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Equality

Part 3 of 3:

I continue to receive emails and comments suggesting it will be a necessity to organize a new church. That is not only a bad idea, it would be contrary to the objective of Zion. A formal institution becomes a creature of the law, subject to regulation by the state. In Massachusetts, the state attorney general has announced that she interprets non-discrimination laws, written to address public accommodations, to apply to churches if they are open to the public. This interpretation allows the state to compel churches to get on board with social causes championed by the state, even if they run contrary to the moral teachings of the church.

No law can reach a man’s beliefs. What a person believes and practices in the privacy of their own home is something the state will find almost impossible to curtail. They may try, but to accomplish it would destroy the entire government. Zion must conform to God’s plan, not man’s. Anything man can regulate, tax or outlaw can become the means used by overreaching government to corrupt.

There are those who are working to provide a way for people to donate to a temple fund. Because the state regulates solicitation of donations from the public, the women involved have needed and hired legal counsel (not me) to accomplish the modest goal of allowing people who choose to do so to donate money for a temple. These women have been working, meeting, planning and overcoming challenges for several months thus far, and are still not in a position to announce their project. This is only to raise funds.

The complexity of this single undertaking reaffirms what I have said previously: There is no need for a corporate organization or even an institution. Much more can be accomplished without it. Furthermore, any organization requires an individual or board to be at its head to control it. That is not only unwise, it will fail.

Zion is not Zion unless those who are there are of one heart, one mind and dwell in righteousness. (Moses 7:18.) Zion will be equal in earthly things in order to become equal in heavenly things. (D&C 78:5-6.) This will eventually require a place where there are no poor and everything is held in common. (Moses 7:18; also 3 Ne. 26:19; 4 Ne. 1:3.) This is voluntary, not compulsory. The property owned by individuals will be used for the common good. If one lacks, and another has abundance, the abundance of the one aids the one who lacks. Voluntarily–because it is in the heart of the individual to help others.

There are nearly insurmountable challenges in creating a community where the rudimentary elements of Zion can be lived. The equality required is not theoretical, but actual. It must be lived.

Every one of the institutions claiming Joseph Smith as their founder is stratified. Wealthy men preside and claim the right to be supported in their lifestyle while there are members living in grinding poverty. When Warren Jeffs was arrested for child sex abuse, he was driving a red Cadillac Escalade with $54,000 in cash in the vehicle. He presides over a relatively small sect. The largest Mormon sect employs presiding authorities many of whom own multiple residences valued in the millions. They are not to be envied, but pitied.

It is impossible to have the faith for salvation unless your religion requires the sacrifice of all things. (Lecture 6:7.) To accomplish this, the Nephites had ministers who received nothing for their preaching:

And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.” (Alma 1:26.)

Learn from failures. Avoid the traps that have made all the institutions claiming Joseph as their founder part of the inventory of tools employed by the god of this world to chain mankind. Those churches are now only thorns, briers and noxious weeds to torment and afflict mankind. Inequality begets inequality.

Titles are not necessary. Being the fulfillment of prophecy, or possessing “keys” for honor and respect is not necessary.  No one of us should be greater than another. The only thing needed is the right to preach, teach, exhort and expound. If this is all there is then truth alone will matter–not who is stating it. Then, if a man has priesthood, he ought to employ it in the only way authorized:

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, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile–” (D&C 121:41-42.)

If a man has something true to proclaim, let him persuade. If none are persuaded, let him be long-suffering and use gentleness and meekness to show by his example his unfeigned love. Such kindness is required of any man who would claim to follow Christ. The greatest sign of truth is when a man proclaims “pure knowledge” because it always greatly enlarges the soul of those who listen.

There is a new dispensation. Do not import the abuses that have become epidemic in the remains of the last dispensation. Joseph established equality; it has been destroyed. Do not mimic the gentiles who love to exercise authority over one another. They falsely regard their overlords as benefactors–something Christ roundly condemned. (Luke 22:24-27.)

