I was blessed to witness three baptisms last week. Although he lives 120 miles from me, it was good to be there with a friend for his baptism. The ordinance was performed by the same man who came from Utah to baptize me. Our community is small and scattered here in California. In fact, for the most part, our communities consist of our own families, or simply a few individuals.
Baptisms are evidence of faith. They demonstrate to the Lord we believe the message delivered by His messenger. The message is the doctrine of Christ without any added requirements. If we have faith in Christ we will be baptized. The requirement for baptism is to repent, to change, to turn to Christ. There is no requirement to believe in any prophet, only that we believe in Christ.
Beware of False Messengers
I suppose an argument can be made that baptism is evidence we believe the messenger, but it is not a requirement for baptism. Only Christ can redeem our souls from hell. Only Christ can give us new life. Only He can forgive sins, create in us a new heart and take away our sorrows. I am grateful for the messenger, but a true messenger will always point us to Christ for our direction.
We are disciples of Jesus Christ. It is He that directs our lives, tells us what to do, teaches us how to bless and serve our fellow beings. Nobody should come between us and our relationship with the Savior – no man, no messenger, no prophet. Any man who insists you defer to him for any kind of direction is not a true messenger. The Holy Ghost is a true messenger. He leads to Christ.
An Offering ONLY for the Savior
When we preach the gospel, we should preach of Christ. We should help people understand how faith in Christ requires daily effort. He commanded us to remember Him always. We do this in part by participating in the sacrament on a regular basis. The sacrament is action on our part that demonstrates to the Lord we do remember him that we may always have His spirit to be with us.
Those two actions – baptism and the sacrament – witness to the Lord our willingness to take His name upon us and keep His commandments. One of His commandments is to pray often. Prayer brings the guidance and direction we need in our lives. It demonstrates submissiveness and our humility before Christ. We offer to Him, and to nobody else, a broken heart and a contrite spirit.
No Church Controls The Holy Ghost
There is no organization that controls the Holy Ghost. There is no organization that controls priesthood. Priesthood is not dependent upon membership in any church. It is independent of Israel, independent of the LDS Church and independent of any man. It is without father or mother. It has always existed and always will. It comes not by the will of man but of God.
The Holy Ghost can and does speak to everyone. Period. Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Hindus, Muslims, Buddhists, Jewish, everyone. It doesn’t matter what faith tradition you may claim. The Holy Ghost can and will speak to you. His mission is to testify of truth, no matter the source. No one group or religion can claim to control the Holy Ghost. That is a false and damning concept.
Social Chaos In The Last Days
In a recent post I tried to make it clear Joseph Smith was no fallen prophet. I am convinced he fulfilled his mission under difficult and trying circumstances. He repented when he sinned, was chastised by the Lord for mistakes in judgement and taught what the Lord asked Him to teach. He brought forth the Book of Mormon but was unable to fulfil his desire to bring again Zion.
Just before the Lord appeared to the Nephites, society broke down into tribes consisting of family and friends. Immediately before the Lord’s return we should expect something similar. Don’t be surprised by the coming social chaos. The only safety in the last days will be to flee to Zion. But Zion will not be brought forth by an institution. It will be formed by small groups.
Preserving The Restoration
“It is not God’s purpose to abandon the Restoration. It is His purpose to preserve the Restoration, which at this moment is in terrible jeopardy. The Restoration must be rescued and preserved. If you cannot detect the terrible changes it has undergone and is now undergoing, then you are blind indeed. Shall God forget the work He began through Joseph?
“Shall this now universally downward course be permitted without His hand being bared again? Or should a kind and merciful God take steps to give us a chance to preserve it with His assistance, if we choose to act? There are many willing to act. We only need some indication from God of how to do so. Thankfully, the pattern was given to us through Joseph Smith.
This Action Is Required Of You
“Baptism has always been required from the days of Adam until the present. Baptism is always the sign of acceptance of what God is doing in each generation. From the days of Adam, it will continue through the end of the millennium. Whenever there has been believing people upon the earth, they have always been invited to perform the ordinance of baptism as a sign of their faith.
