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Monday, May 30, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 41 - "Anger Resteth In the Bosom of Fools" (Eccl. 7:9)

The preacher (Solomon, son of David the King) warns, "Be not hasty in thy spirit to be angry: for anger resteth in the bosom of fools. (Eccl. 7:9)"  How apt this illustration is.  Why is this so?  Our Lord answers this question by saying, "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca [a word suggesting contempt, and derision in both Aramaic and Greek], shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (Matt. 5:21-22)"  Anger, in my opinion, is the catalyst for all other sins.

How can we better ourselves so that anger is not a part of us?  We must first watch ourselves, as King Benjamin admonished.  Said he, "But this much I can tell you, that if ye do not watch yourselves, and your thoughts, and your words, and your deeds, and observe the commandments of God . . . even unto the end of your lives, ye must perish.  And now, O man, remember, and perish not. (Mosiah 4:30)"  Earlier in his great oration, the great Nephite King warns, "And now, I say unto you, my brethren, that after ye have known and have been taught all these things, if ye should transgress and go contrary to that which has been spoken . . . the same cometh out in open rebellion against God; therefore he listeth to obey the evil spirit, and becometh an enemy to all righteousness; therefore, the Lord has no place in him, for He dwelleth not in unholy temples. (Mosiah 2:36-37)"

May we all control ourselves, and eventually master our own creature, that the Spirit of the Lord might dwell more fully with us, I pray.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 40 - Keys of the Priesthood Only in LDS Church

In this post, I will show that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only Church acknowledged by Heavenly Father as His Church.

We must always remember that Joseph Smith said, "I will give you a key that will never rust - if you will stay with the majority of the Twelve Apostles and the records of the Church, you will never be led astray." (Young Woman’s Journal, Dec. 1906, p. 543).  Therein lies the key of the subject.


Before President Joseph Smith died, he gave the Keys of the Priesthood to the Twelve Apostles, and it is they who had a right to lead the Church, simply because they had all the Keys, and all the men who formed the splinter groups never rose higher than Seventy, which office of Seventy were only Elders - not High Priests as the Twelve Apostles were.  Also, President Joseph Smith knew that the Latter-day Saints would one day go to the Rocky Mountains.  Said he, 

I prophesied that the Saints would continue to suffer much affliction and would be driven to the Rocky Mountains, many would apostatize, others would be put to death by our persecutors or lose their lives in consequence of exposure or disease, and some of you will live to go and assist in making settlements and build cities and see the Saints become a mighty people in the midst of the Rocky Mountains. (History of the Church 5:85)

Law of Witnesses
There are at least six witnesses testifying to whom the Keys of Priesthood were given.  President Brigham Young bore witness, "Joseph conferred upon our heads all the keys and powers belonging to the Apostleship which he himself held before he was taken away, and no man or set of men can get between Joseph and the Twelve" (Essentials in Church History, p. 320).

 President Wilford Woodruff said, "I bear my testimony that . . . in Nauvoo, the Prophet Joseph Smith called the Apostles together and he delivered unto them . . . all the keys and powers that God had bestowed upon him. . . . (Statement, 19 March 1897, Church Archives)"  

President John Taylor wrote, "A special conference of the Church was held in Nauvoo on the 8th [of August 1844], and it was carried without a discenting [sic] voice, that the 'Twelve' should preside over the whole Church" (Times and Seasons, 5:632, 2 September 1844).

 Elder Orson Hyde recalled, "We were in council with Brother Joseph almost every day for weeks. . . . He conducted us through every ordinance of the holy priesthood . . . and said, 'now if they kill me you have got all the keys, and all the ordinances'" (Times and Seasons, 15 Sep. 1844, p. 651). 


Elder Parley P. Pratt testified, 


This great and good man [Joseph Smith the Prophet] was led, before his death, to call the Twelve together, from time to time, and to instruct them in all things pertaining to the kingdom, ordinances, and government of God.  He often observed that he was laying the foundation, but it would remain for the Twelve to complete the building.  Said he, ‘I know not why; but for some reason I am constrained to hasten my preparations, and to confer upon the Twelve all the ordinances, keys, covenants, endowments, and sealing ordinances of the priesthood . . . for, said he, the Lord is about to lay the burden on your shoulders and let me rest awhile; and if they kill me . . . the kingdom of God will roll on, as I have now finished the work which was laid upon me, by committing to you all things for the building up of the kingdom according to the heavenly vision, and the pattern shown me from heaven.’ (“Proclamation,” Millennial Star, 5 [March 1845]: p. 151).

