Category: dispensation

Re-Baptism Required

When a new dispensation of Christ’s gospel occurs, re-baptism is required. The Jews were practicing baptism before John the Baptist. But first John, then Christ taught that re-baptism was necessary to accept God’s new work.

This is from the New Covenants, Matthew 4:10:

Then said the Pharisees unto him, Why will you not receive us with our baptism, seeing we keep the whole law? But Jesus said unto them, You keep not the law. If you had kept the law, you would have received me, for I am he that gave the law. I do not receive you with your baptism because it profits you nothing, for when that which is new has come, the old is about to be put away; for no man puts a piece of new cloth on an old garment, for that which is put in to fill it up takes from the garment, and the rent is made worse. Neither do men put new wine into old bottles, else the bottles break, and the wine runs out, and the bottles perish. But they put new wine into new bottles and both are preserved.

Joseph Smith’s edit of the passage makes it clear the topic that led to the new cloth-old garment, new wine-old bottles comparison by Christ was re-baptism.

Continue reading “Re-Baptism Required”

Hyrum Smith

Hyrum Smith would eventually replace Joseph Smith as the prophet of the church. However, in 1829 he was given a revelation through his younger brother, Joseph. This was given before the Book of Mormon was published, before a church was organized, and while the work of the new Dispensation was in its very first stages. The content, however, is important. Not just for Hyrum, but for all of us.

Just like others, Hyrum was reminded of what it took to be called to the work: “whosoever will thrust in his sicle and reap, the same is called of God.” (D&C 11: 4, see 3 also.) It wasn’t an extensive application and approval process, but it was based on the willingness to do what God wanted that created “the call of God” to the laborer. Without ordination, or setting apart, the relationship was between the individual and God. It is an interesting series of revelations at the beginning of the work which uniformly leave God’s calling to the individual, based on their desire. (See, e.g., D&C 4: 3; D&C 12: 4; among others.)

The first stage, however, was limited to crying repentance. Hyrum was to “say nothing but reptentance unto this generation.” (D&C 11: 9.) The potential for Hyrum doing more later was certain, provided he would follow the Lord’s counsel. (D&C 11: 10.)

Hyrum was instructed on how to know he was proceeding in the right way: “put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good–yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.” (D&C 11: 12.)

Then, despite his desire and the call, Hyrum was told to temporarily stand down. The Lord instructs him: “Behold, I command you that you need not suppose that you are called to preach until you are called. Wait a little longer, until you shall have my word, my rock, my church, and my gospel, that you may know of a surety my doctrine.” (D&C 11: 15-16.)

The Lord told Hyrum essentially to ‘stand down’ and not do anything, even if he were “called” to the work. There was more needed before he could be of use to the Lord. He needed to accomplish one work: “Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.” (D&C 11: 20.)

Then, one of the great voices of the Restoration was told: “Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and they shall your tongue be loosed.” (D&C 11: 21.) Hyrum needed to study. He needed to fill himself with information before he began his work. “Hold your peace; study my word which hath gone forth among the children of men, and also study my word which shall come forth among the children of men, or that which is now translating, yea, until you have obtained all which I shall grant unto the children of men in this generation, and then shall all things be added thereto.” (D&C 11: 22.) Hyrum had homework to do. He needed to “study” things.

Hyrum would become the church prophet and Patriarch. He would be co-president and co-testator with his younger brother, Joseph. Joseph had several other brothers, but it was Hyrum who followed the forumla given him by the Lord. It was Hyrum who qualified himself to the work by his diligence and heed.

Hyrum was the designated successor to Joseph as the head of the church. But Hyrum fell first, and he and his younger brother died martyrs.

Joseph Smith History, Part 2

Joseph was still a young man when Moroni visited with him. He was practically a child when he first saw the Lord and the Father. In both encounters, as Joseph recorded his best retelling of the incident, he used the words of scripture to weave his account together.

In the First Vision, when the Lord addressed Joseph, the account tells it in these words:

I was answered that I must join none of them, for they were all wrong; and the Personage who addressed me said that all their creeds were an abomination in his sight; that those professors were all corrupt; that: “they 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.”

Or, in other words, Joseph has the Lord borrow from Jude 1: 4: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.”

And Isaiah 29: 13: “Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men.”

