Thursday, October 30, 2014

Contributing on Another Blog

Tim was kind enough to put my post on his blog, Latter-Day Commentary. Check it out, it has to do with Zion's quality of being of one heart and one mind.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Baptism of Fire: Plain and Precious and Lost Again

The sad truth is we have taken the meaning out of something precious.

We have knowledge of it. We've sort of learned about it. Examples are before us in the scriptures, and we have somehow managed to remove the true meaning of it and have replaced it with false understanding.

Maybe that wouldn't be so terrible, but it is a thing so important that it is written within the previously blogged about Doctrine of Christ. This false understanding is preventing countless members from receiving The gift of the Holy Ghost, and we stand oblivious to this fact, propagating our false understanding throughout the world, assuming we already have something we haven't qualified for.

This is serious.

This is damning.

Without this we haven't even entered the gate that we take for granted as members that we have long since passed.

We're actually wandering blindly around outside it.

How do we fix it?

Christ and His prophets have said again and again that what is necessary is a broken heart and a contrite spirit.

3 Nephi 9:20-22
And ye shall offer for a sacrifice unto me a broken heart and a contrite spirit. And whoso cometh unto me with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, him will I baptize with fire and with the Holy Ghost, even as the Lamanites, because of their faith in me at the time of their conversion, were baptized with fire and with the Holy Ghost, and they knew it not.

Behold, I have come unto the world to bring redemption unto the world, to save the world from sin.

Therefore, whoso repenteth and cometh unto me as a little child, him will I receive, for of such is the kingdom of God. Behold, for such I have laid down my life, and have taken it up again; therefore repent, and come unto me ye ends of the earth, and be saved.

This is what it takes to qualify for the precious gift of the Holy Ghost.

Like the Lamanites, I had no idea what I had experienced at the time was a baptism of fire. I knew I had experienced something very spiritual and life-changing, but it wasn't until 4-6 months later after a lot of study on the matter and prayer that I came to recognize it for what it was, and only then because the Spirit confirmed this to me. But only after it gently pointed out that my answer had taken so long in arriving because I'd had all the tools necessary to figure it out for myself.

I'm glad He's patient with us, or I'd be a hopeless case.

In reviewing my own experience with others, there is a commonality in what brought it about: knowledge of our sins and inadequacies, and a plea for a remission of sins. Most of us were adults when we experienced this, decades after our baptisms and confirmations.

This isn't something that can be approached half-heartedly. I felt like I was pouring all my heart and all my will into my prayer. Both were offered freely to Him with the hope that He could make me whole. I felt like I was going to break.

But instead I was saved.

And the nature of my desires changed.

The baptism of fire is a gift from heaven, something that goes beyond the laying on of hands performed by man, to something spiritual and undeniable bestowed on you personally by heaven, and it's accompanied by gifts. Over and over again in the scriptures are accounts of the spiritual gifts bestowed on the recipients of this baptism. Not all are obvious, but some are.

I realize I'm starting to sound like a broken record, but it's for a good reason.

This is necessary. This is something only He can give. Go before Him in pureness of heart, whether you're 8 or 80.

Seek this Jesus.

Receive this gift He offers freely.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Aligning our definition of Doctrine with Christ's

When Christ came to the Americas, the first thing he taught the Nephites was about His doctrine (as baptism is a part of His doctrine He also instructed them in how to do this):

2 Nephi 11:32-40
And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me.

And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God.

And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

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

And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one.

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child and be baptized in my name or ye can in nowise receive these things.

And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God. 

Verily, verily I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. 

And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

The Doctrine:

According to Christ, what is necessary for salvation? Believing in Him and being baptized. It doesn't say anything about believing that any specific man is a prophet. It doesn't require tithing. It doesn't require a certain dress code, or the Word of Wisdom, even. It's as simple as believing in Him, repenting, becoming as a little child, and getting baptized in His name. That is then followed by the Father visiting us with fire and the Holy Ghost.

There is so much more to this, and how we fall short of teaching it the way the Christ Himself did, so I highly recommend you read this post, since this blogger says it better than I ever could.

In any case, this is the doctrine. There are many other teachings, principles, etc, but this is what you need to know for salvation because this is what saves.

Nephi (the first Nephi of the BoM) also gives us Christ's doctrine in 2 Nephi 31. He discusses the very same doctrine that Christ did when he visited the Americas 600 years later.

Back to Baptism:

In 3 Nephi 11:23-26, Christ instructs the Nephites on how to perform baptism. This is very interesting for reasons I will point out after:

Verily I say unto you, that whoso repenteth of his sins through your words, and desireth to be baptized in my name, on this wise shall ye baptize them--Behold, ye shall go down and stand in the water, and in my name shall ye baptize them.

