Remember


recorders-clearinghouseFirst, Keith asked fellow bloggers to get the word out about the deadline to record 2015 baptismal ordinances. You can read more about it on his blog: Recorder’s Clearinghouse. And Keith, don’t be mad, but may I offer this: a new entry in an existing blog is called a post. So what Keith has written is a new post in his blog. If you received baptism in 2015, be sure it gets recorded in the book to be placed in the temple when it is built. The top link in this paragraph will take you directly to that specific post, not the front page.

money-pitSecond, please remember Rock and Connie Waterman in your prayers. Rock is suffering from some sort of blood poisoning. Rock is a fellow blogger who I met at the Sunstone Symposium last year. His blog is Pure Mormonism. One of the best posts there is his treatment on tithing. If you have not read it, I highly recommend it. After years of reading what others had to say about the “right” amount of tithing to pay, I asked the Lord about it and was reminded of Rock’s post on the subject. It changed my mind and more importantly, my heart. Yes, tithing is a commandment and I still pay it, just not to the LDS Church.

doctrine-of-christThird, I’ve been asked to make sure the word gets out about the Doctrine of Christ general conference (lower case “g” and “c”) that will take place in Boise, Idaho this September. You can read more about it on the site dedicated to the event. At this point, as much as I would like to go, I anticipate a conflict with a major work project to take place precisely on that weekend. I’ll be lucky to make it to Sunstone but only because it falls on the same weekend as Carol’s family reunion. I hope to slip away for a few hours to hear Denver’s presentation. Living in California makes it difficult for me to attend events such as these. I can’t wait to retire to St. George.

Remember Christ

carl_bloch_the_christNow that the business has been conducted, I turn to the subject at hand: Remember, specifically, remembering Christ. Even though I attend our local LDS Sacrament meeting with Carol each week, I also participate in the ordinance of the sacrament in my own home using wine each week. I do this for two reasons: First, to show the Lord I remember Him and am grateful for his voice unto me when I asked if I should be baptized. Second, to show I remember his sacrifice for me, that allowed me to have that “born again experience” in my youth when I was first brought into His presence.

You’ll note I include Carl Bloch’s rendering of the Savior and not Del Parson’s. No offense to Del, but my experience with the Savior is depicted more in Carl’s version. There is a softness and gentleness about the rendition that if different from the red robe version from Del. You’ll find a copy Del’s painting in just about every Bishop’s office of the LDS Church. There is a sternness to that version that bothers me. It causes me to think that Satan was also a son of God. Would they not appear similar?

Finally, a note to those many readers who have been so kind to me over the years, many sending me their books and some teaching me privately. I remember you and I remember your kindness. Please forgive me if anything I have written has harmed you or your faith in Christ in any way. I ask this because I know we will meet again, if not in this life, then on the other side of the veil. I remember you. I remember your kindness. I remember what you have shared. I especially appreciate the sacred experiences related in private. God bless us each in our work. There is much to do. I pray to God each day to find the strength and especially the time to do what I know He wants me to do: write and teach.

Your Bill Is Coming Due.


PaymentDueThroughout this post, the JST ( http://centerplace.org/hs/iv/ ) is made use of instead of the KJV.

If you agree that Jesus spoke the words attributed to him in the Book of Mormon and in the Bible, and if you agree that by entering into the waters of baptism you have entered into a covenant to be obedient to him until the end of your life, or if you have partaken of the sacrament, then you have witnessed unto God, the Father, that you are willing to keep the commandments of the Lord.

Moroni 4:3 O God, the Eternal Father, we ask thee in the name of thy Son, Jesus Christ, to bless and sanctify this bread to the souls of all those who partake of it; that they may eat in remembrance of the body of thy Son, and witness unto thee, O God, the Eternal Father, that they are willing to take upon them the name of thy Son, and always remember him, and keep his commandments which he hath given them, that they may always have his Spirit to be with them. Amen.

JST John 14

15 If ye love me, keep my commandments.

16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever;

17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him; but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

18 I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you.

19 Yet a little while, and the world seeth me no more; but ye see me; because I live, ye shall live also.

20 At that day ye shall know that I am in my Father, and ye in me, and I in you.

21 He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

22 Judas saith unto him, (not Iscariot,) Lord, how is it thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?

23 Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.

24 He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings; and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.

If you love Jesus, keep his commandments.  You love Jesus if, and only if, you keep his commandments.  If you keep his commandments, he will come to you, and he will bring the Father to you.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:3 John 14:23—The appearing of the Father and the Son, in that verse, is a personal appearance; and the idea that the Father and the Son dwell in a man’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.

The visit spoken of is literal, and in this world.

D&C 132

21 Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye abide my law ye cannot attain to [my] glory.

22 For strait is the gate, and narrow the way that leadeth unto the exaltation and continuation of the lives, and few there be that find it, because ye receive me not in the world neither do ye know me.

23 But if ye receive me in the world, then shall ye know me, and shall receive your exaltation; that where I am ye shall be also.

24 This is eternal lives—to know the only wise and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent. I am he. Receive ye, therefore, my law.

25 Broad is the gate, and wide the way that leadeth to the deaths; and many there are that go in thereat, because they receive me not, neither do they abide in my law.

Remember, the idea that one receives Jesus in one’s heart is an old sectarian notion, and is false.  To receive Jesus therefore means to take him into your home, or to embrace him physically.  If you do not thus receive him in the world, then you do not know him, and you do not receive exaltation.  If you thus receive him in the world, then you know him, and will receive exaltation.

Putting it all together, you love Jesus if, and only if, you keep his commandments.  If you keep his commandments, he will come to you, and you will take him into your home, or embrace him physically.  If you thus receive him, he will bring the Father to you, and you will receive your exaltation.

Doctrine and Covenants 82:10 I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.

If you do not keep his commandments, you have no promise of any of these things.

Doctrine and Covenants 130:21 [W]hen we obtain any blessing from God, it is by obedience to that law upon which it is predicated.

So what are the commandments of the Lord?  For brevity, here is the shortest version.

JST Luke 6

20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed are the poor; for theirs is the kingdom of God.

21 Blessed are they who hunger now; for they shall be filled. Blessed are they who weep now; for they shall laugh.

22 Blessed are ye when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from among them, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man’s sake.

23 Rejoice ye in that day, and leap for joy; for behold your reward shall be great in heaven; for in the like manner did their fathers unto the prophets.

24 But woe unto you that are rich! For ye have received your consolation.

25 Woe unto you who are full! For ye shall hunger. Woe unto you who laugh now! For ye shall mourn and weep.

26 Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! For so did their fathers to the false prophets.

27 But I say unto you who hear my words, Love your enemies, do good to them who hate you.

28 Bless them who curse you, and pray for them who despitefully use you and persecute you.

29 And unto him who smiteth thee on the cheek, offer also the other; or, in other words, it is better to offer the other, than to revile again. And him who taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also.

30 For it is better that thou suffer thine enemy to take these things, than to contend with him. Verily I say unto you, Your heavenly Father who seeth in secret, shall bring that wicked one into judgment.

