A witness from God can be relied upon. As you read our thoughts, beliefs, and experiences, we invite you to obtain a witness for yourself. If something we say or imply does not ring true, then you should feel no obligation to accept it. Life is an individual and unique journey with God. Although we can help and encourage each other, we need to be careful not to come between God and another person.

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Monday, April 24, 2017

Excommunication of Karen Strong - Stake Disciplinary Council Defense

Karen Strong and her husband were recently excommunicated from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints on April 11, 2017. After reading her defense, I asked her if she would be willing to share her testimony with others on a public blog.

In sharing Karen's testimony, it is my hope that believers in Christ will be given strength and courage to face the persecution and challenges in their own world. It is also important to raise the warning voice to as many as possible.

Stake Disciplinary Council Defense
Karen Strong
April 11, 2017

You have brought us before this council on the charges of apostasy. The grounds for apostasy which President XXXXXX presented are derived from interpretation and application of the church’s Handbook of Instruction.

But the scriptural meaning of the original Greek word apostasy is DEFECTION FROM TRUTH, OR FALLING AWAY FROM TRUTH. Christ defines Himself as the Truth, as well as the words which He has declared in written scripture. Thus, apostasy is a revolt against Christ and the truth of the Lord’s word, as declared in the scriptural record.

The scriptures are binding upon us, and they contain the words by which we shall ALL be judged. They are the standard of truth, and the law upon which righteous judgment is based.

THESE (scriptures) should never be set aside in favor of Handbook rules established without divine revelation, kept secret from the membership, and then imposed upon the membership without the required vote of common consent. In Christ’s day, the Handbook of Instruction would be akin to the rigid commandments the Pharisees added to the scriptures, which they then used as a basis to falsely accuse the Savior of having committed sin. Christ rebuked the religious leaders for relying upon their additions to God’s word and said, “JUDGE NOT ACCORDING TO YOUR TRADITIONS, BUT JUDGE RIGHTEOUS JUDGMENT.”

Because you are accusing us of apostasy, or straying from the truth; and thus, falling away from Christ and His revealed word; THIS (scriptures hold up) is the RIGHTEOUS standard of truth that you should use to determine the legitimacy of your accusation against us.

Before I go further, I need to ask you a question.

Was Martin Luther guilty of apostasy when he pointed out the contradictions between the Catholic Church’s practices and teachings compared to what the scriptures actually taught? Or had the church wrongfully changed the ordinances and doctrines while relying upon their claim to authority as justification in making all the changes? Was Luther’s loyalty supposed to be to the Church, or to God and the truth found in God’s word? Whom will God vindicate in the matter? Christ and his followers were also cast out and charged with apostasy by the institutional church. It’s a recurring pattern that large institutional religion strays off course.

Those in power, then point to the individuals who notice the shift away from scripture and accuse them of apostasy claiming it is impossible for the institution to ever go off course because of their authority, or keys. The pattern has always been the same. The bottom line to all of this is that we believe that it is the institutional Church that has strayed from some significant foundational truths found within God’s word.

A few examples of the serious changes I am talking about are:

1. The extensive changes made in 1990 to the temple ordinances. Followed by additional significant changes in 2005 and 2016.

In addition to the temple ordinances being changed, the ordinance of the sacrament has been significantly modified contrary to Christ’s instructions and example clearly given in three books of scripture. Additions have been made to the doctrine of Christ recorded in scripture, concerning qualification for baptism. Any addition by anyone to the doctrine of Christ is contrary to Christ’s explicit instruction.

Both Isaiah and Joseph Smith specifically warned that God’s ordinances are not to be changed or altered by man. No provision is given because keys are held.

Joseph taught:

Ordinances instituted in the heavens before the foundation of the world, in the priesthood, for the salvation of man, ARE NOT TO BE ALTERED OR CHANGED (TPJS p. 308). (repeat underlined)

“…the ordinances must be kept IN THE VERY WAY God has appointed, otherwise their priesthood will prove a cursing instead of a blessing.” (Joseph Smith, General Conference Tal, Oct. 5, 1840)

We teach as a church that the changing of the ordinances by the primitive church was a clear sign of their apostasy and was directly connected to their loss of authority.

The Lord confirms in Section 1 that this earlier changing of ordinances had caused them to break the everlasting covenant, thereby requiring the restoration through Joseph Smith.

But did you know that Isaiah specifically warned that when the Lord returns to burn the earth at His second coming, it will again be because the earth has been defiled because the ordinances have been changed and the everlasting covenant broken as a consequence of those changes? Isaiah’s prophecy is not about the change of the ordinances made by the Catholic Church mentioned in Section 1. Instead, it is directly related to the breaking of the covenant in the last days, by changing the ordinances preceding Christ’s Second return. This is no small matter.

God’s ordinances because we believe keys allow such changes to be made; this is no different than the logic and reasoning made by the historic church. If changing of ordinances defined their apostasy, why do we excuse ourselves in the same thing we use to condemn them?

Continuing with the list of changes made by the Church:

2. There have been changes in what is taught as doctrine.

First, Joseph Smith clearly taught that all who have repented, been baptized and received the Holy Ghost were to go on and seek to receive their calling and election made sure and receive the Second Comforter; Christ taught the same truth to His disciples in the Gospel of John, as did Peter.

This true doctrine is no longer taught and encouraged in the church. Quite the opposite. In 2015, Elder Oaks even went so far as to say that those who seek this are falling for a familiar tactic of the adversary. His teaching is a direct contradiction to the words of Christ, Peter, and Joseph Smith found in the scriptures. And a changing of saving doctrine.

Two additional examples of changed doctrine pertain to the Adam-God doctrine taught by Presidents Young, Taylor and Woodruff; and the doctrine on blacks and the priesthood taught by the Church all the way into my lifetime, and confirmed in modern scripture.

Pertaining to the Adam-God doctrine, President Kimball rightfully declared that this doctrine taught by earlier prophets was false doctrine and denounced it. But Bruce R. McConkie went further and called it a heresy and said any who believe it are not worthy to be saved. Yet, Brigham Young taught this doctrine in the St. George Temple as the lecture at the veil and condemned members who did not accept it as truth. Did McConkie mean Brigham and those who believed him as their leader do not deserve to be saved? Why would a living prophet need to denounce the teachings of a former prophet if prophets cannot lead us astray, in the first place?

The same conundrum manifested itself in the official church essay written to explain the former church presidents’ teachings on blacks and Priesthood. The church stated previous presidents of the church were LACKING REVELATION FROM GOD ON THE MATTER, disavowed their teachings, and excused them as being products of their time. Enoch and Abraham were likewise discredited by the essay, as the essay contradicted what is taught in the Pearl of Great Price by these prophets.

We were told through the official essay that previous prophets lacked revelation and that scripture is wrong. We can’t have it both ways. We can’t be told to trust our current leaders because they can’t lead us astray; and yet justify them disparaging and contradicting former prophets of all ages, in an attempt to appease the public. This reveals inconsistency in teaching and contradiction in purported truth.

The church applies a standard of infallibility to the current leaders that they do not give to former leaders when the former leaders’ teachings are unpopular in today’s culture.