And now behold, these are the words which ye shall say, calling them by name, saying:

Having authority given me of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

And then shall ye immerse them in the water, and come forth again out of the water.

I want to point out that within the highlighted part of the wording of this ordinance, given by Jesus Christ, preserved for our time is something which we do not say in our church baptisms.

We do not say, "Having authority given me of Jesus Christ."

This is what we say (from D&C 20:73):

The person who is called of God and has authority from Jesus Christ to baptize, shall go down into the water with the person who has presented himself or herself for baptism, and shall say, calling him or her by name: Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ, I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

Why is it different?

In the wording of the original revelation it is word for word like the version given to the Nephites. You can see this for yourself here in the 24th chapter of the original 1831 Book of Commandments in Verse 53.

By the time that the 1835 Doctrine and Covenants was published the 22nd verse of the 2nd chapter reads like our current D&C.

I can't account for the difference, though I am very curious. Why would it change?

In 1832, The church was put under condemnation because they were treating lightly the "new covenant, even the Book of Mormon..." (D&C 84:54-57). Would that have merited a change in the church's baptismal wording from that given by Christ in the Book of Mormon?

Does it make sense that since we weren't remembering the new covenant given in the Book of Mormon, that it was no longer given us to use?

In 1833, this was also given in revelation, "...there are many who have been ordained among you, whom I have called but few of them are chosen." (D&C 95:5)

Could this have been the reason?

Or was the change in wording just a clerical issue?

Having Authority:

It should be noted here, that all Jesus did to grant to the Nephite disciples this authority was to say it to them. Interestingly enough in Mosiah 18:12, though Alma had been ordained under the wicked reign of King Noah, before he performed any baptisms, he "cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart. And when he had said these words, the Spirit of the Lord was upon him, and he said: Helam, I baptize thee, having authority from the Almighty God..."

AFTER he had cried unto the Lord, he was able to baptize with authority from God.

It makes sense to me that if you want authority from God, you go to Him to receive it. And only He can grant it.

Similarly in the Joseph Smith Translation of Genesis 14:25-40 (specifically versus 27-29) it says this in reference to Melchizedek:

And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,

It being after the order of the Son of god; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;

And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.

I realize this scripture is dealing with the high priesthood, where we began with the authority to baptize, but we see again, that something vital is conveyed by God to the man ministering in His name.

I have heard this very scripture skewed to mean that "His own voice" is the same as ordination as we practice it. That this is the same as having it conveyed on you by the hand and voice of a man. And that as long as you live righteously, that's enough and that God will honor that. It's a nice idea that fits in with our keys and authority paradigm and goes along with the 2 Nephi 28:5 scripture where it was foretold that latter-day people would erroneously say, "...the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men." It also goes directly against the scripture above that says this comes "not by man, nor the will of man."

By whom is the authority of God given?

By whom is the power of God given? The power to "break mountains, to divide the seas, to dry up waters, to run them out of their course; to put at defiance the armies of nations, to divide the earth, to break every band, to stand in the presence of God; to do all things according to his will...?"

From Him.

Do you desire to baptize with His authority? Then go to Him, and cry out to Him as Alma did in purity of heart.

If I were an ordained dude, and asking this for myself, I would ask Him for His authority to baptize. If I don't feel with the certainty of the Spirit that this was being granted to me by Him, I would then ask what He would have me do to receive that.

In any case, receive the authority to do this by Him who absolutely, without dispute, has the power to grant it.

Then you will know this for yourself.

If you are directed by God, no one can tell you that you don't have the authority to do this.

...Well they can tell you. But they'll be wrong. So let them. Their rules have no bearing on God and His will, though they like to think God abides by their rules. Put your trust in Him.


Christ has given us a warning about what we are permitted to call His doctrine. It would be wise to heed that. That Christ taught more than this, it is true, and it is of great value to us, but this doctrine is where salvation lies.

Personal Note:

I have had the opportunity, as have many others in recent times, and in recent days to be baptized in living water, in the manner of the Book of Mormon, by someone having authority from God. It was a precious experience to me, and a decision that has been misunderstood and challenged.

To clarify, I did it as a witness to God of my willingness to serve Him and take His name upon me. It is in keeping with the teaching of the Book of Mormon, and I stand by it, whatever may come.

Not A Thing of Naught

I read this scripture the other night with my children:

1 Nephi 19:7-9
For the things which some men esteem to be of great worth, both to the body and soul, others set at naught and trample under their feet. Yea, even the very God of Israel do men trample under their feet; I say, trample under their feet but I would speak in other words--they set him at naught, and hearken not to the voice of his counsels.

