Monday, June 30, 2008

Receive the Sanctifying Works of God

After being justified by Christ, the Bible teaches that certain works of God must be received in the process of sanctification. Each of these works of God are given by the grace of Christ and we are made free to receive them and witness the power, light, spirit, grace, and love of Christ within us. While these works without the Holy Ghost and the love of Christ are dead works, with the Holy Ghost we can receive a greater portion of the love of Christ within us. Because it is the love of Christ which transforms us, purges us from sin, purifies us like silver, turns us away from sin, and changes us into new creatures. Through these works of God and not of man, Christ can save us from our sins and not mearly in our sins.

Holy Ghost
(Rom. 15:16) That I should be the minister of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Ghost.

(John 3:5) Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
(1 Cor. 6: 9) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?

(1 Cor 11:25) After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament (covenant) in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me.
(Heb 13:20-21) Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will,

Prayer in Adversity
(James 1:4) But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

(2 Tim. 3:16-17) All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

Organization of the Church
(Eph. 4:11-12) And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Melchesidek Preisthood
(Heb 5:8-10) Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him; Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchisedec.
(Heb. 7: 11) If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?
(Rev. 1: 5-6) Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

Everlasting Temple Covenant
(Ezek 37:23,26-28)Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. . . . Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: . . . And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

Marriage and Family
(Eph 5:25-27) Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Love of Christ
(1 Jn. 4:17) Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world.

Satisfying the Intelligences: A False Doctrine

Several of my recent posts have sought to resolve the grace/works debate by approaching the issue in terms of free will and moral agency (Rom. 6,Mark 11: 24, Col. 1: 9). That is, that the souls of man possessed will, but were made free and purchased by the grace and atonement of Jesus Christ (Eph. 2: 5-8, Rom. 3: 24). Without Christ, man could no good on his own and cannot alone, contribute one iota to his own salvation (Eph. 2: 8-9, Rom. 3: 23). However, now by the grace of Christ, men are free and made agents to choose good and evil despite the weaknesses of the flesh and temptations of Satan (John 8: 32-36, Gal. 5: 1, Rom. 8: 2). The results of the Fall are overcome by receiving the Holy Ghost, choosing to receive sanctifying ordinances and covenants with God (1 Cor. 6: 11, 2 Thes. 2: 13, 1 Pet. 1: 2). Through the process of sanctification, the soul of man is filled with a greater degree of the light, grace, spirit, and love of Christ which transforms mankind into a new creature in this world (2 Cor. 5: 17, 1 Jn. 4: 17). Since God has purchased man by the atonement of Christ (Eph. 1: 14, 1 Cor. 6: 20). God expects man to deliver the goods, that is, man is expected to give his whole soul to God and keep nothing back (Matt. 16: 26, Rom. 2: 29, Ezek. 11: 19, Ps. 51: 10, 17, Acts 5: 1-5).

Some Christians believe that matter is corrupt. Therefore, man can only desire evil in his heart and mind. That is why they believe their God is immaterial, without form or body, and completely other. That is also why some Christians reject a literal resurrection. If our spirits became flesh again, then we would also be corrupt.

However, when God created the bodies for Adam and Even and put into them their spirits, God did not make them corrupt. God made them free in the garden to choose between good and evil. However, Adam and Eve harkened unto Satan and partook of the fruit. The consequence of this decision was that they and all their offspring would be cursed, fallen and corrupt. God did not make our bodies corruptible; that was the result of the Fall. But, by the grace and mercy of God, all mankind are redeemed by the atonement of Christ. Without Christ all men would be doomed and consigned to die and become miserable with Satan forever. However, through Christ, we are made free from sin, and are able by the reception of the Holy Ghost through repentance and covenants to sanctify and purify our souls as we surrender our entire wills to God.

When I say, free from sin, I mean, we are now free and empowered by grace alone to choose righteously and be obedient. God does not coerce, force, extort, or manipulate but empowers, entices, and persuades. By the grace of Christ, man is now enabled to serve God and choose obedience; the reward of which is Eternal Life and Exaltation. At some point, heirs of Exaltation will become perfected such that they will no longer have disposition to do evil but do good continually. This is what it means when Christ says He will save us from our sins and not just in our sins. It may take another 1000 years to arrive at perfection, but we are commanded to start on the path of grace and sanctification now and not procrastinate the day of our repentance. Through repentance, receiving ordinances and covenants, and choosing the right, we become witnesses of the grace, power, and love of Christ which empowers every decision. But the decisions are ours to make.

Now, there have been those who have thought along these same lines and asked, "why was the suffering necessary?" I remember hearing this lesson taught twice while growing up in the church and distinctly receiving the impression that what was taught was not correct. On one particular occasion the Sunday School teacher wrote the words "Meat" and "Milk" on the chalkboard and then proceeded to cross out "Milk" and circle "Meat." That was the first clue that I was in for an hour of false doctrine. This teacher then proceeded to paraphrase a talk presented a fireside in Safford, Arizona in April 1977 entitled "the Real Meaning of the Atonement.” by Cleon Skousen. Now, I respect Mr. Skousen and the many inspired books he has written. But just because many things someone has written are inspired, that doesn't mean everything that person has said or done is inspired. And so it is with this particular talk that, while not taught over the pulpit, has been widely distributed in the church.

So, what is the gist of this talk? Skousen asks if Christ paid the price of sin and death, who did he pay? Skousen then says that Christ paid the intelligences that make up nature. That if justice wasn't served that all the intelligences that make up all the atoms of the universe would cry "foul" if one sinner were permitted into heaven and God would cease to be God. My teacher then proceeded to speculate that the atonement was not quantitative but qualitative. That even though Christ did not quantitatively pay for all sins, no entity in the universe was treated more unfairly so if Christ said that His sacrifice satisfied the demands of justice then who were the intelligences of the universe to balk.

Obviously, there are many problems with this theory, many of which are detailed in a link above. And I don't pretend to understand all the ins-and-outs of the atonement myself. The atonement remains very "marvelous" in my eyes. However, an important principle that is missed in this theory is that God is not subservient to nature and justice is not monster that God has to pacify. Perfect justice and mercy reside within God Himself. Justice is God doing exactly what He has said, and mercy is God doing exactly what He has said and what we agreed to in the Heavenly Council before we came to Earth.

Men possess will. Men have given themselves away to sin for nothing. Christ has redeemed us and bought us with a price. So, who is Christ paying? Christ is paying God who is the source of perfect justice and perfect mercy. Also, Christ is paying for each one of us. The scriptures say that each one of us will stand before God and be judged according to our works. In a way we judge ourselves. At the time of the resurrection, the scriptures say we either will have a perfect recollection of all our righteousness or a bright recollection of all our guilt. We will have righteousness restored unto us or wickedness restored unto us again. Our confidence will either wax strong in the presence of God and we will love His appearing, or we will shrink before His majesty and power and fain be glad if we could command the rocks and the mountains to fall upon us to hide us from his presence (Alma 12: 14). Those of us who accept payment on our behalf and have demonstrated, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the gospel, that we have given our whole souls to God will be washed clean and pure in the blood of Christ.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Empowered By Grace To Choose The Right

According to Mormonism, all of mankind are essentially "gods in embryo." I've never understood this and would love to have a Mormon try and explain this one to me (with reference to John 10:30):

Good Question! A number of Jews were apostate at the time of Christ. They had a counterfeit orthodoxy (correct belief), which led to an errant orthopraxis (correct action) and an mistaken orthocardia(correct heart). One manifestation of incorrect doctrine was their mistaken concept of blasphemy.

In John 10 it says that there were Jews who wanted Jesus to plainly declare His Messiah-ship. When Jesus did, they wanted to stone Him for saying He is the Son of God and one with the Father. They considered equating man with God to be blasphemy.

John 10:30 I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God?

These Jews had changed the meaning of blasphemy. These Jews believed that considering a man to be like god was blasphemy. Jesus corrected this false definition by reminding them of Ps. 82:6. If God had called the wicked judges and the afflicted and needy "I have said, Ye are gods; and all are children of the Most High," then considering man to be gods is not blasphemy; let alone Christ declaring that He is the Son of God.