3. The original 1835 Doctrine and Covenants contained a series of Lectures on Faith that were included as the “doctrine” portion of that book of scripture. These were voted upon by common consent and accepted as scripture in Joseph’s day. In 1921, a committee of six apostles voted to remove this doctrine from our scripture, without a required vote of the members; again changing, or removing “doctrine” from the scriptures. This constituted an elimination of important truths about the process of how one attains to the faith required to literally know the Lord face to face.

4. Section 101 and 134 have very detailed teachings about the Constitution and the types of laws we should support. The Church has recently engaged in promoting and passing legislation that contradicts these revelations, but they exempted themselves from complying to the laws on moral grounds in the process; thereby compelling through legislation others to live laws that they find morally objectionable. When you advocate others doing something you refuse to do, this is hypocrisy. Hypocrisy is one of the worst offenses named by Christ in the scriptures and it was always directed at the religious leaders. (LGBT)

5. The church has disregarded the scriptural teachings concerning wealth, riches, costly apparel, and seeking the fine things of the world. The decision to surround the Salt Lake Temple with the very image of Babylon in all its glory, namely the City Creek Mall, teaches loud and clear that it is perfectly fine for all of us to attempt to serve two masters. This is counter to everything taught in the scriptures by Christ.

6. The church changed the organizational structure of its’ highest quorums revealed in Section 107 without revelation to do so. The quorums of the First Presidency, the Twelve, the Seventy and the Stake High Councils were all established to be equal in authority for the very purpose of eliminating the possibility of centralized top-heavy control and power over the church. The Lord even made the Quorum of the Twelve subordinate to the Stake High Council when they were visiting and were only allowed to preside where there was no organized stake. We have completely altered and ignored the Lord’s design for how the church was to be governed and eliminated their equality.

More examples could be added. Everyone one of the above matters is rooted in a contradiction or change from what is given by the Lord in the scriptures.

Over the years these changes became a troubling matter to us because of our deep love for the Lord, His church, and His gospel. We have never been rebellious. But as we observed contradictions and serious changes that countered the scriptures, we also began to wonder if this is exactly what Nephi and Moroni were witnessing when they saw our day.

Nephi saw that ALL the churches in the last days have gone out of the way and become corrupted. (2 Ne 28:11)

And Moroni lamentingly asked when he saw us, “Why have ye polluted the holy church of God?”

After years of pondering and wondering how such changes could be occurring within the Lord’s church; we found our answer in Section 124.

In 1841, after a decade of failed attempts to establish Zion, the Lord gave Section 124 and commanded the Saints to build the required temple in Nauvoo. In verse 28, He reveals exactly WHY that temple was required.

For there is not a place found on earth that he [the Lord] may come to and restore again that which was lost unto you, or which he hath taken away, even the fulness of the priesthood.”

Did you get that?

The Lord told the Saints in 1841 that they did NOT actually have the required fulness of the Priesthood anymore. He confirms that they had previously had it restored, but that they had lost it through disobedience, and therefore, the Lord had taken it away from them and so He had to restore it again. Additionally, the Lord directly states that it is He that must personally come and return it to the Saints in a completed temple.

Had you ever realized that was the case? The point to take note of is that it’s not a question of whether they lost it. The Lord clearly states the church did NOT have the fulness of the priesthood in 1841.

The Lord then tells them that they only have a certain amount of time allotted for them to complete the temple. Whereupon, He then warns them that if they fail to complete it within the designated time, THEY WILL BE REJECTED AS A CHURCH WITH THEIR DEAD. He says:

I command you, all ye my saints, to build a house unto me; and I grant unto you a sufficient time to build a house unto me…
and if you do not these things at the end of the appointment ye shall be rejected as a church, with your dead, saith the Lord your God” (v. 31-32)

The Lord promises them that if they succeed in building this temple in the time permitted, then they will not be moved out of their place. In other words, they would remain in Nauvoo as a cornerstone of Zion. But failure would mean cursing, wrath, indignation, judgement, and not receiving the blessings they expected at His hand.

So the question is, did they succeed within the allotted time to build the temple? Did the Lord ever come to the Nauvoo Temple, and did He restore to them again the fulness of the priesthood? Or did they fail and become rejected as a church, remain without the fulness and get moved out of their place?

Time does not permit a proper examination of the facts, but in short, Joseph and Hyrum, who was the revealed and appointed successor to lead the church, were killed 3 ½ years after this revelation. At the time of their death the temple was still only built up to the exterior walls of the second story.

But the Saints were fully aware of the requirements given in Section 124, as Joseph had admonished them repeatedly that they were in jeopardy of failing. So after the Quorum of the Twelve won the vote of the members to lead the church, they anxiously worked to try to complete the temple.

But God allowed the wrath of their enemies to be upon them, and they were forced out of Nauvoo in the dead of winter before the temple was complete. The endowments they performed were done in the attic of the unfinished temple. Two apostles and a handful of saints remained behind to finish and dedicate the temple months later. But there is no record of the Lord appearing in this temple and accepting it as He promised, or of the Lord bestowing again the fulness of the priesthood as stated was the very purpose for building it.

Instead, the temple was abandoned by the Saints due to their forced exodus, and it was left to eventually burn, be destroyed by a tornado, and remain with not one stone upon another. A complete loss, mirroring the pattern of Biblical temples that were destroyed.

We realized that what had happen to our early church, followed the same pattern that was exemplified by the children of Israel with Moses. The Saints in Joseph’s day had been given two opportunities to come into the presence of the Lord, Missouri and Nauvoo. But they failed to rise to the invitation. Their first failure resulted in the Lord removing the fulness of the priesthood, and their second failure left that priesthood still out of their possession.

Section 84 talks about the ramifications of what it means to a people when the Lord invites them into His presence, but they fail to receive the invitation. Such people are always left with a lesser portion of the priesthood than the fulness that is required to see Him face to face.

But a lesser priesthood does NOT mean the Lord isn’t still working with us. It doesn’t mean He doesn’t love us. It doesn’t mean we can’t obtain the spirit. It doesn’t mean there isn’t a work for the body of believers to accomplish. It doesn’t mean much truth isn’t possessed. It doesn’t mean God’s plan was thwarted or that it failed.

It merely means, that we, as a people do not have what we could have had had we risen up. It means that God has eternal laws that He obeys and when we fail, He is bound to enact certain consequences upon us. He calls those consequences a curse because the consequences prohibit us, as a people, from entering into His literal presence. For us, the latter-day saints, that consequence resulted in 4 generations, or 160 years, of operating with a lesser portion of priesthood that has made obtaining Zion impossible. But the cursing was never intended to be permanent. The Lord always intended to set His hand again the second time to make the offer to us again when sufficient time had passed to satisfy the blood spilt by Joseph and Hyrum’s death because of the Saint’s failure.

