Monday, October 31, 2011

The Book of Mormon: A Witness and a Warning

The Book of Mormon, like the Bible, is the word of God given to us in the Last Days as a witness and a warning. First, the Book of Mormon is another witness and testament that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God. The Book of Mormon is proof that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the only True and Living God who didn't just call prophets and manifest Himself to those in Canaan and Israel, but has called prophets and given commandments among all His children and throughout all generations of time.

Second, the Book is record of two civilizations that resided upon the American Continent that were destroyed by Secret Combinations. God thru the Book of Mormon prophets, warns the Gentiles in the Last Days, that our land will be filled with Secret Conspiracies, and that if we don't repent, our civilization will be destroyed just like theirs was. Moroni, the son of Mormon, wrote:

Mormon 8:35 Behold, I speak unto you as if ye were present, and yet ye are not. But behold, Jesus Christ hath shown you unto me, and I know your doing.

Morm 9:31 Condemn me not because of mine imperfection, neither my father, because of his imperfection, neither them who have written before him; but rather give thanks unto God that he hath made manifest unto you our imperfections, that ye may learn to be more wise than we have been.

Unless you have been blinded enough to belive that “All is well in Zion,” Moroni writes in the Book of Ether that in the Last Days, Secret Combinations would spread over all the nations of the Gentiles:

Ether 8:21-22And they [Conspiracies] have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking, and also the destruction of the people of Nephi. And whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold, they shall be destroyed; . . . Wherefore, O ye Gentiles, it is wisdom in God that these things should be shown unto you, that thereby ye may repent of your sins, . . . Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this asecret combination which shall be among you; . . . For it cometh to pass that whoso buildeth it up seeketh to overthrow the afreedom of all lands, nations, and countries; and it bringeth to pass the destruction of all people,

So, what is a Secret Combination? When did this sort of thing get going. Well, unfortunately, it turns out that Conspiracy has been around since the beginning of time. It is difficult to tell the complete history of conspiracy because those that commit conspiracy and enter into secret combinations swear to keep their wickedness a secret. But Scripture gives us an brief overview and we are promised that in the Millennium, Christ will go through and reveal to us everything good and bad has happened in this Earth's history. Why, you may ask, would Christ bother to retell us our history from starting to ending? Don't the history books have all that information? Why not just open up a book? Well, if the history books were correct, then this would not be necessary. However, it appears what is accepted as history is not correct and Christ is going to tell us the real “rest of the story.”

D&C 88:108-10 And then shall the first angel again sound his trump in the ears of all living, and reveal the secret acts of men, and the mighty works of God in the first thousand years. And then shall the second angel sound his trump, and reveal the secret acts of men, and the thoughts and intents of their hearts, and the mighty works of God in the second thousand years—And so on, until the seventh angel shall sound his trump;

2 Nephi 27:11; 22 And the day cometh that the words of the book which were sealed shall be read upon the house tops; and they shall be read by the power of Christ; and all things shall be revealed unto the children of men which ever have been among the children of men, and which ever will be even unto the end of the earth. . . Wherefore, when thou hast read the words which I have commanded thee, and obtained the witnesses which I have promised unto thee, then shalt thou seal up the book again, and hide it up unto me, that I may preserve the words which thou hast not read, until I shall see fit in mine own wisdom to reveal all things unto the children of men.

Wisdom tells us that “those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” We also know that “history is written by the victors.” Well, despite what pop-culture may have us believe, the “Good-guys” don't always win. Sadly, much of our accepted history has been written by the wicked who conceal their wickedness, paint themselves as the good side, and frame their opponents as the bad. Consequently, the wicked have an many cases gone out of their way to conceal true history so that they are enabled to fool us using the same tricks over and over again. The Book of Mormon teaches that the revealing the Earth's true history may be a major component to what binds Satan and ushurs in the promised thousand years of peace.

2 Nephi 30:17-18 There is nothing which is secret save it shall be revealed; there is no work of darkness save it shall be made manifest in the light; and there is nothing which is sealed upon the earth save it shall be loosed. Wherefore, all things which have been revealed unto the children of men shall at that day be revealed; and Satan shall have power over the hearts of the children of men no more, for a long time.

