I love the response to the lectures (one talk). But I must stand aside now or wound this process. There are still important things left for me to do. Taking a role in establishing communities would harm, not help. I have had numerous requests to baptize people. When I refuse, then someone else will step up. They will ask God for authority, receive permission by the power of the Spirit, and gain familiarity with a process they need to help them. A process that will empower others through that first step to take another step, and then another. I’ve spoken with the Lord face to face, as one man speaks to another. Now you need to do likewise.
Joseph Smith spoke to the Relief Society on May 26, 1842: “the people should each one stand for himself, and depend on no man or men in that state of corruption… applied it to the present state of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—said if the people departed from the Lord, they must fall—that they were depending on the Prophet, hence were darkened in their minds, in consequence of neglecting the duties devolving upon themselves.” (TPJS, pp. 237-238.)
Ask yourself this: If Joseph Smith had it all to do over again, and wanted to avoid the problem that darkened the minds of believers, how could it best be accomplished? There seems to be an obvious conclusion – just refuse. Refuse to do what caused their dependence in Nauvoo.
Joseph’s lament in 1842 was too late. He had a twelve-year practice of being the answer-man, and he would die just two years later. If he wanted to avoid this problem, he needed to begin many years earlier.
It was easy for Joseph to make himself indispensable. It was tempting to do so. But he and the saints would have been better off had he refused to shoulder responsibilities that belonged to others. There are incidents along the way that can be identified as moments when Joseph could have seen a pattern emerging. One example was in November 1831 when a conference was convened to approve publication of the Book of Commandments. The book would need a preface. A committee was assigned to draft the preface. “[William] McLellin said that he, Sidney Rigdon, and Oliver Cowdery had been given the assignment to write the preface to the Book of Commandments, but when they presented their draft to the conference, the ‘Conference picked it all to pieces’ and requested that J[oseph] S[mith] petition the Lord for a preface. After J[oseph] S[mith] and the elders bowed in prayer, JS, who was ‘sitting by a window,’ dictated the preface ‘by the Spirit,’ while Rigdon served as scribe.”(Joseph Smith Papers, Documents Vol. 2: July 1831-January 1833, p. 104.) He then dictated what has become D&C Section 1.
What if Joseph had refused? What if he told them God had a revelation, but the committee should receive it? What if Joseph insisted others perform their duties, rather than relieving them of their responsibility? Had he declined in November 1831, would the talk given in May 1842 have been necessary?
We are going to make mistakes, but we should not make the same ones. Sometimes the only way for people to become better acquainted with the Lord is for those who know Him to remain silent and allow others to go before Him in prayer for themselves. Why intervene to prevent others from gaining strength and experience for themselves?
Joseph handicapped the saints by taking too much of their responsibility on himself. The saints refused to let him alone and required him to be their answer-man. The best thing Joseph could have done would have been to keep riding when he crossed the Mississippi River with Hyrum. He should have headed to the Rocky Mountains. He didn’t. The saints continued to depend on him. When he died, they were unable to call down a revelation for themselves. No one proposed to solve succession by revelation.
Consider that for a moment. A church, which was ostensibly founded and based on revelation, gave no thought to asking God for a revelation when Joseph and Hyrum were slain. They held a convention, and several aspirants electioneered to gain control. The campaign speech by Brigham Young won. Then the saints, already conditioned to “follow the leader,” trudged off into the wilderness, dutifully submitting to a strongman to guide them. It has been exactly the same since that time.
How can you be strong if you depend on another to speak with God for you? Moses sought diligently to sanctify his people so they might behold the face of God. (D&C 84: 23.) But they hardened their hearts and could not endure God’s presence. (D&C 84: 24.) They demanded Moses speak to God for them. This was a catastrophe which ended any possibility for Zion in Moses’ day. Moses could not get those he led to enter God’s presence. Joseph failed to have God come to dwell with the saints of his day.
We may fail also. But we will not fail because I accepted a role that has never worked before. We need to repent, be baptized in a way authorized and accepted in heaven, receive the Holy Ghost, and bear one another’s burdens so they may be light.
Some are going to be seduced by false spirits. They may or may not repent. Whether they repent and press forward to be ministered to by a messenger from God, and then find God, will depend on how closely they follow truth and light. False spirits prop up egos and pride. Anything of that sort will lead to darkness.
True messengers and true messages conform to a pattern: “Behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.” (Moroni 7: 13.) More importantly, they have a central focus that will NEVER change: “Every thing which inviteth to do good, and to persuade to believe in Christ, is sent forth by the power and gift of Christ; wherefore ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of God. But whatsoever thing persuadeth man to do evil, and believe not in Christ, and deny him, and serve not God, then ye may know with a perfect knowledge it is of the devil[.]” (Moroni 7: 16.)
Any preacher, leader, bishop, president, apostle, seventy or elder who asks you to believe in men, trust men, accept authority of men, is most certainly not of Christ. (See D&C 76: 99-101.) Anyone who points you to Christ, asks you to seek to know Christ, invites you to struggle to hear and follow Christ, you can know is of Christ.
Those who boast of their own spiritual prowess as a credential to have you notice them are dangerous. Those who testify of Christ, preach of Christ and ask you to know Him, while admitting their own insignificance, are worth hearing. Everything I believe is anchored in the scriptures.
Those who are deceived as they struggle to find Christ can repent as soon as they realize they have listened to a false spirit. Joseph was overcome by “thick darkness” before he called upon God and was delivered. Lehi walked behind a man dressed in white for the space of many hours in a “dark and dreary waste” before he called upon God and was delivered. When Adam built an altar and called upon God, it was Lucifer who replied, “I hear you, what is it you want?” Adam had to refuse the offer and await true messengers sent from the Father.
You will encounter false spirits, as well as true ones if you will persist. You need to be familiar with both in order to choose. These opposing forces are part of the process of becoming competent and adept. No one lacking knowledge of these things can be saved. “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.” (TPJS, p. 217.)
Do not fear learning and experience. Fear ignorance. Ignorance will damn you.