Lastly, President Joseph Smith testified, "I have lived until I have seen this burden, which has rested on my shoulders, rolled on to the shoulders of other men; . . . the keys of the kingdom are planted on the earth to be taken away no more for ever. . . . No matter what becomes of me" (Deseret News, Dec. 21, 1869, p. 2).  Thus we see that the LDS Church has the keys, and not any other Church.

I say boldly that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only Church God acknowledges.  I know with all the fervor of my soul that Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and that he gave all the keys bestowed upon him to the Twelve.  I have a witness of the Holy Ghost.

The real issue lies in the prophetic calling of Joseph Smith.  If he was a prophet, what greater mission had he than to establish the Kingdom of God, never again to be thrown down?  This he did by giving the temple Endowment and the fullness of the Keys of the Priesthood (which is only found in the House of the Lord) to the Twelve.  President Brigham Young taught, "All that want to draw away a party from the church after them, let them do it if they can, but they will not prosper" (History of the Church, 7:232; also Millennial Star 25:216).

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only Church that:
1. Is acknowledged by Christ as His own (D&C 1:30-31; 115:4)
2. Was established by Joseph Smith himself, through revelation (D&C 115:4).  The only Church the Prophet was a member of was The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
3. Teaches all the doctrines Joseph Smith taught (Endowment of the Holy Priesthood, Baptism for the Dead, tithing, the Word of Wisdom, continual revelation through the President of the Church, eternal marriage, the proper mode and manner of baptism and bestowing the Gift of the Holy Ghost, temple work for the dead, the three degrees of glory, the need of the Sealing Authority, missionary work, gift of tongues, the importance of the Fall, the infinite reach of the Atonement, the age of accountability, the innocence of little children, etc.)
If a church is missing any one of the above criteria or doctrines, it is not the Church of Jesus Christ, but the church of the devil.

Also, the fact that those who broke off from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to form their own church were never sustained in an open conference by the regular membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is further evidence of their lack of Authority. The entire Quorum of the Twelve were unanimously sustained by the membership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in an open conference (meaning, as Paul says, "this thing was not done in a corner" (Acts 26:26)).

I know what I have said is true, and that God knows it is true. God is a God of order, and had everything in order (through revelation), so that when Joseph Smith died, the Twelve could lead the Church.
  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 39 - "Preach the Gospel to Every Creature"

I served my mission in southern California, and was often criticized when I would preach Jesus Christ to other Christians.  Other people would yell at me and my companions because they simply didn't want us around, or maybe they thought we were annoying.  So, why preach the Gospel?

The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, "After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel. (History of the Church 2:478)"  He also stated, "  The Savior stated, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.  Amen. (Matt. 28:19-20)"  As the only true and living Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has that mandate from the Lord.  We have missionaries all over the world, but not yet in every nation.  Until that time, the Word will continue to go forth.  Joseph Smith said it best.  Said he, "The truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done. (History of the Church 4:540)"

We don't ask people to throw away any truths that their lives or religions have in them.  According to President Joseph Smith, "We don't ask any people to throw away any good they have got; we only ask them to come and get more.  What if all the world should embrace this gospel?  They would then see eye to eye, and the blessings of God would be poured out upon the people, which is the desire of my whole soul. (History of the Church 5:259)"  He also gave the reason LDS Missionaries preach the Gospel.  He taught, "A man filled with the love of God, is not content with blessing his family alone, but ranges through the whole world, anxious to bless the whole human race. (History of the Church 4:227)"

I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only Church with proper Authority from God to teach His Gospel.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true and that it will lead the humble reader closer to God, and eventually back into God's Presence.  As President Smith said, so pray I, "I ask God in the name of Jesus, to . . . cause that His word may speedily go forth to the nations of the earth, to the accomplishing of His great work in bringing about the restoration of the House of Israel. (History of the Church 1:451)"  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Important Signs of the Second Coming

