what do we find? He still has power over us. We would even recognize his familiar whispers in the spirit world and would continue to follow him. It goes beyond that. It is not just the influence of a known advisor, or the influence of familiarity. He also gains real power and influence, and that would continue with us into the next life.

Having  no way to end that, we would continue to be, forever and ever, angels to a devil, and become devils ourselves. That is what is being conveyed in both of theses scriptures.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The egregious acts of the fathers must be rejected by the children to come out from under them

There has been a lot said about the church's policy that children of same sex couples cannot be blessed, and cannot be baptized until they are at least 18 and renounce the practice.

The policy fits perfectly with what is found in the scriptures. If we do not understand the relevant doctrine in the scriptures, we are apt to flounder around seeking for a good administrative reason.

Here is the doctrine we find in the scriptures. We start with a statement taken from the 10 commandments.

Deuteronomy 5:9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

The phrase that appears here is sort of the other side of the coin to what we find in elsewhere about the sins of the children being answered on the heads of the parents if the parents fail to teach their children the Gospel. Compare it to what Lehi said to the Laman's children:

2 Nephi 4:5 But behold, my sons and my daughters, I cannot go down to my grave save I should leave a blessing upon you; for behold, I know that if ye are brought up in the way ye should go ye will not depart from it.
 6 Wherefore, if ye are cursed, behold, I leave my blessing upon you, that the cursing may be taken from you and be answered upon the heads of your parents.

So why does the Lord say that he visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate him?

Well, first off, I have instance of this in my own family history. The pioneer ancestors on my mother's side stupidly apostatized after crossing the plains. One of them apostatized over a tablecloth being set for a visiting general authority at some church gathering, where usually none was used. And what did his children inherit? They weren't part of the church for multiple generations. My mother's parents were baptized, but they grew up completely inactive and actually opposed her devotion to the church. She was converted as a teenager by a good neighbor, and so became an exception. One of her brothers became converted late in adulthood. But of course his children missed out and still the apostate heritage of their ancestors prevails.

But, there is a lot more to it than what we see from this example. This example illustrates how the traditions of ones fathers can propagate to destroy multiple generations. Certainly that is part of what Deuteronomy 5:9 refers to, but there are important additions to be made that cast a much greater circle of light.

Anyone that knows anything about family history knows a bit about this topic. When we learn about our ancestors we also learn about ourselves.

Consequently, when our ancestors have sinned in a big way, that becomes part of our heritage. And it will stick to us until we openly forsake their actions.

The point is, we must, effectively, repent of egregious things our ancestors did.

Now you may not believe that one bit, but lets take a nice example from the scriptures. This whole doctrine is politically incorrect as can be, and our example will be so as well.

The Jews have been persecuted horribly for an awfully long time. We have scripture that says exactly why this is the case:

2 Nephi 25:13 Behold, they will crucify him; and after he is laid in a sepulchre for the space of three days he shall rise from the dead, with healing in his wings; and all those who shall believe on his name shall be saved in the kingdom of God. Wherefore, my soul delighteth to prophesy concerning him, for I have seen his day, and my heart doth magnify his holy name.
 14 And behold it shall come to pass that after the Messiah hath risen from the dead, and hath manifested himself unto his people, unto as many as will believe on his name, behold, Jerusalem shall be destroyed again; for wo unto them that fight against God and the people of his church.
 15 Wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered among all nations; yea, and also Babylon shall be destroyed; wherefore, the Jews shall be scattered by other nations.
 16 And after they have been scattered, and the Lord God hath scourged them by other nations for the space of many generations, yea, even down from generation to generation until they shall be persuaded to believe in Christ, the Son of God, and the atonement, which is infinite for all mankind—and when that day shall come that they shall believe in Christ, and worship the Father in his name, with pure hearts and clean hands, and look not forward any more for another Messiah, then, at that time, the day will come that it must needs be expedient that they should believe these things.

Well, there you have it. Why have the Jews been so horribly persecuted from generation to generation? Because they crucified the Son of God.