And behold he cometh, according to the words of the angel, in six hundred years from the time my father left Jerusalem.

And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him,  and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness and his long-suffering towards the children of men.

...And this scripture, though it describes things largely towards the end of Christ's life, reminded me of a scripture that preceded his suffering and death.

Matthew 13:54
And when he was come into his own country, he taught them in their synagogue, insomuch that they were astonished, and said, Whence hath this man this wisdom, and these mighty works?

Is not this the carpenter's son? is not his mother called Mary? and his brethren, James, and Joses, and Simon, and Judas?

And his sisters, are they not all with us? Whence then hath this man all these things?

And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.

And he did not many mighty works there because of their unbelief.

Setting Him at naught:
The blessings these people in Christ's own country missed out on is saddening, and all because they knew him and knew His family, and couldn't believe that He could know these wonderful things.

What made them discount His wisdom and His mighty works after they had some form of witness of them? Was it their pride? Or jealousy that he could have a knowledge beyond theirs, despite being the carpenter's son?

I don't know the answer to that.

But in trying to understand it, I thought of this. It might be like my little sister (who suffers from various ailments that make her of a different frame of mind than the rest of us) coming to a family gathering, and suddenly spouting spiritual insights that confound the ones of us that these things usually come from. I wonder, would I be able to recognize the Spirit from whence it came. Or would we all just shake our heads and say, "What the heck was that?" and discount it because of who it came from and move on with our lives?

I would hope not.

We must overcome the prejudices that stand in our way of accepting truth. We are not above anyone because we know them and their background.

Speaking of my little sister, despite the challenges she has had to face that make her so very discountable, she has had spiritual experiences that evade the most doctrinally knowledgeable in my family.

Nephi was also not accepted by those who knew him, his older brothers. Their prejudices blinded them despite many spiritual witnesses that should have informed them otherwise.

We don't get to discount the least among us. They are probably closer to God than we are, who presume to know Him because we have learned of Him from others, and listen to others who we assume know Him.

Know Him for yourself.

Learn from Him.

We set Him at naught when we let our prejudices prevent us from accepting His truth no matter where it comes from, who it comes from, or when it does not meet our expectations.

Christ does not perform "many mighty works" to those who don't receive Him. The people of His own country did not receive these things. They were the ones, who it would seem, should have had the greatest opportunity.

Do not discount what comes from Him because you think you know better.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

We, the Idolatrous LDS: Part 3, Conclusion and My Witness

If you have come to this post without first reading the previous 2, you can find them here and here. In this one I'll be going over how keys & authority & callings can become our idols. I'll also be revisiting the church portion that I began in the first post, along with my witness.

Keys, authority, and callings as idols:
In our lovely church, our claim to being the only true church is that we have the keys restored and still intact. Along with those keys is mingled the word authority as well, which is why I have included them both here. I felt that callings fit here as well, so I have included it.

First, if we suppose we have the keys and can never lose them, then we idolize them, and will not be aware of when/if they are lost to this church. This goes along with the first post about idolizing the church.

Second, if we idolize authority and seek it out for ourselves then we "exercise to gain ambition" and have no authority in the priesthood. This goes along with the second post, or Part 2.

Also, if we idolize those with authority, we are placing them between ourselves and God. If we think that because we do not hold any authority that we are not also invited to converse with the Lord, receive revelation, see the face of Jesus, and be ministered to by angels (And now, he imparteth his word by angels unto men, yea, not only men but women also. Now this is not all; little children do have words given unto them many times, which confound the wise and the learned. Alma 32:23), then we are idolizing authority. God is no respecter of persons. The first person the Savior appeared to after His resurrection was a woman, Mary Magdalene (John 20:14-17, Mark 16:9), not His 12 disciples.

Third, if we idolize callings, keys, and perceived authority, then we miss the messages the Lord sends us outside of that paradigm.

What authority in the institution of his time did John the Baptist possess? They had presiding high priests that led them already (Caiaphas and Annas). Shouldn't the authority with which John baptized and preached have belonged to one of them?

So, why was it John?

With what authority did Joseph Smith restore the church?

With what authority did Samuel the Lamanite prophesy to the wicked Nephites when they already had Nephi to do that?

We try to put God within our own box of expectations, and we set up idols for ourselves and miss some wonderful things when we do.

There are other ways in which callings, particularly ours become idols to us, but I don't feel it's necessary to get into that here.

Why I am writing this stuff:
It has been a long time coming, but specifically it has been made clear to me that I am no longer justified in saying nothing.

I could have put it off forever because I did not feel it was my place, but I've been guided to do otherwise.

