Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Go and Sin No More

Evangelical doctrine finds its roots in pharisaic schools of divinity and theology which Christ condemned.  The Pharisees had their Bible (OT) as the Evangelical Theologians do (NT).  What I am sharing is not unique to me either, but built upon a firm foundation of living Apostles and Prophets who are choosen by Christ and ordained by revelation and by the laying on of hands and inspired by God in Christ to interpret scripture.

And yes, LDS know and accept that we are all sinners and even after we accept Christ we will still be sinners because of the natural man but because Christ's righteousness is imputed to us we can reveive the Holy Ghost which begins to change us.  And we will never be perfect in this life, only perfect in Christ.  LDS already got that.  I think people misunderstand LDS Doctrine because they hear us taking to the "already-justified" and focused on the sanctification part that comes after Justification.  So, are we WRONG in preaching the process of sanctification to the Saints (Sancts)? Why does the incomplete Evangelical doctrine stop at Justification?  LDS Baptism is about Justification but almost everyone in an LDS Congegation is already baptized. So we talk about sanctification. The LDS Temple is about magnifying the spiritual process of sanctification (Ezek 37:26, Heb 7:11).

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (New Testament, Matthew, 4:17)

LDS believe in and accept Christ's grace and the message of grace.  This is not an either/or proposition for LDS.   However, at the same time, I don't think Paul was giving vain speeches when he made his many lists describing what he means by righteousness or wickedness.  LDS accept all scripture not just the parts we like.  Paul did not make lists "for our infomation only, but don't worry about actually striving to living by them, or repeating them in your sermons".

I do appreciate the grace of Christ that empowers and enables repentance, that binds up the broken hearted and lifts the hands that hang down and strengthens the feeble knees. But as a physican, I know opioids alone can elevate suffering but cannot by themselves heal an abscess when an incision and drainage is required. Christ is the Great Physician and can allow us to experience some necessary initial pain and suffering knowing that it will bring about healing.

The issue of "positive-only grace message" vs "grace and repentance" or "justification-only vs. justification and sanctification" is a major theme in the Book of Mormon. God foreknew we would be having this very discussion.  Accordingly, Jacob in the Book of Mormon expressed his dilemma in being commanded by God to call his people to repentance when he wished of himself just to tell the people what they wanted to hear (good words and fair speeches). 

Wherefore, it burdeneth my soul that I should be constrained, because of the strict commandment which I have received from God, to admonish you according to your crimes, to enlarge the wounds of those who are already wounded, instead of consoling and healing their wounds; and those who have not been wounded, instead of feasting upon the pleasing word of God have daggers placed to pierce their souls and wound their delicate minds. (Book of Mormon, Jacob 2:9)

Jacob wished he could preach a positive-only message and not have to call the people to repentance.  But sometimes an abscess must be incised and drained befire there can be healing.    Abinadi (Mosiah 12) another great prophet in the Book of Mormon was questioned and burned alive over this issue of preaching repentance and a positive-only message.  Many Prophets thoughout the ages have been killed based on this exact issue.  No one wants to be told they are wrong had have to change.  But only the Meek (teachable) will inherit the Earth.  Mormon commented to his son Moroni on this issue that when he was soft with the people they hardened their heart and when he was harsh they became angry.  

When Book of Mormon prophets were sent among the people to stir them up into remembrance of Christ and their duty, they refer to it as magnifying and administering according to the "Holy Order" of God.  When false preachers established churches to get gain (filthy lucre), and preach a popular message; it is referred to as "priestcraft". 

But again, this isn't a false dichotomy here.  Alma to the people of Gideon (Alma 7) expressed joy and thanksgiving because they were believing and walking in Christ's way that he was able to give them a more positive message.  

But I think Peter 2 helps clarify our dilemma:

1 But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 
2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 
3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 

False prophets and false teachers teaching false doctrine are out to make merchandise of us.

4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 
5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 
6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; 
7 And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: 
8 (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;) 
9 The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 

Peter warns that God is still a God of justice to the ungody and a God of mercy to the righteous and can by the grace of Christ, deliver us from temptations

18 For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. 
19 While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage. 
20 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 
21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 
22 But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (New Testament, 2 Peter 2)

If we return to our wicked ways instead of making use of the grace of Christ, Peter says, "it would have been better for us to have not known it". 

This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: (New Testament, 2 Peter 3)

So, according to  Peter, sometimes the word of God "stirs up our minds to rememberance".

He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. (New Testament, 1 John 2)

Making use of Christ's grace and being empowered to keep Christ's commandments to be honest, charitable and chaste is a sign that we have truely received Christ and that the grace and spirit of Christ is working in us.  But at the same time it is a process by which we grow from grace to grace and the light of Christ grows brighter and brighter.

From the same chapter every false preacher loves to use to call his congregation to repentance when it comes to tithes and offerings:

1 Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts. 
2 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: 
3 And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. 
4 Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the Lord, as in the days of old, and as in former years. 
5 And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, saith the Lord of hosts. 
6 For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed. (Old Testament, Malachi 3)

A messenger will be sent before the Second Coming of Christ.  And the Temple will be rebuilt before the Second Coming but not like the OT.  But instead the Latter-day temple will be built to every kingdom, nation, tongue and people (Including Jerusalem, Rev 14:6) and administer the new and everlasting covenant which will sanctify Israel  (Ezekiel 37:26) and has the power to perfect (Hebrews 7:11).   But instead of being concerned with outward purity, the sons of Levi and all those who pass through the veil into the presence of the Lord will be purified and sanctified on the inside.  Yes, the veil has been parted and Christ has made a place for us that where He is, we may also be also; on conditions of making use of Christ's grace to both justify and sanctify, repent and purify ourselves inwardly eventually leading to the perfect day after the Resurrection.

In the OT temple only one, once a year, could enter Gods presence. In the Latter-day temple, all those who take upon themselves Christ's name and make use of Christs grace to inwardly sanctify themselves can be dressed in white robes, receive a new name, and pass through the veil into God's presence (see Rev 1-3).  

LDS do not believe that the Mitzvot of Baptism or the Lords Supper or Temple guarantee anything. Yes we are commanded to receive them.  But going through the motions and growing worse and worse in sin at the same time brings condemnation not salvation.  But these Mitzvot are also given by Christ to magnify the sanctifying effect of His spirit to bring about in us a greater charity, honesty and chastity and overall greater sanctification (not perfection).  Who wouldn't want that?  Who wouldn't want to magnify Christ's spirit in themselves and in their marriage?

And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (New Testament, John 8:11)

Is Jesus Christ and the LDS wrong to include "sin no more" in our doctrine or are the Evangelical Theologians mistaken for subtracting this?

No comments: