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.