I'm not saying that I'm better than anyone. I know that I am not. I'm not saying that I haven't been guilty of idolizing things within the church and without. I have. And this is why I see it now. Over the past year, I have felt the Lord has been shaking me bit by bit so I can see the error of my idolatries as they fall away one by one, and having learned that, I point it out to those who still don't see it.

The church revisited and its rejection:

3 Nephi 28:34
And wo be unto him that will not hearken unto the words of Jesus, and also to them whom he hath chosen and sent among them; for whoso receiveth not the words of Jesus and the words of those whom he hath sent receiveth not him; and therefore he will not receive them at the last day;

I've talked a little bit about this subject in my very first post on this blog. What is so interesting (and frightening) about this scripture to me is that rejecting someone sent by Jesus with His message is the same as rejecting Him.

The even more frightening thing is that I have seen the church do just that.

I am another witness to this happening, not just because I noticed it, but because I was given a specific witness of it back in December of last year, in the temple, as I sat pondering the scriptures. You can read of another witness here: Latter-Day Commentary.

Yes, there is one sent with the Lord's message, who has been rejected by the church. The Spirit spoke in clarity to me that night in the temple, that by doing so, we were rejecting the fullness of the gospel and the Lord Himself.

There will be those, I'm sure, who will assume that I have lost it, who will assume that I have been deceived.

It's nothing that I haven't feared and considered myself.

I have questioned and doubted this over and over, because it is not what I was taught to expect, and each time I have petitioned Heavenly Father with this, He has led me gently back to this answer: The message delivered by this man is His. I have heard it. I testify of it. I recognize the Lord in it, more direct and pure than I have ever encountered before in my lifetime. It teaches of Christ and brings us to Christ, and as I have mentioned in this post, I have been blessed and been closer to the Lord because of it (although the opposition has increased as well). And there are others who have come into the presence of the Lord themselves because of this message.

I am not saying to follow this man, worship, or think of him any more than we ought. I am saying you should heed the message, and then go on and receive all that you are offered from God.

But at least, investigate what is being said, and judge for yourself, and with prayer and humility before God, ask whether or not it is true.

There are a series of ten talks being given. Only eight are currently transcribed. I'm attaching the links to the ones currently available below (Update: all lectures have been made available since I posted this, so all are available below):

Coming to Christ: a Broken Heart and a Contrite Spirit
Marriage and Family
Preserving the Restoration

2 Nephi 9:44-45
O, my beloved brethren, remember my words. Behold, I take off my garments, and I shake them before you; I pray the God of my salvation that he view me with his all-searching eye; wherefore, ye shall know at the last day, when all men shall be judged of their works, that the God of Israel did witness that I shook your iniquities from my soul, and that I stand with brightness before him, and am rid of your blood.

O, my beloved brethren, turn away from your sins; shake off the chains of him that would bind you fast; come unto that God who is the rock of your salvation.

We, the Idolatrous LDS: Part 2, Dead Works

If you have somehow come to this post before reading the first one, you can find that here. In the first post I discussed how the church and how the brethren can become idols that come between us and knowing the Lord.

In this post, I will discuss how our ordinances and the priesthood can become idols. This, particularly the ordinances part, is something I've been prompted to mention since a long time ago, which I previously did, just not on my blog. So I will now address it here.

Ordinances as idols:
To begin this one, I'll have to start in the chapter and verses that prompted it.

Moroni 8:20 & 23
And he that saith that little children need baptism denieth the mercies of Christ, and setteth at naught the atonement of him and the power of his redemption.
But it is mockery before God, denying the mercies of Christ, and the power of his Holy Spirit, and putting trust in dead works.

If we think our works and the works alone are what is needed to save people then our works are dead works. If that were the case, then we would have to baptize babies, and others that have challenges that leave them unaccountable. If that were the case, we wouldn't need Christ.

At all.

But we do, and the works only have power through Him, and we are only saved through and by Him. To believe anything else is to deny his mercies. It is to deny the power of His Holy Spirit. It is to deny the power He has to baptize us with fire. Although we have the laying on of hands to give us the gift of the Holy Ghost, until we receive the gift from Him, and allow Him to baptize us with fire we have not even entered the gate to the strait and narrow path.

And therefore, the works performed on us are dead, meaningless. Might as well have been done on a slab of meat.

You'll see here that I've made a distinction between being given a gift and receiving a gift. I believe we should think of all the ordinances in the church as things offered to us that we in turn need to receive.

The endowment ceremony is amazing, and after a while less confusing than that first time. It is not the the ultimate thing we need to receive here in the flesh, but the invitation to go on and receive it: receive true messengers from God in truth, converse with God through the veil, and (in this life!!!) be brought into His presence. This is what we are offered.