From an article on The New York Times website, we read, "The Haddad children of Middletown, MD., have a lot on their minds: school projects, SATs, weekend parties.  And parents who believe the earth will begin to self-destruct on Saturday."  This is clearly false doctrine, and both the Bible and the Book of Mormon refute it.  Our Savior said, "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matt. 24:36)"  Additionally, President Joseph Smith, Junior taught, “Jesus Christ never did reveal to any man the precise time that He would come.  Go and read the Scriptures, and you cannot find anything that specifies the exact hour He would come; and all that say so are false teachers. (History of the Church, 6:254)"  This is as plain as anyone can get on the subject, and proves to the fallacy of Mr. and Mrs. Haddad's prophecy.  The world will NOT end on 21 May 2011, nor thereafter until a certain number of important signs come to pass.  We will here examine some very important ones.


THE RAINBOW
A rainbow in Enterprise, UT
President Joseph Smith, speaking as a Prophet, said, "I have asked of the Lord concerning His coming; and while asking the Lord, He gave a sign and said, ‘In the days of Noah I set a bow in the heavens as a sign and token that in any year that the bow should be seen the Lord would not come; but there should be seed time and harvest during that year: but whenever you see the bow withdrawn, it shall be a token that there shall be famine, pestilence, and great distress among the nations, and that the coming of the Messiah is not far distant’ (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 340–41)"

Watch for the rainbow, one of the very important signs.

ALL NATIONS TO HEAR THE GOSPEL
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is well established in many nations - but not all.  D&C 133: 37-38 states, "And this gospel shall be preached unto every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people.  And the servants of God shall go forth, saying with a loud voice: Fear God and give glory to him, for the hour of his judgment is come;"  Most of the Middle East does not have the Gospel of Jesus Christ, neither does China, North Korea, and many other nations of Earth.  But according to these words of the Lord, they will have to have it before He comes again.

JERUSALEM AND THE HOUSE OF THE LORD
President Joseph Smith taught, "Judah must return, Jerusalem must be rebuilt, and the temple, and water come out from under the temple, and the waters of the Dead Sea be healed [see Ezekiel 47:1–9].  It will take some time to rebuild the walls of the city and the temple, etc.; and all this must be done before the Son of Man will make His appearance."

THE TWO PROPHETS SLAIN IN JERUSALEM
Revelation states,  

And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. . . . And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that scendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them.  And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, where also our Lord was crucified.  And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.  And they that dwell upon the earth shall rejoice over them, and make merry, and shall send gifts one to another; because these two prophets tormented them that dwelt on the earth.  And after three days and an half the Spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet; and great fear fell upon them which saw them.  And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither.  And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; and their enemies beheld them. (Revelation 11:3, 7-12)

Elder Bruce R. McConkie spoke of these two witnesses, and said, "These two shall be followers of that humble man, Joseph Smith, through whom the Lord of Heaven restored the fulness of his everlasting gospel in this final dispensation of grace.  No doubt they will be members of the Council of the Twelve or of the First Presidency of the Church. (Doctrinal New Testament Commentary, 3:509)"  This is correct doctrine, for to be true followers of Jesus Christ, one must be a follower of Joseph Smith and his legitimate successors; for one to not be a follower of Joseph Smith, he is not a true follower of Jesus the Christ.

These are just four of the many signs, but the most obvious to me.  I know if we watch for these signs, we will be ready for the Second Coming of the Christ - which will only happen when He who holds this world in orbit has accomplished His Father's work, and not until then.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 38 - The Restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood by John the Baptist

The foundation of the Latter-day Saints' claim, which is legitimate, of being the only Church on Earth recognized by God as having proper Priesthood Authority, is laid by John the Baptist.  This is the same John the Baptist who baptized Jesus of Nazareth in the river Jordan.