Ether 8:26 Wherefore, I, Moroni, am commanded to write these things that evil may be done away, and that the time may come that Satan may have ano power upon the hearts of the children of men, but that they may be persuaded to do good continually, that they may come unto the fountain of all righteousness and be saved.

Because of the pricess value of truth and the difficulty in detecting a lie, man has failed time and again to produce the perfect truth serum, and lie detector. Lies can be difficult to detect especially when they are buried amongst truth. And Truth of itself can be difficult to decern, especially when it is difficult to accept. Accordingly, God has prepared a special revelatory device for the revealing of truth and uncovering of lies. These devices are known as Seer Stones, or “Urim and Thummin.” Many prophets in the Bible and the Book of Mormon used the Seer Stones to translate ancient scripture and receive revelation from God. Aaron, the High Priest, used the Urim and Thummin to judge Israel. In the Last Days, scripture foretells that God would raise up another Seer like unto Moses. We know that the mission of Joseph Smith was a fulfillment of this prophecy.

And again, as we enter into the Great Tribulation period, and coming upon the restoration and gathering of Israel, and the establishment of the Great City of New Jerusalem, we expect the prophetic powers of the Urim and Thummin to be manifest again. However, in our current political state, I don't see Seer Stones being used to acquire evidence in the court room just. But if your remember the example of the later Nephi in the Book of Mormon (Book of Helaman), this prophet of God was able to use the prophetic gift to acquire the necessary hard evidence to uncover the plot behind the assassination of the Chief Judge.

Alma 37:23 And the Lord said: I will prepare unto my servant Gazelem, a stone, which shall shine forth in darkness unto light, that I may discover unto my people who serve me, that I may discover unto them the works of their brethren, yea, their secret works, their works of darkness, and their wickedness and abominations.

Doctrine and Covenants 35:7 And it shall come to pass that there shall be a great work in the land, even among the Gentiles, for their folly and their abominations shall be made manifest in the eyes of all people.

Seer Stones aside, I hope it won't take until the Millennium for the Gentiles to “wake up” to the Conspiracy that is already “among us.” But while waking up to the reality of our "awful situation" may uncover various aspects of wickedness and corruption, we should remember that it will be the "disintegration of the family" that will bring upon us "the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets".

Additional Reading:

"The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion" - author unknown

"Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars" -author unknown

"None Dare Call It Conspiracy" -Gary Allen

"Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion" -Gary Webb

"Behold a Pale Horse" -William Cooper

"The Naked Capitalist" -Cleon Skousen

"Tragedy and Hope" -Carroll Quigley

"Other Losses" -James Bacque (Eisenhower and Operation Keelhaul)

"Target: Patton: The Plot to Assassinate General George S. Patton" -Robert K. Wilcox

The Tea Party Deception - Joel Skousen (Interview)

The Brotherhood of Darkness - Dr. Stanley Monteith (Lecture)

The Bohemian Grove Exposed- Alex Jones (Documentary)

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Balanced Spiritual Diet

“our relationship to living prophets is not one in which their sayings are a smorgasbord from which we may take only that which pleases us. We are to partake of all that is placed before us, including the spinach, and to leave a clean plate!” Elder Maxwell, Things As They Really Are, P.74

The Scriptures as well as modern prophets love to liken spiritual truth with food. Paul spoke of milk before meat. Christ taught that He is the "bread of life" and the "living water". In the Book of Mormon, Nephi invites us to "feast upon the word". And, a latter-day Apostle, Elder Neal A. Maxwell, loved to speak about remembering to eat our spiritual spinach. When thinking about the differences between the many Christian religions, it seems that many denominations and non-denominations serve a meal that is missing a food group or two. Only the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints offers the completely balanced spiritual diet.