And from Titus 1: 14: “Not giving heed to Jewish fables, and commandments of men, that turn from the truth.”

And 2 Tim. 3: 5: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.”

Or, the Lord conveyed into the mind of Joseph an indelible impression of truth, which would remain with him and expand and distill as he pondered on its meaning. When at last Joseph was able to set it out in an inspired retelling, the words of scripture flooded into his mind and equipped him to compose an account that would ring with truth, convey what happened, and testify of the authenticity of the words of ancient prophets, while letting the world know what the Lord’s message was to Joseph. But the language, even the quotes, are not what transpired. They are an accurate retelling, but reduced to our form of communication. The Lord’s manner of telling is quite different. It is unencumbered by our vocabulary, and conveys pure meaning and intent. Therefore Joseph was able to capture and compose the information with power and meaning to us. But to do so Joseph had to resort to scripture.

Which again, begs the question: “Why?” Why do prophets resort to the scriptures to explain the truth as revealed to them? Why does a new revelation get put into the words of an earlier revelation? Why does a stunning new truth come forth as an exposition of the already familiar words of scripture?

In perhaps his greatest sermon, Joseph drew from and expounded on the scriptures to proclaim new doctrines, unheard of by those who had studied the Bible for two thousand years. As he did so he remarked: “It has always been my province to dig up hidden mysteries –new things– for my hearers. Just at the time when some men think I have no right to the keys of the Priesthood –just at that time I have the greatest right.” (TPJS p. 364.) He goes on to expound from the Bible on the true meaning of “eternal judgment” and the resurrection, “salvation for the dead,” the plurality of Gods, Abraham’s teachings, eternal glories and the pre-mortal exaltation of some who lived on the earth. “Sons of God who exalt themselves to be Gods, even before the foundation of the world.” (TPJS p. 375.) He used as his text the Bible.

Prophets see the meaning behind the words of scripture, and not the words themselves. This is because having been taught by angels and the Lord, they know the intent. Hence Joseph’s proclamation that it is his “province to dig up hidden mysteries –new things” using the scriptures. They are not a sealed book to them.

In like manner the Lord spent most of the day of His resurrection opening the scriptures in a private conversation between Himself and two disciples while they walked on the Road to Emmaus. “Beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24: 27.) The Lord could do this because the Lord was there when they were written, and they reflect His mind and His teachings. Therefore, He could see clearly within them the teachings about Him.

To bear testimony of his encounter with the Lord, and with Moroni, Joseph Smith employed the scriptures to expound unto us in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. How like his Master was this servant! Joseph completely mirrored the pattern of the One who can save! We should be able to recognize the Master in the servant! In Joseph’s case, the parallel is unmistakable.

Because he had received a dispensation of the Gospel to him from heaven, Joseph proclaimed the truth using scriptures to confirm the message. “It is the order of heavenly things that God should always send a new dispensation into the world when men have apostatized from the truth and lost the priesthood, but when men come out and build upon other men’s foundations, they do it on their own responsibility, without authority from God; and when the floods come and the winds blow, their foundations will be found to be sand, and their whole fabric will crumble to dust.” (TPJS p. 375-76.)

Joseph, having secured the truth from heaven for himself, did not need to build on other men’s foundations. He was privileged to declare the truth to us from his own understanding, from his own knowledge and in conformity with his own dispensation of the Gospel.

The scriptures weave together the truth from dispensation to dispensation because those who wrote them had seen the same vision, conversed with the same heavenly hosts, and found the inspired language that allows the truth to be declared.

When Joseph wrote his account in 1838, he had pondered and gained the insight to be able to weave into his history the corroboration of his Divine mandate employing the words of scripture to justify what he taught. He was a prophet indeed! He knew the things of which he spoke. All he needed to do was expound the scriptures to be able to dig up hidden mysteries, new things, for those who would hear him. Those who heard him were amazed, just as the disciples on the Road to Emmaus.

3 Nephi 12: 17-18

 
“Think not that I am come to destroy the law or the prophets. I am not come to destroy but to fulfil;  For verily I say unto you, one jot nor one tittle hath not passed away from the law, but in me it hath all been fulfilled.”
 
