Monday, June 29, 2009

Grace Period

We know from the New Testament and the Book of Mormon that the Law of Moses was given to point to us to Christ. Everything in the Law of Moses in one way or another symbolized or typified some aspect of the life and gospel of Jesus Christ. Additionally, the Law of Moses was our schoolmaster that taught man our unworthiness before God and our need for a Savior. Despite this understanding however, I think many Christians misunderstand just what it was exactly that the Law of Moses was teaching.

Paul in the New Testament reminds us that the Law brought death while the gospel of Christ promised grace. Now many Christians interpret this incorrectly. Many Christians would say that the Law of Moses promises death because it is impossible for man to keep all the commandments. Therefore, we need Christ who promises to overlook justice and our sins through His grace. While that is partially true, I think it is incorrect to believe that God could never overcome our flesh and eventually empower us to keep His commandments. The Book of Mormon promises us that God gives no commandments unto men that He will not empower us to keep. This is a little different from some Evangelical understanding of the purpose of the Law of Moses that it was somehow given knowing that man could never keep it. I don't say this to deny that all men sin and need the mercy and grace of Christ.

So, How did the Law of Moses bring death and what is grace? Grace is not just about sweeping our sins under the rug or whitewashing sepulchers that are still filled with dead mens bones. The issue with the Law of Moses was not that it was so difficult to observe. Remember that the rich young man told Christ that he had kept the Law from his youth. The problem with the Law was that there were very many commandments that if broken required immediate punishment and in some cases immediate death. There was no mercy or grace period given in the law. If a person committed certain sins they were immediately killed end of story.

Conversely, the gospel of Christ promises mercy and grace. When I say grace, the Bible doesn't mean to say that God will turn a blind eye to your many sins. Grace doesn't mean that God doesn't really expect you to keep His commandments. But as the Book of Mormon clarifies, God will grant us a grace period, a time to repent, a probationary time when judgment and punishment is withheld allowing us time to learn how to obey, and prepare to meet and live with God. And we are promised that if we have real faith in the grace and power of Christs atonement that all our weaknesses can be made strengths and that we will be empowered to eventually overcome all our sins. This is the gift of a grace period and the power of the atonement of Christ.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Left Behind

I have started to read the "Left Behind" series by Tim LaHaye to get a better understanding of the Evangelical belief in the Last Days as well as salvation in general. What has really surprised me so far about the series is what I see as a major false dilemma that the author creates which serves as a basis for the story. In the book, the protagonist, Ray Steele goes to a local everyday denominational Christian church. Ray is an airline pilot and attends church weekly, considers himself a good person, but is not otherwise active and engaged in community service, sharing the gospel, or even studying the scriptures. The author sets Ray Steele to be the quintessential "lukewarm" Christian who will ultimately get left behind to face the "tribulation" after the true believers are taken up to heaven by the "rapture."

In contrast, Ray's wife supposedly begins attending a non-denominational Christian church which teaches the Bible and focuses only on the message of salvation. After Ray's wife acknowledges her sinfulness and receives Christ as her personal Savior, she is anxious for Ray to attend with her and become "saved" also. This urging by Rays' wife immediately starts friction in the marriage. According to the author, despite attending a Christian denominational church, the author seems to expect us to accept that Ray is having a difficult time accepting his own sinfulness and that a church has to be non-denominational to only teach the Bible and teach "salvation"

So, what is the false dilemma? It is difficult for me to accept that just because someone is baptist or methodist that they don't teach the Bible or salvation, or don't accept Christ or don't teach their people to confess their sinfulness. How does this apply to LDS doctrine? While LDS do not believe that mankind are intrinsically depraved because of our physicality. What LDS and the Book of Mormon as well as the Bible teach is that all men have fallen and are lost unless they humble themselves before God, and confess their unworthiness, and accept the grace of Jesus Christ. LDS are taught to pray multiple times a day and always retain a prayer in their heart. As part of each prayer, LDS are instructed to confess their sins and ask for forgiveness. Talking to my many denominational friends, their prayers reflect the same attitude of humility. Therefore, I don't really get the premise by the author that non-denomination churches somehow have a corner on the market on "salvation" or the salvation doctrine and are somehow superior.

That said, is confession of our unworthiness, the only thing that the LDS teach? No. In addition to the message of unworthiness and grace and salvation, LDS also teach that the atonement of Christ is power to overcome the flesh and sin. So, we teach the promise of God that if we come humbly to God and confess our weakness, he will make those weaknesses become strengths. LDS teach a message of repentance and sanctification that God will empower us to overcome our sins and live after the manner of happiness. If this focus on repentance by the grace and power of Christ is not another gospel but the promise of the everlasting covenant to perfect and sanctify and prepare us by the grace of Christ to stand worthily before God having our garments washed white in the blood of Christ.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Rescued by Grace and Not Works

Paul is translated as saying we are "saved by grace and not works". Yet Paul and the other Apostles go on to preach that believers should keep the commandments, care for widows and the fatherless, preach the gospel, be water baptized, and endure to the end. They also speak about how we will be judged and rewarded by our works in the future (Eph 2:8-9, Rom 3:20;28, Gal 2:16).

The thing here is how Evangelicals interpret "saved". Many evangelicals use this word to not only refer to a past event that proceeds to the present but that also proceeds forward eternally into the future. And this is where the grace and works argument comes in. Because if we interpret "saved" as referring to a future salvation than the teaching that future salvation by grace seems to contradict the future judgement and reward by works (that Christ does in us and through us).

But I realized today that the tense (passive perfect) and meaning of the word "saved" has changed dramatically. And to illustrate what I mean requires substituting the appropriate synonym "rescued" for "saved". Now read Paul and see if everything falls into place. "we are rescued by grace and not works." Using "rescued" in place of "saved" eliminates the tendency to want to extend the past event associated with our being born again by grace too far into the future such that it interferes with the teaching that we will be judged and rewarded according to the works we allow Christ to do in us.

So what does being "rescued by grace and not works" mean? Being rescued by grace is referring to our justification in Christ and means that when we were born in this world all of us due to the fallen nature of this world and the corruptible nature of the flesh are incapable of taking even one step towards God. Therefore, without the grace alone of Christ stretching out to rescue us, we would all have been doomed to becomes eternal servants of the devil. Nothing we could do on our own could change this. But because of the great mercy of God, He has reached out to snatch each one of us from the Jaws of Hell. Christ has knocked on our closed door and some of us have been blessed to recognize the knock of the Master and open our souls up to Him. Upon inviting Christ into out lives, Christs righteousness has been imputed to us so that the Holy Ghost can dwell with us. Now that we can enjoy the presence of the Holy Ghost by the Justification of Christ, the transformative power of the Holy Ghost promises to further change and sanctify us, and empower us to good works.

But we still sin. Why after feeling the love of Christ could we possibly turn to sin again? How could sin entice us at all after experiencing Christs love? The problem is that we forget. So God has given us many gifts or works through his church to help us remember Christ. So as we receive and allow the gifts and works of God, we experience the Holy Ghost and love of Christ stronger, we remember His love, and we are sanctified and strengthened against sin such that we lose desire for sin and gain a greater desire for righteousness.

And through these gifts and good works, covenants and ordinances and service to God and our fellow man that we are empowered to receive, they become a manifestation of Christs grace working in us and will be the basis for our future reward when we stand before God to be judged. But had Christ not "rescued" us in the first place, we could have done nothing on our own to draw closer to Christ and escape our fallen and lost state. But once the Father has drawn us to Christ, and we have received the Holy Ghost, we must allow the transformative power of the Holy Ghost to change, sanctify and perfect us.

John 6:37-40 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Some Evangelicals believe the Bible teaches that it is impossible to fall from grace. Yet Some do not understand that while Christ promised to rescue us (justification), we must allow the remodeling process that must follow (sanctification). However, these same Evangelicals interpret the process of sanctification to be an effortless process that Christ will automatically bring about in the justified individual. However Christ taught that while some people start off okay, many will turn away later. Remember the parable of the sower (Matt 13:3-23). Seeds fell on good or rocky ground. Some seeds began to grow but didn't get root and were scorched by the sun. Others were choked by weeds. There wasn't anything wrong with the seeds. The only variable was the quality of soil. And it is the quality of our soil (our souls) that determines how much fruit if any is produced.

Matt 13:21 Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.

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

The Evangelical interpret of John 6:37-40 does not jive with the parable of the sower. Matt 13:2-23 says some receive the seed, but they do not develop root and they endure for a while but are offended and fall away. How do we then rectify these two scriptures? Maybe seeing Christ and believing on Him means more than the Evangelical verbal confession. Remember that Christ said only those who will not be lost are those who 1. see the Son, and then 2. have faith in Him. While the verbal confession is how the seed of faith is planted. Works are how God demonstrates his grace and power in us. Therefore, works are how Christ manifests himself to us and we see Christ in us. Also, works are how we manifest our living faith towards Christ. Accordingly, works are the process by which the gospel seed of faith takes root.

Q. Why does sin nature still remain after Justification and acceptance of Christ?
A. Appetites of the Flesh and temptations of Satan

Q. How could you sin after tasting the love of Christ?
A. You Forget

Q. How do you remember Christ and continually experience the manifestation of the Holy Ghost?
A. Works

Q. Will it be possible to sin in heaven?
A. Yes, Satan did it without a body. And despite having incorruptible flesh after the resurrection at the end of the Millennium there will be resurrected beings who will fight with with Satan in one final conflict. So, being resurrected does not guarantee sinlessness.

Q. Does Christ have the power to overcome your flesh, sin nature, and sanctify you in this world before the end of the Millennium?
A. Yes.

Titus 2: 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

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.

Q. Therefore, must you allow Christ to sanctify you before you stand before God to be judged?
A. Yes.

1 Cor. 6: 9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Book of Mormon Warfare

Morgan Deane has a degree in Military warfare and an interest in Napoleonic tactics. He writes a blog entitled Warfare and the Book of Mormon. The following is a brief email exchange where Bro. Deane gives an excellent comparison between warfare tactics described in the Book of Mormon with tactics taught and used by world military powers in the 1830's when the Book of Mormon was published.

Dear Morgan,

I was just reading your bio on Blogger about having a degree in Military History and a interest in Napoleonic warfare. I have long had a question in my mind about Book of Mormon warfare and I think you might be just the person to answer it for me.

The few books I have read on the civil war such as "Gods and Generals" and "Gettysburg" seemed to suggest that the tactics used in the Civil War were mainly based on Napoleonic tactics. These books seemed to use this conclusion to explain why General Lee engaged (Pickens Charge) the entrenched Union at Gettysburg instead of pulling back as Gen Longstreet recommended and meeting the Union on their terms.

In comparing the tactics of the Civil War and the "stratagem" used by Captain Moroni and other Generals in the Book of Mormon. It seems to me that the Book of Mormon seems to describe exceptionally advanced military tactics as compared with those commonly taught at West Point and used by an military in the 1830's and even by the the 1860's. What do you think?

David Brosnahan


Thanks for your interest in my blog. Your question got me thinking for awhile. In order to answer it I will describe American military thought in the 19th century and the major theoreticians that influenced their behavior. And then I will compare it to events in the BoM.

After Napoleon two major theoreticians dominated military thought with the supposed lessons of warfare from the conflicts. Jomini and Clausewitz. Both writers started their works in the late 1820s and 1830s. Clausewitz was not even translated into English until after the civil war (I think), but he definitely was not translated, or even done writing by 1830. The writings of Jomini were more prevalent, but even then he was not taught extensively at West point. West point taught very few classes on military theory and leadership in that time, it was mainly a glorified engineering school (that's what Lee graduated in for example). It was not until the late 19th century that they added command and general staff schools on the model of German successes and they started using Clausewitz.

High Nibley has discussed the elements of Clausewitzean theory in the BoM. You can find it here:

I have also discussed Captain Moroni's leadership using the same author here:

In both cases the BoM definitely exhibits military thought and strategy far beyond what Joseph Smith had available to him. I also have done research that is accepted for publication (BCC E Journal) that describes principles of war taught to current army officers within the BoM. Again this is far beyond what J.S. displayed in his life and writings and even beyond common knowledge of military officers in that day. The principles of war were not explicated until the 1920s by a British army officer named J.F.C. Fuller.(Clausewitz gave some too but Fuller's are much better known) They are now drilled into U.S. Army officers to help them analyze information.

Within the BoM there is some Jominian thought. This was a post Napoleonic writer that was popular in America before the civil war. The practice of Moroni having separate parts of his army pinch an enemy army between them does sound similar to his Jomini's main principle. (max the most amount of strength at a specific point) But the many ruses and stratagems employed by Moroni are common among ancient armies. A Roman writer named Frontinus wrote many of these at about 75 BC, about the same time as Moroni.

With military theory you can use accepted principles and push them backwards, such as post Napoleonic writers. But you can also use contemporary writers to place BoM events within its expected time frames. In short: the BoM displays many correct military principles codified by writers Joseph Smith did not have access to. It is also corroborated by military writers that were contemporaries of BoM events, such as Frontinus and Caesar. Again, Smith did not have access to these either. (Unless we can believe that he read untranslated German military theory in the moonlight after working as a farmer all day and other nonsense)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Remembering and Sanctification

Many Evangelicals claim that a simple confession of faith in Christ is all that is required for salvation from Hell and the highest gift of eternal life and exaltation in the kingdom of God. While Paul clearly says that if a man confesses with his lips that Christ raised him from the dead he will be saved, this simple confession does not guarantee the same reward as someone who has diligently labored in the vineyard. While it doesn't matter how long a person has labored, Christ is abundantly clear that when the Master of the vineyard comes, He will only reward those found working and doing the will of the Father.

The Bible discusses many terms such as justification, sanctification, salvation, eternal life, etc. If I am not mistaken, I seem to consistently hear many of my Evangelical friends argue that water baptism, taking the Sacrament of the Lords Supper, or doing any work in Christ's Church will not make any difference in the world to come. Many of my friends seem to believe that after you have confessed Christ as your Savior that Christ's righteousness is immediately imputed to you and you are immediately considered justified, sanctified, born again, saved, have the constant indwelling of the Holy Ghost, and are an automatic and guaranteed heir of Eternal Life.

