Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Why Temples?

pWhat's the big deal about temples? Why did God command Moses and the Israelites to build a tabernacle in the wilderness, and why did God command Solomon to build the first temple at Jerusalem and later command Zerrubabel to rebuild it? Was the point of the temple just to have a place to perform the required ordinances and ritual sacrifice of the Law of Moses? Was the point of the temple just to create a concrete point of worship for Israel? Some Christians claim that the need for a temple is now obsolete. They say the temple was old school and old testament. Now, since Christ has fulfilled the Law of Moses, our spiritual focus of worship should be Jesus Christ alone and not associated with any building. And besides, God tore the veil from top to bottom and the scriptures say God does not dwell in temples built by men's hands. Christ is our temple now.

Acts 17: 24 (Acts 7: 48) God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;

Acts 17:24 is being said by Stephen to the Pharisees to remind them that God's presence was not in Herod's temple which wasn't built by the command of God but by the whims of Herod who tore down the second temple of Zarrubabel. Nevertheless, Christ is our temple. There is no denying that. Christ is the main spiritual meaning associated with the sacred structure. But what of the physical building itself. While some say the temple has no more righteous purpose, they misunderstand the major purpose why God himself commands and builds these structures. The problem with discounting the future role of the temple, is that the Bible foretells that God will rebuild His temple in the Last Days. And not just the one temple in Jerusalem, but temples will be built to every nation, kindred, tongue and people (Isa 2:1-2, Micah 4:1-2, Ezek 37:26-28, Rev. 7: 15, Rev 14:6).

But what of the real purpose of the temple? Why would the temple be important after Christ has already come? What could God need with a building? To understand the purpose of the temple, we need to go back to the days of Moses when God was attempting to establish His covenants with the people of Israel. What we see here is God raising up and preparing Moses to lead His covenant people out of bondage in Egypt. But when we look closely at the story, we see God did not intend for Moses to be the only one who would talk with God and everyone else would get God's word second-hand from Moses. What we see before the lesser covenant was made with Israel was that God wanted to establish a personal relationship with each individual person. God wanted everyone to climb the mountain and speak with Him. As Moses confessed, God wanted everyone in Israel to be a prophet, priest and king.

Num. 11: 29 And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

Ex. 19: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.

Unfortunately, a kingdom of prophets, priests, and kings is not what happened. After God invited all the elders up into the mountain with Moses, the people refused. The people feared the Lord and told Moses to go up for them. I am sure our Father in Heaven was disappointed. But not as disappointed as he was at what Israel did next. While Moses was up in the mountain, the people got impatient and said Moses delayeth his coming. Thinking Moses wasn't going to return, Israel convinced Aaron make a golden calf to worship. Upon Moses return, and finding the people worshipping an idol, Moses smashed the plates containing the higher covenant and went back into the mountain and received the lesser or preparatory covenant known as the Law of Moses

Ex. 20: 19 And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

So, what does the story of Moses in the mountain have to do with Latter-day temples? Temples are called by Isaiah, the mountain of the Lords House. In the same way God wanted every Israelite to go up into the mountain and speak with Him face to face, God desires a personal relationship with each of us. God doesn't just want one person to be the preacher and everyone else to get His word second-hand. God wants a kingdom of kings and priests, apostles and prophets. God wants a church of Abrahams and Moseses, Peters and Pauls. What does the temple have to do with this? The temple is where God manifest himself to His people and establishes his covenants with them.

Mark 4: 11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

Ezek 43:10-12 Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, . . and let them measure the pattern. . . shew them the form of the house, and the fashion thereof, and the goings out thereof, and the comings in thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and all the forms thereof, and all the laws thereof: and write it in their sight, that they may keep the whole form thereof, and all the ordinances thereof, and do them. This is the law of the house; Upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the house.

How does God reveal himself in the temple? The temple teaches the mysteries of God or in other words, the temple teaches us about God, teaches us about who we are, and it teaches us about our relationship with God. But the temple just doesn't come out and say it. Jesus Christ said the mysteries of the kingdom were to be taught by parable. And the temple is exactly that. The temple is one great parable. As was revealed to Ezekiel, everything about the temple, its form, function, ritual symbolism, and ordinances teach something about God and His great plan of happiness for His children.

While studying a Sunday School lesson on the temple, I came across a quote by Joseph Smith who is the great prophet of this last dispensation before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. Joseph Smith was called as a prophet like Moses, Abraham and Isaiah and like Moses was commanded to build temples so that God could establish personal relationships and covenants with each of His people individually. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ at the time of His calling as a prophet, and he had something very interesting to say about the purpose of the temple and its relationship to scripture.

“Could we read and comprehend all that has been written from the days of Adam, on the relation of man to God and angels in a future state, we should know very little about it. Reading the experience of others, or the revelation given to them, can never give us a comprehensive view of our condition and true relation to God. Knowledge of these things can only be obtained by experience through the ordinances of God set forth for that purpose. Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that ever was written on the subject. … I assure the Saints that truth … can and may be known through the revelations of God in the way of His ordinances, and in answer to prayer.”

Wow, when you ponder what Joseph Smith is saying, his words really ring true. It's not enough to just read about other people's temple experiences, God wants each person to have their own. Temple experiences are just what scriptures are. In the Book of Mormon for example we examples of how the mysteries of God are shown to Lehi and Nephi in what we refer to as their Tree of Life visions. Later we see the people of the Book of Mormon gather around a temple built in America to listen to their prophet King Benjamin and realize the people are having a temple experience. Later on we read of Christ's personal visitation to the Nephites in America and at the temple in the city called Bountiful. There, Christ Himself teaches the same temple principles and covenants that were given to Lehi and Nephi and given to the people of King Benjamin. And there are many more examples like the Brother of Jared, and Moses 1 in the Pearl of Great Price. And while Joseph Smith indicates that while it is both helpful and necessary that we read the experiences that other prophets and Apostles had with God, the temple is a place were each of us can and must have our own personal experiences with God if we are to enjoy the fullness of salvation, eternal life and exaltation.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Chastening: A Sign of the True Church

One sign of the true church of Christ is that the church disciplines its members for serious sin before those sins become a public scandal. Paul says that there should be grounds for righteous judgement resulting in partial disfellowshiping or excommunication. I wonder when it was the last time an Evangelical church disciplined its members for committing fornication, abortion, or adultery.

