Category Archives: Doctrine

Wresting the Keys of the Kingdom

KeysOfTheKingdomThe Lord woke me at 3am the other morning. I wasn’t sure what He wanted. I prayed, felt led to search and ponder some recent email communications. He asked me to respond to a good brother with whom I had been conversing about the sacrament. The dialog had turned to keys. I wrote him an email. The Lord told me to make it public. I did not heed the prompting. It kept returning.

This morning the Lord woke me at 2am. Okay. I get it. In a Fast and Testimony meeting a few years ago, a ward member got up and said, “I’m supposed to tell you …” Even though I wasn’t there, I can promise you that testimony was discussed in bishopric meeting. You don’t use those kinds of words in the LDS Church from the pulpit these days. Why? He was not in leadership.

Tradition Shall No Longer Rule

I guess I’m still struggling to shed years of tradition about how messages from the Lord are to be delivered. In the LDS Church, you don’t get up and say, “I have a message the Lord asked me to share.” It goes back to D&C 28:1-7 where Oliver was admonished in verse six, “And thou shalt not command him who is at thy head.” It also relates to the seer stone incident (D&C 28:11-13).

Well, things have changed. I’m not used to having the Lord ask me to do something and share it in a public manner as anything other than my opinion. I have a need to repent. This post is an act of repentance for me. The voice of the Lord was clear and direct, even emphatic. It is not my place to judge if it is appropriate or not. I am not to assume it might offend. My desire is to please the Lord.

Listening to the Voice of the Lord

This is the response I wrote to this good brother. He lives in California. He has contributed a lot to the FAIR website over the years, presented at FAIR conferences. I suspect he is the author of the recent postings on that site related to Denver’s book, Passing the Heavenly Gift, as well as several of the entries about Denver’s blog. I was wondering if someone would respond to those.

Thanks for the ongoing dialog. I appreciate your response to my point about keys. I assume you know my background, having been a member of the LDS Church from the time my family joined when I was five years old until just last month, when I resigned at age 57. Keys, Keys, Keys. I’ve heard it all my life. I’ve taught it from the pulpit as a High Councilor and in the classroom as a High Priest Group Leader or Gospel Doctrine Teacher. I’m fairly certain I know the church’s position on keys. I’m more interested in what the Lord has to say to me about keys. If we can agree on the definition: keys open things and can be either knowledge or authority – you tell me which way you lean – then I’d like to know why you say Denver’s claim that the Lord wrested the keys from the LDS Church is false doctrine.

Actually, I suppose I would prefer to focus on how we can each know the truth for ourselves. I know this is a fundamental basic of Mormonism 101 but it applies to this most important of claims. I don’t care about others who have made such a claim. I don’t know them. I do know Denver – a little. I have read his books, studied his blog postings, attended his lectures and, most importantly, prayed incessantly for the past two and a half years (since February 2012) about what he has shared. According to my Bishop and Stake President I have been deceived. According to your words, Denver Snuffer has been led by Satan in his proclamations. I’m sure you know he said the following in the Phoenix / Mesa lecture. I was there with my wife. We both heard it. I was thrilled. Carol was not.

“The Lord has said to me in His own voice, ‘I will bless those who bless you, and curse those who curse you.’ Therefore, I want to caution those who disagree with me, to feel free, to feel absolutely free to make the case against what I say. Feel free to disagree, and make your contrary arguments. If you believe I err, then expose the error and denounce it. But take care; take care about what you say concerning me for your sake, not for mine. I live with constant criticism. I can take it. But I do not want you provoking Divine ire by unfortunately chosen words if I can persuade you against it.”

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have never heard anyone, at least not to my recollection, be they leader – local or general – or regular member, who has EVER said the Lord spoke to them and made such a declaration. When Carol heard this, she turned to me, with obvious annoyance, even anger in her voice and said, “He makes himself to be equal to Joseph Smith.” Someone later told me it would be more appropriate to say he made himself equal to Abraham (Genesis 12:3). In any event, it was at that moment, even though I already had prayed and received numerous witnesses to my soul about Denver’s teachings, I felt the spirit of the Lord whisper to me, “This man is authorized to speak for the Lord. He has keys.”

You know, I’m not so sure we need to rehash what Joseph said, or what Denver said. I only care about what the Lord said. When the Lord tells me something, I sit up and take notice. When the Lord whispers to me, I listen and I take action. That’s why I was baptized – as a witness to the Lord I accepted the message delivered by his messenger, Denver. I feel to bless Denver, and do so in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. Now you tell me he has been deceived by Satan. Wow. That goes so contrary to what I have felt as I have read his books and have carefully studied his witness of the Savior. I can tell you the teachings of this man have brought me closer to Jesus Christ than the words of any LDS Prophet.

Charles, we don’t need to read everything written against Denver on FAIR or review what Watcher has written in his reviews. If we want to continue this dialog, the focus needs to be on personal revelation to your soul and mine. If you can say the Lord has told you “in His own voice,” that Denver is deceived of Satan when I can tell you the Lord has told me “in His own voice” that Denver is authorized to speak on behalf of the Lord, then there is no point in continuing this dialog. Help me understand how you know the voice of the Lord. I would be more than pleased to discuss my experiences with the voice of the Lord. But if you’re going to curse Denver Snuffer, I don’t want to continue this dialog. What say ye?

I have not heard back from D. Charles Pyle. When I awoke at 2am this morning, in addition to posting my response above, I had an email waiting for me from Keith Henderson. You remember Keith. He was the man who stood at the end of the Mesa lecture and sealed it in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost. In his email, he gave me permission to share the following:

The Witness of Keith Henderson

Bishop B——- & others who may read: (I have elected to leave out the bishop’s name.)

I can no longer consider myself in line or in agreement with many of the tenets or “doctrine” of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as it exists today.  The Church has, in my opinion, moved itself so far from the original idea of the Restoration, and the pure Doctrine of Christ, as restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith, as to be almost un-recognizable to me.

Those things that are particularly offensive to me, and I feel to the Holy Spirit also, are: (See 1-4 below)

1.  The requirement to espouse a belief in and follow a man as though he is equal to God, or as though he can stand between me and God and arbitrate my salvation.  This is an unauthorized addition to the pure Doctrine of Christ as revealed to us by Nephi, Christ Himself, and Joseph, wherein the scripture says anyone adding to His doctrine is not of Christ, but is against Him, and therefore it follows that anyone believing in such an unauthorized addition makes them also against Christ, and not of His church. (See D&C 10: 57-70.  See also 2 Ne. 31: 5 through 2 Ne 32: 6.  Also 3 Ne. 11: 31-49.)  I believe in the scriptures and not in any such additions by other men.

I have in the past sustained Thomas S. Monson as the man who fills the seat entitled President of the High Priesthood or President of the Church, and have offered my prayers in behalf of him and his counselors, in faith and confidence as required by scripture (see D&C 107: 22).  I have offered these prayers that he would measure up, and be sustained by the Lord in the great responsibilities and requirements of this holy office.

When the Church began requiring me to sustain the First Presidency as prophets, seers, and revelators; presumably using the instruction in D&C 107: 92 where it says, “…And to be like Moses; yea to be a seer, a revelator, a translator, and a prophet, having all the gifts of God which he bestows upon the head of the church;”  I complied, believing, and understanding this to be descriptive of a hope, or ambition, not as an office, and to be given as gifts to them, if God willed to do so.  I never did presume that sustaining them as prophets, seers, and revelators, empowered them to make the claim to possess these gifts in the absence of God bestowing these things upon them.  So I waited for God’s hand to vindicate the expectancy, never thinking that by merely voting I could elevate a mere man to possess what is God’s right alone to give.

It now has become mandatory that I sustain those of the First Presidency as though these gifts are an office, never considering that perhaps the gifts have not been qualified for.  I will not continue to raise my hand to sustain men who never reveal, never prophecy, never demonstrate seership, nor who never translate.  And if any man has these gifts, he does not need my vote to vindicate his power before God, nor does my sustaining him vindicate his claims.  Rather than requiring me to sustain a man’s claims by my vote, perhaps you should require me to vote on the visible and tangible fruits of his claims, and whether I would have them binding on me by my part in the common consent.   I, however, do have a testimony of Joseph Smith demonstrating all these gifts by their fruits, thereby qualifying for my sustaining vote.

I have found it way more profitable to follow and rely upon my Savior, Jesus Christ, than to follow President Monson.  Actually I have yet to find a requirement in the scriptures stating that I have any obligation to follow any man, but I have found plenty of commandments requiring me to follow Jesus Christ.  I do not follow these men, nor will I continue to sustain them as currently required, in that I am required to say they hold all the keys of the Gospel on the earth.  I do not believe they do.  Further I do not believe they [the leaders] or you [their subservients], when you ask this question as part of the recommend interview, can give a delineated list of what these keys are.  Perhaps a list would be helpful, then I could know what is meant, and exactly what I’m subscribing to.  Others may choose to believe otherwise or however they please.

I think that for myself I will rather believe what it says in D&C 76: 99-100, that those who say they are of Paul, and of Apollos, and of Cephas, or of John, or Moses, or of Elias, or of Esaias, or of Isaiah, or of Enoch, or even of Thomas S. Monson; that they who say they are of one or another, or of the whole lot of these, qualify themselves as belonging only in a Telestial Glory.  I don’t want that for myself, and don’t think you should want that for me, or for any other, either.  Instead I will continue as I have come to believe, and as it says in 2 Nephi 9: 41-42,

“O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One.  Remember that his paths are righteous.  Behold the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.  And whoso knocketh, to him will he open…”

In other words, I do not believe that the First presidency can or should speak to God, on my personal behalf.  I do not believe the Twelve Apostles can or should speak to God, on my personal behalf.  I will speak to God directly, in the name of my Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ, for and on behalf of my own self, and let Him whose right it is, arbitrate my condition with God, thank you.  The Children of Israel begged Moses to speak to God for them, and not require that they personally speak to God for themselves, and for such a revolution they brought judgment upon themselves containing much less than the fullness of the priesthood, as was God’s original intent.  Can you imagine that?!

“If the children of Israel in that day, were cursed by God because they said Moses must talk to God and not themselves, how much greater must be the damnation upon those today who say, you must not talk to God, because we have one who does so for you!  Who preach that “you are not entitled to receive anything beyond the bonds of your own limited position or calling, in this beehive we’ve constructed!” Damnable heresy!  Doctrines of devils!  Propounded by those who are purveyors of a false priestcraft!  Unauthorized by God! Unsanctioned by Him!  They suffer not themselves to enter in and would hedge up the way for me if I gave heed to them.”

Also I do not find anywhere in scripture, nor do I believe there is any kind of requirement to sustain the Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators, or that they hold the keys of the Kingdom of God.  Nor do I believe that any of these above named men and in particular the Church President, are protected by God, in that they cannot do, or speak falsely, or lead others astray, because God will not allow it, or take them away first, or whatever.  For me to believe that, requires me to believe that God has set aside the agency of these men which I do not believe.  Others may think however they like, according to their own knowledge.

2.  The idea that any man, be he prophet or not, can arbitrarily change any scripture or doctrine or ordinance given by God to the Prophet Joseph Smith without direct revelation by God dictating the change, and the common consent vote of the membership making such a revelatory change binding upon the body.

There are too many instances where this has occurred for me to list all, so I will just use a couple as examples:

A.  For example D&C 89, commonly called the Word of Wisdom.  The revelation says at the beginning, “To be sent greeting, not by commandment or constraint, but by revelation and the word of wisdom…”  It has, however, been elevated (actually changed, not elevated) to a commandment, and made a “constraining” requirement for entry into the temple.  However, not all the revelation in this section is considered in this vein, only verses 5-9.  You tell me it is a commandment that I either abstain from these specified items or I will be “constrained” from attending the temple, where you otherwise say my “spiritual” salvation can be assured.  This revelation tells me, however, that these things are the will of God in regard to my “temporal” salvation, (verse 2) and says nothing concerning them affecting my spiritual salvation.  All other parts of the revelation, and whether or not I obey or disobey, don’t have any bearing on my worthiness.  I can eat anything, healthy or otherwise, and it means nothing.  But let alcohol or tobacco touch these lips, and I will be disqualified from almost everything, and especially the temple, wherein you say my salvation lies.

Has common sense taken leave of us?  I know of no place where further revelation changing this original revelation to a commandment is recorded, and know of no instance in which changes were voted on by common consent to be binding upon the body of the saints.  It was done by fiat, by a man, much later than its origination, and now I’m required to just bow and say Okee Dokee.  This is not for me.  I do not believe God works in any such manner as this.  I believe this to be the precepts of men mingled with scripture.  I believe, further, this whole section to be a “principle, with a promise,” (verse 3) and one of those items which Joseph meant when he said, “I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves.”  If a mere man can change God’s word on a whim, or even for what he considers a good reason, without God’s intervention commanding him to do so, then all scripture is suspect and only confusion can reign.  These are my thoughts and the religion I desire.  Others may think and desire whatever they like.

B.  Also for instance, the changing of the wording of the prayers on the Sacrament.  Every scriptural instance such as, D&C 20: 79; Moroni 5: 2; and the example given in 3 Nephi 18: 8, all tell us that “wine” is the emblem of His blood and you find if you look closely enough, that even though the Lord told Joseph, in one instance, as he went to procure wine from someone whom the Lord knew to be an enemy, that “It mattereth not what you eat or drink,” he never made any allowance for a change in the wording of the prayers.  By the way, Joseph returned home from that incident, and with Emma, Newell Knight, and His wife, and John Whitmer,  made a “wine” of their own preparation.  Water was never used. (see D&C 27: 2-4; also HC 1: 106-108.)   Again, where is the Lord’s authorization for the word change in the sacrament prayers, and where is the record of the common consent concurrence by the membership making it binding on the saints?  Do we think these things don’t matter to the Lord?  I for one, think they do. Others may think how they like.

C.  And one more example.  I have been a full tithe and offerings payer most all of my adult life.  I have felt confidence that my offerings were being used as I directed within the categories offered upon the tithing slip, and beyond that I felt it was indicative of my faith that I allow the use of my paid funds to be administered however the committee on the disposition of the tithes decided was appropriate within those categories.  Then all of a sudden a spurious and unsettling statement showed up on the tithing slip which says, “Though reasonable efforts will be made globally to use donations as designated, all donations become the Church’s property and will be used at the Church’s sole discretion to further the Church’s overall mission.”

Now I have no guarantee that any of the funds I designate in the titled categories on the slip will be used as I thought or desired they be used.  My desire has simply been wiped out of the equation by a legalese statement making my money the “Corporation Sole’s” money, and he (President Monson, the church’s sole owner) will damned well use it however he pleases.  Not on my watch he won’t!  Not with my money he won’t!  I will take charge of my own tithing and fast offerings and disburse and care for the poor among and around me as I’m commanded.  And others can pray and pay, and do as they like.

I further find out that huge investments are being made, and increased, in land holdings, cattle operations, fruit and nut farms, banks, communication facilities, etc., and that mega-malls and other “for profit” concerns are being built using the tithing funds.  I can hear the screams now.  “No! No! We are not using tithing funds, but only the investment income and profits we generate from all the investments we make.  No tithing is being used.”  Ye vipers!  Have you not read in Matthew 25: 14-27, the parable of the talents?  If so, you do not understand its meaning!  The man who receives one talent buries that talent and when the Master requires an accounting he says, “I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strewed: And I was afraid and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.  His Lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou newest that I reap where I sowed not, and gathered where I have not strewed:  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.”

In other words He owns it.  He owns all of it.  He owns the interest, He owns the investment.  He owns it all and it is “His Tithing.”  And there is nothing that is generated from tithing that is not tithing, thus making it applicable to the requirements for tithing.   In the parable there is no such thing as “investment income.”  And have you (meaning the church leaders) shut your eyes and are you blind to the condemnation Nephi heaped upon us when he said, “Because of pride, and because of false teachers, and false doctrine, their [our] churches have become corrupted, and their [our] churches are lifted up; because of pride are they [we] puffed up.  They [we] rob the poor because of their [our] fine sanctuaries; they [we] rob the poor because of their [our] fine clothing; and they [we] persecute the meek and the poor in heart, because in their pride they [we] are puffed up.” (2 Nephi 28: 12-13. Insertions are mine.)  Who exactly did you think Nephi was speaking about?  Do you not know that the Book of Mormon is prophecy rather than history?  I personally cannot condone this use of my tithing money in this way, and will not participate any longer in this fraudulent use of the Lord’s money.

Then, the lack of financial accountability to the membership is another whole matter which I deplore, but will not go into other than to say it is a shame on your [the leader’s] part that you do not provide the required accountability and that you seek deep to hide your counsels from the sheep you are shearing [and the Lord].  And it is a shame on our [the member’s] part that we don’t refuse you our common consent, because you don’t provide the scripturally required accountability with clarity.

3.  The restructuring of the priesthood, and the correlating of everything to it.

If there is one proof that there is no effective priesthood within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, it is the hierarchal structuring of the priesthood, and the correlating of all offices, programs, policies, doctrine, and teaching beneath the umbrella of one man’s priesthood.  By doing this you [again, the leadership] have negated the priesthood instruction Joseph Smith gave as D&C 121: 34-37.  You have, by making a hierarchal structure such as this, built into the priesthood system “control, dominion, and compulsion.”  Now I fully understand that this works well for a “for profit” organization, but in the Lord’s church it is forbidden.  It furthermore is forbidden upon penalty of forfeiture of priesthood authority and power.  In the instruction it says,

“That they [the rights of the priesthood] may be conferred upon us, it is true; but when we undertake to cover our sins, or gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control, dominion, or compulsion upon 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 authority of that man.”

Now the scripture is written on a singular basis, but you [the church leaders] have managed to perpetrate this unrighteousness en mass.  A hierarchal structure such as this is all about control, and dominion, and is fertile ground for compulsion.  So I ask you, where in this church can priesthood be found?  Well, to answer my own question; it can be found in persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, and love un-feigned, by kindness, and pure knowledge, without hypocrisy, and without guile. (see D&C 121: 41-42.)  Isn’t it interesting that some of our wives are found abounding in these [priesthood] things, while we [the men] are trying to garner to ourselves more control and dominion, and a higher seat, and consequently lose priesthood power, and authority.

All Priesthood power is found only in connecting ourselves to heaven.  You might even say, only by connecting ourself to the power of heaven, or in other words connecting ourselves to Jesus Christ.  Fortunately some few have been able to do this, and by so doing have garnered to themselves a priesthood recognized in heaven: even as it says in JST Genesis 14: 29, “And it [this priesthood] was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will, unto as many as believed on his name.”  This is able to be done because, as I quoted before from 2 Nephi 9: 41, “God, the Holy One of Israel is the keeper of the gate and employeth no servant there.”  I would hope more of us would try it.  But then, I hope primarily without much faith, because, “few there be that find it.”

4.  That those we call prophets have caused the earth to be defiled under the inhabitants thereof by altering and changing the ordinances.

“They have transgressed the law, changed the ordinances, and broken the everlasting covenant.”(Isaiah 24: 5.)  Furthermore, Joseph Smith said, “Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of men, are not to be altered or changed.” (TPJS p.308.)  Now tell me how many times in your lifetime have you seen the ordinances in the temple change?  This will be dependent upon how old you are; for changes, alterations, subtractions, additions, changes to format, and changes to clothing, have been going on for well over a hundred years.

“Into the darkness that prevails in the minds of men who instigate or authorize changes to the ordinances, enters the devil with such arguments as: “Why do it that way?  It really doesn’t matter or mean anything.  It is arcane and outdated.  It really doesn’t matter as long as you continue to have faith in Christ.”  [That particular lie is very effective because it allows the person to presume they have faith, when in fact they haven’t faith sufficient to obey Christ].”  Continuing on with the lies: “People will get more out of the changes if we make them.  Our numbers will increase.  What we change isn’t important anyway.  If it were important, we would know that, and since it doesn’t seem important to us, and because our polling data shows it is not important to those who attend, it must, in fact, not be important.  Change is proof that God is still leading us.”  …And other such arguments and persuasions from our adversary.  And all that has happened  by making changes to the ordinances is we have been cheated out of God’s gift to us, and we have been carefully led down to hell.  I want no part of this anymore, either.  Others are free to choose their own course.

Now, after all this, my testimony is:

I believe in God the Eternal Father, and in His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ.  I believe that Joseph Smith was and is the Prophet of this Dispensation of the Restoration of all Things.  I believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.  And I believe in the many other things Joseph received, which we as a Church have cast off as either not understandable or worthless. [i.e. The Lectures on Faith]. I believe in these revelations and in all the revelations which he wrote, and others yet to come, whether to myself, or to others whom He [Christ] will call as His servants.  In fact, I believe God has called a Servant to speak His words in this our very own day;  one, in fact, who does speak in the name of the Lord God, and gives His words to us.  I believe that Denver C. Snuffer Jr. is that servant and stands as an Abinadi or a Samuel on the wall, or as a Lehi required by God to preach a message to Idol worshipping Jerusalem.  And I believe that many will try to kill him or run him out, or destroy the word which God speaks through him.  I believe that the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to come again on the earth and much is available today because of the translations and revelations of Joseph, and also now again, because of the words of Jesus Christ being spoken to us, in today’s part of the Restoration, through the many writings and revelations and talks of this Denver C. Snuffer Jr..  I believe that the fullness of the priesthood is available to anyone who qualifies and receives it by the voice of Jesus Christ, under the direction of the Father.  I do believe there is much worth yet in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, in that its crippled ordinances, even now still point the way to knowledge which can be received for real.  And most of its people are kind and wonderful and many are my dear friends, but they do not rise up because they don’t know what has happened, and what is available, and simply where to find it.  I do not, however, believe that the church or its leaders or any other man can provide salvation for any man or woman, and that to the extent we think they can, we engage in idolatry, and move in proximity away from He through whom salvation comes.

In consequence of this testimony I will obey the will of the Lord in:

Seeking for His continual personal administration.
Seeking for Zion and its establishment.
Participating with and be-friending any individual or group I see fit, whether they be atheist, agnostic, lgbt, apostate, excommunicated or antagonist toward the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or even if they love the Mormons.
Speaking what I view as truth to whomever I please or am commanded, or to whomever will listen.
Holding study groups in my home on any subject I choose.
Attending study groups in other’s homes upon invitation.
Administering my own tithing and offerings. (See seeking for Zion above.)
Worshipping my God according to the dictates of my own conscience, and according to the will of His Holy Spirit upon me.
Influencing my family in my beliefs.
Influencing others in my beliefs.

At this point, I definitely want to state that no part of this account of my beliefs constitute in any way the resignation of my membership from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I am simply exercising by right and claim that all men should be encouraged and allowed to believe and worship how, where, or what they may, and that I should be allowed to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of my own conscience.  The beliefs of a man, according to Joseph Smith, do not determine his goodness nor his worthiness.  It is our acceptance and obedience to the scriptures and ordinances which we have all received which should dictate, and not any manual made up by men.

I will understand your desire to exercise your control and dominion over me, and will even tolerate moderate attempts at coercion.

I would like to invite you to exercise your priesthood in this matter, in the Lord’s way.  Threats will not sway me.  Sanctions you might try to impose will mean nothing to me.  Even ex-communication is not a daunting thing to me.  I have a priesthood, and an assignment in that priesthood.  It comes from a source you can neither influence nor abrogate.  You can bless yourselves in how you treat me, and my seemingly, rather unbelievable views, or you can condemn yourselves in the process of your actions; so I would advise you to rely rather heavily on the will of the Lord in any of your matters regarding this.

Sincerely
Keith M. Henderson
October 8, 2014

A Few Final Thoughts

If I were Keith’s Bishop I would be hesitant to act. We can be certain this letter has been seen by Keith’s Stake President, Area President, probably a member of the Twelve and possibly the First Presidency. I presume the Church does not want bad publicity right now, especially after excommunicating the wife of a fellow blogger last Sunday. I can understand why Adrian was disciplined but wonder why they excommunicated his wife in the same council, simply for being his wife and standing by his side. I also wonder what will happen to Keith. What do you think?

Preserving the Restoration

MormonismDividedMormon history is full of breakoff groups, splinter groups, divisions, and all kinds of off-shoots. Most of them have been failures. Tell me why you think this new movement will be different.

First, let’s be clear I’m no spokesperson for this movement. I’m not even sure you can classify it as a movement. There is no leader. This is no organized church. It is simply a group of believers.

But you base your beliefs on Mormonism.

Yes, the majority of what we believe was at one time taught in Mormonism.

Okay, so you’re a group of former Mormons…

No, we believe we’re still Mormons – even those who have left the LDS Church.

Fine, so you consider yourselves Mormons. What sets you apart from other groups who have left the Mormon Church – the fundamentalists for example? Do you believe in Polygamy?

I’ll bet some do, but I don’t. Even though I accept section 132 as doctrine, I have no intention of practicing plural marriage.

Why is that, especially if you accept section 132?

If there’s any one thing that unites this diverse group of believers, it’s a message that was delivered throughout the Mormon corridor over the past year or so (Sep 2013 to Sep 2014) in a series of lectures.

You’re referring of course to Denver Snuffer and his teachings.

Yes. One of those lectures – delivered in St George – was aimed particularly at the subject of polygamy. Included in the message was the mandate that plural marriage be abandoned.

So you don’t consider yourself a fundamentalist movement.

I suppose it depends on how you define fundamentalism. If you’re referring to the multiple groups who practice polygamy, mainly based in Utah, you are correct. We don’t feel the need to keep polygamy alive as they do. In fact, most of us are still members of the LDS Church.

Really … but you aren’t.

No, I resigned.

Why is that?

I had been accused of apostasy by my local leaders. It was only a matter of time before I would have been excommunicated. In fact, many of my friends, individuals who have studied and accepted the message delivered by this man we consider the Lord’s servant in the last days have been excommunicated for apostasy.

The Lord’s servant …How do you know this? I mean, how do you communicate?

Come on. We live in the information age. We have websites, blogs, Facebook groups, email lists and cell phones. We keep in touch with each other. Many are organized in small groups.

Are you a member of a group?

Only on the Internet … There are simply not enough people who believe as I do here in Southern California to meet on a regular basis. We are spread too far out. However, I can tell you there are many groups in Utah, Idaho and Arizona who meet each week, and sometimes during the week.

Is there a directory of these groups?

Yes. But as you can imagine, many wish to keep their groups secret and private.

Why is that?

Hello. They are still members of the LDS Church.

Okay. So this is a clandestine movement. They are afraid of the Mormon Church.

Yes, I believe that’s an accurate statement. Some are afraid, some aren’t. Many more are coming out in the open about their beliefs. They are inviting their family members, friends and neighbors to join them.

You say they meet on a regular basis. Why?

… to partake of the sacrament, to pray, to study the scriptures, to strengthen each other.

