3 Nephi 12: 10

“And blessed are all they who are persecuted for my name’s sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”


It is not just persecution, but persecution “for [His] name’s sake” that makes you blessed. When you are doing what you should for His name’s sake, you are likely to provoke persecution. He will later explain this is almost inevitable. It won’t be because you are provoking it by your obnoxious behavior. It is because people will question your sincerity and commitment. The world expects hypocrites. They regard everyone with suspicion. And, let’s face it, most charlatans adopt religion as one of their cloaks. We’ll get to that a little further into this sermon from the Lord.


The kind of persecution which produces the “kingdom of heaven” is, of course, martyrdom. Originally the word “martyr” meant witness, but so many of the early Christian witnesses were killed that it came to have the modern meaning, that is one who dies for their faith.


Martyrs were seen in John’s vision below the altar of God. (Rev. 6: 9.) This of course means they were holy because of their sacrifice. The heavenly altar being a symbol of them having shed their blood as witnesses. Joseph Smith and Hyrum joined those who qualified for such a witness. (D&C 135: 7.)


Zenos, author of the Olive Tree allegory (Jacob 5: 1), prophet of the three days of darkness upon the isles of the sea (1 Ne. 19: 10), witness of the Lord’s burial in a sepulcher (1 Ne. 19: 10) seven centuries before His birth, was slain for his testimony (Helaman 8: 19).


Stephen was killed for his testimony but clearly inherited the kingdom of heaven. (Acts 7: 55-59.)


There are many others, including Able, Isaiah, Peter, Paul and Abinadi.


Blessed are those who are willing to endure persecution for His name’s sake.  For they are those who are willing develop faith which cannot be obtained in any other way. It is through the sacrifice of all things that faith necessary for salvation is developed. Read again the post on Lecture 6 of the Lectures on Faith on April 21, 2010.


Beginning with faith to follow Him, then enduring persecution as a result, to offering the sacrifice necessary to develop faith, then inheriting the kingdom of heaven, the Gospel of Christ is one great whole.


Sometimes we bring persecution upon ourselves because we are unwise. The Lord will address that. We are to take offenses, but not give them. When we unwisely give offenses and cause persecution, that is not for His name’s sake.  There is a balance between wisdom and righteousness.


As an aside on the subject of persecution I wanted to add this:


I’ve thought about Elder Packer’s talk and the homosexual community’s reaction to it. Elder Packer was right, and he was addressing a community of believers who look to him for teachings like the ones given in that talk.  Nobody ought to take offense at that. If you can prevent Elder Packer’s teaching in that setting, then you can invade and stop talk in any setting on any subject.


However, nothing in that talk would encourage or justify invading the privacy and causing the shame visited upon the Rutgers University student who committed suicide. The invasion of his privacy was cruel, the act of publicizing it was a calculated act of terrible insult. His grief, despair and subsequent suicide are the fault of those who invaded his privacy and exposed his weakness. It was wrong. Elder Packer’s talk was to benefit a community of believers, not to persecute an audience of unbelievers.


I have friends I ride Harley’s with who have absolutely no interest in Mormonism. One of my dear friends hates my church, thinks it barbaric and unenlightened. But that does not stop our mutual friendship nor define the areas about which we find common ground. Another person’s differing views are only offensive when they demand I accede to them. If they will suspend judgment against me because of my faith, I am willing to suspend judgment against them because of theirs. This ought to define the boundaries of conduct, not militant demands for conceding the argument on questions of faith and belief. I can believe that my friend’s lifestyle is corrupt and even immoral. But so long as he does not expect me to join him, I am pleased to be a friend, share what we have in common, and leave our differences for polite disagreement.


There are some sins I simply do not understand. But if my friendship may help someone to understand my faith, then I would sooner be friends with someone of another faith than one of my own. I do not expect many people to accept what I believe. In fact, I think there are very few fellow Latter-day Saints who believe or understand the Gospel as I do. If I were to limit my friends to those with whom I have everything in common, then my wife and children alone would be my friends.


Elder Packer should have the right to speak and preach the truth as he understands it. Those who would censor him are wrong.


If he is mistaken, then point out his error in a kindly way and seek to reclaim him. But condemning, protesting and attacking only shows intolerance and coercion which all of us have a responsibility to resist and condemn. It is wrong when the homosexual community does it, and it is wrong when the church does it. Win the argument with persuasion and strong reasoning.  Yelling, condemning and protesting only attempts to silence thought, not to provoke it into correct understanding.


Now I’m off topic…

1 Nephi 14: 13

1 Nephi 14: 13:

“And it came to pass that I beheld that the great mother of abominations did gather together multitudes upon the face of all the earth, among all the nations of the Gentiles, to fight against the Lamb of God.”
 