While some of this is true, some of it absolutely is not. What is true here? It is absolutely true that no works whatsoever are necessary to be justified, saved and receive the Holy Ghost. This part of the plan is by the grace of God. Remember that all men are corruptible and have sinned and have turned away from God. Remember that man can do no good thing on His own. And remember also that Christ has promised that by His infinite grace He will reach down to rescue each and every one of us. Christ has promised that he is standing at the door and knocking. Christ has said that no man can come unto Christ except the Father draws him. So, what are we talking about. We are talking about who makes the first move towards our salvation. Obviously man makes the first move away from God towards damnation. But God promises us that He would give every person on Earth a chance to be saved by grace alone and not dependant on circumstance or any effort of our own.

But after Christ has stretched forth His hand to rescue us and knocked on our door, and after we have opened our door up to allow Christ to enter. Then what? Now to recognize Christ and open our door and let Him in requires that we be empowered by the Holy Ghost. But if we are unclean sinners, how could the Holy Ghost dwell in us. Well, the Bible promises that if we have faith and no more than desire to believe, that that is sufficient to receive the grace of Christ, have Christ's righteousness imputed to us so that the Holy Ghost can enter in us. If it wasn't for this Justification by grace, the Holy Ghost could never enter us, and we would never be empowered to let Christ into our life. This is how God draws us to Christ. This is precisely why Cornelius was able to receive the Holy Ghost and the spiritual gifts of visions before being water baptized. Had he not received the Holy Ghost first, he could never have been empowered to be water baptized. But that doesn't mean water baptism is now obsolete.

So, Christ has reached out to rescue us, and we had a desire to believe, and we became Justified by God's infinite grace such that the Holy Ghost and the love of Christ has entered into us such that we recognized Christ's hand and gospel as truth, I ask is that the end? Have we arrived? Or is this just the beginning or is there more ahead? There is more ahead. Paul talked a lot about being saved by grace and not works. Paul talked a lot about being born again by the transformative power of Christ's love and Holy Spirit. But remember that Paul is always talking about being saved in the past tense. Paul was saved (past tense) by grace and not by works. Paul and the other Apostles never say that man will be saved in the future by grace alone. In fact, again and again, the Apostles continually say that we will be judged by our works at the Final Judgement when we stand before God. So, it seems very clear that this salvation that Paul is talking about is the initial rescue, the initial reaching out by God resulting in Justification which is by the infinite grace of God alone and not works.

So, if Paul is saying that God will rescue us by His grace alone but that we will be judged and rewarded Eternal Life based on our works in some future day, then what more must we do? How does it all work? As I have said before many times, even though the Bible says we will be rewarded and judged according to our works, the reward of Eternal Life still is a gift of grace that is unearned. Why is it unearned? Because by being Justified by Christ, and receiving the Holy Ghost, it is God who inspires and empowers us to good works and not us. All we have to do is allow it. Christ reaches out to knock on our door, He empowers us to recognize that it is Him knocking, and he empowers us to open the door, but the decision to open it is still ours. God does not force His will upon us. Our will is our own and it is the only thing that we can and must contribute towards our salvation. But even any good work and any future gifts are just a manifestation of Christ in us and is still just a manifestation of His infinite grace. It is Christ that does the works in us. We must simply allow him to remodel.

And that brings up the next part of this post. What about the remodeling? The Bible says very clearly that the unrighteous and no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of the Father. And while Christ's blood can fool the Holy Ghost, the Father can spot a whited sepulchre when He sees one. And so, the Bible talks at length about another subject related to Justification. This important term is Sanctification. This term is also used interchangeably with perfection, perfecting, and unification, or becoming one. Now, many of my Evangelical friends claim that this happens automatically at the same time as Justification upon the initial confession of Christ and the initial reception of the Holy Ghost. Now, much of this is true. When a person becomes born again and first feel the Spirit and love of Christ in their life, they undergo a magnificent change of heart towards God. But I am going to discuss why this initial change of heart, although miraculous, still isn't enough.

To understand the difference between Justification and Sanctification, a person must understand that if we lived in the presence of God all the time, and felt the love of Christ for us all the time, we would never sin. I mean, sin would loose all enticement, flesh or no flesh. How could a person possibly want to sin after feeling the glorious love, peace, light, and spirit of God? That is precisely why God sent us to Earth to prove us. Living with God we were continually in Gods presence and obliged to obey God. But down here, away from God, we can really learn what we are made of. Away from God's presence, the temptations of Satan, and the unbridled appetites of the flesh become enticing. And so we all sin and give into the enticement from time to time. And we are here to learn to cleave unto and draw near unto God. And as we come closer and close to God and we grow from grace to grace, and we witness and experience an increasing amount of the love, light, and Spirit of God, sin begins to lose its enticement, we are turned completely away from sin until we lose all desire for sin and desire to do good continually.

But as I said, our initial spiritual rebirth notwithstanding, the work of sanctification doesn't all happen at once. Sanctification is a process. Christ likens this process to purifying silver were the impurities in the silver rise to the top as it is heated. In our case, this heat could be a result of the light of the Holy Ghost for the furnace of affliction and adversity.

Now, how does this relate to remembering? The issue here is that after we accept Christ and become Justified, and are spiritually born again, we still continue to sin. Now, after feeling the love and Spirit of Christ, how could it be possible that we could turn away from that to follow the lusts and appetites of the flesh. The problem is that there is one big problem with regard to being mortal, and that is the problem of forgetting. The reason we continue to sin is because we forget. So, the key to sanctification and drawing closer to Christ so that we loose any desire to sin at all is to learn how to remember.

So, how do we remember Christ? It turns out that God has given us many many things to help us remember. God has given us many works to help us remember Christ and each of these works can be associated with great outpourings of the Holy Ghost. For example, God has given us scriptures which teach of Christ. God has given us daily prayer to help us remember Him. God has given us symbolic ordinances and covenants to help us remember. God has also given us the baptism, the Communion of the Lords Supper, priesthood authority and the restored temple.

Now, many people say that it doesn't matter what church a person goes to that we all worship the same God and that God is in each person. While some of that is true, God isn't in some of us enough because many people continue to have problems with sin. So, God by his infinite grace has given us many sanctifying gifts to be administered by His church to help us remember. And it is by remembering that we become sanctified and will eventually by the grace and power of Christ's atonement be purified and made holy such that we will be empowered to dwell again in the presence of our Father in Heaven.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Allegory of the Apostasy

Many Christians insist that Jesus Christ clearly foretold that His church would never fall into apostasy. However, there are many scriptures which predict a great falling away before the Second Coming of Christ (2 Thes. 2: 3).

Amos foretold of a great spiritual famine in the land of hearing the word of the Lord and a person would search and not find it (Amos 8: 11). When has a person searched from the truth of God and not been able to find it? This is what happened during the Dark Ages.

