Upcoming Remnant Tithing Conference


The Remnant Ministry asked Adrian Larsen (To The Remnant) and me (Latter-day Commentary) to share this on our blogs to get the word out. You are welcome to share this on Facebook, Google+ Twitter or your own blog as desired.

TithingConference

Tithing Conference – Saturday Sept 19th 2015, SLCC, Sandy Utah, 6pm to 9pm

Format for Tithing Conference:  We ask that while people are speaking / presenting for no interruptions or questions.  We have dedicated an hour after presentations as a Q & A time for individual/group conferences to form to ask questions of each other.

Sharing of Ideas and Needs: There will be a clipboard available for groups to communicate with each other “needs” and “surpluses” in a “giving tree” concept.

Call for Papers: We have had over a year of this “Tithing experiment”, as such we are asking for submissions of articles/papers and even just paragraphs from anyone who wants to contribute. Contributions can be lessons learned, progress made, mistakes, scriptural studies, group experiences, miracles and impacts witnessed, testimonies shared, thanks given or as the spirit directs.  We will place all the submissions into a pdf and make it available after the conference.  We will accept submissions after the conference as well for approximately 30 days.

We are open to other ideas still, and volunteers. Personal note from Tim: I am aware of some very successful tithing groups that have been able to provide support for single sisters with young families in need. Isn’t that what true religion is all about?

Contact: http://www.remnantministry.org/contact.html or remnantministry555@gmail.com

Link to last month’s announcement: https://latterdaycommentary.com/2015/07/08/call-for-tithing-conference/ (60+ comments)

A few thoughts from Denver for consideration and discussion from the Grand Junction lecture 4-12-14:

One of the things that happened when we failed to live the Law of Consecration was a replacement commandment requiring the payment of tithes. D&C 64:23 “Behold, now it is called today until the coming of the Son of Man, and verily it is a day of sacrifice, and a day for the tithing of my people; for he that is tithed shall not be burned at his coming.” (This is the statement that the cliché that tithing is “fire insurance” is drawn from because if you’re tithed you won’t be burned at his coming.) “For after today cometh the burning—this is speaking after the manner of the Lord—for verily I say, tomorrow all the proud and they that do wickedly shall be as stubble; and I will burn them up, for I am the Lord of Hosts; and I will not spare any that remain in Babylon. Wherefore, if ye believe me, ye will labor while it is called today.” (D&C 64:23-25.)

I want to encourage you to pay tithing. If you are satisfied in paying that tithing to whatever church or organization you belong to, then continue doing so. The act of giving tithing as an offering to the Lord does not require you to supervise what happens with it once you give it to your churches. I think they become accountable. For you it is an act of faith. For them who receive it from you it is a matter of accountability before God.

However, some of us are forbidden from paying tithing to our church of choice. Some of us simply refuse to pay tithing because they don’t trust their church. Some refuse because they believe their church has neglected the poor. Some refuse to pay because the LDS Church refuses to be accountable and open with their donations.4 Some refuse to pay tithing because church leaders of the LDS Church treat the return on the tithing as “investment income,” and then use it to build shopping malls and buy landholdings. They treat the “investment income” as separate from tithing and use that categorization to deflect criticism of these vast commercial enterprises.

And from the Phoenix / Mesa lecture on 9-9-14:

In Grand Junction I spoke about tithing. I talked about organizing yourselves, collecting your own tithing and managing it yourselves, to assist the poor who are among you, and to do this by the voice of your own local group. Do it by common consent. Provide for those who need housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education and transportation. Do it by the voice of united agreement of you all in small groups in which all know one another. Since that time there have been several groups that have begun. Two groups are assisting single mothers with their needs. One group is assisting a family. One group has no needy among them, and they’ve accumulated for large charitable purposes, and they bought for a quadriplegic, a sophisticated electric wheelchair with the tithing money that they gathered.

I have also heard of some failing experiments, where frustration and contention have been problems. As the scriptures warn, and I discussed in Grand Junction, we must overcome “jarrings,” “contentions,” “envyings,” “strifes,” “lusts” meaning ambitions, and “covetous desires.” These  conflicts  need  to  be worked out before any gathering. All of the social ills of our day are in the churches of our day. Every denomination that came from Joseph Smith’s ministry is plagued with the same shortcomings. Before any gathering, we must be put through a refining process. We must grow; we must rise up first, before God will gather us to Zion.