The event occurred on 15 May 1829.  The Prophet Joseph Smith had continued to translate, by the power of God, the Book of Mormon, and Oliver Cowdery had continued to write for Joseph.  I now quote from Joseph Smith's own account:

We still continued the work of translation, when, in the ensuing month (May, 1829), we on a certain day went into the woods to pray and inquire of the Lord respecting baptism for the remission of sins, that we found mentioned in the translation of the plates.  While we were thus employed, praying and calling upon the Lord, a messenger from heaven descended in a cloud of light, and having laid his hands upon us, he ordained us, saying: Upon you my fellow servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer the Priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels, and of the gospel of repentance, and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins; and this shall never be taken again from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in righteousness. (JS-H 1:68-69)

Now, this event, according to the Law of Witnesses, actually occurred, because there is more than one witness attesting to the truth thereof.  Oliver Cowdery wrote, 

On a sudden, as from the midst of eternity, the voice of the Redeemer spake peace to us, while the veil was parted and the angel of God came down clothed with glory, and delivered the anxiously looked for message, and the keys of the Gospel of repentance. What joy! what wonder! what amazement! While the world was racked and distracted—while millions were groping as the blind for the wall, and while all men were resting upon uncertainty, as a general mass, our eyes beheld, our ears heard, as in the ‘blaze of day’; yes, more—above the glitter of the May sunbeam, which then shed its brilliancy over the face of nature! Then his voice, though mild, pierced to the center, and his words, ‘I am thy fellow-servant,’ dispelled every fear. We listened, we gazed, we admired! . . . we received under his hand the Holy Priesthood as he said, ‘Upon you my fellow-servants, in the name of Messiah, I confer this Priesthood and this authority, which shall remain upon earth, that the Sons of Levi may yet offer an offering unto the Lord in righteousness!’ . . . The assurance that we were in the presence of an angel, the certainty that we heard the voice of Jesus, and the truth unsullied as it flowed from a pure personage, dictated by the will of God, is to me past description, and I shall ever look upon this expression of the Savior’s goodness with wonder and thanksgiving while I am permitted to tarry. (Messenger and Advocate, vol. 1 (October 1834), p. 14–16)

To further illuminate the necessity of the restoration of the Aaronic Priesthood, and to also further prove that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only authorized Church of God on the earth, I quote President Joseph Fielding Smith.  Said he, "It is contrary to the order of heaven for those who have passed beyond the veil to officiate and labor for the living on the earth, only wherein mortal man cannot act, and thereby it becomes necessary for those who have passed through the resurrection to act for them. (Essentials in Church History, 27th ed. (1974), p. 58)"  

President Oliver Cowdery further testified, 

He [Joseph Smith] was ordained by the angel John, unto the lesser or Aaronic priesthood, in company with myself, in the town of Harmony, Susquehanna County, Pennsylvania, on Fryday, the 15th day of May, 1829. . . . our souls were drawn out in mighty prayer—to know how we might obtain the blessings of baptism and of the Holy Spirit, according to the order of God, and we diligently sought for the right of the fathers and the authority of the holy priesthood, and the power to admin[ister] in the same: … the Lord … answered us out of the heavens, and while we were in the heavenly vision the angel came down and bestowed upon us this priesthood. (Patriarchal Blessing Book 1, p. 8–9, Historical Dept., Archives Division, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Salt Lake City)

The foregoing quotations seem sufficient enough to give credence to the Latter-day Saint argument concerning Priesthood and the rightful claim thereto.  I add my witness that I know the Priesthood of Aaron was restored by John the Baptist on the heads of Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery.  I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church on the face of the whole earth.  I know the Book of Mormon is true and testifies of Jesus Christ the Son of God.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 37 - Godhood

Throughout the Bible (both Old and New Testaments), Book of Mormon, and Doctrine and Covenants, the principle of exaltation is taught by the Lord Jesus Christ, His Apostles, and His Prophets.  We will discuss the true meaning of the sayings of Jesus and His Apostles appertaining thereto.

The most cited scripture relating to exaltation is Romans 8:16-17.  Here Paul states a universal fact - that all are children of God.  He states therein, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together."  The Prophet Joseph Smith explained what verse 17 actually means.  He said, "What is it [to be heirs of God]?  To inherit the same power, the same glory and the same exaltation, until you arrive at the station of a god, and ascend the throne of eternal power, the same as those who have gone before" ("King Follett Sermon", Ensign, April 1971).  Even Jesus stated such glorious doctrines.  He admonished His followers, both on the American Continent and in Israel, to be perfect as He and His Father are (see 3 Nephi 12:48 and Matt 5:48). 

John the Revelator also taught this doctrine in his Epistles.  He said, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is" (1 John 3:2).  This Apostle tells us that we shall see Christ as a God, and as such, if we keep the commandments of God found only in His Church, we will be like him - that is, a God.

