I have been reading and reflecting upon the word of God as recorded in Moroni 7:29-39. As a result, a number of questions have come to mind and caused me to more seriously consider His message to me about belief, faith, works, action, repentance, baptism, hope, charity, miracles, angels, and redemption. I felt to share, at least in part, the following:
29 And because he hath done this, my beloved brethren, have miracles ceased? Behold I say unto you, Nay; neither have angels ceased to minister unto the children of men.
Miracles? Angels? Do I see, acknowledge, or experience miracles? What are they? Do angels minister to me? What do angels talk to me about? What do they teach me? What do they claim or assert? What is the message they bring?
What is an angel anyway? Spirit being? Mortal individual with flesh and blood? Resurrected personage with flesh and bone? Translated being? Other? All of the above? Would it seem reasonable to consider the possibility of encountering diverse angels, who come with different characteristics and for various purposes and reasons? Good? Bad? Right? Wrong? Light? Darkness? Truth? Error? Enlightenment? Deception? From Heaven? From Hell? Angels of God with His message of truth? Angels of the Devil with his message of lies? How about the devil deceiving me and appearing to me as an angel of light, but lacking glory? How about the Lord appearing to me as an angel of light with glory?
What would be my experience to look upon Satan in the natural man? Would it be possible to be in the presence of Satan without having glory come upon me and being transfigured before him? Why or why not? On the other hand, what would be the result of looking upon God in the natural man? Would it be possible to look upon God, except his glory should come upon me, and I should be transfigured before Him? Is there a difference between God and Satan? If there is a difference, how is it discerned? How can I accurately distinguish between the two? (Moses 1:13-16)
Therefore, having these extremes placed before us in the scriptures, would it be likely that angels do indeed appear with varying degrees of light, glory, knowledge, authority, and power? If that is in fact true, would it be sensible to correctly identify angels and distinguish between verity and deception. Would it be wise to receive the angels of God, embrace the message, and live according to it? Therefore, should the angels of darkness be dismissed and the attendant lies discarded?
“And thus the Gospel began to be preached, from the beginning, being declared by holy angels sent forth from the presence of God, and by his own voice, and by the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Moses 5:58) I think I would be very interested and anxious to hear from an angel like that. If one came along, I think I would want to listen and give heed to His word. Are there any angels available today that fit this description? Where can one be found in these latter days? What does God require of an individual to be such and receive the assignment to be an angel of God sent from his presence?
30 For behold, they are subject unto him, to minister according to the word of his command, showing themselves unto them of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness.
Angels of God are subject to whom? Angels of God minister according to the word of whose command? To whom do angels of God show themselves? If angels of God appear unto those of strong faith and a firm mind in every form of godliness, what can I do to recognize and receive an angel? If angels, in fact, minister according to the word of His command, do angels of God freelance according to their own agenda? Would they ever teach for doctrines the commandments of men? Do they have a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof? Do they get paid to preach? Are they receiving $$$ in any amount, form, or fashion? Or do angels of God have different motives for teaching the word of God?
Who are the angels of God today? Could a mortal angel of God come in the form of a prophet, seer, revelator, and translator with an authorized message from heaven? Whose message is delivered by angels that come from the presence of God? Does God vouch for His messages sent through His angels? Knowing the message comes from God, should I take the message more seriously? Therefore, would it be highly important for me to find and identify a true messenger sent from the presence of God? Would it be essential for me to heed the message delivered by God's authorized angel? What would be the consequences of giving heed to the message? What if I do not give heed to the message of God delivered through His angel? Does it matter?
31 And the office of their ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfil and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.
What does it mean that the chosen vessels of the Lord may bear testimony of Him? What is the ministry of an angel? Who ministers according to the word of Christ at His command? What do angels do? What do they say? What do they declare? Do they give praise and approval and say smooth things that are pleasing to men? Or do they call repentance with clarity, accuracy, and power? Are they more interested in the salvation of my soul than becoming popular among men? Is an angel sent from the presence of God the same thing as a prophet sent from the presence of God?