1 Nephi 19:13 And as for those who are at Jerusalem, saith the prophet, they shall be scourged by all people, because they crucify the God of Israel, and turn their hearts aside, rejecting signs and wonders, and the power and glory of the God of Israel.
 14 And because they turn their hearts aside, saith the prophet, and have despised the Holy One of Israel, they shall wander in the flesh, and perish, and become a hiss and a byword, and be hated among all nations.

Now what is interesting about this is that the Jews who were persecuted from generation to generation were not the ones who actually crucified Christ.

But until they repent of their ancestor's actions, it remains part of who they are. There is nothing imaginary about that, or God would not continue to scourge any but the generation who performed the actual crucifixion.

We are connected to our fathers. And when they did something egregious, it remains a part of us unless we actively reject those acts. We must, in effect, repent of their horrible acts. As long as we stand by our fathers in such actions, it remains a part of us. As with most matters of sin, there isn't really neutral territory. This is not just a "point of view", this is a reality about the relation between ancestors and descendants, or God would not continue to scourge the Jews.

So what must the Jews do for this to change? Well, let's read about it. It is beautiful.

D&C 45:51 And then shall the Jews look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?
 52 Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.
 53 And then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king.

What do we see the Jews doing here? Do they say "Well, that was our ancestors, not us"?

NO! THEY themselves recognize what they must do: "then shall they weep because of their iniquities; then shall they lament because they persecuted their king."

Who cannot read this and recognize the beautiful truth of it. They, themselves, feel and know desperate grief and remorse for something they, themselves, did not personally do. It was for what their ancestors did. And when they have fully forsaken their ancestor's actions, when they have lamented and wept for those acts, then the scourging will end. 

And that is the doctrine. When our ancestor does something egregious, we must forsake it, or it remains part of us. If we choose not to forsake it, if we stand by our ancestor, or even pretend we can remain neutral, their egregious act remains part of us, and it will have real effects in our life.

Not all acts are so serious that they can last from generation to generation across ages. To do that, you pretty much need to do something as serious as crucifying your God. 

But there are many acts that can last for generations. And so we read:

Deuteronomy 5:9 Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
10 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.

And if we understand this need to reject and forsake our Father's serious iniquity in order to come out from under it, we don't even need to wonder about the church's policy about children of same sex couples. It is a current, administrative manifestation of an eternal truth that connects children and parents, sometimes over millennia.

The children must repent of the serious errors of the parents to come out from under them. They must mourn for them and forsake them or those sins remain, in some measure, part of them. We see this coming into effect in multiple places in the scriptures. We see horrors declared upon the children of Jeraboam because of Jeraboam's sins in 1 Kings 14. Interestingly, a single exception is made among Jeraboam's children, who would still die, but who the Lord would allow to be buried. We see the entire families of Korah and the other rebels swallowed up by the earth in Numbers 16. But we also see the places in the scriptures where people mourn for the sins of their fathers, reject them, and take a new course. We even see some Lamanites whose skins become white like the Nephites in the Book of Mormon. The prodigal son returns, in part, because of the goodness he knows through his father.

Yes, there is a flip side to this whole topic. The same connection can reach across the ages to help a person do good that is descended from a truly good man such as Abraham, Isaac, or Jacob, or Lehi, or any of the prophets. It is a principle that connects ancestors to children and inspires the child toward the works of the ancestor in the child unless the child actively rejects the works of their fathers, either for good, or for ill.

Not enduring reality itself

2 Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;

Sadly, this isn't solely a scripture about the world. Many of our own membership will not endure sound doctrine.

When someone in the church bristles at the simple statement that boys really are boys, or that girls really are girls, or that only boys and girls should be allowed to marry each other, then we have gone far beyond not enduring sound doctrine. At that point, we are not even enduring reality itself.

Boyd K Packers "Parents in Zion" - General Conference October 1998

In 1831 the Lord gave a revelation to parents in Zion.  It is about parents that I wish to speak.

I have served in the Quorum of the Twelve for 28 years, and 9 years as an Assistant to the Twelve. Put together, that makes 37 years—exactly half my life.