Whether we qualify for this or not will depend a lot on whether we buy in to the false teacher who mingles scriptures with the philosophy of men. It will depend on whether we receive true messengers when they come. It will depend on the law of sacrifice, among other things.

If you think that all you need is to be baptized by man and have these other ordinances performed in order to inherit with Jesus Christ, then you have let these ordinances become an idol to you, and these works done to you are dead because you have not received the power in them, which is Him.

The ordinances are important, but they are not the end in and of themselves.

The priesthood as an idol:
Some may be offended that I am even addressing this here, me being a woman, but I hope you will be able to see past that. I've included the priesthood in this post as it goes hand in hand with the ordinances, since one is needed to perform the others (D&C 84).

D&C 121:34-42
Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen?

Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson--

That the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness.

That they may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or to gratify our pride, or gain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved; and when it is withdrawn, Amen to the priesthood or the authority of that man.

Behold, ere he is aware, he is left unto himself, to kick against the pricks, to persecute the saints, and to fight against God.

We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion.

Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned;

By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile--

So, the right to this priesthood is connected with the powers of heaven.

If men within our church suppose that because they have been ordained to this priesthood they are entitled to certain liberties or authority, then this has become an idol to them, and it holds no power for them. If they try to use it in any unrighteous way, it holds no power for them.

If anyone idolizes another for holding the priesthood, again, it has become an idol to them.

And then there is the question of how one is to know if they have actually received the gift they were ordained to when they were given the Melchizedek priesthood. How does one know their priesthood is personally connected to the powers of heaven, or ever was in the first place?

Some scriptures to consider in the matter:

D&C 84:42
And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.

Joseph Smith Translation, Genesis 14:26-29
Now Melchizedek was a man of faith, who wrought righteousness; and when a child he feared God, and stopped the mouths of lions, and quenched the violence of fire.

And thus, having been approved of God, he was ordained an high priest after the order of the covenant which God made with Enoch,

It being after the order of the Son of God; which order came, not by man, nor the will of man; neither by father nor mother; neither by beginning of days nor end of years; but of God;

And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will unto as many as believed on his name.

His own voice... out of the heavens. Hmm... interesting.

In our ordinances and priesthood, do we think like Nephi prophesied we would, that the Lord and the Redeemer hath done his work, and he hath given his power unto men (2 Nephi 28:5)? Do we deny that the power is God's, and not ours at all?

If so, these things have become our idols.

We, the Idolatrous LDS

This is the third time I've tried to write this post in just over a month. Actually, this is the third time I have written it, and I don't feel like I can or should put it off any longer.

I hear a lot of testimony and praise at church for things that stand in our way of recognizing God in our lives. Things that stand in the way of allowing Him to personally guide us. Things that stand in the way for us to personally know Him.

This troubles me.

We, as members, have idols specific to us.

And because they are religious in nature we are blind to them. Because of that we are even more blinded to them than to our idols that are not religious in nature. Because of our idols we are prideful in what we think qualify for.

Because of our religious idols we have become like the Jews of Jesus' time, or like Laman and Lemuel of Nephi's time.

But you know... "All is well in Zion. Zion prospereth..." (And others will he pacify, and lull them away into carnal security, that they will say: All is well in Zion; yea, Zion prospereth, all is well--and thus the devil cheateth their souls, and leadeth them away carefully down to hell. 2 Nephi 28:21)

Our LDS Idols:
 - The church
 - The current president of the church
 - The brethren
 - The priesthood
 - Our ordinances
 - The keys and authority
 - The handbook
 - Callings
 - Our reputations within our ward, stake, etc. (or "to be seen of men" Matthew 23:5)
 - Our pioneer heritage/beginnings
 - The LDS traditions of our fathers

There are probably so many more than that, but this is the list I will work off of for the intents of this post. I'm sure some that will come across this will be wondering how a lot of the things on the list can be a bad thing. I'll explain as best as I can.

The Church as an Idol:
I hear many testimonies of the "living church" or "true church." This is what is concerning about that: if our church was like the church of the Jews at the time of Christ, how would you know it, if all your faith and devotion depends on it being always true and always living (which I take to mean always led by God)?

Bad news: You would have rejected Christ in His day with that mentality, as He was rejected and even sentenced by/because of the church of His day.

Our focus is not supposed to be on the church, or on it being living or always true, but on Christ. He is the one that is living and always true.

Churches are staffed, led, manned by men, and men err. Men fail to recognize their own God before them ...Unless that church happens to be the Church of the Firstborn, which is NOT an earthly institution.

Now the gospel... Christ's gospel... that is always true. That does not change, and remains the same, though men misunderstand and alter their records and teachings of it.