So, Here Christ declares His relationship with the Father as the Son of God, and corrects the Jews for their mistaken definition of blasphemy, and verifies that Psalms 82:6 really does refer to the judges and the afflicted and needy as gods. The point of the psalm being that the judges who were chosen in the pre-existence in the Heavenly Council [congregation of the mighty (Elohim = gods)] covenanted to judge righteously and that even the afflicted and needy are considered gods in embryo and are of infinite potential worth just as much as the judges themselves are who must remember that without God they will "die like men."

How can man be considered a "god in embryo" if gods have no beginning and no end? That concept violates all those scriptures in Isaiah that says before God was no God formed neither after. And there is only God who saves.

Joseph Smith answered this question:

"The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal [co-eternal] with God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their relatives and friends are only separated from their bodies for a short season: their spirits which existed with God have left the tabernacle of clay only for a little moment, as it were; and they now exist in a place where they converse together the same as we do on the earth. I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven."[The King Follett Sermon By Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805–1844)]

But there is a big difference between being considered God and a god. God the Father will always remain our God and Father. And Christ will always remain our Savior and source of Eternal Life. Men don't become gods. That is our species. Gods are not created; they ARE or ARE NOT. And as the self-existent Christ declares I AM THAT I AM, so men ARE THAT THEY ARE. Christ does not only reveal the relationship of God to man, but also reveals the relationship of man to God. The eternal spirits of men where created children of God (but not created from nothing) and placed in physical bodies and through Christ can be made eternal parents like the Eternal Father. But men were not created gods, men have always been "gods in embryo." A child becoming like a parent is no more blasphemy in heaven then it is on Earth.But God calls Himself the Most High God.

If God had a Father, then doesn't He take orders from His Father?

Remember that God doesn't have a beginning but is co-existent and co-eternal. Yes, Our God loves His Father. But being God and being an Eternal Father is not "King of the Mountain." And while God loves His Father like we should Love Our Eternal Father, Our God doesn't "take orders." That is because God is an agent unto himself. He doesn't need to be told what to do. Like Christ, he sees a need and does it before needing to be asked.

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.

D&C 58:26 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. 27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; 28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward. 29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

How can this scripture say that man can do good? Paul says that no man can do good.

This is the key to the whole grace/works enchilada right here. The power in man to do good was given by the grace of Christ. Without which man could do no good but would have been doomed to become a servant to the devil and suffer death, hell, and eternal damnation. While the spirit of all men possesses will, which is an essential characteristic of existence; what Christ's grace and atonement does is makes us agents, makes us free, and gives us the choice to choose righteously and empowers us to make decisions that will result in our becoming like our Heavenly Father.

All mankind have lost their souls. We have given ourselves away to sin and the devil. But Christ has purchased us with His flesh and blood. He has paid the price of sin and death alone. But now we must give God what He has bought and paid for--us. We are expected to give God our whole souls and keep nothing back unlike Ananias and Sapphira.

So, accepting Christ is only the first of many righteous choices we need to make. God expects us to surrender our wills and sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit to Him. We will be empowered to make these correct choices only by the grace of Christ, who will not make our decisions for us, or coerce us, or force us. Christ has sent the Holy Ghost which will guide us into all truth, and empower us, entice us, and persuade us to repent, receive specific covenants and ordinances and do right. And as we do right (only by Christ's grace), the light, power, spirit, and grace of Christ's love will grow within us until we are fully changed, sanctified, purifies, and perfected. And if not fully achieved now, sanctification may require 1000 more years during the Millennium to complete but we need to get on the straight and narrow now and not procrastinate the day of our repentance.

This is how the grace of Christ has the power to fully save us from our sins and not just in our sins. This is how we are saved by grace 100%. This is how Christ's grace is all-sufficient for our salvation. Christ doesn't sweep our sins under the rug, but will change us and by His grace we are empowered to choose the right.

Matt. 7: 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

God allows us to participate in our salvation by exercizing our will and Christ-given agency so that we might witness the power, grace, spirit and love of Christ in us which empowers every correct and righteous decision. But in no way does man contribute one iota to his own salvation without Christ. We don't meet God half way or even part way. Christ's grace empowers every good work, every act of righteousness, every sanctifying ordinance. But choosing righteousness and obedience in and through Christ is required for exaltation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Geography and Genetics

The Nephites occupied a limited geography of not more than 300 miles square. The Sea south and the sea north are not referring to the Arctic and Antarctic Oceans. Seas can be lakes, or gulfs (part of larger bodies of water).

Hel. 3:8 And it came to pass that they did multiply and spread, and did go forth from the land southward to the land northward, and did spread insomuch that they began to cover the face of the whole earth, from the sea south to the sea north, from the sea west to the sea east.

The Book of Mormon never claimed that they would be the major genetic ancestor to the modern Native Americans The Book of Mormon continually refers to the Book of Mormon coming forth to a "remnant of their seed." This is of course specifically referring to genetics. The Nephites were the victims of genocide and the Lamanites had continually been mixing with the indigenous people from the beginning. The Nephites in the Introduction were only considered "principal ancestors" in terms of the covenants of the Lord and not genetics. Because of continual genetic mixing of Lamanites with indigious Americans, there is a significantly different connotation to saying someone is a direct descendant of the Lamanites verses a direct descendant of the Nephites. While the former is often heard, I have never heard the later sentiment expressed.

1 Ne. 15: 3-1413 And now, the thing which our father meaneth concerning the grafting in of the natural branches through the fulness of the Gentiles, is, that in the latter days, when our seed shall have dwindled in unbelief, yea, for the space of many years, and many generations after the Messiah shall be manifested in body unto the children of men, then shall the fulness of the gospel of the Messiah come unto the Gentiles, and from the Gentiles unto the remnant of our seed— 14 And at that day shall the remnant of our seed know that they are of the house of Israel, and that they are the covenant people of the Lord; and then shall they know and come to the knowledge of their forefathers, and also to the knowledge of the gospel of their Redeemer, which was ministered unto their fathers by him; wherefore, they shall come to the knowledge of their Redeemer and the very points of his doctrine, that they may know how to come unto him and be saved. (see also 1 Ne. 13:34,38-39, 2 Ne. 30:3-4)

While the majority of Native American DNA is Asian, Siberian and Mongolian, by mtDNA haplogroup migration genetics studies. Researcher have discovered haplogroup X2a which is not found in Siberia or Mongolia but is considered a founding haplogroup in America because it is found in pre-Columbian remains. However, the highest concentration of X2 haplogroup is found in the Druze of Galilee. Researchers do not believe the Druze to be the source of the Haplogroup X but that they have preserved the mtDNA through intermarriage which represents the genotype of the people living in Galilee at the time the Druze settled in Northern Israel.

The Druze: A Population Genetic Refugium of the Near East. PLoS ONE. 2008 May 7;3(5)

There is a small trace of X in Altai Republic in Central Asia. However according to the study: it shows that the X2a clave in America is in not a decendant variation of the X2e in Altai or anywhere else in Asia. But that X2a must have undergone an early split in the phylogenetic tree from the Middle East. In other words, the X2a in America came directly from the Middle East and not via Asia. They also say the the Altians only have a very low rate of haplogroup X, and that it got there through recent migration. The highest rates of haplogroup X are found in the Druze and the Orkney of Scotland.

Origin and Diffusion of mtDNA Haplogroup X, Am J Hum Genet. 2003 November; 73(5): 1178–1190.

After All We Can Do? Part 2

Nephi says he saved by grace after all they can do in reference to why they bothered keeping the law of Moses knowing full well that it did not save but Christ saves by grace alone. But Nephi said after all he could do meaning they kept the law of Moses even though it was dead to them until the time works would be done away.

2 Nephi 22:23-27
23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. 24 And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled. 25 For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments. 26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins. 27 Wherefore, we speak concerning the law that our children may know the deadness of the law; and they, by knowing the deadness of the law, may look forward unto that life which is in Christ, and know for what end the law was given. And after the law is fulfilled in Christ, that they need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away (ie works done away).

The LDS church do not believe that we can contribute one iota to our salvation. God saves us by grace alone. But after salvation, we still need to be sanctified. So, LDS do works like baptism, reading scriptures, everlasting temple covenant, and prayer to better have opportunities to receive Christ's light, grace, spirit, and love and to point us better to Christ and to help us give our whole souls and surrender our whole wills to Him. To this end the spirit, and love of Christ sanctifies us, changes our sin nature, purges us from sin, purifies us like silver, and completely turns us away from sin.