But I have another calling which I have held even longer. I am a parent—a father and a grandfather. It took years to earn the grandfather title—another 20 years the title of great-grandfather. These titles—father, grandfather, mother, grandmother—carry responsibility and an authority which comes in part from experience. Experience is a compelling teacher.

My calling in the priesthood defines my position in the Church; the title grandfather, my position in the family. I want to talk about both of them together.

Parenthood stands among the most important activities to which Latter-day Saints may devote themselves. Many members face conflicts as they struggle to balance their responsibility as parents together with faithful activity in the Church.

There are things vital to the well-being of a family which can be found only by going to Church. There is the priesthood, which empowers a man to lead and bless his wife and children, and covenants which bind them together forever.

The Church was commanded to “meet together often”  and told “when ye are assembled together ye shall instruct and edify each other.” Mosiah and Alma gave the same instruction to their people.

We are commanded to “turn the heart[s] of the fathers to the children, and the heart[s] of the children to their fathers.”

The Lord addressed Joseph Smith Jr. by name and said, “You have not kept the commandments, and must needs stand rebuked.” He had failed to teach his children. That is the only time the word rebuke is used in correcting him.

His counselor, Frederick G. Williams, was under the same condemnation: “You have not taught your children light and truth.” Sidney Rigdon was told the same thing, as was Bishop Newel K. Whitney,  and the Lord added, “What I say unto one I say unto all.”

We have watched the standards of morality sink ever lower until now they are in a free fall. At the same time we have seen an outpouring of inspired guidance for parents and for families.

The whole of the curriculum and all of the activities of the Church have been restructured and correlated with the home:

• Ward teaching became home teaching.
• Family home evening was reestablished.
• Genealogy was renamed family history and set to collect records of all the families.
• And then the historic Proclamation on the Family was issued by the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles.
• The family became, and remains, a prevailing theme in meetings, conferences, and councils.
• All as a prelude to an unprecedented era of building temples wherein the authority to seal families together forever is exercised.
Can you see the spirit of inspiration resting upon the servants of the Lord and upon parents. Can we understand the challenge and the assault now leveled at the family.

In providing out-of-home activities for the family, we must use care; otherwise, we could be like a father determined to provide everything for his family. He devotes every energy to that end and succeeds; only then does he discover that what they needed most, to be together as a family, has been neglected. And he reaps sorrow in place of contentment.

How easy it is, in our desire to provide schedules of programs and activities, to overlook the responsibilities of the parent and the essential need for families to have time together.

We must be careful lest programs and activities of the Church become too heavy for some families to carry. The principles of the gospel, where understood and applied, strengthen and protect both individuals and families. Devotion to the family and devotion to the Church are not different and separate things.

I recently saw a woman respond when it was said of another, “Since she had the new baby, she isn’t doing anything in the Church.” You could almost see a baby in her arms as she protested with emotion: “She is doing something in the Church. She gave that baby life. She nurtures and teaches it. She is doing the most important thing that she can do in the Church.”

How would you respond to this question: “Because of their handicapped child, she is confined to the home and he works two jobs to meet the extra expenses. They seldom attend—can we count them as active in the Church?”

And have you ever heard a woman say, “My husband is a very good father, but he’s never been a bishop or a stake president or done anything important in the Church.” In response to that, a father vigorously said, “What is more important in the Church than being a good father?”

Faithful attendance at Church, together with careful attention to the needs of the family, is a near-perfect combination. In Church we are taught the Great Plan of Happiness. At home we apply what we have learned. Every call, every service in the Church brings experience and valuable insights which carry over into family life.

Would our perspective be more clear if we could, for a moment, look upon parenthood as a calling in the Church. Actually, it is so much more than that; but if we could look at it that way for a moment, we could reach a better balance in the way we schedule families.

I do not want anyone to use what I say to excuse them in turning down an inspired call from the Lord. I do want to encourage leaders to carefully consider the home lest they issue calls or schedule activities which place an unnecessary burden on parents and families.