Just like a church…

I suppose. Small fellowships or communities would be a better description. Remember, there’s no hierarchy. They – we – consider ourselves seekers desirous to be members of the Church of the Firstborn, the Church of the Lamb of God.

I’m certain you don’t mean one of the groups that use those names, especially in Utah.

Correct. We refer to the Church of the Firstborn as used in the scriptures. There is no earthly organization to this movement. No leader.

So you meet in homes to take the sacrament, read the scriptures, pray and do all the things that new churches do when they are getting started. Yet, you say you are not a church. I don’t get it.

The problem with a formal church organization is that it can be hijacked, taken over by a strongman, if you will. A legal organization can be controlled by government intervention. Our main focus is to come unto Christ through baptism, and prepare ourselves for Zion.

Okay, now this is getting weird. Do you know how extreme that sounds?

What part, performing baptisms or getting ready for the return of Zion?

Both… So you practice baptisms?

Yes. I was baptized September 21st. I’m aware of hundreds of LDS people who have been baptized again just in the past month or so.

Really … What does the LDS Church think about that?

I think you know the answer. Its grounds for excommunication, just like participating in the Sacrament in your home or praying in your home the way we do in the temple. The LDS Church wants to control these things.

So how large would you say this movement is?

Hard to tell … There were six or seven hundred people at the final lecture in Mesa on September 9th. I’m fairly certain there are thousands of LDS members who have read the books or listened to the lectures of Denver Snuffer. That’s a drop in the bucket of the total membership.

Do you think the Mormon leaders know about it?

Of course they do. Elder Nelson referred to a point from Denver’s book recently in General Conference when he said, “No Prophet has ever been elected.”  Brigham Young recorded, “I was unanimously elected President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.”

Just a matter of interpretation. I think Brigham meant sustained.

Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. The local leaders are becoming much more aware of Denver Snuffer because they are hearing about it from their members.

In a good way or bad way?

Both. Some are bringing questions from Denver’s lectures to their Bishops they can’t answer. Some Bishops are calling members in to question them about things they have heard or read.

Such as?

Oh, you know. A home teacher or a neighbor will tell the Bishop someone in their ward is reading Denver’s stuff. Or the Bishop will ask them about their comments on Facebook.

You’re kidding.

I wish I were. Apparently it’s considered an offense worthy of discipline to read Denver’s writings or to talk to anyone else about his stuff. In fact, there’s a whole group of blogs the leaders don’t want you to visit or talk about.

Seriously …

I speak from personal experience.

So you know of people who have been excommunicated for reading Denver Snuffer’s works?

Yep. There’s a website you can visit that used to keep track but it’s not up to date. There was a couple excommunicated just last Sunday evening because they wouldn’t say the words, “The living prophet and apostles hold all the keys of the kingdom of God.”

Let’s get back to the point. Why do you think this movement is different and will last?

I’ve been watching it for two and a half years. I’ve been intimately involved in reading, studying and praying about the material published by Denver, especially the recent lectures. I participate in the email dialogs. I publish many posts on my blog discussing the ideas in the lectures. I see more and more people willing to give up their membership based on their own experiences.

What kind of experiences?

The same kind that brought them into the LDS Church or helped them become faithful, contributing members throughout their lives. For the most part these are good, humble, sincere individuals and families who are convinced – no, converted – by their feelings in prayer, in worship and in service. In other words, they act upon impressions from God upon them.

So they believe God told them the LDS Church is no longer the only true church?

Yep. They see it as an organization of men, not as the church that will bring about Zion.

So, without a controlling organization at the top, these people who are leaving the LDS Chuch to follow Denver Snuffer…

Wrong. To follow Jesus Christ …

Yes, but based on the teachings of Denver Snuffer…

I’ll grant you that. They – and I – believe the message Denver delivered in the lectures over the past year was inspired by, authorized by, and received by revelation from the Lord.

What is so special and different about this message?

I suppose the primary and perhaps key doctrine, if you will, is that the Lord has wrested the authority or the “keys” of the LDS Church away from the men who lead it.

Based on what?

Based on the principles of unrighteous dominion outlined in D&C section 121.

Wow. That is one amazing claim. I assume it has been refuted.

Of course. You can read all about it on the FAIR website. I’m sure they’ll add more.

And intelligent, regular LDS members are willing to resign or be excommunicated because they believe this, this idea that the LDS Church is no longer authorized of God to … to do what?

Officiate in the ordinances of salvation.

Such as …

Baptism, the Sacrament, temple ordinances…

Really, even temple ordinances?

Even temple ordinances.

Do you know how angry this sort of claim will make regular members of the church?

I was one of them. It made me a little angry the first time I pondered the possibility.

Yet you eventually gave up your membership in the LDS Church because you believe this guy.

No, I resigned from the LDS Church because it was the honorable thing to do, at least for me. Others are willing to go through the excommunication process. I had been through enough of those serving in a High council and Bishoprics over twenty-five years.

But you resigned based on the word of a man you hardly know.

No, I resigned because I prayed about this man’s message and felt it was right.

I go back to the same line. Do you know how crazy that sounds?

I do. I’m well aware I’m seen as a crackpot, a lunatic, a crazy person, or worse. Resigning or being excommunicated from the Mormon Church is considered losing your eternal salvation.

And you apparently don’t believe that?

I used to. Not anymore.

Why not?

Because I feel I have something better, a more sure word of prophecy.

Wait… that phrase has special significance to Mormons, doesn’t it?

It does.

And you’re saying…

That I know the Lord has accepted of and approved of my actions.

Have you seen the Lord?

I have not.

Have you heard his voice?

I have.

Can you describe it? Tell me about it.

Just like it’s described in the scriptures: quiet, peaceful, powerful, deep in the heart and soul.

Wait, you’re describing a feeling. You said you’ve heard His voice.

I have.

What did it sound like?

It wasn’t an audible voice, although there are those who have heard the Lord’s voice. Actually Boyd K. Packer described it best, or maybe it was Marion G. Romney. I forget. One of them said the voice of the Lord will come into your mind without the use of the auditory channel. In other words, you ask a question, wait and the Lord will answer you in full and complete sentences.

Oh, come on…

It works for me.

How do you know it’s not your own voice or maybe the whisperings of an evil spirit?

You just know, or at least I do. It takes years of experience in reading the scriptures.

Let’s wrap this up. You’ve admitted what you’ve done and what you believe sounds crazy to most Mormons. You seem like an intelligent guy. If someone else wanted to duplicate your experiment, so to speak, I assume you recommend they read Denver’s books and lectures.

Yes, but I’ve found something from another witness that has opened my soul as I have read and studied from its pages. I wrote about it previously on my blog after I read the first chapter. I’ve now read the second chapter and am in the third. I want to put a plug in for this book again.

Okay, go ahead. What is it?

The book is entitled, 77 Truths and the author is Bret Corbridge from Montrose, Colorado.

What’s so special about this book?

Besides the fact it is chock full of quotes, scriptures and commentary supporting powerful truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, many of which are no longer taught in the LDS Church, Bret feels so strongly this book will help people understand truths of the gospel, he is giving it away.

How many pages is the book?

460.

How long did it take him to write it?

Not quite sure. Somewhere between two and four years.

So you’re saying a lot of the ideas taught by Denver Snuffer are in this 460-page book from Bret Corbridge, which he spent years writing and now he is willing to give it away free?

Yep.

That’s crazy.

It’s called consecration. Bret’s a good man. And the book is wonderful. I highly recommend it.

Okay, so how do you get one?

Email bret@77truths.com and ask for a copy. The PDF is free. You can buy the physical book on Amazon for about $15, but he says if you want a physical copy and can’t afford it, email him.

Any concluding thoughts for this interview? I’m still not convinced this movement will last.

I don’t blame you or anyone else for being skeptical. I’m convinced the very last days are upon us. I’m also convinced the events foretold in prophecy about the breakdown of society are about to come to pass. It may be years, but the day will come when society breaks up into tribes. The message delivered by the Lord through Denver Snuffer is a message of preparation. We have been invited to practice consecration in communities to care for the poor among us. That’s one of the signs of a Zion society – no poor among them. We use our tithing for that purpose.

So you pay tithing to this man.

No. We pay tithing to the Lord and use it in our local groups or communities. We don’t build malls.

Do you have a temple?

Not yet. But we will.

Why?

To present to the Lord a list of names of those who have been baptized.

Who will pay for this temple?

I have no idea. I haven’t thought about it.

Sounds familiar to Warren Jeff’s group and the YFZ temple in Arizona.

I know. I know. Lots of Mormon fundamentalists have similar ideas from the restoration.

The LDS Church is the biggest group that came out of Joseph Smith’s visions and dreams.

Yes, and it will probably remain so. I’m grateful to the LDS Church for all it has done for me over the fifty plus years I was a member. I gave a lifetime of service in the LDS Church. I have friends and family whom I love who faithfully serve and give to the LDS Church.

But you left to follow… not this man Denver Snuffer as you say, but what you believe the Lord asked of you. And you don’t think you have been deceived.

That’s correct. I suppose time will tell, won’t it? I don’t believe a man should be required to accept or acknowledge another living man, even if he claims to be a prophet, in order to come unto Christ. As far as I know, Denver has not claimed to be a prophet. I have written in my blog he has acted as a messenger, a prophet and a servant of the Lord. He has delivered his message. However, belief in and acceptance of a prophet should not be a requirement for membership in Christ’s church.

Well, good luck to you. You have chosen an unusual path for someone with your background.

Thank you. I recognize what I have done would be especially difficult for someone who has multiple generations of Mormonism in their heritage. My family members were converts when I was a child. I have studied and lived Mormonism all my life. I never expected to leave the LDS Church. I still consider myself a Mormon, but more accurately, a disciple of Jesus Christ. I want to follow the Savior. “Follow the Prophet” is not my mantra. It may be for others, but not for me.

A Few Thoughts on Priesthood

JosephBaptizingOliverNote: To those familiar with it, these thoughts are taken from Lecture Five. They are not original with me, but I have tried to summarize them in my own words as I have studied them. Sharing my notes is the way I customarily study doctrine. You will note many of the concepts here do not coincide with current teachings of the LDS Church, but they are all based on scripture. I always welcome dialog and discussion, especially from those who offer studied but opposing views.

Higher Priesthood Received From God

“All priesthood is Melchizedek, but there are different portions or degrees of it. That portion that brought Moses to speak with God face-to-face was taken away, but that which brought the ministry of angels remained. All prophets have the Melchizedek priesthood and were ordained by God himself.” (TPJS 180-181) This is as true today as the day Joseph taught it. According to D&C 84:42, the higher priesthood is conferred by the voice of God to men out of the heavens.

Priesthood Independent of the LDS Church

Joseph is not talking about offices in the LDS Church. Priesthood existed long before the LDS Church was organized. The LDS Church is dependent upon priesthood for authority and power. Apostle, Seventy, High Priest, Elder, Priest, Teacher, Deacon are offices in the Church. They aren’t priesthood at all. They occupy positions in the Church of various church offices, with or without the presence of priesthood. This is not so radical if you think about our LDS history.

Priesthood Existed Before the LDS Church

When John the Baptist appeared and conferred the Aaronic priesthood upon Joseph and Oliver, he had them baptize and then ordain each other. This was in May 1829, long before the church was organized. It is interesting to note the Holy Ghost fell upon Joseph and Oliver in great power immediately after being baptized. They were both filled with the spirit of prophecy. In addition, their minds were enlightened so as to understand the meaning and intention of the scriptures.

Priesthood Received After Exhibiting Faith

Faith and priesthood are two different things. People can heal by faith without priesthood. Men can do marvelous things through faith in Jesus Christ without being ordained to the priesthood. This is evidenced in scripture by young Melchizedek who “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.” (JST Gen 14:26) His ordination occurred after he had exhibited great faith.

You Can’t Vote On Priesthood Power

Possession of the higher priesthood power comes only by the will of God, not by the will of man. It is not something we can vote on and confer upon a man. Voting is something the LDS church does when sustaining individuals to offices within the church. You can’t vote higher priesthood power upon a man. He must receive it directly by hearing the voice of God himself. “And it was delivered unto men by the calling of his own voice, according to his own will…” (JST Gen 14:29)

Priesthood Not Lost When Leaving LDS Church

A man does not lose the priesthood when he is no longer a member of the LDS Church. Even the Handbook verifies this on page 122 under Restoration of Blessings. Under the direction of the First Presidency, an Area Seventy usually performs the ordinance of “restoration of blessings.” He does NOT ordain the man to the priesthood again, nor is he required to be endowed again. What does that tell you? A man does NOT lose his priesthood when he resigns from the church.

Authority and Power are Two Different Things

In other words, the LDS Church does not and cannot control priesthood. It is controlled by God. This is contrary to letters sent out by local church leaders stating that priesthood is withdrawn. Sorry. That’s false doctrine. I don’t know how many different ways I can express this to make the point clear. I received the Aaronic priesthood from my father. I still have it, along with a line of authority to prove it. The higher Melchizedek priesthood is only received directly from God.

Priesthood is a Call to Save and Redeem

Priesthood is not a franchise. It is not something that is given in order to control others. In its highest form, Priesthood is an opportunity, afforded you by God, to serve and to bless others. It its highest form, the Priesthood is a call to save and a call to redeem. It is a call to rescue others from destruction. The lesser priesthood is often used to condemn. In fact, when condemnation is placed upon a man in the church, you can be certain it is not performed with higher priesthood.