How did the disciples recognize that the church they had been born into, the church of their fathers, erred? Because they recognized truth. They recognized the gospel. They recognized the Lord. They trusted the Spirit and what it testified to them, despite the fact that the authorities of the church were saying something completely different. If their focus had been entirely and unrelentingly on being the chosen people of God, and on the church, would they have recognized what was before them?

(There is more to be said about this and I will revisit it later)

The Prophet and the Brethren as Idols:
I think we should be wary whenever calling someone a prophet when it is by inherited title, and not by evidences, because then we run the risk of making a good person into a false prophet simply by fault of the inherited title. Prophets used to be called prophets because the people could see from their works, and from their messages that they were prophets.

Why was Joseph Smith called a prophet?

Because he prophetically translated the Book of Mormon. Because he received revelation from God. Because he prophesied. Because he called the people to repentance as prophets are supposed to do. Because he spoke with and was visited by God, and he proclaimed that. He also encouraged everyone else to receive God as he had, in the flesh, as one man speaks to another. He did not covet these experiences only for himself.

For some reason, because we always have a president of the church, whom we call prophet, we now expect him to see God for us. We expect to follow him no matter what, and that doing this will ensure we will receive eternal life. We testify of him. We adore and fawn over him.

...But this is trusting in the arm of flesh, which we are warned repeatedly in scriptures NOT to do (O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. 2 Nephi 4:34)

Interestingly enough Ezekiel 14 is a chapter Joseph read to the newly organized relief society (I had heard about it before, but I came across this and some other interesting things he said in the Nauvoo Relief Society Minutes when preparing a trivia game for a R.S. activity)

Here are the relevant notes taken about what Joseph said about depending on the prophet for your salvation:

"Prest. J. Smith rose, read the 14th Chap. of Ezekiel— said the Lord had declar’d by the prophet  that the people should each one stand for himself and depend on no man or men in that state of  corruption of the Jewish church— that righteous persons  could only deliver their own souls— app[l]ied it to the present state of the church of Latter-Day Saints— said  if the people departed from the Lord, they must  fall— that they were depending on the prophet hence were darkened in their minds from neglect of themselves— envious toward the innocent, while  they afflict the virtuous with their shafts of envy."

Ezekiel 14:4-6
Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Isreal that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;

That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart because they are all estranged from me through their idols.

Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

Ezekiel 14:14, 16, 18, and 20
Though these three men, Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, they should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness, saith the Lord God.

Though these three men were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters; they only shall be delivered, but the land shall be desolate.

Though these three men were in it, as I live saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither sons nor daughters, but they only shall be delivered themselves.

Though Noah, Daniel, and Job, were in it, as I live, saith the Lord God they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.

Though we may be led by good and righteous men, our salvation is only achieved through our own righteousness. Setting good men like this up as idols will hinder us, not help us. We need to have a relationship with God for ourselves. We need to go to Him with our questions, and look to Him for our answers.

Also along this note: read D&C Section 76 and study all the different kinds of people that will be in the Telestial Kingdom. Notice that the first things mentioned are those who are "of" the prophets, or you could say those who "Followed the Prophets." This is Telestial behavior.

In the Lectures on Faith it says we first believe on the testimony of another (like those of the prophets), but after that we must achieve faith and then knowledge. These last two are not things that we get through others. They are things we gain and achieve as individuals, leading to knowledge given to us by God, just as the prophets received for themselves.

Joseph Smith again :

Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith p. 149
"...God hath not revealed anything to Joseph, but what He will make known unto the Twelve, and even the least Saint may know all things as fast as he is able to bear them, for the day must come when no man need say to his neighbor, Know ye the Lord; for all shall know Him (who remain) from the least to the greatest. How is this to be done? It is to be done by this sealing power, and the other Comforter spoken of, which will be manifest by revelation."

If you are not familiar with this blog or what the other Comforter is, it is Christ appearing to you Himself. I have spoken more about that in other posts, particularly here, as have many others who know about it more personally than I do myself.

Back to my point: this isn't achieved by following the prophet (because if we are relying on that, we are not moving beyond the first stage of faith which is belief). It is achieved by following Christ as individuals. Then we can all know Him for ourselves. It is an invitation to all.

I have seen scripture being ignored in favor of general conference talks. If one contradicts the other, what do we do? We favor the current brethren's words over scripture because the scriptures were for those other people that lived a long time ago, right? And this is today. We're different than they were. We aren't as faithless as they were, so their problems and counsel don't apply to us. We can't be led astray because we always have a prophet who can't be led astray. (Please tell me you are catching on to my sarcasm, and can see our latter-day pride for what it really is.)