In a vision givin to President Lorenzo Snow in 1840 in Nauvoo, Illinois,

The Spirit of the Lord rested mightily upon me—the eyes of my understanding were opened, and I saw as clear as the sun at noon-day, with wonder and astonishment, the pathway of God and man. I formed the following couplet which expresses the revelation, as it was shown to me . . . :  As man now is, God once was:  As God now is, man may be.  I felt this to be a sacred communication" (LeRoi C. Snow, Improvement Era, June 1919, p. 656). 

Additionally, President Snow prophesied that "the time will come when some . . . through their faithfulness to the gospel, will progress and develop in knowledge, intelligence and power, in future eternities, until they shall be able to go out into space where there is unorganized matter and call together the necessary elements, and through their knowledge of and control over the laws and powers of nature, to organize matter into worlds on which their posterity may dwell, and over which they shall rule as gods” (LeRoi C. Snow, Improvement Era, June 1919, 658–59).
I know The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the only true and living Church on the face of the earth.  I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that is goes hand in hand with the Bible in testifying of Jesus the Christ, our Savior.  I know Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, and that Thomas S. Monson is the Prophet of the Lord today, and that he receives revelation from the Lord to lead His Kingdom.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 36 - Education

Doctrine and Covenants 88:78-80 reads:

Teach ye diligently and my grace shall attend you, that you may be instructed more perfectly in theory, in principle, in doctrine, in the law of the gospel, in all things that pertain unto the kingdom of God, that are expedient for you to understand; Of things both in heaven and in the earth, and under the earth; things which have been, things which are, things which must shortly come to pass; things which are at home, things which are abroad; the wars and the perplexities of the nations, and the judgments which are on the land; and a knowledge also of countries and of kingdoms—That ye may be prepared in all things when I shall send you again to magnify the calling whereunto I have called you, and the mission with which I have commissioned you.

I will illustrate the rise of the educational spirit in the LDS Church, giving histories of the many institutions growing therefrom.

Education has had a vital role within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since the beginning.  In Kirtland, Ohio, the Prophet Joseph Smith was commanded by the Lord to establish what became known as The School of the Prophets (a forerunner to the Missionary Training Center).  This he did, and Parley P. Pratt was one of the first instructors.

Later down the road, when the Church fled Missouri to Illinois, a city was established called Nauvoo.  President Joseph Smith loved to learn (he was learning both Hebrew and German up until his murder).  So, in 1841, the University of the City of Nauvoo was founded.

This school was ambitious, with plans to offer classes in at least five languages (German, French, Greek, Latin, and Hebrew), mathematics, literature, history, geology, and chemistry.  One of the most popular instructors there was Elder Orson Pratt (People of Paradox: A History of Mormon Culture, p. 82-84).  After President Joseph Smith's murder, however, the school was dissolved, and the Mormons moved to the Great Basin, taking with them their love of learning.

Within three years of the settlement of what is now Utah, The Church of Jesus Christ established the University of Deseret, which later became the University of Utah.  Between 1850 and the turn of the Century, the LDS Church would establish many Stake Academies, which were secondary schools run by the Church because of lack of state-funded educational endeavors in the area.  With the firm entrenchment of regular school districts, high schools, and colleges that we know today, the LDS Church eventually sold off most of their schools, some of which would become state Universities and Colleges.  These include Bannock Stake Academy (BYU-Idaho), St. Joseph Stake Academy (Eastern Arizona College), St. George Stake Academy (Dixie State College), Weber Stake Academy (Weber State University), Brigham Young College (Utah State University), University of Deseret (University of Utah), and Sanpete Stake Academy (Snow College).  The LDS Church still owns three major Universities (BYU, BYU-I, and BYU-H), and one College (LDS Business College).  It also has High Schools throughout the Pacific and Mexico.

The Church of Jesus Christ is so invested in the education of her people, that there is a separate Board of Education and Board of Trustees (which boards oversee all educational endeavors, including BYU).  This Board consists of the First Presidency, three rotating members of the Twelve Apostles, Elder Steven E. Snow of the Seventy, and Sisters Julie B. Beck and Elaine S. Dalton.