31 Therefore give to every man who asketh of thee; and of him who taketh away thy goods, ask them not again.

32 And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

33 For if ye love them only who love you, what reward have you? For sinners also do even the same.

34 And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what reward have you? For sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.

35 But love ye your enemies, and do good, and lend, hoping for nothing again; and your reward shall be great; and ye shall be the children of the Highest; for he is kind unto the unthankful, and to the evil.

36 Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful.

37 Judge not, and ye shall not be judged; condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned; forgive, and ye shall be forgiven.

38 Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal, it shall be measured to you again.

39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? Shall they not both fall into the ditch?

40 A disciple is not above his master; but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

41 And why beholdest thou the mote which is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam which is in thine own eye?

42 Again, how canst thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam which is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote which is in thy brother’s eye.

43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit;

44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

45 A good man out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is good. And an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth that which is evil; for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.

46 And why call ye me Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

47 Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings and doeth them, I will show you to whom he is like.

48 He is like a man who built a house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock, and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it; for it was founded upon a rock.

49 But he who heareth and doeth not, is like a man that without a foundation built a house upon the earth; against which the stream did beat vehemently, and immediately it fell; and the ruin of that house was great.

These teachings are repeated three times throughout scripture.  Three times.  Thrice.

 3 Nephi 12:20 Therefore come unto me and be ye saved; for verily I say unto you, that except ye shall keep my commandments, which I have commanded you at this time, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

Are you keeping these sayings of Jesus?  Are you performing them daily?  Are you giving to every man that asketh?  Are you lending to all, not hoping to receive again?  Are you returning reviling for reviling, or are you patiently enduring abuse?

These are, after all, the things you witnessed unto God that you are willing to do.

And, remember further, great promises are offered to those who both do and teach.

JST Matthew 5:21 Whosoever, therefore, shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so to do, he shall in no wise be saved in the kingdom of heaven; but whosoever shall do and teach these commandments of the law until it be fulfilled, the same shall be called great, and shall be saved in the kingdom of heaven.

Whoever breaks the least of these commandments, and teaches men to do likewise, are promised they shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven, while those who both do them and teach them are promised they shall enter into the kingdom of heaven.

JST Luke 14

25 And when he had finished these sayings, he departed thence, and there went great multitudes with him, and he turned and said unto them,

26 If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, or husband, yea and his own life also; or in other words, is afraid to lay down his life for my sake, cannot be my disciple.

27 And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple.

28 Therefore, settle this in your hearts, that ye will do the things which I shall teach, and command you.

29 For which of you intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have money to finish his work?

30 Lest, unhappily, after he has laid the foundation and is not able to finish his work, all who behold, begin to mock him,

31 Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish. And this he said, signifying there should not any man follow him, unless he was able to continue; saying,

32 Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand, to meet him who cometh against him with twenty thousand.

33 Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an embassage, and desireth conditions of peace.

34 So likewise, whosoever of you forsaketh not all that he hath he cannot be my disciple.

He meant it.  And do not think to claim that by your loyalty to the prophets and apostles of the Church, or any others, that you can bypass the requirements Jesus has set.

35 Then certain of them came to him saying, Good Master, we have Moses and the prophets, and whosoever shall live by them, shall he not have life?

36 And Jesus answered, saying, Ye know not Moses, neither the prophets; for if ye had known them, ye would have believed on me; for to this intent they were written. For I am sent that ye might have life. Therefore I will liken it unto salt which is good;

37 But if the salt had lost its savor, wherewith shall it be seasoned?

38 It is neither fit for the land, nor yet for the dung hill; men cast it out. He who hath ears to hear, let him hear. These things he said, signifying that which was written, verily must all be fulfilled.

So likewise if you keep not his sayings, even while claiming loyalty to prophets, you are as salt that has lost its savor, a covenant people claiming Jesus for king yet not obeying the king’s laws, and therefore are covenant-breakers, good for nothing but to be cast out.

Those who teach you that you owe less to the Lord than you have covenanted to do are the unjust steward, who will be sharing lodging with you in everlasting habitations if you agree with them (see JST Luke 16).  Time is short, and your bill is coming due.

Therefore, do not procrastinate the day of your fulfillment of your own words, covenants, witnesses, or agreements, but begin today to keep the commandments of the Lord that he delivered by his own voice to his people, that you may be accounted faithful in all things.

 Hebrews 13:2 Be not forgetful to entertain [bring into your home] strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unaware.

And who knows but that the angel in disguise might be the Lord himself, seeing if you are one of his disciples.

Hedging the Law: Two Variations on a Theme


The Problem with the Precepts of Men

hedge-rowThe Jews taught for doctrines the commandments of men and built a hedge around the commandments of God. The reasoning is understandable – if you have to keep the commandments of God to be saved, and if the commandment says not to labor on the Sabbath, then if you forbid your congregation from doing even so much as separating toilet paper on the Sabbath, there’s no way they can drive close to enough to the edge of the cliff to be in danger of falling off.

roll-toilet-paperThe problem is, this is like sheathing the sword of God. You may suffer guilt by tearing up toilet paper on the Sabbath, because of the creeds and traditions you’ve been raised with, but you will not be convicted of your sins by the Spirit of God, because this isn’t one of the commandments of God, therefore you will not feel to cry mightily to be forgiven and cleansed from your sins, that you may experience the mighty change of heart and the joy of God at your return to him. And being ignorant of the actual laws, when you do break a commandment, you do so ignorantly, and again, aren’t convicted by the Spirit – ignorance is an excuse with God. Thus the purpose of the commandments gets blunted, and the law no longer serves the function it was designed to.

And then the commandments of men are what get taught, and not the commandments of God. Thus hypocrites, and not saints, are produced by the Church – guilt-ridden perfectionistic pretenders. That was the state of the Jews when John began his preaching. This was symbolized by the fig tree that Jesus cursed.

This impulse – to sheath the sword of God, building a hedge around the law, for the safety and protection of the flock – is common in every age.

abinadi-king-noahA hypocrite is one who is playing a role he has been taught. The word simply means “actor.” We’ve seen fake love. That’s hypocrisy. We’ve seen “friendships” which are struck for the purpose of conversion. That’s hypocrisy.

These are the wolves, the goats, the older brethren, the wild olives, the tares.

A saint is one who has cried mightily unto God from the depths of their soul and been cleansed from their sins by fire from heaven.

These are the sheep, the prodigals, the tame olives, the wheat.

That is why priests are to teach the commandments of God that the children of men may likewise enter into his rest, rather than the precepts and commandments of men.

That’s why Abinadi had some harsh words to say about Noah and his priests.

Teaching Vs. Hedging

There are eternal worlds of difference between these two sentiments:

“Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat, but of the tree of knowledge of good and evil thou shalt not eat; nevertheless, thou mayest choose for thyself, for it is given unto thee. But remember that I forbid it, for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”

And

“Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”not-even-once-club1

In modern LDS terms, we might liken this last unto ourselves as: “Not even once.”