There is no reason to pay for priesthood service. Serving should always require sacrifice. Do not pay for ministers. I would recommend if you choose to participate in a  tithing  group,  you  do  it in  the  same manner described in Grand Junction. Do it voluntarily among yourselves. Community is necessary. I do not know how you can bear one another’s burdens without administering your own tithes, administering your own fast offerings, doing things to help those people who are in need.

Some are giving tithing to an organization  that  is  purchasing  commercial  and  residential  real  estate, farms, and developing shopping centers, but has little left by comparison to give to the poor. Even though they give money to help the poor, billions spent in commercial ventures dwarf the amount. If you choose to participate that, that is up to you, but try and care for those among  you  who  have  needs.  Try  to participate in helping others and fellowshipping with them.

For those who are wondering, in my personal circumstances, I have made clear I would prefer to NOT pay tithing to an institution that does not publish reports of how the money is used. That, to me, is not common consent. However, I have left it up to Carol to decide how the Lord’s tithing money is used in our family. It is a commandment to pay tithing, but I also happen to believe in Rock’s ideas on the subject presented in this article: http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2012/12/are-we-paying-too-much-tithing.html

 

Try the Spirits


TryTheSpirits1

 

 

 

 

 

 

http://emp.byui.edu/marrottr/TryTheSpirits.pdf

As Joseph pointed out elsewhere…

Every one of these [religionists] professes to be competent to try his neighbor’s spirit, but no one can try his own, and what is the reason? Because they have not a key to unlock, no rule wherewith to measure, and no criterion whereby they can test it. Could any one tell the length, breadth or height of a building without a rule? Test the quality of metals without a criterion, or point out the movements of the planetary systems, without a knowledge of astronomy? Certainly not.

That provides context in which to understand this.

I will give you one of the Keys of the mysteries of the Kingdom. It is an eternal principle, that has existed with God from all eternity: That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives. The principle is as correct as the one that Jesus put forth in saying that he who seeketh a sign is an adulterous person; and that principle is eternal, undeviating, and firm as the pillars of heaven; for whenever you see a man seeking after a sign, you may set it down that he is an adulterous man.

There is dispute over the provenance of this saying, as we do not know where Willard Richards got it, since he was on a mission in Europe, I believe, when Joseph supposedly gave it, and there is no other known contemporary record, but the principle is sound. By this rule, or criterion, we may identify lightbringers; and we need not read “Church” too narrowly (ie, it could be taken as the LDS Church, or as “whosoever repenteth and cometh unto [Christ],” or even congregations generally; you as the reader get to decide how to take it).

And it applies to whom it applies.

As does this.

3 Nephi 11:28-30
And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.

29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

Also, and anyone may take this for whatever they think it’s worth, Joseph’s key is a specific application of the principle spoken by the Savior, which is not ambiguous.

3 Nephi 11:28-30
And there shall be no disputations among you, as there have hitherto been; neither shall there be disputations among you concerning the points of my doctrine, as there have hitherto been.

Therefore whosoever disputes, argues, contests, etc., is not serving the Lord, who has commanded his servants that they shall not dispute among themselves, neither shall there be disputations among them concerning the points of his doctrine.

29 For verily, verily I say unto you, he that hath the spirit of contention is not of me, but is of the devil, who is the father of contention, and he stirreth up the hearts of men to contend with anger, one with another.

Whoever has the spirit of contention – disputation, argument, contests, ME RIGHT & YOU WRONG etc. – is not of God but is of the devil. This is discerned by, well, disputation, arguments, contests, “you’re wrong, and I’m right,” etc. By their fruits are they known.

30 Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away.

Hence, this.

JST Luke 6:41-45
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.

And this.

3 Nephi 14:1-5
1 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had spoken these words he turned again to the multitude, and did open his mouth unto them again, saying: Verily, verily, I say unto you, Judge not, that ye be not judged.

2 For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

3 And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

4 Or how wilt thou say to thy brother: Let me pull the mote out of thine eye—and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

5 Thou hypocrite, first cast the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

If anyone has a sincere question as to whether any of the holy prophets, or the Holy Messiah, fall afoul of this principle, I invite you to do your own homework and establish that these men fulfilled each condition of this principle so that the conclusion, if the principle is true, must be that any one of these, or all of these, were apostate. If you can do so, then you will have established the principle is false.

