Friday, February 20, 2015

A False Christ

I have been guilty of thinking from time to time that other people's dreams are boring. It's not very charitable of me, and I think it mostly stems from the fact that most people's dreams are pertinent only to themselves. So, forgive me for sharing one of my own.

I had a dream back in March of 2006. It puzzled me at the time, yet was so vivid that I had to write it down. I forgot about it in the subsequent years. It wasn't until last year that I randomly came across it again and understood it at last.

I dreamt I finally got my wish to visit with Jesus. He looked just like I expected him too, just like the pictures. He was leading me and a very small group of others around a strange place. I had expected him to lead us to heaven, and I was confused by the place we were lead through. It definitely was not heaven. I couldn't tell whether it was in this world or another. I started mentioning the gospel to individuals and I felt great doing it because that is exactly what I thought I was supposed to be doing, since we weren't being led to heaven yet, but nobody had asked me to, and no one else was doing the same. Near the end he took us into a grocery store. Lots of people who weren't following Jesus were there. Jesus told us in the group that our next task was to donate our organs in a clinic that was also inside the store. At this point he turned to me and asked my name. I offered it without hesitation. He asked me to go into the clinic as one of the first, but suddenly something felt off.

I wondered why he would want us to give away our organs when we are still alive, and why he didn't know my name. Didn't Heavenly Father and Jesus know all our names?

I wandered off into the store, thinking about this, wondering if I'd been following Satan's clever imitation of Jesus and wondering where Satan was since I knew he should be around us. I stopped in the back by the frozen foods and knelt to pray to find out if I should donate my organs and to ask why he had asked my name, when he should have known it, but a commotion broke out before I could properly finish.

I ran. At the front of the store, Satan, who appeared very frightening and demonic, had come in a whirl of destruction. I tried hiding in a shelf first. Then I had a thought that if I went back to the group, I'd be safe because I'd been safe there before. I ran back to the group as Satan chased me. As soon as I reached them, all was well.

Meanwhile, the people in this group had been going into the clinic one by one and having their vital organs removed. I was now at the back of the line. The girl ahead of me said that everyone who had gone before was fine after they had their organs removed, getting married, continuing in normal lives. The dream ends as I am on one of three operating tables, beside two other individuals of the group as we begin to lose consciousness.

I see now, what should have been obvious a long time ago. What I couldn't figure out because it didn't fit my understanding at the time.

I had been following a false Christ.

Only when I suspected this and had gone off alone to know the truth for myself, did Satan reveal himself. This caused me to abandon my attempt to know truth and revert back to what I was doing before. He fooled me and used my fear to corral me back where he wanted me.

When Lehi dreamed something similar, the man in the white robe he was following led him into a dark and dreary waste, until he prayed for deliverance and then was given the vision of the Tree of Life (1 Nephi 8:5-8).

The scriptures prophesy that there will be false Christs. There probably always have been.

I've come to believe we won't know Him because of how He looks. Rather, an expectation of Him looking a certain way is how we are prone to deception. I believe we will recognize it is Him when we see Him because we have come to know Him spiritually beforehand. Our Spirit will recognize His. But that's coming from someone who has yet to do that, so take it as such.

I came across this dream after I had come to a jarring realization that I already had been following a false Christ. A Christ put forward by the church I have been a part of my entire life. I had come to feel that He was an aloof being that only spoke to really special people in the church. Something I had never supposed to be, but had desired the same experience as they, to KNOW Him. I'd come to believe that I could never have that privilege in this life, that it was only given to a specific few whose job it was to experience that. I had come to think that He was a god who would know me as part of his group, but not by myself, a god who always spoke to me through someone else. A god who I would have to trust was personally leading the person I was following.

But that was wrong.

He isn't aloof. He talks to us all individually. He does not say, "Come follow that guy." He says, "Come follow me," to each of us as individuals. He says, "Ask, and it shall be given unto you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh, receiveth; and he that seeketh, findeth; and to him that knocketh, it shall be opened." He says, "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."