The first affords opportunity for obtaining wisdom and knowledge through experience, while the other damns people quite literally.

Here’s how.

Moses 5
10 And in that day Adam blessed God and was filled, and began to prophesy concerning all the families of the earth, saying: Blessed be the name of God, for because of my transgression my eyes are opened, and in this life I shall have joy, and again in the flesh I shall see God.

11 And Eve, his wife, heard all these things and was glad, saying: Were it not for our transgression we never should have had seed, and never should have known good and evil, and the joy of our redemption, and the eternal life which God giveth unto all the obedient.

adameve.jpgThose who do not partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil are yet children. Sometimes, they are adult children, who have even borne children, whose children themselves have borne children, but spiritually they are yet children, or less (Isaiah calls them miscarriages). In eternal worlds, they do not have seed, they are not exalted. Because children in adult bodies are actually kind of unpleasant to be around. They lack self-control and must be dictated to in every trifle, being belligerent and aggressive, or passive and apathetic. They can’t keep God’s law, neither are they his friends.

prodigal-sonThat’s the reason the prodigal got the ring, the robe, the shoes, and the party – here is one who knows by experience the good from the evil and has chosen the good and returned to God; the depths of his depravity convinced him of his fallen and sinful state and motivated his return. In the eternities, he will have seed. The elder brother is one who “not even once” transgressed the commandment of his father. He doesn’t know the good from the evil, doesn’t understand the way the outside world actually is, and resents his brother. He’s unpleasant to be around, and hostile – he doesn’t even bother going to the house to find out why there’s a party going on (since it wasn’t his and he wasn’t invited – it indicates his stand-offishness and sullen pride), but instead asks a servant the meaning of things. He gets to rule the house and property, but the prodigal gets the love and unity.

These are two types in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Until the Elder Brothers realize that everyone is fallen, and all are under sin, they cannot repent and call upon God for deliverance from their sins and fallen state, for they will perceive themselves as just and righteous, even while they mouth the common platitudes that “nobody’s perfect” and “everyone sins.” They don’t really believe that. That’s why they take anti-depressants; their guilt doesn’t make sense to them, since they never transgress.

It’s still not too late to pray mightily to God to be cleansed from all stain and have one’s guilt wiped from one’s soul. But if you don’t believe he’ll answer, or if you don’t believe you have sinned, you won’t even try. And thus you have been damned by those who taught you “not even once,” who built a hedge around the law lest you should at any time transgress.

Hence, the role of a priest is to teach the commandments of God unto the children of men, that they may likewise enter into his rest, and it is not to build a hedge around the commandments of God for safety, lest they damn the children of men.

Bonus questions:

  1. What do you suppose will happen between the Prodigal and the Elder Brother once the Father has passed away and sole control of the house and property falls to the Elder Brother?

  2. What was the inheritance the Prodigal spent?

Addendum:

The Parables of Jesus and the Interpretation of the Scriptures, TPJS pp. 276-277

In reference to the prodigal son, I said it was a subject I had never dwelt upon; that it was understood by many to be one of the intricate subjects of the scriptures; and even the Elders of this Church have preached largely upon it, without having any rule of interpretation. What is the rule of interpretation? Just no interpretation at all. Understand it precisely as it reads. I have a key by which I understand the scriptures. I enquire, what was the question which drew out the answer, or caused Jesus to utter the parable? It is not national; it does not refer to Abraham, Israel or the Gentiles, in a national capacity, as some suppose. To ascertain its meaning, we must dig up the root and ascertain what it was that drew the saying out of Jesus.

While Jesus was teaching the people, all the publicans and sinners drew near to hear Him; “and the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying: This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.” This is the keyword which unlocks the parable of the prodigal son. It was given to answer the murmurings and questions of the Sadducees and Pharisees, who were querying, finding fault, and saying, “How is it that this man as great as He pretends to be, eats with publicans and sinners?” Jesus was not put to it so, but He could have found something to illustrate His subject, if He had designed if for nation or nations; but He did not. It was for men in an individual capacity; and all straining on this point is a bubble. “This man receiveth sinners and eateth with them.”

And he spake this parable unto them–“What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them doth not leave the ninety-and-nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbors, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety-and-nine just persons which need no repentance.” The hundred sheep represent one hundred Sadducees and Pharisees are in the sheepfold, I have no mission for you; I am sent to look up sheep that are lost; and when I have found them, I will back them up and make joy in heaven.” This represents hunting after a few individuals, or one poor publican, which the Pharisees and Sadducees despised.

He also gave them the parable of the woman and her ten pieces of silver, and how she lost one, and searching diligently, found it again, which gave more joy among the friends and neighbors than the nine which were not lost; like I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety-and-nine just persons that are so righteous; they will be damned anyhow; you cannot save them. (Jan. 29, 1843.) DHC 5:260-262.

In the interest of community participation, I won’t be commenting on this post.

In The Flesh…


gethsemane.jpgContinuing on from the last post, I pray for the Spirit to help me share some things in a way that will be plain.  Some things I share may be known by some of you, and to others of you these ideas may sound like foolishness and far-fetched.  Either way for the first time I have been told by the Spirit to write and share everything that I will, so whether received or not, here we go…

To begin there are a few things that I have to share in order to make sense of the big picture.  The first is what I have learned about the atonement.  We are told so often that we cannot comprehend that Supreme act, and I agree, but hopefully this might bring a little more understanding for those willing to receive it.  (And by that I mean receive it by confirmation from the Holy Ghost)

19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth.

20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word;

21 That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.

22 And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one:

23 I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.

24 Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world.

25 O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me.

26 And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.

– John 17:19-26

For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

  • 2 Corinthians 1:5

19 For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,

20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.

– Philippians 1:19-20

There are a lot of different scriptures that could be referenced but one more will suffice.

I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.

Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.

I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.

– John 15:1-8

ChristInTheGardenOne night I had a very powerful experience.   The Lord showed me and told me plainly that during the atonement, Jesus Christ gave his whole soul for us.  This sounds simple right?  The thing is that God gave me understanding concerning this.  We know He suffered for our sins and somehow it was given to Him to understand us perfectly.  He bore our griefs and sorrows, our pains and sicknesses both physically and spiritually.  What if I told you that He not only “did” that, but is doing it right now?

Not only was Christ’s body torn, but his very soul was.  It was divided and given to every single person who belongs to the family of God on this earth.   A portion of Christ, even His very essence and spirit, was placed upon each of us…  A seed of His perfection was planted in each of us….  This portion of Him lives and feels and understands EVERYTHING that we are going through, because He is going through it with us!  Right now.

Jesus Christ was willing to give Everything he had been given of the Father.  The substance of spirit that He had attained, all His glory, He gave to each of us, so that we could be redeemed.  By doing this, and experiencing everything we all go through on this earth, He became the perfect Judge, the perfect Mediator, and because of the perfection of His soul, our own spirits can be enlightened and redeemed by HIS righteousness and perfection.  I know this might oppose everything you have been taught, but I know it is true.  When Jesus said “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”, it is often said that Christ had to experience the complete loss of the spirit.  This is true, but I have also been told the very last bit of the Light that God had given Him had been imparted to the last person that it was given to.  Christ knew that it was finished, and gave up the Ghost.