These works are not of man but of God, like the temple was said to have been built of God and not man because God does not dwell in temples made with hands. But God dwelt in Solomons temple. And that is because God inspired and empowered its construction. In the same way the Holy Ghost empowers us to sanctifying works because no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. And without the Holy Ghost and the love of Christ in receiving these works they are dead and of no worth. There is no guarantee that if someone is baptized and reads scriptures and prays that they will receive Eternal Life if the Holy Ghost and the Love of Christ is not in them. They are just going through the motions but not allowing the works of God to change them, which is the whole purpose.

Yes, we need to receive all the works of God because they are designed for our sanctification. But we only can receive them by the empowerment of the Holy Ghost. And we must fully receive the Holy Ghost who was sent by Christ. To continue in the Holy Ghost and the grace of Christ you have to continue to choose to follow the Holy Ghost. Christ says that we must receive him who he has sent.

John 13: 20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

Once you accept Christ the Holy Ghost will work within you to empower/persuade/entice you to sanctifying works and changing your sin nature, turning you away from sin, and purifying you like silver by filling you with the love/light/power/spirit/grace of Christ. Christ nor the Holy Ghost will force/coerce you. You still must continue to exercise you free will, and moral agency to choose Christ in every decision. Whereas you had no choice before to choose good, now with the Holy Ghost you now have a choice and can choose rightly.

2 Ne. 2: 16 Wherefore, the Lord God gave unto man that he should act for himself. Wherefore, man could not act for himself save it should be that he was enticed by the one or the other.

LDS know that we could do no good unless Christ enticed us by His spirit to do good. It is impossible to choose good without Christ. He gives us the choice without which there would be no choice but death and hell.

2 Nephi 9:7-9 Wherefore, it must needs be an infinite atonement—save it should be an infinite atonement this corruption could not put on incorruption. Wherefore, the first judgment which came upon man must needs have remained to an endless duration. And if so, this flesh must have laid down to rot and to crumble to its mother earth, to rise no more. O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more. And our spirits must have become like unto him, and we become devils, angels to a devil, to be shut out from the presence of our God, and to remain with the father of lies, in misery, like unto himself;

Christ has bought and paid for your soul and now you must deliver the goods and give God your whole self, surrendering your total will, and deny yourselves of all sin and keep nothing back. You won't be perfect at all at this, and the Holy Ghost will remain with you either persuading you by power or by guilt. The Holy Ghost has operation in you not on your merits but the merits of Christ imputed to you by your justification in Him. But we must continue in the path of sanctification and in the grace of Christ to the end. As Paul said, we must finish the course, keep the faith, and endure to the end. Therefore it is possible to fall from grace and loose the spirit. Guilt is still the workings of the spirit. It is when we no longer feel remorse, guilt, or sorrow for sin that the spirit has ceased to strive with us.

Gen. 6:3 And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man

LDS recognize that it is God that empowers to good choices and good works. Accepting Christ is only the first of many good choices we can make. God has given us sanctifying works that the Holy Ghost will empower us to receive. The church like the Holy Ghost is working to entice/empower/persuade us to receive all the sanctifying works of God. If we do not receive them and do not repent I can't say if a person has fallen from grace. That is for God to judge, but eventually every person will have to receive every word that has proceeded forth from the mouth of God.

And we will have the Millennium to complete our path of sanctification. But only those who are on the path already will endure His coming or be resurrected in the first resurrection and be allotted that time to continue in sanctification with Christ. Because no unclean thing can enter into Gods presence after the Millennium when the Earth becomes Celestialized (a sea of glass mingled with fire). Eventually, the grace of Christ will have the power to literally perfect us just as Christ invited us to be perfect as He and His Father are perfect.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Co-Eternal Spirit and Purchased Possession

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught in the King Follett Discourse that our spirits have always existed. Our spirits together with their inherent characteristic of will are co-existent with God and are without beginning or end. Will is essential characteristic of existence. While we possessed will, we were not free. There is a difference between will (the ability to choose) and agency or freedom (choices). While we possess will, without Christ, we would have had no choice but death and hell. Through Christ we can choose righteousness and eternal life.

D&C 93:29-30 Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. All truth is independent in that sphere in which God has placed it, to act for itself, as all intelligence also; otherwise there is no existence.

Abr. 3: 22 Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the intelligences that were organized (not created ex nihilo) before the world was; and among all these there were many of the noble and great ones;

That the spirits and will of man are co-existent with God and therefore have always existed is why the only sacrifice acceptable to God is of a broken heart and contrite spirit or a willing heart and a willing mind. That is the only thing that God did not own and why the scriptures say that God bought or purchased us. Christ in the garden demonstrated the complete surrender of His will to the Father " nevertheless not my will but as thou wilt" (Matt. 26:39)

God has created all things both in heaven and earth. But creation means organized or formed like a builder builds a house or a potter molds clay. In this way we were created/organized children of God but not created from nothing (ex nihilo). God made us free but did not give us will. With Gods infinite foreknowledge, had God given us will that would be like giving a gun to to a known mass murderer. Instead, He gave us freedom and opportunity to exercise our will to choose righteousness.

God did not create Satan from nothing (ex nihilo) either, because then God would be responsible for creating a defective creation. But God calls us purchased possessions. In fact Paul warned that false teachers would enter in the church and deny that God purchased us. Some are confused about what was purchased or bought and what was the price and how was payment made (Acts 20:28, Eph. 1:14, 1 Cor. 6:20, 1 Cor. 7:23)

2 Pet. 2: 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.

Our souls including our will are the purchased possession. This is the only thing that God did not own and why God says the worth of souls is great (D&C 18:10). God did not buy sin; that was the price. The price of our souls is the consequences of sin or death and hell. What need would God have with sin, death or hell. Sin has no current or future value. Instead, we are God's purchased possessions. And while worthless in our current state, through Christ, we can be adopted children of God and can be made like God, making the potential worth of man infinite. The payment was done by the blood and body of Christs atonement (Acts 20:28).

God is eternal and has no beginning and no end. God created all things and organized the spirits of man as His children. But if man was created from nothing (ex nihilo) because the opposite of created is eternal, then man, a created being, could never become eternal and receive eternal life.

We own our own souls which are self-existent and co-eternal with God. Therefore we can sin and lose ourselves to the penalties of death and hell (Mark 8:36–37). We can hire ourselves out, receiving the wages from that spirit we listeth to obey (Alma 3:27, Mosiah 2:33), and sell ourselves for naught (1 Ne. 21:4). But God has said, in his mercy and by His grace He has redeemed and purchased us by paying us the price of sin by Christ's blood therefore we are no longer our own but are purchased possessions. The purchased price goes to us in exchange for our souls. This is a free gift.

We are the ones who will judge ourselves and send ourselves to hell. Justice is our own perfect recollection of all our guilt and our uncleanliness before God, and our broken promises to God. Justice will exists in our minds and will demand payment when the veil is lifted from our minds at the final judgement. God pays the demands of justice which we will exact upon ourselves. God is merciful and will be our advocate and not mention our sins to us. But we will. {Secret: we grade our own exams}

We then are expected to surrender our entire will to God in this world and hold nothing back. We do this by repentance and entering into the process of sanctification in Christ who will save us from our sins and not in our sins. Because no unclean thing can enter into the presence of God. The process of sanctification will continue in the Millennium.

We are promised to be glorified with Christ, become heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ and receive all things. These are the sheep who will be with Christ on the right hand of God. These are they who will be considered children of God who will go on to exaltation to sit with Christ in His thrown.

On the other hand, those who accept the the blood of Christ but are not sanctified and purified because although they accept payment they do not fully give their whole souls to God but retain some back. They do not sell all they have, or like Ananias and Sapphira who "kept back a part of the price." These are the goats who will be on the left hand of God. They will be saved from hell but will be ministering servants (angels) and circle the throne of God but will not sit in Christ's throne with Him. They will not be heirs of exaltation. There will be saved beings who do not go to Hell but are damned and cannot enjoy eternal progression and exaltation. Angels will forever be with God, but will not be like God.

Gal. 4: 7 Wherefore thou art no more a servant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.