But it does not change the fact that during this condition of cursed probation since Joseph’s death, lacking the degree of priesthood Joseph possessed, we have slowly drifted further and further from what Joseph originally intended and restored as a religion. If you don’t like our saying so, then will you accept the words of Joseph Fielding Smith on the matter:

It is a VERY APPARENT fact that we have traveled far and wide in the past 20 years. What the future will bring I do not know. But if we drift as far afield from the fundamental things in the next 20 years, what will be left of the foundation laid by the Prophet Joseph Smith? It is easy for one who observes to see how the apostasy came about in the primitive church of Christ. ARE WE NOT TRAVELING DOWN THE SAME ROAD? (Joseph Fielding Smith Journal, entry for 28 December. 1938)

Joseph Fielding acknowledges that the church has traveled far and wide in just the 20 years he had observed while in leadership. He admits that the drift had been from fundamental things that were part of the foundation laid by Joseph Smith. He sees what has happened and admits he can see how the primitive apostasy occurred and then stunningly acknowledges we are traveling down the very same road. Did you notice that he began by admitting that it was very apparent to see this fact? That was 80 years ago. What would he say and observe today? You are asking us to not observe and acknowledge a very apparent fact that even a former prophet admitted. You are asking us to turn a blind eye to changing of ordinances, the elimination and changing of doctrine, and institutional disregard for teachings found in scripture as outlined previously.

I declare to you that we have not apostatized. We have not fallen away or defected from Christ or His truth. We have been faithful and loyal to Him. We serve Him and Him alone and fear no man, nor council of men who consider themselves beholden to a handbook of instructions over the word of God.

If you cast us out, you cast out innocent people and you cast out those whom God has approved. We admonish you to think seriously before you do so. Do not use the traditions of a religious culture and Handbook to judge us. With what judgment you mete against us, it will be meted unto you by the Lord in a coming day. Let us go in peace worshiping God according to the dictates of our conscience and according to His written word which the church has refused to keep intact. The scriptures inform our beliefs and they vindicate everything we think and everything we have done.

If I were Martin Luther, you would be asking me to deny the word of God to protect the church that has made clear changes to ordinances and changes in doctrine against the word of God written in scripture. Because of the obvious parallel, I close with the words of Luther when asked by the church in his trial if he would recant his statements to save himself.

Unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Holy Scriptures and by plain reason and not by popes and councils alone, who have so often contradicted themselves---I consider myself convicted by the testimony of Holy Scripture, which is my basis; my conscience is captive to the Word of God. To go against conscience is neither right nor safe. I cannot and I will not recant. Here I stand; I can do no other. God help me.” In the name of our Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Identifying Markers of the Disciples of Jesus

There are those who are called disciples of Jesus Christ. In the broadest sense of the definition the dictionary says “all Christians are called his disciples, as they profess to learn and receive his doctrines and precepts.” Yet, what does it mean to receive the Doctrine of Christ?

1. A learner; a scholar; one who receives or professes to receive instruction from another;
2. A follower; an adherent to the doctrines of another. Hence the constant attendants of Christ were called his disciples; and hence all Christians are called his disciples, as they profess to learn and receive his doctrines and precepts.

In the Book of Mormon there are identifying markers which distinguished the disciples of Jesus from other believers in Christ. Great and marvelous works were wrought by the disciples of Jesus. How did His disciples receive power and authority to work miracles in the name of Jesus?

And there were great and marvellous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear. And all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men, and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus. 4 Nephi 1:6-7 

Notice in this next verse there was no contention among all the people but mighty miracles were wrought among the disciples of Jesus. Is there a difference between being a believer in Jesus and being a disciple of Jesus?

And it came to pass that there was no contention among all the people in all the land, but there were mighty miracles wrought among the disciples of Jesus. [emphasis added] 4 Nephi 1:14 

Why couldn't a man do miracles in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity? How can he be cleansed every whit from iniquity? Who has power and authority to forgive sins and cleanse a man?

And now it came to pass that according to our record, and we know our record to be true, for behold, it was a just man who did keep the record for he truly did many miracles in the name of Jesus and there was not any man who could do a miracle in the name of Jesus save he were cleansed every whit from his iniquity. 3 Nephi 2:1 

What was Jesus doing when he knelt to wash His disciple's feet? When the Lord kneels to wash a man's feet does He cleanse him every whit from his iniquity? Is this when he becomes clean from the blood and sins of the world? What are the sins of the world? What does it mean to become clean from the blood and sins of the world?

So after he had washed their feet and replaced his cloak and sat down again, he said to them, Do you understand the example I have just provided to you? You call me Master and Lord. And that is correct to say, for I am. If I am your Lord and Master, and knelt to wash your feet to cleanse you, you should also labor to make each other clean from the blood and sins of the world. For I have given you the example that you should do as I have done with you. Testimony of John 10:17-21 

The claim to be the true Church of Christ, is made by many, but to claim to be Jesus Christ's church, the works of Jesus must be present. What is the power of the word of God in the disciple of Jesus? Would this be the same as Jesus being one in them? Why will the people harden their hearts against the word of the Lord when the markers of true disciples of Jesus are present?

And this church did multiply exceedingly because of iniquity and because of the power of Satan who did get hold upon their hearts. And again, there was another church which denied the Christ, and they did persecute the true church of Christ because of their humility and their belief in Christ. And they did despise them because of the many miracles which were wrought among them, therefore they did exercise power and authority over the disciples of Jesus who did tarry with them. And they did cast them into prison, but by the power of the word of God which was in them the prisons were rent in twain and they went forth doing mighty miracles among them. Nevertheless, and notwithstanding all these miracles, the people did harden their hearts and did seek to kill them even as the Jews at Jerusalem sought to kill Jesus according to his word. And they did cast them into furnaces of fire and they came forth receiving no harm, and they also cast them into dens of wild beasts and they did play with the wild beasts even as a child with a lamb. And they did come forth from among them, receiving no harm. Nevertheless, the people did harden their hearts for they were led by many priests and false prophets to build up many churches and to do all manner of iniquity. And they did smite upon the people of Jesus, but the people of Jesus did not smite again. 4 Nephi1:33-41 

Is there a difference between true believers in Christ and disciples of Jesus? Is there a difference in the degree of faith of these two groups of worshipers of Christ?

Therefore the true believers in Christ and the true worshipers of Christ, among whom were the three disciples of Jesus who should tarry, were called Nephites and Jacobites and Josephites and Zoramites. 4 Nephi 1:46 

Why was it expedient that Jesus go to the Father? Why was it done for their sake? Why did Jesus touch the disciples whom he had chosen with his hand when he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost? Can power to give the Holy Ghost be given in any other way?

And now I go unto the Father because it is expedient that I should go unto the Father for your sakes. And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of these sayings he touched with his hand the disciples whom he had chosen, one by one, even until he had touched them all and spake unto them as he touched them. And the multitude heard not the words which he spake, therefore they did not bear record, but the disciples bear record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost. 3 Nephi 3:285-287 

Why were the disciples of Jesus the ones who formed a church of Christ? Why were the disciples of Jesus the ones who gave the gift of the Holy Ghost?

And it came to pass that the thirty and fourth year passed away, and also the thirty and fifth, and behold the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And as many as did come unto them and did truly repent of their sins were baptized in the name of Jesus, and they did also receive the Holy Ghost. 4 Nephi 1:1 

What were the works that Jesus did? Why were those that believed on Jesus able to do greater works than Jesus did? Who does Jesus pray for? For what purpose is glory given to those who believe on Jesus? What does it mean to be made perfect in one? How will the world know that Jesus was sent by the Father? When Jesus's disciples are made one with Jesus and the Father, how will they testify of Him?