As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.

– Acts 13:2

They “ministered to the Lord”?  Have you ministered to Him?  A true fast is when we feed the Spirit of Jesus Christ within us, that portion of Him that He has blessed us with, and purge the body and our appetites so His Spirit can grow within us.

BreadAndWineThis truth clarifies so many things in the scriptures, including the sacrament.  The bread and wine are distributed to the disciples of Christ, which we know represent His body and blood, given to us by the atonement.  Now think of this.  Have you ever wondered why during the sacrament prayers why we ask the Father to “bless and sanctify THE BREAD”, and “bless and sanctify THE WINE to the souls…”  Earlier in life I wondered why we didn’t pray to bless and sanctify THE SOULS of those who partake of the bread and wine….

Now it is clear.  The bread and wine represent the portion of Christ that has been given to each of us, and each time we partake of the sacrament worthily, that portion of Christ within us (bread and wine which is ingested and becomes one with us) sanctifies us and grows a little bit more.

Ok so that was a long explanation of just one principle.  The next principle pertains to the Spirit of the Lord, or the Spirit of God.  Granted the scriptures reference “the spirit” in many ways and some terms can be used interchangeably, so I am not claiming this to be an absolute rule in the scriptures, but the “Spirit” has taught me that the Spirit of the Lord is greater than the Holy Ghost.

When Abinadi received the Spirit of the Lord the evil priests could not lay hands upon him, and “…his face shone with exceeding luster, even as Moses’…” – Mosiah 13:5-6

NephiAndBrothersWhen the Spirit of God was upon Nephi, his brothers could not touch him lest they should wither and die, and his brothers went from mocking him and refusing to help him build a boat, to literally bowing down to the earth to worship him.  Nephi said that the power was so great that it his frame had no strength.  He could have commanded the water to be earth, and it would have been done if God desired… 1 Nephi 17:47-55

Samuel the Lamanite obtained this Spirit on the wall, Ammon could see the thoughts of the King and could not be slain, people have been “conveyed away” by this Spirit, and the list goes on and on and on.

Why am I sharing all of these things?  After all, this post was supposed to be about the Savior manifesting Himself unto us in the flesh.  Some of you no doubt have started to put things together.  When the brother of Jared saw the Lord, he was told by the God of the earth that he was “redeemed from the fall.” – Ether 3:13

Moroni in his sermon on charity tells us to pray with all of the energy of our hearts that “when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure.” – Moroni 7:48

Paul taught that we now “see through a glass (mirror looking at ourselves) darkly, but then face to face, now we know in part, but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” 1 Cor 13:12

When Nephi said “in the flesh,” it did not just mean we will see the Savior while we are mortal, or see Him in His flesh with our eyes, He meant that Christ would manifest Himself both by his appearance, and within OUR OWN flesh.

“….I baptize you in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.”

How many times have we heard the question, “Why do we get baptized in the name of all three?”  Why not just in the name of Christ?  (Christ does own all three of those names). What I am sharing right now is that we can be baptized by the Holy Ghost, and we can be baptized by the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Our flesh can become sanctified line upon line until His very Spirit can abide in us, in our flesh.  This is all over the scriptures.  This is redemption. This is when we literally “take the name of Christ upon us”.

King Benjamin in his Sermon, while the Spirit of the Lord rested upon him, gave us a name and said that we WOULD BE CALLED by that name.  The name was none other than Jesus Christ, the God of this earth. King Benjamin was not lying or being cute. God will literally call you by the name of Jesus Christ. Oh how this changes our view on doing “all things in the name of Christ.” Did you know that in the true order of prayer we pray literally “in the name of Jesus to the Father?” In the true order of prayer Jesus is praying through us to His Father.

GethsemaneRemember the Nephites who prayed to Jesus in 3 Nephi 19:18 AFTER they had received the Holy Ghost?  Then Jesus went a little way from them and prayed to the Father and during that prayer said “Father, thou hast given them the Holy Ghost because they believe in me; and thou seest that they believe in me because thou hearest them, and they pray unto me; and they pray unto me BECAUSE I AM WITH THEM!” and then He prayed that “I may be in them as thou, Father, art in me, that we may be one.”

There are so many things that we could discuss further. I challenge any readers to pray about this, think on it when you study the scriptures.  I know it is true. I also know that when Christ appear to men in the flesh that they are redeemed.  This is transfiguration, if this lasts, (which it will for all who remain during the millennium) this is translation.

The 144,000 will receive the name of Jesus Christ, they will be sealed unto God, and overcome the elements of the world through our great Redeemer. This will happen soon! There are many living today, men and women, who will be the firstfruits of God and enter His presence, and then minister to others. I know it. Jesus Christ is the Might of the mighty, the Strength of the strong, the glory of us all.

Now back to the scripture In John 15. Christ taught that He was the vine and we are the branches. He taught that all of God’s children were the branches, but that those who did not bear fruit and abide in the vine, would eventually be cast off. The Spirit will not always strive with man. The time of judgment is near. Even now the Lord is withdrawing the spirit (even the portion of Himself that He gave for us) from the wicked. That portion is being given to those who love and trust in the Lord. You have probably felt it.

As the Spirit of Christ is withdrawn from men, it also gives the adversary power to enter in. Evil spirits that have been held at bay will take complete control of the bodies of those who have rejected the Spirit of the Lord. Soon the world will be entirely polarized. I know the Lord is preparing each of us. God bless us all with the Spirit of the Lord, the Spirit of Adonai, even the Spirit of Jesus Christ.

In the next post I will go into what is entailed when one is SENT by God.

P.S. On a lighter note, don’t you think a song like this would be cool to hear in church?

The Angels Among Demons – YouTube

 

Overcoming the Label of Addict


AddictionRecoveryProgramNote: To those waiting for my promised analysis of the 45-page Daymon Smith paper on the Atonement I wrote about in my previous post, please be patient. It is on the way, but is more involved and complex than I had anticipated. The idea of the sacrifice of the Savior being a penal substitute for our sins is, to me, the heart of the atonement and one that I appreciate profoundly.

I’ve stated many times that the reason I blog is to motivate me to study the gospel. I like to share new viewpoints I discover on various doctrinal subjects. I’ve also discovered that this is an area in which we need to be very careful. There are some really smart people out there who write and teach extremely well, but only the spirit can tell us if what they are trying to teach is the truth.

Advice for a Repentant Sinner

Recently, I shared a series of posts here on my blog that focused on the Atonement. I wrote about sin, repentance and forgiveness. I used some youthful examples which were painful but helpful to get to the heart of the matter. I want my religion to help me feel better, spiritually speaking, and to give me hope for a better life in the next world. In other words, I want to feel forgiveness.

I don’t know if you’re like me in that you can understand something intellectually and yet not have it sink down into your heart so that it changes your life. It’s a mortal weakness that I don’t think is unique to me. In any event, I solicited and received advice on how to make the power of the atonement more real in my life. I received a lot of personal emails but one really stood out.