Heb 1:3-4 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

So, while all mankind has been purchased, the question remains; will we give God everything that He is due. Will we come unto God with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, a willing heart and willing mind and our whole souls for which He has already bought and paid for with the body and blood of His Son.

Omni 1:26 And now, my beloved brethren, I would that ye should come unto Christ, who is the Holy One of Israel, and partake of his salvation, and the power of his redemption. Yea, come unto him, and offer your whole souls as an offering unto him, and continue in fasting and praying, and endure to the end; and as the Lord liveth ye will be saved.

Mosiah 2:21 I say unto you that if ye should serve him who has created you from the beginning, and is preserving you from day to day, by lending you breath, that ye may live and move and do according to your own will, and even supporting you from one moment to another—I say, if ye should serve him with all your whole souls yet ye would be unprofitable servants.

"I have another subject to dwell upon, which is calculated to exalt man; but it is impossible for me to say much on this subject. I shall therefore just touch upon it, for time will not permit me to say all. It is associated with the subject of the resurrection of the dead—namely, the soul—the mind of man —the immortal spirit. Where did it come from? All learned men and doctors of divinity say that God created it in the beginning; but it is not so: the very idea lessens man in my estimation. I do not believe the doctrine; I know better. Hear it, all ye ends of the world; for God has told me so; and if you don’t believe me, it will not make the truth without effect. I will make a man appear a fool before I get through; if he does not believe it. I am going to tell of things more noble.

We say that God Himself is a self-existing being. Who told you so? It is correct enough; but how did it get into your heads? Who told you that man did not exist in like manner upon the same principles? Man does exist upon the same principles. God made a tabernacle and put a spirit into it, and it became a living soul. (Refers to the Bible.) How does it read in the Hebrew? It does not say in the Hebrew that God created the spirit of man. It says, “God made man out of the earth and put into him Adam’s spirit, and so became a living body.”

The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is co-equal [co-eternal] with God himself. I know that my testimony is true; hence, when I talk to these mourners, what have they lost? Their relatives and friends are only separated from their bodies for a short season: their spirits which existed with God have left the tabernacle of clay only for a little moment, as it were; and they now exist in a place where they converse together the same as we do on the earth. I am dwelling on the immortality of the spirit of man. Is it logical to say that the intelligence of spirits is immortal, and yet that it has a beginning? The intelligence of spirits had no beginning, neither will it have an end. That is good logic. That which has a beginning may have an end. There never was a time when there were not spirits; for they are co-equal [co-eternal] with our Father in heaven."
[The King Follett Sermon By Joseph Smith, Jr. (1805–1844)]

These temples are sacred structures in which eternal questions are answered, truths are taught, and ordinances performed so that we can live with an understanding of our divine inheritance as children of God and with an awareness of our potential as eternal beings. The house of the Lord helps you to see the end from the beginning. Just as the temples of God are sacred, so are your temporal bodies. The Apostle Paul said: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19–20).
[Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “See the End from the Beginning,” Ensign, May 2006, 42–45]

I am indebted to President Boyd K. Packer, who made us aware of the fact that the term free agency appears nowhere in holy writ. Instead, the scriptures generally speak of agency or free will (Mosiah 18:28, D&C 58: 27), but when agency is modified, it is referred to as “moral agency” (D&C 101:78). . . . This wonderful plan of happiness was provided at a very high price. As the Apostle Paul taught the Corinthians: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price” (1 Cor. 6:19–20). That price, of course, was the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, (D&C 19:16–19).
[Spencer J. Condie, “Agency: The Gift of Choices,” Ensign, Sep 1995, 16]

You have agency, and you are free to choose. But there is actually no free agency. Agency has its price. You have to pay the consequences of your choices. Human agency was purchased with the price of Christ’s suffering. The power of Christ’s Atonement overcomes the effect of sin on the condition of wholehearted repentance. Through and by the Savior’s universal and infinite Atonement, all have been redeemed from the Fall and have become free forever to act for themselves (2 Ne. 2:26).
[Dieter F. Uchtdorf, “On the Wings of Eagles,” Ensign, Jul 2006, 10–15]

My beloved brothers and sisters, I invite you to join with me in a prayer that we may enjoy the Spirit of the Lord while I attempt to say a few things about the worth of a soul (D&C 18:10–11) . . . . In origin, man is a son of God. The spirits of men “are begotten sons and daughters unto God” (D&C 76:24). Through that birth process, self-existing intelligence was organized into individual spirit beings. . . . It is in the attainment of eternal life, which man must earn in mortality, that he reaches his full potentiality. Man, being a child of God—who himself is a glorified, resurrected, immortal soul, enjoying eternal life—has, in harmony with the universal law of nature, the potentiality to reach, in full maturity, the high status of his Heavenly Father. John was alluding to this truth when he wrote, “We [are] the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 Jn. 3:2). . . . In comparison to eternal life, all else sinks into insignificance. For, as Jesus said: “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Mark 8:36–37.)
[Marion G. Romney, “The Worth of Souls,” Ensign, Nov 1978, 13]

Friday, June 20, 2008

Tithing and the LDS Mall and City Creek Center Project

Since the unveiling of the LDS Church's plan for the downtown Salt Lake Crossroads Mall project (City Creek Center), there has been some vocal complaining. Some feel like the church shouldn't be involved in these kinds of projects. Others feel like the money for such extravagant projects could be put to better use helping the poor. Not that they have any idea how to help the poor, but this kind of thing ain't it, according to them. The LDS church should start a soup kitchen, women's shelter or have a van that passes out hygiene kits. That is helping the poor, not extravagant shopping mall with a retractable roof (nice touch; to bad Gateway didn't think of that). While shelters and soup kitchens are great ideas and Salt Lake has those programs, and I have personally participated in them, I think the complaints against the new City Creek Center are based on some unfortunate misunderstandings.

First off, no tithing dollars are being used for the City Creek Center. This Downtown revitalization project is being funded by Property Reserve which is the LDS church's commercial real-estate arm. This company functions like the LDS Foundation which gets its money from the profits from church associated companies like Bonneville Communications and Beneficial Life as well as dividends and interest from other investments. LDS subsidiaries like Property Reserve and the LDS Foundation are used to maintain the churches non-profit status by using earnings from investments to contribute to the local community.

Many donations are made to local charities by the LDS Foundation in addition to the Corporation of the First Presidency or Cooperation of the Presiding Bishopric which run the church's welfare and humanitarian aid programs. The problem with the LDS church is that it is managed well. The church invests its tithing money very conservatively. However, invested money earns interest. So, to maintain the church's tax-exempt status, subsidiaries like the LDS Foundation use those earnings to give to support local soup kitchens, women's shelters, and even in several instances has contributed to repair fire-damaged or time-worn churches of other denominations in the Salt Lake City area. LDS Foundation donations are not reported in conference. Like the LDS Foundation, Property Reserve uses earnings obtained by being major shareholders in several businesses. This money represents earnings from dividends and interest on investments but it is not the tithing itself. Also, the LDS church does not feel a need to set up competing programs in the community. If there is a program that works, the LDS church is happy to fund it and support it instead of competing against it.

The City Creek Center and other downtown revitalization projects are a great service to Salt Lake City. Crossroads mall was not built to any kind of seismic code. The entire mall and parking structure would have collapsed in even a moderate earthquake. Salt Lake couldn't find any investors or developers who were willing to touch this project with a 10-foot pole. So, the city does what it always does when it gets into a financial pinch and turns to the LDS church for a bail out. And the LDS church comes through in a spectacular way. Crossroads was such a disaster that the church just demolished the entire mall and parking deck and needed to start from scratch. However, because the church is doing such an excellent job, they were able to attract Taubman Centers, Inc. as a partner-owner in the project. Taubman Centers, Inc is the #1 upscale mall owner-development company in the United States. This mall project is a benevolent action on the part of the LDS church that will create jobs and improve the image of downtown Salt Lake and support increased commerce and tourism. The increased residential space downtown will also support those who wish to live and work in close proximity saving money on the increasing costs of gasoline and transportation.