Recently I read a letter from a young couple whose callings in the Church frequently require them to hire a sitter for their small children in order for them to attend their meetings. It has become very difficult for both of them to be home with their children at the same time. Can you see something out of balance there?

Every time you schedule a youngster, you schedule a family—particularly the mother.

Consider the mother who, in addition to her own Church calling and that of her husband, must get her children ready and run from one activity to another. Some mothers become discouraged—even depressed. I receive letters using the word guilt because they cannot do it all.

Attending Church is, or should be, a respite from the pressures of everyday life. It should bring peace and contentment. If it brings pressure and discouragement, then something is out of balance.

And the Church is not the only responsibility parents have. Other agencies have a very legitimate reason to call upon the resources of the family—schools, employers, community—all need to be balanced in.

Recently a mother told me her family had moved from a rural, scattered ward where, of necessity, activities were consolidated into one weekday night. It was wonderful. They had time for their family. I can see them sitting around the table together.

They moved west into a larger ward where members were closer to the chapel. She said, “Now our family is scheduled Tuesday night, Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, Saturday night, and Sunday night. It is very hard on our family.”

Remember, when you schedule a youngster, you schedule a family—particularly the mother.

Most families try very hard; but some, when burdened with problems of health and finance, simply become exhausted trying to keep up, and eventually they withdraw into inactivity. They do not see that they are moving from the one best source of light and truth, of help with their family, into the shadows where danger and heartbreak await.

I must touch upon what must surely be the most difficult problem to solve. Some youngsters receive very little teaching and support at home. There is no question but that we must provide for them. But if we provide a constant schedule of out-of-home activities sufficient to compensate for the loss in those homes, it may make it difficult for attentive parents to have time to be with and teach their own children. Only prayer and inspiration can lead us to find this difficult balance.

We often hear, “We must provide frequent and exciting activities lest our youth will go to less wholesome places.” Some of them will. But I have the conviction that if we teach parents to be responsible and allow them sufficient time, over the long course their children will be at home.

There, at home, they can learn what cannot be effectively taught in either Church or school. At home they can learn to work and to take responsibility. They learn what to do when they have children of their own.

For example, in the Church children are taught the principle of tithing, but it is at home that the principle is applied. At home even young children can be shown how to figure a tithe and how it is paid.

One time President and Sister Harold B. Lee were in our home. Sister Lee put a handful of pennies on a table before our young son. She had him slide the shiny ones to one side and said, “These are your tithing; these belong to the Lord. The others are yours to keep.” He thoughtfully looked from one pile to the other and then said, “Don’t you have any more dirty ones?” That was when the real teaching moment began!

The ward council is the perfect place to establish the balance between home and Church. Here the brethren of the priesthood, themselves fathers, and sisters of the auxiliaries, themselves mothers, can, with inspired insight, coordinate the work of the organizations, each of which serves different members of the family.

Members of the council can compare what each organization is providing for each member and how much time and money is required. They can unite rather than divide families and provide watch care over single parents, the childless, the unmarried, the elderly, the handicapped—and provide much more than just activities for the children and young people.

The ward council has resources often overlooked. For instance, grandparents, while not filling callings, can help young families who are finding their way along the same path they once walked.

The Lord warned parents, “Inasmuch as parents have children in Zion, … that teach them not to understand the doctrine of repentance, faith in Christ the Son of the living God, and of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of the hands, when eight years old, the sin be upon the heads of the parents.”

The ward council is ideal for our present need. Here the home and the family can be anchored in place, and the Church can support rather than supplant the parents. Fathers and mothers will understand both their obligation to teach their children and the blessings provided by the Church.

As the world grows ever more threatening, the powers of heaven draw ever closer to families and parents.

I have studied much in the scriptures and have taught from them. I have read much from what the prophets and apostles have spoken. They have had a profound influence upon me as a man and as a father.

But most of what I know about how our Father in Heaven really feels about us, His children, I have learned from the way I feel about my wife and my children and their children. This I have learned at home. I have learned it from my parents and from my wife’s parents, from my beloved wife and from my children, and can therefore testify of a loving Heavenly Father and of a redeeming Lord. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.