This clearly sets forth the propriety of the Savior's saying, recorded in John's testimony, 14:12 [John 10]: Verily, verily I say unto you, he that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these, because I go unto the Father.- This taken in connection with some of the sayings in the Savior's prayer, recorded in the 17th chapter, gives great clearness to his expressions: He says, in the 20-24 [John 10]: Neither pray I for these alone; but for them also who shall believe on me through their words; that they all may be one, as thou, Father art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one; I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me be with me where I am: that they may behold my glory which thou hast given me; for thou lovedest me before the foundation of the world. Lectures on Faith 7:33-35 

What is the state of the glorified saints? Why were the glorified saints able to do greater works than those which Jesus did among them? Why do the saints need to behold Jesus's glory? Why do they need to behold His glory in eternity? Where is eternity? What does it mean to be one with Jesus and the Father?

All these sayings put together, give as clear an account of the state of the glorified saints as language could give- The works that Jesus done they were to do, and greater works than those which he done among them should they do, and that because he went to the Father. He does not say that they should do these works in time; but they should do greater works because he went to the Father. He says, in the 24th verse [John 10]: Father, I will that they also whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory. These sayings, taken in connection, make it very plain, that the greater works, which those that believed on his name, were to do, were to be done in eternity, where he is going, and where they should behold his glory. He had said, in another part of his prayer, that he desired of his Father, that those who believed on him should be one in him, as he, and the Father were one in each other: Neither pray I for these (the apostles) alone, but for them also who shall believe on me through their words; that they all may be one: that is, they who believe on him through the apostles' words, as well as the apostles themselves: that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me and I in thee: that they also may be one in us. Lectures on Faith 7:36-40 

What did the Savior intend His disciples to understand? Why does Jesus need to give His disciples the glory which the Father gave Him? Because the disciples are partakers in Jesus's glory, are they able to do greater works than those which Jesus did among them? How did they obtain this glory?

What language can be plainer than this? The Savior surely intended to be understood by his disciples: and he so spake that they might understand him; for he declares to his Father, in language not to be easily mistaken, that he wanted his disciples, even all of them, to be as himself and the Father: for as he and the Father were one, so they might be one with them. And what is said in the 22nd verse [John 10] is calculated to more firmly establish this belief, if it needs anything to establish it. He says, And the glory which thou gavest me, I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one. As much as to say, that unless they have the glory which the Father had given him, they could not be one with them: For he says he had given them the glory that the Father had given him, that they might be one; or in other words, to make them one. This fills up the measure of information on this subject, and shows most clearly, that the Savior wished his disciples to understand, that they were to be partakers with him in all things: not even his glory excepted. Lectures onFaith 7:41-46 

How does the Savior give His glory to others? After Jesus's disciples are made one with the Father and the Son, what will they do? Why does Jesus wish His disciples to do these great works?

It is scarcely necessary here to observe what we have previously noticed: That the glory which the Father and the Son have, is because they are just and holy beings; and that if they were lacking in one attribute or perfection which they have the glory which they have, never could be enjoyed by them; for it requires them to be precisely what they are in order to enjoy it: and if the Savior gives this glory to any others, he must do it in the very way set forth in his prayer to his Father: by making them one with him, as he and the Father are one.- In so doing he would give them the glory which the Father has given him; and when his disciples are made one with the Father and the Son, as the Father and the Son are one, who cannot see the propriety of the Savior's saying, The works which I do, shall they do; and greater works than these shall they do, because I go to the Father? Lectures on Faith 7:47 http://scriptures.info/Scriptures//dc/lecture/7/?hl=47

What does Jesus mean, “all things are possible to him that believeth”? How did the Savior and the Former Day Saints view the plan of salvation? How did they become the children of promise? Will there always be a performance of things told by the Lord if we believe Him?

And Jesus said unto the man who brought his son to him, to get the devil who tormented him, cast out, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth. Mark 9:23 [Mark 8]. These with a multitude of other scriptures, which might be quoted, plainly set forth the light, in which the Savior, as well as the Former Day Saints, viewed the plan of salvation.- That it was a system of faith- it begins with faith, and continues by faith; and every blessing which is obtained, in relation to it, is the effect of faith, whether it pertains to this life or that which is to come.- To this, all the revelations of God bear witness. If there were children of promise, they were the effects of faith: not even the Savior of the world excepted: Blessed is she that believed, said Elizabeth to Mary, when she went to visit her;- for there shall be a performance of the things which were told her of the Lord; Luke 1:45 [Luke 1]. Nor was the birth of John the Baptist the less a matter of faith; for in order that his father Zacharias might believe he was struck dumb. Lectures on Faith 7:57-61 

Why is faith necessary to receive any and all blessings? Why is nothing withheld when faith is sufficient to receive it? What are the fruits of the faith of saints and disciples of Jesus? Are these blessings to be received by both men and women?

And through the whole history of the scheme of life and salvation, it is a matter of faith: every man received according to his faith: according as his faith was, so were his blessings and privileges; and nothing was withheld from him when his faith was sufficient to receive it. He could stop the mouths of lions, quench the violence of fire, escape the edge of the sword, wax valiant in fight, and put to flight the armies of the aliens; women could, by their faith, receive the dead children to life again: in a word, there was nothing impossible with them who had faith. All things were in subjection to the Former Day Saints, according as their faith was- By their faith they could obtain heavenly visions, the ministering of angels, have knowledge of the spirits of just men made perfect, of the general assembly and church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, of God the judge of all, of Jesus the Mediator of the new covenant, and become familiar with the third heavens, see and hear things which were not only unutterable, but were unlawful to utter. Peter, in view of the power of faith, 2nd epistle, 1:1-3 [2 Pet 1] says, to the Former Day Saints: grace and peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, according as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that has called us unto glory and virtue. In the first epistle, 1:3-5 [1 Pet 1] he says, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his abundant mercy, has begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. Lectures on Faith7:62-66 

What is the difference between believing in God and knowing Him? How are we to obtain all things that pertain to life and godliness?

These sayings put together, show the Apostle's views, most clearly, so as to admit of no mistake on the mind of any individual. He says that all things that pertain to life and godliness were given unto them through the knowledge of God and our Savior Jesus Christ. And if the question is asked, how were they to obtain the knowledge of God? (for there is a great difference between believing in God and knowing him: knowledge implies more than faith. And notice, that all things that pertain to life and godliness, were given through knowledge of God;) the answer is given, through faith they were to obtain this knowledge; and having power by faith to obtain the knowledge of God, they could with it obtain all other things which pertain to life and godliness. By these sayings of the Apostle we learn, that it was by obtaining a knowledge of God, that men got the all things which pertain to life and godliness; and this knowledge was the effect of faith. So that all things which pertain to life and godliness are the effects of faith. Lectures on Faith 7:67-73 http://scriptures.info/Scriptures//dc/lecture/7/?hl=67-73

Why does faith bring with it apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, gifts, wisdom, knowledge, miracles, healings, tongues, interpretation of tongues? Is it enough to claim these titles and gifts without the attendant miracles that Jesus did? How does faith lead to knowledge? Why are revelations, visions, and dreams, and other necessary things needed in order that we may be perfected and obtain salvation? How do we obtain eternal life?

