A Paean to Scripture


scripturesWriting was a gift from God given to mankind for the specific purpose of recording his words and transmitting them down through the generations. As the sex drive assures the survival of the race even when love is dead, so also the gift of scripture preserves a witness and a record of God through the dark times when there is not faith to receive the living word. Scripture extends the memory of mankind for the words of God, and serves as a catalyst for revelation.

With these things in mind, let us consider 2 Peter 1 (New International Version [NIV])

1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours:

2 Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

Confirming One’s Calling and Election

3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 4 Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.

5 For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; 6 and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; 7 and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. 8 For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins.

10 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, 11 and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Prophecy of Scripture

12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory as long as I live in the tent of this body, 14 because I know that I will soon put it aside, as our Lord Jesus Christ has made clear to me. 15 And I will make every effort to see that after my departure you will always be able to remember these things.

16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17 He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18 We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

The King James Version (KJV) of 2 Peter 1:19-21 reads as follows.

19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.

21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The Joseph Smith Translation (JST) of 2 Peter 1:19-21 reads as follows.

19 We have therefore a more sure knowledge of the word of prophecy, to which word of prophecy ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light which shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts;

20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scriptures is given of any private will of man.

21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

In 2 Peter 1:19-21, we see that Peter is telling his readers that until they have the sun rise in their hearts, speaking of a spiritual endowment, they would do well to heed the living prophets and apostles who were eyewitness of Christ and his glory. And he reminds them that the prophets in the scriptures didn’t make stuff up or spout off on their own interpretations of things, looking to push opinions disguised as facts upon others, but spoke as moved upon by the Holy Spirit.

Now, the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible is interesting. Joseph once said “God had often sealed up the heavens because of covetousness in the Church. The Lord would cut short his work in righteousness and except the Church receive the fulness of the scriptures that they would yet fail.” (TPJS p. 9) He was referring to his translation of the Bible. And the Church in fact did not receive the JST. It is preserved by our brethren, the Reorganites.

Not all that is called scripture is scripture – after all, sometimes people write things which are, in fact, their own opinions, and not something that they were moved upon by the Holy Ghost to speak or write, even if those writings subsequently get canonized. Moroni 7 teaches us to search in the light of Christ, to judge things for ourselves by what actions the teaching motivates, in conjunction with inviting to love God.

Moroni 7:12-19

12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.

13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.

14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

15 For behold, my brethren, it is given unto you to judge, that ye may know good from evil; and the way to judge is as plain, that ye may know with a perfect knowledge, as the daylight is from the dark night.

16 For behold, the Spirit of Christ is given to every man, that he may know good from evil; wherefore, I show unto you the way to judge; for every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God.

17 But whatsoever thing persuadeth men to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil; for after this manner doth the devil work, for he persuadeth no man to do good, no, not one; neither do his angels; neither do they who subject themselves unto him.

Again – does it invite you to do good, and to believe in Christ?

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

19 Wherefore, I beseech of you, brethren, that ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

Inviting to do good, while also persuading to believe in Christ, is a key by which teachings may be evaluated in the light of Christ, or the voice of the Spirit in our hearts and consciences. Teachers, and teachings, which are directed at altering beliefs while encouraging no good works, or perhaps even discouraging them, are vanity to me, and seem to fail the test Mormon is describing for good things – because there is a third, unmentioned class of teachings – those which be of men who are giving their opinions on things which they know not, or even which they know by revelation but have not been commanded to publicize, and thus they speak without the power of the Holy Ghost and fail to edify. It isn’t enough that the Spirit gives one knowledge – that is, it isn’t enough that one teaches what one has been taught by the Holy Ghost – the Holy Ghost must also move one to speak, and then power attends. There is no sin in rejecting a powerless teacher or teaching.

After all, the Lord did say: “Therefore, let every man stand or fall, by himself, and not for another; or not trusting another.” (Mark 9:44, JST) Truth doesn’t have to be qualified with a quote. Quoting scripture is a way we can speak about things we don’t know, but surely believe. If we were limited to speaking only of what we knew, silence would reign. Nevertheless, honesty requires strictly demarcating what we know from what we merely believe. And the scriptures are a way to learn about things we don’t know yet, to get an idea that there’s more out there than what we’ve experienced, and quoting them is also a way to express things we do know, but someone else said better than we could.

2 Timothy 3:14-17, JST

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;

15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.

16 And all scripture given by inspiration of God, is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness;

17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.

And we’re back where we started. The scriptures invite to believe in Christ, to love God and serve him, and to do good. The scriptures are a gift to us, and we would be wise to search them in the light of Christ, praying always, and doing good, until the sun arises in our hearts.

6 Responses

  1. Log

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

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  2. “This is good doctrine. It tastes good. I can taste the principles of eternal life, and so can you. They are given to me by the revelations of Jesus Christ; and I know that when I tell you these words of eternal life as they are given to me, you taste them, and I know that you believe them. You say honey is sweet, and so do I. I can also taste the spirit of eternal life. I know that it is good; and when I tell you of these things which were given me by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, you are bound to receive them as sweet, and rejoice more and more.” – Joseph Smith, King Follett Discourse

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  3. I’m grateful for your posts, Log. I’m grateful for the humility they bring to my heart. I am grateful to our Lord who teaches patience through patience, diligence through diligence, and lovingkindness through lovingkindness. I’m grateful for a God who separates the light from the darkness.

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  4. That first paragraph was insightful. (An intriguing introduction!) The rest was informative. Good work, indeed!