Do we find angels, who are true messengers of God, well liked, praised, honored, found on corporate boards, occupying high seats in religious leaderships, or given special treatment and accommodations in our society? Or does the world mistake the true prophets as the false prophets because the guilty “taketh the truth to be hard, for it cutteth them to the very center”? And in turn, does society erroneously view the false prophets as the true prophets because they preach that which is pleasing to the carnal man?
Although true prophets may be among the most honorable men of the earth, do the children of men almost always cast out true messengers as apostates, while they cherish, honor, and support hypocrites, impostors, and the basest of men? Do men generally enjoy being called to repentance? Why or why not? Do men even see a need to repent? Or do they choose to firmly believe that all is well in Zion and therefore, no change is needed? When an angel preaches repentance with authority, what is the common reaction of the children of men? Do they like it? Or do they firmly conclude that the angel is a stupid idiot? Mad? Unbalanced and crazy? Deluded and deceived? Apostate? A wild man? What is the outcome of failing to recognize an angel from God and giving heed to the message? On the other hand, some few may actually turn and face God, hear the word of Christ with a soft and open heart, recognize the truth, acknowledge personal error, and repent. What would be the result of that?
32 And by so doing, the Lord God prepareth the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father, the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.
For what is the Lord preparing the way when He sends an angel with an authoritative message? What is made available? Repentance? Baptism? Receiving the Holy Ghost? Windows of opportunities? In order for the children of men to obtain faith in Christ, is it necessary for a messenger to be sent forth with a true message? Why or why not? Is the Lord preparing the way for covenants to be fulfilled? What else?
33 And Christ hath said: If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.
If I have faith in Christ, shall I have power to do whatsoever thing that is expedient in Christ? Anything? All things expedient? What things are expedient in Him? What does it look like to have faith in Christ? Is faith something beyond just believing He exists? Does exercising faith in Christ require something more than being slightly familiar with His teachings? Would faith without works be acceptable? What works would be necessary to be accomplished on my part? What actions would be required to show faith in Christ? What efforts must be put forth? Mental? Physical? Other?
34 And he hath said: Repent all ye ends of the earth, and come unto me, and be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved.
Would it be expedient in Christ that I be saved? Does this verse become a personal commandment from God to me? Is this His invitation to me? If it is, would it seem reasonable for me to repent, come unto Christ, be baptized in His name, and have faith in Him? What does it mean to repent? Could repentance mean to abandon false and vain and foolish traditions of men and turn and face God? Could it mean that any beliefs, traditions, or ways of living found in me, which are contrary to God, must be discarded? Based on my current view and present understanding, what if my beliefs seem to be true but are false? What if I think I am right, but in actuality, I am blinded by the traditions of men and fail to recognize that my practices are done in vain? What if I am unwilling to consider the foolishness of my position? Consequences? Would I be willing to ask God about my paradigms and His perspective and seek to reconcile the two? How about asking for help to correct my misunderstanding and to make the necessary changes in my paradigm to match His?
What if I were told by an angel that baptism, whether Catholic, Protestant, or LDS is not valid and is not accepted by Christ, and therefore, authoritative re-baptism is necessary? If I were clearly instructed by an angel and understood what Jesus really means by saying that “you must be baptized in my name, and have faith in me, that ye may be saved”, what would be my reaction? How does this new information match up with my current beliefs, traditions, and religious practices? Does it matter to me? To God? What shall I do about it?
If the word of God and His instructions delivered by an angel were in obvious and distinct contradiction to my current religious beliefs and traditions, how would I feel? How would I act? What would I do? Would I tend to blow it off? Ignore it? Think about it? Pray about it? Seek and obtain an authorized baptism? Would agitation or anger set in? If so, at whom or what would I be angry? The messenger? The church? God? Myself? Would I demonize the angel, the church, or God? Would I be tempted to cast out the messenger? Stone the prophet? Slander the church? Reject and curse God? What would I actually do? How would I deal with truth that contradicts my current paradigms and ways of life?