Some Christian denominations have been critical of the LDS Church for following Christ in offering the Christian sacraments of water baptism by immersion, the bestowing of the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands, and the offering of the emblems of the Lord's Supper. Other Christians have criticized the LDS Temple and its exercise of of the sealing power to bind marriages and families for "time and all eternity" and not just "for as long as you both shall live". Those critical of the LDS sacraments, claim that confessing Christ is all that is needed for Salvation, and that ordinances and covenants are just a bunch of unnecessary "dead works". However, I will use the Bible to show that the ritual ordinances given by Christ are a integral and critical part of of a balanced Christian diet.

Christ = Bread, Justification = Milk
Paul taught that milk should come before meat, and Jesus Christ taught that He is the "bread of life." While meat and vegetables are important, we cannot forget the the “stay” and “staff” of life. Jesus Christ is the only way to Salvation and Eternal Life. When the believer becomes born again, and truly accepts Christ as his Savior and Redeemer, he is justified. Justification means that judgment is postponed. Therefore, the justified individual is given a probationary time to prepare to meet God. During this time of probation, a just God considers him innocent until proven guilty. Also, Christ's righteousness is "imputed" upon him, enabling him the opportunity to enjoy the purifying presence of the Holy Ghost.

However, the Holy Ghost is easily offended by sin. So, the process of Justification must be renewed again and again. During the days of the Law of Moses, Israel continually offered up sacrifices which reminded them of their sinful natures. In the New Testament, believers continually partook of the bread and wine of Christ's Last Supper to receive the Justification of the infinite atonement. While, a person might subsist on a diet of milk and bread, thankfully the gospel of Jesus Christ does not end with Justification. Through the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all true believers can also enjoy the real Meat and Potatoes of the gospel.

Meat = Sanctifying Covenants, Vegetables = Consecration
The New Testament tells the story of a rich young man who asked the Savior what he should to to have Eternal Life. Jesus Christ answered by asking "what saith the Law?" In response, the young man began reciting the 10 Commandments, and then declared "All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?" Impressed, Christ taught, "If thou wilt be made perfect, sell all that thou hast, give to the poor and come and follow me." To be made "perfect" is to become "Sanctified".

While, it is wonderful to be justified and have judgment day postponed, sin still has very painful consequences. Thankfully, the Atonement of Christ possess both sufficient mercy to both forgive and overcome sin. Overcoming sin, the flesh, or "the natural man" is the power of Sanctification. Thus, through Christ, we are not just saved "in" our sins, but also saved "from" our sins. Sanctification is the purifying process whereby the Holy Ghost purges from us any desire or disposition to do evil (Mos 5:2). Therefore, as we receive the Holy Ghost more perfectly, like a refiners fire, we eventually will lose any and all desire for sin. When all desire from sin has been purged from us, we are then clean and prepared to dwell in the presence of Our Father in Heaven.

Heb 7: 11,19 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?. . . 19 For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Latter-Day Sancts
In case you think Sanctification is too big a concept for you, consider that all believers of Christ in the New Testament where called "Saints". Saints is derived from the Latin "Sancts" and is short for Sanctification. With this in mind, the concept of Sanctification should be a central Christian principle for any "Latter-day Sanct".

The Promise of Consecration is Sanctification
We learn in the New Testament and through latter-day revelation that after we have accepted Christ and are Justified, Christ desires us to enter into a special covenant relationship with Him.. We enter into a covenant relationship with God through ritual ordinances such as Baptism, the Lord's Supper and in the Temple. Only through the ordinances of the Latter-day temple can Christians enter into the most sacred and sublime covenant with God; the covenant of Consecration. Just like the rich young man, Christ invites all believers though the temple to be willing to devote all we possess to serving Him and building up His kingdom. In return, we are promised to be made perfect, to become sanctified, and to be prepared to receive Eternal Life. Sanctification is composed of the principles of both obedience and sacrifice. As Samuel reminded King Saul, great sacrifice didn't preclude him from also being expected to keep the Lord's commandments.

1 Sam 15:22 Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

In the Old Testament, the temple was only built up to one kingdom, nation, tongue and people. But in the New Testament, John in Revelation saw an angel fly in the midst of heaven with the everlasting gospel to preach to all kingdoms, nations tongues and people. So, while the blessing, priesthood, and the covenants in the OT were exclusive to one tribe and one people, today in the Last Days, the blessings and covenants of the temple are inclusive and available to all people. This is the message that the angel is sounding at the top of each LDS Temple.