...And yet, the Book of Mormon prophets directed specific comments to us. We have all of these records that show the pitfalls of different groups of God's chosen people that have gone before us. The cautionary tales of how they strayed, of how they rejected His messengers, of how they lost the wonderful things that were given to them. We ignore them at our peril. We honor the word of our day over what has always been true at our peril.

We shouldn't idolize men, no matter what their role. After all, God is no respecter of persons, so why are we? God and His Son are the only ones worthy of our worship.

To be Continued...
This is already very long, and I've only begun to scratch the surface. I will be continuing this later with other things on the list and how we turn them into idols. Click here for Part 2, Dead Works.

Friday, July 18, 2014

What is Available to Us?

Jacob 1:7-8
Wherefore we labored diligently among our people, that we might persuade them to come unto Christ, and partake of the goodness of God, that they might enter into his rest, lest by any means he should swear in his wrath they should not enter in, as in the provocation in the days of temptation while the children of Israel were in the wilderness.

Wherefore, we would to God that we could persuade all men not to rebel against God, to provoke him to anger, but that all men would believe in Christ, and view his death, and suffer his cross and bear the shame of the world; wherefore, I, Jacob, take it upon me to fulfill the commandment of my brother Nephi.

This is Jacob describing both his and his brother, Nephi's ministry.

I've talked more about coming to Christ in this post, but I will repeat one of the scriptures used in that post as it defines what entering into his rest means.

Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;

But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.

My conclusion and thoughts:
We cannot enter into His rest if we cannot endure His presence. Moses could and did do this, and sought to teach it to the Israelites mentioned by Jacob in the first scripture of this post. Jacob mentioned it because he and Nephi were inviting and trying to persuade their family and their people to do this as well. They both had seen the Savior. At least Nephi saw the Savior's life. Judging from this scripture, I'd say Jacob did as well, as they both desired to persuade men to believe in Christ, view his death... Why would they desire to persuade all men to do this, if it was not within the ability of every man to achieve?

Just something to think about...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Testify of Me

Lately, during fast and testimony meetings, instead of waiting for that burning in the bosom, I've said a little prayer at the beginning instead. In that prayer I ask if I should get up. If the answer is yes, I ask what He would have me say. Verbally, I'm pretty clumsy and I forget my train of thought in the middle as an everyday pastime. So, a little time to warm-up, a little mental preparation is nice. Every time I have asked what to say, I've been told this: "Testify of me."

I bring this up because today is no different. Today I will testify of Him, though I am sorely inadequate to do so, though there are so many that have more to testify of than I do. (Christ - Ephraim TalkThe Second Comforter)

I get weary of the "I know"s in our testimonies, words that do little to prove just that, and I'm sure others have noticed that my children usually say "I believe." I've asked them to do this because there is no shame in belief. That is where faith begins, and that is what leads to knowledge (Check Alma 32 and Lectures on Faith).

To me, knowledge means knowing without any uncertainty. Knowledge means seeing, it means witnessing.

Can we have a knowledge of spiritual things without seeing? If we pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true and the Spirit confirms to us that it is, isn't that also a form of knowledge?

It does give us a witness of that thing.

Maybe so.

In any case, I hope my children won't adopt the "I know" to something because that's what I or their teachers have taught them... But I hope they adopt it when they've learned something for themselves, and can say in all honesty that they know because God has taught them.

I can't say I know that He lived, in the sense that I have not witnessed His life. I can't say that I know He was resurrected for the same reason.


I know that He did because He has spoken this to my heart. I can say that He lives still because I know Him. I know His love for me. His capacity of love for each of us, even the least of us. I know He is patient. I know He is kind. I know He answers questions when I ask them (the answers of which sometimes surprise me). I know He can and does forgive us of our sins because He has done that for me. I know He is gentle when we ask for His guidance. I know He offers comfort when we have nowhere to turn for peace.

His will is His Father's will, something we need to adopt as well.

I know we have the choice to follow Him. It is a conscious and every day, every moment choice. It is something we do individually, something spoken to us individually.

Something that may lead to us having to choose between following the institution of the church, or following the Spirit that in one specific case is asking us to do something else.

Which do I trust more? Can the church never lead me astray? Can the arm of flesh, the men who lead this church never lead me astray? Or can the Messiah never lead me astray?

There is only one "yes" answer to those questions, and it is scriptural. The others...

I've made my choice. I know who I choose to follow. I know He will never lead me astray because He is the way.

and there is no other.