1 Cor 5:12 For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within?
1 Cor 11: 31-32 For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world.

Does your church have mechanisms to receive confession and discipline its membership before a person's sins become a threat to the public and the membership. While a church should never shield and protect lawbreakers, a church is am important instrument and institution of self- government which has a duty to protect the public. Therefore, it should have active systems in place to discipline its membership and prevent sin and not only react when there is a public scandal and embarrassment. Does your church protect and enable sin, simply react to sin after the fact, or actively seek to prevent sin?

1 Cor 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

1Tim5: 19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses .20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.

Titus 3: 10 A man that is an heretik after the first and second admonition reject;

Heb. 12: 7, 10-11 If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? 10 For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness.11 Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.

Rev. 3: 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.

i Cor 6:2-5 (Luke 22:30) Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? 3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church. 5 I speak to your shame. Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you? no, not one that shall be able to judge
between his brethren?

John 7 :24 (1 Cor 11:31) Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment

see also 1 Cor 11:26-34, Titus 1:10-16, James 5: 16, 1 Jn 1:9

Most sins don't require confession to the bishop but to God only. But there are certain sins regarding morality, substance abuse, physical abuse, abortion, criminal law, heresy that are serious and require assistance. They are serious because they generally affect other people, are difficult to repent of, and manifest a longstanding pattern of sinful thought and behavior leading up to the serious sin. In other words, there has been a lot of water that has gone under the bridge. This is to not say that stealing candy bars is less sin than homosexuality. Both must be repented of and paid for by the blood of Christ. The reason certain sins get marked as needing discipline by Paul is the difficulty of repentance.

Depending in the seriousness of the act, and the repentant nature of the sinner, the bishop may counsel the person, withdraw rights in the church to partake of the sacrament or have certain callings for a time. If the seriousness of the seriousness of the sin requires possible excommunication, a church disciplinary council may be called so that disciple is not given without sufficient witnesses. The purpose of discipline is not vengeance but correction out of love for the sinner. Discipline is a wake-up call to the sinner, to inspire "godly sorrow" which worketh repentance, and to communicate to the sinner that certain sins cannot be tolerated in heaven or in the church and if the person really accepted Christ and His Spirit they would never have been guilty of them. Again, discipline is for the purpose of inspiring self-examination, godly sorrow, repentance, and faith in Christ.

2 Cor. 7: 9-11 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed to repentance: for ye were made sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death. For behold this selfsame thing, that ye sorrowed after a godly sort, what carefulness it wrought in you, yea, what clearing of yourselves, yea, what indignation, yea, what fear, yea, what vehement desire, yea, what zeal, yea, what revenge! In all things ye have approved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Discipline and "godly sorrow" is not about inspiring guilt and shame, or a holier-than-thou attitude. Some Evangelicals I fear confuse the Spirit with a vain justification for sins. Evangelicals generally sin and vainly tell themselves "isn't God great and merciful that he justifies me in committing sin". Isn't God great who "tolerates sin and the sinner in his presence".God chastens those who he loves. God chastens and disciplines his children. God empowers his children to repentance and to forsake sin by giving us "godly sorrow". However, those who have experienced Gods chastening should not feel "holier-than-thou" but feel empathetic and sympathetic to others who are also suffering from sin and "godly sorrow". And true believers should seek to bare one another's burdens and not heap more burden upon them.

Many people know that LDS enjoy the blessings of the restored temple of God. Many people also know that not everyone can enter these temples unless that person meets minimum worthiness requirements. Many of these same people scoff and mock at the idea that anyone need be "worthy" to go anywhere. For an LDS member, a temple recommend is our ticket to admission to the temple and signifies we are members in full fellowship and standing in our church. And to get a temple recommend requires that we pass a worthiness interview with our spiritual leadership. And it turns out that in addition to confessing to our leaders our devotion and faith in Jesus Christ as our savior, the requirements of the interview are exactly the same worthiness requirements that Paul details in the Bible. Therefore, the temple recommend interview turns out to be one of our most important disciplinary mechanisms in the LDS church. And as I said before, it comes right out of the Bible.

1 Cor 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person.

Paul specifically says that if those among us who enjoy our fellowship at church are fornicators, covetous, idolaters, railers, drunkards, or extortioners, they should receive some type of church discipline. Here is how the temple questions in the temple recommend interview correspond to the direction of Paul in the Bible.

1. Fornication involves sexual sin. Therefore LDS members in a temple interview are asked about and invited to confess any issues and sin with regard to their sexual morality.
2. Covetous involves greed and the love of money over God. LDS members are required to pay a full 10% tithing to God and are asked to declare that they are a full tithe payer. Tithing is a demonstration that God comes first before money in the life of a believer.
3. Idolatry involves belief in and support of heretical groups and/or ideologies. LDS members are asked to confess if they have sympathies and/associations with any heretical groups.
4. Railing involves verbal and physical abuse of wife and family. LDS are specifically asked to confess any behavior related to physical, emotional or sexual abuse of wife and children.
5. Drunkenness involves abusing mind altering substances for the purposes of intoxication. The LDS have a wonderful and inspired law of health known as the Word of Wisdom that prohibits the consumption of alcohol, tobacco products, tea and coffee, and other harmful substances. LDS are specifically asked to confess that they are living Gods law of health.
6. Extortion involves issues of honesty, cheating, and fraud. Accordingly, LDS are asked to confess that they are honest in all their dealings with their fellow men.