That said, there is another major and even more fundamental misunderstanding at work here involving the purpose of tithing. The purpose of tithing is not to feed or assist the poor. Tithing is to be used to build the kingdom of God. It is wrong to think that just because you pay your tithing, that you no longer have responsibility to care for the poor and needy. Tithing is Gods money and is used specifically for building the Kingdom of God and is not to be "double-counted" as providing for the poor. Tithing is used to build temples and churches worldwide and maintain buildings and church programs. For this precise reason, the LDS church collects a fast offering, in addition to tithing, which is used to fund local, church-wide welfare and worldwide humanitarian aid programs. These programs are overseen by the Corporation of the First Presidency and the Corporation of the Presiding Bishop. Sometimes it can be easy to be generous with Gods money then your own money.

Above giving tithing and a generous fast offering, LDS members are encouraged to join local service organizations like their local Rotary or Kiwanis Clubs and donate money and time to local and worldwide service projects. The Rotary Club in Salt Lake operates an extensive child reading and tutoring program and worldwide they are building wells, and building grain mills so that young women don't have to spend all day grinding grain by hand. By employing such simple technology like a grain mill, it allows young women who used to spend all day grinding grain by hand, the time to attend school. The Rotary Club also sponsors a vaccination program with the goal to eradicate polio by 2010. Programs sponsored by private organizations like the Rotary Club are needed because many countries will allow programs sponsored by the Rotary organization while they do not allow government or religious group sponsored programs.

Again, feeding the poor is not the purpose of tithing. Tithing is to build the kingdom. It is our responsibility to feed the poor with our own money and not Gods money. Sounds like some are generous with Gods money which they hope will cover their responsibility for the poor. That is just like many liberals who when asked if they help the poor say they pay taxes and think that that should suffice and that It is the governments job to help the poor. Yes, the government has an obligation to alleviate suffering, and churches generally are more efficient than the government at helping the poor. But, that is what fast offering is for and not tithing. However, no one does a better job at helping the poor than families, neighbors, and individuals.

Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in My house.

Some critics quote Malachi to support the idea that tithing is to be used to feed the poor. However, they do not understand that God does not need literal food in His house which is the Temple. The food spoken of in Malachi 3 is not edible food. This verse is speaking figuratively for resources for Gods temples to be built. And that is why LDS church members pay offerings on top of a full tithing. Tithing does not get us out of our responsibility to care for the poor. I know many would like to "double dip" and use tithing and taxes to satisfy their "rich guilt." This is why on top of paying tithing the Early Christians lived "with all things in common." That is, they lived the law of consecration. Tithing alone was not enough to care for the poor. Tithing is to build the kingdom. Everything else you have is to care for the poor. Remember that Christ told the the rich young man to sell everything he had, not just 10% and give it to the poor and come and follow Him.

Matt. 19: 21 (Mark 10: 21) Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.

Finally, in accordance with Malachi 3, tithing money is used precisely to build and support the house of God. "My house" in Malachi 3 is referring to the temple. And the LDS church uses its tithing to build temples all over the world making the everlasting temple covenants and sealings available to all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples. The temple more than any other program serves to empower people to pull themselves out of poverty. The temple breaks the poverty cycle. To be worthy to enter the temple one must forsake the destructive societal plagues of promiscuity, substance abuse, and dishonesty.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Book of Mormon and Melanin

God doesn't care about skin color. The Book of Mormon Jacob told his people to not look down on the Lamanites because of their skin color. The darker skin was just a mark that the Nephites associated with the curse. It was not the curse itself.

Jacob 3:9 Wherefore, a commandment I give unto you, which is the word of God, that ye revile no more against them because of the darkness of their skins; neither shall ye revile against them because of their filthiness; but ye shall remember your own filthiness, and remember that their filthiness came because of their fathers.

What was the curse of Cain, or Ham, and Laman and Lemuel? It was that Cain, Ham, Laman and Lemuel not only rejected the gospel of Jesus Christ, but they also rejected civilization and became superstitious hunting-gathering savages. I mean if everyone came from Adam and Eve, and Adam and Eve were blessed with knowledge of advanced civilization, somewhere down the line someone had to reject civilization and become the aboriginals of Africa, Australia, and America, etc. The curse which is passed on to children is that the children will not have the same opportunity as the the parents to accept or reject Christ. The curse is the inequality of opportunity caused by the sins of the parent and lack of education of the children.

The Book of Mormon deals as a major theme how to overcome the curse of inequality with the institution of agriculture, literacy, industry, free trade, missionary work, freedom of religion, and elected government. Through these steps the Lamanites were convinced of the incorrectness of the traditions of their parents and were converted to Christ. These same Lamanites were praised in the Book of Mormon for being more faithful, more steadfast, and more zealous in their devotion to Christ than the Nephites. There is nothing in the Book of Mormon which says that people with Black Skin are less in the eyes of God but the Book of Mormon says that God is no respecter of persons.

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

Let me give you a great example of what I mean. My Dad is a member of his local Rotary Club. He was telling me that the Rotary Club has begun a new program building and supplying grain mills to third-world countries. It wasn't enough just to teach these people how to grow grain, because these cultures placed the responsibility of grinding the grain on the young women. Using mortar and pistil, it would take all day to grind all the grain needed to feed the family. Consequently, these young women didn't have time to learn to read or attend school. So, now with grain mills, young women for the first time could attend school and learn to read. By reading people are able to be exposed to new and elevated ways of thinking and they are convinced to the incorrectness of their traditions passed to them from their parents and are empowered to pull themselves up out of and break the cycle of poverty.

Tribute to the Faithfulness of the Lamanites
Alma 23: 6 And as sure as the Lord liveth, so sure as many as believed, or as many as were brought to the knowledge of the truth, through the preaching of Ammon and his brethren, according to the spirit of revelation and of prophecy, and the power of God working miracles in them—yea, I say unto you, as the Lord liveth, as many of the Lamanites as believed in their preaching, and were converted unto the Lord, never did fall away.

Alma 27: 27 And they were among the people of Nephi, and also numbered among the people who were of the church of God. And they were also distinguished for their zeal towards God, and also towards men; for they were perfectly honest and upright in all things; and they were firm in the faith of Christ, even unto the end.

Hel. 15: 8 (5-16) Therefore, as many as have come to this, ye know of yourselves are firm and steadfast in the faith, and in the thing wherewith they have been made free.

3 Ne. 6: 14 the church was broken up in all the land save it were among a few of the Lamanites who were converted unto the true faith; and they would not depart from it, for they were firm, and steadfast, and immovable, willing with all diligence to keep the commandments of the Lord.

Latter-Day Temples and the Tribulation

Ezekiel 37 and Isaiah 2 have powerful revelations about the restoration of the Latter-day temple. Ezekiel says that when Israel is restored (church and kingdom of God after an Apostasy as well as a later literal restoration of the Jews to Israel), God will build His sanctuary and tabernacle among them. But this temple is not a Law of Moses temple because Ezekiel says that the temple will administer the everlasting covenant. But the Law of Moses was not everlasting but only preparatory. So, the sanctuary of Ezekiel and the mountain of the Lords house of Isaiah will be a temple after the order of Melchizedek and not Moses which will sanctify Israel (Christs church).

Ezek 37:26-28 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the Lord do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.

Heb. 7: 11 If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron?

Later in Ezekiel, the prophet describes a huge temple that is as big as a nation. Ezekiel is not seeing a temple in heaven but likely the temple of Enoch in the City of Zion. Remember the entire city of Zion was so righteous it was taken to Heaven like Elijah. There are no temples in heaven. All of heaven is holy and there doesn't need to be a special place set aside for God in heaven. The whole place is His house. But this vision reveals that the concept of the temple is scalable. It begins in the individual heart and then expands to a sacred and holy building and then a city, and then a holy nation, until it fills the whole Earth. John in Revelations sees the eventual Celestial Earth which he describes as a "sea of glass mingled with fire." John commented how he saw "no temple there." That is the goal that there be no temple, but that the whole Earth become a literal heaven on Earth. Remember that Christ promises the meek that they should inherit the Earth.

Rev. 21:22 And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it.

Daniel interpreting the dream of the King of Babylon saw the Great Idol with the head of gold, the shoulders of silver, the belly of bronze, the legs of iron and the feet of clay and iron. The head represented the Babylonian Empire, Silver are the Persians, Bronze are the Greeks, and Iron are the Romans. Then Daniel says that in the days of the kings represented by the clay and iron a kingdom would be established which will not be destroyed but will be everlasting. This last kingdom is not the church of Christ that Christ established during the days of the Roman Empire. Satan was given power to overcome that kingdom but not those righteous saints themselves who were the fruit of the Apostles labors.