From this we may extend as far as any circumstances may require whether on earth or in heaven, and we will find it the testimony of all inspired men, or heavenly messengers, that all things that pertain to life and godliness are thc[the] effects of faith and nothing else: all learning, wisdom, and prudence fail, and everything else as a means of salvation but faith. This is the reason that the fishermen of Galilee could teach the world- because they sought by faith and by faith obtained. And this is the reason that Paul counted all things but filth and dross- what he formerly called his gain he called his loss; yea, and he counted all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord. Philippians 3:7-10 [Phil 1]. Because, to obtain the faith by which he could enjoy the knowledge of Christ Jesus the Lord, he had to suffer the loss of all things: this is the reason that the Former Day Saints knew more, and understood more of heaven, and of heavenly things than all others beside, because this information is the effect of faith- to be obtained by no other means. And this is the reason, that men, as soon as they lose their faith, run into strifes, contentions, darkness and difficulties; for the knowledge which tends to life disappears with faith, but returns when faith returns; for when faith comes, it brings its train of attendants with it- apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, teachers, gifts, wisdom, knowledge, miracles, healings, tongues, interpretation of tongues, etc. All these appear when faith appears on the earth, and disappear when it disappears from the earth. For these are the effects of faith and always have, and always will attend it. For where faith is, there will the knowledge of God be also, with all things which pertain thereto- revelations, visions, and dreams, as well as every other necessary thing in order that the possessors of faith may be perfected and obtain salvation; for God must change, otherwise faith will prevail with him. And he who possesses it will, through it, obtain all necessary knowledge and wisdom, until he shall know God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, whom he has sent: whom to know is eternal life: Amen. Lectures on Faith 7:74-83 

Miracles follow saints and disciples of Jesus Christ. These blessings are open to all who believe and receive.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Do I Choose the Flesh or Faith?

Why did the Pharisees and Sadducees desire Jesus to show them a sign from heaven? And why did Jesus call them hypocrites saying, “A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign”?

The Pharisees also, with the Sadducees, came, and tempting Jesus, desired him that he would show them a sign from Heaven. And he answered and said unto them, When it is evening ye say, The weather is fair, for the sky is red; and in the morning ye say, The weather is foul today; for the sky is red and lowering. Oh hypocrites! Ye can discern the face of the sky, but ye cannot tell the signs of the times. A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign, and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the Prophet Jonas. And he left them and departed. [emhasis added] Matthew 8:107-112 

What is the sign of the prophet Jonas?

    And there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas; for as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly, so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. Matthew 6:86 

Why do the wicked and adulterous seek after a sign? It may be that many of the wicked and adulterous have never “committed adultery”. The wicked and adulterous are they who are attached to what they can experience with their five senses. They can believe that which they can touch, see, hear, taste, and smell. This is why they ask for signs. They want to be given evidence or proof that they can experience with their physical body. This is all they know to do. They are slaves to addictions, passion, lusts of the flesh, and the things of this world.

The carnal mind cannot work by faith because it will only believe what it sees with its eyes. Faith works by first seeing with an eye of faith. What we see with our eye of faith we will see with our eyes. What is seen in the spirit, manifests itself in the flesh.

    And there were many whose faith was so exceedingly strong, even before Christ came, who could not be kept from within the veil, but truly saw with their eyes the things which they had beheld with an eye of faith, and they were glad. [emphasis added] Ether 4:18 

    And thus, if ye will not nourish the word, looking forward with an eye of faith to the fruit thereof, ye can never pluck of the fruit of the tree of life. [emphasis added] Alma 13:113 

To believe is to see.

It is not true that "seeing is believing." Rather, believing is to see. Belief will open your eyes. The Voice, three levels removed from us, is regained by your election to remove the veil that bars your hearing and your sight. Proverbs of Denver Snuffer #3

If I do not work by faith, I am being acted upon by the results of some other being's faith? To truly be free I must be able to work by faith.

And because that they are redeemed from the fall they have become free forever, knowing good from evil, to act for themselves and not to be acted upon, save it be by the punishment of the law at the great and last day according to the commandments which God hath given.[emphasis added]  2 Nephi 1:93 

We did not even get to this earth except by faith as it existed in ourselves or in some other being, and there will not be a change or a revolution in any of the creations of God unless it is effected by faith.

 In the preceding lectures, we treated of what faith was, and of the object on which it rested; agreeably to our plan we now proceed to speak of its effects: As we have seen in our former lectures, that faith was the principle of action and of power in all intelligent beings, both in heaven and on earth, it will not be expected that we will, in a lecture of this description attempt to unfold all its effects; neither is it necessary to our purpose so to do; for it would embrace all things in heaven and on earth, and encompass all the creations of God, with all their endless varieties: for no world has yet been framed that was not framed by faith; neither has there been an intelligent being on any of God's creations who did not get there by reason of faith, as it existed in himself or in some other being; nor has there been a change or a revolution in any of the creations of God but it has been effected by faith: neither will there be a change or a revolution unless it is effected in the same way, in any of the vast creations of the Almighty; for it is by faith that the Deity works. [emphasis added] Lecture on Faith 7:1 

The whole visible creation, as it now exists, is the effect of faith. Faith is the principle upon which we must act in order to enjoy the blessedness of eternity.

It is only necessary for us to say, that the whole visible creation, as it now exists, is the effect of faith- It was faith by which it was framed, and it is by the power of faith that it continues in its organized form, and by which the planets move round their orbits and sparkle forth their glory: So, then, faith is truly the first principle in the science of theology, and when understood, leads the mind back to the beginning and carries it forward to the end, or in other words, from eternity to eternity.

As faith, then, is the principle by which the heavenly hosts perform their works, and by which they enjoy all their felicity, we might expect to find it set forth in a revelation from God as the principle upon which his creatures, here below, must act, in order, to obtain the felicities enjoyed by the saints in the eternal world, and that when God would undertake to raise up men for the enjoyment of himself, he would teach them the necessity of living by faith, and the impossibility there was of their enjoying the blessedness of eternity without it, seeing that all the blessings of eternity are the effects of faith. [emphasis added] Lecture on Faith 7:6-7 

We must learn how to work by faith or else not work at all. We must learn to act instead of being acted upon.

And now my sons I speak unto you these things for your profit and learning, for there is a God and he hath created all things, both the heavens and the earth and all things that in them is, both things to act and things to be acted upon. 2 Nephi 1:75 

Why does Paul have no confidence in the flesh? Why did Paul count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus ? Why did Paul suffer the loss of all things, and count them but dung, that he might be found in Christ? Why must we be found in Christ through the faith of Christ? What does it mean to know Christ and attain unto the resurrection of the just?

For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh. Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more; circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.

But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord; for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ, and be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith; that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; if by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the just. Philippians 1:41-45 

How is the flesh contrary to the Spirit? What are the works of the flesh? What is the fruit of the Spirit? What does it mean to crucify the flesh? Why must I crucify my flesh? Can I have faith in God while I am attached to my five senses? How does the flesh veil me from the things of God?