I could obtain the right from God to organize a church, but I would not do it. Zion can only be established upon principles of equality. Zion will come in a single generation, (if they are righteous) and therefore does not need to be institutionalized. (JS-Matt. 1:34.) Dispensations do not gather strength over time. Historically they have succeeded or failed while Enoch was alive, or while Melchizedek was alive. When these true teachers are gone, the strength of their ministry atrophies and another restoration must follow. If they are penitent and willing to trust God, the last-days Zion will be achieved by a single generation.

This way is cumbersome and inefficient. But why do gentiles think it is preferable to trade godly equality for administrative efficiency? If the destiny is equality, then the journey must begin with that held paramount. We cannot pursue abusive and controlling means to achieve freedom and equality. The path taken, matters as much as the destination. Struggling with the inefficient and cumbersome tools of persuasion, love, patience and pure knowledge will require a lot of changes to be made voluntarily. That is of course the goal: Voluntarily changing hearts.

Authority And Abuse

Part 2 of 3:

When men get a little authority almost all will immediately begin to abuse their supposed right to control others. (D&C 121:39.) Assuming there is any right belonging to the priesthood, it can only be exercised by “persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; by kindness and pure knowledge[.]” (Id., v. 41-42.) If authority is abused because it is “the nature and disposition of almost all men” to do so (Id., v. 39) then a solution is to revoke the right to control. Revoke the right to preside. Revoke the right to lead. Once that is done then the only method a man has to function as a minister is by persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned and pure knowledge. There is no other method or means left for the minister. He is powerless to control, dominate, gratify pride, or obtain vain ambition. He can be ignored–unless his pure knowledge and persuasion attracts the heart and leads people closer to the Lord.

Joseph Smith’s dispensation denounced and destroyed the consolidation of power. He set in order a system that would have precluded any man from insisting he could control others. Two days prior to the revelation in D&C 107, Joseph Smith gave a discourse about fractured authority within the church. The discourse was reported in minutes kept by several different scribes, including one written by William McLellin and copied by Warren Cowdery into Minute Book 1.

If the pattern given by Joseph Smith were followed, there would be no “President of the Quorum of the Twelve.” Instead each member held no greater right than any other. Joseph “stated that it would be the duty of the twelve to appoint the oldest one of their number to preside in their councils, beginning at the oldest and so on until the youngest has presided and then beginning at the oldest again, &c.” (JS Papers, Documents Vol. 4, p. 301.) In other words, the right to preside rotated from the oldest to the youngest, then back again to the oldest. This rotation of the role to preside made all of them the presiding authority in turn.

The twelve were missionaries, whose administrative authority only existed outside organized stakes. Joseph explained, “the Twelve will have no right to go into Zion or any of its stakes and there undertake to regulate the affairs thereof where there is a standing High Council.” (Id.) When the twelve were outside the stakes, and among unorganized areas of the world, they had administrative authority there. However, it required a “quorum” of them (at least 7) to take administrative action. Joseph taught that “where there is not a quorum they will have to do business by the voice of the Church.” (Id., p. 302.) Meaning that any administrative action taken where the twelve did have jurisdiction could only be done if 7 were involved. If less than 7 of the twelve were present, then the administrative authority was in the “voice of the Church” and not in any presiding man or men. In any organized stake, the highest authority was the high council. The seventy were another body of missionaries who assisted the twelve. The members of the seventy were called by the “seven presidents of the first seventy” (Id.) and were independent from the twelve.

Joseph never moved any man from the twelve into the first presidency. Joseph did not call or ordain the twelve, they were chosen and ordained by the three witnesses. The twelve, in turn, did not have authority to call the seventy. Their members were called by the seven presidents belonging to that quorum.

This splintering of authority precluded any single man or small body of men from dominating and dictating to the church. Ultimate authority was vested in “the voice of the Church” who could revoke any man’s position or authority. This is similar to the Constitution which divided authority between co-equal branches of government. This form of government was designed to weaken power of any single branch so as to preclude any single man or group from gaining autocratic control. Freedom (or agency) is protected best by any system that prevents one man or group of men from controlling others. Unfortunately, in both the Federal Government and the various restoration churches, autocratic power has accumulated and the voice of the people has been subverted.

Two days after the March 1835 conference, D&C 107 was presented to the church. Like Joseph’s earlier explanation, authority was splintered among equal bodies with limited jurisdiction. The person with the duty to administer spiritual things, dispense spiritual blessings, have the heavens opened to them, and to enjoy the presence of God the Father and Jesus Christ was the president of the high priesthood, who belonged to a presidency. The presidency consisted of him and two counselors. (D&C 107:9-22.) These men were never part of the twelve during Joseph’s lifetime. The twelve were “equal in authority” with the first presidency. (Id., v. 24.) Although the twelve had no rights inside an organized stake, in the mission field they were equal to the first presidency (provided there was a quorum of 7 acting). The seventy were also “equal in authority” with the others. (Id., v. 25-26.) And the stake high councils were likewise “equal in authority” with the foregoing. (Id., v. 37.)

In this organization, the greatest authority was vested in “the voice of the Church.” But administratively, the authority was fragmented between co-equal bodies of a presidency, twelve, seventy (which could be unlimited in numbers) and high councils (which could also be unlimited in number). The discourse by Joseph and the follow-on administrative outline in Section 107 diffused the authority in that dispensation. It was not consolidated or amalgamated into the hands of any single man or men. It contemplated such divergent and potentially opposing bodies that it would be impossible to manage such an arrangement unless the person or persons who tried to control the direction of the body were to use persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned and pure knowledge.

There was one other office (it no longer exists) which was held by a single man. He held the office of “Priesthood and Patriarch” (D&C 124:91). The twelve eliminated that role in the 1970s and its last occupant died in April 2013.

The diffused authority died with Joseph, and the twelve assumed administrative control over the church. Their oldest member now gets the automatic right to own and control everything. The voice of the church is limited to saying “yes” at conferences. A “no” will not change decisions or the right of the twelve to control the church.

The essential division of authority, and its obvious inefficiencies, are easy to criticize. It clearly did not have an objective of making the church easy to control. The pattern was a behemoth that fractured the organization into such potentially competing parts that there is little surprise it did not last long in practice.

Trading diffused authority for consolidated control made the management of the Mormon religion efficient, effective and powerful. But it came at an astonishingly high price. The religion founded on revelation, angels and communing with God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ traded its spiritual core for earthly mammon. The world envies the bargain. Modern Mormon factions are all surprisingly wealthy–even the small fundamentalist groups. There are two great principles this history has proven. First, a body of believers who are equal are not easily governed. If the only tools to employ are persuasion, long-suffering, gentleness, meekness, love unfeigned and pure knowledge, it will require the wisdom of God to keep believers together. As soon as they are allowed “to govern themselves” there will be ill-defined margins and straying believers in need of teaching, preaching, persuading and long-suffering. Second, it is easy to aggregate power, wealth, influence and authority if religion is used to control people. If one claims to speak for God and there is a population who accepts that claim, outrageous abuses can be perpetrated; and power, wealth, influence and authority can be retained.

From these two principles comes a conclusion that almost all men will choose the second principle over the first. (D&C 121:39.) Even if a man who would give his life to follow Christ were to found the organization, as soon as he is taken, the organization will remain behind. It will fall into the hands of other men. Dispensations are founded by Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Christ, Peter, and Joseph, but they quickly become the property of Pharaoh, the priests of Baal, Eli, Caiaphus, Annas, Constantine and Brigham Young. The pattern is so inevitable that it seems self-evident it would be foolish to repeat a failed pattern.

If Zion is to have people of one heart and one mind, who live in righteousness with one another (Moses 7:18) then however cumbersome, inefficient, difficult or daunting it may prove, only the first principle can be chosen. If it fails, then there is no residual institution to add another abusive tool for the god of this world to employ in deceiving and chaining men using another inherited false tradition.

The Law of Moses did not produce Zion. The New Testament Primitive Christian church did not produce Zion. Modeling after either of these, as the church established by Joseph Smith did, has likewise not produced Zion. Zion will be produced by a journey begun in equality, pursued by equals, with no man able to command another man’s actions. Persuasion, meekness, unfeigned love and pure knowledge are the only tools necessary for Zion.

“Organize Yourselves”

There are some important ideas to be considered when discussing the establishment of Zion. The first is that a new dispensation of the Gospel is always built on what went before. Earlier dispensations are never ignored. Although Moses ultimately founded a very different “look-and-feel” for Israel, his first book recounted the creation and the role of the first patriarchs in preserving knowledge of God from the time of Adam. So Moses’ dispensation gave deference to, and preserved the memory of the patriarchal dispensation.

Joseph was likewise given a dispensation that is to be built on. The Book of Mormon, other revelations given through Joseph, and the preservation of rudimentary priesthood authority were all necessary for the work. As the last work proceeds forward, there is every reason to be grateful for those who have preserved some of what came through Joseph Smith. We should thank them.

The direction to “organize yourselves” is given seven times in modern revelation. (See, e.g., D&C 44:7; 78:11; 88:74; 88:119; 104:11; 194:58; 109:8.) In considering the restoration, what if believers were unwilling to organize themselves so as to be subordinate to an hierarchy? What if people of good faith concluded that the weaknesses of that system would lead inevitably to abuses and apostasy? Is there no alternative other than to “organize ourselves” into a system of quorums, branches, wards, stakes, regions, areas, and then place all of it wrongly at the disposal of a dominating Catholic-mimicking “priesthood” that claims the right to rule and reign by the right to control inherent in their priesthood offices? It was foretold that system would prove vulnerable to utter failure and complete loss of authority. (See D&C 121:36-37.)

Believers are allowed to “organize themselves” in any manner they choose. The authorities derive their institutional right to preside solely from the consent of the governed. It is through “common consent” any right to government is established in the church. (D&C 26:2; 28:13.) The right to organize stems from “common consent” given by both men and women. This right is so fundamental that it holds greater right than the first presidency, twelve, seventy and high councils. In the absence of these authorities, the saints retain the right to govern themselves by their own voice: “[W]here there is not a quorum [of the Twelve] they will have to do business by the voice of the Church.” (JS Papers, Documents Vol. 4, p. 302.) If the twelve have rejected the restraints upon them (“no power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood”), then saints, including those who act independent of an hierarchical organization, are free to “organize themselves” by their own voice and do business by the voice of the congregation.

Gifts of the Spirit are NOT coincident with, nor dependent upon, priesthood. Anyone, man or woman, young or old, with or without priesthood can have gifts of the Spirit. (See, e.g., D&C 46:10-26.) Paul’s instruction to the saints at Corinth suggested they all (men, women and children) seek for the best gifts. (1 Cor. 14.) That instruction could not be given to such a varied audience if gifts of the Spirit were limited to holders of priesthood.

The great high priest for whom the Holy Priesthood after the Order of the Son of God was renamed (D&C 107:2-3), did not perform miracles through his priesthood. Like every other person, he performed miracles through his faith. His faith to perform miracles preceded his ordination to the priesthood. (See JST-Gen. 14:26.) Because he exhibited great faith, he was subsequently ordained. (See JST-Gen. 14:27.) Before his ordination, he worked miracles. This means, just as D&C 46:10-26 confirms, that gifts of the Spirit are not limited to men who hold the priesthood. Any person of any age or sex can work miracles through faith. The result of this, of course, is that women as well as men can prophesy, heal the sick, speak in tongues, have visions, inspired dreams, and other remarkable works through the Spirit.

President David O. McKay is given credit for the priesthood correlation program. He opposed it. He believed it would lead to the total apostasy of the LDS Church. No one need to be captive of this system. All are free to organize in a way to reflect a determination to serve God, trust the scriptures, receive baptism according to the Doctrine of Christ, and associate with others as equals. It is IMPOSSIBLE for disparate and unequal people, who are subordinate to a controlling hierarchy, to become of “one heart and one mind, with no poor among them.” The essential equality required for Zion cannot occur. This is why Enoch’s city had no hierarchy, and why Melchizedek’s people called him a “prince of peace,” though he was not an actual prince. He had no kingdom. He taught repentance and his people repented. Joseph established equality at the foundation of this dispensation. It was destroyed by the institutions which claim him as their founder. Any new dispensation should avoid repeating the error.

There is faint hope for Zion. But so long as there is any hope at all, it is found in the effort to repent and follow Christ, not only to say but to do.

In the next post I will discuss the fatally toxic flaw inherent in institutionalism that destroys equality. There are other flaws when institutional order is abandoned, and those will likewise be discussed in a third post.