“Authority was restored as part of the ministry of Joseph Smith and should be remembered. In fact, everything accomplished by the Lord through Joseph should be remembered, preserved and respected. We should not abandon or neglect anything that has been given or commanded by heaven. We should not be forgetful. It is a sign of ingratitude when we forget and neglect.
A Community Of Believers
“No corporate church organization, or man claiming authority should hijack your obedience to God. You are accountable to Him. You are accountable only to Him… When Joseph wanted to know his state and standing before God, he asked God. It is to God alone that you must answer and it is to God you must be grateful. Only before Him must you be humble.
“…true religion, when it is present on earth, always exists as a community of believers. Community is required … to be willing to mourn with those that mourn … to comfort those that stand in need of comfort… and …to stand as a witness to one another of God at all times and in all places. With community, we can …bear one another’s burdens that they may be light…”
Receive The Holy Ghost
The last six paragraphs were edited excerpts from the Phoenix talk. I shared them to demonstrate the need to be baptized anew if we desire to participate in the bringing forth of Zion. Believe in Christ, repent, be baptized, receive the Holy Ghost and become as a little child. The Holy Ghost will be given, according to the doctrine of Christ, to any who repent and are baptized in faith.
The authority to baptize was restored through Joseph. He received it by the laying on of hands from John the Baptist. This authority can and was passed down from man to man. I received this authority from my father. Thus, if sustained by a fellowship, I can baptize and administer the ordinance of the sacrament for others. I can also administer the sacrament in my own family.
I administered the sacrament the other day to our little gathering after the baptisms. I felt it was appropriate to do so because of the unique arrangements of our fellowship. We seem to know each other fairly well through our online interactions. As I’ve noted before, I am not worthy to perform baptisms without the sustaining vote of my wife. Those are the Lord’s words, not mine.
As yet, I have not participated in a conference. Some of our group here in Southern California proposed one, but we were unable to gather seven women to authorize any additional brethren. I, along with most everybody on the Internet have been invited to a conference to take place next month in Colorado. Carol and I decided not to attend due to distance. I know many others are.
Grateful For My Local Community
I continue to attend the local ward sacrament meeting each week. I am grateful the Bishop and Stake President allow me to attend. Since I no longer believe many of the things taught in the correlated curriculum I decline to attend Sunday school and Priesthood meeting each week. I have been graciously invited several times by instructors and other members, still my friends.
For the most part I enjoy hearing the talks, singing the hymns and partaking the sacrament. I’ve wondered about the sacrament – I believe those administering it have authority, but I choose to believe the sacrament should be administered with wine, which I do in my home. The wine symbolizes the blood of Christ and the bitter sacrifice. I know this: when He comes again, He will use wine.
Preach Nothing But Repentance
I’ll close with something I’ve shared before but feel to share again. This also comes from the Phoenix lecture. These are the words that rang through my mind all the way home. It was as I was crossing the California border I probably made my mind up I would be baptized, and that I would require to have my name removed from the records of the LDS Church before doing so.
Denver quoted 3 Ne 11:22-28 – The Lord’s instructions to the Nephites on baptism, delivered as some of the first doctrine after He appeared unto them. Denver then said, “I am telling you in the name of the Lord that commandment is renewed again my Him today, to you.” That statement sank deep into my heart. The spirit bore witness that what Denver had taught was from the Lord.
Conferences Directed by the Lord
Immediately following this post, I am going to post an article, a series of questions really, from my friend Lynne. It has to do with the Remnant Family Retreat taking place next month near the Grand Mesa. I have prayed about posting the article. As you will see, the questions are rather direct. Lynne knows more about some of these things than I do. But I have prayed to know God’s will.
The natural man in me hesitated to post them. I don’t believe there is a spirit of accusation in the questions, but they are hard questions to answer. I count Bret as my friend, as I do Lynne. This blog has a wide readership, developed over the years. I have let others use it as a platform to discuss doctrines about which I don’t necessarily agree. With some guest posts, I heartily agree. God wanted this posted.