Priesthood is a Fellowship or Association

The real definition of Priesthood is an association between mankind and those on the other side of the veil. It is a brotherhood, and, potentially, a sisterhood. It is a fellowship, a ministry. It is a connection between the Powers of Heaven and the man or woman. Its purpose is raise up and to bless, never to condemn. In fact, if a fellowship or priesthood is used to condemn it may as well be considered as one of Satan’s priesthoods, because such condemnation does not save souls.

Priesthood is Not to Control or Compel

Priesthood is not a hierarchy, at least not the kind that mortals like to employ in which they love to control and compel others. Priesthood is more like developmental stages on Jacob’s ladder. Each stage of association, fellowship or priesthood is moving toward perfection. To be higher in your perfection is to be near to and therefore more like God. The only tools of the priesthood are persuasion, love, meekness and pure knowledge. It is never used to control or compel others.

Priesthood an Association with Powers of Heaven

Joseph named some of the powers of heaven for us: angels, archangels, principalities, powers, dominions, thrones, cherubim and seraphim. These are all powers of heaven. D&C 121 teaches us how we are to relate to these powers of heaven. If you offer knowledge using persuasion, gentleness and love unfeigned, you are going to find someone who is armed with the power of heaven and who has an association with the powers of heaven as named by Joseph Smith.

Authority is Given to Bring Unto Christ

Priesthood power comes by sharing truth, light and knowledge from a higher source. When one uses priesthood he does not teach the philosophies of men mingled with scripture. He will teach new truth and therefore shed new light on subjects, because such teachers are filled with light and truth themselves. They have authority given them to make men more like God, to lift and to elevate them, to enlighten and strengthen, to encourage and to point the way toward the Savior.

Priesthood Given to Dispense Knowledge

It will be knowledge that exalts you in the afterlife. We progress and grow, line by line, step by step, rung by rung, until we arrive at the station of an exalted and glorified being, dwelling in everlasting burnings. The afterlife does not consist of only a heaven and a hell. The afterlife is not a destination, and is not limited by time. Remember, it will be a great time after we have crossed through the veil before we will have learned all there is to be learned for exaltation.

Two Different Kinds of Fellowships

There are two different fellowships in the priesthood. One is between men or women and the other is between men and God. The fellowship we have on earth between us is different from the fellowship we have with heaven and the powers of heaven. Enoch taught us in Moses 7:27 it is the powers of heaven who bring us up into Zion. Think about that. While we are attempting to prepare for Zion among ourselves, we must also seek to have fellowship with Zion above us.

Seek to Associate with Powers of Heaven

There are many examples of these two fellowships in the scriptures: Enoch, Moses, Abraham, Jacob and others. They were first ordained to the fellowship among their brethren. They then went and obtained their errand from the Lord and established their fellowship with the powers of heaven. We ought never to be content to simply have the association that exists here. We should always seek to know and associate with the powers of heaven as we prepare for Zion to come.

Priesthood is to Enable us to See God

Don’t let anyone deceive you into believing this association is only meant for the afterlife. The purpose of the priesthood is to be able to see the face of God and live. It is to allow the power of Godliness to be manifest unto men, in the flesh. (D&C 84:21, 76:118, 93:1) This power, this priesthood, this fellowship, this association with the powers of heaven was meant to be laid hold upon by mortal men while here in this life. This life is the time to take care of this assignment.

Fellowships Required of Us in This Life

When Joseph said there were different portions or degrees of priesthood he meant the different fellowships and different associations we can have with the powers of heaven that exist on the other side of the veil. We need to cultivate that association in this life. Our growth requires these fellowships or priesthoods in order to obtain the power of Godliness so we can attain to the resurrection of the dead and dwell in everlasting burnings. Thus we can keep our second estate.

All Priesthood is Perishable

Even that priesthood conferred by the voice of God is perishable, if you are unwilling to restrain, and to contain yourself within the bounds the Lord has prescribed. Although Joseph did not, the church lost the higher priesthood, else why would the Lord point out the need to “restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fullness of the priesthood?” (D&C 124:28) While we’re still mortal, it is possible any person can lose the higher priesthood.

Lack of Faith Damns our Progress

I’ve always wondered why angels would choose to be angels as opposed to becoming Gods. It is because they are unwilling to believe they can obtain such a blessing. They limited themselves. It is the same with us. We hedge up our own way to heaven when we fail to develop sufficient faith and confidence necessary to lay hold upon all the blessings offered, because we believe those blessings are reserved for others and not for us. Like the children of Israel, we damn ourselves.

Faith Required to Obtain the Fullness

The Children of Israel would not ascend the mountain. They demanded a prophet to speak to God for them. They would not speak with God themselves. Thus they were cursed by God. Can you imagine how God must feel about those who preach today we are not entitled to receive any kind of revelation beyond what they say we can receive? Yes, there are those among us who say we cannot receive an audience with Christ, because such things are reserved only for prophets.

The Lord Took Away the Higher Priesthood

Joseph could not get the Saints to complete the Nauvoo temple before he was killed. Had they done so, the promised blessing in D&C 124:55 would have been fulfilled. The Lord wanted to restore the fullness of the priesthood – the higher priesthood – to the church. He had placed the church under condemnation in D&C 84:56. In D&C 124:28 the Lord told the Saints He had taken away the higher priesthood. The Temple was required in order to restore what was lost.

The Church was Cursed Instead of Blessed

If there’s one thing I have noticed as a result of being baptized again, it is the way I can now clearly see the meaning of the scriptures. Not only has my desire to study them increased, but the spirit bears witness to me the interpretations the LDS Church has taught for years about some passages, particularly in section 124, are simply wrong. We have lost the plain meaning of what the Lord tried to tell us there, or else we are just too blind to see it or are unwilling to accept it.

Conversing With the Lord Through the Veil

Joseph left us enough of the doctrine in the endowment ceremony, particularly in the method of approaching the Lord at the veil, for individuals to obtain the promised blessings for themselves. In other words, we can converse with the Lord through the veil. We can obtain an audience with the Savior. We can be sealed to the Fathers and eventually, come back into the Father’s presence. This is the promise of the holy priesthood. It can be obtained in this life if we desire and seek it.

What Manner of Men?

Note from Tim: This is a guest post from Log. I’m hopeful he will be willing to share more with us in the future. The post is inspired by this verse in 3 Ne 27:27.

NephiAndBrothersContention

We had ought to treat our fellow man as though they were Jesus Christ himself.

When the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he shall sit upon the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth sheep from the goats; the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on his left. And he shall sit upon his throne, and the twelve apostles with him.

Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in; naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, and fed thee; or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in; or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the king shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was an hungered, and ye gave me no meat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungered, or athirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these my brethren, ye did it not unto me. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment; but the righteous into life eternal. (JST Matthew 25:32-47)

This includes in our online interactions.

And Jesus said, O ye generation of vipers! how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man, out of the good treasure of the heart, bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure, bringeth forth evil things.

And again I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. (JST Matt 12:29-32)

The Church of Christ is defined thusly.

Behold, this is my doctrine—whosoever repenteth and cometh unto me, the same is my church. (D&C 10:67)

Teachers have the following duty.

The teacher’s duty is to watch over the church always, and be with and strengthen them; and see that there is no iniquity in the church, neither hardness with each other, neither lying, backbiting, nor evil speaking; and see that the church meet together often, and also see that all the members do their duty. They are, however, to warn, expound, exhort, and teach, and invite all to come unto Christ. (D&C 20:53-55, 59)

Evil speaking means “slander; defamation; calumny; censoriousness.”

Slander, as a noun, means “a false tale or report maliciously uttered. and tending to injure the reputation of another by lessening him in the esteem of his fellow citizens, by exposing him to impeachment and punishment, or by impairing his means of living; defamation; disgrace; reproach; disreputation; ill name.”

As a verb, slander means “to defame; to injure by maliciously uttering a false report respecting one; to tarnish or impair the reputation of one by false tales, maliciously told or propagated.”

Defamation means “the uttering of slanderous words with a view to injure another’s reputation; the malicious uttering of falsehood respecting another which tends to destroy or impair his good name, character or occupation; slander; calumny.”

Calumny means “slander; false accusation of a crime or offense, knowingly or maliciously made or reported, to the injury of another; false representation of facts reproachful to another, made by design, and with knowledge of its falsehood.”

Censuriousness means “disposition to blame and condemn; the habit of censuring or reproaching; the quality of being censorious.”

Censorious means “addicted to censure; apt to blame or condemn; severe in making remarks on others, or on their writings or manners – often implying ill-nature, illiberality, or uncharitableness; as, a censorious critic; implying or expressing censure; as, censorious remarks.”

Thus it is part of a teacher’s role to instruct the Church against these things.

It is also the role of high priests to teach the commandments of God unto his children.

And again, my brethren, I would cite your minds forward to the time when the Lord God gave these commandments unto his children; and I would that ye should remember that the Lord God ordained priests, after his holy order, which was after the order of his Son, to teach these things unto the people. And those priests were ordained after the order of his Son, in a manner that thereby the people might know in what manner to look forward to his Son for redemption. (Alma 13:1-2)

In part to facilitate the teaching of the people, scripture has been given.

And all scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (JST 2 Timothy 3:16-17)

Scripture is written words which come from God.

And, behold, and lo, this is an ensample unto all those who were ordained unto this priesthood, whose mission is appointed unto them to go forth— and this is the ensample unto them, that they shall speak as they are moved upon by the Holy Ghost. And whatsoever they shall speak when moved upon by the Holy Ghost shall be scripture, shall be the will of the Lord, shall be the mind of the Lord, shall be the word of the Lord, shall be the voice of the Lord, and the power of God unto salvation. Behold, this is the promise of the Lord unto you, O ye my servants. (D&C 68:2-5)

One is only the servant of God inasmuch as he speaks the word of God and does his will.

And, again, beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing; but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits; for do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit; neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit, is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Verily I say unto you, it is not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, that shall enter unto the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. For the day soon cometh, that men shall come before me to judgment, to be judged according to their works. And many will say unto me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name; and in thy name cast out devils; and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I say, Ye never knew me; depart from me ye that work iniquity. (JST Matt 7:24-33)

Malice, backbiting, evil-speaking, contention, and all other evils expressed in speech do not come from God.

And again, the Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish.

For none of these iniquities come of the Lord; for he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile. (2 Nephi 26:32-33)

Such things come from the devil.

There shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away. (3 Nephi 11:28-30)

Contention has, as its essential meaning, “contest” or “dispute.”

Malice essentially means “enmity,” which itself is a descriptor of the “me vs. you” feeling / mentality.

False prophets are those who falsely profess to have or speak by the Spirit of God. They have malice towards others, and the fruit thereof may be discerned because they dispute and contend, seeking to establish their positions against others, in particular about matters of doctrine, and quite often seek to make their opponents seem worthy of censure.

The word “prophet” means “spokesman.” Prophets speak the word of God by the power of the Spirit (D&C 68:2-5, referred to above). Where the Spirit of God is silent, so also is the prophet, if he is acting as such.

We have been counseled thusly: “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.” (Mosiah 23:14)

The Spirit of God will establish the word of God in the honest hearer’s heart.

Let us reason even as a man reasoneth one with another face to face. Now, when a man reasoneth he is understood of man, because he reasoneth as a man; even so will I, the Lord, reason with you that you may understand.

Wherefore, I the Lord ask you this question—unto what were ye ordained? To preach my gospel by the Spirit, even the Comforter which was sent forth to teach the truth.

And then received ye spirits which ye could not understand, and received them to be of God; and in this are ye justified? Behold ye shall answer this question yourselves; nevertheless, I will be merciful unto you; he that is weak among you hereafter shall be made strong.

Verily I say unto you, he that is ordained of me and sent forth to preach the word of truth by the Comforter, in the Spirit of truth, doth he preach it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? And if it be by some other way it is not of God.

And again, he that receiveth the word of truth, doth he receive it by the Spirit of truth or some other way? If it be some other way it is not of God. Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth?

Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together. And that which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness. That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. (D&C 50:11-24)

If you hear a man speak by the power of the Spirit and receive not his words, it is because you are not of God.

He that is of God receiveth God’s words; ye therefore receive them not, because ye are not of God. (JST John 8:47)

Judgement

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 judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay. (Mormon 8:19-20)

Christ commanded us thusly.

Judge not according to your traditions, but judge righteous judgment. (JST John 7:24)

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 judgment ye shall judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (JST Matt 7:1-3)

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven. (JST Luke 6:37)

And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (3 Nephi 14:1-5)

Just judges do not pretend to read the hearts or minds of others. A just judge judges according to the light of Christ and the revelations of God, which is a major theme of Moroni 7. A just judge will withhold judgement until God makes the truth known unto him.

And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come; and whatsoever is more or less than this is the spirit of that wicked one who was a liar from the beginning. (D&C 93:24-25)

Unjust judges make the unwarranted leap from outward appearances to inward intent. Thus may they be discerned – they accuse. Any standard of judgement which would condemn God, Christ, or their servants when acting as such is an unjust judgement, or, in other words, an accusation.

The judgements of God is that the truth about you is made known. This is either through voluntarily confessing, or through involuntary revelation at a most inopportune time. Those who voluntarily confess, forsake, and forgive shall find mercy.

Justice

The justice of God is that you go with that society with whom you are most comfortable – whose behavior you mirror. If you are an accuser, you shall go with the accusers. If you obey the Celestial Law, you go with that society.

The Celestial Law is this: “As ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.” All other precepts are but specific examples of how to keep this law.

Zion is built upon this law.

Verily I say unto you who have assembled yourselves together that you may learn my will concerning the redemption of mine afflicted people—behold, I say unto you, were it not for the transgressions of my people, speaking concerning the church and not individuals, they might have been redeemed even now.