Boise Conference Audio/Transcripts

The audio recordings of the Boise Conference are now available on the Doctrine of Christ website. Transcripts will be available there soon. Anyone who would like to listen to the proceedings can go to their website (link provided above) and hear the conference talks and music.

Boise Conference Report

I returned this evening from the Boise Conference. It was a remarkable event. The Boise Fellowship did a wonderful job of organizing, selecting venues, keeping the event on schedule, choosing speakers, and adding the music for this event. They will have recordings available in a few days. I would encourage anyone interested to listen to the proceedings.

The music was so well done that I cannot praise it enough. Today there was a rendering of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief that was better than any performance I’ve heard of the hymn. Yesterday’s music was impressive and included original works prepared for the conference. I look forward to listening to the music again when the recordings are available.

This was an important event with many insightful and valuable talks. I took pages of notes while listening to the speakers.

I appreciate all the work done by the Boise Fellowship and the many volunteers who contributed to this event.

Boise Conference

Next month, September 9-11 in Boise, Idaho there will be a conference to which all are invited. It is called The Doctrine of Christ Conference. There has been a website created for the event. I am one of a number of invited speakers. I look forward to participating.

A group of Boise believers have organized the event, arranged and paid for the venues, and will be manning the necessary staffing needs. The website for the event solicits participation from others. If you are inclined to do so, you can sign up to help, or donate. Some people are traveling great distances to attend, and the website allows you to assist those needing help.

Christ Alone Saves

The atonement is our rescue. Christ alone performed it and He has proclaimed that He alone has accomplished it:
Isaiah 63:3: “I have trodden the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with me[.]”

In modern revelation, He has reiterated that He alone performed the atoning sacrifice required to save us from judgment and condemnation:
D&C 133:50: “I have trodden the wine-press alone, and have brought judgment upon all people; and none were with me;”

He saves us through the atonement because He paid the price of the wrath of Almighty God for all sin:
D&C 76:107: “I have overcome and have trodden the wine-press alone, even the wine-press of the fierceness of the wrath of Almighty God.”

Paul explained that through the original disobedience of Adam, a sentence of death was imposed on mankind, but that sentence was reversed and many will be made righteous by the sacrifice of Christ. (See Romans 5:12-19.)

It is Christ alone who will keep the way. He will allow those who have believed in Him, obeyed Him, kept His commandments and thereby walked in the path of His righteousness (to become righteous) to enter:
2 Nephi 9:41: “O then, my beloved brethren, come unto the Lord, the Holy One. Remember that his paths are righteous. Behold, the way for man is narrow, but it lieth in a straight course before him, and the keeper of the gate is the Holy One of Israel; and he employeth no servant there; and there is none other way save it be by the gate; for he cannot be deceived, for the Lord God is his name.”

It is Christ and His name alone which will provide salvation for mankind:
Mosiah 5:8 “And under this head ye are made free, and there is no other head whereby ye can be made free. There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ, all you that have entered into the covenant with God that ye should be obedient unto the end of your lives.”
John 14:6: “Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”

There are many others in heaven. God the Father and Christ are not alone. There is an entire host of beings with them:
Neimiah 9:6: “Thou, even thou, art Lord alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee.”

Some of the hosts are righteous, align with God, and follow His will:
D&C 88:112: “And Michael, the seventh angel, even the archangel, shall gather together his armies, even the hosts of heaven.”

Angelic hosts are on both sides, some on God’s right hand and others on His left:
2 Chronicles 18:18: “Again he said, Therefore hear the word of the Lord; I saw the Lord sitting upon his throne, and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left.”
1 Kings 22:19: “And he said, Hear thou therefore the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left.”

But angelic hosts retain the right to choose. It is possible for them to rebel and fall short. It is possible for angelic hosts to be cast down from heaven:
D&C 29:36: “And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for, behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me, saying, Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency;”

Faithful members of the heavenly hosts can further God’s work, and cooperate with Him in assisting mankind:
D&C 84:42: “And wo unto all those who come not unto this priesthood which ye have received, which I now confirm upon you who are present this day, by mine own voice out of the heavens; and even I have given the heavenly hosts and mine angels charge concerning you.”