The Lord sends ministers with a commission to transition from one dispensation of the Gospel to another. From Adam until Enoch there was an order, but with Enoch that order changed. Wickedness and rebellion required a new approach, and Enoch was commissioned to bring it about. (Moses 6: 32-34.) Mankind was in such a state of rebellion that their time was to end.  Enoch gathered together people upon a high mountain where he established a city which would survive the destruction by becoming Zion. (Moses 7: 17-21.)
 
Soon after Enoch was called, the Lord called another, giving him also a dispensation of the Gospel. He, however, was to remain on the earth. (Moses 7: 42-43; Genesis 6: 12-14.) With him a new covenant was made. (Genesis 9: 8-9.)
 
Both Enoch and Noah were contemporaries, but each had been given a dispensation of the Gospel. The covenant with Enoch did not disannul the covenant with Adam. Nor did the covenant with Noah contradict the covenant with Enoch.
 
Abraham also received a dispensation of the Gospel. (Abr. 2: 8-12.) Moses also. (Moses 1: 3-4.)
 
Christ also received a dispensation of the Gospel in the same manner as all those who went before. (Matt. 4: 11; Matt. 17: 1-3.)
 
Christ fulfilled all the law. Not merely the Law of Moses, which indeed pointed to Him (Galatians 3: 24), but also every part of the Gospel from Adam to Christ’s earthly ministry. (Jacob 4: 4; also 7: 11.) All have testified of Him and He has completed His ministry in strict conformity with all that was foreshadowed, all that was prophesied, all that was anticipated of Him. Just how completely He did this is not possible to understand with the current state of our scriptures. But He did fulfill all righteousness, complete every assignment, accomplish every task and live in conformity with every prophesy concerning Him. 

Not one matter respecting Him was left undone. From His hair to His feet, all that was foreshadowed or prophesied was done by Him. He turned not His face from those who spit at Him. (Isa. 50: 6; Matt. 26: 57.) He let Himself be shorn as a sheep and kept silent as it was done. (Isa. 53: 7.)

 
He inherited Kingship, but deferred His reign to another time. (John 18: 36.)
 
He fulfilled, but did not destroy. In this He was like those whom He sent before to complete and open anew. In one hinge point of history a dispensation closes and another opens. Enoch and Noah, Abraham and Moses were all commissioned to open and close. For the Lord, however, He divided the spoil. He sent John to close (D&C 84: 27-28), leaving it to Himself to open (John 8: 12). Mankind cannot measure humility or meekness, but in Christ was a fullness of both.
 
Men in their insecurity and vanity want honors, awards, recognition and fame.  The Lord has hidden from us most of what He did, most of what He is. He is content to confine the record of His doings to the minimum necessary for our understanding so we may have faith in Him. But the extent of His doings mankind has yet to find out. (D&C 76: 2.) This is more than a tribute to Him.  He has understated His accomplishments. He has hidden His glory from us. He has made less of Himself, that we may not be unable to identify with Him. He is meeker and more humble than mankind understands.

He can be trusted with all power because He will never abuse it. (Matt. 28: 18.) He will use it to serve others. (Luke 22: 27.)

 
In Christ was all fulfilled. In Him is all fulfilled. In Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. (Col. 2: 9.) He is the light who came to His own, but we will not receive Him. (John 1: 10-11.)
 
He was, He is, and He has risen. Above all others and all else, He has risen.  And because of this He has made it possible for others also to rise. Everything He has done was in fulfillment of the law, pointing for us the way. Now it is only left for us to follow, trusting in Him.

3 Nephi 11: 21

“And the Lord said unto him: I give unto you power that ye shall baptize this people when I am again ascended into heaven.”
Notice the Lord does not touch Nephi. He speaks the words. The Lord’s word is sovereign. If the Lord speaks it, it is so. It is not necessary for the Lord to lay hands on the servant He has just called, only that He speak the words of commission which give the servant “power.”

Notice that it is “power” and not authority. It is the “power” to baptize “this people” which is granted Nephi. Why would “power” be required for a man to be able to baptize? What if the man possessed “authority” to baptize, but lacked any “power” in his priesthood? Is “authority” anything if it lacks “power?” What is the difference? Can a church spread about the “authority” to do ordinances if that church lacks “power” to do so?