In addition to being asked if we believe and accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and the only way to salvation we are asked specific questions about each one of these important issues that Paul specifies. If we do confess to sin, depending on the severity, and our repentant attitude, we may well be denied a temple recommend, and we will receive inspired discipline and instruction from our Bishops on what steps we must take to repent. The LDS temple recommend interview is not about stone throwing and exacting vengeance. These questions are part of church disciple that allows the person to confess and repent, to protect the public and the congregation, to judge righteously within as Paul says say so we wont be judged without.

In addition to authorizing and administering the gifts, sacrifices, sacraments, and ordinances of the church, receiving confession and determining ritual purity is the main job of an LDS bishop. LDS bishops are not "preachers." LDS membership preach the sermons and give the Sunday School lessons among ourselves. The LDS Bishop should be apt to teach, but one primary responsibility is to determine ritual purity just as priests in the Old Testament. But under the New Covenant, the Bishop is concerned with inward purity and not external purity.

A More Excellent Way

I have some Evangelical friends who have had more questions about what LDS teach about the Fall of Adam in the Garden of Eden. While in the Garden of Eden Satan convinced Eve that she should partake of the fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. The major argument Satan used to beguile Eve was by telling her that they "shall be as gods knowing good and evil."

Gen. 3: 5, 22 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil. . . And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil:

The Book of Mormon comments on the Fall was necessary to obey the first commandment. Had Adam never fallen, they would never have had children. My Evangelical friends complain that Book of Mormon is wrong in teaching that Eve's disobedience was somehow necessary. According to them, God would not give commandments that He would not prepare a way for them to obey without having to disobey. This is an interesting argument for them to make seeing how many Evangelicals view the Law of Moses as exactly that; a series of commandments that are impossible to obey.

2 Nephi 2: 22-23;25 And now, behold, if Adam had not transgressed he would not have fallen, but he would have remained in the garden of Eden. And all things which were created must have remained in the same state in which they were after they were created; and they must have remained forever, and had no end. And they would have had no children; wherefore they would have remained in a state of innocence, having no joy, for they knew no misery; doing no good, for they knew no sin. . . Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

First off, the Book of Mormon teaches that God never gives a commandment without preparing a way to keep the commandment. Therefore, what I believe the Book of Mormon was not teaching that sin was necessary, what the Book of Mormon was teaching was that opposition, eating the fruit, and falling was necessary. Sin itself is never necessary. It is Satan and False Religion that give us false dichotomies. There is always another way. What is that other way? Maybe the command to not eat the fruit was temporary and Adam and Eve could have asked permission later. I speculate the fruit induced a change in their bodies that would have started cellular division within them necessary for procreation and at the same time eventually led to their death from telomere shortening and dna mutation.

1 Ne. 3: 7 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, said unto my father: I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them.

While I think there is always another way, I think this is how things have worked out on all planets. God put Adam and Eve in the Garden, gave them the commandments, and allowed Lucifer to tempt them. God knew what was going to happen but didn't design a plan requiring Adam and Eve to sin but designed a plan to save them knowing they would transgress.

And that leads me to the next point. Eating the fruit wasn't sin, it was transgression. Remember that Adam didn't know right from wrong until after they had partaken of the fruit. Yet God still had to warn them. Imagine another adult coaxing a 3-year-old to do something their parents warned them never to do like touching a hot pan on the stove. If another adult comes along and convinces a child to touch the hot pan, the sin be upon the irresponsible adult and not the trusting child. Additionally, the child's innocence doesn't mean the parents shouldn't warn their children of danger. Even though sin wasn't laid to Adams charge on this issue, there still were very real temporal consequences. And the sin would have been on the parent if God had not given warning despite the fact that Adam and Eve were innocent. This isn't to say Adam and Eve never sinned. I am sure they sinned plenty following the first transgression.

Additionally, sin is not is not a very good efficient way to gain knowledge. In fact, sin doesn't impart any knowledge. Only the consequences of sin teach. But, Christ Himself gave us the true example on how to gain wisdom by showing us a more excellent way. Christ didn't have to sin Himself to learn, but he did have to experience the consequences of sin to learn. Therefore, Christ learned by taking upon himself the sins of others and descending below all things. To put it simply, a smart person learns from his own mistakes but a wise person learns from the mistakes of others. Sin is not necessary to learn, you can learn like Christ did by emulating the Father, mourning with those that mourn, taking upon himself the sins of others, or you can learn from the Spirit which knoweth all things.

Alma 7: 13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

John 5: 19 Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise.

Again, sin doesn't teach, it's the consequences of sin that teach. But, the other path and the more excellent way is to stop learning from the consequences of your own sins and start learning as Christ, by observing what His Father did, from others mistakes, and from the Spirit which knoweth all things. If we do sin, it is not sin that teaches anything, its the consequences of sin that teach us that sin isn't worth it. But, until we start really learning in Christ-like ways, we will never really begin meaningful progression.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Justification, Forgiveness, and Disfellowship

I was out with the missionaries the other night to see an Evangelical minister. The missionaries presented a message about the apostasy, but the Minister became a little contentious over his mistaken understanding that he is automatically and unconditionally saved and guaranteed eternal life at the moment of accepting Christ. We couldn't stay to contend the issue but I re-read the New Testament to list the many places where the Apostles teach that salvation is conditional upon our continued good works and enduring to the end.