It has been suggested that Joseph, or whoever authored the statement, is guilty of hypocrisy for condemning those who condemn others. Yet the principle only says “That man who rises up to condemn others, finding fault with the Church, saying that they are out of the way, while he himself is righteous, then know assuredly, that that man is in the high road to apostasy; and if he does not repent, will apostatize, as God lives.” It surely is not hypocrisy to point out that there is a man who has excised himself from the faith community so as to be able to condemn the faith community – after all, the man who has done so has told you so by condemning it while proclaiming his righteousness as pertaining to whatever he is accusing the community of.

And I call these dissenters “lightbringers,” since they are but following the example of the Adversary.

George Laub Journal

April the 6th, 1843 124 By Joseph Smith our Prophet

Now concerning Spirits First of all, or in the beginning, the great Eloheam in the Hebrew meaning the god of all Gods called a grand council &[c] and the[y] counseled to form this planet on which we are now or do dwell at present. The[y] spoke and earth from cayos [chaos] sprang by their workmanship Cayos [Chaos] being there matered mater element The[y] saw till time should be no more and the[y] spoke concerning the redemption of this world and formed limited sircumstances concerning the redemption Jesus Christ being the greater light or of more intelligence for he loved rituousness and hated iniquity he being the Elder Brother Presented himself for to come and redeem this world as it was his right by inheritance he stated he could save all those who did not sin against the holy ghost & the[y] would obey the code of laws that was given But their sircumstances ware that all who would sin against the Holy ghost should have no forgiveness neither in this world nor in the world to come, for they had strove aganst light and knowledg after the[y] had tasted of the good things of the world to come the[y] should not have any pardon in the world to come because the[y] had a knowledg of the world to come and ware not willing to abide the law therefore the[y] can have no forgiveness there but must be most miserable of all and never can be renewed again referred to 6 chapter of Hebrews

But Satan or Lucifer being the next heir and had alloted to him great power and authority even prince of power of the eir He spake emediatey and boasted of himself saying send me I can save all [he] even those who sined against the holy ghost and he accused his brethren and was herld [hurled] from the council for striving to breake the law emediatly and there was a warfare with Satan and the gods and the[y] hurld Satan out of his place and all them that would not keep the law of the councill But he himself being one of the council would not keep his or their first estate for he was one of the Sons of perdition and concequently all the Sons of perdition become devils &[c].

That is the model or archetype of the apostates, the dissenters, the lightbringers.

Incidentally, I see none of the spirit of the lightbringer from some of the righteous who have been cast out of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Some excommunications are unjust, and this has been acknowledged from the beginning of the Church.

lds-millennial-star

 

 

 

 

 

http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm/compoundobject/collection/MStar/id/24255/rec/24

See The Latter-day Saints’ Millennial Star, volume 24, page 100 (link above)

Take who you will to be your teacher and your minister; if my counsel were sought, it would be this.

Mosiah 23:14
14 And also trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.

And among those commandments is to not contend. By their fruits shall ye know them.

2 Nephi 26:32
32 And again, the Lord God hath commanded that men should not murder; that they should not lie; that they should not steal; that they should not take the name of the Lord their God in vain; that they should not envy; that they should not have malice; that they should not contend one with another; that they should not commit whoredoms; and that they should do none of these things; for whoso doeth them shall perish.

A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God. – Joseph Smith

Contend against No Church, Save It Be the Church of the Devil


Log’s note: The title references D&C 18:20. This is about principles, not personalities. If you feel it applies to you, then “thou art the man.” (2 Samuel 12:7)

In the war chapters of Alma, we read the following.

Alma 52
37 Now Moroni seeing their confusion, he said unto them: If ye will bring forth your weapons of war and deliver them up, behold we will forbear shedding your blood.

38 And it came to pass that when the Lamanites had heard these words, their chief captains, all those who were not slain, came forth and threw down their weapons of war at the feet of Moroni, and also commanded their men that they should do the same.

39 But behold, there were many that would not; and those who would not deliver up their swords were taken and bound, and their weapons of war were taken from them, and they were compelled to march with their brethren forth into the land Bountiful.

It was Moroni’s continual policy to release the Lamanites who had come upon the Nephites if they would relinquish their weapons and enter into a covenant of peace – that they would no more come upon the Nephites to war (Alma 44:14-15; 62:16-17, 27-29).

We learn that Moroni put those who would not yield up their weapons nor enter into the covenant of peace to work building their own prisons.

Alma 53
1 And it came to pass that they did set guards over the prisoners of the Lamanites, and did compel them to go forth and bury their dead, yea, and also the dead of the Nephites who were slain; and Moroni placed men over them to guard them while they should perform their labors.