There is no safety in groups when it comes to the work of salvation because that is an individual thing, between you and the Lord.

The Lord is knowable to each of us, and not through another. It is good if another knows Him, and teaches us from what they know if that also leads us to knowing Him too, but not if they take that place of knowing god for us. That is the definition of idolatry. That is putting something between you and the Lord, and that thing (whatever it is: a physical idol, or a spiritual one) is a stumbling block. It becomes a false God, when the real one is calling to you personally. It will keep you from knowing Him for yourself, and recognizing Him, when the occasion arises.

Another thing I learned from this dream was the effect fear has in keeping us away from knowing truth. It keeps us ignorant. It keeps us from rising up. It chases us back into a false sense of security.

Don't let fear prevent you from knowing for yourself. Don't let it deceive you into doing exactly what the adversary wants you to do. Don't let it hold you back from pursuing truth. He loves to use that to his advantage.

Recommended further reading on the Savior:
The Scriptures
Come Let Us Adore Him
Ephraim Transcript: Christ

"Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity." (2 Timothy 2:19)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Into the Fire: Sanctified or Consumed

I want to share something I've been pondering from reading through Exodus the last few weeks. It's this concept of fire in connection to God. It begins with Moses herding his father-in-law's flocks, when sees a bush, "and, behold the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed."

So, seeing this, what does he do?

He goes to it. "And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." And from this bush, the presence of the Lord speaks to him, calls him by name, and calls the land on which Moses stands holy ground.

Later, when the Lord had rescued the children of Israel from Egypt, and Moses had brought them to Mount Sinai, there was something similar.

And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly. And when the voice of the trumpet sounded long, and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice. And the Lord came down upon mount Sinai, on the top of the mount: and the Lord called Moses up to the top of the mount; and Moses went up. Exodus 19:18-20

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die. And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that His fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not. And the people stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21

So here is a contrast. Moses sees something otherworldly, a fire, and he approaches it and is sanctified. The children of Israel see the glory of God descend to a mountain and instead of staying near the bounds the Lord has set, they draw away. They do not approach, are not sanctified. They ask Moses to do all the hard work for them. And he does. He goes up the smoking, quaking mountain into the presence of God, where he speaks to him. D&C 84 clarifies what happened here further.

Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest. And without the ordinances thereof, and the authority of the priesthood, the power of godliness is not manifest unto men in the flesh; For without this no man can see the face of God, even the Father, and live. 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. Therefore, he took Moses out of their midst, and the Holy Priesthood also... D&C 84: 20-25

The Israelites were given the same opportunity as Moses and they did not accept it. This opportunity was to see the face of God, to enter into the fulness of His glory, while in the flesh. This is the same opportunity we are all given: "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. (I've placed "I am" in bold because it is an echo of what God said to Moses when He appeared to him, "I am that I am.")

This is the same promise that was given to Moses, that was given to the Israelites, that is given to us. The same yesterday, today, and forever.

Fire and smoke are often mentioned in connection with the glory of God. It is the very fire of His glory and the glory of the host that will come with Him that will consume the earth when He returns, that will sanctify it to a Terrestrial habitation during the millenium. It is this fire that Telestial worlds and beings cannot abide.

(As individuals, this does not only occur at the Second Coming. There is the baptism of fire that we must experience in order to enter into the way.)

So that leaves us with a choice:

Do we repeat the actions of the children of Israel by removing, and standing "afar off?"

Do we let the fire catch up with us and consume us?


like Moses, do we approach?

Do we accept the invitation? And allow ourselves to be sanctified by the fire instead of consumed.

For the time speedily shall come that all churches which are built up to get gain, and all those who are built up to get power of the flesh, and those who are built up to become popular in the eyes of the world, and those who seek the lusts of the flesh and the things of the world, and to do all manner of iniquity; yea in fine, all those who belong to the kingdom of the devil are they who need fear, and tremble, and quake; they are those who must be brought low in the dust; they are those who must be consumed as stubble; and this is according to the words of the prophet. 1 Nephi 22:23

And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The Lord is my God. Zechariah 13:9