1 Cor 5:9-13 I wrote unto you in an epistle not to company with fornicators: Yet not altogether with the fornicators of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or with idolaters; for then must ye needs go out of the world. But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; with such an one no not to eat. For what have I to do to judge them also that are without? do not ye judge them that are within? But them that are without God judgeth. Therefore put away from among yourselves that wicked person
1Tim5: 19 Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses .20 Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.
Titus 3: 10 A man that is an heretik after the first and second admonition reject;

How does this scripture fit in with the Evangelical concept of compete forgiveness?LDS teach that Justification is a forgiveness and the inputation of Christs righteousness to the believer. But we also believe that Christ will empower us and expects us to forsake certain sins to enjoy fellowship with the Saints. In fact, according to Paul, members who commit certain sins should be disfellowshipped and/or excommunicated. The LDS definition of Justification by grace in Romans is not irreversible and unconditional forgiveness. Justification means aquittal from the law, it means a judgement of "not proven". Justification is not by works but by grace alone by faith in Christ. God makes the first move. Christs grace is imputed upon the believer and the believer can enjoy the indwelling of the transformative power of the Holy Spirit. The more willing and receptive the believer is in submitting to the Holy Spirit the more the Holy Spirit will empower that person to turn away and forsake sin. Ultimately by the end of the Millennium, the Holy Spirit will empower the believer to forsake all sin. The process of Sanctification will have been completed. The believer will then be brought before God for the final judgement. Christ will confess the name of the believer and that He has paid the price of all past sin and recommend that the believer inherit eternal life because the believer has allowed Christ to compete the work of Sanctification within them.

1 Cor 11:27 Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. 28 But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. 29 For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

if Justification is complete forgiveness and automatic unconditional eternal life, why would Paul tell the Saints at Corinth to "examine themselves" and not partake of the sacrament "unworthily". Knowing these saints had already confessed Christ, what more must they do each week to demonstrate worthiness to partake the Lords Supper?

2 Cor 5:9 Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.
2 Cor 6:1We then, as workers together with him, beseech you also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain.

What labor is Paul talking about here. Why would Paul be talking to the Saints about a labor that yet had to be done to be accepted by Christ at the judgement day if all this was already done at the moment of Justification? The labor is Sanctification. How could believers receive the grace of Christ in vain?

2 Cor 13: 5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?

Why would Paul invite believers at Corinth to examine themselves whether they be in the faith, and prove it. Why would Paul seem to say that Christs Spirit would not be with them in sin? Are not believers unconditionally forgiven of all past and future sin?

Gal 5: 19-21 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, forniccation, uncleaness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies. Evyings, murders, drunkeness, revelings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Gal 4 But let every man prove his own work . . . 7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.

Seems Paul is saying that if you truely are saved your works will manifest it, and if you are not saved, the works of the flesh in you will manifest that you are not saved and never were.

Eph 4:24-32 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.25 Wherefore putting away lying speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another.26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath:27 Neither give place to the devil. righteousness and true holiness.28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his give hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth . . . 30 And greive not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice 32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Many dont like the Miracle of Forgiveness becasuse Pres Kimball says it is expected that we forsake sin. But, here we seem to have Paul saying that the believer is expected to "put away lying" and forsake stealing and "put away" wrath and anger.How does a saved person "greive the Holy Spirit"?

Eph 5: 3 But fornication, and all uncleanness, or covetousness, let it not be once named among you, as becometh saints;4 Neither filthiness, nor foolish talking nor jesting, which are not convenient: but rather giving of thanks.5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedient.7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them.. . . 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkenss, but rather reprovethem.
Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;

Some here at CARM claim that Justification means a total, permenant, and unconditional forgiveness and automatic eternal life.That may be true if the person was really Justified, but Paul says that fornicaiton should not be named even once among the saints at Ephesus. And that they should avoid foolish talking and jesting "loud laugher" and not just avoided but reproved.Could it be that those who teach the CARM and Evangelical doctrine preach "vain words." According to Paul you cant have the indwelling of the Spirit while drunk.

1 Tim 6: 17 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;18 That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate;19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.
2 Tim 2: 21 If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessels unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.

Why is Paul sayig the rich need to be rich in good works as to lay up in store that they "may lay hold on eternal life". This language does not seem to reflect the certainty of eternal life of many evangelicals who claim eternal life is automatic and unconditionally given at the moment of Justification. Paul says the better a man allows Christ to purge his sins from him and sanctifyy him, the better he will be for tthe masters use and prepared unto every good work.

Titus 1: 15 Unto the pure all things are pure: but unto them that are defiled and unbelieving is nothing pure; but even their mind and conscience is defiled.16 They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.

It seems Paul says that although you can profess to know and accept Christ with your words, that you can just as easily deny Christ and reject Him by your works which will manifest that you were never justified.

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;14 Who gave himself or us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, an purify people,zealous of good works. unto himself a peculiar.

Paul encouages Titus to deny and forsake all ungodliness and live godly so that he could have a "hope" or assurance in faith, and "might" be redeemed by Christ. This jsut doesnt sound like the unconditional automatic eternal life of the Evangelical.

Titus 3: 4 But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;6 Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.
Titus 3: 14 And let ours also learn to maintain good works for necessary uses, that they be not unfruitful.

Paul says we are initially rescued and justified and "saved" by the grace alone of Christ and not our righteousness. But I dont think this "hope" of eternal life is the unconditional, irreversible automatic kind of process the Evangelicals describe.It seems that Paul is concerned that the Saints not be unfruitful. Since Christ said of the gentiles that there would be both bad and good invited to the marriage supper and that only those wearing the wedding garment would be accepted. God said that there would be sheep and goats, wheat and tares, unwise virgins, and lukewarmers in the church, that it was the good works and fruit that would be a manifestation that that person was in the grace of Christ. Remember that John says in Revelations that the white clothing was the "rightousness of the saints" or the good works of the saints not necessarily absolute sinlessness since we are all sinners.

Gal. 6: 9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.
2 Tim. 4: 7 I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith

Remember the parable of the workers in the field. The ones that worked one hour received the same reward as the workers who worked through the heat of the day. The important thing was that they were all found working when the Lord of the vineyard arrived.