A unique paper on the Atonement

I asked for and received permission to share some highlights from this amazing document, which I’ll link to at the end of this post. The author, Greg was 19 years old at the time he wrote it. I’m 56 and thought I pretty well understood this doctrine, but I learned more in four hours as I read the dozen pages he shared than I have in studying a myriad of books on the subject in my library.

I suppose it’s because the focus of his paper was from the point of view of an addict. Now this is where it gets a little tricky, because the whole argument of his essay is that we should not label ourselves as addicts. He goes to great lengths to explain why. I think that has been my issue all along. I have always considered myself to be an addict – a recovered addict – but still, an addict.

The Consummate Power of the Atonement

Among other synonyms, consummate means perfect, supreme, absolute and complete. In other words, there is nothing held back in the power of the atonement. Up until I first received my temple recommend and asked my bishop about healing after repentance, I always believed that healing meant healing, complete, whole and perfect. I thought we taught that in the LDS church.

But as I shared in that post, my poor bishop seemed absolutely distraught when he shared with me that the best I could hope for was to endure to the end and hope I was worthy when I died. I thought I was at the end of my problems. But as the wise mother said to the new bride, I simply did not know at which end I found myself. That day was the beginning of my many troubles.

Family Services Addiction Recovery Program

In our church we conduct an addiction recovery program. I have written about this before. The fault I find with the program is that it is based on the 12-step AA program, which unfortunately, contains some false doctrine. The main problem I have with the program, and which is the key to Greg’s paper, is simply the use of the label ‘addict’ in describing one who has sinned habitually.

The scriptures never make a single distinction between someone with an addiction and anyone else. Do you realize how powerful that statement is? In other words, there is not, or should not have to be any special kind of program to help someone overcome an addiction other than what we already have in the gospel of Jesus Christ. To add to the doctrine of Christ is evil (3 Ne 11:40).

Behold, This is My Doctrine

To call yourself or others an addict or even a recovering addict is adding to the doctrine of Christ and is therefore evil. It implies that you are moving away from something, always trying to avoid something. That is not what the Savior taught. He commanded us to come unto him. We are to do all within our power to move toward Christ. We are on a sandy foundation to teach otherwise.

I have always believed in the baptism of fire and of the Holy Ghost. This is a part of the doctrine of Christ. It is something for which we should all strive. We should be seeking this baptism with all our hearts. If we focus on coming unto Christ and receiving Him, we will not need to focus on avoiding the mists of darkness. We will then be holding onto the rod of iron in our eternal quest.

Healing Means Complete Healing

The Savior says He can heal us. I believe Him. In spite of what my bishop said at age 19, I have always been seeking this healing and sanctifying power of the Savior in my life. I have always believed that He and only He can take away that addiction or attraction to sin. When we come unto Christ completely, we are consumed in his love. The desire for sin is removed from us.

For 37 years I have struggled with the worry and fear that because I was once an addict, I might someday slip back into that addictive behavior. And you know what? I did – many times – all because I had labeled myself as an addict. I had convinced myself that “once an addict, always an addict” applied to me. This is a false doctrine and a teaching of the devil meant to ensnare us.

Recovering from False Labels

I do not believe we should ever consider ourselves addicts. I also do not believe we should call ourselves “recovering addicts.” I now believe that even “recovered addict,” as I have always referred to myself, is wrong. There is not or should not be a special class of individual who is coming unto Christ. We need no additional labels. We are all sinners. We are all repenting.

If we call ourselves an addict or even a recovering addict, we imply that we are trying to avoid something, or move away from something we fear. This approach will always fail because it is fear-based and we all know the source of fear. Let us resolve here and now to remove this false label from ourselves. We are simply children of God, coming unto Christ through His doctrine.

A Few Gems from Greg’s Paper

We are commanded to change the way we are. We are commanded to change who we are. Elder Holland said, “All the counseling or cognitive therapy in the world will not break a pornography addiction without the Savior.” Elder Holland said we can never use the excuse, “that’s just the way I am. I’ve heard that from too many people who wanted to sin and call it psychology.”

“What if someone shoves porn in your face after years of sobriety? The porn is not the problem. The problem is lust. If that person has truly changed then lust will have been rooted out of their heart and no outside influence could override their agency and make it return.” The only way to remove lust from one’s heart is to come unto Christ and to be filled with the pure love He offers.

Coming Unto Christ is the Answer

“There is no way to lighten our own burdens. If you’re wearing a heavy backpack there is nothing you can do to make it lighter on you. No matter what position you try and no matter how you twist and contort your body you will never be able to change the weight of the backpack. Someone has to help you. Someone else on different ground has to help you with the weight.”

That someone is Christ. The other option, succumbing to Satan, is inevitable if you never accept Christ’s strength. If in the end you have not chosen Christ, it will not matter who you have chosen. You either repent now, change now, humble yourself now, or remain in sin and denial of Christ forever. There is no tomorrow. In sin our tomorrow is unchangeably filled with pain.

Stop Using the Word Addict

A better phrase would be “once a mortal, always a mortal,” even if it’s only true for a season. People struggling with pornography have an acute awareness of their weakness. One mother was upset over her son looking at pornography. “Why can’t he just stop?” She asked. Yet when she was asked why she couldn’t just stop overeating, she had no answer. See, we are all sinners.

Temptation falls under the category of weakness. The only thing that makes a temptation a temptation is because the natural man actually wants to do it. Just because someone that has been addicted in years past continues to feel temptations doesn’t mean they are still addicted. It means they are still human and therefore must rely on Christ for strength. Stop calling them an addict.

Complete the Last Step

Perhaps the reason some people continue to use the phase “recovering addict” or “recovered addict” is because they feel they have gone as far into the recovery / repentance process that that possibly can. There is one more step to complete which is to come unto Christ and be healed. Perhaps they are afraid of that last step. They would rather stay in a continual state of recovery.

The thought of having to do a bit more and reach a little further into themselves is daunting and discouraging. Perhaps they are afraid that if they are fully recovered or healed then they will no longer have the kind of fraternity found in a recovery group. This need can be filled with a strong ward family and reaching out to others to help them complete that last step to come unto Christ.

It’s Easier Than it Seems

Could it be this simple? Is it true that all we must do is continually focus on the Savior and come unto Him in all we think, say and do? Yes, it is that easy. It is work, but it is easy. We must forget man-made programs, science and psychology, look to the Savior to live. Does that sound too good to be true? It does, but it is nevertheless, the only way – to come unto Christ and live.

The healing power of the Atonement is real, but one must seek it and ask for it. Forgiveness is easy. We can know we are forgiven simply by repenting and asking the Lord to forgive us. But there is more to be done after that if we want the change to be permanent. We must ask to be healed. We must do whatever He requires of us to receive this gift and blessing, but it is real.

Always Move Towards Christ

It is not enough to stay away from the great and spacious building because surrounding it is an exceedingly great mist of darkness. The point is not to avoid the great and spacious building. It is to hold to the iron rod and to go toward the tree of life. There are no fences around the great and spacious building. We must cling to the iron rod and keep our eyes fixed on the tree of life.