The LDS Church stresses education so much because we believe the only thing we take with us into the Spirit World is our character  and knowledge.  It is written, "Whatever principle of intelligence we attain unto in this life, it will rise with us in the resurrection.  And if a person gains more knowledge and intelligence in this life through his diligence and obedience than another, he will have so much the advantage in the world to come" (D&C 130:18-19).

These words of modern revelation agree meticulously with the words of the Bible, which read, "Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not; neither decline from the words of my mouth. . . . Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding" (Proverbs 4:5,7).

Now, one can be educated without being wise.  I have met many an educated person, who unwisely disregard the words of modern-day revelation.  Jacob says, "Oh be wise; what can I say more" (Jacob 6:12).  That is they key - to be both wise and knowledgeable.  The best wisdom dictates that "to be learned is good if they hearken unto the counsels of God" (2 Nephi 9:29).  Knowledge, as they say, is indeed power, because the man more qualified with a degree will get a job, where one who does not have one, will not obtain.  So it is in spiritual matters; one who is knowledgeable in the scriptures will know how to be led by the Spirit of God, who will, if he is faithful and open to promptings, be led to the Kingdom of God, which is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I know that both secular and spiritual knowledge is important, and that we must study and pray hard for the knowledge we seek to come.  I know that the Lord wants us to have knowledge (both spiritual and secular), so that we might use it, ultimately, to bring forth His purposes.  In the name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mormon Theology no. 35 - God Stands Revealed or Remains Forever Unknown

God is a mystery to most peoples.  Many so-called Christians say the Latter-day Saints are a "cult" or Joseph Smith is a false prophet, yet they make no claim to knowing who God is, or how He is presented in the revelations.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints does.  I will here elucidate three ways in which God reveals Himself to mankind.

Appearances of God
The first and most awe-inspiring way God reveals Himself to man is through personal visitations to Prophets and Apostles.  God revealed and made Himself known to Abraham in Genesis 17, "And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (verse 1)"  God stood at that time revealed because He showed His body to Abraham and talked with him as one does with a friend. 

"And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the Lord talked with Moses. . . . And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. (Ex. 33:9,11)"  God spoke to Moses face to face (thus also showing Moses His body) when Moses was in the Mount Sinai.

God also saw fit to reveal His Son to His Apostles shortly after His Son's resurrection.  "And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you.  Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. (John 20:26-27)"  Jesus Christ stood revealed to His Apostles, but especially to Thomas; since Jesus literally stood revealed before Thomas and the rest of the eleven Apostles, doubt fled.

[April 6 1836 Kirtland Temple]

The Holy Ghost
  God is most often revealed to man through the ministration and whisperings of the Holy Ghost, as is seen in the book of Matthew.  "And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not  revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. (Matt 16:17)"

"As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. (Acts 13:2)"  The Holy Ghost here manifests God and His will for the Church of Jesus Christ in former days.

Not only does God make Himself known through the Holy Ghost, but in connection with that, through Scripture.  "But he that believeth these things which I have spoken, him will I visit with the manifestations of my Spirit, and he shall know and bear record.  For because of my Spirit he shall know that these things are true; for it persuadeth men to do good. (Ether 4:11)"

Commandments
Throughout the Bible, God has revealed Himself and His will for His people through commandments.  When Moses was in the Mount Sinai, (as previously mentioned), He gave Moses the Ten Commandments, and the later on, He gave Moses the books of Leviticus and Deuteronomy, further explaining the meaning of God's laws.

God was first revealed to Adam in the Garden of Eden.  It is written, "And the Lord God commanded the man . . .(Gen 2:16)"  God is revealed through commandments to Prophets, like Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Elijah, Christ, Peter, Paul, Nephi, Joseph Smith, Thomas S. Monson, etc.  When the commandments of God were heeded by Adam, God was then made known to Adam and his posterity.   

When Jesus was on Earth, he taught, "If ye love me, keep my commandments. (John 14:15)"  He also taught a higher law to His followers, and taught them (although not fully explained in the Bible) the need for continual revelation through Prophets, even after His eventual death and Resurrection.

God was also revealed to Joseph Smith in 1820.  President Smith wrote, "I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. . . . When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air.  One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son.  Hear Him! (JS-H 1:16-17)"

I know what I have said is true, and that as we keep the commandments of God given through the Prophet Thomas S. Monson, we will then know God's will further through the Holy Ghost, and then if we are worthy, have the privilege of having the face of God revealed to us.  In that name of Jesus Christ, amen!