2 And Moroni went to the city of Mulek with Lehi, and took command of the city and gave it unto Lehi. Now behold, this Lehi was a man who had been with Moroni in the more part of all his battles; and he was a man like unto Moroni, and they rejoiced in each other’s safety; yea, they were beloved by each other, and also beloved by all the people of Nephi.

3 And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had finished burying their dead and also the dead of the Nephites, they were marched back into the land Bountiful; and Teancum, by the orders of Moroni, caused that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land, or the city, Bountiful.

4 And he caused that they should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers; and thus they did cause the Lamanites to labor until they had encircled the city of Bountiful round about with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height.

5 And this city became an exceeding stronghold ever after; and in this city they did guard the prisoners of the Lamanites; yea, even within a wall which they had caused them to build with their own hands. Now Moroni was compelled to cause the Lamanites to labor, because it was easy to guard them while at their labor; and he desired all his forces when he should make an attack upon the Lamanites.

6 And it came to pass that Moroni had thus gained a victory over one of the greatest of the armies of the Lamanites, and had obtained possession of the city of Mulek, which was one of the strongest holds of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi; and thus he had also built a stronghold to retain his prisoners.

“Because it was easy to guard them while at their labor.”

Imagine, if you will, some self-willed and prideful Nephite getting up on the wall of Bountiful, and essaying to mock and scorn the Lamanites whilst at their labors. (I know such a character would be almost beyond reason, but let’s go with this for a second.)

“Behold, ye fools,” we might imagine him saying with a self-satisfied smug smirk complete with upturned nose, “ye are in our power, and all your labors are spent in making your bondage unto us sure. Why do ye foolishly obey your guards? Why do ye foolishly build up your own prison? Know ye not that ye are more numerous than your guards?”

And, we might imagine the Lamanites, who otherwise would be laboring, hearkening unto this proud Nephite, and, though unarmed, seeking to break free from their guards – something like that happened with predictable results.

Alma 57
30 And now, these are the words which Gid said unto me: Behold, we did start to go down to the land of Zarahemla with our prisoners. And it came to pass that we did meet the spies of our armies, who had been sent out to watch the camp of the Lamanites.

31 And they cried unto us, saying—Behold, the armies of the Lamanites are marching towards the city of Cumeni; and behold, they will fall upon them, yea, and will destroy our people.

32 And it came to pass that our prisoners did hear their cries, which caused them to take courage; and they did rise up in rebellion against us.

33 And it came to pass because of their rebellion we did cause that our swords should come upon them. And it came to pass that they did in a body run upon our swords, in the which, the greater number of them were slain; and the remainder of them broke through and fled from us.

Most of the prisoners were killed in this escape attempt. Perhaps had they known they would most likely perish in this attempt, they would not have done so. Remember, though, these were the Lamanites who would not yield their weapons of war and depart the land of the Nephites in peace, neither would they enter into the covenant of peace, so these were the proud and stiffnecked.

Now, let me suggest a way to view these things, and a way to apply the object lessons in our lives. This is merely one way to read this, and is not necessarily the intended way for any particular individual.

Moroni is a type and shadow of Christ. His policy of releasing those Lamanites who would yield up their weapons of war and enter into the covenant of peace symbolizes the standing offer of repentance to all who will cease their abuse of their fellow man and covenant with God to be obedient to his will; after all, the truth will set you free. The Lamanites represent carnal, fallen humanity. The Nephites represent those who keep the commandments of God, or who seek to so do. Bountiful, formerly a city in which Nephites lived, repurposed as a prison for Lamanites, represents the doctrines, traditions, and creeds of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The guards represent the leadership of the Church. The labors represent those activities which keep the carnal busy, and makes it so that they don’t cause the harm they otherwise could and would do to themselves or others. Those labors are family home evening, home teaching, rote prayers, Church attendance, temple attendance, service projects, following the Brethren and the Prophet, Scouting, and the like.

And the arrogant Nephite, who doesn’t exist in the account in the scriptures, because such a fool would not be long for this world – that is every freelancing know-it-all who meddles with the leadership, meddles with the Church, meddles with the doctrines and creeds and traditions of the Church, and meddles with the members who are otherwise harmlessly employed doing things which protect themselves and others. Because when the carnal whose faith is in the Church and its leadership have that faith undermined, they are then encouraged to do what they are only restrained from by their traditions and creeds and doctrines and the need to fit in socially; they typically don’t become better people, but instead typically fall into wickedness and unbelief. Running themselves upon the swords of the guards represents just excommunications wherein they are overcome of the world and perish from that which is good eternally.