The point is not to defeat Satan. We could never do that. We must instead embrace Christ. He has already conquered. An attitude of recovery is good. It moves us away from sin. Eventually something must take that place, for there will be space and unless we fill it with Christ, sin and relapse are sure to return. We must become fully recovered by filling that space with Christ.

The Change Can Be Instantaneous

This may be the hardest thing to accept, especially if you have been hanging onto the false label of recovering or recovered addict for many years. I know if was for me. According to science it may take months and years for the brain to change. But according to the gospel we believe, it can happen instantaneously. Elder Holland said, “You can change anything you want to change, and you can do it very fast.

“It takes exactly as long to repent as it takes you to say, ‘I’ll change’- and mean it. Of course there will be problems to work out and restitutions to be made. You may well spend – indeed you had better spend – the rest of your life proving your repentance by its permanence. But change, growth, renewal, and repentance can come for you as instantaneously as for Alma and the sons of Mosiah.”

The Lord’s Healing is Complete

No one is strong enough to overcome addiction on their own. By living a Christ-centered life, we qualify for His strength. But when the Lord heals, it is without reservation or limit. Christ is 100% trustworthy and will, through our humility, maintain our purity. The Savior can effectively break the chains of addiction in a lasting way – with permanence and without scars.

The Lord will give us a new heart and a new spirit. We will no longer desire evil. Our struggle will cease. He can and will free the addicted individual from their bondage but they must come unto Him with full completeness of heart, nothing held back, no reservations. We must truly desire it and be willing to do whatever the Lord requires of us to obtain the gift of healing.

We Must Become Great

The only way to truly overcome addiction is to become great. The person who gives up addiction and turns to Christ can never return to a normal life. They can no longer be a normal person, because the normal person gives in to temptation. Instead, they must become great. They must become a disciple, a true follower of Jesus Christ with an eye single to the glory of God.

We can’t just give Him our addiction, we must give Him everything. Addictions can be erased. The effects of addictions, even long-held addictions can he healed. We can be restored to perfect spiritual health, but it comes at a price. We must complete the steps the Lord outlined when He taught His gospel. We must be baptized with fire and the Holy Ghost. We must receive the Lord.

To Contact the Author

Greg Nelson is the author of the paper I have reviewed in this blog post. The contact information listed at the end of the paper states that he resides in Providence Utah and can be reached via his email at itstimetopowerup @ gmail.com. If you click on this link, you can open the paper in Google Docs and find his information if you wish to contact him. He was very amenable with me.

As I noted he was 19 when he wrote this paper. He is now 22. I think you can tell I am obviously impressed with what he wrote. As I told Greg, his paper was an answer to my many years of prayer. He said he felt compelled to share it with me after spending a few hours on my blog. I will be forever grateful for the insight he has added to my understanding of complete repentance.

Books about the Savior in my Library

Come, Let Us Adore Him by Denver Snuffer (2009) – recently read this
The Second Comforter by Denver Snuffer (2006) – Have read this several times
Trusting Jesus by Jeffrey R. Holland (2003)
The Infinite Atonement by Tad R. Callister (2000)
The Redeemer – Reflections of the Life and Teachings of Jesus Christ, compilation (2000)
Jesus of Nazareth, Savior and King by Duane S. Crowther (1999)
Following the Light of Christ Into His Presence by John M Pontius (1997)
Following Christ by Stephen E. Robinson (1995)
Believing Christ by Stephen E. Robinson (1992)
Jesus Christ, Key to the Plan of Salvation by Gerald Lund (1991)
In the Arms of His Love by Steven A. Cramer (1991)
I Know That My Redeemer Lives, Deseret Book compilation (1990)
Life in Christ – Discovering the transforming power of the Savior by Robert L. Millet (1990)
Come Unto Christ by President Ezra Taft Benson (1983)
What it Means to Know Christ by George W. Pace (1981)
The Mortal Messiah series by Bruce R. McConkie (1979)
Come Unto Christ by Duane S. Crowther ( 1971)
Jesus the Christ by James Talmage (1915) – read this back on my mission

False Understanding of the Atonement


JesusInGardenI have some special feelings in my heart about the Savior. I have been taught all my life about Jesus Christ and have come to look to Him as one who will save me. From what, you ask? Well, the answers are obvious for those raised in the church – from death and hell. Those are Book of Mormon phrases. I have had some experience with both and frankly, I find them frightening.

I have documented my experience with death in several previous essays, but most clearly in my post on Dealing with Evil and Unclean Spirits written 6 Aug 2012. I suppose that is also the post that most clearly documents my experiences with evil as well. Since that time, I have had more recent experiences that caused me to feel the closeness of death and hell in my life once more.

My point is, like most men as they age, I think more and more about what the next life will be like and if I will enjoy it. My encounters with evil and feelings of death in this life convince me that there are parts of the next life – the spirit world – of which I do not want to be associated. In other words, I am a prime candidate for one of the purposes of religion – to prepare to meet God.

Spiritual Counsel from My Youth

In a recent post here on my blog, I wrote about some advice I was given by my Bishop as a youth nearly thirty-seven years ago as I prepared for my mission. I confessed sins common to many young men and hinted that perhaps the advice given by my bishop may have been unsound, or at least less than perfect. I shared that any mention of this particular sin continues to bother me.

In other words, I was expressing that I was perhaps not yet fully healed from youthful mistakes and wondered if any of my readers might have some advice for me to bring me greater peace. In particular, I discussed the process of being born of the spirit, of a book I had read on the subject that greatly influenced me and then included some troubling quotes from Miracle of Forgiveness.

Frankly, I was both delighted and surprised by the number and type of answers I received, both public and private. Some brethren expressed their gratitude that I had said something publically that they also felt – the ongoing sense of guilt when priesthood leaders mention the need to be free from this common indiscretion of youth, confess the sin to get counsel on how to proceed.

Duty to Call Others to Repent

I’ve never been a Bishop or Stake President, but I know I would say the same thing were I in their position. I’ve worked closely with such men over the past twenty-five years and sat in many disciplinary councils where I have seen the results of sin, especially sexual sin, in the lives of our members. Many of the brethren, and one sister, noted their problems began with pornography.

My point is I’m not finding fault with the over-the-pulpit call from the Stake President to the brethren of the priesthood to free themselves from these sins (pornography and masturbation). The point of my essay was how to deal with the twinge of guilt that one feels if one has been a past participant in such sins but has now repented and should feel clean and forgiven by God.

I’d like to offer some additional thoughts on the subject that I hope will be more uplifting and helpful to those who find themselves in a similar situation. I think I was under the mistaken impression that I was supposed to be perfect in regards to this particular sin once I had taken care of it with the Bishop of my youth. This was confirmed by many of you in the advice you offered.

Best advice – Lighten up

The most common advice I received was “Lighten up. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Nobody’s perfect.” Right next to that was the point made that even after being born of the spirit or for that matter, having one’s calling and election sure, man is going to sin, just because he is mortal. I guess I knew that intellectually but I think it has now sunk much deeper into my hard heart.