This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other; so that ye cannot do the things that ye would. But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these, Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance; against such there is no law. And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not be desirous of vainglory, provoking one another, envying one another. [emphasis added] Galatians 1:113-120  

What is the veil? What is inside the veil? Where do I see? Do I see within the veil? Or do I see with my natural senses? How does this veil affect my faith? Can I have faith in things outside the veil?

Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh, and having such an high priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water. [emphasis added] Hebrews 5:38  

What does Paul mean “when I was under the law, I was yet carnal”? Why when spiritual do I do that which I am commanded to do? Why does no good thing dwell in my flesh? Why is that which is good under the law, not good? How could something which is evil under the law be good in Christ? Where is the law of God written? Where is the commandment of Christ written? Why does the fleshy or carnal serve the law of sin? But the spiritually minded cannot sin?

For we know that the commandment is spiritual; but when I was under the law, I was yet carnal, sold under sin. But now I am spiritual; for that which I am commanded to do, I do; and that which I am commanded not to allow, I allow not. For what I know is not right, I would not do; for that which is sin, I hate. If then I do not that which I would not allow, I consent unto the law, that it is good; and I am not condemned. Now then, it is no more I that do sin; but I seek to subdue that sin which dwelleth in me. For I know that in me, that is, in my flesh, dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me, but to perform that which is good I find not, only in Christ. For the good that I would have done when under the law, I find not to be good; therefore, I do it not. But the evil which I would not do under the law, I find to be good; that, I do.

Now if I do that, through the assistance of Christ, I would not do under the law, I am not under the law; and it is no more that I seek to do wrong, but to subdue sin that dwelleth in me. I find then that under the law, that when I would do good evil was present with me; for I delight in the law of God after the inward man. And now I see another law, even the commandment of Christ, and it is imprinted in my mind. But my members are warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. And if I subdue not the sin which is in me, but with the flesh serve the law of sin; O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord, then, that so with the mind I myself serve the law of God. [emphasis added] Romans 3:56-70 

The war to be won is between the Spirit and the flesh. Which one will govern me? Which one controls and directs the other? Does my flesh govern me? Or does my Spirit govern me? Why are the carnally minded dead? What is it about being Spiritually minded that brings life and peace?

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death. For what the law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit, the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are after the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not after the flesh, but after the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, though the body shall die because of sin, yet the Spirit is life, because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you. [emphasis added] Romans 3:71-81 

Here is another way of saying it. The flesh or the son of God must be subjected to the will of the Father or the Spirit.

And now Abinadi said unto them, I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son - the Father because he was conceived by the power of God and the Son because of the flesh, thus becoming the Father and Son, and they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth. And thus the flesh becoming subject to the Spirit or the Son to the Father, being one God, suffereth temptation and yieldeth not to the temptation, but suffereth himself to be mocked and scourged and cast out and disowned by his people. [emphasis added] Mosiah 4:179-181 

Why can't I have faith unto life and salvation while I am still attached to earthly things? How does my attachment to my five senses or my flesh destroy my faith?

Let us here observe, that a religion that does not require the sacrifice of all things, never has power sufficient to produce the faith necessary unto life and salvation; for from the first existence of man, the faith necessary unto the enjoyment of life and salvation never could be obtained without the sacrifice of all earthly things: it was through this sacrifice, and this only, that God has ordained that men should enjoy eternal life; and it is through the medium of the sacrifice of all earthly things, that men do actually know that they are doing the things that are well pleasing in the sight of God. When a man has offered in sacrifice all that he has, for the truth's sake, not even withholding his life, and believing before God that he has been called to make this sacrifice, because he seeks to do his will, he does know most assuredly, that God does and will accept his sacrifice & offering, & that he has not nor will not seek his face in vain. Under these circumstances, then, he can obtain the faith necessary for him to lay hold on eternal life. [emphasis added] Lectures on Faith 6:15-17 

Does this give greater meaning to Nephi's words? “cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.”

O Lord I have trusted in thee and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh,for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm. Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me if I ask not amiss. Therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee. Yea, I will cry unto thee, my God the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen. 2 Nephi 2:56-64 

Why must I choose between God and mammon? Can I enjoy the things of the Spirit while still holding on to the things of the flesh? What is the focus of my eye? Is it the eye which governs all things?

Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and 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. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness. No man can serve two masters for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 3 Nephi 3:119-125 

Where is joy to be found? How is this to be received?

Joy cannot be found by subordinating the spirit to the flesh. Joy, peace and freedom come only by subordinating the flesh to the spirit. Proverbs of Denver Snuffer #19

How are the disciples of Jesus an epistle of Christ to be read of all men? Where is the law of Christ written? Why does the letter kill but the spirit gives life?

Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men; forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshly tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life. 2 Corinthians 1:36-38 

Are signs and mighty works important in pleasing God? Do signs come before I exercise faith or after I exercise faith? What purpose do signs serve for the unbelieving and rebellious? How will signs and wonders follow believers in Jesus Christ and be used to glorify God and for the good of men?

Behold, I the Lord uttereth my voice and it shall be obeyed, wherefore verily I say, Let the wicked take heed and let the rebellious fear and tremble and let the unbelieving hold their lips, for the day of wrath shall come upon them as a whirlwind and all flesh shall know that I am God, and he that seeketh signs shall see signs, but not unto salvation. Verily I say unto you, There are those among you who seeketh signs and there have been such even from the beginning, but behold, faith cometh not by signs, but signs follow those that believe. Yea, signs cometh by faith, not by the will of men nor as they please, but by the will of God. Yea, signs cometh by faith unto mighty works, for without faith no man pleaseth God. And with whom God is angry He is not well pleased, wherefore unto such He sheweth no signs, only in wrath unto their condemnation. Wherefore I the Lord am not pleased with those among you who have sought after signs and wonders, and not for faith and not for the good of men unto my glory. D&C 18:3-8 

If miracles have ceased, what does that say about my faith? Why are miracles wrought among the disciples of Christ?

And now my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will shew unto you with power and great glory at the last day that they are true, and if they are true, has the day of miracles ceased? Or have angels ceased to appear unto the children of men? Or has he withheld the power of the Holy Ghost from them? Or will he so long as time shall last or the earth shall stand, or there shall be one man upon the face thereof to be saved? Behold I say unto you, Nay. For it is by faith that miracles are wrought. And it is by faith that angels appear and minister unto men. Wherefore, if these things have ceased, wo be unto the children of men for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain. For no man can be saved, according to the words of Christ, save they shall have faith in his name. Wherefore, if these things have ceased, then has faith ceased also; and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made. [emphasis added] Moroni 7:51-60 

Do I ask for signs so that I might believe? Or do I do the works that Jesus did because I have faith in Him? Can you see the difference between asking for signs from God on the one hand, and performing miracles in the name of Jesus on the other hand? One brings condemnation and the other brings life and salvation.