But behold, they have not learned to be obedient to the things which I required at their hands, but are full of all manner of evil, and do not impart of their substance, as becometh saints, to the poor and afflicted among them; and are not united according to the union required by the law of the celestial kingdom; and Zion cannot be built up unless it is by the principles of the law of the celestial kingdom; otherwise I cannot receive her unto myself. And my people must needs be chastened until they learn obedience, if it must needs be, by the things which they suffer. (D&C 105:1-6)

There are many who style themselves disciples of Christ but keep not the law. These, who suppose they shall inherit Zion, shall find themselves disappointed by and by.

Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the voice of him who dwells on high, and whose eyes are upon all men; yea, verily I say: Hearken ye people from afar; and ye that are upon the islands of the sea, listen together. For verily the voice of the Lord is unto all men, and there is none to escape; and there is no eye that shall not see, neither ear that shall not hear, neither heart that shall not be penetrated. And the rebellious shall be pierced with much sorrow; for their iniquities shall be spoken upon the housetops, and their secret acts shall be revealed. And the voice of warning shall be unto all people, by the mouths of my disciples, whom I have chosen in these last days. And they shall go forth and none shall stay them, for I the Lord have commanded them.

Behold, this is mine authority, and the authority of my servants, and my preface unto the book of my commandments, which I have given them to publish unto you, O inhabitants of the earth. Wherefore, fear and tremble, O ye people, for what I the Lord have decreed in them shall be fulfilled. And verily I say unto you, that they who go forth, bearing these tidings unto the inhabitants of the earth, to them is power given to seal both on earth and in heaven, the unbelieving and rebellious; yea, verily, to seal them up unto the day when the wrath of God shall be poured out upon the wicked without measure—unto the day when the Lord shall come to recompense unto every man according to his work, and measure to every man according to the measure which he has measured to his fellow man.

Wherefore the voice of the Lord is unto the ends of the earth, that all that will hear may hear: prepare ye, prepare ye for that which is to come, for the Lord is nigh; and the anger of the Lord is kindled, and his sword is bathed in heaven, and it shall fall upon the inhabitants of the earth. And the arm of the Lord shall be revealed; and the day cometh that they who will not hear the voice of the Lord, neither the voice of his servants, neither give heed to the words of the prophets and apostles, shall be cut off from among the people; for they have strayed from mine ordinances, and have broken mine everlasting covenant; they seek not the Lord to establish his righteousness, but every man walketh in his own way, and after the image of his own god, whose image is in the likeness of the world, and whose substance is that of an idol, which waxeth old and shall perish in Babylon, even Babylon the great, which shall fall. (D&C 1:1-16)

For in that day, before the Son of man shall come, he shall send forth his angels and messengers of heaven. And they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity, and shall cast them out among the wicked; and there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. For the world shall be burned with fire. (JST Matt 13:42-44)

“The kingdom of Zion is in very deed the kingdom of our God and his Christ.” (D&C 105:32)

The entry requirement for Zion is simple: “And Enoch beheld angels descending out of heaven, bearing testimony of the Father and Son; and the Holy Ghost fell on many, and they were caught up by the powers of heaven into Zion.” (Moses 7:27)

This is the meaning of the wedding garment.

And Jesus answered the people again, and spake unto them in parables, and said, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, who made a marriage for his son. And when the marriage was ready, he sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding; and they would not come.

Again he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them that are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my oxen, and my fatlings have been killed, and my dinner is ready, and all things are prepared; therefore come unto the marriage. But they made light of the servants, and went their ways; one to his farm, another to his merchandise; and the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.

But when the king heard that his servants were dead, he was wroth; and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city. Then said he to his servants, The wedding is ready; but they who were bidden were not worthy. Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all, as many as they found, both bad and good; and the wedding was furnished with guests. But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who had not a wedding garment. And he said unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

Then said the king unto his servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take and cast him away into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. For many are called, but few chosen; wherefore all do not have on the wedding garment. (JST Matt 22:1-14)

What makes you think you will be welcome in Zion? Even if you got in, what makes you think you will survive the culling, wherein the angels shall sever the wicked from the just, casting out those who do not have the Spirit?

Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a net that was cast into the sea, and gathered of every kind, which, when it was full, they drew to shore, and sat down, and gathered the good into vessels; but cast the bad away. So shall it be at the end of the world. And the world is the children of the wicked. The angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just, and shall cast them out into the world to be burned. There shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. (JST Matt 13:48-51)

“The Spirit of the Lord doth not dwell in unholy temples.” (Helaman 4:24)

Therefore, Repent.

“[Christ] hath commanded his people that they should persuade all men to repentance.” (2 Nephi 26:27)

And now behold, I say unto you that the right way is to believe in Christ, and deny him not; and Christ is the Holy One of Israel; wherefore ye must bow down before him, and worship him with all your might, mind, and strength, and your whole soul; and if ye do this ye shall in nowise be cast out. (2 Nephi 25:29)

Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend. And again, believe that ye must repent of your sins and forsake them, and humble yourselves before God; and ask in sincerity of heart that he would forgive you; and now, if you believe all these things see that ye do them. (Mosiah 4:9-10)

And it came to pass that when Aaron saw that the king would believe his words, he began from the creation of Adam, reading the scriptures unto the king—how God created man after his own image, and that God gave him commandments, and that because of transgression, man had fallen. And Aaron did expound unto him the scriptures from the creation of Adam, laying the fall of man before him, and their carnal state and also the plan of redemption, which was prepared from the foundation of the world, through Christ, for all whosoever would believe on his name. And since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself; but the sufferings and death of Christ atone for their sins, through faith and repentance, and so forth; and that he breaketh the bands of death, that the grave shall have no victory, and that the sting of death should be swallowed up in the hopes of glory; and Aaron did expound all these things unto the king.

And it came to pass that after Aaron had expounded these things unto him, the king said: What shall I do that I may have this eternal life of which thou hast spoken? Yea, what shall I do that I may be born of God, having this wicked spirit rooted out of my breast, and receive his Spirit, that I may be filled with joy, that I may not be cast off at the last day? Behold, said he, I will give up all that I possess, yea, I will forsake my kingdom, that I may receive this great joy.

But Aaron said unto him: If thou desirest this thing, if thou wilt bow down before God, yea, if thou wilt repent of all thy sins, and will bow down before God, and call on his name in faith, believing that ye shall receive, then shalt thou receive the hope which thou desirest.

And it came to pass that when Aaron had said these words, the king did bow down before the Lord, upon his knees; yea, even he did prostrate himself upon the earth, and cried mightily, saying: O God, Aaron hath told me that there is a God; and if there is a God, and if thou art God, wilt thou make thyself known unto me, and I will give away all my sins to know thee, and that I may be raised from the dead, and be saved at the last day. And now when the king had said these words, he was struck as if he were dead….

[Aaron] put forth his hand and raised the king from the earth, and said unto him: Stand. And he stood upon his feet, receiving his strength…. And the king stood forth, and began to minister unto them. And he did minister unto them, insomuch that his whole household were converted unto the Lord. (Alma 22:12-23)

Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. 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 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; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

Therefore, go forth unto this people, and declare the words which I have spoken, unto the ends of the earth. (3 Nephi 11:31-41)

Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot. (Moroni 10:32-33)

Looking Beyond the Mark

HebrewTav1It the LDS Church today, we often hear the phrase, “Looking Beyond the Mark.” Those who read the scriptures know this comes from the book of Jacob in the Book of Mormon. This is a uniquely LDS phrase, not found in the Bible. Jacob was teaching the people about Christ, who, of course, is the mark in question. Keep that in mind. Christ is the mark, not the LDS Church.

Anything that causes you to look past Christ for salvation is looking beyond the mark. Anything that takes you away from coming unto Christ is looking beyond the mark. Anyone who stands in between you and your Savior can cause you to look beyond the mark. Anything, any system, any person or any church that purports to be able to save you is deflecting your view from the mark.

From this verse, sermons have been preached, lessons have been written, actions have been justified and individuals have been condemned. Ironically, when someone focuses on coming unto Christ, and doing all within their power to respond to the promptings of the spirit, others may perceive them as engaging in a gospel hobby, accusing them of looking beyond the mark.

Here is the verse in question:

“But behold, the Jews were a stiffnecked people; and they despised the words of plainness, and killed the prophets, and sought for things that they could not understand. Wherefore, because of their blindness, which blindness came by looking beyond the mark, they must needs fall; for God hath taken away his plainness from them, and delivered unto them many things which they cannot understand, because they desired it. And because they desired it God hath done it, that they may stumble.” (Jacob 4:14)

Elder Cook spoke about this subject. He said, “Today there is a tendency among some of us to ‘look beyond the mark’ rather than to maintain a testimony of gospel basics. We do this when we substitute the philosophies of men for gospel truths, engage in gospel extremism, seek heroic gestures at the expense of daily consecration, or elevate rules over doctrine. Avoiding these behaviors will help us avoid the theological blindness and stumbling that Jacob described.”

Most Apostles Understand the Doctrine

Elder Cook got it … sort of. I like the phrase “maintain a testimony of gospel basics,” but I’m fairly certain he would not discount these words from Joseph when he said, “I would exhort you to go on and continue to call upon God until you make your calling and election sure for yourselves, by obtaining this more sure word of prophecy, and wait patiently for the promise until you obtain it.” (TPJS, p 299)

Roy Doxy, when he was dean emeritus of Religious Instruction at Brigham Young University taught this important doctrine in the July 1976 Ensign. This one article alone answered so many questions for me back when I preparing for my mission. I have treasured it and wondered why we have not had more articles, talks or lessons like this in our correlated instructional material.

https://www.lds.org/ensign/1976/07/accepted-of-the-lord-the-doctrine-of-making-your-calling-and-election-sure?lang=eng

The reason I think Elder Cook understands this doctrine is because he clearly points out the mark is Christ. It is only the gospel of Christ, the doctrine of Christ that saves. Elder Cook concluded, “One of the great challenges of this life is to accept Christ for who He is: the resurrected Savior of the world, our Redeemer, our Lord and Master, our Advocate with the Father.

“When He is the foundation for all that we do and are, we avoid the theological blindness that results from looking beyond the mark, and we reap the glorious blessings He has promised us. ‘Come unto me, ye blessed,’ He tells those who follow Him; ‘there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father’ (Enos 1:27).”

Source: https://www.lds.org/ensign/2003/03/looking-beyond-the-mark?lang=eng

The Doctrine Has Been Watered Down

Elder Dean Larson spoke on the same subject back in 1987. He used a sports analogy to describe the importance of staying within the circle, which he called the mark. Although He noted the importance of faith in the redeeming role of the Messiah, he said the mark was wisdom and prudence, equating it to a circle of fundamental gospel truths, providing a basis for that faith. I wish he had been as plain as Elder Cook in stating Christ is the mark to whom we should look.

Source: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/1987/10/looking-beyond-the-mark?lang=eng

For a good, although lengthy analysis of the phrase, Paul Y. Hoskisson, professor of ancient scripture at Brigham Young University, published an essay in 2007 that includes the classic symbolic themes and metaphors of gospel hobbies, sin, pride, wealth, and strengths that become weakness (see Elder Oaks, “Our Strengths Can Become Our Downfall,” BYU, June 1992). In other words, anything that distracts from the target, or the mark of Christ, is to be avoided.

Source: http://rsc.byu.edu/archived/selected-articles/looking-beyond-mark

From Matthew Faulconer’s blog, “Feast Upon the Word,” we read:

“…looking beyond Christ could mean a number of things. It could imply that one is looking to be saved by actions, ordinances, or even associations with other people, rather than looking to the atonement of Jesus Christ for salvation. One reason it may be easy to look beyond the mark in this sense is that it is easier to gain an assurance of our salvation through a tangible feeling or action rather than a quiet voice or a small feeling that takes time to understand.”

Source: http://feastupontheword.org/Jacob_4:1-18

Some Doctrines Take More Study and Thought

Elder Oaks offered the following in a BYU Idaho devotional 7 Nov 2006:

“My second subject of wisdom concerns looking beyond the mark. In the Book of Mormon the Prophet Jacob described a people who ‘despised the words of plainness, . . . and sought for things . . . they could not understand’ (Jacob 4:14).  He said this caused them to fall because when persons are ‘looking beyond the mark,’ God takes away plainness and gives them what they sought–things they cannot understand.

“We see this today. For example, some persons write General Authorities asking when we will be returning to Missouri or how we should plan to build up the New Jerusalem.  Others want to know details about the Celestial Kingdom, such as the position of a person who lives a good life but never ever marries.

“I don’t know the answers to any of these questions. What I do know is that persons worrying about such things are probably neglecting to seek a firmer understanding and a better practice of the basic principles of the gospel that have been given to them with words of plainness by the scriptures and by the servants of the Lord

“If we neglect the words of plainness and look beyond the mark, we are starting down a path that often leads to a loss of commitment and sometimes to a loss of faith. There is enough difficulty in following the words of plainness, without reaching out for things we have not been given and probably cannot understand.”

Source: http://www2.byui.edu/Presentations/Transcripts/Devotionals/2006_11_07_Oaks.htm

Seeking the Second Comforter IS the Mark

I think that’s enough detail from words of prophets, apostles, general authorities and scriptural commentary to make a point. I won’t get into the other common definition of the mark, as found in Ezekiel 9:4-6. It is the mark or anointing placed in the forehead of suffering saints who sigh and cry for the sins of those in their cities. The mark is placed there by their attending angels.