Isaiah foretold of a marvelous work and a wonder in the last days which would be accompanied by a sealed book which would be revealed by someone who is unlearned. The result being that those who erred in spirit who learn correct doctrine (Isaiah 29).

John spoke of the dragon making war with the woman (church) who brought forth a child who was caught up to heaven (Christ). The dragon was wroth with the woman and made war against her and sent out a flood against her (persecution and apostasy). But God said the church would go into the wilderness for 3 1/2 years (time times and half a time) which refers to the length of time of Elijah's famine. Except this time it is referring to a spiritual famine. Then John says the Earth would help the women. How could the Earth assist the Church of Christ? It would help her through the coming forth of the Book of Mormon which came from out of the Earth. (Rev 12)

Jesus said His church built upon the rock would never fail (Matt. 16: 18). Jesus didn't guarantee that man would always remain built upon His rock. Wicked men rejected the keys and authority of Peter and the Apostles and the right to direct and continued revelation from God to lead His church.

Jesus said the fruit (converts) of the Apostles would remain faithful (John 15: 16). Jesus did not guarantee that the fruit (converts) of the fruit (converts) would remain. That is because there began to be wicked men who took over the church who Christ hadn't chosen and who Christ hadn't ordained.

Jesus said that he would be with his church to the end of the world (Matt. 28: 20). Jesus didn't guarantee that the people would remain with Him. Wicked men entered into the church and began teaching that water baptism was no longer necessary and stopped baptizing by immersion in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

John and Daniel both say the Beast (apostasy) would make war against the saints, wear them out, prevail against them, overcome them, and kill them. (Rev. 11: 7, Dan 7:21) and Daniel says the Beast would change the times and laws of the gospel of Christ (Dan 7:25).

Acts 19:13-15 Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.

This is a great allegory of the importance of priesthood authority and a foreshadowing of the coming Apostasy and the falling away. Now if confessing the name of Christ is all that is required to receive the gift of the priesthood of all believers, then why couldn't these Jews cast out the evil spirits? Why did the evil spirit say he recognized the authority of Jesus and Paul but not those who were using the name of the Lord Jesus. The reason why they failed is because they did not have the gift of the priesthood keys and authority which Paul says it given by prophecy and by the laying on of hands (1 Tim. 4: 14).

Consequently this evil spirit overcame these individuals and they fled out of the house (heaven) naked (unworthy) and wounded (sinful). And this is that same spirit that has overcome many professing Christians who have not received the proper baptism by the proper priesthood authority restored to the Earth by Jesus Christ together with a restoration of His word, His temple, and His Church.

Mark 9:38-39 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me.

Num. 11: 25-29 And the Lord came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp. And there ran a young man, and told Moses, and said, Eldad and Medad do prophesy in the camp. And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his young men, answered and said, My lord Moses, forbid them. And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the Lord’s people were prophets, and that the Lord would put his spirit upon them!

Here are two examples of God saying that the authorized servants of God should never forbid others not authorized to prophesy or cast out spirits in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And there are these and other examples which demonstrate that those not authorized with God's priesthood keys and authority have been successful and effective in casting out evil spirits, prophesying, and receiving other gifts of the Holy Spirit. In fact, Matt. 17: 21 gives us an example of the Apostles themselves trying unsuccessfully to cast out an evil spirit. The Apostles asked Christ why they were unsuccessful and Christ responded, "Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting." What Christ was teaching was that the Apostles needed to empower their priesthood authority by inviting a greater portion of the Holy Spirit through prayer and fasting. So, knowing this, does this mean that authority isn't necessary at all? It seems authority meant nothing when it comes to gifts of the spirit.

The truth of what is being taught here is that miracles are a product of faith. Miracles and the gifts of the Spirit can be enjoyed by anyone at any time according to their faith and the will of God. The purpose is that these gifts are how the Father draws men to Christ. Remember that the scriptures say no man commeth unto Christ except the Father draws him. This is how and why Cornelius received the Holy Ghost before being water baptized (Acts 10: 47). Again, the gifts of God are how God draws us to His Son Jesus Christ, and after we have come unto Christ, Christ will empower us to receive the sanctifying works of His church by the proper priesthood authority to prepare us to come unto the Father.

John 6: 44 No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.

So, if a person can receive the Holy Ghost and enjoy spiritual gifts without priesthood authority, does that mean that that person has been prepared to enter into the kingdom of God? No, it doesn't. Because Jesus Christ in the following scripture is abundantly clear about the importance of priesthood authority. Here is the scripture in Matt. 27: 21-23 which is discussing how to discern true prophets with God's authority.

Matt. 27: 21-23 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. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

Here Christ is talking about a group of people who claim to know Jesus. These call out to Christ and call him their Lord even by the power of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12: 3). But Christ says that although they think they know Him, He does not know them. Christ has said that only those who do the will of the Father will enter the Kingdom. Knowing this, these unfortunate souls argue their case by listing their works. Pay careful attention to what two works are lists. This cannot be a simple coincidence. These rejected souls say, "Have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils?" These were the very two gifts of the spirit that Christ and Moses said no man should forbid another from doing. But apparently, just because a person has been in the business of prophesying and casting out spirits doesn't mean that they meet God's requirement to "do the will of the Father." So what then is lacking? How does a person "do the will of the Father" above and beyond prophesying and casing out devils.

To do the will of the Father, a person must do these good works after receiving the priesthood authority by prophecy and by the laying on of hands (1 Tim. 4: 14). The priesthood is God's authority to act in His name. Therefore, only after a person is properly authorized and empowered by the Holy Spirit, are they truly considered to be doing the will of the Father. Every member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is prepared, and invited to receive or claim this priesthood authority which was restored to Earth by the resurrected Peter, James and John to the prophet Joseph Smith. And by God's priesthood authority and by God's Spirit we are blessed to know God and His Son Jesus Christ, and Christ has promised that in that day of judgement He will confess to the Father and to the angels that He knows us (Luke 12: 8, Rev. 3: 5).

Matt. 22: 14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
John 15: 16, 19 Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.

Discerning Spirits: Joseph Smith and Glasslooking

There are some topics when I began I thought I would never have reason to address. This is an example of one of them. But the idea of discerning spirits and Joseph Smith's unfortunate boyhood hobby of "glasslooking" does relate to the recent Sunday School lesson on the Spiritual Gifts.

Some evangelicals antagonistic to the LDS religion make a big deal about Joseph Smith's occasional hobby of "glasslooking" while growing up in Upstate New York. Their assumption on the issue is that Joseph Smith was knowingly and deliberately lying about "possess [ing] certain means by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye" (Biographical Sketches, Lucy Smith, pp.91-92, as quoted in Early Mormon documents, Vol.1, p. 309). The reason many prefer this interpretation of Joseph Smith's motivation is that they seek to establish a pattern of behavior of lying; like a serial killer torturing small animals as a youth. However, many fail to consider an alternative motivation.

One important alternative, which is the LDS position, is that Joseph Smith was fooled by false spirits and actually believed on some level that he could "glasslook". Occult magic was very popular at the time. Many people in 1830 tried to use divining rods and glass shards to find or see hidden or lost things. People commonly participated in similar sorts of hobbies then in a similar way people go rock hounding or metal detecting today. Actually you can still hire people who claim they can use a divining rod to find the best place to dig a well.