If the word of God proves to run contrary to society, religious instruction, and traditions, what should I do? Consider it? Reject it? Which would I reject, and which would I accept? If the word of God, coming through His angel, fails to reconcile with “church doctrine” and does not match or support the teachings of church leadership, what shall I do? Trust God, consider the new paradigm, and act accordingly? Or “sweep it under the rug” and pretend it doesn't exist? Which would be best? Why?
If an angel provided instructions and I obtained assurance by the power of the holy ghost that an authoritative re-baptism is necessary for me to be saved, what should I do? If this commandment of God to me concerning re-baptism contradicts the LDS narrative, which it does, should I still be baptized again? I wonder if those in “my world” would approve of that? How about my family? Friends? Peers? What if I asked questions to my family, peers, and church leaders? Would they entertain my sincere questions about this and other issues, which seem to contradict the teachings I hear at church? I wonder if my religion would approve of that?
Would my bishop, priest, president or clergyman accept me as I am and consider my sincere questions? Why or why not? Would my religious leaders address my questions by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned? Or would I be persecuted and cast out in one form or another? Really, how would I deal with the contradictions I find between the word of God and the many institutions, religions, professors, priests, and leaders that “draw near to me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me, they teach for doctrines the commandments of men, having a form of godliness, but they deny the power thereof.”? (JSH 1:19)
Would it be of value for me to correctly identify true messengers, verify the truthfulness of the messages delivered, obtain the word of God, and apply those truths in my life?
35 And now, my beloved brethren, if this be the case that these things are true which I have spoken unto you, and God will show 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?
Great Question !!
36 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?
More key questions worth considering !!
37 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.
Have miracles ceased in my life? Have angels ceased to appear to me? Or have I ever seen, recognized, or entertained an angel? If I have not witnessed miracles or if miracles have not been wrought as a result of my faith or if angels have not appeared or ministered to me by faith or if angels have not been noticed, recognized, or received by me or if angels have not ministered to me, then what's up? If these things have ceased or haven't even begun, what is the reason? What are the consequences? “Wo be unto the children of men, for it is because of unbelief, and all is vain.” What would that mean regarding me and my state and standing with God? What is unbelief? And how can I discard it?
38 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.
This appears very serious to me! If these things have ceased or do not exist in my life, what does that mean concerning my salvation? What does it mean according to the words of Christ? If these things have ceased or do not appear in my life, and therefore, faith has ceased also and awful is the state of man, for they are as though there had been no redemption made, what is my current state and standing with God? Is it awful? Would it be wise for me to remain in an unredeemed state, as though there had been no redemption made? Is this a way to reject Christ's redemptive offering to me? What do you think?
39 But behold, my beloved brethren, I judge better things of you, for I judge that ye have faith in Christ because of your meekness; for if ye have not faith in him then ye are not fit to be numbered among the people of his church.
What is a determining characteristic of those who have faith in Christ? What is meekness? What are some examples of those who possess meekness? Christ? Enoch? Moses? Others? What does meekness look like?
What could make you unfit to be numbered among the people of His church? What is His church anyway? (D&C 10:67-68)
In these few verses, much truth has been revealed about belief vs. unbelief, faith, works, action, repentance, baptism, hope, charity, miracles, the ministry of angels, and our redemption through Christ. We are given a “measuring stick” to measure our faith. Having faith in Christ, we can expect miracles, the appearance of angels, the word of God delivered through true messengers, and to be redeemed from the fall as did the brother of Jared, Nephi, Moroni, and many others as manifested and recorded in the Book of Mormon.
If Christ didn't mean what He said, why did Christ teach and make the promises recorded here in these few verses? On the other hand, if He does indeed mean what He says, vouches for His words with power and authority, and keeps His promises, would it make sense to pay close attention to His words, understand His message, and act upon it with faith? Would it be worth it to precisely obey His directions and thereby claim what He promises?