The point is this: Seeking to enter into the presence of the Lord in this mortal life is NOT looking beyond the mark. It is NOT a gospel hobby. It is NOT gospel extremism. Seeking to receive the Second Comforter is NOT something of which we need to repent. It is something we need to do. It is not spiritual blindness. It is having one’s eyes opened. The Lord is not saddened by our efforts in this area, even when they are misunderstood and result in being disciplined by others.

I suspect when scriptures or doctrines are understood differently by individuals, the tendency is to say the other person is suffering from “blindness [that] came from looking beyond the mark.” It’s a polite way of throwing one’s hands up in the air, saying, “You don’t get it, do you? Why can’t you see it the same way I do? Oh, I get it. You’re blinded. You refuse to see the truth.” With such thinking, they go on their way, feeling secure and justified in their own conclusions.

Discussion versus Contention

That’s a sad way of relating to others. Wouldn’t it be a better idea to try to understand the other’s point of view? I confess I have been guilty of impatience in relating to others, both in person and here on my blog. For that I apologize. I love discussion, but abhor contention. I am a witness that contention causes the spirit to withdraw. So does taking offense. I’m preaching to myself here.

Most of my readers know I have withdrawn my membership from the LDS Church. I’ve tried to share my reasons why. I’ve had my share of public and private dialogs and conversations about my decision. Most have tried to be understanding and kind. I appreciate that. I don’t endorse my path for anyone unless God tells you. I received that confirmation as the best for my situation.

If I come to regret my decision, feel I’ve made a mistake and desire to be readmitted by baptism to the LDS Church, I must receive approval of a representative of the First Presidency, this even though I was not placed under formal probation before I resigned. This is understandable. In my blog, I have been clear I felt the Lord sent a servant with a message from outside the hierarchy.

Concluding Thoughts Going Forward

I seek to come unto Christ. I made a decision to be baptized in a manner that is slightly different from the way it is done in the LDS Church today. I also decided to participate in the sacrament in a slightly different manner from the way it is administered in the LDS Church today. Finally, I practice an order of prayer learned in a sacred place that I feel brings more power into my life.

I like to think I have kept all the good things I had in the LDS Church. I have disagreements with the manner in which the church is trying to control those who blog as a way of learning things. I am certain of the path I have chosen. Much like Brigham Young, I studied it for years before I acted. I take that back. I acted the first night I read the message. I prayed and asked God about it.

I recognize what I have done is unusual, different, unorthodox and certainly not the path that is accepted by the LDS Church. Thus, I resigned, knowing I would eventually be excommunicated. Why? Because I will not, I cannot deny what I have learned through study and prayer. Many claim I have been deceived. Perhaps. We shall see. I thank you for your prayers in my behalf.

 

We Thank Thee O God For a Prophet

ProphetJosephSmithI attended our ward Sacrament meeting today. Because of General Conference next week, we held our monthly Fast and Testimony meeting. A majority of the testimonies were from the sisters sharing their thoughts about the Women’s meeting last night. The number of testimonies of a loving God and Savior were about equal to those of a living prophet. I appreciated that.

I’ve become more attuned lately to the expressions of gratitude for a living prophet in our testimony meetings as well as in the material we teach each Sunday. I’m obviously going through some adjustments in my thinking about prophets. Yes, I fully accept Joseph Smith was called of God as a prophet and acted as such. But yes, I also feel something was lost after Joseph.

Was Brigham inspired? Yes. Was he a prophet? I never knew the man. The people sustained him as such. The first prophet I knew was David O. McKay, but I don’t think I paid attention until the days of Spencer W. Kimball. Yes, I felt he was a prophet, else I wouldn’t have responded to his call to serve a mission. Did he speak for the Lord? I believed so. In fact, I still believe he did so.

Prophets Who Don’t Get in the Way

What about Presidents Monson, Eyring and Uchtdorf? Our opening song this morning was “We Thank Thee O God for a Prophet.” I always think of Joseph Smith when we sing that song. Do I think these men are prophets? We sustain them as such, or at least members of the LDS Church do so. I am no longer a member of the LDS Church. It makes me think of President Hinckley.

When he was asked the question, “Are you a prophet?” he responded, “The people sustain me as such.” I have always wondered why he didn’t just come right out and say, “Yes, I am a Prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Of course that invites the follow-up question, “Does he talk to you?” and the inevitable answer, “I believe he inspires me today,” or some words to that general effect.

At least President Hinckley went out and spoke to the media. President Monson is getting a bit old and has short-term memory loss. I hope we will see him in good spirits and good health next week. He was at the Woman’s Conference last night. I hope we will hear from him. I still pray for the leaders of the LDS Church. I desire the Lord’s blessings upon them as well as local leaders.

Deny the Sacrament for Asking Questions

I’ve tried to make it clear I hold no animosity toward my Bishop and Stake President for placing disciplinary restrictions upon me as I was going through my faith crisis. I know they were just following the handbook. But I do feel it is wrong to withhold the sacrament from someone just because they are questioning their faith and belief in the authority of the LDS Church leadership.

In fact, I have said it is an abomination and anti-Christ to do that. The handbook is wrong in this matter. To withhold the sacrament because someone is not so sure they see the hand of the Lord on the current LDS Church leadership does not seem like a good idea. I know the Lord said to not administer the sacrament to those who are unworthy, but for wondering about a prophet?

I was willing to sustain these men as prophets, seers and revelators because that’s what we have always called them. I told this to the Bishop. Apparently that wasn’t good enough. I felt as if I was being asked to bow down to them, that they were to be as Gods to me. This is wrong. Our God is a jealous God and has commanded we have no other Gods before him, especially idols.

This is What the Lord Said About That

I ask myself, as do many, what have these men prophesied lately? What direction have they offered and then followed that with words to the effect of, “The Lord required me to tell you this,” or “As I asked the Lord about it, this is what He told me to say.” And just because I ask these questions, the church handbook says I am an apostate and should be denied the sacrament?

This is part of the reason I resigned. I do not believe asking questions makes one unworthy. I do not believe the church has a right to deny the Lord’s sacrament, of which He commanded we are to partake often, from those who ask questions. So when I heard another man say, referring to baptism, “The Lord has renewed this commandment to you this day,” I asked the Lord about it.

I refer of course to the invitation from Denver Snuffer, given at the Phoenix / Mesa Lecture to go and get baptized in living waters as a sign we accept the message the Lord caused to be delivered by a servant, called from outside the hierarchy of the LDS Church. The Lord knew very well that such an invitation would separate out those who believed the Lord sent this messenger to teach us.

Centralized Control – Secret Ordinances

We each must rely upon our own feelings about how we feel the Lord answers our prayers. In my case, it was unmistakable. I heard the voice of the Lord say to me, “Yes, what this man has spoken is the message I asked him to deliver. Yes, you will be blessed for being baptized again.” Simple logic told me I had to keep it secret or else I had to resign from the LDS Church to do so.

One of the advantages of resigning from the LDS Church is I can now partake of the sacrament at home in the way I feel the Lord intended it – with wine. Of course you don’t have to resign to do this, but you’ll have to keep it secret because the LDS Church wants to control it. I believe the ordinance was changed and became invalid when we substituted water for wine in the prayer.

My letter from Confidential Records included the wording, “If you want to become a member of the LDS Church again, see your local unit leaders.” Of course, that would require I go back to no questioning, especially in a public format like this blog. It would also require I accept some of the doctrines and ordinances I am now convinced have been changed. That won’t be happening.

Perform Ordinances in Your Communities

The funny thing is, as a non-member, I could have taken the Sacrament today. The Church, in order to be politically correct, does not forbid non-members from partaking of the Sacrament. But if you dare raise questions about some of the history, doctrines or legitimacy of the current leadership of the LDS Church, you are forbidden to take the Sacrament. Yes, that’s anti-Christ.

I don’t want to be one of those angry former Mormons who rails against the LDS Church. I would much rather focus on what I believe is about to take place in the near future. I was once again reading the Mesa Lecture last night and noted these words, which struck me powerfully. I have always felt strongly about the idea of the disintegration of society before the Lord’s return.

“Before the Lord’s appearance to the Nephites, society broke down into tribes consisting of family and friends. Immediately before the Lord’s return we should expect something similar. Therefore, part of the preparation by God’s house for coming social chaos is likely to include some preliminary preparations by families and friends to fellowship with one another in local gatherings.”

Organize Communities to Build Zion

He indicated these communities would be completely apart from control by the LDS hierarchy. “Only by independently functioning can they hope to prepare for social chaos prophesied to accompany Zion and precede the Lord’s return.” (D&C 45:66-68) One of the things I know I am going to miss is the sense of community I once felt with my ward and stake. That is gone now.

Yes, you can say I am the one who resigned, but I promise you it was only a matter of time before I was excommunicated for apostasy. The bishop made it clear. The handbook mandates, requires, demands and states unequivocally a disciplinary council must be held in the case of apostasy with only the two possible outcomes of disfellowshipment or of excommunication.

I was labeled apostate because I was questioning why we don’t believe and teach some of the things we used to believe and teach. Because of that questioning, and because I was finding answers in the writings of a man who the church cast off, it was determined I was also apostate. You simply don’t question the Brethren in the LDS Church. If you do, you are no longer worthy.

To Bear One Another’s Burdens

I seek community. I have found some community online, but that can’t replace getting together to take the Sacrament, to mourn with those who mourn and to bear one another’s burdens. I also feel that Zion can’t be built up unless we seek to eliminate the poor in our communities. I want to participate in such communicates. I may need to travel to them since we are spread out so far.

If there’s anything I got out of the Mesa lecture besides the distinct impression from the Lord I needed to be baptized in living water, it was the idea of communities. I could see them in my mind’s eye spread all across the land. They were small groups at first, meeting secretly out of fear of discovery, just as the believers in Alma’s days had to hide from the searches of the King.

I had a reader ask me why I didn’t focus on the invitation Denver offered in Grand Junction. If you’ll recall, we were invited to organize into communities with the express purpose of learning to care for the poor and needy among us. He quoted Denver’s words in which the purpose of tithing is to bring to pass the words, “and there were no poor among them.” I share them here:

Build Zion Communities with No Poor

“So, given the fact that you are commanded to pay tithing, and some of you are unable or refuse to do so because of the particular circumstances that you see in your church of choice, and given the fact that the Lord has said, ‘Organize yourselves,’ I would suggest one small thing you could begin is to collect your own tithing in a group. You manage it among yourselves. You assist the poor among you.

“If you disagree with what your churches are doing but recognize the obligation to pay, then take control over the funds to do what you believe God would have done to help others. As groups of common believers, pay tithing into a common fund. Then by the voice of your own group, dispose of it by common consent so that everyone in your group knows everything that comes in and everything that goes out. Then you begin to have no poor among your group.

“You provide for those who need housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education, and transportation. Do it without a leader. Do it by the voice of your own common consent, by your own unanimous approval. Do it by united agreement. Now, if some of you who hear this decide to begin to do this you will learn firsthand in a pragmatic lab experiment just how difficult it is to become ‘one.’ You will learn how greatly this world opposes the idea of Zion.

The Cost of Discipleship Can Be High

“You will learn from the criticism of others how to suffer for your Lord’s sake. You may even be deprived of fellowship with others who do not agree it is your obligation to care for the poor, but that the church you belong to owns that right to the exclusion of your opportunity to participate. You may lose a temple recommend, or a church calling, or even your church membership. And you will learn how much churches care for money above all else.

“Even in a small group you will find challenges. You want to know how far away you are at this moment from Zion; this will tell you. If you want an accurate barometer of ‘what lack you yet?’ Then organize yourselves and you, unitedly in small groups, gather your tithing into the storehouse you maintain, and by your common consent take care of those who are poor among you. You will receive an education like none other in the reasons men fail to have Zion. The fact that men fail doesn’t excuse you from your own failing. Rise up!”

Seven Women Shall Take Hold of One Man

Now back to the Mesa lecture to conclude my thoughts. On page fifteen, we can read more about organizing communities for fellowship. Denver quoted the Lord, “There shall be a minimum of seven women to sustain the man in any vote, and if the man is married, his wife shall be one of them.” When I heard these words, I felt very sad. I wanted to participate but knew I couldn’t.

Later on the page: “If the man is married, his wife must be among the seven women. If his wife will not sustain him, he is unworthy to provide priesthood service in the fellowship.” I have thought much about this. I am in this specific situation. Once again, I am found unworthy. Not only can I not officiate in ordinances outside my home, I can’t even contribute to help the poor.

In this case, “The word ‘unworthy’ is not a statement of condemnation, but of qualification. There is nothing implied in the word about a man’s standing before God, only the fact that within the community of fellowship until the wife is prepared to support him acting outside the family, his effort should remain within his family until the wife sees value to her husband serving others.

Unworthy to Contribute, but not Condemned

“The word ‘unworthy’ was the Lord’s and therefore I do not feel at liberty to change it. But I want it clear that when He used it I had a definite understanding that no condemnation was implied. Only an orderly arrangement was given.” I can accept this definition of unworthy. It works. I can accept it because I know it comes from the Lord, not from interpreting some Church handbook.

It’s important to see that the Lord quoted “seven women” to Denver. You can see it yourself in the transcript in the middle of page fifteen. He was specifically quoting the Lord. There has been much discussion of this … “unusual” … aspect of the lecture. As Denver pointed out, the Mesa lecture has become a turning point for many individuals. I see so many who have stalled out.

Those who were expecting just another lecture on doctrine came away shocked. Those who were looking for direction from a servant of the Lord came away pleased with instructions to organize communities in preparation for Zion. I want to contribute financially and in other ways. I wait upon the Lord. Perhaps someday I will be able to do so. For now, this blog is my contribution.