The reason why I believe Joseph Smith was not intentionally lying, but was deceived comes from his own words about the "Gift of tongues." In our recent Elder's quorum manual about Joseph Smith, he warned the LDS Saints that there were many false spirits who were going about deceiving people to believe they could speak in tongues and God's language. People do it today. When I was a missionary, people offered on several occasions to demonstrate. Some of these people may have been lying. But I believe as Joseph Smith did that some have been simply fooled by false spirits. JS said the gift of tongues is to preach the gospel to those who speak another language like on the day of Pentecost. The "Gift of Tongues" is not at all about showing off, incomprehensible mumbling and jumping around uncontrollably. Therefore, it is most likely that Joseph Smith was fooled into believing he was able to glasslook.

This automatic assumption that Joseph Smith was intentionally lying demonstrates something else in the person making the assumption. And that something else is that this assumption fails to recognize the kind of power Satan and false spirits can have if allowed. Even if you think what you are doing is a game. I had a close friend who dressed up as a fortune teller at a school carnival to give fortunes using a crystal ball. It was supposed to be just for fun. She and the person receiving the fortune knew it wasn't supposed to be real. During the night she said she started giving people real predictions that actually came true. She said she committed to never mess around with any of that kind of thing again even though at the time it seemed harmless and innocent.

Also, another supporting argument in favor of being deceived over being the deceiver is Joseph's own words about spiritual gifts. Joseph Smith's was of the opinion that most people trying to speak in tongues who mumble incomprehensibly and jump around uncontrollably were fooled by false spirits and not deliberately lying. It is likely Joseph Smith based his opinion on his own experiences with LDS members experimenting with tongues like many other churches of the day, Hiram Page being fooled by finding what he considered was a "seer stone," and himself being fooled as a youth. Remember that Paul says "discerning spirits" is one of the spiritual gifts of God as is "tongues", "prophecy", and "healing". Therefore, it is no surprise that there would be many in the world unable to properly discern spirits as Joseph Smith eventually was taught and empowered by God to do.

D&C 28: 11 And again, thou shalt take thy brother, Hiram Page, between him and thee alone, and tell him that those things which he hath written from that stone are not of me and that Satan deceiveth him;

1 Cor. 12: 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

Let me also be clear on this point. The LDS church does not condone the use of occult practices under any circumstances. The LDS church does not condone Joseph Smith's "glasslooking". Joseph Smith was fooled by false spirits into thinking he could find hidden or lost items, and he later was set up by Satan and paid a big price for his sins and needed sore repentance. LDS recognize that Joseph Smith's or anyone's dabbling in the occult is sin.

That said, what about Joseph's reported use of a seer stone after being led to the Gold Plates by Moroni? There were two clear stones referred to as the Urim and Thummin with the Gold Plates. They were patterned after the stone Aaron used to Judge Israel. There are referred to in Revelation when John says those that overcome will be given a "white stone." Joseph Smith said these stones were designed by God for the interpretation of languages. Was this evolution from "glasslooking" to the "seerstone" just more of the same?

First, we need to remember one important principle. Satan doesn't create, Satan corrupts and counterfeits. Jesus on the other hand sanctifies. Some claim that Joseph may have used a "seer stone" different from the Urim and Thummin that were with the Gold Plates. Others think the "seer stone" was just one of the 2 interpreter stones. Whatever the case, if Joseph Smith had used the "peep stone" he used while prospecting for silver with Josiah Stowell, he would have dedicated the stone in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and covenanted to never seek to see anything forbidden.That is the pattern of things. Satan doesn't create, Satan corrupts and counterfeits, and Christ sanctifies. There are other examples of this sort of thing. (e.g. fig leaves, conference center and Zion being designed after the style of the hanging gardens of Babylon, etc.).

Whatever stone he used, the difficult issue with it was that his previous participation in "glass-looking" made it difficult for some to accept the Book of Mormon. This was especially the case with Emma's Father Isaac Hale. Only a year after Joseph Smith promised the Judge in his 1826 hearing that he would give up "glass-looking" after which he eloped with Emma. Not long afterwards, Joseph had a hard time convincing Isaac Hale that he had found and translated the Book of Mormon using "seer stones."

"The manner in which he pretended to read and interpret was the same manner as when he looked for the money-diggers, with the stone in his hat, while the book of plates were at the same time hid in the woods."---Isaac Hale affidavit, May 1834.

The price Joseph Smith paid was his being tried in court in March 1826 for 'glass-looking'. That hearing made it difficult for some to believe his story and followed him into future hearings and trials the rest of his life. Sin like clouds may have a silver lining but they are still mostly gray and stormy. However, in spite of these minor mistakes of youth, God has promised that the grace and Spirit of God is sufficient to overcome these weaknesses and know the truth that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and the Living Christ, and that the Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Bible Contradiction on Grace and Works?

Rev. 20: 12-13 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

Matt. 16: 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

Col. 1: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

2 Tim. 1: 9 Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began,

2 Tim. 4: 14 Alexander the coppersmith did me much evil: the Lord reward him according to his works:

Titus 3: 5 Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

1 Pet. 1: 17 And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear:

Rev. 2: 23 And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto every one of you according to your works.

Rev. 18: 6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.

Rev. 22: 12 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be.

Rom. 4: 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Rom. 11: 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Rom. 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Some of these talk about being rewarded by works and others say we have been saved by grace and not works. What is going on here? It issue here is that the salvation spoken of is in past tense. Therefore, the Salvation is speaking of is the present state of justification and salvation by which the Lord's righteousness is imputed to us. Without justification by grace alone, we could never merit the sanctifying presence of the Holy Ghost.

However, the reward and judgement to come is speaking of the future. When that future judgement comes, we will have had to have been empowered by Christ to sactification and to the good works that Christ will work in us. Therefore, notice that saved by grace and not by works is speaking of the present, born again, saved state. But the judged and rewarded by works speaks of the future where sactification is expected to have occured.

The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

Matt 20:11-16
For the kingdom of heaven is like unto a man that is an householder, which went out early in the morning to hire labourers into his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the labourers for a penny a day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace, And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you. And they went their way. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did likewise. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle? They say unto him, Because no man hath hired us. He saith unto them, Go ye also into the vineyard; and whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive. So when even was come, the lord of the vineyard saith unto his steward, Call the labourers, and give them their hire, beginning from the last unto the first. And when they came that were hired about the eleventh hour, they received every man a penny. But when the first came, they supposed that they should have received more; and they likewise received every man a penny. And when they had received it, they murmured against the goodman of the house, Saying, These last have wrought but one hour, and thou hast made them equal unto us, which have borne the burden and heat of the day. But he answered one of them, and said, Friend, I do thee no wrong: didst not thou agree with me for a penny? Take that thine is, and go thy way: I will give unto this last, even as unto thee. Is it not lawful for me to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil, because I am good? So the last shall be first, and the first last: for many be called, but few chosen.