By hard heart – I mean towards myself. I was being overly tough on myself. I’ve related on this blog how I’ve had some wonderful spiritual experiences. I have felt like Nephi, “Oh wretched man that I am. When I want to rejoice, I remember my sins. (I’m paraphrasing).” The idea that a man can reach spiritual heights then fall back into weakness was a difficult one for me to accept.

Let’s be clear. I’m not advocating that one go indulging in all kinds of lasciviousness, but if one, in a moment of melancholy or loneliness, engages in this sin, the idea is to not beat yourself up about it to the point of becoming discouraged and losing hope. That’s what Satan wants. The idea is to pick yourself up (repent), ask for forgiveness, take the sacrament and try, try again.

Still Seeking Baptism of Fire

I know this is common sense and something I should understand and have dealt with long time ago. After all, I’ve been a member of this church for most of my 56 years, but for some reason, I have been laboring under the impression that one must be perfectly clean and pure in order to feel the spirit of the Lord. No so. One must simply be humble and willing to make greater effort.

Yes, I mean make a greater effort. We grow line upon line. Each time we pick ourselves up from some sin – and we all have sin – we must commit ourselves to dig a little deeper into the gospel, to understand it better. We must be willing to pray with more intensity and heartfelt sincerity, and find the strength the Lord has promised to those who turn unto him in spite of a sinful nature.

I am still on a quest. This blog will continue to document that journey. I intend to either receive the baptism of fire – perhaps I already have and don’t know it – or receive an audience with the Lord. I intend to receive angels, be taught what I must do to prepare for this interview and then to go and do. I readily confess I am deeply influenced by the writings of Denver Snuffer here.

Scholarly Approach to the Gospel

Now I’d like to move on the real point of this post. One good brother who responded to my previous post invited me to engage in a private dialog on the doctrine of the atonement. He indicated that I do not really understand the atonement and because of that, I am laboring under a false impression about the nature of sin, how repentance works and what the atonement is all about.

In order to educate me, he has proposed that I read a private document on the subject authored by Daymon M. Smith. You may be familiar with the man. He self-published a humorous book a few years back about working in the Church Office Building called The Book of Mammon. I thought about purchasing and reading it but reviews indicated my conservative side might not enjoy it.

I’ve read some of Daymon’s blog and frankly, he is way over my head. I like to think of myself as a pretty smart guy, but I’m no PhD. Put me in a room full of Microsoft networking equipment and I’m right at home. Ask me to write a scholarly paper that contributes a greater understanding to the commonly accepted literature on a subject like the atonement and I’m out of my league.

False Understanding of Atonement

However, I promised I would accept his challenge so I have committed to read this 45-page paper and write my response. My point is that the Book of Mormon teaches that God offered His Son as a sacrifice for sin. We call that the atonement. He contends that this is a false teaching called penal substitution that comes from Sidney Rigdon, Alexander Campbell and Calvinites.

He says it is a teaching of the Great and Abominable Church and that it binds men down and brings them into captivity with a yoke of iron. He indicates that this false teaching needs to be purged in order to see clearly and understand the mission of Jesus Christ. I told him I could offer quite a few Book of Mormon scriptures that teach Heavenly Father sacrificed His Son for us.

Perhaps I can share a few of them here as a start to my gospel study this week but it just seems a little ludicrous. I’ve been teaching the doctrine of the Atonement since I was seventeen years old and was first called to teach a Sunday school class. So I’ve been teaching false doctrine for the past forty years? Maybe you can join in and tell me what you think of a few of these scriptures.

A Few Scriptures on Sacrifice

2 Ne 2:7 – “Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered.” OK, this doesn’t say the Father offered the Son. It says the Son offered Himself. Score one for Daymon and my unnamed friend. This is only the first scripture that came to mine.

Jacob 4:5 – “…it was accounted unto Abraham in the wilderness to be obedient unto the commands of God in offering up his son Isaac, which is a similitude of God and his Only Begotten Son.” OK, this one to me seems pretty clear. It says Abraham offering Isaac is a similitude of God offering his Son. I believe the point should go to me on that one. What say ye?

Alma 34:10 – “For it is expedient that there should be a great and last sacrifice; yea, not a sacrifice of man, neither of beast, neither of any manner of fowl; for it shall not be a human sacrifice; but it must be an infinite and eternal sacrifice.” Score two for Daymon. This scripture does not specifically say that the Father shall offer the son as a sacrifice for sin as I thought.

Alma 34:14 – “And behold, this is the whole meaning of the law, every whit pointing to that great and last sacrifice; and that great and last sacrifice will be the Son of God, yea, infinite and eternal.” This one is debatable. It refers to the Son of God being the great and last sacrifice, but doesn’t specifically say that it is the Father that sacrifices the son. So I’ll call this one a draw.

Melvin J Ballard on Father’s sacrifice

In the case of our Father, the knife was not stayed, but it fell, and the life’s blood of his Beloved Son went out. His Father looked on with great grief and agony over his Beloved Son, until there seems to have come a moment when even our Savior cried out in despair: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”

In that hour I think I can see our dear Father behind the veil looking upon these dying struggles until even he could not endure it any longer; and, like the mother who bids farewell to her dying child, has to be taken out of the room, so as not to look upon the last struggles, so he bowed his head, and hid in some part of his universe, his great heart almost breaking for the love that he had for his Son.

Oh, in that moment when he might have saved his Son, I thank him and praise him that he did not fail us, for he had not only the love of his Son in mind, but he also had love for us. I rejoice that he did not interfere, and that his love for us made it possible for him to endure to look upon the sufferings of his Son and give him finally to us, our Savior and our Redeemer.

Without him, without his sacrifice, we would have remained, and we would never have come glorified into his presence. And so this is what it cost, in part, for our Father in Heaven to give the gift of his Son unto men.

Source: New Era Jan 76 Classic Discourses, Sacramental Covenant

Penal Substitution is the Difficulty

I’m not quite sure what my friend is trying to teach me or why he wanted to point out that my / our understanding of the atonement is wrong or false doctrine. I will read Daymon’s essay on the atonement and see what points I can derive that will help draw me closer to my Savior. I desire a true understanding of what He has done for me and what exactly it is that He requires of me.

From our email dialog I think he is trying to say that the Atonement has nothing to do with paying a debt, but that did not enter into the dialog from my side. I wanted to focus on the idea of the Atonement being a sacrifice – both on the part of the Son and from the Father. That’s why I included Elder Ballard’s classic talk on the feelings of the Father as he watched His son’s death.

The paper seems to focus on the idea of penal substitution. Yes, I get that. It seems to be part of our doctrine that Christ paid for our sins. In other words he suffered things such as guilt and shame so we would not have to. For some reason, if I understand the paper correctly from a quick review, this is supposedly a false doctrine. I’ll write my summary when I complete it.

By the way, I’ve been asked if this 45-page PDF draft paper is available for sharing. My source has indicated that it will be published later this year but asked that I not share it for now. Sorry about that..