We cannot be saved by an angel. Nor can we trust any angel, even from heaven, to be the object of worship or adoration. That must be reserved for Christ and His Father alone:
Galatians 1:8: “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

Even if an angel were to give you a covenant, promise or assurance; or a man were to “seal you up to eternal life,” unless it comes by and through Christ alone, it will be of no value in the afterlife:
D&C 132:12-13: “I am the Lord thy God; and I give unto you this commandment—that no man shall come unto the Father but by me or by my word, which is my law, saith the Lord. And everything that is in the world, whether it be ordained of men, by thrones, or principalities, or powers, or things of name, whatsoever they may be, that are not by me or by my word, saith the Lord, shall be thrown down, and shall not remain after men are dead, neither in nor after the resurrection, saith the Lord your God.”

Those who worship angels, men, or institutions instead of Christ risk becoming subject to a fallen angel:
2 Nephi 9:8: “O the wisdom of God, his mercy and grace! For behold, if the flesh should rise no more our spirits must become subject to that angel who fell from before the presence of the Eternal God, and became the devil, to rise no more.” (See also D&C 76:98-105.)

One of the adversary’s pretensions is to claim that he is “the son of God” or the “Only Begotten,” thereby hoping to mislead people to worship him instead of the Lord. (See Moses 1:19; D&C 128:20.)

Before accepting a message as truth, you ought to know the scriptures well enough to test the message against the words of Christ, His unwaivering voice from the time of Adam until the present, and the prophets. It should not be difficult to determine if some new thing is true or just vanity, without power, and offensive to God. You should be careful about allowing any angel or man to pretend to “seal you up” to some eternal reward. You may find yourself subject in the afterlife to a vile spirit who will claim the right to rule over you. There are pretenders, even among the hosts of heaven. Joseph Smith cautioned, “A man is saved no faster than he gets knowledge, for if he does not get knowledge, he will be brought into captivity by some evil power in the other world, as evil spirits will have more knowledge, and consequently more power than many men who are on the earth. Hence it needs revelation to assist us, and give us knowledge of the things of God.” (DHC 4:588.)

Believe in Christ, trust in Him, and seek salvation through Him alone.

Framework

The scriptures set both the framework to teach, and the standard for teaching content. The scriptures provoked the restoration through Joseph. (JS-H 1:11-12.) The resurrected Lord taught from the scriptures, both in Palestine (Luke 24:25-27) and in the new world (3 Ne. 23:5-6.) Christ pointed to the scriptures as the source to be searched for truth concerning Him. (John 5:39.)

When the apostate Sherem was confronted, and his error denounced, those who heard Jacob “searched the scriptures, and no longer hearkened to the words of this wicked man.” (Jacob 7:23.) When Alma and Amulek finished preaching, those who were converted “began to repent, and to search the scriptures.” (Alma 14:1.)

Once people who had been led astray repented, they looked more carefully at the scriptures to guide them, so they would not fall into error again. The scriptures fortified them against false teachings.

All scripture is given to us for our profit and guidance. They can correct our errors and teach us righteousness. (2 Tim. 3:16.)

Everything I do, teach and write is taken from the scriptures. They are the framework and the standard for the content of anything I teach.

Faith Requires Correct Acts

James wrote, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: show me thy faith without thy works, and I will show thee my faith by my works.” (James 2:17-18.) To the same effect, Lectures on Faith explain, “it is faith, and faith only, which is the moving cause of all action, in them; that without it, both mind and body would be in a state of inactivity, and all their exertions would cease, both physical and mental.” (Lecture First:10.) Faith sets man into action, and whatever it is that man believes he acts in conformity with that. All that is required to trap mankind is to have us accept false ideas. We cannot help but act in conformity with them–whether they are true or false.

Saving faith must be grounded upon a correct understanding of God’s will. As Lectures explain, there are some indispensable requirements for saving faith in God, including “a correct idea of his character, perfections and attributes.” (Lecture Third:4.) We cannot be wrong about God and have saving faith. If we misapprehend His character, we are darkened in our understanding and are likely to be misled. Faith in the only true and wise God gets replaced by worship of others thought to be among the hosts of heaven, like the evil king Manasseh. Manasseh brought into the temple altars to worship the “hosts of heaven” like the heathen (or Wiccan) do. This folly offended God, and God spoke to condemn it, but the people would not listen to God. (2 Chr. 33:2-10.) The false worship of the “hosts of heaven” brought the judgments of God upon those who should have known better. They were warned, failed to heed the warning, and were destroyed. (Zeph. 1:4-9.)