A few have asked me how the concept of different rewards in heaven fits together with this parable about the workers in the vineyard. Everyone who works gets the same reward. Both those that worked 1 hour, and those that worked all day still received the same penny. But that is the key. Everyone who was rewarded worked. The significance here is that it doesnt matter how long you worked in God's service, only that you were a worker and found working when the Master comes. So the reward is the same for those that work, regardless of duration. But the reward is not the same for those who work and those who do not. If you are found working at the end of the day when the Master comes to pay the laborers, you will receive the full reward. This is why the sciptures plead with us to "enduring to the end." Again, it doesn't matter how long you worked, even if you stop working 30 seconds before the Master comes, it will be as though you hadn't worked at all.

D&C 42:42 Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Christ Is Our Rewarder

Some Evangelical criticize LDS Doctrine by claiming that LDS believe we can save ourselves by works. They claim we believe that salvation is not by grace alone. These claims are not true. Like most Christians, LDS believe in the concept of rewards. And like most Christians, we believe that to be saved from Hell, all a person must do is confess that Jesus is the Christ (Rom. 10: 9-10). However, this minimal acceptance of the grace of Christ does not guarantee the same rewards as another who has more fully accepted the full grace and gifts of God. Similarly, LDS also believe that salvation from Hell is by the grace alone of Jesus Christ, but we also believe that our rewards are based on our works. The greatest reward being eternal life and exaltation. Salvation from Hell is not the same as Eternal Life. Eternal Life is the greatest of all the gifts of God.

Some of these same critics would question the Book of Mormon. Nephi, a Book of Mormon prophet says, "We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do " (2 Nephi 25:23). On the surface, it seems like Nephi is saying we meet Christ partway, or can somehow contribute to our own salvation on our own. Unfortunately, this misinterpretation takes Nephi's words out of context. Historically, Nephi lived under the Law of Moses before the coming of Jesus Christ. Accordingly, Nephi was discussing why they bothered to observe the Law of Moses when God had already revealed to them that the Law was dead, did not save, and that salvation was only in and through the mercy and grace of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the "all we can do" part was actually in reference to their continued observance of the Law of Moses.

So, let me be clear on LDS doctrine. LDS believe that salvation from Hell is by the grace alone of Jesus Christ. But, LDS believe that works are necessary for the greatest reward of Eternal Life. But, even with works, it is still all grace. Because LDS believe that man could do no good work unless empowered by the grace of Christ. Good works are a manifestation of the love, grace, spirit, light, and power of Christ within us. Therefore, works do not deny grace, but are a manifestation of its operation in the believer.

Now a few Evangelical friends of mine seemed to argue that obedience and works might actually distance a person from God. Someone made the point that the LDS organization and ordinances are like the many Pharisaic rules and restrictions. All those many strict observances blinded their adherents such that they not only didn't recognize their God when He appeared, they crucified Him.

Unfortunately, I think this argument against works is an example of the pendulum swinging too far to the other extreme. The problem wasn't obedience, and works of themselves. The problem with the Pharisees was that God did not inspire those extraneous works and strict observances. Therefore, God wasn't in them or a part of them. Therefore, instead of attacking works as a whole, the better question is to ask what works God does require, has inspired, and will empower. And although most Christians believe in rewards, a better question is to ask is what rewards has God actually promised (i.e. eternal families).

Personally, I have felt God empower me to water baptism and to take the Lord's Supper weekly, and to receive covenant marriage. Experiencing God empower me in these works has strengthened my faith. Some may say they don't need these works to have faith in God. Some may say that a person can have faith in Christ without them. That's fine. But, for me and my house, these works have been a mechanism for God to gift to me stronger faith and a closer relationship with Him. After understanding that God strengthens our faith though the works he does in us and through us, I realized we really can't even boast of our faith, because even faith is a gift/reward of God.

Despite all this. several Evangelical friends of mine questioned LDS motivation for works. They claimed that it was somehow wrong for LDS to seek works for the purposes of eternal reward and not love for Christ alone. I can not comment about another person's motivation. But I know the Bible gives us many motivations to obey and bring forth good fruit. In some places the Bible says "fear God" and in other places it says obey because God will reward you, and in others, the Bible says obey because God loves you and you should "love God." Whatever your motivation, the Bible is clear that we will be judged by our works and not our motivation. So, are LDS partly motivated by a hope of a greater reward in heaven? Yes, Christ is our rewarder!

Ps. 31: 23. O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.

Matt. 6: 19-20 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Matt. 16: 27 For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.

1 Tim. 6: 19 Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

1 Cor. 12: 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Heb. 11: 35 Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:

Matt. 5: 12, 46 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

1 Cor. 3: 8, 14 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. . . If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.

Rev. 2: 10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.

Rev 22:12-14 And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.

Heb. 11: 6, 26 But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

But what about these two verses? What is Paul saying about reward being a product of grace and not of debt?

Rom. 4: 4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Rom. 11: 6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Rom. 6: 23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul still is using the term reward, or wages, and not gift. What he means is that going through the motions of works does not guarantee any particular blessing. The temple is meaningless by itself. The temple is a teaching aid to teach a person what real fruit God expects.The real lesson of the temple is that God expects a person to accept God's gift of self-mastery over the flesh. God expects a person to allow God to work in them to care for our family responsibilities, and also the fatherless and widow and our neighbors. God expects a person to receive of Christ's countinance such that they are filled with His love, humility, patience, and faith. Going to the temple guarantees nothing. If a person doesnt receive the true meaning of the temple, they are like the unwise virgins without oil in their lamps. Consequently, there will be many LDS who don't receive the promised rewards. Remember in the invitation to the wedding feast in Matt 22:10 , both the bad and good were invited and the ones not wearing the wedding garment were thrown out. What are the the beautiful white garments of the Saints? John says the white clothing is the "righteousness of the Saints" in Rev 19: 8. Paul is just reminding us that it is God who me must allow to work in us. And if we do, we will be empowered to bring forth the real fruit that God requires.

Matt. 22: 10-12 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

Rev. 19: 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Antichrist: Denying the Physicality of God, His Church, His Temple

Many Evangelical, Creedal Christians deny the physicality of God, His Church and His Temple. They focus on only the spiritual meaning of temple as the body of the believer. They focus only on the spiritual meaning of the church, as the body of believers. But what many errantly deny is the continued importance of the physicality of Christ's being, the physicality of His church, and the physicality of His temple.

Yes, there is a crucial spiritual meaning to the temple and the church. But God is both spiritual and physical. Temples are both spiritual and physical. The Body of Christ is both spiritual and physical. These are not mutually exclusive. There is no dichotomy here. You want to make a false dichotomy and say it is only one way or the other. Truth is, its both, which is my point. Gods temple and church and being are both spiritual and temporal. Just as Christ redeemed and resurrected His body, He has redeemed and restored His church, His holy word, and His temple.
Without the body, Christ couldn't have performed the atonement. Christ not only performed the atonement with his body, he also died with His body, He redeemed and resurrected His body, H showed His body to the Apostles and Paul, and He ascended into heaven with His body. Therefore, the body can't be all bad or inherently evil. There must be something good about His physicality. And if there is any good in it, than that good must be a part of God's Being who is the source of all that is good.