Changing Requirements of Perfection


After reviewing one of my previous essays, a thoughtful reader asked my opinion about the idea of perfection and if the requirements for salvation had changed.  He said, “Open just about any page of the book of Leviticus and you’ll see laws that were of life and death importance to the early church, but not today. In contrast, there is no mention of baptism or confirmation in the Old Testament as a requirement for salvation, yet today, they are taught as essential.”

He also asked about the need for the Word of Wisdom, temple ordinances, plural marriage and the second anointing. He concluded, “If God is eternal, and heaven doesn’t change, shouldn’t the requirements to get into heaven be the same, no matter when you were born or what culture you lived in?” Although his email was private, great questions like these deserve a response that can be shared in my blog so others who might be interested can benefit from the dialog.

Perfection means completed

The savior taught in 3 Ne 12:48, “Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.” Perfection to me has always meant complete or completed as in finished or fulfilled, certainly not something we will achieve in this life and not in the spirit world to come. Perfection is a state that is achieved only after we have learned all there is to know about becoming like God. And that can’t happen until we are resurrected beings because we will never understand what God is like until we have the same type of body that he has.

The Prophet Joseph said, “…go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”

Joseph F. Smith said, “Salvation does not come all at once; we are commanded to be perfect even as our Father in heaven is perfect. It will take us ages to accomplish this end, for there will be greater progress beyond the grave, and it will be there that the faithful will overcome all things … for we will have to go even beyond the grave before we reach that perfection and shall be like God. But here we lay the foundation.”

Flaws and errors removed

I have never equated perfection as meaning without flaw or error, rather as having flaws and errors removed.  That of course can only come through the atonement of the Savior.  It is not something that I can accomplish on my own.  That is my understanding of perfection – having flaws and errors removed by the Savior.  Therefore, it is my desire to meet the requirements for the atonement to be effective in my life as set forth by the savior and as revealed to his prophets.  I’m not talking about temporal salvation. The resurrection is a free gift to all.  We will all live again with immortal bodies.  But the quality of our life in the hereafter depends entirely upon us and our efforts to be worthy and prepared for the greatest of all the gifts of God – eternal life.

Requirements of Salvation

So that brings us to the second point – meeting the requirements of salvation.  I guess I’m not so concerned about what the people of the Old Testament had to do to please the Lord.  I’m glad I don’t live in the harsh conditions of those days when a man could be stoned for what today would seem to be a minor infraction.  They had a different law back then and the Lord taught us clearly that he fulfilled that law.  The Mosaic Law was to bring them to Christ, even though most of the Israelites who lived back then did not understand that.  The Lord described them as a hard-hearted and stiff-necked people.  I would hope that we are not like some of those early Israelites.  Someday, they must receive the ordinances of the higher priesthood just as it is required of us.

Baptism in ancient times

We are taught in Moses 6 that Adam was baptized.  When Peter said on the day of Pentecost that they must repent and be baptized, the people obviously had a clear understanding of the concept.  John the Baptist did not practice something that was new and unknown.  I am confident that baptism was practiced in the old world.  We know that Alma baptized in the Waters of Mormon. I think we can be certain that the Book of Mormon people brought the practice with them from the Old World.  Baptism is a priesthood ordinance and is one of the requirements of salvation.  The laying on of hands was a common practice as evidenced by priesthood blessings given by the early patriarchs to their children as well as by many references in the New Testament.

Temple ordinances required

I think there is ample evidence that temple ordinances were a part of the religious practice of the ancient people of Israel.  The Lord has always commanded his people to build temples where they are gathered in numbers of sufficient strength.  Where they were not, his saints were endowed with power from on high on the tops of mountains.  No, the majority of the Israelites did not receive the endowment as they lived the Mosaic Law.  But yes, all must be endowed and sealed someday.  That is one of the purposes of the Millennium.

Word of Wisdom for our day

Even though it is based on eternal principles such as moderation and self-control, the Word of Wisdom is a modern revelation given for our benefit in our day. As the Lord said, it was given “In consequence of evils and designs which do and will exist in the hearts of conspiring men in the last days.”  Just as the Israelites were given a law of health with many specific things to not do, we have been given a few guidelines for our health in our day. Isn’t that part of the principle of ongoing revelation – specifics suited for our times? No, it’s true that Jesus didn’t teach the Word of Wisdom when he came in the Meridian of Time, but he did reveal it for us in our day.  Thank God for living prophets and modern revelation that gives us that direction we need now.

Plural Marriage not required

Let’s consider why we no longer participate in the Second Anointing or Plural Marriage. Both of those subjects are fascinating to study and can produce a lot of fruitful discovery if we choose to get into them. I have always considered plural marriage to be optional, while entering into the law of celestial marriage to be a requirement.  We must receive that sealing ordinance to make progress according to section 131.  But plural marriage is not a requirement of exaltation.  You can read that in section 132, verse 61.  It says that if a man “desire to espouse another,” and the first wife consents and she is given or sealed unto him by the prophet then he does not commit adultery.  It is never worded that a man must take another wife.  Only certain brethren were commanded in the early days of the church to do so as part of the restoration of all things.

Timing of the Second Anointing

We don’t know much about the Second Anointing, do we?  We certainly aren’t taught about it in our standard Sunday curriculum or even in any of the CES curriculum as far as I can determine.  To be honest, I like the Wikipedia article.  It’s a pretty good summary of everything I have read over the years.  I know it bothers some people that this is not openly taught, but I guess they feel the same way that the temple ceremony is not openly taught.  Of course you can read the whole thing today on the Internet.  I like the fact that we work harder in the church today to ensure that people are more prepared for the first anointing.  To me, it is a lifetime of faithful service in the Lord’s church that prepares us for the second anointing, either in this life or in the resurrection.

Dormant religious practices

Perhaps we need to ask ourselves if these things have really changed or are just dormant.  I am one who believes that those two practices in particular will once again be a part of our worship.  Yes, I am convinced that the day will come when even the “regular” member of the church will be able to receive the second anointing just as soon as he is ready and can participate in plural marriage if he so chooses and his wives are given to him under the direction of the prophet.  Of course, that’s not going to happen while we live under the laws of the government of the United States, but as we all know, the government of the United States will not stand forever.  Yes, the constitution is an inspired document, but when the Savior comes, we will enter a theocracy.

Be Faithful to Joseph

I guess the reason I’m not bothered by a lot of things that I read out there on the Internet about the church, including some very convincing arguments that make you think, is that I like to think of myself more like Hyrum Smith than Joseph.  I don’t see visions or hear the voice of the Lord like Joseph, but I have been blessed with the gift of believing.  That’s what I meant when I said that I choose to believe.  After many years of experience, I can tell you that feel happiest when I exercise faith and choose to believe what was revealed through Joseph Smith.  I believe Joseph.  I trust the brethren who lead this church today.  I have listened to them and studied their words for all my life.  I have never been disappointed nor had cause to doubt their spiritual leadership.  Like Hyrum, I want to remain faithful and supportive of their direction to the end of my days.

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