Mormon Theology no. 34 - The Role of the Prophets

As it can be seen that many non-Mormons seem to misunderstand the role of the Prophets in Latter-day Saint teachings, it will be elucidated herein.

It must first be understood that Latter-day Saints worship the Father and Him only.  We pray to the Father in the Name of Jesus Christ His Son, because Christ is the Mediator between us and God.  The Prophets' role in the equation is simply to teach the people of God the way of Salvation.

 I will have Moses illustrate for us.   

And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread.  And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died.  Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us.  And Moses prayed for the people.  And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.  And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. (Numbers 21:5-9)

It is seen that Moses, as the Prophet, was the mouthpiece of God.  When the children of Israel murmured because of the Manna in the wilderness (which was commanded of God to be picked up every morning, and that twice on Fridays), God smote them with poisonous snakes.  The only way they could alleviate this curse was to go ask the Prophet what the Lord wanted.
The Lord, knowing all things, gave Moses (through revelation) a way to both heal the people and to instruct them about the Messiah.  The brazen serpent event as quoted above was the result.

There is another example I can pull from modern events - the march of Zion's Camp from Kirtland, Ohio to Missouri.  In 1834 the Saints in Missouri were being persecuted severely, and the 200-man Zion's Camp marched to their rescue.  However, disunity was rampant between the men.  For this reason President Joseph Smith, Jun. wrote,  

I said the Lord had revealed to me that a scourge would come upon the camp in consequence of the fractious and unruly spirits that appeared among them, and they should die like sheep with the rot; still, if they would repent and humble themselves before the Lord, the scourge, in a great measure, might be turned away; but, as the Lord lives, the members of this camp will suffer for giving way to their unruly temper. . . . Previous to crossing the Mississippi river I had called the camp together and told them that in consequence of the disobedience of some who had been unwilling to listen to my words, but had rebelled, God had decreed that sickness should come upon the camp, and if they did not repent and humble themselves before God they should die like sheep with the rot; that I was sorry, but could not help it.  The scourge must come; repentance and humility may mitigate the chastisement, but cannot altogether avert it. But there were some who would not give heed to my words. (HC 2: 80, 106-107)

The above is a perfect example of the role of the Prophet: to declare repentance from sin and iniquity, bu also to warn of immanent danger, plague, calamities, etc.

I know that following the President of the LDS Church is the only way to achieve personal spiritual safety and avoid the calamities foretold by ancient and modern Prophets.  I know that Thomas S. Monson is a Prophet today.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen. 

Sunday, May 1, 2011

An Apostle of the Lord in the Middle East

Courtesy of the Church News, an historic journey was reported.  From 6-20 April 2011, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visited members in the Middle East, the area of greatest world tensions nowadays.  During his travels in the Middle East, Elder Holland

visited eight nations and addressed several thousand members of the Church.  Growth in the area prompted the division of the former Manama Bahrain Stake into the Manama Bahrain District and the newly named Abu Dhabi Stake.
The original stake from which this growth came was organized 28 years ago by then Elder Boyd K. Packer, now president of the Quorum of the Twelve.  Elder Holland is the first member of the Quorum of the Twelve to have returned to the stake since its creation.
Elder Holland reported that growth in the Church has tripled over the years and continues to increase.

This was indeed an historic trip, not only for Elder Holland, but for the annals of the Church and for the people of God.  It was written of Ishmael son of Abraham that the Angel of the Lord prophesied, "And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren. (Gen. 16:12)"  The term "wild" as used here is from the Hebrew, meaning a freedom loving people, and also probably a nomad.  Indeed the Muslims are nomadic and freedom loving, but they cannot obtain the freedom they seek save through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, as restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith.

Of his endeavors in the Middle East this April, Elder Holland noted, "Just as anywhere else in the world, our Father in Heaven watches over those who faithfully keep their covenants and strive to obey the gospel.  That safety and protection was certainly manifest in the lives of the members of the Church I met with on this trip."

I know that if the Muslims repent and come to the Gospel they will obtain the freedom they seek.  In the Name of Jesus Christ, amen.