Heb 2:1 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip.2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;

What is this that Hebrews is saying about giving earnest heed, and a warning about not letting our obedience slip and about our disobedience being recompenced upon us. Hebrews seems to be saying that disobedience puts our "escape" and "great salvation" into jeapardy.

Heb 3: 12 Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.14 For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;15 While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation.

Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God fresh, and put him to an open shame.
Heb 6:10,15 For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:. .. . so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.
Heb 10: 26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowdge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

Here Hebrews says that some who are called brethren could depart form the living God and have their heart hardened by sin after it was softened. But Hebrews says we need to hold stedfast unto the end and not procrastinate the day of our provocation or probation while it is yet today. Here Hebrews says that it is possible to be enlightened and taste of the heavenly gift and the Holy Ghost and have fallen away. Also, Hebews says the promise is dependent on diligence, endurance, patience, faith and a work and labor of love.

Heb 10: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace ... 38 Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him.39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.

Hebrews seems to warn those who sin knowingly and willfully after receiving the Spirit of grace, Hebrews calls this falling away to "draw back" unto perdition instead of having patience in faith unto salvation of the soul.Heb 11:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us Chrsit is the author and finisher of our faith but Accepting Christ and being born again is not the end of the race but the beginning. And after being Justified we must endure the chastening and purifying process of sanctification.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Temporal and Spiritual

1 Ne. 15: 31-32 And they said unto me: Doth this thing mean the torment of the body in the days of probation, or doth it mean the final state of the soul after the death of the temporal body, or doth it speak of the things which are temporal? And it came to pass that I said unto them that it was a representation of things both temporal and spiritual; for the day should come that they must be judged of their works, yea, even the works which were done by the temporal body in their days of probation.

I have been thinking a lot lately about what it is that differentiates LDS from other Christians. As you look back at the history of the Christianity, we see the formation of the great Catholic and Orthodox churches with their ritual splendor, ordinances, tradition, and hierarchy. We then see the formation of smaller protestant denominations and non-denominations which have fractured off that have developed a kind of reactionary doctrine against the Catholic Church. While Catholics consider papal authority to be a major basis of their belief, Evangelicals interpret the Bible to teach no hierarchy and no authority but Jesus Himself (except when it comes to collecting tithing).

LDS on the other hand, do not consider authority and hierarchy to be in conflict or mutually exclusive to the "priesthood of all believers" and our individual ability to "approach the throne of God with boldness" as they say. As Nephi says, the things taught in scripture are both temporal and spiritual. And the same thing applies to the concept of the temple, church, priesthood and ultimately God Himself.

This conflict over temporal vs. spiritual is at the heart of the gospel divide even going back to the early church. Back then the Apostles warned against the doctrine of the Gnostic's who denied the physical resurrection of Christ. Such a denial was said to be of the spirit of the antichrist. Why did they deny Christ's resurrection? They rejected it because if Christ had redeemed His physical body and was viewed as the perfect revelation of the Father, then that would mean that the Father also consisted of the perfect harmonization of spirituality and physicality. But to the Gnostic's, matter was inherently evil.

The truth is that nothing is inherently evil but just corruptible. In the beginning we learn that God created all things and he looked upon the whole of creation and declared "It is good." But Christ sanctifies what Satan has corrupted and makes the corruptible incorruptible. Therefore since God encompasses all that is good, and tangible matter is good, therefore God must consist of both a glorified body and spirit. God is spirit, but God is not only just spirit and those who come to God must learn to worship him in spirit (talk) and in truth (walk).

It is this key truth concerning the unifying of the temporal and spiritual which is transcended by the very nature of God which is manifest in every aspect of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The concept of the Church of Christ is an ordered organization but also is the body of believers. The concept of the temple is a sacred structure which administers sacred covenants and serves as a parable and reminder of sacred truth but also represents the indwelling of the Holy Spirit within each individual. The priesthood is divine authority given by God to man to administer the covenants and gifts of God allowing man to act and speak in the name of God, as well as being a power and authority available to all believers who have been called and ordained by the laying on of hands to empower them to approach the throne of God and dwell in His presence. The concept of repentance consists of tangible steps which assist the believer in escaping and forsaking sin as well as the spiritual motivation of the love of God which makes sin loose its enticement.

Again and again in scripture we see the pattern of the heavenly and the earthly manifest. The Law of Moses, Bible prophecy, and the parables themselves are true occurrences which teach and represent a greater spiritual truth. But the lesson of the Old Testament vs. the New Testament was not that the spiritual destroyed the temporal. Christ said He had not come to destroy the law and the prophets but to fulfill. What the New Testament was about was about a restoration of the spiritual and higher law and a unification and a sanctification of the physical.

The Masonic signs of the compass and square represent this truth very well. A compass is used to draw circles. Circles are a shape found in heaven. So, the compass is used to represent heavenly things. The sign of the square is used to draw horizontal lines. The horizon and horizontal lines are something we see terrestrially and therefore represents the Earth and the physical aspect of existence. Therefore the compass and square together represents the unification of the spiritual and physical, male and female, and represents the true nature of God and is reflected in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Definition of Acquittal and Justification

Recently, I was in a discussion with some Evangelical Christian friends of mine focused on the LDS vs. Evangelical concept of Justification, Acquittal, and Forgiveness. A synopsis on the Evangelical criticism of the LDS view on this issue can be found at the following link: http://www.mrm.org/grace-works.

One friend seemed to find fault with President Spencer W Kimball's book "Miracle of Forgiveness" for giving concrete steps to completely forsake sin. Those steps would be to acknowledge the sin, feel sorrow for sin, confess to God, make restitution if possible, and forsake the sin. His contention was that there are no 6 steps or 12-step program required to be forgiven of sin. All a person has to do is accept the real Christ and they are fully forgiven at that moment. At the very moment a person receives Christ, they are receiving the free gift of Eternal Life and the highest reward of exaltation with no further expectations or requirements.