Rev. 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Dan 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.

But, in the days of the European nations represented by the feet of clay and iron, will the Church of Christ be re-established and restored. It is the stone cut out of the mountain without hands which will strike the image in the feet and topple it and pulverize it to dust. Then that stone will grow until it becomes a great mountain (temple) and fills the whole Earth. The description of the mountain filling the whole Earth is a direct allusion to the temple which will grow and fill the whole Earth during the the Millennium. But the process will begin in this world in the Last Days and the days of the kings represented by the feet of iron and clay.

Just as the temple was central in both the New and Old Testament, the Latter-day Saints are also a temple building people. God says he does not dwell in temples built with hands. But LDS temples were and our build like the Temple of Solomon; by the direction of God. And we know that God and His presence dwelt in Solomon's temple.

Rev. 7: 2-3 And I saw another angel (Moroni) ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.

However, latter-day temples are not like Solomons temple. LDS temples are Christian and Melchizedek priesthood temples and they administer the everlasting covenant which is prophesied in (Ezek 37) and it is the sealing in the forehead (Rev 7:3)(Rev 9:4)by God in preparation for and protection from the tribulation (Rev 7:14)(Rev 9:4). These are the 144,000 in Revelation who are symbolic for the 10-thousand times 10-thousand (100 million+)(Rev 5:11) ordained kings and priests unto God (Rev 1:6)(Rev 5:10). They represent the 12,000 from every tribe which symbolizes that those sealed and ordained as kings and priests will be from every nation, kindred and tongue and people and not just from one tribe. Also, these priests do not offer their own sacrifice like the priests during the time of the Law of Moses (Heb 5). These priests represent Christ and administer Christ's infinite and final sacrifice to others as instruments in His hands.

Rev. 1: 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Rev. 5: 10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth

But no one taketh this honor except he be called as was Aaron (Heb 5:4). Accordingly, John sees that like Aaron, those who overcome and are sealed will partake of the tree of life (Rev 2:7), will be set apart as kings and priests, and will be washed and anointed, and clothed in white robes representing that they have been washed in the blood of Christ (Rev 3:5), they will be given a new name and take upon themselves the name of Christ (Rev 2:17)(Rev 3:12), and they will be made to sit in Gods throne with Him and receive all things (Rev 3:21)(Rev 21:7).

All worthy men and women are ordained and sealed in temples as priests and priestesses. In actual fact, LDS women are ordained to the priesthood as priestesses unto God. We just don't set them apart to the same offices in the priesthood which give them unnecessary responsibilities to preside in church which would take them out of the home. And the LDS don't just call doing nothing the the priesthood of all believers. We actually seal and ordain all the believers to the priesthood. And all worthy fathers lay hands on their wives and children and anoint the sick with oil, and baptize and confer the gift the Holy Ghost. Men and women officiate in the temple. And the women prophesy and have visions and dream dreams (Acts 2:17) and the men heal the sick and speak in tongues (other languages for the purposes of missionary work). And Christ will come and receive His people as the King of kings and the Lord of lords. And Christ will see eye to eye with His watchmen when the Lord brings again Zion (Isa 52:8).

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Purchased Possession

Someone asked me on what basis God deserves submission, obedience, worship and love if LDS Doctrine teaches that men have divine and infinite potential to become like Our Eternal Father, are "gods in embryo," or have had spirits/intelligence/will/essence that is co-existent with God and therefore are considered gods then and now. Gods cannot be created, they ARE or ARE NOT. Christ says that He is I AM THAT I AM.

Ps. 82: 6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

God deserves submission, obedience, worship, and love because he purchased us with the body and blood of His Son Jesus Christ. The concept that God purchased us is a HUGE concept. It has so many incredible and divine implications.

1 Cor. 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1 Cor. 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
2 Pet. 2: 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.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
Eph. 1:14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

All these verses suggest that our essence and will is our own and always existed as "gods in embryo" (John 10:34, Ps. 82:6) and while it is true that without God we are doomed to damnation, death, and outer darkness, God has purchased us by the flesh and blood of His Son. Had God created us "ex nihlo" or "from nothing" he would already own us and there would be no need to purchase us.

But this is why God is not responsible for the evil of Satan. Satan always existed as Lucifer. He was created a son of God, but rebelled (Eph. 3:15, Isa. 14:12, Rev. 12:7). Lucifer was not created "ex nihlo" or "from nothing" but the essence, spirit, intelligence, or will of Lucifer is co-existence with God and purchased by God. If God created Lucifer "from nothing" then He created a defective product and already owed Him from the start and is responsible for evil. But God is said to create as a builder builds a house, and a potter forms a pot from pre-existing materials.

Heb. 3:4 For every house is builded by some man; but he that built all things is God.
Isa. 64: 8 But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.
Rom. 9: 21 Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?

Man was not created gods, but were created sons and will be created into fathers like Our Eternal Father by the grace of Christ. That is why the worth of souls is so great in the eyes of God (D&C 18:10). Despite our nothingness without Him. Without God we are nothing, but with God and the grace of Christ we have the seeds of divinity within us.

Yes, Isaiah is correct. I context there are no other gods that will save Israel, or who reveals the end from the beginning. Only God the Father and Jesus Christ can save us. And there are not other gods formed before Our God because Our God has always existed and the spirits of men have always existed and are c0-existent with Our God. So, the souls of man were not created gods, but we were created sons of God. And though Christ we will be created fathers and join with God in the work of creation. But Our Eternal Father will always remain Our God, the Most High God (El Elyon).

Again, there is no other God who saves, but all men are considered gods. Christ verified the correct interpretation of Psalms 82:6 in John 10: 34 when he called himself the Son of God.

Psalms 82:6 I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High.

Here, God is telling the judges the worth of souls is great and God. But that without God we will die like men. But Our God, who is the Great Judge of judges considers even the afflicted and needy are of infinite worth in the eyes of God who the Great God of gods; the Most High God (El Elyon).

And God did not create "ex nihlo." If you believe that you believe in a being that is not taught in the Bible who built or organized both things visible and invisible (physical law) for operation in this universe like a man builds a house or a potter sculpts a pot. God organized all things from materials that have always existed and are co-existent with Him. If the opposite of created was eternal, or if created things could not become eternal things, than man who is created never could receive Eternal Life

Many Evangelicals want to believe that God is other. That He is not material or physical or tangible. That is exactly why we want to become more like God and came to Earth to get a body because by being tangible, we could interact and have power over the elements. God has all power and complete mastery over all the elements and laws of the universe. The laws of the universe mean death to us without Christ, but they mean Eternal Life with Christ and through Christ. God can manifest in time and space but is not confined by time or space. God is empowered by time and space. This has application in our personal life. Remember that commandments are directions and not limitations. But we need Christ to change our sin-nature and be empowered to keep the commandments.

Some Evangelicals want to believe in a God the created everything from nothing and is greater than everything. They don't like the idea that Our God could have a God and so forth. If that were so, they say, how could Our One God be Master over His God. That is applying human frailty to the equation. Our One God and His God are one in purpose as all Gods are. And Our God is co-eternal with Him. It is not a matter of who is on top. We are all trying to reach the same point of perfection. We need to stop thinking of perfection as a competition. This is not "King of the Mountain."

The truth that the the essense and will of man is his own and was co-existent with God but purchased by the blood and body of Christ is best illustrated in the Garden of Gethsemane at the point when Christ took upon Himself the sins of His people by the shedding of His blood. At that moment when Christ knew the infinite spiritual, emotional, and physical pain was upon Him, He demonstrates complete submission of His separate yet co-existent and co-eternal will to the will of the Eternal Father.

Matt. 26:39 And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt.

In conclusion, I must emphasize. Even with this belief that all men are "gods in embryo" and have divine potential. Our God will always be my God. Christ will always be my Savior. Although, the Bible says there is no such thing as becoming a god becasue all mankind even the poor and afflicted are gods in embryo and all are children of the Most High (Ps. 82: 6); without God who is Our Only Savior (Isaiah 44:10-11), we will die like men and fall like princes. But, through Christ, when God sanctify, perfects, and creates me like Himself --a spiritual father; then I will be empowered to participate in the work of creation with Him.