Monday, April 3, 2017

Restoration Youth Conference, June 19th-21st, 2017, Cache Valley Utah

The youth have asked us to post this announcement.  
More information will be posted on this and other blogs. 
A message about this from the youth:

Hey you! Yeah you, are you free this summer from Monday June 19th through Wednesday June 21st? Because you’ll want to be! Have you been needing a spiritual retreat with other youth your age? Because this conference is exactly that; a series of exciting activities and spiritual bonding to help the youth get closer and more interested in the gospel. During this extravaganza, not only will we be taught the words of Christ, we will be doing this in some beautiful places in Cache Valley, Utah, such as a reservoir, during a sunrise, under the stars, etc. This event will never be boring and includes all youth wanting a fun time. Parents are welcome to serve and contribute where needed but this conference is FOR THE YOUTH. More information on this will be coming, but clear your calendars for the upcoming Youth Conference.  


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Governance, A Law Unto Itself, and Unrighteous Dominion

Structuring society so that all may prosper requires governance. We have an example of such a society in the Book of Mormon.

And it came to pass that the thirty and fourth year passed away, and also the thirty and fifth, and behold the disciples of Jesus had formed a church of Christ in all the lands round about. And as many as did come unto them and did truly repent of their sins were baptized in the name of Jesus, and they did also receive the Holy Ghost. And it came to pass in the thirty and sixth year, the people were all converted unto the Lord upon all the face of the land, both Nephites and Lamanites, and there were no contentions and disputations among them and every man did deal justly one with another and they had all things common among them. Therefore there were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free and partakers of the heavenly gift. 4 Nephi 1:1-4 

There is an order to bringing this kind of social structure into existence. The result of this order is freedom for all. “There were not rich and poor, bond and free, but they were all made free and partakers of the heavenly gift.”
  1. First, a church of Christ was formed
  2. Next, the people did truly repent of their sins, were baptized, and received the Holy Ghost
  3. Then the people were all converted unto the Lord
  4. And because of this, there were no contentions and disputations among them
  5. And so every man did deal justly one with another
  6. Which led to them having all things common among themselves

To have freedom without order and governance is impossible. When a group or individual rejects hierarchy they many times move to the other extreme of anarchy or a law unto itself; and what they get is something worse than what they left.

Anarchy is the condition of a society, entity, group of people, or a single person that rejects hierarchy. . . The word anarchy comes from the ancient Greek ἀναρχία (anarchia), which combines ἀ (a), "not, without" and ἀρχή (arkhi), "ruler, leader, authority." Thus, the term refers to a person or society "without rulers" or "without leaders.

The German philosopher Immanuel Kant treated anarchy in his Anthropology from a Pragmatic Point of View as consisting of "Law and Freedom without Force". Thus, for Kant, anarchy falls short of being a true civil state because the law is only an "empty recommendation" if force is not included to make this law efficacious ("legitimation" from "lex timere" = "fearing the law"). For there to be such a state, force must be included while law and freedom are maintained, a state which Kant calls republic.

Kant identified four kinds of government:
  1. Law and freedom without force (anarchy).
  2. Law and force without freedom (despotism).
  3. Force without freedom and law (barbarism).
  4. Force with freedom and law (republic). Wikipedia 
I would add a fifth category to Kant's list.
  1. True conversion unto the Lord with freedom and law (Zion)

As it is with earthly governments, so it is with the things of God. Many want a “free Jesus” where nothing is required of them beyond existing in whatever state they choose to remain.

In 1951, John Taylor reports remembering something Joseph Smith had said, “Some years ago, in Nauvoo, a gentleman in my hearing, a member of the Legislature, asked Joseph Smith how it was that he was enabled to govern so many people, and to preserve such perfect order; remarking at the same time that it was impossible for them to do it anywhere else. Mr. Smith remarked that it was very easy to do that. ‘How?’ responded the gentleman; ‘to us it is very difficult.’ Mr. Smith replied, ‘I teach them correct principles, and they govern themselves.’” John Taylor, “The Organization of the Church,”Millennial Star, Nov. 15, 1851, p. 339.

Yet, something remains unsaid. What if people are offered and taught correct principles, but reject those principles by not abiding by those principles? Are they fit to govern themselves? Or do they fall prey to another form of government, or in other words, those who are not governed by God will be led captive by the will of the devil.

There are three woes pronounced upon the prideful who pervert the right way of the Lord.

O the wise and the learned and the rich that are puffed up in the pride of their hearts, and all those who preach false doctrines, and all those who commit whoredoms and pervert the right way of the Lord, wo, wo, wo be unto them, saith the Lord God Almighty, for they shall be thrust down to hell.

Wo unto them that turn aside the just for a thing of naught, and revile against that which is good and say that it is of no worth, for the day shall come that the Lord God will speedily visit the inhabitants of the earth. And in that day that they are fully ripe in iniquity, they shall perish.

Why would people revile against that which is good? Why do they say the gift from God is of no worth? What will happen when they are fully ripe in this iniquity?

But behold, if the inhabitants of the earth shall repent of their wickedness and abominations, they shall not be destroyed, saith the Lord of hosts. But behold, that great and abominable church, the whore of all the earth, must tumble to the earth, and great must be the fall thereof.

Why will they be destroyed if they do not repent? How are the wicked punished? “But behold, the judgments of God will overtake the wicked, and it is by the wicked that the wicked are punished, for it is the wicked that stir up the hearts of the children of men unto bloodshed.” Mormon 2:7 If I live in a lawless society, will there be freedom? Or will the lawless self-destruct and implode on themselves?

For the kingdom of the devil must shake, and they which belong to it must needs be stirred up unto repentance or the devil will grasp them with his everlasting chains and they be stirred up to anger and perish.

Why must the kingdom of the devil shake? Why must the proud and they who do wickedly be visited with thunderings, and lightnings, and earthquakes, and all manner of destructions? Is this what will stir some up to repentance? Will others still refuse, and in their anger perish? What if I truly humble myself because of the word and do not need to be compelled to be humble? Could much destruction and heartache be avoided?

For behold, at that day shall he rage in the hearts of the children of men and stir them up to anger against that which is good.

Why will the children of men anger against that which is good?

And others will he pacify and lull them away into carnal security that they will say, All is well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth, all is well. And thus the devil cheateth their souls and leadeth them away carefully down to hell.

How does the devil cheat their souls? Why is he careful with how he leads the children of men?

And behold, others he flattereth away and telleth them there is no hell. And he saith unto them, I am no devil, for there is none. And thus he whispereth in their ears until he grasps them with his awful chains, from whence there is no deliverance. Yea, they are grasped with death and hell, and death and hell and the devil and all that have been seized therewith must stand before the throne of God and be judged according to their works, from whence they must go into the place prepared for them, even a lake of fire and brimstone, which is endless torment.

Why does the devil use flattery to reassure people until he has them secure in his awful chains?

Therefore wo be unto him that is at ease in Zion.

Wo be unto him that crieth, All is well.

Yea, wo be unto him that hearkeneth unto the precepts of men and denieth the power of God and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Who are these woes pronounced upon? How do men deny the power of God and the gift of the Holy Ghost?

Yea, wo be unto him that saith, We have received and we need no more.

Why don't the people want more of God's word? What have they received that makes them think they have enough?

And in fine, wo unto all those who tremble and are angry because of the truth of God. For behold, he that is built upon the rock receiveth it with gladness, and he that is built upon a sandy foundation trembleth, lest he shall fall.

What is the difference between he that is built upon the rock and he that is built upon a sandy foundation? Why would some receive God's words with anger and others receive His words with gladness? Does God still have much to reveal to those who will listen?