2 Cor. 7: 9-11 Now I rejoice, not that ye were made sorry, but that ye sorrowed sorry after a godly manner, that ye might receive damage by us in nothing. to repentance: for ye were made. For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.
James 5:16 confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed.
1 John 1:9 if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Furthermore, this friend seemed to say that it was wrong for President Kimball to teach that God forgives only after complete forsaking of the sin. And only fully forgiven when we have completely forsaken all of our sins. My friend seemed to disagree saying that by accepting Christ they are already fully and completely forgiven from the start which includes all future sins and well as past sins.

Now we all agreed that eventually we would all need to have been empowered by Christ to overcome all sin. And that Christ would have the power to empower us to spinelessness and perfection eventually. But the disagreement seemed to be on how you get there. We also agree that there is no peace in sin so that it is advantageous for Christ to begin empowering us to forsake sin as much as possible here in this world because regardless of the eternal consequences, sin still has very real and painful temporal consequences.

It seems many Evangelicals feel they are empowered to forsake sin and be a better person because God had fully forgiven them and guaranteed their future forgiveness. It seems the pressure of the future judgement being off their shoulders in Christ was motivation enough for them alone to want to be better. It seems, to them, that removing the consequences of sin would inspire and empower greater humility and obedience by itself.

LDS would agree that witnessing Christs love would spiritually motivate to forsake sin, but we also recognize that the concrete physical steps of Pres Kimball's forgiveness paradigm also helps forsake sin. LDS are not making a dichotomy here. We are not trying to make a mutually exclusive argument. Yes, witnessing Christs love by His grace is motivating for us to forsake sin, but at the same time, the concrete steps of godly sorrow working repentance, confession, restitution, and ultimately prayer for divine assistance does help to forsake sin. And it works. I have personally experienced it work in my life and seen it work in others lives.

Pres. Kimball giving concrete skills to help us forsake sin is not with the expectation that we will die a completely perfect person having completed the process of sanctification. We have the rest of the Millennium to compete sanctification. But although we wont necessarily be perfect in all things now, we can be empowered to forsake some sins and vices. I have done it with a few. We can also be empowered to start doing certain good things consistently, like paying tithing for instance.

What does Pres Kimball want by writing this book? He wants youth of the church to not excuse themselves in committing sexual sin and experimenting with drugs. He wants new members coming into the church to know that while no one is perfect, that God will empower us in Christ to give up and forsake alcoholism and other substance abuse vices.

My friends also object to when Pres Kimball says that if you recommit a sin, after you have repented you really didn't repent and you really were not forgiven. It is like the initial forgiveness never occurred. The evidence of this is an alcoholic or meth abuser. They cannot touch it after giving it up. One drop or one time is too much, If they do it again, they cannot just stop halfway but more often than not relapse back into the same hole just as deep or deeper then they were before. And it can be harder to repent and forsake again, but obviously possible in Christ.

My friends contended that Pres. Kimball's paradigm denied the Justification and all-sufficient grace of Christ that a believer received when He becomes born again because he says that God does not forgive until a person completely forsakes all sin. What I tried to point out is that Pres Kimball's repentance paradigm does not deny grace or Justification. But it turns out that LDS and Evangelicals do differ in how we interpret Justification.

Some Evangelicals rightly understand that Justification is a legal term. However, it seems that some in our conversation would say that it means that a person is declared innocent and clean from the start. LDS would say that justification is acquittal for the law. But according to British Common Law there were two kinds of acquittal. And that one was "not proven." If Justified and received the verdict of "not proven" you could still be tried again and is not covered under "double jeopardy" where you cannot be tried twice for the same crime. If you are acquitted or justified under a ruling of "not proven" then you can be tried again when new evidence is obtained.

This second kind of acquittal, is how the LDS view the meaning of Justification. By the grace of Christ the believer who has faith in Christ is acquitted from the law, and given a grace period, a probationary state and time to prepare to meet God and repent or allow Christ to empower us to repentance. Christ's righteousness in imputed unto us and because we are innocent until proven guilty, according to God although we are guilty, we are viewed as innocent in Christ. Therefore we can enjoy the indwelling of the Holy Ghost which will empower us to sanctification, greater obedience, and to receive the sanctifying ordinances that LDS believe that God desires we receive.

My friends would say this does not sound like a very forgiving God if he does not really permanently forgiving but just temporarily forgiving and withholding judgement until He has collected further evidence against us. But LDS say that in that time and on into the Millennium, Christ will empower us to overcome all sin, and that process can begin here and now in this world.

LDS are encouraged to repent daily, but the point is to not be endlessly repenting for the same sins, but to focus on one area, allow Christ to sanctify us in that thing, forsake that sin, and then move on to another area. This is the process of Sanctification. It is not continually backsliding, or wheel-spinning, or a dog returning to its own vomit and a sow to its wallowing in the mire. The beauty of LDS theology on forgiveness is that God can overcome and sanctify our flesh, transform us, and purify us, give us a perfect heart, and help us begin to overcome sin. Who wants to be plagued by our sins all the time. The atonement is not just grace but also power to begin to overcome and escape sin because God is faithful and promises to make or weaknesses strengths.

[from Wiki]
In the Scottish common law tradition, an acquittal formally certifies the innocence of the accused, as far as the criminal law is concerned. This is so even where the prosecution is abandoned nolle prosequi. Under the rules of double jeopardy and autrefois acquit, an acquittal operates to bar the retrial of the accused for the same offense, even if new evidence surfaces that further implicates the accused. The effect of an acquittal on criminal proceedings is the same whether it results from a jury verdict, or whether it results from the operation of some other rule that discharges the accused. Scots law has two acquittal verdicts: not guilty and not proven. However a verdict of "not proven" does not give rise to the double jeopardy rule.