My friend asked if Our God still serves His God? All Gods are one in purpose. They do not need to be commanded in all things. Our God will always by my God and Christ will always be my Savior. Those who are exalted and obtain Eternal Life and not just saved as angels and ministering spirits, but will also be made agents, and created to act and not acted upon. Therefore, we will also be one in purpose with the Most High God and likewise will not need to be commanded in all things. Like Christ, Our God see a need and fulfill it before needing to be commanded.

D&C 58:26-28 For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward. 27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness; 28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves.

John 5: 19-20 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.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

LDS Doctrine Q & A

Is God body or spirit?
God has both a body and spirit and that is why we are commanded to worship God in spirit and in truth. God is spirit, but he is not a spirit only or not only a spirit. The only difference between purified, glorified, spirit matter and the purified, glorified physical matter that constitutes God's body is that it is tangible but being tangible does not confine God to time or space but gives Him power over time and space and other matter as He can literally interact with it.

Where was Christ born?
Christ was born in Bethlehem, a suburb of Jerusalem, but to a Nephite who didn't grow up in Jerusalem, answering Jerusalem was a more clear answer. If someone not from your home town asked where you were born, how would you answer?

Are genealogies scriptural?
LDS do not do genealogy to prove that we are more related to Abraham then someone else. We do genealogy to learn more about our faith heritage, more about ourselves, and so we can share the blessings of the restored gospel with those who came before us and whose legacy of faith created the psycho-social and spiritual environment where we could more easily receive Christ. (Mal. 4: 6) (1 Cor. 15: 29).

Is marriage eternal?
Angels are not married or given in marriage. That is because marriage is something that is only done on Earth during morality. So, the woman would have been married to the first man for time and all eternity by the keys of the kingdom given to Peter which is the authority that whatsoever is bound on Earth is also bound in heaven. This is the power that the Pharisees denied. The other 6 brothers had this woman as a second-wife under the law of Levarite marriage and the doctrine of the care for widows.

How long did darkness fall over the earth at Christ’s death?
3 days in the Americas could have been due to a pyroclastic flow from an erupting volcano. The air was so thick with ash that fire could not be started.

What does the Bible say about men, prophets or angels announcing another Gospel, as claimed by Joseph Smith?
The Book of Mormon teaches the same gospel of Jesus Christ as is contained in the Bible.

Did Melchizedek have a father?
The priesthood and spiritual authority of Melchizedek did not come from his father or mother but came from God while his temporal reign as king of Salem was passed down to him from His father. Melchizedek was a Christian and is a powerful type of Christ, but was not Christ Himself.

How old was Enoch when he was translated (taken up to heaven)?
The Bible gives different numbers for the same thing sometimes as well.

Should we believe those who say they have seen Christ in secret?
No you shouldn't. You should pray in secret and ask God yourself if this is true an let God tell you if it is true or not.

Is there more than one God?
In context of Isaiah, there is only One God who can save us. But the Bible says that God is a God of gods, and the Most High God (El Elyon). Describing men, God said, “I said, ye are gods, and sons of the Most High” All mankind are literal children of Our Father in Heaven and thus have the seeds of the divine within them; we are gods en embryo.

Is the use of King James’ English in the Book of Mormon logical?
Yes, because what makes JKV English sound distinct is its many Hebraisms. The Book of Mormon was written using Hebrew grammar together with reformed Egyptian Demotic-script instead of Paleo-Hebrew/Phoenecian. So, when the Book of Mormon was translated into English it retained many of the Hebraisms that give it the same distinctness as the KJV. Modern Bible translations focus on removing the Hebraic grammar in order to sound more modern.

Does the Book of Mormon plagiarize the Bible?
The same God who revealed the Bible, revealed the Book of Mormon. The Nephites had the Bible from Genesis to Jeremiah and referenced it continually like Christ referenced the Bible while on Earth.

Was God or Christ ever a man like we are?
God became a man in the same way Christ became a man but is still considered God from eternity to eternity.

When were followers of Christ first called "Christians"?
Adam, Enoch, Noah and Melchisedek were the first Christian's and received the everlasting covenant. Melchisedek presented broke bread and wine with Abraham symbolic of the Christian remembrance of Christ's blood and body sacrifice which would happen many centuries into the future.

When was the Book of Mormon's Book of Jacob written?
The use of "adieu" by Jacob represents that “adieu” was a part of the English language in 1830 and not a part of the Hebrew or Nephite language. English has many Latin and French words in it thanks to the Norman conquest of Great Britain.

Was Christ conceived by the Holy Spirit?
Jesus is the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father

Is the doctrine of the Virgin Birth consistent with actual sexual relations between God and Mary?
There is no official doctrine on this question except to say that Jesus is the Son of the Father and not the Holy Ghost. Orson Pratt and Bruce R. McConkie were of the opinion that the Christ was literally "begotten" of the Father requiring Mary to be married to God and then remarried to Joseph under the law of the widow (1 Tim 5). Again, this was only well-intentioned opinion.

How many will be condemned to Hell?
There will be few who go with Satan to Outer Darkness. There will be others who receive a degree of salvation and will have access to the Holy Ghost or Jesus Christ. Those who are exalted will live in the presence of the Eternal Father. All mankind the just and the unjust will be resurrected but there are different rewards in heaven based on our degree of the Love of Christ we received.

Do differences between Christian denominations require a new church?
The few offshoots of the LDS church are few and relatively small in number and like Protestant churches tended to break off due to a disagreement over one or another doctrine while sharing the vast majority of doctrines in common with one another.

Are additional scriptures required?
True Christians should accept every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God.

Do all believers have authority / hold the priesthood?
Yes, and that is why all LDS are literally ordained as priests in LDS temples as was Aaron. Men and women are washed, anointed, clothes in priesthood robes. When Christ comes again he will come as King of kings and Lord of lords to receive the 144000 which represents an innumerable quantity of persons, 12000 from every tribe representing that priests in the last days will not just be from Levi or Aaron but from every kindred, tongue and people.

Was the Gospel fully preached before Mormonism?
Yes, until it was rejected and corrupted by mixing it with Greek philosophy and doctrinal creeds were established by 5/4 committee votes and not by unifying revelation.

Are the Father and Son one?
Yes, in purpose.

Was polygamy tolerated by God after the Old Testament?
Yes, Moses said in Exodus 21 if a man taketh another wife that she should not deny the first her food, clothing and duty of marriage. In the Law of Moses, Levarite marriage was commanded in which an older brother would take his deceases younger brothers wife as a second-wife if he died and hadn't had any children yet. Abraham and Jacob had multiples wives and it was counted unto them for righteousness because it was done to raise up a righteous posterity or to take care of widows which Paul speaks of in 1 Tim 5. Those Elders who take widows as second wives who are told by Paul to remarry and have children deserve double honor. But Bishops should generally be the husband of only one wife so they have extra time to care for the business of the church.

Does Doctrine & Covenants contain fulfilled prophesies?
The Doctrine and Covenants predicts the start of the Civil War “At the rebellion of South Carolina” … the Southern States will call on other nations, even the nation of Great Britain … and then war shall be poured out upon all nations … And … slaves shall rise up against their masters … and that the remnants … shall vex the Gentiles with a sore vexation." (Doctrine and Covenants 87:1-5).

Is Adam our God?
LDS refer to Our Heavenly Father as Elohim and the Son as Jesus Christ, and Adam who is known as Michael the Archangel. So, if Adam is Michael, he cannot be the same person as who we call Elohim.

Does Christ dwell in the hearts of believers?
Christ dwells in our hearts by the Holy Ghost

Are sincere, last-minute conversions honored by God?
Death-bed repentance will result in salvation from Outer Darkness (hell) but not exaltation.

Is Christ the brother of Lucifer?
Lucifer is a fallen-angel who is of the same stature as Michael the Archangel. But Christ is God. All men and angels are considered sons and daughters of the Eternal Father according to the following

Eph. 3: 14-15 For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.