Wo be unto him that shall say, We have received the word of God, and we need no more of the word of God for we have enough. For behold, thus saith the Lord God, I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little. And blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom. For unto him that receiveth I will give more, and from them that shall say, We have enough, from them shall be taken away even that which they have.

What will happen to those who refuse to receive more of the word of God? What will be given to those who receive more of His word?

Cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm or shall hearken unto the precepts of men, save their precepts shall be given by the power of the Holy Ghost. 2 Nephi 7:171 – 194 

Why is the carnal man cursed?

Hearken and hear oh my people, saith your Lord and your God, ye whom I delight to bless with the greatest of blessings: ye that hear me. And ye that hear me not will I curse, that have professed my name, with the heaviest of all cursings. Hearken, O ye elders of my church whom I have called, behold, I give unto you a commandment that ye shall assemble yourselves together to agree upon my word, and by the prayer of your faith ye shall receive my law, that ye may know how to govern my church and have all things right before me. And I will be your ruler and ye shall see that my law is kept. Doctrine and Covenants 64:1-4 

What will the Lord do for those that hear Him? What will happen to those who will not hear the Lord? Why must we assemble ourselves and agree upon His word by the prayer of our faith? Why does the Lord want me to receive His law? Can I be free and at peace if I refuse to be governed by His law? Who is the ruler of God's church? Why must I see that I keep His law?

And it came to pass that when the angel had spoken these words, he said unto me, Remember thou the covenants of the Father unto the house of Israel? I said unto him, Yea. And it came to pass that he said unto me, Look and behold that great and abominable church which is the mother of abominations, whose foundation is the devil. And he said unto me, Behold there are save two churches only: the one is the church of the Lamb of God, and the other is the church of the devil. Wherefore, whoso belongeth not to the church of the Lamb of God belongeth to that great church which is the mother of abomination, and she is the whore of all the earth. 1 Nephi 4:49-53 

Is the church of God an organization set up by men, or is it comprised of those who live His law? How do I become a member of the church of the Lamb of God? Is Jesus the keeper of the gate and the one who decides when I am ready to come into His church? Can a man or group of men franchise Jesus's church?

Many of us have experienced the oppression of unrighteous dominion. Having escaped the clutches of such control, the thought of having any law is scary to some. To them law sounds like the unrighteous dominion they just left. They don't want anyone telling them what to do, say, or think, and so become a law unto themselves. What they don't realize is, “That which is governed by law is also preserved by law.” What they will find is the anarchy of lawlessness is worse than the oppression of unrighteous dominion.

For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him and he receive not the gift? Behold he rejoiceth not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoice in him who is the giver of the gift.

What are the gifts offered to us at this time? Does God rejoice if we do not receive His gift? Do we receive joy in the gift if we do not receive it?

And again, verily I say unto you, That which is governed by law is also preserved by law, and perfected and sanctified by the same. That which breaketh a law and abideth not by law, but seeketh to become a law unto itself, and willeth to abide in sin and altogether abideth in sin, cannot be sanctified by law, neither of mercy, justice, or judgment.

Why do I need to be governed by law to be preserved by law?

Therefore they must remain filthy still. All kingdoms have a law given, and there are many kingdoms, for there is no space in the which there is no kingdom and there is no kingdom in which there is no space, either a greater or lesser kingdom. And unto every kingdom is given a law, and unto every law there are certain bounds also, and conditions. All beings who abide not in those conditions are not justified, for intelligence cleaveth unto intelligence, wisdom receiveth wisdom, truth embraceth truth, virtue loveth virtue, light cleaveth unto light, mercy hath compassion on mercy and claimeth her own, justice continueth its course and claimeth its own, judgment goeth before the face of him who sitteth upon the throne and governeth and executeth all things. Doctrine and Covenants 30:22-30 

Which conditions do I want to abide? Which kingdom do I choose?

What is to be done? A correct idea of God's character, perfections, and attributes is necessary for me to have faith in His laws and His ways. He knows what works and what does not.

Behold there are many called, but few are chosen, and why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson--that the rights of the Priesthood are inseparably connected with the Powers of Heaven and that the Powers of Heaven cannot be controlled nor handled, only upon the principles of righteousness.

How are the Powers of Heaven controlled? What are the principles of righteousness? Where do I learn these principles?

That they may be conferred upon us, it is true, but when we undertake to cover our sins or to gratify our pride, our vain ambition, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men, in any degree of unrighteousness, behold the heavens withdraw themselves, the Spirit of the Lord is grieved, and when it has withdrawn, Amen to the Priesthood or the authority of that man. Behold, ere he is aware he is left unto himself to kick against the pricks, to persecute the Saints, and to fight against God. We have learned by sad experience that it is the nature and disposition of almost all men, as soon as they get a little authority, as they suppose, they will immediately begin to exercise unrighteous dominion. Hence many are called, but few are chosen.

What is unrighteous dominion? Does God ever exercise unrighteous dominion? Or is it the pretenders who use His name in vain that scatter His sheep?

No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the Priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned, by kindness, by pure knowledge which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy and without guile, reproving betimes with sharpness when moved upon by the Holy Ghost and then showing forth afterwards an increase of love toward him whom thou hast reproved lest he esteem thee to be his enemy, that he may know that thy faithfulness is stronger than the cords of death; thy bowels also being full of charity towards all men and to the household of faith, and virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly. Then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God and the doctrines of the Priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from Heaven. The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion and thy sceptre an unchanging sceptre of righteousness and truth, and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee for ever and ever. D&C 47:135-143 

How many would like to be governed in this way? Why is God's dominion an everlasting dominion? Why does it flow unto Him without compulsory means? Am I willing to accept and live His laws so I can escape the vicious cycle of tyranny and anarchy in my life?

Be patient in afflictions and in sufferings revile not against those that revile; govern thy house in meekness and be steadfast. Doctrine and Covenants 115:9

What are the Lord's instructions to Thomas Marsh? How does the Lord govern His people? Because He is meek and patient and steadfast, He will not force His will upon me. I can refuse His offering and His gift and be a law unto myself, but some day whether in this life or in one which is to come, I will come to learn His ways really are the best ways. And I will know why I follow Him. It is because I love Him not because I fear Him.

Behold, Blessed, saith the Lord, are they who have come up unto this land with an eye single to my glory according to my commandments, for them that live shall inherit the earth, and them that die shall rest from all their labors, and their works shall follow them. They shall receive a crown in the mansions of my Father which I have prepared for them. Yea, blessed are they whose feet stand upon the land of Zion who have obeyed my gospel, for they shall receive for their reward the good things of the Earth and it shall bring forth in her strength. And they also shall be crowned with blessings from above, yea, and with commandments not a few and with revelations in their time, they that are faithful and diligent before me. Doctrine and Covenants 71:1-4 

We have been given a gift from God. He is willing to make a covenant with those who will have Him to be their God. He will crown them with blessings from above and give them commandments not a few. During the Boise Doctrine of Christ Conference in September 2017, I have an opportunity to accept by covenant the law of my God, not only to say but to do as He instructs. I invite all who desire to live His laws and be protected by His laws to do the same. In the name of Jesus, Amen.