Alma 47
36 Now these dissenters, having the same instruction and the same information of the Nephites, yea, having been instructed in the same knowledge of the Lord, nevertheless, it is strange to relate, not long after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent, and more wild, wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites—drinking in with the traditions of the Lamanites; giving way to indolence, and all manner of lasciviousness; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God.

Can you hear that?

Whose purposes, therefore, do these freelancers truly serve in undermining the Church, the leadership, or the doctrines and creeds and traditions thereof?

Therefore, listen again to the words of Jesus.

“Contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil.”

And the first step in contending against the church of the devil is departing from it yourself – divesting yourself of all pride, envy, arrogance, lust, contention, vanity, and unbelief, and making your eye single to the glory of God, that you are yourself filled with the Spirit of God and light and are always abounding in good works. Once you are a member of the church of Christ, having repented of all your sins and come unto him and been sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, then can you see clearly to help others.

Luke 6
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

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

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

42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that 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 that is in thy brother’s eye.

Therefore, I repeat – make sure you are right with God before you seek to right men.

Doctrine and Covenants 19:31
31 And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.

Contend against No Church, Save It Be the Church of the Devil


Log’s note: The title references D&C 18:20. This is about principles, not personalities. If you feel it applies to you, then “thou art the man.” (2 Samuel 12:7)

In the war chapters of Alma, we read the following.

Alma 52
37 Now Moroni seeing their confusion, he said unto them: If ye will bring forth your weapons of war and deliver them up, behold we will forbear shedding your blood.

38 And it came to pass that when the Lamanites had heard these words, their chief captains, all those who were not slain, came forth and threw down their weapons of war at the feet of Moroni, and also commanded their men that they should do the same.

39 But behold, there were many that would not; and those who would not deliver up their swords were taken and bound, and their weapons of war were taken from them, and they were compelled to march with their brethren forth into the land Bountiful.

It was Moroni’s continual policy to release the Lamanites who had come upon the Nephites if they would relinquish their weapons and enter into a covenant of peace – that they would no more come upon the Nephites to war (Alma 44:14-15; 62:16-17, 27-29).

We learn that Moroni put those who would not yield up their weapons nor enter into the covenant of peace to work building their own prisons.

Alma 53
1 And it came to pass that they did set guards over the prisoners of the Lamanites, and did compel them to go forth and bury their dead, yea, and also the dead of the Nephites who were slain; and Moroni placed men over them to guard them while they should perform their labors.

2 And Moroni went to the city of Mulek with Lehi, and took command of the city and gave it unto Lehi. Now behold, this Lehi was a man who had been with Moroni in the more part of all his battles; and he was a man like unto Moroni, and they rejoiced in each other’s safety; yea, they were beloved by each other, and also beloved by all the people of Nephi.

3 And it came to pass that after the Lamanites had finished burying their dead and also the dead of the Nephites, they were marched back into the land Bountiful; and Teancum, by the orders of Moroni, caused that they should commence laboring in digging a ditch round about the land, or the city, Bountiful.

4 And he caused that they should build a breastwork of timbers upon the inner bank of the ditch; and they cast up dirt out of the ditch against the breastwork of timbers; and thus they did cause the Lamanites to labor until they had encircled the city of Bountiful round about with a strong wall of timbers and earth, to an exceeding height.

5 And this city became an exceeding stronghold ever after; and in this city they did guard the prisoners of the Lamanites; yea, even within a wall which they had caused them to build with their own hands. Now Moroni was compelled to cause the Lamanites to labor, because it was easy to guard them while at their labor; and he desired all his forces when he should make an attack upon the Lamanites.

6 And it came to pass that Moroni had thus gained a victory over one of the greatest of the armies of the Lamanites, and had obtained possession of the city of Mulek, which was one of the strongest holds of the Lamanites in the land of Nephi; and thus he had also built a stronghold to retain his prisoners.

“Because it was easy to guard them while at their labor.”

Imagine, if you will, some self-willed and prideful Nephite getting up on the wall of Bountiful, and essaying to mock and scorn the Lamanites whilst at their labors. (I know such a character would be almost beyond reason, but let’s go with this for a second.)