77 Truths – A Book Review

77TruthsI promised my friend Bret I would provide a review of his book, 77 Truths. I usually wait until I finish a book before I write an analysis. In this case, I simply can’t wait. It’s too good. I thought I would read at least the first 21 Truths before writing anything. He recommended that would be a natural stopping point, but I decided after the first three Truths I just had to share something.

Bret’s book is filled with quotes and scriptures. Original content is actually quite sparse, but Bret didn’t need to add much to the collection he provided. If he had, his book would have been much larger than 460 pages. I don’t see how he can publish this for $17.95 and still make a profit, but maybe that’s not his intent. The book is on sale for about $15 at Amazon today, an amazing deal.

For Personal or Group Study

The format of the book is large – 8.5 x 11 – and the layout is unusual in that the scriptures and quotes are center-justified. Thus, most of the book has that appearance. What Bret has done is collect, arrange and comment on his selections in order to make a point or establish one of the truths presented in each chapter. His comments are full-justified, so they’re easy to distinguish.

So why is this book better than Especially for Mormons, which is also a collection of quotes, stories and poems? It’s simple. Bret is not focusing on emotional, feel-good, or inspirational stories. He is presenting truth and backing it up with evidence. Each truth is three to five pages, making it ideal for teaching and discussing in a small group setting lasting an hour or two.

There are seven chapters:

  1. Father’s Eternal Life
  2. The Glorious Gospel of Jesus Christ
  3. Apostasy by Omission
  4. Cleansing America and the Church
  5. The Fall of Babylon
  6. Gathering the Remnant
  7. Latter Day Zion

I hope to write more about the other chapters in a later post, but for today, I will share a few thoughts about the first chapter. In fact, I’m going to do something unusual. I’m going to let Bret’s words speak for his book. Omitting all the quotes and scriptures, I’ll share what Bret has written only about the third truth, and if the post isn’t too long, I’ll add a few words at the end.

——— Beginning of Material from Bret ————

Truth #3 – Those seeking salvation in this life and exaltation in the worlds to come must have an eye single to the glory of God. Centering our faith on a “Lesser God” is not spiritually sufficient.

Note to Reader: The purpose of this section is not to criticize the brethren or speak evil of the Lord’s anointed. There is a difference between being intentionally negative about the church versus providing the light needed to obtain a proper hierarchy of focus and worship.

[Quote from Neal Maxwell removed] The gospel of Jesus Christ invites us to have an “eye single to the Glory of God” (D&C 4:5). Nowhere in scripture are we instructed to worship the prophet, church, or family, and yet much of today’s Mormon conversation repeatedly focuses on these secondary aspects of the gospel.

[Quote from President Kimball removed] It is an individual and collective choice whether “our god” will be the telestial toys of Babylon, the terrestrial treats of the church, or the Celestial Gods of this Universe.

Growing believers may initially place their faith in the church and its prophet. This trend is summarized as emotional stories and vain repetitions. Heartfelt proclamations such as “I know the church is true,” “We are led by a living prophet,” and “I love my family” are commendable beliefs. Unfortunately, when these supportive elements become the core of our testimony, we may have looked beyond the mark of Christ (Jacob 4:14)

[Quote from Joseph Smith removed] In Mormonism today, emphasis on prophet, church and family frequently overshadows focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Savior is mentioned, it is often implied that He is supportive of “the church” instead of the other way around!

A Jealous God

[Exodus 20:3-5 omitted] Being a “jealous God” means the Almighty wants our problems, praise, devotion, focus, worship, affection, and sins. Thus, a significant difference exists between knowing Jesus Christ as Savior, Redeemer, and friend and having a testimony based on “following the prophet.”

Who is your God?

[Quote from President Benson removed] The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that remaining dependent on other human beings – even if they are true prophets, correlates with telestial glory (D&C 76:99-101). Those who place their trust primarily in church leaders and fail to demonstrate a valiant testimony for Jesus Christ, do not qualify for celestial glory.

The Glory of Men

[D&C 76:98-102 omitted] Under Father’s tutoring hand disciples grow from emphasizing other men to worshipping God the Father personally without apology. This essential shift occurs through sacrifice and adversity, for it is when our hearts have been shredded and torn asunder that we finally stop making excuses and reach out to the only being who can truly save us.

In the Mirror

[Quote from Jeff Ostler omitted] To assist us in surrendering our entire souls unto Christ, endowed members are invited to consecrate themselves, time, talents, and all that they possess to the building up of the kingdom of God on earth. To fulfill this covenant requires that we honor the true Bridegroom and end our “affair” with any of the “lesser gods.”

Father First

[Story omitted about visit from General Authority] Gratefully, our Father did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but “that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:17). Because of His divine patience and endless love Father stays with His children until they are ready to grow beyond mortal distraction and worship Him as the only living and true God! (D&C 20:19). The result of this process is a proper hierarchy of worship.

Ye shall be my people, and I will be your God (Jeremiah 30:22)

Another type of “false-god” involves trusting in our own “arm of flesh.” With so much focus on goals, personal performance, and “hastening the work,” is it possible our obsession with doing good works actually represents a subtle form of self-worship? Does being active in the program of the church and answering a few temple recommend questions really make us worthy? [Quote omitted from Jeff Ostler]

Under the chastening hand of our Father, a mighty and disturbing day arrives wherein you realize that what “you want,” your passions, desires, and vain ambitions, and all that you have sought to do with “your life,” is a form of idolatry. During this disturbing and freeing moment, the growing disciple realizes that he or she has been worshiping self over God. This awakening can result in a needed “coup,” which involves our personal spirit again becoming dominant over the natural man. It is then that individual enters into God’s sacred errand.

In relation to this process, consider Joseph Smith’s observation … “all the religious world is boasting of righteousness; it is the doctrine of the devil to hinder our progress, by filling us with self-righteousness.” His warning requires us to ask, have we become too prideful about being active in the Lord’s church?

Saving Ourselves?

[Quote omitted from Jeff Ostler] To imagine ourselves independently “worthy” is an illusion of the ego. The shadow within loves to focus on self and proclaim, “Now is the day of my power!” When this occurs, our imagined “righteousness” delays us from receiving the only one who can really save us. Author M. Catherine Thomas provides an excellent example of growing from a “self-salvation” mindset to a place where we can be transformed by Christ. [Quote omitted]

Just Come

In choosing God and His gospel above all else, much of the world becomes superficial and meaningless. The previous glitter of Babylon fades and we discover, “it is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man” (Psalms 118:8). With consistent effort, every believer can come to that glorious day when he or she makes an irrefutable stand for Christ, and with broken heart and bleeding knees, proclaims, “The Kingdom of God or Nothing” (John Taylor).

——– End of Material from Bret ———

I see my friend Kathryn has purchased the book, written a short, five-star review and posted it on Amazon. I hope more people will do the same. The book deserves a grassroots effort to bring it to the attention of thoughtful readers. I will post my review there as well as on Goodreads. Having Bret visit my home and talk about the process of writing the book helped tremendously to understand.

The source for each of the 802 quotes is listed in the Bibliography at the end of the book. You will recognize many if not most of the 100 names of individuals he quoted. I was surprised to find my own name acknowledged, along with several of my friends. It makes me want to take the time to finish the book even sooner. I wonder if something I wrote is included in the book.

Proper Hierarchy of Worship

I stopped after truth #3 in my reading and included it above because I was so impressed with what was shared. It loses a little something without the quotes, but it gives you a flavor for the boldness with which Bret states each truth. I can tell you from personal experience, as I’m sure many of you can, Bret is right on that Mormonism today puts the church ahead of the Savior.

Those steeped in LDS culture are shocked if anyone suggests they are following a man, even if he be a prophet. Isn’t that the most important thing? Well did Denver Snuffer nail it when he wrote there is but one doctrine left in the LDS Church – follow the prophet. That seems to be mantra to solve every problem, answer every question. Wrong – so wrong. We are to follow the Savior.

Visit the Website: 77Truths.com

One last thing: Visit Bret’s website. As of this moment, there are unfinished sections. I look forward to seeing his blog get started as well as work on the dictionary / glossary I see planned. Bret has put a tremendous amount of thought, effort and time into this work. He told me he finished the majority of the book a couple of years ago but the Lord asked him to wait until now to publish it.

I wonder why.

Answers – Because I Keep Getting Asked

Death is a time of reflection“Why did you do this?”
“I felt it was the right thing to do.”

“Did you think about the consequences?”
“Of course, I’ve thought about them for two and a half years.”

“Do you realize what you’ve given up?”
“Actually, I’ve been more focused on what I have gained.”

“What do you mean?”
“I’ve never felt closer to the Lord or more in tune with His spirit.”

“How can you say that? You just resigned from the Lord’s Church.”
“I resigned so I could get baptized with full purpose of heart.”

“But you’ve already been baptized.”
“I was only eight years old at the time. I didn’t know what I was doing.”

All Decisions Have Consequences

“Did you think about how this would affect your family?”
“Yes. I have fasted and prayed about it many, many times.”

“Do you realize you’ve lost your eternal salvation?”
“I disagree. Eternal salvation does not require membership in the LDS Church.”

“How can you say that after all the LDS Church has done for you?”
“Eternal salvation requires acceptance from the Lord and knowledge of His love.”

“And it requires membership in His Church.”
“Yes, I agree. It requires membership in the Church of the Firstborn.”

“But you can only get that through the LDS Church.”
“No. The LDS Church can help prepare you to receive the Lord.”

We Can Receive Christ in Mortality

“Why are you so focused on Christ? Don’t you realize exaltation is to be like Father?”
“The only way back into the presence of the Father is through the Savior.”

“Yes, of course. But what about the temple and the ordinances we receive there?”
“They’re preparatory ordinances. They’re not the real thing. They’re symbolic.”

“What? I’ve never heard of any such thing.”
“Then you haven’t been listening close enough as you participate in the temple.”

“So you’re saying the temple sealing is not binding and not eternal?”
“Not unless it’s sealed by the Holy Spirit of Promise. That’s all over D&C 132.”

“But you’ve given up your priesthood.”
“That’s not true. The Church doesn’t control priesthood. I received it from my father.”

“But he must have received it from someone back to Peter, James and John.”
“I’m not so sure the Higher Priesthood can be passed from man to man.”

Priesthood Power Not Controlled by Man

“Do you believe the Aaronic Priesthood was restored through John the Baptist?”
“Yes, I do. And I believe that’s the priesthood I received from my father.”

“Then how do you believe one receives the Higher Priesthood?”
“It is received only by hearing the voice of God declare it unto the man.”

“Really? And you’ve heard the voice of God?”
“I have. But I don’t believe I’ve received the higher priesthood yet.”

“This is impossible. You’ve completely lost the spirit of the Lord.”
“Quite the contrary. I feel the spirit of the Lord in greater abundance than ever.”

“Don’t you realize you have taken from your wife the greatest hope of her life?”
“She loses nothing. She has the same opportunity. It requires the Holy Spirit of Promise.”

Words of The Living ProphetsRichYoungRuler

“This is totally contrary to the teachings of the LDS Church.”
“I understand. But it’s not contrary to what Joseph Smith taught.”

“Are you saying you can prove all these ideas from the teachings of Joseph Smith?”
“Yes, given sufficient time to put the points together in a way you’ll understand.”

“There’s no way. We must rely on the words of the living prophets.”
“Not if they don’t square with the scriptures or the teachings of Joseph Smith.”

“Sometimes you just have to trust they know what they’re talking about.”
“Not when it comes to my eternal salvation. That’s why I study and pray.”

“You’re saying God told you the living prophets have got it wrong?”
“In some very important things, yes, they have got it wrong.”

Deceived By False Prophets

“My friend, I am sorry for you – very, very sorry.”
“Now do you understand why I resigned from the LDS Church?”

“Yes. You have been deceived into believing the ideas of a false prophet.”
“Tell me, how many hours have you spent studying the words of Denver Snuffer?”

“None. And I don’t intend to. I barely have time to read the scriptures and the Ensign.”
“There’s your problem. How can you judge a matter if you don’t study it out?”

“I’ve read enough from others to know I disagree with what he teaches.”
“But you haven’t read, studied and prayed for thousands of hours as I have done.”

“No. Every time I try to listen to one of his talks or read his lectures I get a dark feeling.”
“Then you’re not prepared for what he has written or delivered in his lectures.”

“I know I don’t like what I hear or what I read. He’s not for me. He’s a false prophet.”
“I would be careful about declaring someone a false prophet whom the Lord trusts.”

Apostasy to Listen to Other Messengers

“So Denver is your prophet? You’ve just substituted one prophet for another.”
“I believe Denver is a prophet, a servant of the Lord, and a true messenger.”

“Do you know how blasphemous that sounds?”
“Only to the mind of someone steeped in the traditions of the LDS Church.”

“So that’s why you resigned your membership in the LDS Church?”
“I resigned because the Church Handbook requires I be excommunicated for apostasy.”

“Yes, and rightfully so. You are an apostate. You are leading others astray.”
“I require nobody to believe as I do. I claim the right to share my beliefs.”

“Not in this church you don’t. You teach what the Brethren say or out you go.”
“Precisely.”

“Can’t you see the beauty of having the doctrine controlled from the top?”
“I could if I knew for certain the leaders spoke with and on behalf of the Lord.”

Millions of People Can’t Be Wrong

“Millions of people can’t be wrong. They all know the prophet speaks with God.”
“We all speak with God, but does he speak for God? What has he prophesied lately?”