Are personal efforts necessary for salvation?
We are saved by grace alone 100% But we are sanctified by works prepared by God such as baptism, prayer, priesthood, scripture, church organization, everlasting temple covenant, marriage, sacrament. None of these works can men do without God. Man cannot contribute even one iota to his salvation or sanctification. But man receives the Holy Ghost which empowers a man to receive all these things which results in a greater reception of Christ's grace, love, and grace. All the things listed are works which the Bible says will sanctify, purify or perfect. It is God who does these works through us who serve as instruments in God's hand and serve as witness to the power of Christ's atonement which not only has the power to cover and hide sin under the rug, but also has the power to purge us, and turn us completely away from sin in this world. This is why Paul says the Lord does not dwell in buildings made with mens hands. But we know the Lord and His presence dwelt in the Jerusalem Temple. So that must mean that God built that temple using men as instruments in his hands.

Should I allow Mormon missionaries into my home?

John 13: 20 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.

Monday, June 09, 2008

"After All We Can Do?"

LDS believe we are saved by grace 100% but we also believe that no unclean thing can dwell in the prescence of God. So it is not enough that our sins are covered or swept under the rug. They have to be paid for, and then they have to be pruged from our souls. Our sin-nature has to be changed. We have to become new creatures because although Christ's atonement will pay for past sins, we must get to the point were we no longer sin going forward. So, by Christ's atonement, our past sins are paid for. Christ's righteousness is imputed to us, and our past sins are not mentioned or remembered and we are admitted into the presence of God. But then what. If our sin-natures have never been changed, then what is going to prevent us from sinning in the presence of God after getting into heaven. We must be quickened in the inner man and we must be changed. And it is the spirit, light, love, and grace of Jesus CHrist which changes and quickens us.

Christ promised to save us from our sins and not just in our sins (Rev. 1:5). It is not enough that we are clensed from sin, and freed from the consequnces of sin only. The good news of the gospel is that God is also powerful enough to turn us away from sin completely.

Matt. 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

But when does this process of quickening and sanctification begin? It begins at the moment we have accepted Christ as our Savior. See it is the Holy Ghost which quickens and changes us, and sanctifies us. But just like no unclean thing can enter into the Kingdom of God, the Holy Ghost cannot enter into unholy temples. Or in other words, we cannot recieve the Holy Ghost if we are unclean. But all men are unclean. So how do we merit the Holy Ghost? We don't merit it. Christ merits it for us. Therefore, we recieve it through the merits of Christ Jesus who justifies us in the eyes of God and the Holy Ghost. But we don't receive all the light, glory, grace, and love of Christ all at once. Justification is just the beginning.

So, sanctification is a process. And as part of the program of sanctification God has said that He Himself has established certain institutions (using us as intruments in his hands) to bring about our eventual sanctification. And by receiving these things, we will be empowered to recieve more light, grace, spirit, and love of Christ until the perfect day. I have gone through the Bible and listed several "works" God has established for our sanctificatoin and perfection. In recieving them, it is not that we contribute one iota to our own salvation. It is God who is working through us and we are just witnesses to the application of Christ's atonement in our lives. WE are eye-witnesses to the power of Christ's atonement as we see ourselves change, our desires purified, our sin-natures destroyed as we recieve them. But again, it is not us doing it. We submit ourselves to God and the influence of the Holy Ghost.

Holy Ghost (Rom. 15:16)
Baptism (John 3:5)
Sacrament (1 Cor 11:24)
Prayer in Adversity (James 1:4)
Scriptures (2 Tim. 3:16-17)
Organization of the Church (Eph. 4:11-12)
Preisthood (Heb 5:8-9)
Everalasting Temple Covenant (Ezek 37:26-28)
Marriage (Eph 5:25-27)
Love of Christ (1 Jn. 4:17)

Now, we will not reach literal perfection in this world. But we still have the Millennium to complete the process of sanctification. And it doesnt really matter where on the path of grace and sanctification we are. It only matters that we are on it. And if we are when we die then our calling and election is made sure. But, because it is possible to fall from grace, we need to keep the faith, and finish the course like Paul.

The LDS church does not claim that man can contribute even one iota to our salvation. What the scripture means "we are saved by grace after all we can do" in context of the Book of Mormon means that we are saved by grace even after all the works God works in us for our sanctification as instruments in His hands.

Remember the words of Ammon and the sons of Mosiah who went on a mission to the Lamanites. They spoke in humility and wonderment about God who choose to send an angel to save them as they went about trying to destroy His church. They knew they deserved eternal punishment. But God had given them hope of Eternal Life in Christ. So, they gloried not in themselves, but they gloried in God. And they talked about their sucess with the Lamanites. But it wasn't due to their efforts, but 100% by the power and grace of God. And they likened their missionary success with their ability to be changed and repent and turn away from sin. And they gave God 100% of the glory.

So, someone claims that "after all we can do" means that man can contribute one iota to his own salvation, that is taking it out of context. I admit, I have heard people not really articulate it correctly, and I have always corrected them. And it may seem that the LDS church teaches works, but that is just a misunderstanding of our focus on faith in Jesus CHrist but also on repentance and sanctification ("perfecting the Saints" is one of the 3 missions of the church). But we receive all the ordinances and do all that we do in the name of Jesus Christ becasue we know that it is God working in us by the Holy Ghost, and it is by virtue of Christ's grace that any of what we do is possible.

The Doctrine and Covenants teaches, "In the ordinaces is the power of God manifest." because they are only recieved by the empowerment of the Holy Ghost. Also, every member of the LDS church when they recieve the laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost are commended to "Recieve the Holy Ghost" because it is only by the empowerment of the Holy Ghost that any sanctificatoin is possible. And if someone were to just "go-through-the-motions" like baptism, or marriage, or priesthood, without Christ and His Spirit, the Doctrine and Covenants says "Amen to the power and authority of that man." Amen to His marriage without the Holy Spirit of Promise, Amen to your salvation. None of the "works" of the LDS church do anything without Christ and His light, grace, spirit, and love.

There is another misunderstanding about the phrase "After all we can do." Most people try to interpret it out of context. It says in context:

2 Ne. 25:23-24 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.

The "after all we can do" was making reference to keeping the Law of Moses only. Nephi knew that salvation did not come by the Law of Moses, but salvation came by the grace of Christ, and the "after all we can do" part was only in reference to observing the Law of Moses until Christ would come and deliver the everlasthing covenant. So, it was only in the sense that he would observe the Law of Moses out of love and obedience to Christ. But, Nephi knew it didn't save, and that only Christ saves.

Abinidi taught the same. Abinidi asked "Doth salvation come by the law of Moses? What say ye?" (Mosiah 12:31-32). But then he taught:

Mosiah 13:27 And now ye have said that salvation cometh by the law of Moses. I say unto you that it is expedient that ye should keep the law of Moses as yet; but I say unto you, that the time shall come when it shall no more be expedient to keep the law of Moses.

Mosiah 15:1,7-8 And now Abinadi said unto them: I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. . . Yea, even so he shall be led, crucified, and slain, the flesh becoming subject even unto death, the will of the Son being swallowed up in the will of the Father. And thus God breaketh the bands of death, having gained the victory over death; giving the Son power to make intercession for the children of men

Mosiah 16:14-15 remember that only in and through Christ ye can be saved? Therefore, if ye teach the law of Moses, also teach that it is a shadow of those things which are to come—Teach them that redemption cometh through Christ the Lord, who is the very Eternal Father. Amen.

But, what about baptism? Baptism is a physical work. So, how can a physical work be necessary for salvation if it's Christ alone who saves. Baptism is necessary because Christ instituted baptism as the means that we recieve Him and open ourselves up to allow God to sanctifies us. And sanctification is required to dwell in the presence of God.

There is another example in the scriptures which illustrates this concept. God says he doesn't dwell in temples made with hands. But He and His prescence was in the Jerusalem Temple, yet it was a physical object. The Jerusalem Temple was not built by man's inspiration, but was inspired by God. Israel was only empowered to build it, and set it aside as Holy by the hand and grace of God alone. Similarly, God will make bare his arm in the Last Days and will rebuild His temple. And the temple is scaleable, and starts in the soul and then extends to a holy building, then a holy city, then a holy nation, and then the Earth itself until there is literal Heaven on Earth and there is no more temple. It is the stone cut out of the mountain "without hands" that became a "great mountain" (temple) and will fill the whole Earth. So, in the same way God can build a house to himself using men as instruments in His hands, God can empower men to be baptized, but it is God who is doing it.