“Behold, ye fools,” we might imagine him saying with a self-satisfied smug smirk complete with upturned nose, “ye are in our power, and all your labors are spent in making your bondage unto us sure. Why do ye foolishly obey your guards? Why do ye foolishly build up your own prison? Know ye not that ye are more numerous than your guards?”

And, we might imagine the Lamanites, who otherwise would be laboring, hearkening unto this proud Nephite, and, though unarmed, seeking to break free from their guards – something like that happened with predictable results.

Alma 57
30 And now, these are the words which Gid said unto me: Behold, we did start to go down to the land of Zarahemla with our prisoners. And it came to pass that we did meet the spies of our armies, who had been sent out to watch the camp of the Lamanites.

31 And they cried unto us, saying—Behold, the armies of the Lamanites are marching towards the city of Cumeni; and behold, they will fall upon them, yea, and will destroy our people.

32 And it came to pass that our prisoners did hear their cries, which caused them to take courage; and they did rise up in rebellion against us.

33 And it came to pass because of their rebellion we did cause that our swords should come upon them. And it came to pass that they did in a body run upon our swords, in the which, the greater number of them were slain; and the remainder of them broke through and fled from us.

Most of the prisoners were killed in this escape attempt. Perhaps had they known they would most likely perish in this attempt, they would not have done so. Remember, though, these were the Lamanites who would not yield their weapons of war and depart the land of the Nephites in peace, neither would they enter into the covenant of peace, so these were the proud and stiffnecked.

Now, let me suggest a way to view these things, and a way to apply the object lessons in our lives. This is merely one way to read this, and is not necessarily the intended way for any particular individual.

Moroni is a type and shadow of Christ. His policy of releasing those Lamanites who would yield up their weapons of war and enter into the covenant of peace symbolizes the standing offer of repentance to all who will cease their abuse of their fellow man and covenant with God to be obedient to his will; after all, the truth will set you free. The Lamanites represent carnal, fallen humanity. The Nephites represent those who keep the commandments of God, or who seek to so do. Bountiful, formerly a city in which Nephites lived, repurposed as a prison for Lamanites, represents the doctrines, traditions, and creeds of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The guards represent the leadership of the Church. The labors represent those activities which keep the carnal busy, and makes it so that they don’t cause the harm they otherwise could and would do to themselves or others. Those labors are family home evening, home teaching, rote prayers, Church attendance, temple attendance, service projects, following the Brethren and the Prophet, Scouting, and the like.

And the arrogant Nephite, who doesn’t exist in the account in the scriptures, because such a fool would not be long for this world – that is every freelancing know-it-all who meddles with the leadership, meddles with the Church, meddles with the doctrines and creeds and traditions of the Church, and meddles with the members who are otherwise harmlessly employed doing things which protect themselves and others. Because when the carnal whose faith is in the Church and its leadership have that faith undermined, they are then encouraged to do what they are only restrained from by their traditions and creeds and doctrines and the need to fit in socially; they typically don’t become better people, but instead typically fall into wickedness and unbelief. Running themselves upon the swords of the guards represents just excommunications wherein they are overcome of the world and perish from that which is good eternally.

Alma 47
36 Now these dissenters, having the same instruction and the same information of the Nephites, yea, having been instructed in the same knowledge of the Lord, nevertheless, it is strange to relate, not long after their dissensions they became more hardened and impenitent, and more wild, wicked and ferocious than the Lamanites—drinking in with the traditions of the Lamanites; giving way to indolence, and all manner of lasciviousness; yea, entirely forgetting the Lord their God.

Can you hear that?

Whose purposes, therefore, do these freelancers truly serve in undermining the Church, the leadership, or the doctrines and creeds and traditions thereof?

Therefore, listen again to the words of Jesus.

“Contend against no church, save it be the church of the devil.”

And the first step in contending against the church of the devil is departing from it yourself – ceasing from all abuse of your fellow man, divesting yourself of all pride, envy, arrogance, lust, contention, vanity, and unbelief, and making your eye single to the glory of God, that you are yourself filled with the Spirit of God and light and are always abounding in good works. Once you are a member of the church of Christ, having repented of all your sins and come unto him and been sanctified by the reception of the Holy Ghost, then can you see clearly to help others.

Luke 6
39 And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

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

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

42 Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that 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 that is in thy brother’s eye.

Therefore, I repeat – make sure you are right with God before you seek to right men.

Doctrine and Covenants 19:31
31 And of tenets thou shalt not talk, but thou shalt declare repentance and faith on the Savior, and remission of sins by baptism, and by fire, yea, even the Holy Ghost.

What Manner of Men?


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

NephiAndBrothersContention

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

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

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

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

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

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

This includes in our online interactions.

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

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

The Church of Christ is defined thusly.

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

Teachers have the following duty.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scripture is written words which come from God.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Such things come from the devil.

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

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

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

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

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

We have been counseled thusly: “Trust no one to be your teacher nor your minister, except he be a man of God, walking in his ways and keeping his commandments.” (Mosiah 23:14)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Judgement

The same that judgeth rashly shall be judged rashly again; for according to his works shall his wages be; therefore, he that smiteth shall be smitten again, of the Lord. Behold what the scripture says—man shall not smite, neither shall he judge; for judgment is mine, saith the Lord, and vengeance is mine also, and I will repay. (Mormon 8:19-20)

Christ commanded us thusly.

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

Now these are the words which Jesus taught his disciples that they should say unto the people. Judge not unrighteously, that ye be not judged; but judge righteous judgment. For with what judgment ye shall judge, ye shall be judged; and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. (JST Matt 7:1-3)

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

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

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

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

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

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

Justice

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

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

Zion is built upon this law.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is the meaning of the wedding garment.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Therefore, Repent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Behold, verily, verily, I say unto you, I will declare unto you my doctrine. And this is my doctrine, and it is the doctrine which the Father hath given unto me; and I bear record of the Father, and the Father beareth record of me, and the Holy Ghost beareth record of the Father and me; and I bear record that the Father commandeth all men, everywhere, to repent and believe in me. And whoso believeth in me, and is baptized, the same shall be saved; and they are they who shall inherit the kingdom of God. And whoso believeth not in me, and is not baptized, shall be damned.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and I bear record of it from the Father; and whoso believeth in me believeth in the Father also; and unto him will the Father bear record of me, for he will visit him with fire and with the Holy Ghost. And thus will the Father bear record of me, and the Holy Ghost will bear record unto him of the Father and me; for the Father, and I, and the Holy Ghost are one. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and become as a little child, and be baptized in my name, or ye can in nowise receive these things. And again I say unto you, ye must repent, and be baptized in my name, and become as a little child, or ye can in nowise inherit the kingdom of God.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, that this is my doctrine, and whoso buildeth upon this buildeth upon my rock, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against them. And whoso shall declare more or less than this, and establish it for my doctrine, the same cometh of evil, and is not built upon my rock; but he buildeth upon a sandy foundation, and the gates of hell stand open to receive such when the floods come and the winds beat upon them.

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

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

Looking Beyond the Mark


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

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

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

Here is the verse in question:

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

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

Most Apostles Understand the Doctrine

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Doctrine Has Been Watered Down

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Some Doctrines Take More Study and Thought

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seeking the Second Comforter IS the Mark

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

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

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

Discussion versus Contention

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

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

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

Concluding Thoughts Going Forward

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

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

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

 

Shades of Grey and relative truth


In 1978, civil war broke out in Nicaragua, just after I left the country. My Mission President went from Costa Rica to Managua to help the missionaries get out of the country.  As he was literally leaving the chapel where he had told the missionaries to gather, the Sandinistas came running in from the other door and stopped them.

Demanding to know what side of the conflict they were on, President Muren responded with the phrase, “tonos de gris,” which means shades of grey.  He did not stop but kept going right out the door and was able to get that group of Elders out of the country.  Gratefully, all the missionaries eventually made it safely out.

Social or Cultural Mormons

Can a person be a member of the LDS faith and not believe some of the doctrine or accept the official story of the history?  Absolutely!  We call them social or cultural Mormons and there are countless numbers of them within the church.  Many of these kinds of members come from multi-generation pioneer LDS families.

If you survey an average congregation in the LDS faith, you will find that there are a surprising number who just don’t care about some of the doctrine and care even less about the history.  They are there because it is their family tradition and they derive satisfaction from the social interaction among good people that they know.

Looking for the middle ground

They feel uncomfortable when they hear statements from their leaders that the LDS church is either the kingdom of God or it is nothing.  When someone says that Joseph Smith was either God’s prophet or he was a great fraud, they feel unfairly pressured to have to put their view of the man in such black and white terms.

Isn’t there some middle ground where good people can participate in the Mormon faith without having to take sides about Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, the idea of angels visiting Joseph and the concept of priesthood keys and authority?  There is so much good in the church.  Why does it have to be classified as true?