“Well, he’s been a little out of it lately. But just you wait. Listen to General Conference.”
“I intend to do so. I enjoy listening to inspired Brethren teach the doctrines of Christ.”

“So you admit the Church is inspired and led by the Lord.”
“I do. I have always felt that way. There are many good men and women in the Church.”

“Then why did you leave it?”
“We’ve been over that. I’ve given my reasons. Do you resent my exercise of agency?”

“I’m simply concerned for your eternal salvation.”
“And I yours. Thank you for your loving concern.”

“I wish there was something I could say to help you.”
“There is. You can always pray for me and my family.”

“I’ll do that. I’ll pray that you’ll be brought back to the light.”
“Thank you my friend. God bless you and your family.”

JesusTeaching

A Day of Rejoicing – A New Beginning

TimBaptism2aCroppedI barely remember being baptized when I was eight years old. My family had joined the LDS church a few years earlier. Being only five at the time, I had the advantage of a few years of instruction in Primary and Sunday school. I also had the blessing of having read the Book of Mormon with my mother. It was the first time for both of us. I remember reading these words:

“… Alma took Helam, he being one of the first, and went and stood forth in the water, and cried, saying: O Lord, pour out thy Spirit upon thy servant, that he may do this work with holiness of heart.” (Mosiah 18:12) I wondered about these words. Even at seven years old, they impressed me. A man desired to do the work of the Lord. He asked the Lord for power to do that work.

Today I was baptized again. The man who baptized me repeated the words of Alma’s prayer above, then used the words of the baptismal prayer as found in Third Nephi 11:25, “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.” He did not say, “Having been commissioned of Jesus Christ …”

A Commandment Renewed Today

I can’t tell you all the reasons why the wording is different or important but I can tell you this: I know the Lord was pleased I chose to be baptized again by someone using these words. I hope you can see it in my face in the photo I have included in this post. I knew I had completed what the Lord had asked of me twelve days earlier in Mesa, Arizona on the 9th of September, 2014.

When I heard those words that day, “I am telling you in the name of the Lord that commandment is renewed again by Him today, to you,” I knew I had to be baptized in the manner I have just described. “And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been … he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention …”

I knew I needed to be baptized in this manner and I was not going to argue with anyone about it. Because the LDS Church considers it an act of apostasy to be baptized again, and I had no desire to argue about it, I resigned my membership. I was then free to follow the commandment of the Lord to be baptized in the correct manner, using the correct words. It was a wonderful feeling.

A Temporary Community of Believers

I appreciated being joined by others who were baptized with me today. I will be forever grateful to the man who traveled from his community in Utah to baptize us. There were eight of us who met to discuss the gospel and partake of the sacrament in my home. We used wine – not water – as the Lord directed in the scriptures, grape juice for those who didn’t want to drink alcohol.

It will be awhile before I am able to join with a community who believes as I do. There are not enough in my area here in California. Having received the priesthood from my father, I can bless and partake of the sacrament in my home. That authority is not controlled by the LDS Church, just as the spirit of the Holy Ghost is not controlled by the Church. I felt the Lord’s spirit today.

I will be content with the community I feel with so many of you who read my blog. I know there are many who disagree with what I have done. I understand. Carol and I had a visit with a friend from Colorado after the baptism today. He is a family counselor. We discussed the importance of following the promptings of the Spirit, who leads us to Christ back to the presence of the Father.

A Tried and True Method

TimBaptism3aCroppedEven though I try, I don’t think I will ever understand how deeply this has affected Carol. She was not happy with my decision. Five or six generations of Mormonism have ingrained within her traditions that are not part of my heritage. To me, it was a simple logical decision. I studied the writings of a man who claimed to have seen the Savior. I confirmed his claim in solemn prayer.

This man claimed to have been given a message from the Lord to be delivered in a series of ten lectures. I read, listened to, attended some and studied all of the lectures. I was and am convinced the message he delivered is authorized of the Lord. I confirmed this using the principles I learned growing up in Primary, Sunday school and seminary – I studied them out, then asked the Lord.

I have been told by some, including Carol, that the message of this man is offensive. I did not find it so. It felt right as I studied it. It felt good. I guess you can say it “tasted” good. It fed my soul. The message led me to the scriptures. It caused me to ponder them again and again. I acted upon the message. I exercised faith in prayer culminating in the action I have taken this day.

77 Truths That Stand on Their Own

My friend from Colorado delivered a book to me at the Mesa Lecture. It took him years to write. From what little I have reviewed of the book, it is filled with truth – 77 Truths to be exact, which is the name of the book and the website. I have perused it and intend to review it in a future post. It has nearly a thousand quotes and probably an equal number of scriptures. It will take time.

“Within each of the 77 Truths, scripture is provided that reveals the light and wisdom necessary to receive the mysteries of God and become Zion at heart. Those who accept the Divine invitation represent the “few” who will be blessed to contribute to Millennial Zion. This is the day that each of us must now choose: God or man? Truth or tradition? Zion or Babylon?”

Bret, the author, asked that new readers commit to reading at least the first three chapters, and then, if the spirit prompts, up through chapter twenty-one. That’s only 107 pages. I can do that. I plan to read those first 107 pages before the end of the week. I hope some of you will take a look at Bret’s book with me. He worked closely with the Lord to bring it forth. Truth brings us light.

Promised Blessings of Obedience

When I asked the Lord about being baptized, I received from Him a promise. I asked if I could share it. He agreed. His promise to me is that by being baptized, I have demonstrated acceptance of the messenger He sent, and therefore, over time, and through effort, can receive the same kind of knowledge this messenger has received – a knowledge of what the Lord will soon accomplish.

A man is saved no faster than he gains knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world (TPJS 217). The message delivered by the servant should be carefully studied. I have put dozens of hours into it already. That is not enough. Each portion of the lecture deserves, indeed requires, dozens of hours to comprehend.

The Lord commands us to seek learning, even by study and by faith (D&C 88:118). It is one thing to be able to quote scripture, recite passages from writings or lectures of inspired men. It is quite another to obtain knowledge from heaven and from heavenly beings. That is the promise of the Lord I have received – that eventually, I will be taught by heavenly beings. It is made sure.

TimBaptism1aCropped

The Necessity of Being Baptized Again

VenturaHarborMarinaParkI am being baptized this Sunday morning in the Ventura harbor. I am 57 years old. You may ask why this is necessary if I have already been baptized when I was eight years old. I am not being baptized into a church. I am not currently a member of any church. This ordinance is between me and the Lord, a symbol of my desire to be obedient to words delivered through His servant. Here are a few reasons why I have chosen to be baptized again, at this late stage in my life:

1) I want to show the Lord I accept the message delivered by his servant.

2) I believe the words used should be “Having authority given me of Jesus Christ …”

3) I believe the person who baptizes should pray mightily to receive power to baptize.

4) I believe the LDS Church has lost the commission to baptize. It needs to be renewed.

5) I believe the ordinance of baptism for the living should be performed in living water.

6) Denver quoted the Lord, saying, “This commandment has been renewed today.”

Everything that follows is taken from the tenth lecture delivered last week to support these points. I knew I had to act upon the message delivered as a sign of faith and in order to show the Lord I wanted the promised blessings. I confirmed with the Lord in prayer he has accepted of my preparations as found in D&C 20:37 of offering Him a broken heart and a contrite spirit. He has promised me additional blessings I cannot share once I act upon what he has commanded.

Source: Preserving The Restoration, Denver Snuffer 9-9-14 Lecture 10 Mesa, AZ

Baptism is a Sign of Acceptance

“Baptism has always been required from the days of Adam until the present. Baptism is always the sign of acceptance of what God is doing in each generation. If He acts again now (and He is), then we need to recognize that and respond. Baptism is a mandatory sign of penitence; turning and facing God, and then walking in a new path. From the days of Adam, it will continue through the end of the millennium. Whenever there has been believing people upon the earth, they have always been invited to perform the ordinance of baptism as a sign of their faith.”

“…true religion, when it is present on earth, always exists as a community of believers. Community is required. If we don’t have a community then we cannot be willing to mourn with those that mourn. We cannot comfort those that stand in need of comfort. We cannot stand as a witness to one another of God at all times and of all places. (Mosiah 18: 9) We cannot bear one another’s burdens that they may be light, (Mosiah 18: 8) as is required by the Gospel and by the covenant of baptism. None of this can be done without fellowship between believers. – page 12

Use the Words Given by Christ

Christ gave the baptism prayer, word for word. This is in 3 Nephi Chapter 11, beginning at verse 19. “And Nephi arose and went forth, and bowed himself before the Lord and did kiss his feet. And the Lord commanded him that he should arise. And he arose and stood before him. And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven. And again the Lord called others, and said unto them likewise; and he gave unto them power to baptize.”

Christ did not touch them, He said to them, “I give you power to baptize.” Although the record is incomplete, these disciples in all likelihood had previously been ordained. But Christ was renewing His church when He came. All that was needed to obtain the power to baptize was (and is) for Christ to tell you. – page 13 “…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.” – Page 16

Authority Received From God in Prayer

How then does the authority to baptize come? Well, once John the Baptist came and laid his hand on Joseph, we have had a practice of continuing to lay hands on one another to confer Aaronic Priesthood, and we ought to continue to respect that tradition. But before any of you baptize any other of you, get Christ’s “word” for yourself through the Spirit. It is the same thing Alma did in Mosiah chapter 18. If you go to Mosiah chapter 18, verse 12, before he baptized, Alma “stood forth in the water, and 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.”

He got the authority to baptize by the Spirit. If you are going to use the priesthood to perform a baptism, no matter what the Church has told you, no matter what quorum leaders and respected others, including your own father perhaps, have taught you, before you do so, ask God to give you the authority. Get the “word” from Christ through the Spirit, just as Alma did. His example is in the scriptures to teach us the way. We have lost it, and need to reclaim it. If you get power to baptize, you get it from Him and you are not dependent on someone else. But get the power from Him. Power is required. It must come from Christ. The pattern must be followed. – Page 14

The Church has Lost the Commission

John the Baptist when he restored the authority, in Joseph Smith History, verse 69 said: “which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness.”

The Gospel of repentance is turning to face God. Baptism by immersion is for the remission of sins. John’s declaration does not say that this authority will not ever be taken from the church; it says it will not be taken from “the earth.” It was restored to remain on the earth. No matter what happens among those that choose to abuse one another, it needs to be preserved by a faithful few so that it does not cease from the earth. It is still here, though it has been much neglected and it has been much abused. But with you, renew it, using Alma’s example. – Page 14

Performed with Authority and Power

After Alma repented, but before he used any authority to baptize, he asked God to give him power. God, seeing penitence on the earth, respected it, and poured out His Spirit upon him so that Alma could baptize with power. The proof of that was found not merely in what Alma experienced with the Spirit empowering him to perform the ordinance, but also in the effect the ordinance itself had upon both Helam and Alma who himself went into the water at the same time. The Spirit was poured out upon them. Renew the power to baptize in this same manner. Alma and Christ’s disciples got authority from Christ’s “word” spoken to them by the power of the Spirit.

Likewise, we need to have a renewed community. Not an organization, but a fellowship. Not a hierarchy, but a group of equals. The community needs to be renewed. Men who have been ordained already, should renew this in the manner just described in the example of Alma. Have a community of believers. Be accepted by them. But before acting ask God to pour out His Spirit to give power. – Page 15

Living Ordinances in Living Water

Continuing then with what Christ said in 3 Nephi Chapter 11, verse 22: “And he said unto them: On this wise shall ye baptize; and there shall be no disputations among you. 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…”

I would recommend if at all possible that water for a living ordinance be performed in living water. I would not perform this in a font constructed by man. I would use the things God created. You are trying to connect to God. Use what He created. I recognize that there may be circumstances where that becomes impossible. … I would recommend when you go stand in the water that it be living water. – page 16

This Commandment is Renewed Today

I am telling you in the name of the Lord that commandment is renewed again by Him today, to you. This is His command recorded in the Book of Mormon, translated by Joseph Smith through the gift and power of God, and confirmed again today! “And there shall be no disputations  among you,  as  there  have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been. For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another. Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another.”

Do it in this way. If someone disputes and says, “They ought not be doing it, and you ought not be doing it,” leave it alone. Don’t fight. Don’t quarrel, but invite, persuade. If they are not persuaded, let them go. If you invite and they will not come, let them go. If you entice, if you entreat, and they say, “We will not hear your entreaty,” then let them go. There is no need to harbor ill will and to fight with people. – Page 17

Like Unto the Waters of Mormon

Update: Carol and I went to scope out the exact spot for the baptism. We decided Harbor Cove Beach would be better than Marina Park Beach. It’s a short walk and the water is calm behind the breakwater. We have been there many times in the twelve years we have lived in Camarillo. It is about 15-20 minutes from our house. There will probably be a few families there Sunday morning about 11am when we arrive for the baptism, but that’s OK. After two days of searching, the spirit confirmed to me this the right spot.

For those attending the baptism in Ventura this Sunday 21 Sep 2014, we are meeting at my home first for the sacrament and a prayer meeting at 10am. Address: 2481 Balmoral Ct, Camarillo CA 93010. We will then drive the 15-20 minutes to Harbor Cove Beach. You are welcome to attend the baptism as a witness and are welcome to join us in the prayer meeting at my home first.

We don’t expect more than a dozen participants and witnesses. This is not being done as part of an organized community. I asked someone to come baptize me and a good brother who happened to be approved by a Utah community volunteered since he is in LA this weekend. I am grateful and took him up on his offer. Others heard about it and decided to join us, some from far away.

HarborCoveBeach