Why are “that the rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven?” (D&C 121: 36.) If indeed all rights of the priesthood are inseparably connected with the powers of heaven, can a man who has never felt, experienced or had any connection with heaven hold any power? Hold any priesthood? What connection did Nephi have with heaven the instant the Lord spoke to Nephi the words: “I give unto you power”?

Why is it that “the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness?” What about ambitious men who view holding an office in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as entitling them to direct, preside, control and dictate to others? What are the “principles of righteousness?”  

Now, I ask those questions not to give people reason to rebel against those who preside over them. It is not for us to weigh, measure or respond with accusations against those in positions of authority. I feel a great sympathy and pray for them. However, I offer it as a self-governing, introspective question to anyone who has any calling, family position or power over another person. Whether it is in church, or at work, or in the family, or elsewhere, the way we deal with others ought to be informed by the same standards as use of priestly authority. But these things are for internal use, not as a measuring stick to be applied critically against others.

Often we are able to see clearly the errors of others, but are completely unable to see our own glaring errors. This is why I have said repeatedly that the Gospel is for internal application only, and not for external use in judging others.

In the case of Nephi, he already held power, did he not? He had preached the Gospel, used words having such power that listeners could not disbelieve them, raised his brother from the dead, and cast out devils.  (3 Nephi 7: 17-19.) Despite all this, Nephi was called forward to receive from the Lord power to baptize?  Why? Why if he already had such great power as to be able to raise the dead, did he need a new grant of power to baptize?

Does the possession of authority in one dispensation (Moses’) continue into another dispensation (Meridian of Time)? When a new dispensation of the Gospel opens, does authority need to be conferred by angels (or the Lord) in the new dispensation? Without a commission from Christ, could Nephi continue his ministry into the new dispensation?  Why not? Did the end of the prior dispensation of carnal commandments require a new delivery of power to those serving into this era of a new covenant?  (Hebrews 8: 13.)
Does the Lord’s reference to “when [He is] again ascended into heaven” reveal anything to Nephi? To us? Does it confirm the Lord’s status, power and right? Does it confirm, also, the Lord will be leaving the Nephites again? Does it reestablish what they saw when He first appeared, that He now belongs to heaven? Do we need to keep that in mind as well?

Genius

Joseph Smith was the first, great restorer of lost light in this Dispensation.  He restored doctrine, authority, ordinances, scriptures and the organization for the Church.  His ministry was one of the greatest among men in any age.
 
The second great restorer was, in my view, Hugh Nibley.  He shed light on antiquity using the scholar’s tools while calibrating the recovery of ancient truth using the restored doctrine, authority, ordinances and scriptures which Joseph had bequeathed him.  Hugh Nibley’s legacy as a restorer of lost truth from the past is second only to Joseph Smith’s.
 
Joseph’s genius was unique and inspired.  So was Hugh Nibley’s.  In the case of Hugh Nibley, he inspired a whole generation of students and produced a small army of those who intended to follow his example.  It is not as easy as it seems, however.  From scholarly disciples, to FARMS to now the Maxwell Institute, the effort has produced some good fruit. but you cannot institutionalize genius.  The great contribution of Brother Nibley is simply something that cannot be replicated or continued.
 
Genius will always be (as Will Durrant put it while intending to be derisive): “isolated and unruly.”  It could not be tamed in the schools of Greece, nor can it be captured in the halls of BYU.  Credentials will never become a substitute for inspiration.

Angels

There is a system by which men learn the mysteries of heaven and are saved.  That system is set out in Alma 12: 29-30
 
-First, angels are sent to prepare men/women.
-Second, they are allowed to behold the Lord’s glory.
-Then they converse with the Lord, at which point they are taught the things which have been prepared from the foundation of the earth for their salvation.
-All of which is driven by the man/woman’s faith, repentance and holy works.
This is in keeping with Joseph Smith’s revelation about those chosen to become a member of the Church of the Firstborn.  They are chosen by the holy angels to whom the keys of this power belong.  (D&C 77: 11.)
 
If this isn’t happening, then faith does not exist on the earth any longer.  (Moroni 7: 37.)
 
Ministering angels are an indispensable part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  That is why those keys were restored so early on in this dispensation, and are so widely disseminated into the Church membership. (See D&C 13 and D&C 107: 20.)