Faith likewise requires we have “an actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing, is according to his will.—For without an acquaintance with these three important facts, the faith of every rational being must be imperfect and unproductive; but with this understanding, it can become perfect and fruitful, abounding in righteousness unto the praise and glory of God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Lecture Third:5.) It is impossible to disobey God and obtain the assurance from Him that a man is pursuing His will.

If we are not doing His will, He will not give us such an assurance. It is contrary to His nature to confirm to us we are pleasing Him when our acts displease Him. When a man or woman worships the hosts of heaven, a divine mother, false spirits, or pursues a course different from the one that follows God’s will, any “assurance” that we are pleasing God comes from a lying source. If we are deceived by a lying spirit, it is impossible to have faith. Joseph Smith said,”A man must have the discerning of spirits before he can drag into daylight this hellish influence and unfold it unto the world in all its soul-destroying, diabolical, and horrid colors; for nothing is a greater injury to the children of men than to be under the influence of a false spirit when they think they have the Spirit of God.” (See Times and Seasons, April 1, 1842, “Try the Spirits.”) He also taught, “Lying spirits are going forth in the earth. There will be great manifestations of spirits, both false and true. … Every spirit, or vision, or singing, is not of God.” (DHC 3:391.)

Saving faith also requires worship of God by correctly identifying the object of your worship. We are authorized to extend faith in God as correctly identified in the Lectures. Whenever the subject is God, “the Godhead: we mean the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. There are two personages who constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things—by whom all things were created and made, that are created and made, whether visible or invisible: whether in heaven, on earth, or in the earth, under the earth, or throughout the immensity of space—They are the Father and the Son: The Father being a personage of spirit, glory and power: possessing all perfection and fulness: The Son, who was in the bosom of the Father, a personage of tabernacle, made, or fashioned like unto man, or being in the form and likeness of man, or, rather, man was formed after his likeness, and in his image;—he is also the express image and likeness of the personage of the Father: possessing all the fulness of the Father, or, the same fulness with the Father; being begotten of him, and was ordained from before the foundation of the world to be a propitiation for the sins of all those who should believe on his name, and is called the Son because of the flesh—and descended in suffering below that which man can suffer, or, in other words, suffered greater sufferings, and was exposed to more powerful contradictions than any man can be. But notwithstanding all this, he kept the law of God, and remained without sin: Showing thereby that it is in the power of man to keep the law and remain also without sin. And also, that by him a righteous judgment might come upon all flesh, and that all who walk not in the law of God, may justly be condemned by the law, and have no excuse for their sins. And he being the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, and having overcome, received a fulness of the glory of the Father—possessing the same mind with the Father, which mind is the Holy Spirit, that bears record of the Father and the Son, and these three are one, or in other words, these three constitute the great, matchless, governing and supreme power over all things: by whom all things were created and made, that were created and made: and these three constitute the Godhead, and are one: The Father and the Son possessing the same mind, the same wisdom, glory, power and fulness: Filling all in all—the Son being filled with the fulness of the Mind, glory and power, or, in other words, the Spirit, glory and power of the Father—possessing all knowledge and glory, and the same kingdom: sitting at the right hand of power, in the express image and likeness of the Father—a Mediator for man—being filled with the fulness of the Mind of the Father, or, in other words, the Spirit of the Father: which Spirit is shed forth upon all who believe on his name and keep his commandments: and all those who keep his commandments shall grow up from grace to grace, and become heirs of the heavenly kingdom, and joint heirs with Jesus Christ; possessing the same mind, being transformed into the same image or likeness, even the express image of him who fills all in all: being filled with the fulness of his glory, and become one in him, even as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one.” (Lecture Fifth:1-2.)

This description of the Godhead excludes a mother-in-heaven, the hosts of heaven, and other extraneous objects of veneration. Faith must be centered in the God of heaven or it cannot save.