Saved By Grace After All We Can Do
LDS Doctrine is a Christ-Centered, Sanctification-focused doctrine. Our message is always one of how we can, through Christ, try a little harder to do a little better. Many Christians have a difficult time with LDS Theology and feel we are teaching that we can somehow save ourselves, or meet God part way. This false perspective represents an unfortunate misunderstanding of LDS theology. Some of this mistaken impression can be traced to a misunderstanding of the words of Nephi in the Book of Mormon who says "we are save by grace, after all we can do." Evangelicals correctly argue that "we can do nothing without the grace of Christ." However, this interpretation takes Nephi's words out of context. What Nephi is explaining is why they bothered to observe the Law of Moses knowing that salvation was in Christ. Nephi was not saying he could do anything without Christ. What he was saying was that Christ gave the Law of Moses and they were going to joyfully and faithfully receive and apply what grace God had already given them, before asking for more. Going back to our food analogy, what Nephi is saying is, "don't asks for seconds before finishing your firsts".

2 Ne 25:23 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.

In the same sense, Moroni, at the close of the Book of Mormon, invites all men everywhere to "deny themselves of all ungodliness". Moroni then declares that if we would deny ourselves, then would "His grace be sufficient for us." Again, what Moroni means is that God has already given us the grace and power, though Christ, to overcome our sins. If we receive and apply the atonement of Jesus Christ, we can become justified by his atoning sacrifice and sanctified though His Holy Spirit. Then we can have the faith and assurance that when He appears we will be like Him and we will see Him as He is.

Moroni 10:32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ;

Sunday, October 02, 2011

LDS General Conference 2011

This weekend, leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, held their semi-annual General Conference. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is led by a President who is the Prophet and Chief Apostle, his two counselors, and a Quorum of Twelve Apostles. President Uchtdorf, 2nd Counselor in the First Presidency, in the latest First Presidency message in the Ensign challenged church members to listen carefully to General Conference and to be knowledgable about what our leaders are telling us. Our church leaders are called and choosen by God, and speak his word. Therefore, church members should know what the Lord's Apostles and Prophets are saying.

During this weekend's October Conference the world received wonderful counsel. Church leaders discussed a variety of subjects. Here are some of the more memorable quotes and thoughts:

Members are encouraged to refer to the Church by its full inspired name: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. - Elder Ballard

"The greatest thing a father can do for his daughter is to lover her mother." Also, when you daughter is late coming home from a date, "go and get her!" LDS members should lead the way in a return to virtue - Sister Dalton

"To memorize a scripture is to forge a new friendship" "Angels speak . . . the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ, for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do" (2Ne32:3) - Elder Scott

[When my wife complains that I've already told her something, I tell her that ideas are like friends who I enjoy revisiting again and again]

"It is as tragic to think you are too sinful to pray as it is to think you are too sick to go to the doctor" "Prayer, like medicine, works best when used as directed" - Elder Cornish

"The 10 Commandments have become the 10 creative suggestions" "May we realize and understand how close to us He is and how far he is willing to come to bless us" - President Monson

"The Atonement covers all the unfairness of life. There is a lifeboat for everyone" - Elder Cook

[My father-in-law is Elder J. Devin Cornish of the Second Quorum of the Seventy. We were talking last week and I asked him which session of Conference he was going to speak in. I then ribbed him that I hoped he didn't give the "humility talk." It turns that he didn't. He spoke on Prayer. But it turns out that my favorite talk in this Conference was the "humility talk". One of the Seventy spoke about how overwelmed he felt and he was hanging his head staring at the floor when President Monson got on his elevator and told him in the President Monson way, "it looks better when you look up". This Seventy said this experience with President Monson was a simple witness of the Prophets job to inspire us to look up and look to Christ. He then related another teaching of President Monson that said when working out a problem, never forget the person we have the responsibility to love.]