Christ equated His body with that of the temple and with His church in the scriptures.

John 2:18-21 Then answered the Jews and said unto him, What sign shewest thou unto us, seeing that thou doest these things? Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body.

Eph 4:11-14 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: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;

Jesus Christ showed us that perfection involves the unification of both the spirit and glorified body together. Despite Christ redeeming His physical body, many Evangelical, Nicene Creed Christians deny the physicality of God, deny the physicality of Christ's church, and deny the physicality of Christ's temple. Many Christians have adopted an extreme "Christ is all I need" doctrine to exclude the need for gifts of grace like prophets, apostles, priesthood, church organization, water baptism, communion, laying on of hands, etc. However, this is exactly the kind of thing John in Revelation warned the believers about. Denying the physicality of God is what John said was the spirit of Antichrist.

1 Jn. 4: 3 And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.

Many Early Christians went apostate because this "physicality is evil" doctrine crept into the doctrine. The physicality of God was denied and it affected other doctrines. Many Christians know that the gnostics denied Christs physical resurrection but have forgotten why the gnostics refused to accept that Christ had a body. They rejected Christ's physicality because they knew that Christ was the exact, perfect and complete revelation of the nature of the Father. And they could not accept that the Father could possibly have any physicality. So, while Evangelical Christians today accept Christ's physicality, many are no better then the Gnostics because, like them, they can not accept that the Father has physicality as part of His nature. that is the doctrine of the antiChrist then and now. And that leads many to deny any physicality in Christ's Church (also equated with His body), and Christ's temple (also equated with His body). The truth of the Bible is that there are both spiritual and physical meaning to Christ's Church and Temple as Christ has both a body and a spirit as the Father has both a body and a spirit.

Philip. 3: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.

1 Cor. 9: 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.

1 Cor. 15: 42, 50, 52-54 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption: Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

Satan and Evil do not create anything of their own, but corrupt things. Therefore there is nothing inherently evil about the body or physicality. Christ, on the other hand, changes things, purifies, sanctifies, and perfects things. Therfore the corruptible flesh can become incorruptible and holy. This truth refutes the belief that anything physical is evil, impure, and inferior. If anything physical is inferior, what would that mean about Christ who has a body? Would that make Christ inferior? Yes, corrupt flesh and blood can not inherit the kingom of God, but Christ's incorruptible and glorified body of flesh and bone did.

Rev 13:5-7 And there was given unto him a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies; and power was given unto him to continue forty and two months. And he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven. 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.

John talks again about the message of the "mouth" or "false prophet" or "Antichrist" of the beast. The Antichrist would blaspheme God, His name (Christ), by blaspheming his tabernacle, his body, or physicality. This is also directly related to those who deny the physicality of Christ's church and the revelations about the restoration of Christ's temple in the Last Days. Some see God as spirit only. Therefore, they only see the God's church, temple, and salvation in terms of the spiritual and deny any physicality associated with them.

When the Scriptures say that God is spirit, and that man must worship Him in spirit and in truth. It was saying God is both spirit and body and man must learn to worship God both in body and spirit, letter of the law and spirit of the law, with a broken heart and contrite spirit, and with faith and works together just as God is a perfect and glorified union of the spiritual and physical.

John warns us not to worship the beast (Roman Catholic Church), its image (Protestantism), and receive not its mark (Trinity, Nicene Creed). John warns us not to listen to the Antichrist and the "mouth" of the Beast that will blaspheme His tabernacle and deny the physicality of God, His church, and His temple.

Obviously, this would be the road most traveled by the Gentiles. If most people were to be fooled, shouldn't those who consider ourselves true believers of Christ examine ourselves like the Apostles did to ask if we are guilty of denying and betraying Him. Shouldn't we ask as did the Apostles, "Lord, Is it I" (Matt. 26: 22).

Beasts, Images, and Marks

Rev. 7: 3 and Rev. 9: 4 talk about God's "sealing in the forehead" not to be confused with Satan's counterfeit "mark of the beast"Daniel and John both talk about Beasts.

Daniel 7 talks about 4 Beasts or Empires: Babylon, Persia, Greece (4 heads), and Rome (ten horns). The 10 horns represent 10 Emperors to Vespasian. The little horn is Titus who destroyed the temple and crucified thousands of Jews around the walls of Jerusalem. John in Revelation talks about the same Beast but combines them into one with 7 heads (add up the heads) and the same 10 horns. John is telling the same story of the Great Apostasy. John and Daniel both warn that the Beast (Roman Empire) would both "overcome the Saints" and "prevail against them" Also, Daniel points out that the Roman Empire would "change the times and laws" of the gospel. We see this with the creation of the Catholic church of the Roman Empire and the Ecumenical Creeds. The gates of Hell do prevail against the Saints because they cease to be built upon revelation and Peter's keys and authority.

John in Revelation (Rev. 19: 20, Rev. 15: 2, Rev. 14: 9-11, Rev. 13: 14-15) talks more about this beast. John never uses the word Antichrist in Revelation but says the beast would be given a "mouth" to blaspheme God and His tabernacle (body and temple), and His people. This beast is the same as the 4-headed beast which personifies the Roman Catholic Church. But it doesn't just represent that. Because John says that this Beast makes a copy or an image of itself. And that if a person worshipped the Beast and its image, and receive its mark, they would burn. So, what is the image of the Catholic Church; an offshoot that is just as corrupt as the original? The image is Protestantism. So, in a specific sense, If the Beast is Roman Catholicism and the Image is Protestantism, then what it the mark? The mark is the only doctrine that Catholicism and Protestantism have in common. And that common doctrine is acceptance of the Nicene Creed which teaches that the Father and Son are one undivided substance or "homousious" and that the Father has no body, and that in some mysterious, incomprehensible way they are 3 persons yet 1 being. Remember that the "spirit of Antichrist" were those who denied the physical resurrection of Christ. Also, this is just one of many ways evil people mark themselves.

So, what about the Antichrist or this "mouth" that blasphemes God and its number of 666. 666 is a key to understanding what the Antichrist really is all about. The only place in scripture you find the number 666 is associated with King Solomon. Therefore King Solomon is a type of the Antichrist. What happened to King Solomon? What happened was that King Solomon was that not only did he practice polygamy, but that he took wives from outside the Jewish faith. Because these wives practiced pagan religion, he wanted to please these pagan wives, and began to adopt aspects of their pagan religions, and build temples and idols to their gods. Solomon became very rich and in the year the Queen of Sheba visited he received 666 talents of gold which he used to adorn his own palace and not the temple.

Considering this story, it is apparent that Aaron also becomes a type of the Antichrist. While Moses us up in the mountain communing with God, Aaron and the people claim that Moses "delayeth his coming." The people became idle and wrestless, and gave Aaron all their gold so that he would make a golden calf and false god to worship and fall into perverse sexual sin. This parallels Paul's warning about many in his day and in the Last Days who would practice what is called priestcraft, or preaching false religion for money. Paul calls preistcraft "gainsaying" for "filthy lucre." (Titus 1: 7, 11).