Did you notice that? The whore is also a “mother?” Why is that? What do we learn from that bit of information? Just how loyal will the deceived be to the institution they regard as their great mother? It’s no wonder they react with such hostility at the threat posed by the Lamb of God.
 
Now did you notice also that the fight is against “the Lamb of God” and not the “Saints?” They are opposed to Christ and are going to fight against Him.
 
This is akin to David’s response to Goliath: “Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defiedThis day will the Lord deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17: 45-47.) David knew the fight was between the Lord and Goliath, not between him and Goliath. Therefore the advantage was all the Lord’s.
 
The coming fight will be between those who regard the worldly order as their mother, and the Lamb of God.
 
Did you notice also that the great mother whore includes “all the nations of the Gentiles?” Meaning that included among this great false order will be the United States, the greatest of the Gentile nations. We’ve been told in modern revelation that along with all other nations, the United States will be destroyed.  (D&C 87: 6.) We disbelieve this and hope to save the nation. We want to follow the counsel of the Lord to make friends of the mammon of unrighteousness, that when we fail we may be received into everlasting habitations. (Luke 16: 9.) Your affiliations here will serve you here, but you will not be trusted with true riches. (Luke 16: 11.) The result is that we have no choice but to flee.
 
Well, the great whore wants to defeat the Lamb, but she cannot get access to Him. She must settle for destroying His teachings, His doctrines, His ordinances. She will target these truths because they link the Lord to some few who are here. She will at every turn deceive, mislead, corrupt and discourage. She understands that the fight is with the Lord, but to destroy Him she must destroy all that testifies truthfully of Him.
 
All that is corrupt and corrupted is welcomed by her. All that fails to redeem the souls of men and return them to the Lord’s presence is welcomed here in her dominion. She will confer tax benefits, honors, protection and awards upon those who cannot teach the doctrines that save. Wealth will amass, privileges will be given, and the great whore’s dominion will expand to include “all churches” in these last days. (2 Nephi 28: 12-14.)  Persecution is the heritage of the righteous because this world has no part in Christ. (John 14: 30.)  When the righteous are no longer persecuted, and the honors and awards of men begin to be bestowed upon any religion, you may know they have made friends of the children of mammon.
 
She cannot destroy Him, so she will turn her anger upon those who preserve His doctrine, His teachings, His truths and destroy them that He may be cast out of this world. This is her plan.
 
But this battle is between principalities and dominions involving spiritual wickedness in high places, and not just flesh and blood. (Eph. 6: 12.) Therefore we should fear not, because the battle is, always was, and always will be the Lord’s. (D&C 105: 14.)

Popularity or Persecution?

A recent trend with Latter-day Saint scholars has been the publishing of several books that try to make Mormonism seem like Protestant Evangelicalism.  I do not believe the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ is much akin to anything in Historic Christianity, and thankfully very different from Protestant Evangelicals.  It is instead a return of Primitive Christianity as found in the New Testament.  That is quite a different thing than what Historic Christianity has become, and almost altogether alien to Evangelicalism.  

I believe the Church will advance only by acknowledging the differences, explaining them and showing what great things Historic Christianity has lost.  Unless we have something different and important to offer, there is no reason for anyone to become a Latter-day Saint. 



The opening statement of Christ to Joseph Smith in the First Vision ought to be the point we most emphasize.  It was the many defects with Historic Christianity and its creeds which provoked the Lord to open the heavens again and start this great, final work.  When we neglect that message, and try to seem like another brand of Protestantism we are neglecting the only reason for our Church’s existence.

I know it is not up to me.  And I do not challenge the right of the leaders, whom I sustain, to make decisions.  But, if I could make a scourge of ropes and drive the social scientists out of the Church Office Building, I would.  I think opinion polling and focus group results are worse than meaningless, they are misleading.  It is an exercise in followship, not in leadership.  If you see a trend through polling, and jump in front of it, that does not make you a leader.  It makes you a clever follower.  

I suppose this post is nothing more than proof of my tendency to err in judgment.  But it is an honest and well meaning error which isn’t being tried by the Church at present.  When it was tried, in the early years, the newspapers railed against us, editorial cartoons mocked us, mobs persecuted us, and in turn the Church grew in numbers so dramatic that a single set of missionaries sent to England baptized nearly 7,000 converts.  The distinction caused by the persecution was valuable. Certainly not in a public relations sense, but very much in a “harvesting of souls” sense.

Sharp distinctions give the disinterested a reason to consider our message.  Persecution attracts the honest who want to know why the persecution is happening.  Joseph believed, and history has proven that persecution is the heritage of the righteous.  Its absence may not really be a good thing.  The cost of trying to avoid it is at the expense of forward progress. This is evidenced by the decrease in convert baptisms we see at present.



I have never seen any statement in scripture affirming that becoming popular in the eyes of the world was good or desirable.  On the contrary, I see the Book of Mormon listing that as one of the great evils.  (See e.g., 1 Ne. 22: 23.)