From the LDS perspective of the Bible, we all are sinners, fallen and lost, but because of Christ we are forgiven. This forgiveness is Justification. This justification is acquittal. This acquittal is a verdict of "not proven", this verdict of "not proven" puts us on probation. This probationary grace period allows us time to allow Christ to complete the work of sanctification in us so that when we do stand before God at the final judgement we will be like Him. Then we can expect the ultimate forgiveness and be received into eternal life. It is possible to receive this ultimate forgiveness in this life. This is called having you calling and election sure and it is ultimately a personal experience between a person and God.

Christ makes it so that we can have the indwelling of the Holy Ghost. But it is not like we become like Enoch who walked with God or Elijah who was taken up to heaven at the moment we accept Christ and are justified. That's not the end of the process but the beginning. So, the point about acquittal and probation is that we know we are going to still be judged again. we are not saved by "double jeopardy" and Christ will still need to confess our names before the Father and the angels.

Yes, Christ paid for the sins of His people. To others who are not Christ's he will say "I know you not". Although the price has been paid in full already, we still sin and are still adding daily to His burden. All believers or those invited to the marriage, who are all guilty, have been justified, acquitted and given the verdict of "not proven." When we stand before God to be judged and Christ confesses us before his Father and the angels, then we know that Christ had taken upon himself our sins, because he knows us.

That's how He will know us, but He will not make mention of our sins. At the final judgement we will be judged guilty officially and Christ will say that He has paid our penalty for all past sins. And since we will be perfected by that point, we can then dwell in the presence of God. But others who were also justified and acquitted will not have allowed Christ to compete the work of sanctification in them. So, these unwise virgins, "lukewarmers", are those invited to the wedding feast who are not wearing the wedding garment and will find out that Christ never paid for their sins, and that He didn't and doesnt know them.

The Miracle of forgiveness is focused on vice kinds of sin. People want to know that Christ will help them completely forsake alcohol or tobacco or meth or porn or whatever so they can move on. People dont want to endlessly backslide, and spin their wheels. This paradigm is the basis for the 12-step program. This can apply to loosing your temper. I know people who I have never seen loose their temper and have mastered that aspect. I have seen them being seriously provoked and respond in a kind and soft voice and diffuse tense situations. There is no sin that this paradigm cant ultimately apply too. The 6 step paradigm comes from scripture: recognize your sin and that you are a sinner, godly sorrow, confess, make restitution, forsake. Christ had the power to heal us and treat the source of the sickness and not just the symptoms.

Evangelicals seem to focus on motivation and not just doing it. According to the Bible. God says obey because you fear God, obey because you desire reward, and ultimately obey because God loves you. God's love is the highest motivation, but God will not blame you if you obeyed because of fear but he does hope that we obey with a cheerful heart and with thanksgiving.

Evangelicals say that being completely forgiven without fear, or seeking reward makes you better able to repent. You think that God is the ideal parent because it is going to motivate us to remove any concern about a future judgment. Putting our mind at ease is supposed to motivate us. Our whole society is based on personal accountability that we will stand before God and be judged of our works. This is the basis of self government. No , a loving God is not going to remove that motivation. We have a deadline. God is knows we are weak and sinful and that we need time to learn and will empower us to learn. That is His great love. The Real God is a loving but responsible parent and not a "sugardaddy."

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Temple in the Book of Mormon

Many fail to see the temple and the endowment in scripture because they are too focused on the parable and ritual instead of the meaning behind it. Truth is the temple endowment is all over the Book of Mormon and even though the story and the symbols change, the underlying message remains the same.

Mark 4: 11 And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables:

Mysteries are "hidden manna" or teachings that God chooses to teach His people using symbols, parables, and ritual so that the wicked fail to understand them because they fail to give "heed and diligence" to understanding them. The lessons taught in the temple are akin to Christ telling His people a parable. Again, Mysteries are "hidden manna" taught by Christ to His people in parables, or ritual symbolism.

1 Ne. 1: 1 I, Nephi, having been born of goodly parents, therefore I was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and having seen many afflictions in the course of my days, nevertheless, having been highly favored of the Lord in all my days; yea, having had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God, therefore I make a record of my proceedings in my days.

Nephi says that He has been given a great knowledge of the mysteries or "hidden knowledge" of God.

1 Ne. 2: 16 And it came to pass that I, Nephi, being exceedingly young, nevertheless being large in stature, and also having great desires to know of the mysteries of God, wherefore, I did cry unto the Lord; and behold he did visit me, and did soften my heart that I did believe all the words which had been spoken by my father; wherefore, I did not rebel against him like unto my brothers.
1 Ne. 10: 19 For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost, as well in these times as in times of old, and as well in times of old as in times to come; wherefore, the course of the Lord is one eternal round.

Nephi was then shown the vision of the Tree of Life which was his endowment. All the basic aspects of the temple endowment are given to Nephi through his vision of the tree of life.

2 Ne. 5: 16 And I, Nephi, did build a temple; and I did construct it after the manner of the temple of Solomon save it were not built of so many precious things; for they were not to be found upon the land, wherefore, it could not be built like unto Solomon’s temple. But the manner of the construction was like unto the temple of Solomon; and the workmanship thereof was exceedingly fine.

Nephi builds a temple after the order of the Law of Moses and the Lesser Priesthood.

Mosiah 2: 9 And these are the words which he spake and caused to be written, saying: My brethren, all ye that have assembled yourselves together, you that can hear my words which I shall speak unto you this day; for I have not commanded you to come up hither to trifle with the words which I shall speak, but that you should hearken unto me, and open your ears that ye may hear, and your hearts that ye may understand, and your minds that the mysteries of God may be unfolded to your view.

The people of Nephi are gathered around the temple and King Benjamin says he will reveal the mysteries of God the people gathered at the temple.