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  5. Wow thanks! I’m giving a lesson that talks about this very thing. But I’ve left it open to God to make sure I’m teaching the right thing at the right time. This is a second witness. God is good!

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  6. Log,

    Thank you for your comments specific to the scriptures. I couldn’t agree more with what you have stated. My previous comment had more to do with the process that is growing and reaching into Heaven and our direct relationship with Christ. Knowing that we may not necessarily see everything from the same perspective, and owing to the limitations of a virtual conversation, I would like to make a couple of comments.

    “As the sex drive assures the survival of the race even when love is dead, so also the gift of scripture preserves a witness and a record of God through the dark times when there is not faith to receive the living word.”

    If we are equating the use of scriptures to simply having sex (a base desire which assures reproduction of the species), and a direct faith-filled relationship with Christ with the metaphor of communion or making love … I choose love!

    “Peter is telling his readers that until they have the sun rise in their hearts, speaking of a spiritual endowment, they would do well to heed the living prophets and apostles who were eyewitness of Christ and his glory.”

    This is kind of a catch-22. Because one can not experience this rising of the sun in their hearts until they have stopped their idolatry, or turned from the prophets. I couldn’t agree more with your turning individuals to the scriptures! That said, they must be seen or experienced as a launching pad not a destination. Scriptures are powerful! They allow for truth! But where is this experience of truth really occurring. Is truth in the ink? Is truth in the paper? Is truth the linguistic arrangement of letters, words, and symbols?

    For my process (and I guess that this could apply to other experiences, such as the temple), in my younger years I read the scriptures not only as a commandment but as a way that God could organize, even lead my life. As I grew, and received further, the scriptures became a way that I could please God, receive blessing and draw to myself or my life those things that I considered beneficial. Meaning, I almost used the scriptures as a divine tuning fork to obtain what I thought I needed or wanted, “If I read the scriptures every single day, if I’m really good, I’ll obtain or get a,b,c…” Further understanding lead me to realize that as I read something was occurring within me. I was feeling something, experiencing something, receiving something. My motivation and understanding of the scriptures changed. I recognized that whenever I read the scriptures I could have, or would have a “spiritual experience”. And with that understanding I was motivated to read even further, study deeper … but other things happened further down the road. Primarily I started to ask and experience the questions I asked above. Namely, where is this “spiritual experience” really occurring? If it isn’t in the ink, if it isn’t in the paper … where is it occurring? Well, we both know where it is occurring.

    My previous quote simply spoke to this process. Yes the scriptures are so important! I agree. But I know that there is more to this process than simply telling people to read the scriptures. I know that individuals who have been conditioned to simply go and read, externalizing this experience will forever seek and not find. I know that turning inward to that door, to that experience opens the opportunities that individuals are now speaking more openly and publicly about. Yes, we need eye witnesses, but I know that God is no respecter of persons. And there is one sure way to ensure that a person never pierces the veil, and that is with this false notion that such experience only happen to prophets, to other people, etc. Certain scriptures are a stepping stone, but The Holy Ghost is that door, and it will teach you all things which will bring you to Christ. Not other people, not the words of dead people thousands of years ago… not even the words of eye-witnesses. If they are truly eye witnesses they will proclaim this. They will say do not look to me, do not follow me…Heaven employs and certainly has not and will never outsource identity and relationship.

    “Truth doesn’t have to be qualified with a quote. Quoting scripture is a way we can speak about things we don’t know, but surely believe. If we were limited to speaking only of what we knew, silence would reign.”

    Silence would not reign. Human, even spiritual nature, would compel us to ascend, stretch and grab hold of a far greater gift. We would stop displacing our divinity. We would stop displacing our identity. We would stop displacing our relationship. We would take a greater responsibility for receiving truth, directly from Heaven. We are the ones who tell ourselves things like this, and it isn’t true.

    Its almost like launching our teenagers into the world. As parents we fret and worry, how will they ever make it? What happens when they screw up? I’ve had to hold their hand through everything! He can’t even do a load of laundry… We worry that they will get hurt … And then they do!! Our spiritual growth and development isn’t any different. Yes, when folks start reclaiming these experiences they are going to make mistakes! But the consequences of not taking off the training wheels is what? (I’ll take ALL my mistakes, any day … because I have experienced my identity and relationship in mortality)

    “…quoting them is also a way to express things we do know, but someone else said better than we could.”

    There is a very unsuspecting, even unseen danger in this sentence. There isn’t a person in this world who can bear your testimony for you any better than you can! In fact, there isn’t a person in the world who can bear your testimony, sing your song, manifest your divine identity, your divine relationship…period. If you know it, declare it. This world needs truth, direct truth, redeeming truth, saving truth, even Heaven’s truth AND there is a gift that one minimizes when they delegate (or displace) to third party quotes, experiences… even scriptures.

    As a side note, I have been told that even Jesus quoted this person, or that person. I do not think he was quoting them for the same reason we quote other people. He could have easily spoke his own truth, taught his own doctrine, etc. He didn’t need their words to sound better. It was his direct relationship with those individuals that motivated the use of “their” words (which calls to mind, to whom do the words really belong to?).

    I know that individuals will continue to have different experiences when picking up the scriptures … My experience is that something significantly shifts when I stop reading “about” Alma, Moroni, King Benjamin … simply to read the scriptures, and recognize that those qualities and attributes are within me. The same destiny lies before me. There is something to stepping into that experience, that burning in your chest, that doorway that connects us to something so much bigger than what we have settled for.

    Remember, there will be no “prophets” in Zion.

    Thank you again Log!

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