Know the Lord

3 Nephi 18:25
And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation.

All who were present among the Nephites when Jesus came to the Americas in the city of Bountiful, saw Him, and felt His wounds. He commanded them to do this, and then He commanded them to command the world to do the same. The Book of Mormon speaks this commandment to us. Come to Him. See Him in the flesh as they did. Feel His wounds.

D&C 93:1
Verily, thus saith the Lord: It shall come to pass that every soul who forsaketh his sins and cometh unto me, and calleth on my name, and obeyeth my voice, and keepeth my commandments, shall see my face and know that I am;

Every soul, not just men of a certain standing and position. God is no respecter of persons. Why do we keep trying to make Him into just that? Every soul.

Note that it says obeyeth my voice. We must know and recognize His voice if we are to obey it. That is an individual thing, the burden of which rests only upon us. Further reading from this site that is relevant: get it rightlearn by what means we are to understand the scriptureslower ourselves to the dust.

D&C 84: 23-24
Now this Moses plainly taught to the children of Israel in the wilderness, and sought diligently to sanctify his people that they might behold the face of God;

But they hardened their hearts and could not endure his presence; therefore, the Lord in his wrath, for his anger was kindled against them, swore that they should not enter into his rest while in the wilderness, which rest is the fulness of his glory.

Have we made this same mistake? Joseph Smith tried and tried to get the people of his time to receive this as well. He wanted Zion. He encouraged the people of his time to make their Calling and Elections sure and receive the Second Comforter (which is receiving Christ himself in the flesh).

Has the doctrine changed? Is this no longer true?

Moroni speaking in Ether 12:39 & 41
And then shall ye know that I have seen Jesus, and that he hath talked with me face to face, and that he told me in plain humility, even as a man telleth another in mine own language, concerning these things.

And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen.

Is He telling us to seek Jesus, just by believing in Him? Then why would He say He had seen him, unless He was telling us that we could see Him as He had seen Him? That would be like saying, "I've seen Him and you should go to Him, but you don't get to see Him like I did." That would be saying again that God is a respecter of persons, which we know He is not.

Nephi and his brother Jacob both saw Jesus Christ. 1 Nephi reads like a road map of Nephi's life, explaining how he received what he did. These were things he considered of worth for us. The doctrine of Christ in 2 Nephi 31-32 also reads like specific guidelines for us to receive Him.

I testify of this doctrine, not because I have received a fullness of it (I have yet to receive that). I testify of it as the Spirit has testified of it to me. That it is true. Following this doctrine has brought me closer to my Father and my Savior than anything else has before. It is why I can say in confidence that I know Him, though I have not seen Him.

I don't ask you to believe me in this, but to ask your Father in Heaven with a sincere heart if it is so.

If it is something you desire and the Spirit confirms it, I suggest you then ask what lack I yet? And allow Him to answer in the manner that He will.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Our Judgement Vs. Righteous Judgement

Our culture is saturated with unrighteous judgment. The media we are exposed to is composed of this to an alarming degree. We think it's our right to judge the behavior and appearance of others. Ridicule and criticism is expected and in some cases rewarded.

We compare and judge others against our standard or ourselves, either determining others to come up short, or that we come up short as individuals.

Here's what the scriptures say about judgement:

Mormon 8:19-20
For behold, the same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be; therefore, he that smiteth shall be smitten again, of the Lord.

Behold what the scripture says--man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgement is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay.

Moroni 7:18
And now, my brethren, seeing that ye know the light by which ye may judge, which light is the light of Christ, see that ye do not judge wrongfully; for with that same judgement which ye judge ye shall also be judged.

John 7:24
Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.

John 8:7
So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.


I'm only going to give context on the last scripture this time, since I feel the others are self-explanatory. For more context on the second scripture read this, or you know, even better just read the chapter for yourself.

During this part of John, the scribes and Pharisees brought a woman before him who was caught in the act of adultery. They brought her to him citing the law of Moses. The scriptures say they did this to tempt Him, "that they might have to accuse him." After Jesus says what is quoted in the scripture above. They leave until only Jesus and the woman remain.

The only one that stayed was He that is without sin, Jesus.

How are we to judge?

Matthew 7:1(JST)-2
Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged: but judge righteous judgment.

For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

We must judge righteously.

This is like karma. What judgment you dole out will be returned to you.

Conclusion: So, how do we know if we are judging righteously?

As God is the only righteous judge...

Since judgement is His...

Since vengeance is His...

And since man is not to judge...

But His people are told to judge righteous judgment...

Then judging righteously is allowing the Lord to judge, and not to judge for ourselves. It's to withhold our own judgment and deliver judgment only as the Spirit of the Lord directs us. It's not to make rash assumptions, nor to hold ourselves above anyone else.

It's to trust in Him. And to live in love and forgiveness of others.