The American Mormon culture

There are many members of the LDS church who do not fit the stereotypical image of conservative, orthodox, Republicanwhite-collar, all-American family.  The church membership is actually quite diverse, especially as one travels outside the confines of the Intermountain West where the church flourished and is the strongest.

Culturally, as a church and a people, we seem to have become stagnated in the mindset of the 19th century view of Mormonism that still conflicts with the outside world.  The church is growing beyond the Mormon corridor but is experiencing a sort of consolidation in the traditional strongholds of the faith – the center of Zion.

The one true church

Many good people who recognize this cultural myopia and parochialism that exists within the LDS faith have expanded their views and horizons beyond the mores and restraints of the traditional, orthodox Mormon worldview.  There are so many good people out there that are doing great things to serve their local communities.

Because these progressive thinking people have expanded their views they have come in contact with different ways of thinking about the religious experience and about their own Mormon upbringing.  The idea of belonging to the one true church has come to be offensive and difficult, if not impossible to defend in their minds.

God’s chosen people

They see and are embarrassed by what appears to be a contest of right and wrong between our zeal as a missionary church and the good people who are not already a part of the elect kingdom of God.  Whereas previously they were uncomfortable with a perceived exclusivist approach, they now are adamant that we are wrong.

We are judgmental, they cry.  Why can’t we accept everybody else just the way they are?  Why are we trying to convert people when they are already happy and doing much good in their own faith?  The idea of rules for membership becomes chafing.  Why does the church have such high standards that drive people crazy?

Pointing out the flaws and faults

A large percentage of the LDS membership either does not know or does not care about some of the troubling issues of our early history and growth as a church.  It is frustrating to progressive thinkers that so many within the faith are not as well versed as they are on these issues and the supposed quandaries that they present.

So they become more vocal and strident in pointing out the flaws and faults of the church and its leaders, both historical and current.  Their frustration increases when their audience either shrugs its collective shoulders or ignores their efforts to educate them on the problems that they see in the church.  How can they not care?

Many faithful members do know

While there are many who don’t know and don’t care, there are just as many who are very knowledgeable in the issues and problems that are troublesome to our liberal minded members.  It’s just that we have found answers within our own hearts and minds many years ago that satisfy the potential cognitive dissonance.

We quietly go about our lives, secure and confident in the knowledge that we have found answers for the most important elements of our faith.  We invite others to taste of the peace that comes from knowing that there are answers and that there are many solid and bedrock truths upon which we can build our lives and our faith.

Raise a warning voice

For some reason, when we try to share our certainty about the truths we have found, we are sometimes misunderstood to be arrogant or presenting our faith as superior or more complete than theirs.  Yes, if you invite someone to share in your happiness then you are presenting what you have found to be of great worth.

This is a difficult task to perform.  We are commanded to raise our voices to let the world know of the events pertaining to the founding of our church.  We have been asked to be bold in declaring that God has called prophets in our day and that he has sent angels to ordain and teach truths that have long been lost from the world.

Some truths are not relative

And thus we arrive at the heart of the conflict between orthodox conservative Mormons and progressive liberal Mormons.  What is truth?  Can one say with any degree of certainty that they have found the best and most complete source of truth without excluding the many other sources of truth that are found in the world?

Truth is reality. Some kinds of truth can only be received through revelation. I have never seen God or Jesus. I was not there when Joseph received the First Vision. So for me to be able to know those facts, they have to be revealed to me by the Holy Ghost.  Some truths are either revealed of God or they remain unknown.

Truths received by revelation

The five pillars of the LDS testimony require revelation: God lives, Jesus is the Christ, the Savior called Joseph as a prophet, the Book of Mormon was brought forth by the gift and power of God and the church that Joseph established is authorized of God to administer the ordinances of salvation that God requires.

Without revelation from the Holy Ghost we can’t say that we know these things. It’s just not logical. I have studied the Book of Mormon and the Church that claims to be God’s only church authorized to administer the ordinances of salvation. With revelation from the Holy Ghost I can say I know they are what they claim to be.

Summary and conclusion

In some things in life, it is wise to take a position characterized by my Mission President’s response to the Sandinistas – shades of grey.  We do not always know all the facts of some situations and should withhold judgment until a later time.  However, in some critical matters, we must take a position and know for ourselves.

It takes work and determination to obtain knowledge about the five pillars of an LDS testimony.  But I, and millions of others over the years, can say with great certainty that God does reveal knowledge about himself and his prophets to those who diligently seek it.  This revealed knowledge does not come in shades of grey.

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