Mosiah 5: 2,6-11 And they all cried with one voice, saying: Yea, we believe all the words which thou hast spoken unto us; and also, we know of their surety and truth, because of the Spirit of the Lord Omnipotent, which has wrought a mighty change in us, or in our hearts, that we have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually. . . . And now, these are the words which king Benjamin desired of them; and therefore he said unto them: Ye have spoken the words that I desired; and the covenant which ye have made is a righteous covenant. And now, because of the covenant which ye have made ye shall be called the children of Christ, his sons, and his daughters; for behold, this day he hath spiritually begotten you; for ye say that your hearts are changed through faith on his name; therefore, ye are born of him and have become his sons and his daughters. . . .... I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives. .... I say unto you, I would that ye should remember to retain the name written always in your hearts, that ye are not found on the left hand of God, but that ye hear and know the voice by which ye shall be called, and also, the name by which he shall call you.

The people of Nephi at the temple recieve a group endowment and enter into the higher covenant of sanctification. These people are born again, become sons and daughters of God, and are given the new name.

Alma 12: 9-10 And now Alma began to expound these things unto him, saying: It is given unto many to know the mysteries of God; nevertheless they are laid under a strict command that they shall not impart only according to the portion of his word which he doth grant unto the children of men, according to the heed and diligence which they give unto him. And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion of the word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.

Mysteries are only to be given as God directs and according to God's will.

3 Nephi 20-26
3 Nephi 24:16-18 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another, and the Lord hearkened and heard; and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of Hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them as a man spareth his own son that serveth him. Then shall ye return and discern between the righteous and the wicked, between him that serveth God and him that serveth him not.
3 Nephi 26:19 And they taught, and did minister one to another; and they had all things common among them, every man dealing justly, one with another.

3 Nephi is the ultimate example of a group endowment administered by Christ himself and a renewal of His covenant with His people. All the fundamental aspects of the endowement are present. The people gather at the temple and accept and become witness of Christ, are purified and then are given bread to eat from Christ himself. Jesus Christ reestablishes and renews the covenants and reveals who the people are, their part in the plan, the whole plan of salvation is laid out, and the people are given commandments such as tithing to observe and consecration seeing how the people live with "all things in common" and the people are promised rewards to be known as a son "in that day when I make up my jewels" or the same"white stone with the new name", that John in Revelation speaks of.

When God appears to Moses in the Pearl of Great Price is another example of the endowment being given in the scriptures.

The amazing point here is that while many critics of the LDS Church claim that Joseph Smith plagiarized the LDS endowment from Masonry, it is marvelous that all the fundamental elements of the endowment are demonstrated over and over again in the Book of Mormon long before Joseph Smith was acquainted at all with Masonry. Yes, Masonry did influence Joseph Smith to ask questions about certain aspects of the endowment, but the endowment was represented again and again in the Book of Mormon long before Joseph Smith new anything about Masonry.

Left Behind and the Book of Mormon

I have started to read the "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye to get a better understanding of the Evangelical belief in what constitutes true Christian discipleship. Overlooking that the Bible teaches a post-trib rapture, I was interested in what LaHaye had to say regarding what set apart those who were taken vs. those left behing. It seems from the prequels and the first book that the author establishes what he thinks constitutes true faith in Christ vs. the "lukewarmers" and "unwise virgins".

Ray Steele, the protagonist 747 pilot, husband and father, was left behind because although he occasionally attended church, he only did it for social reasons. He thought he was a "good person" never accepted his sinfulness and never truly accepted the grace of Christ and gave his soul completely over to Christ. Ray Steele was never took his discipleship seriously and never was truly spiritually born again.

LeHaye spends a lot of time comparing and contrasting the New Hope non-denominational church and pastor from Ray Steele's denominational church and preacher. New Hope only taught "salvation" and "grace". Steele's church was large but sermons were more focuses on feelgood stories and not scripture and doctrine.

The reason Bruce Barnes, the assistant pastor at New Hope, was left behind was more interesting from an LDS viewpoint. Bruce comments that he was very active at New Hope and knew he was a sinner, and knew he needed Christ, but he cheated on his tithing? LeHaye explains that good works are necessary not because they contribute your salvation but they are a manifestation that Christ is working through you and in you. LDS would agree with this 100%. I find it interesting that Bruce says his failure to repent of the tithing issue kept him from true acceptance of Christ.
I also find it interesting that all little children, including the unborn, were automatically covered and saved by Christ's atonement. LDS would agree with this as well.

What are the differences between LeHaye's views and LDS Doctrine? The LDS church also teaches "salvation and justification by grace" but we also spend time talking about sanctification and maintaining a godly walk. Some people say, if you just love more then everything will fall into place, you will be a better father, husband, employee, and disciple of Christ. LDS believe that love is a verb, and must be learned. Therefore, LDS messages go from initial grace and rescue and salvation and justification, to the message of sanctification and how to be a true disciple and a good neighbor. LDS talk about skills needed to learn how to love and be a true disciple such as how to share our testimony of Christ with others. Although all aspects of Christian discipleship are ultimately everyone's responsibility. LDS are given "callings" and responsibilities in the church to, work on, practice, and strenghten specific aspects of Christian service.

The Book of Mormon would agree that works are a manifestation of the power and love of God working in the believer. But What the Book of Momron teaches is the Law of Moses brought death because it brought immediate punishment. Christ brought grace or a "grace period" or a time to prepare and learn how to obey. LaHaye would believe that God gave commandments knowing that it was impossible for men to obey them. Nephi in the Book of Mormon says that God gives no commandments that He will not empower us to obey. The Book of Mormon says that we are given this "grace period" to be empowered by Christ to learn to obey. It might take till the end of the Millennium, but the Book of Mormon says that CHrist will overcome our flesh, make it incorruptible, turn us from sin and purify us like silver and not just white wash us like "whited sepulchers" while were are still filled with dead man's bones. The atonement of Christ is both grace and power to empower us to eventually deny all ungodliness, to make the weak things become strong and make us perfect even as Our Father in Heaven is perfect.