In a general sense the idea of the Beast, Image, and Mark would represent any false and apostate religion and religious ideology. John gives us the pattern for how apostate and false religions operate and what their message is. John in Revelations 13:6 what the Antichrist would say. John says he would "open his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme his name, and his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven."I think it interesting that John says the "mouth" of the beast would blaspheme the tabernacle or temple of God. This is an interesting concept because Christ equates several things with His body such as His church organization, and the temple itself.

There are many Evangelical, Nicene Creed Christians who have been taught an extreme "Jesus is all I need" doctrine that excludes the literal restoration of Gods temple, the literal physicality of God, and the proper organization of Christ's Church with Apostles and prophets, priesthood, water baptism, ordinances. Their rejection of the physicality of God becomes a metaphor for their rejection for the physical, tangible things of God's church. All I need is Christ they say. There is no more need for ordinances, or ritual, or priesthood, or church hierarchy. Everything is spiritual like God is. But they forget that Christ made a point by redeeming his body, and that while God is spirit, the physical and the spiritual together constitute perfection, and one cannot properly worship God in spirit and in truth unless He learns to worship God in body and spirit, by the letter and the spirit of the law, and with faith and works together.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Measure the Pattern of the Temple

Ezek. 43: 10 Thou son of man, shew the house to the house of Israel, that they may be ashamed of their iniquities: and let them measure the pattern.

God shows us the purpose of the temple in Ezek 43:10. Here God is showing Ezekiel a large Old Testament, Aaronic Priesthood, Law of Moses type temple and asks Ezekiel to "measure the pattern." Ezekiel is told to make careful notice of the form, function, fashion, and ordinances of the temple. Why? Because the temple is a model and pattern. In this case, the OT temple was to make Israel ashamed and remind them of their unworthiness and need for a Messiah.

LDS, New Testament, Everlasting Covenant, Melchizedek Priesthood Temples work in the same way. Like the OT temples, they point to Christ, but they are of a different model and pattern. Instead of just pointing to our unworthiness before God and need for a Savior, the NT temple also promises sanctification and teaches how sanctification through Christ can be possible in Christ.

Unfortunately, many outsiders and even LDS insiders have an unfortunate misunderstanding of the message of the NT Temple. Unfortunately, some believe that LDS think that by going through the ritual of the temple that that some how guarantees salvation or a greater reward in heaven. Many think that the temple is somehow evidence that LDS believe we can save ourselves or that the grace of Christ is not fully sufficient.

This is not what the temple is about at all. Yes, LDS feel that God has given the NT temple as a gift of His grace to draw us to Christ and therefore it is necessary to receive any gift of grace from God. We are commanded to live by every word that proceedeth forth from the mouth of God and this includes never refusing any of God's gifts of grace. However, like Ezekiel's OT temple, the LDS NT temple and everything that is done within the temple is symbolic. Therefore, it is not the ritual itself that guarantees anything, but what the symbols represent. And it is the acceptance of these truth's that gives us a hope of a greater reward in heaven (1 Cor. 12: 31, Matt. 6: 20, Heb. 11: 35).

So, what does the temple symbolize?

1. The temple points first and foremost to Christ. Only though Christ can anyone hope to return to the presence of the Father.

2. The temple presents God's plan of salvation. The temple presents the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and how God commanded that angels with flaming swords guard the way of the tree of life.

3. The temple teaches how a person through Christ can be empowered to pass by the angels and partake of the tree of life again and dwell in the presence of the Father. Remember in Revelation that it says that to those who overcome, Christ would confess their name before the Father and the angels. What angels? Why would Christ need to confess our name before angels? Who are these angels that need Christ's confession? I don't know exactly. Maybe they are the same cherubim that God commanded guard the way of the tree of life (Luke 12: 8, Rev. 3: 5).

4. John in Revelation comments that the Everlasting covenant would be given to all kingdoms, nations, tongues and people. And this is represented by both males and females being set apart as was Aaron. As part of the New Testament and Everlasting Covenant, the higher priesthood or Melchizedek priesthood is promised to all worthy who accept Christ and not just the eldest birthright son or those of a certain tribe.

Therefore all those who enter in the temple go through a ritual and symbolic washing, anointing, clothing in priestly robes as Aaron and his sons did. In the OT temple only Aaronic and Levitical priesthood priests went through this. But in the NT Temple, everyone enjoys a priesthood of all believers. Therefore, all believers because of Christ can be washed clean and prepare to enter the Holy of Holies like the High Priest. This is why John in Revelation says that in preparation for the tribulation all believers would receive a special "sealing in the forehead" and be set apart kings and priests unto God (Rev. 7: 3, Rev. 9: 4).

5. John in Revelation asks the angel who all the people where in the temple dressed in white robes. Aaronic priests didn't wear white in the temple, only the High Priest did who passed into the Holy of Holies. All other priests wore undergarments and robes of blue, red, purple and gold
(coats of many colors) symbolizing their sins. John was told that those wearing white and serving in the temple in the Last Days represented those who had had been washed clean by the blood of Jesus Christ. And John comments that the white clothing represented the "righteousness of the Saints" (Rev. 7: 14, Ps. 132: 9, Rev. 19: 8).

6. In the OT temple, only the High Priest was permitted to enter into the Holy of Holies. The High Priest was dressed in white and passed around the 4-in thick and 60-ft tall veil embroidered with angels into the Holy of Holies after sprinkling himself with the blood of the Passover sacrifice. But in the NT temple, the veil is thin, and nearly see-through, with many partitions representing how God tore the veil at Christ's crucifixion.

While God remains veiled to the wicked, to those who properly accept Christ and are properly washed clean in His blood, they are permitted to easily pass through the veil into the presence of God. The veil of the OT temple tore top to bottom, but it did not fall to the ground. Brigham Young stated that going to the NT temple was necessary to be enabled to pass by the angels who stood as sentinels to the tree of life. The same angels depicted on the OT veil and as depicted shadowing the mercy seat of the ark of the covenant. But what about this passing through the veil. What is the symbolism and significance of this part of the temple ritual?

7. When LDS Apostles and Prophets and Scripture talk about the Day of Judgement, and passing the angels, they don't talk about needing to know the answer to any specific question. What the Apostles and what the scriptures, and what the temple represents is that all mankind will one say be brought to stand before God. By the power of Christ's atonement all mankind will be brought to stand before God to make an accounting of His life and the responsibilities and promises (talents) they had received from God (Matt. 25: 15-28).

And what LDS Apostles remind us is that what we need to remember is not any specific answer to any specific question, but that God will instead ask us about how we went about helping and serving our wife. God will ask us how we went about helping and serving each of our children individually, and God will ask us how we went about helping and serving our neighbors and community. This is what God really will want to know. And this is what God promises, that if we accept Christ, Christ will empower us to answer sufficently by His grace.

And this is what the ritual in the LDS temple represents and what so many have unfortunately misunderstood. Remember, it is not about the ritual and symbols themselves. The ritual and symbols change with the times as language and meaning changes. But the underlying message of Christ is what is important.